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The term Anglican realignment refers to a movement among some Anglicans to align themselves under new or alternative oversight within or outside the Anglican Communion. This movement is primarily active in parts of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada. Two major events which contributed to the movement were the 2002 decision of the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada to authorise a rite of blessing for same-sex unions and the ratification by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the election of Gene Robinson, an openly gay non-celibate man, as Bishop of New Hampshire the following year.
The current realignment movement differs from previous ones in that some Anglicans are seeking to establish different ecclesiastical arrangements within the Anglican Communion rather than separating themselves from it; and, other Anglicans that had previously separated are being gathered into the new realignment structures as well as those who were never Anglican/Episcopalian before. Some Anglican provinces, particularly in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and the Southern Cone, are seeking to accommodate them. A number of parishes that are part of the realignment have severed ties with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada and associated themselves with bishops from these other national Anglican provinces. Some other American dioceses and parishes (approximately 800 out of some 7,000 Episcopal Church parishes) still officially remain within those two provinces whilst exploring their future options.
The conventions of four dioceses of the Episcopal Church voted in 2007 and 2008 to leave that church and to join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America. Twelve other jurisdictions, serving an estimated 100,000 persons at that time, formed the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) on December 3–4, 2008. ACNA is seeking official recognition as a province within the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Church of Nigeria declared itself in communion with the new church in March 2009 and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans has recognized it as well. In June 2009, the Anglican Church of Uganda also declared itself in full communion with ACNA, and the Anglican Church of Sudan followed suit in December 2011.
This movement that involves secession from local dioceses or provinces and yet seeks to remain within the Anglican Communion has been criticised by opponents who claim that, under historic Anglican polity, such a move is not possible. The concept of alternative episcopal oversight first arose a generation ago with the debate over the ordination of women. At that time, the movement manifested itself as an effort to accommodate conservative parishes or dioceses that did not want to accept the authority of women consecrated as bishops or bishops who ordained women by providing pastoral oversight from a bishop who shared this theology. The most thoroughly developed example of this involved the appointment of provincial episcopal visitors in the Church of England, beginning in 1994, who attend to the pastoral needs of parishes and clergy who do not recognise that holy orders can or should be conferred on women. The movement continues today primarily because of a very similar controversy regarding gay and lesbian members of the church, particularly the church's role in same-sex marriage and the ordination of homosexual clergy.
Under canon law a diocese and a province have geographical boundaries and no other diocese or province can exercise jurisdiction within those boundaries. If the Anglican realignment movement succeeds, some dioceses will be defined by a common theological perspective: thus, a geographically distinct area may have multiple Anglican dioceses recognized by the Anglican Communion.
Since 1785, there have been disputes within the Episcopal Church that have led to departures of clergy and congregations. An early and notable example is King's Chapel, a historic church in Boston that was Anglican when founded in 1686. A century later, in 1785, a clergyman with Unitarian ideas took his congregation and formed an independent Unitarian church. To this day, King's Chapel believes itself to be both a Unitarian church and an extramural Anglican church as it uniquely uses the Book of Common Prayer According to the Use in King's Chapel in its worship.
In Canada, the first rupture with the incipient national church came in 1871, with the departure of the Dean of the Diocese of British Columbia, Edward Cridge, and many of the congregation of Christ Church Cathedral over the issue of ritualism. Cridge and his followers founded a church under the auspices of the US-based Reformed Episcopal Church, and continued to use the Book of Common Prayer.
For the most part, extramural Anglican churches are linked by the common use of forms of the Book of Common Prayer in worship. Like the example of King's Chapel, some use unique or historical versions. Over the years, various parallel Anglican denominations have broken with Anglican Communion churches over many, sometimes transient, issues.
Development and growth
Initial developments for the Anglican realignment started through progressive tendencies of the Lambeth Conference. Beginning with the Lambeth Conferences, international Anglicanism has wrestled with matters of doctrine, polity, and liturgy in order to achieve consensus, or at least tolerance, between diverse viewpoints. Throughout the twentieth century, this led to Lambeth resolutions allowing for contraception and divorce, denouncing capital punishment, and recognising the autonomy of provinces in the ordination of women to the diaconate and priesthood. Despite the determination of the 1897 conference that communion provinces were autonomous and that no other province had jurisdiction within another, some provinces have sought to associate with others. Although Lambeth had not indicated support for the ordination of women to the priesthood at the time, some provinces began ordaining women to this order before Lambeth reconsidered the matter in 1978, just as some provinces have begun consecrating women bishops although there is likewise no international consensus.
