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Conservatives form rival group to Episcopal Church
By RACHEL ZOLL
NEW YORK (AP) — Theological conservatives upset by liberal views of U.S. Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans formed a rival North American province Wednesday, in a long-developing rift over the Bible that erupted when Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop.
The announcement represents a new challenge to the already splintering, 77-million-member world Anglican fellowship and the authority of its spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
The new North American Anglican province includes four breakaway Episcopal dioceses, many individual parishes in the U.S. and Canada, and splinter groups that left the Anglican family years, or in one case, more than a century ago.
Its status within the Anglican Communion is unclear. It is unprecedented for a new Anglican national province to be created where two such national churches already exist. But traditionalists say the new group represents the true historic tradition of Anglican Christianity and is vital to counter what they consider policies that violate Scripture.
Bishop Robert Duncan, who leads the breakaway Diocese of Pittsburgh, is the proposed new leader of the new North American province, which says it has 100,000 members. In a phone interview from Wheaton, Ill., where leaders of the new group met, Duncan called Wednesday's announcement an "exciting and remarkable moment" for traditionalists.