Breakaway Clerics Seek Recognition

Share via
Times Staff Writer

Conservative Episcopalians called on the world’s leading Anglican archbishops Friday to recognize their emerging network as a separate church within the worldwide Anglican Communion unless the Episcopal Church reverses its liberal views on homosexuality.

Conservatives associated with the newly developing Anglican Communion Network had been careful not to imply that they wanted the group to be recognized as a legitimate national church separate from the 2.3-million member Episcopal Church.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. June 6, 2004 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 06, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 41 words Type of Material: Correction
Anglican organization -- A story in Saturday’s California section on a meeting of conservative Episcopalians in Long Beach identified the Rev. Canon David Anderson as national president of the American Anglican Communion. He is national president of the American Anglican Council.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday June 08, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 3 inches; 94 words Type of Material: Correction
Episcopalian conference -- In Saturday’s California section, a headline about conservative Episcopalians meeting in Long Beach, “Breakaway Clerics Seek Recognition,” may have left the impression that conservatives already are calling for Anglican archbishops to recognize them as a separate church. As the story indicated, conservatives say they will seek recognition only if the Episcopal Church does not “repent” for blessing same-sex unions and ordaining openly gay priests as bishops. Also, the petition was supported by both clerics and laypeople; most of the more than 800 participants at the conference were members of the laity.

But at the end of a two-day meeting in Long Beach, the conference’s steering committee urged Anglican primates -- archbishops of national Anglican churches -- to “recognize the Anglican Communion Network as a true Anglican province [church] in North America if the Episcopal Church does not repent.”


The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the worldwide 77-million-member Anglican Communion, whose spiritual leader is the archbishop of Canterbury. Each self-governing national church is known as a province.

The Long Beach statement also urged the primates to “discipline and censure” the Episcopal Church “for its ongoing ungodly actions.”

Despite the strong plea from conservatives in the Western states, there was no immediate support from national conservative leaders for a separate province, although they said they could understand the frustration of those who did. The Rev. Canon David Anderson, national president of the American Anglican Communion, which supports the network, said Friday that his organization was not prepared to join in a call for a separate province.

“The leadership of the AAC would not want to go that far at this point,” Anderson said.

The Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, a member of the Anglican Communion Network national steering committee, said the Long Beach statement should be seen only as a grass-roots call by network members from the Western states. He said he would have worded it differently.

A high-level commission appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is examining developments in the United States as well as in Canada, where the Anglican Church also is debating whether to bless same-sex unions. The commission was expected to forward its findings to Williams this fall.

Hours before the Long Beach plea, Anderson said he expected the conservative network to remain within the Episcopal Church, at least for the time being.


“It’s like a marriage where there is severe estrangement. Everyone is still under the same roof and gets their mail at the same address, but more and more live lives that go different directions,” he said.

In a speech to the network’s so-called Plano West conference (the first such conference was last year in Plano, Texas), Anderson berated the Episcopal Church. But he also urged conservatives to be patient.

“I would like to see the Episcopal Church censured by the primates and the archbishop of Canterbury,” Anderson said in remarks that drew an estimated 800 attendees to their feet. “I would like to see the Episcopal Church censured, put on a probation status and called to repentance. If they do not repent, then certain things need to happen of a long-term nature. But if they did repent ... God’s grace and forgiveness could be poured abundantly on the whole church, upon hearts that would turn back to God.”

Anderson said Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop J. Jon Bruno’s decision last month to bless the same-sex partnership of a prominent gay priest underscored what Anderson said was the Episcopal Church’s slide toward “heresy and apostasy.”

“How do words begin to describe the scope and the depth of the offense against the church [universal], against the communion members, against the Gospel itself that this is,” Anderson said. He also chastised the Episcopal bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. John Chane, who has planned a similar same-sex blessing for later this month.

As Bruno and Chane came under fire, a gay and lesbian advocacy group, Claiming the Blessing, came to their defense Friday. The group said the blessings were “celebrations of holy love” that gave “glory to God.”