The ordination of women priests in the United States in 1976 led to the founding of the Continuing Anglican Movement in 1977. Its Affirmation of St. Louis declared the ordination of women (by the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada) to be a matter of schism and to have caused a break with apostolic succession. The "Anglican Continuum", therefore, saw itself as perpetuating (i.e. continuing) the line of valid ordination considered essential to Anglicanism. In 1992, the Episcopal Missionary Church was established after its leaders first attempted to reform ECUSA from within. It is usually considered to have joined the Continuing Anglican Movement. Unlike the Anglican realignment movement, the churches of the Anglican Continuum do not seek to be accepted into the Anglican Communion.
Further developments within Anglicanism led the province of Rwanda, along with the province of Southeast Asia, to form the Anglican Mission in America (now called the Anglican Mission in the Americas) as a mission jurisdiction.
- At its diocesan synod in May, the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster of the Anglican Church of Canada voted for the third time to permit the blessing of same-sex unions. After having withheld consent to the motion on two previous occasions, Bishop Michael Ingham agreed to it, as it the benchmark of garnering more than 60% majority of votes by delegates. In response, nine parishes withdrew from diocesan life, and the priests of two of the parishes led members of their congregations into churches affiliated with the Church of the Province of Rwanda. Two additional parishes returned to diocesan involvement after their dissenting rectors left. Five remain outside the ambit of the diocese.
- Gene Robinson — a divorced priest openly living in a committed gay relationship — was consecrated as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church of the United States. This event precipitated actions by dissenting Episcopal bishops and priests at the diocesan and parish level to disassociate themselves from the Episcopal Church and align themselves with other Primates of the Anglican Communion, including the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda, and Bolivia. The Archbishop of Canterbury has not recognized such realignments as legitimate.
- A communique issued from a called meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion on October 15–16 stated "that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own", while also calling on Anglican provinces "to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates."
- On January 11, the Rev. Foley Beach of Monroe, Georgia resigned his church and departed the Episcopal Church to start a new congregation, Holy Cross Anglican Church, under Bishop Frank Lyons of the Province of the Southern Cone and the Diocese of Bolivia.
- This began an exodus of clergy and congregations.
- Two parishes in Washington state left the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia. The two churches are now affiliated with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of the Americas.
- On November 4, Katharine Jefferts Schori, previously Bishop of Nevada, was invested at the Washington National Cathedral as the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA. She is the only national leader of a church in the Anglican Communion who is a woman. The Seattle Times reported in Virginia, "Parishioners there weren't upset only by Bishop Peter James Lee's vote in 2003 to accept an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire; many of the members still object to female priests and the new female bishop who leads the U.S. church." Her election is a point of division within some provinces of the Anglican Communion, which does not universally accept the ordination of women.
- In the Anglican realignment movement, the Anglican Mission in America, which has women priests, has decided that women will in the future will be ordained deacons but not priests or bishops. The two women priests in AMiA will continue to serve. The Anglican Communion Network, which includes parishes with women clergy and those that are opposed to women's ordination, has made it a policy to respect both positions. CANA is studying whether women newly aspiring to ordination should be approved."...CANA policies regarding the ordination of new female aspirants will be developed from a biblical and pastoral perspective." The American Anglican Council issued a statement, on the election of Bishop Schori which in part said "Jefferts Schori’s election will obviously present problems for those who do not recognize the ordination of women priests". The AAC's "Statement of Faith: A Place to Stand: A Call to Mission" explicitly says under "Ministry in the Anglican Communion" that in regards to "practices contrary to biblical, classical Anglican doctrine and moral standards, we must not and will not support them."
- On December 12, a small group of evangelical leaders within the Church of England met with the Archbishop of Canterbury and presented "A Covenant for the Church of England"—a controversial document requesting alternate church structures to lend support and, possibly, oversight to evangelical parishes presently under theologically liberal bishops. The prominent evangelical bishop Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, repudiated the document in a Church Times article.
- Also on December 12, the Anglican Church of Tanzania issued a declaration breaking its ties with the Episcopal Church stating, "the Anglican Church of Tanzania shall not knowingly accept financial and material aid from dioceses, parishes, bishops, priests, individuals and institutions in the Episcopal Church (USA) that condone homosexual practice or bless same-sex unions."
- On December 16 the two parishes which originally left the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia reached an agreement with the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia to share the church buildings between the diocese and themselves.
