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Congregations leaving the Episcopal Church (TEC) over scriptural authority have had little trouble finding new oversight. More difficult has been achieving unity among the departed. The most hierarchical Protestant denomination has become a potpourri of missions, convocations, and networks.

Traditional Anglican polity requires that congregations submit to the leadership of a bishop. In December 2006, nine Virginia churches left TEC and aligned with the Convocation of Anglican Churches in America (CANA), a U.S. mission launched by Nigerian primate and outspoken conservative Peter Akinola. One month later, Christ Church in Plano, Texas, announced its affiliation with the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), an outreach of the Rwandan archbishop. Also in January, a dozen churches in Southern states requested oversight from the Kenyan archbishop. Anglican primates from South America and Uganda are also overseeing several former TEC parishes.

The congregations left TEC for similar reasons. The conservative exodus that began in earnest after the 2003 consecration of openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson gathered momentum following the June 2006 election of Katharine Jefferts Schori, a liberal, as presiding bishop. But some prominent conservatives, such as Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, have remained with TEC in an attempt to reform it from the inside.

The new Anglican outposts differ in structure and aims. AMiA, the oldest and largest group, started in 2000 and has grown to nearly 100 congregations. It focuses on church planting in order to reach those with no church affiliation. "Our objective is to be the Anglican mission in America," said Charles Murphy, missionary bishop and chairman of AMiA, "not the Anglican refuge in America." ...

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March 2007

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