The Episcopal Church continues to experience further division as the Anglican archbishop of Nigeria is expected to arrive this week to install a bishop to lead conservative congregations in the United States.
Archbishop Peter J. Akinola is expected to preside at the May 5 installation ceremony of Bishop Martyn Minns in Virginia. Minns will serve as the bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, reported the New York Times.
The new convocation is considered to be an offshoot of the Nigerian church. It was created to oversee congregations that no longer want to be in the Episcopal Church but would like to remain in the Anglican Communion. Archbishop Akinola is the primate of the largest region in the Anglican Communion.
The tension in the Episcopal Church began in 2003 when it decided to consecrate an openly homosexual priest, V. Gene Robinson, as the bishop of New Hampshire.
Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, said in a statement that Archbishop Akinola's actions are contrary to "the ancient practice in most of the church" that bishops minister only within their own jurisdictions.
"This action would only serve to heighten current tensions, and would be regrettable if it does indeed occur," the statement said.
Bishop Minns said the convocation does not interfere with the Episcopal Church.
"The reality is that there is a broken relationship between the Episcopal Church and the rest of the communion," he told the Times. "We want to give people a freedom of choice to remain Anglican but not under the Episcopal Church as it is currently led."
In March, Episcopal bishops rejected three demands by Anglican primates: that they create a parallel leadership to serve the conservative minority of Episcopalians; that they pledge not to consecrate partnered gay bishops, and that they stop other bishops and priests from blessing same-sex couples.