- On December 17, two parishes in Virginia—Truro Church and The Falls Church — voted unilaterally to sever ties to the Episcopal Church and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the Church of Nigeria as part of its mission, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). Nine additional Virginia parishes followed their lead within weeks by voting to leave the Episcopal Church and joining CANA; another former Episcopal parish in Virginia, Church of the Messiah in Chesapeake, had voted to join CANA in October 2006. The Diocese of Virginia took steps to maintain its claim on the church buildings and land of the two parishes.
- On June 25, 2007, the Court of Appeals of the State of California overturned a lower court ruling and affirmed that where a hierarchical church — such as the Episcopal Church — has determined that the real and personal property of subordinate bodies must be used and maintained for the benefit of the larger church, the courts in California must respect and enforce that determination.. The case involved three parishes that left The Episcopal Church in August 2004 — now named St. James Anglican Church, Newport Beach; All Saints’ Anglican Church, Long Beach; and St. David’s Anglican Church, North Hollywood—and joined the Church of Uganda. Each parish maintained that it was entitled to keep parish property and not turn it over to The Episcopal Church and its respective dioceses. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, citing church canons which place all parish property in trust for The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Los Angeles, asserted that it was entitled to retain the property. The ruling of the Court of Appeals was a decisive decision for The Episcopal Church in California.
- On August 30, 2007, the Archbishop of Kenya, Benjamin Nzimbi, with several other archbishops from Africa, South America, the West Indies and the Indian Ocean region consecrated two conservative American priests of The Episcopal Church as bishops. The new bishops pledged allegiance to Archbishop Nzimbi and intend to lead 30 American congregations out of The Episcopal Church.
- In November, Gregory Venables, Primate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America, offered to place Canadian parishes under his jurisdiction. Two retired Canadian bishops relinquished their licences in the Anglican Church of Canada, becoming bishops of the Southern Cone in anticipation of what they hope will either be the creation of a parallel province of the Anglican Communion in Canada, or the successor province to it.
- On December 8, 2007, the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin voted to leave ECUSA and join the Province of the Southern Cone as the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. The split created two dioceses, both claiming to be Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. The one associated with the Southern Cone had more members and control of diocesan property.
- March 29, 2008 Those in the Diocese of San Joaquin who remained in the Episcopal Church hold a reorganizing convention.
- On April 24, 2008 the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin filed a suit to recover the diocesan property from Bishop Schofield and those affiliated with the Province of the Southern Cone.
- On September 18, 2008 the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church voted to depose Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh for abandonment of the communion of the Church. The sentence was officially declared by Presiding Bishop Schori on September 20, 2008.
- On October 4, 2008, the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh voted to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Province of the Southern Cone. Those who did not leave the Episcopal Church immediately reorganized the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and were recognized by the Episcopal Church immediately. This effectively split the diocese leaving two bodies. The group leaving the Episcopal Church had about two-thirds of the parishes and slightly over half of the membership.
- On November 8, 2008, the Synod of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy voted to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Province of the Southern Cone. A small group, of parishes led by the Cathedral remained in the Episcopal Church and began planning for reorganization. The same day in Pittsburgh a Special Convention called by those who had left the Episcopal Church elected Robert Duncan as their bishop.
- On November 15, 2008, the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth voted to leave the Episcopal Church and align with the Southern Cone. Those who wished to remain in the Episcopal Church immediately organized and began planning for a Special Convention. This resulted in two organizations in Fort Worth both claiming to be the Episcopal Diocese. Litigation over the name and property resulted.
- On December 4, 2008, leaders from the Dioceses of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Quincy, Illinois; Fort Worth, Texas; and San Joaquin, California along with leadership from groups that left the Episcopal Church earlier (some as long ago as 1873) unveiled the draft constitution and canons of the new Anglican Church in North America.
- The Anglican Church in North America was established at a convention on December 3–4, 2008.
- On January 5, 2009 the California Supreme Court issued an opinion that the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles was the owner of the church properties of those parishes in its diocese that had left the Episcopal Church. The decision was widely seen as providing a precedent covering all such property suits in the state.
- The Anglican Province of Nigeria declared itself in communion with the Anglican Church in North America in March 2009.
- The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth of the Episcopal Church files suit to recover church property from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth that was part of ACNA.
- On April 16, 2009, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans recognized the Anglican Church in North America
- In May 2009 the Anglican Consultative Council met in Kingston, Jamaica with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada in full participation. ACNA was not added as a member or recognized in any way.
