PITTSBURGH — Conservative Episcopalians brought in a South American bishop yesterday to ordain three deacons and a priest to establish four traditional Anglican churches, including one in Baltimore and one in the District.
The move — considered allowable, but highly unusual in church law — was the latest step toward establishing a church parallel to the existing 2.2-million-member Episcopal Church because of objections to the 2003 consecration of a homosexual bishop.
“It’s hard to know how seriously to take this. There’s some dispute as to whether this will be an Anglican church,” said Jim Naughton, spokesman for Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
Bolivian Bishop Frank Lyons consecrated William Haley, 36, a former youth minister at the Falls Church Episcopal — Virginia’s largest Episcopal parish — as a deacon.
Mr. Haley will head up St. Brendan’s, which will not be part of the U.S. Episcopal Church but instead will be an Anglican parish meeting at First New Hope Baptist Church in the District. He will be working in the territory of the Rt. Rev. John B. Chane, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, but without his permission.
The new priest, Eliot Winks, 40, will head up the new Anglican Church of the Resurrection near Towson, Md. Although the church is geographically in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, it will not answer to Maryland Bishop Robert Ihloff, but instead to the Anglican bishop of Chile, the Most Rev. Hector Zavala.
The two other men will serve in North Carolina and Connecticut under the Bolivian bishop.
The ordinations, which were kept secret until late yesterday morning, included a fifth candidate from Christ the Redeemer Episcopal Church in Centreville, Va. His ordination was withdrawn at the last minute.
Mr. Haley, a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary near Boston now living in the District, said his new church will serve the poor.
“We hope to be a redemptive presence in a city known for its brokenness,” he said. When a reporter asked him if he was “the new face of a realigned Anglican Communion,” he said, “I hope I am the new face of integrating orthodox theology and social action.”
He said he had too many doctrinal differences with Bishop Chane to consider working as one of his priests.
“I’m troubled by [Bishop Chane’s] comments during an Easter sermon during which he said the Resurrection was conjectural at best,” he said, referring to a sermon the bishop gave in San Diego shortly before becoming bishop of Washington.
The Rev. John Yates, rector of the Falls Church, and one of his associates, the Rev. Robert Watkin, were ceremonial presenters for Mr. Haley.
“I support this 100 percent,” Mr. Yates said. “This is part of the new church that God is raising up.”
Mr. Winks also identified himself as part of a new breed of Anglican priests trained in Episcopal seminaries, but forced to leave the denomination. He said he applied four times to the Diocese of Maryland to be licensed for ministry to college students.
“But Bishop Ihloff sent me a letter telling me to ‘cease and desist’ from clerical activity in his diocese,” the new priest said. The Maryland Diocese could not be reached yesterday for comment.
Bishop Lyons minced few words in blasting the leadership of the Episcopal Church before a crowd of 2,500 Episcopalians. Their three-day meeting at the David C. Lawrence Convention Center was sponsored by the Anglican Communion Network, which represents about 200,000 traditional Episcopalians.
“The Episcopal Church has broken fellowship and communion with us,” he said.
Bishop Lyons is part of the 70-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, which has split over the consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, a divorced homosexual who lives with his lover.
The Episcopal Church is one of 38 Anglican provinces, as is Bishop Lyons’ province, the Southern Cone.
The Southern Cone does not recognize the Episcopal Church, which the bishop called “open territory run by Unitarians.” So far, the Diocese of Bolivia has planted 18 churches in the United States.