More US Episcopalians Look Abroad Amid Rift
Overseas Prelates Lead 200 to 250 Congregations
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 17, 2007; A03
The Anglican archbishop of
African and, to a lesser extent, Southeast Asian and Latin American prelates are racing to appoint American bishops and to assume jurisdiction over congregations that are leaving the Episcopal Church, particularly since its consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.
So far, the heads, or primates, of Anglican provinces overseas have taken under their wings 200 to 250 of the more than 7,000 congregations in the Episcopal Church, the
The foreign influx is a consequence of the rift in the 2.3 million-member
"It can either be read as the next step in a grand plan to replace the Episcopal Church, or it can be read as a splintering of the conservatives and a competition for who is going to be the real leader of disaffected
"This is not just one province sticking its nose in. It's the Global South collectively saying 'We've got to do something' because of the crisis in the
But a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington,
In addition, three other foreign archbishops -- Henry Orombi of Uganda, Drexel Gomes of the West Indies and Greg Venables of the Southern Cone (a region that includes Argentina and Bolivia -- have taken small numbers of U.S. congregations under their auspices. Orombi is "very seriously and prayerfully" considering appointing an American bishop and setting up a missionary church in the
Murphy recalled that when the AMIA was formed seven years ago, it came under strong criticism from Atwood, among others.
"Bill Atwood has always been a strong advocate for what was called an 'inside' strategy -- to work within the system of the Episcopal Church and within the Anglican Communion's existing structures," he said. "It is now clear to virtually everyone that the 'outside' strategy of having clergy and bishops canonically resident offshore -- that is no longer scandalous and irregular, it is now the right way forward."
Atwood responded that "any strategic differences have just been overwhelmed by the state of things in the Episcopal Church and the need to move forward together."
The difference a foreign bishop makes can vary. Some former Episcopalians describe it as an important but largely symbolic connection with a primate who shares their orthodox beliefs. "Fundamentally, we're worshiping the
But Atwood said it is often more tangible. He noted that some congregations under Nzimbi's care have adopted the Kenyan version of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. He said many ex-Episcopal congregations have been forced to give up their buildings and need help finding new properties.
"Many of the congregations have developed authentic relations with bishops overseas, and those links are very important to them," he said.
Minns said he was "not surprised." He said a steady erosion of traditional Christian teachings in the