The diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, has decided to reject the spiritual authority of the US Episcopalian church and seek alternative oversight.

The announcement marks a further disintegration in the unity of the Anglican communion and the authority of US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Bishop Jack Iker, bishop of the diocese, is a leading traditionalist who opposes women priests as well as gay ones.

The ordination of an openly gay man as a bishop in 2003 and the decision by some clergy to bless same-sex unions have split the 7,400 congregation American church.

Last week an outspoken African primate defied the Archbishop of Canterbury and established a breakaway branch of the church opposed to gay priests.

Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria accused the Anglican leadership of being “insulting and condescending” to the rest of the church.

He performed a ceremony to establish American bishop Martyn Minns as head of a new church branch under his control in Nigeria.

It is intended to gather American Anglicans who oppose current gay policies.

45 US parishes have broken away and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of African bishops.

In February a conference of Anglican primates in Tanzania demanded that the American church stop ordaining gay bishops and give a commitment not to bless same sex partnerships.

The five-day meeting exposed the divisions within the Anglican communion over gay issues, with liberals arguing that church teaching on tolerance should take precedence over biblical interpretation.

The Americans have been given until 30th September to make a statement pledging they will comply with the instructions of the primates.