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Entire diocese jumps out of Episcopal Church

Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin votes 173-22 to remove all references to the national body from its constitution.

Dozens of churches and groups have left the Episcopal Church in recent years. Today is the first time that an entire diocese has voted to officially split from the national body. The votes weren't close: the clergy in California's Diocese of San Joaquin voted 70-12 to withdraw, and laity voted 103-10.

"We have leadership in the Episcopal Church that has drastically and radically changed directions," diocesan spokesman Van McCalister told the Associated Press. "They have pulled the rug out from under us. They've started teaching something very different, something very new and novel, and it's impossible for us to follow a leadership that has so drastically reinvented itself."

The diocese, which has 47 parishes, 48 church buildings (including its headquarters), and 8,800 members, will affiliate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, headquartered in Buenos Aires. As it removed all references to the national Episcopal Church body in its constitution, the diocese added a clause describing itself as "a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and in full communion with the See of Canterbury."

The New York Times notes that the diocese "has long been different from the rest of the Episcopal Church":

It is one of three dioceses that does not ordain women priests. It stopped sending money to the Episcopal Church budget after the consecration of Bishop Robinson. Its cathedral runs a ministry for those struggling "with sexual brokenness," Bishop Schofield said, which includes homosexuality.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori refused to acknowledge that the diocese is leaving.

"The Episcopal Church receives with sadness the news that some members of this church have made a decision to leave this church," she said in a press release. "We deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness. We wish them to know of our prayers for them and their journey. The Episcopal Church will continue in the Diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership."

Anglican superblogs like TitusOneNine and Stand Firm will have comprehensive links, but here are a few news stories:

  • Diocese Secedes | In a historic vote, the conservative Diocese of San Joaquin becomes the first in the nation to split from the more liberal Episcopal Church in a debate over the role of gays, women in the church (The Fresno Bee)

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