Anglican congregations in the southeast and now in the northwest have formed dioceses outside of The Episcopal Church and intend to be part of the new rival body of Anglican conservatives in North America.
Just as 73 Anglican clergy and lay leaders in Jacksonville, Fla., agreed to press ahead with a new orthodox diocese – called The Anglican Diocese in the Southeast – seven congregations in Washington state have also united to form a regional body.
The Washington group, which is calling itself the Diocese of Cascadia, sent a formal application for membership as a diocese to the Anglican Church in North America.
"Today, we are committing to an Anglican reawakening and to contributing to a Christian reawakening for a revival here in the Pacific Northwest," said Fr. Kevin Bond Allen, newly elected president of the Diocesan Council and rector of St. Brendan's Anglican Church, at the first meeting of the new diocese on March 7, according to VirtueOnline, a conservative Anglican publication.
The Diocese in the Southeast, meanwhile, plans to apply for full diocesan status by Sept. 1.
The dioceses are looking to be part of the Anglican Church in North America, which is being formed by several breakaway Anglican groups, representing 100,000 Anglicans, along with four dioceses that split from The Episcopal Church.
A separate ecclesiastical structure in North America had been called for in 2006 by conservative Anglican leaders in the Global South who believe The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of the global Anglican Communion – has abandoned scriptural teaching and Anglican tradition, particularly regarding the doctrine of salvation and acceptance of homosexuality. The U.S. church body had heightened controversy in the communion when it consecrated the first openly gay bishop in 2003.
Conservatives in North America introduced a draft constitution for a new structure last December. They aim to stay aligned with the rest of the global communion while separating from The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
The move for a new national Anglican province in an area where a national church already exists is seen as unprecedented. While some have criticized it as a means for further division, breakaway Anglicans see it as a way of preserving unity in an already splintering communion.
The Anglican Church in North America has scheduled its first official assembly for June 22 in Bedford, Texas, where it will ratify its constitution.
In preparation for the assembly, the American Anglican Council – a network of conservatives – will be holding a conference later this month for churches in the southeast region.
The process of gathering congregations regionally into dioceses and promoting relationships are among the first steps to building a "healthy province," as the Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, stated.