ATLANTA , Georgia The two leading critics against the consecration of a gay bishop within the Episcopal Church, advised conservatives to remain patient within the existing framework, for early skirmishes will be within the next 60 days.
While the two figures, both heads of the American Anglican Council - a network of conservative Episcopal leaders, did not specify as to what the skirmishes would be, they hinted toward a complete dichotomization of the denomination by early 2004.
The advice came from the president and vice president of the council, Rev. Canon David C. Anderson and Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, during the organizations Georgia chapter meeting on Monday, Nov. 24. The two also reported that they were drafting a charter for the Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes, marking the first step toward establishing a separate denomination within the denomination.
Both Duncan and Anderson reaffirmed that the split between the conservative and liberal factions are inevitable. While they acknowledged the rift may come years down the line, they moved toward a system of church within a church, where the immediate concerns of the conservative Episcopalians will be addressed within a separate coordination; the two also advised the dissenting congregants and congregations to withhold their funds from hostile diocese, markedly, New Hampshire where the openly gay Gene Robinson was consecrated this month.
The consecration, said Duncan, deeply divided the Episcopal Church, as well as the 77 million members Anglican Communion.
"It is not about sex. It is not about God's love being beyond any of his children," said Duncan, the Bishop of Pittsburgh. "It's about biblical authority and Anglican identity."
Anderson called the acceptance of homosexuality in the church "a form of polytheism."
"A lot of what you see going on is not Anglican. It is not Christian," he said. "It is not Anglican in the last 2,000 years of tradition, and you're not allowed in the last two decades to reinvent the Christian faith."
While the two recognized the certainty of legal battles to follow a split, they said they will fight pew to pew, steeple to steeple.
Earlier this month, bishops overseas, especially those in the global south, announced they were in a "state of impaired communion" with the Episcopal Church a step short of declaring a full schism. The head of the diocese of Sydney also threatened to align with the dissenting parishes to form a separate network of believers.
International church leaders are not expected to announce any sort of permanent break until after a commission formed by the head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Rowan Williams, reports next year on whether a split can be averted. The U.S. conservatives said they would also wait for Williams response and authorization before creating a separate Anglican province for them in North America.