Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Episcopal exodus?

It's been about a week since the United States' Episcopal Church's General Convention came to a close. But a handful of U.S. Episcopal dioceses, upset with the church's stance on gay clergy and the election of a progressive woman to its highest post, are saying that, at least when it comes to pastoral oversight, they want out.

The Diocese of Fort Worth announced June 19 -- the morning after Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected to become the church's next presiding bishop and primate -- that it was requesting "alternative primatial oversight," which means it was asking the worldwide Anglican Communion (of which the Episcopal Church is part) to let them affiliate with a more conservative province (a pastoral, not a legal arrangement, the diocese said). The dioceses of Pittsburgh, South Carolina and San Joaquin followed suit.

While more defections are possible, perhaps even probable, it's important to note that there are 110 dioceses in the Episcopal Church. Also, the Anglican Communion has yet to officially respond to the church's decisions, and probably won't take real action until next year. Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Colorado Springs' largest and most conservative parish, says it'll sit tight until it knows how the Anglican Communion will react.

Still, many suspect a split from the Anglican Communion is imminent, and the Episcopal Church -- a denomination that's always prided itself on its diversity and collegiality -- may be torn in two as a result.


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