[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Sunday, 17 December 2006, 09:47 GMT
US parishes weigh Anglican split
By Rahul Tandon
BBC News

Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola
Archbishop Akinola heads a church with 17.5 million members
Two church congregations in the US are to announce whether they are breaking from the American Episcopal Church amid the continuing row over gay clergy.

The Episcopal Church provoked a crisis among Anglicans worldwide by electing a gay bishop three years ago.

Members of two churches in Virginia have been voting to stay in the current structure or align themselves with the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola.

He is a fierce critic of the ordination of gay priests.

The Falls Church and Truro Church are two of the biggest and oldest parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Indeed George Washington used to be a regular in the pews of the Truro Church.

Now they are at the centre of a dispute over the ordination of gay and lesbian priests that could tear the Anglican Church apart.

Uneasy truce

It is an issue that the Anglican communion has been struggling to come to terms with since the consecration of Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop.

map

Following his appointment as the Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, traditionalists in Africa and Asia, who make up the majority of Anglicans, called for the Episcopal Church to be expelled from the Anglican communion.

That has not taken place but there is an uneasy truce.

The fact that two American congregations are now considering aligning themselves with the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, shows that it remains an issue for some within the Episcopal Church.

For the split to take place, 70% of the congregation need to vote in favour of it.

But even then there are likely to be problems. If they leave there is likely to be a legal battle over whether they or the Episcopal Church owns the property.

The Churches are due to announce the results later on Sunday and to post the results of the vote on their websites. It's a decision which will interest the estimated 77 million Anglicans across the world


RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific