Churches in California and Canada have decided to split from the Anglican Communion due to disagreement over how the church should minister to homosexuals and doctrinal matters.
The Diocese of San Joaquin and churches in British Columbia will instead align with the Argentinean Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. province of the Anglican Communion which serves 77 million members world-wide.
The AP reports that Saturday, the Diocese of San Joaquin voted to split from the Episcopal Church because of their disagreements over the Bible and homosexuality.
The homosexual issue is not a key issue. It is a concern, but it is not the central concern,” said Reverend Van McCalister a spokesman for the diocese.
McCalister says that some in the diocese have been disgruntled for decades over the authority of scripture and the relationship to the historical church. ”Some folks have been concerned since 1955 when Bishop Pike said he no longer believed in the doctrine of the trinity, no longer believed in the resurrection, or the virgin birth, and the church was unwilling to discipline him,” said McCalister.
On Saturday, clergy and lay members from the diocese voted 173-22 to remove all references to the national church from the diocese’s constitution.
"We have leadership in the Episcopal Church that has drastically and radically changed directions," McCalister said. "They have pulled the rug out from under us. They've started teaching something very different, something very new and novel, and it's impossible for us to follow a leadership that has so drastically reinvented itself."
Those who accept homosexuality say they are guided by biblical teachings of tolerance. Those in disagreement say these relationships violate the Bible.
The diocese has decided to place itself under the authority Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone as will two churches in British Columbia.
According to Reuters, Bishop Donald Harvey said last week he would come out of retirement to lead the conservative Canadian Anglicans and said as many as 20 congregations could split from the Canadian Anglican Church, joining the 12 that have already placed themselves under the authority of several African archbishops.
Though theological debates began decades ago, Anglicans have been moving toward a worldwide schism since 2003, when the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.