Breakaway Anglicans, Episcopal Faithful Build New Future

Anglicans in the Diocese of San Joaquin will be doing a lot more celebrating and a lot less business this year as they hold their first annual convention since severing ties with The Episcopal Church.

The breakaway Anglicans, who voted in December 2007 to disaffiliate from the U.S. church body and realign with the more conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America, open their meeting Friday at St. James' Cathedral in Fresno, Calif.

Also celebrating in that same weekend will be Episcopalians who voted to remain with The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism. The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is meeting at Church of the Saviour in Hanford where they will discuss rebuilding their diocese.

For years before the split, the diocese's conventions had been dominated by politics and business, according to the Rev. Bill Gandenberger, a spokesman for the breakaway Anglicans. Now, Anglicans have the opportunity to devote more energy to ministries, he said, according to The Fresno Bee.

"The 49th Annual Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin promises to model a whole new approach to our being together as God's people," the Anglicans state on their website. "With the new freedom we have found serving as a constituent member of the Province of the Southern Cone, we are able to focus on what God is setting out before us."

The Diocese of San Joaquin was the first entire diocese to secede from The Episcopal Church when it voted 173 to 22 to leave. The breakaway group argued that the U.S. body was departing from Christian orthodoxy and Anglican tradition.

Last week, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin charged 16 deacons and 36 priests who left The Episcopal Church with "abandonment." If Bishop Jerry Lamb of the Episcopal diocese agrees with the charge, the 52 clergy will be inhibited and not allowed to function as Episcopal priests or deacons unless they recant to the U.S. church body within six months.

The breakaway Anglicans were unmoved by the charge, arguing that the clergy have been "officially recognized by the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Province of the Southern Cone."

In other words, those priests and deacons who realigned themselves have been accepted as ordained Anglican clergy across the worldwide Anglican Communion, they claimed in a response statement.

"The Episcopal Church no longer has any jurisdiction over the Anglican Clergy of the Diocese of San Joaquin, and any actions taken by The Episcopal Church concerning their ecclesiastical status within the worldwide Anglican Communion is of no force or effect," they added.

The theme for the Anglicans' Oct. 24-25 convention is "Celebrating God's Faithfulness," which is a testament to how the Anglicans have "survived" and are now "thriving" after the split. " Meanwhile, the Episcopalians' Oct. 24-26 "Episkofest 2008" is themed "See, I am doing a new thing!"

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