Large congregations split from US Episcopal Church
Dec 18, 2006, 6:39 GMT
Washington - Two large, influential Episcopal congregations near Washington on Sunday voted to split from their denomination, reflecting a division between the church and more conservative groups that say it has strayed from biblical teaching and who are upset about its tolerance of homosexuality.
In a week-long vote at the Falls Church, in a Virgina city of the same name, and the Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, more than 90 per cent of the congregation voted to separate from the Episcopal Church in the US. Several smaller congregations in Virginia also decided to separate themselves from the denomination.
Conservatives within the US branch of the Anglican Church have grown increasingly disillusioned with what they perceive as a departure from a strict reading of the Bible.
The ordination of an openly gay bishop in 2003 is a point of bitter contention in the community as is the naming earlier this year of presiding US Bishop Katerine Jefforts Schori, who many deem as too liberal.
More than 1,000 members at both churches were eligible to cast ballots in the decision. They also voted overwhelmingly to retain the churchs' property, which is worth millions of dollars.
That is likely to be challenged in court by the Episcopal diocese.
'Our polity maintains that all real and personal property is held in trust for the Episcopal Church and the diocese,' Virginia Bishop Peter James Lee said in a statement. 'As stewards of this historic trust, we fully intend to assert the church's canonical and legal rights over these properties.'
The congregations will join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a group of conservative congregations, that is affiliated with the more conservative Anglican Church in Nigeria.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur