A group of conservative Episcopalians, tired of fighting the liberalism they say has infested their church, voted last month to create a diocese independent of rule by the Episcopal Church. Many say the vote could lead to schism.

“We realize that it is impossible to be totally faithful to the Gospel and at the same time to be totally loyal to the current structure of the Episcopal Church,” said a statement from leaders of the traditionalist Episcopal Synod of America (ESA), meeting in mid-November in Fresno, California. “We have to choose where to stand, and we cannot stand upon the foundation built over the last two decades by our bishops and General Convention. That foundation is built upon sand. They have often acted against Scripture or allowed others to do so. They have consistently acted with no respect for the rest of the Anglican Communion.”

The nongeographical synod will act independently of the Episcopal Church’s existing 121 geographical regions and will seek to enlist congregations that feel alienated by liberal leadership. The diocese, which already claims about 20,000 members, will be led by retired Bishop Donald Davies of Fort Worth. Other traditionalist bishops will minister to congregations joining the new group, which will seek recognition from one of 32 other Anglican communions worldwide.

Edmond Browning, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, and his Council of Advice issued a statement shortly after the ESA announcement: “We call upon the Episcopal Synod of America and those holding oversight for it to cease from implementing this plan, which clearly points toward schism. We are deeply troubled that the Synodical Council has taken the position ...

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