Months after the majority of the Diocese of Quincy severed ties with The Episcopal Church, new leadership was recently elected to lead the remaining Episcopalians.
The Rt. Rev. John Clark Buchanan, retired bishop of the Diocese of West Missouri, was elected Saturday as provisional bishop of the diocese in Illinois.
The Rev. Canon John Blossom, who has been involved with reorganizing the diocese, commented, "This is a new day in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Quincy."
"It's now time start loving each other instead of judging each other. It's time to start renewing our mission and ministry and be about loving, learning and accepting," he said, according to the Episcopal News Service.
Last November, the majority of members in the Quincy diocese voted to break from The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of the global Anglican Communion – and join the more conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina. It was one of four dioceses to leave.
The breakaway Anglicans claimed the U.S. body has departed from Christian orthodoxy and Anglican tradition.
The Episcopal Church had heightened controversy in 2003 when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop.
Although the majority of the diocese voted out, the head of The Episcopal Church made clear on Saturday that dioceses as a whole cannot leave the national church.
"Only people can leave," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said, as reported by the denomination's news publication.
The breakaway Anglicans from the Diocese of Quincy are joining tens of thousands of other conservative Anglicans in forming a new North American Anglican province. Called the Anglican Church in North America, the emerging province is an effort to unite those disaffected by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada while remaining aligned with the global Communion.
The remaining Episcopalians in the Diocese of Quincy, meanwhile, have reorganized after months of having no clear direction.
"They have worked so hard, suffered so long and finally are coming to the realization that they are free to be the Episcopal Church in this place and free to be part of the larger church," the Rev. Canon Rick Cluett, a special representative of the presiding bishop to reorganizing dioceses, told the Episcopal News Service.