- On June 23, 2009, the Church of the Province of Uganda declared itself in communion with the Anglican Church in North America.
- On July 23, 2009 the Superior Court of Fresno ruled that the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin was Jerry Lamb, the person recognized by the Episcopal Church and that he should have control of diocesan property.
- In October 2009, the Court of Common Pleas issued an opinion granting all diocesan property to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (i.e. the group that remained in the Episcopal Church). On January 29, 2010 a implementation order directed the ANCA diocese headed by Archbishop Duncan to turn over all diocesan property to the Episcopal group.
- On October 28, 2009 the Diocese of Sydney, Australia, welcomed the Anglican Church in North America and declared its desire to be in full communion with it.
- On February 10, 2010, the Church of England Synod changed a resolution that would have put the Synod clearly on record as requesting full communion with ACNA so that it instead simply recognized the desire of ACNA to remain within the "Anglican Family," recognized the problems that this created and asked the Archbishops to make a further report in 2011.
- On April 12, 2010, Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Province of the Indian Ocean chair of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, said he felt "constrained by my conscience … to forthwith suspend all communication both verbal and sacramental" with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada "until such time as they reverse their theological innovations."
- On April 23, 2010, representatives from 20 Anglican provinces, meeting in Singapore, called on the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada to "Show genuine repentance" for actions that "show they continue in their defiance as they set themselves on a course that contradicts the plain teaching of the Holy Scriptures on matters so fundamental that they affect the very salvation of those involved."
- In January 2011 the Primates of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion met with Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori in attendance. Several Primates refused to attend. At the meeting no action was taken to recognize ACNA and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori was elected to the Standing Committee of the Primates.
- February 2, The Commonwealth Court of Appeals in Pennsylvania upheld the decision to return all diocesan property to those who remained in the Episcopal Church. The same day one of the largest ACNA parishes signed a settlement with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh allowing it to purchase its building and agreeing that it would disaffiliate from the ACNA diocese for a minimum of five years or during the term that they were still making payments to the Episcopal Diocese.
- On February 8, 2011 the District Court in Tarrant County, Texas issued a partial summary judgment declaring those who stayed in the Episcopal Church the rightful owners of all diocesan property of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The order was stayed however, pending further arguments and appeals.
- October 17, the Diocese of South Carolina announced that it was disaffiliating itself from the national Episcopal Church, two days after Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori informed Bishop Mark Lawrence that his ministry was restricted as a result of a verdict by the Disciplinary Board of Bishops. In September, the Board had found Lawrence guilty of abandoning the Episcopal Church “by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”
- The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling from Virginia that the real estate and some other assets of The Falls Church legally belong to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, ending a challenge by overwhelming majority of that congregation who had wanted to retain the property when they decided to leave the Episcopal Church.
Anglican realignment associations
- Diocese of Albany
- Diocese of Dallas
- Diocese of Springfield
- Diocese of Central Florida
- Diocese of the Rio Grande
Four dioceses have declared independence from TEC and claimed membership in the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. None of these was listed by the Anglican Communion office as being part of the Province of the Southern Cone. They joined the Anglican Church in North America as founding dioceses in June 2009
- Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin
- Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh
- Diocese of Quincy (ACNA)
- Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (ACNA)
The Diocese of South Carolina disassociated itself from the national Episcopal Church on October 17, 2012, and called a diocesan convention for November 17 to "iron out the necessary changes to our Canons and Constitution, and begin to discern the best way forward into a new Anglican future." On August 22, 2014, they were accepted into the Global South.
Other unaffiliated Episcopal / Anglican organizations in North America
There are a number of other Episcopal / Anglican churches in the United States and Canada. Those that play a role in the Anglican realignment debate are listed in the next section:
Organizations associated with other provinces
- Anglican Mission in the Americas—founded jointly by and affiliated with the Province of Rwanda and Province of South East Asia
- Anglican Coalition in Canada—the Canadian contingent of the Anglican Mission in the Americas
- Anglican Province of America—independent, non-Canterbury. Now affiliated (intercommunion) with Province of Nigeria through the Anglican Church in North America.
- Convocation of Anglicans in North America—founded as a missionary diocese of the Province of Nigeria.
- Reformed Episcopal Church—independent, non-Canterbury. Now affiliated (intercommunion) with the Province of Nigeria through the Anglican Church in North America.
- Continuing Anglican Movement
- Anglican Church in North America
- Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas
- Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
- Global South (Anglican)
- Personal ordinariate (Anglicanorum Coetibus)
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