Diocese to Break From Episcopal Church

Associated Press
Sunday, October 5, 2008

MONROEVILLE, Pa., Oct. 4 -- Clergy and lay members of the theologically conservative Pittsburgh diocese voted overwhelmingly Saturday to break from the liberal Episcopal Church.

The Pittsburgh diocese, on a 240 to 102 vote, voted to leave the U.S. church amid disagreement over biblical teachings on salvation and other issues, including homosexuality.

Instead, it will align with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America.

Bishop Robert Duncan, who led the Pittsburgh diocese for 11 years, was removed from office by the Episcopal House of Bishops last month. The South American church already recognizes Duncan as a bishop and has welcomed another U.S. church, the Diocese of San Joaquin, based in Fresno, Calif., into its fold.

Both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province belong to the worldwide Anglican Communion, a 77 million-member fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England.

San Joaquin was the first to leave the Episcopal Church, in 2006. Dioceses based in Quincy, Ill., and Fort Worth are set to vote next month on leaving the Episcopal Church.

Those voting Saturday to leave argued that they are being faithful to biblical teachings.

Conservatives such as Duncan and the Pittsburgh diocese are in the minority of the U.S. church but constitute a majority in the Anglican Communion.

A standing committee of those Pittsburgh-area parishes that remain in the national church will soon select a temporary bishop before holding a convention to select a permanent replacement, said Rich Creehan, spokesman for that group.

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