PITTSBURGH – A group of 13 conservative Episcopal bishops announced the creation of a new Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes that disapprove of the church’s consecration of an openly gay bishop.
In an interview with New York Times late Tuesday evening, Bishop Robert W. Duncan of Pittsburgh, the moderator and convening authority of the new network, said: "Thirteen dioceses are coming together to guarantee that the kind of Anglicanism that is authentic Anglicanism throughout the world is represented here in the United States and has its own voice."
According to Duncan, the newly formed network would not break with the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the global Anglican Communion. Instead, the goal was for foreign Anglicans and other Christian churches to recognize the network as the true representative of Anglicanism in the United States. This, he said, could force the Episcopal Church to back off its decisions on homosexuality.
The purposes of the network is "to tell the truth to America that the Episcopal Church is telling a lie with the things they approved this summer," said Duncan.
The diocese listed in the network in addition to Pittsburgh are those of Albany, N.Y.; Fresno, Calif.; Charleston, S.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Dallas; Fort Worth; Peoria, Ill.; Springfield, Ill.; Salina, Kan.; and Albuquerque, N.M.
However, on Thursday, the two Florida dioceses issued statements disavowing their participation, explaining that although the 13 bishops signed a “theological charter” for the network, they could not include their whole dioceses as members until diocesan committees had been given a chance to approve.
"The cart is way, way ahead of the horse, and I'm not sure it's the right cart or horse," Bishop John W. Howe of Central Florida said in an interview on Wednesday.
Bishop John B. Lipscomb also said, "The Diocese of Southwest Florida has not agreed to join the network," and would not send any representatives to the network's organizational meeting next month in Texas.
Bishops, clergy and lay delegates from the dioceses will hold a constituting convention in Plano, Texas, Jan. 19-20 to approve an organizational "charter" and a theological platform. The 15-point draft platform, posted on the network's new Web site Wednesday, says pro-gay actions by the Episcopal Church and the Vancouver diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada have "torn the fabric" of the worldwide Anglican Communion and violated trust with other branches of Christianity.
Another point of the charter goes against the Episcopal church’s recognition of same-sex blessing ceremonies.
"The Episcopal Church, in approving same-sex blessings and the consecration of the new bishop of New Hampshire, is saying God approves of this. God doesn't approve of this and that's a huge lie," Duncan said.
The network would try to get the church to reverse its decision, he said.