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The (Episcopal) Snowball Effect

Third diocese votes to leave. Fourth one schedules confirming vote this weekend.

As expected, the Great Exodus out of the Episcopal Church continues. (See below for a press statement from the Diocese of Quincy, Illinois.) They join the dioceses of San Joaquin and Pittsburgh.

The Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, will have its annual convention this coming weekend. Considering that on the diocesan website there is an article, "10 Reasons Why Now is the Time to Realign," you can catch the drift here.

Fort Worth Episcopalians are quite likely to vote to leave TEC (The Episcopal Church) for the second time, finalizing a vote from last year.

Here's what Bishop Iker had to say in Reason #7:

7. At this time there is nothing in the Constitution or Canons of TEC that prevents a Diocese from leaving. Oh, I know that General Convention officials claim that dioceses cannot leave TEC, but you will not find that anywhere in the Constitution and Canons as they presently stand. So we have this window of opportunity to do what we need to do, for you can be sure that the next General Convention will close off this option by adopting amendments that will make it even more difficult to separate in the future.

TEC will meet in General Convention next summer (July 2009 in Anheim, California) and indeed there is a developing effort to close and lock tight the ability of any other diocese to depart via majority vote of their convention.

Then, there is another effort to repeal Resolution B-033, which officially expects TEC leaders to refrain from same-sex rites and consecration of non-celibate bishops who are gay. Here's a word or two from WAKE UP:

"WAKE UP is a coalition of concerned Episcopalians who seek a Full Inclusion Church. We came into being during the summer of 2006, following the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. While pleased at the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop, we experienced the passage of Resolution B-033 as a betrayal of the Church's professed acceptance of lesbian and gay Christians as full members of the Body of Christ. We also view with alarm the attempts of some, both within and outside the Episcopal Church, to move us in a direction of exclusion, intolerance, and dogmatic 'purity codes' that have never been part of the Anglican heritage. Our primary purpose is to TAKE ACTION to STOP THE APPEASEMENT of theological bullies, and protect the Anglican heritage of inclusion and openness that has been passed down to us. We value the unity of the Anglican Communion, but not at the price of appeasement and injustice."

So contrary to the view among some leaders that "the worst is over," you can expect the political struggle, the property fight, and the theological battle to persist throughout much of 2009.

Sure feels like a war of attrition to me.

Continue for the full press statement from Quincy:


Diocese of Quincy Realigns With South American Province

The Annual Synod of the Diocese of Quincy's meeting November 7-8 in Quincy, Illinois, has voted by strong margins to realign itself with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, breaking its ties with The Episcopal Church in the US. On two key votes more than ? of the clergy and lay deputies voted in favor of the realignment.

The move came after several years of prayer and discernment about the diocese's relationship with The Episcopal Church. Many in the Quincy Diocese, both clergy and lay people, have been at odds with the national leadership and other dioceses over the authority of the Bible, church order and discipline, and the church's moral standards and teaching on Christian marriage.

On the vote to disaffiliate from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, 75% of the clergy and 82% of the lay deputies voted in favor. On the subsequent vote to realign the diocese with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone the vote in favor was 92% in the clergy order and 87% in the lay order.

"This decision was not made lightly," said Fr. John Spencer, press officer for the diocese. "We have talked and prayed about this for a very long time. But we take our relationship to the Anglican Communion very seriously. Since 2003, over half the Provinces of the Anglican Communion have been in a state of broken Communion with The Episcopal Church. By realigning with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, we are now back in full communion with the majority of over 75 million Anglicans around the world."

Canon Ed den Blaauwen, incoming President of the Standing Committee, said the focus of the diocese will remain on mission. "Our churches and our diocese will continue in mission and ministry locally and around the world. We feel much at home under the oversight of Archbishop Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone, who has warmly welcomed us into affiliation with that Province," den Blaauwen said. "We are once again back in full fellowship with our brother and sister Anglicans."

Shortly after the votes were taken, Canon den Blaauwen, who acted as chairman for the Synod, read a letter from Archbishop Venables welcoming Quincy as a member of the Province of the Southern Cone.

Bishop Keith Ackerman who retired from leadership of the diocese on November 1, spoke to the gathering Friday afternoon just before the synod convened. Quoting the Epistle of Jude, he encouraged them to remain faithful to the Gospel of Christ and the historic faith of the Christian Church as they considered the momentous decisions before them.

"While the votes show there was very strong support for this decision," Fr. Spencer said, "we realize this was not a unanimous decision." By a separate action, the synod made provision for a nine months grace period during which a congregation or member of the clergy might consider withdrawing from the diocese in order to stay in the Episcopal Church. "It is a matter of allowing everyone to follow their consciences in these very difficult times, without recrimination," Spencer said.

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