PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. — The Episcopal church in America faces extinction unless it changes policies that some find too liberal, a leader of the dissident Anglican Mission in America said during the group's first conference last week.
"The choice is slow death, like the dinosaurs, or deep change," Bishop Charles Murphy said. He noted a sharp decrease in membership of many mainline denominations during the past three decades.
The Anglican Mission was formed by those unhappy with some policies of the Episcopal Church, including those that allowed local dioceses to ordain sexually active homosexuals or to hold commitment ceremonies for gay couples.
Murphy's consecration as a bishop last year itself was controversial. The rector emeritus of All Saints Episcopal Church on Pawleys Island, he was made a missionary bishop of the Province of the Anglican Church in Rwanda. Another Episcopal clergyman, John. H. Rodgers of Pennsylvania, was made a missionary bishop for the Province of Southeast Asia.
Whether more missionary bishops are consecrated and sent to the United States could depend in part on what happens at a March meeting in North Carolina of Anglican bishops from around the world, Murphy said. The primates of the 38 national branches of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church, will consider a proposal to discipline any branch whose policies "exceed the limits of Anglican diversity."