Conservative Episcopalians Form Rival Branch
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 3, 2008 6:38 PM CST
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is the Anglican spiritual leader. Conservatives are forming a new branch in North America.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Theological conservatives upset by liberal views of US Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans formed a rival North American province today. The development is the culmination of a five-year rift that erupted when Episcopalians in New Hampshire consecrated the first openly gay bishop. The split represents a new challenge to the already splintering, 77-million-member Anglican fellowship—the world's third largest Christian body—and its spiritual leader, the archbishop of Canterbury.

The new province includes four breakaway Episcopal dioceses, many individual parishes in the US and Canada, and splinter groups that left the Anglican family years ago. Its status within the Anglican Communion, which traces its roots to the Church of England, is unclear. Bishop Robert Duncan, who leads the breakaway Diocese of Pittsburgh, is the proposed new leader. He called today's announcement an "exciting and remarkable moment" for traditionalists.