Episcopal Church Departures Accelerate with Anticipated Loss of Fort Worth Diocese
"Suing four different dioceses simultaneously is going to be the least of Jefferts Schori's problems if Episcopalians continue to die off, stop going to church or leave for more vibrant communities of worship." -- Faith J.H. McDonnell, Director of the IRD's Religious Liberty Program
Contact: Jeff Walton, The Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org
WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is expected to vote during its diocesan convention today and Saturday to end its affiliation with the national denomination. An overwhelming number of the diocese's 56 parishes and missions have expressed support for the vote, which requires support from two-thirds of the convention to be adopted. The diocese has expressed an intention to align itself with another province in the Anglican Communion, the Argentina-based Province of the Southern Cone.
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth follows the California-based Diocese of San Joaquin as well as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Quincy, Illinois, in disassociating itself from the Episcopal Church.
IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:
"Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has stated that the worst is behind the denomination. Saying so ignores the continued departure of parishes, and even more so, the decline in Sunday attendance.
"Suing four different dioceses simultaneously is going to be the least of Jefferts Schori's problems if Episcopalians continue to die off, stop going to church or leave for more vibrant communities of worship.
"At the 2003 General Convention, liberal bishops admonished conservatives that the Holy Spirit was doing a new thing in the consecration of Gene Robinson. With the realignment of North American Anglicanism looming on the horizon, now we see the new thing that the Holy Spirit is doing.
"Episcopalians in Fort Worth have with great clarity outlined their strong differences with the denominational leadership. Theirs is a diocese where Jesus Christ is worshipped as the only provision for salvation, not an option among many as the increasingly universalist leaders of the Episcopal Church have held.
"While there is some sadness in the departure of the Fort Worth diocese, the reality is that Fort Worth Episcopalians haven't given anything up: rather, they have embraced a new Anglicanism in North America that is just now beginning to take shape."