PLANO, Texas (AP) — Christ Church Episcopal has announced that it will leave the denomination because it can no longer abide by the national church's decisions.
Leaders of the conservative Plano congregation announced their plan Monday, a week after the Episcopal Church elected Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as its first female presiding bishop.
Jefferts Schori supported the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. She also supported the creation of locally authorized blessings for gay unions.
"The mission of Christ Church is to make disciples and teach them to obey the commands of Christ," said a statement approved by Christ Church's leaders this weekend. "The direction of the leadership of the Episcopal Church is different and we regret their departure from biblical truth and the historic faith of the Anglican Communion. ... We declare our intention to disassociate from ECUSA as soon as possible."
A spokesman for the Episcopal Church did not immediately return phone messages left by The Associated Press early Tuesday.
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the international Anglican Communion. Anglican leaders and some churches overseas broke ties with the American church over Robinson's elevation, which also disturbed conservatives in the American church.
Members of a conservative network within the national church have scheduled a meeting for the end of July to consider a response this month's convention.
The Plano church is one of the largest Episcopal churches in the nation, drawing about 2,200 worshippers each weekend to the Dallas suburb.
The church's pastor, the Rev. David Roseberry, has been a vocal critic of the decision to consecrate a gay bishop. He turned in his credentials at the 2003 national convention after the decision, and the church hosted a conference of conservative Episcopalians later that year.
Under Episcopal Church rules, the parish's property belongs to the diocese rather than the congregation. But Dallas Bishop James Stanton, who also opposed the vote confirming Bishop Robinson, said he intends to allow the congregation to continue to use the facility.
"They bought it. They paid for it," Stanton said.
Christ Church said it still regards the Dallas bishop as its "apostolic leader."
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.