Two conservative bishops who are moving toward a split with The Episcopal Church announced their intention to attend a global church gathering that some conservatives are boycotting.
After consulting people of their Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and around the world, Bishops Robert Duncan and Henry Scriven believe it is important and necessary that they be present at the Lambeth Conference, which convenes once every 10 years, to at least provide a conservative voice.
"Those who accuse us of abandoning the Anglican Communion will certainly be present and vocal," said Duncan in an announcement Tuesday. "It is important for us to be able to respond directly to their claims about the situation in The Episcopal Church and our place in the Communion."
He and members of the Pittsburgh diocese voted overwhelmingly in November to leave The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – citing that the American body has drifted from traditional Anglicanism and from orthodox Christianity.
The Episcopal Church heightened controversy when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop, New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, in 2003.
Duncan, who is helping lead a group of discontent Anglicans to form a separate Anglican structure in North America, has expressed little hope in The Episcopal Church and does not anticipate the U.S. body will return to its historic identity and the "mainstream way to be a Christian."
The Pittsburgh bishop's decision to attend Lambeth, which takes place in July in England, comes after several Anglican bishops in the Global South have threatened to boycott the conference in opposition to the attendance of U.S. Episcopal bishops and a lack of discipline in the global communion. About two-thirds of all Anglican bishops have reportedly accepted their invitation to attend Lambeth.
Conservative bishops have scheduled to hold a conference of their own in June in an effort to go back to Christian roots and affirm tradition Anglican faith. Called the Global Anglican Future Conference, the June meeting is seen as a rival to Lambeth.
Duncan announced that he will attend both Lambeth and the conservative meeting.
"We will be among friends, focused squarely on the Gospel, and dealing openly with how we build the missionary relationships, covenantal boundaries and responsible structures for the future of Anglicanism," Duncan said about GAFCON.