Two of America’s oldest religious congregations have split from the Episcopal Church causing a further dent in the car crash being caused by the Anglican Communion’s rift over homosexuality.
The Truro Church and the Falls Church, which date back to British colonial times, have voted to be placed under the authority of African Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola, a vocal opponent of gay clergy and same sex marriage.
The split comes after the US Episcopal Church agreed on a watered down version of a proposal in June which would have banned the appointment of gay clergy.
The denomination’s General Convention instead agreed to “exercise restraint” in ordaining gay bishops, as part of an effort to amend rifts within the Anglican Church after the appointment of gay bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson in 2003.
The African Anglican Church expressed dismay at the decisions which ignored most of the recommendations of the Windsor Report which aimed to mend rifts between the church over the gay issue.
Reverend Peter Akinola, on behalf of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA,) said: “We have been especially concerned by the development of your response to The Windsor Report, which has been reported to us quite extensively. This is something for which we have earnestly prayed. We are, however, saddened that the reports to date of your elections and actions suggest that you are unable to embrace the essential recommendations of the Windsor Report and the 2005 Primates Communiqué necessary for the healing of our divisions.
“We have observed the commitment shown by your church to the full participation of people in same gender sexual relationships in civic life, church life and leadership. We have noted the many affirmations of this throughout the Convention. As you know, our Churches cannot reconcile this with the teaching on marriage set out in the Holy Scriptures and repeatedly affirmed throughout the Anglican Communion. All four Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion advised you against taking and continuing these commitments and actions prior to your General Convention in 2003.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has previously warned against a split and has called for dialogue on the issue, while conservative churches in the US and UK have looked to move away from liberal viewpoints.