- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Conservative Episcopalians have scheduled a constitutional convention for a new network of theologically orthodox churches and dioceses in opposition to the recent consecration of the first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop.

The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and parishes, led by Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, will be inaugurated at Christ Episcopal Church in Plano, Texas, on Jan. 19-20. Delegates will approve an organizational charter and a 15-point theological platform, which is posted at www.anglicancommuniondioceses.org.

In a Dec. 15 letter to clergy and lay leaders in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop Duncan insisted his plan has the backing of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

The network, he wrote, is “essential to prevent the orthodox minority from being marginalized.” It is, he added, “a gathering place for those who stand in solidarity regarding the repudiation of the anti-Scriptural decisions of General Convention.”

It was at the Episcopal General Convention in Minneapolis last summer that Bishop V. Gene Robinson’s election was confirmed by a majority of delegates.

The network, which has been discussed for weeks by conservative leaders and first reported Dec. 6 in The Washington Times, includes the dioceses of Pittsburgh; Albany, N.Y.; San Joaquin (Fresno, Calif.); South Carolina; Florida; Central Florida; Southwest Florida; Dallas; Fort Worth; Quincy (Peoria, Ill.); Springfield, Ill.; Western Kansas; and Rio Grande (New Mexico and west Texas).

Delegates will include one diocesan bishop, as well as two clergy and two lay leaders from each of the 13 dioceses. There are no plans to include clergy or laity from conservative parishes in other dioceses.

The American Anglican Council, the lead conservative group opposing the Robinson consecration, said yesterday the network was assembled Nov. 20 in London at a meeting of international Anglican and Episcopal leaders.

U.S. Episcopal bishops at the meeting included Bishop Duncan, Edward L. Salmon of the Diocese of South Carolina, James B. Stanton of the Diocese of Dallas and Jack L. Iker of the Diocese of Fort Worth.

There was no official response about the convention from Episcopal Church headquarters in New York.

“The strategy of the network is not completely clear,” spokesman Jim Solheim said. “One big issue is whether they will enter dioceses without the permission of the bishop.”

In a related development, the Religion Newswriters Association, a group of 240 religion reporters for the secular media, voted Bishop Robinson Newsmaker of the Year for 2003. They also voted his ordination as the top religion news story of 2003, followed by stories on religious differences over the war in Iraq.

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