Fourth dioceses breaks from Episcopalians

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The theologically conservative Diocese of Fort Worth has voted to split from the liberal-leaning Episcopal Church, the fourth traditional diocese to do so in a long-running debate over the Bible, gay relationships and other issues.

About 80 percent of clergy and parishioners in the Texas diocese supported the break in a series of votes at a diocesan convention.

The Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, an umbrella group for those who want to stay with the denomination, plans to reorganize the diocese. They promised that “the Episcopal Church’s work of Christian ministry and evangelization will go forward” in the region.

A lengthy, expensive legal battle is expected over who owns Episcopal property and funds. The Fort Worth diocese oversees more than 50 parishes and missions serving about 19,000 people. The Steering Committee estimates that at least five parishes and hundreds of other churchgoers will remain with the New York-based national church.

The other seceding dioceses are Pittsburgh; Quincy, Ill.; and San Joaquin, based in Fresno, Calif., where a legal fight over assets is already under way. National church leaders are helping local parishioners reorganize each diocese.

All four withdrawing dioceses are aligning with the like-minded Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina, to try to keep their place in the world Anglican Communion.

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

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