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Episcopal Head Responds to Diocese Vote

Members of a conservative Episcopal diocese who voted to distance themselves from the faith's national denomination received a letter Monday from church leaders lamenting their decision.
( [email protected] ) Dec 05, 2006 01:32 PM EST

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Members of a conservative Episcopal diocese who voted to distance themselves from the faith's national denomination received a letter Monday from church leaders lamenting their decision.

The Fresno-based Diocese of San Joaquin voted Saturday to affirm its membership in the worldwide Anglican Communion, in what diocese leaders called a first step toward a formal break with the national church over the ordination of gays and women. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. wing of the 77 million-member Anglican family.

"I lament the actions of the Bishop and Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin to repudiate their membership in the Episcopal Church," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a prepared statement Monday.

"Our task as the Episcopal Church is God's mission of reconciling the world, and actions such as this distract and detract from that mission," she said.

While San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield has said he remains open to proposals that would allow the diocese "theological respect and freedom," the diocese had no official response to the letter, the Rev. Canon Bill Gandenberger said.

The resolution approved by a majority of clergy and lay delegates last weekend won't become final unless it receives a two-thirds majority vote at a diocesan convention next year.

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