The Anglican split — or, rather, the mass defection from the US Episcopal Church over GLBT equality is reportedly under way, as right-wing Episcopalians plan to create their own denomination.
From the Chicago Tribune:
Conservative Anglican leaders unveiled on Wednesday the constitution and laws for a new organization intended to replace the Episcopal Church as the American arm of the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide.
The move is the most telling sign yet that the role of homosexual Christians has torn apart the first church to appoint an openly gay bishop.
Central to the new organization’s constitution is a declaration that the Bible is regarded as the “final authority and unchangeable standard.”
Dubbed the Common Cause Partnership, the leaders represent 100,000 Anglicans who believe the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man in a long-term relationship, violated the authority of scripture.
The constitution comes in the wake of a conference held in Israel last June with leaders from more than one-half of the world’s 77 million Anglicans. At that conference, the leaders outlined their intentions to, in their view, reform, heal and revitalize the Anglican Communion by adhering to a more literal interpretation of the Bible.
… But observers in the Episcopal Church, which has about 2 million members, say the event at Wheaton College, the same spot nearly 70 years ago where Rev. Billy Graham began his evangelism, does not hold much significance for the rest of the Anglican Communion.
“I do not think Wednesday’s event is as big a deal as the organizers think it is,” said Rev. Ian Douglas of the Episcopal Divinity School.
“Yet another threatened line in the sand.”
The new church is the first province to be drawn according to theological and not geographic boundaries-a dramatic departure from Anglican policy and procedure that may not get approval from the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams or other bodies that must give approval to the new province.
“While claiming more conservative tradition on human sexuality and biblical interpretation, their approach is radical and contrary to church polity,” Douglas said.
The new denomination will include four Episcopal dioceses that recently voted to break away from the Episcopal church — Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Tex., Quincy, Ill., and San Joaquin, Calif.. However, not all the parishes and Episcopalians in those four dioceses agreed to leave the Episcopal Church.
It also includes dozens of breakaway parishes in the U.S. and Canada that voted to do the same. The new church also will absorb a handful of other splinter groups that left the Episcopal Church decades ago regarding issues such as the ordination of women or revisions to the Book of Common Prayer.