On Tuesday, August 24, a third conservative Episcopal church in Southern California left the national church and realigned with a separate Anglican diocese in Uganda, further challenging the authority of the liberal bishop of Los Angeles.
The decision by St. David’s Episcopal Church in North Hollywood, California comes only one week after a similar decision by two parishes – All Saints’ in Long Beach and St. James in Newport Beach. All three churches said they will now be placed under the jurisdiction of Anglican Bishop Evans Kiesekka of the Diocese of Luweero in Uganda.
Following the decisions of All Saints and St. James, the Los Angeles bishop Jon Bruno threatened to ‘depose’ the church leaders.
However, the leaders of the two churches ignored Bruno’s threats, reminding him of his lack of authority over them. The head of St. David’s agreed with the other two leaders, and said he expected other conservative parishes in California to follow in the lead.
To date, some 10 parishes have left the 2.3 million member Episcopal Church last year, mostly over theological discrepancies on the issue of homosexuality. Many other parishes ‘realigned’ with the conservative Anglican American communion within the ECUSA after the national church decided to openly bless the unions of homosexual couples and ordain active homosexuals as bishop and clergy.
The three dissenting churches in the Los Angeles diocese said they will remain within the worldwide Anglican Communion, the 77-million member umbrella of Anglicans worldwide of which the ECUSA takes part. However, they clearly stated they would no longer be Episcopalian.
Meanwhile, the presiding bishop of the ECUSA, the Most Revd Frank T Griswold, sent a “letter of concern” to the Archbishop of the Provice of Uganda, the Rev. Henry L. Orombi.
"I am saddened by the action of clergy and members of three congregations in the Diocese of Los Angeles and their desire to separate themselves from the life of the Episcopal Church. I know how assiduously Bishop Bruno has sought to be a minister of reconciliation and a pastor to those of all views within the life of the Diocese of Los Angeles and its 147 diverse congregations,” said Griswold.
"I have written to the Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda expressing my concern that he claims jurisdiction within the boundaries of the Episcopal Church. The bishops of the Anglican Communion and the Primates in their statement of last October have made it clear that bishops are to respect the boundaries of one another's dioceses and provinces. Living in communion with one another involves not only the sharing of a common faith in the Risen Lord but how we treat and respect one another in the Body of Christ,” he continued.
Bruno thanked Griswold, and said he hoped to be reconciled with the three churches.
"I hope that this situation is resolved through the openness and willingness of the people of St James, Newport Beach; All Saints, Long Beach; and St David's, North Hollywood, to return to the Episcopal Church," Bishop Bruno said.
"Our diocesan boundaries have been violated by the Primate of Uganda," Bishop Bruno said, "even after he agreed to the statement made last October by all the Primates that they should respect diocesan boundaries." He added, "I will continue to pray for these people, from Archbishop Orombi to each parishioner of those congregations."