Dissidents finalize formation of new Anglican alliance

Wed Jun 24, 2009 7:43pm EDT
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By Ed Stoddard

PLANO, Texas (Reuters) - Conservatives who have left the U.S. Episcopal Church over issues like gay clergy finalized the formation of a rival church on Wednesday, the latest chapter in a saga that has split Anglicans worldwide.

The new Anglican Church in North America, which says it has 100,000 followers, ratified its constitution this week and was to install Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh as its first archbishop on Wednesday evening.

"Across the church people are re-embracing scripture's authority," Duncan said, a reference to the conservative belief that liberals have strayed from the Bible.

"We are oriented toward a hopeful future. We are not turning back to the hurts of our past," Duncan, who will serve a five-year term, said in prepared remarks.

The Episcopal Church, which is the main U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion with over 2 million followers, has declined to comment on the proceedings. The ACNA says four of the 28 dioceses under its roof are locked in property disputes with the Episcopal Church.

Some Canadian congregations are also fighting legal battles over assets with the Anglican Church of Canada.

Long-standing divisions between liberals and conservatives had already undermined Episcopal Church unity by 2003 when it consecrated Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the first bishop known to be in an openly gay relationship in more than four centuries of Anglican history.

The ACNA wants to formally join the Anglican Communion which numbers close to 80 million people worldwide.   Continued...