The Anglican conference concluding today in Jacksonville was described as Christian unity in action.In other words, submitting yourself to the authority of a jurisdictional diocese serves a purpose. Hmmm. Novel idea that. But this is the age of the self, so a buffet-style choose-your-own oversight is likely to prevail. Don't like the Ugandan? Try the Bolivian, I've heard he's very good. "Described as Christian unity in action."
About 1,300 to 1,600 participants of the Anglican Mission in America conference shared a zeal for spreading the gospel and a repulsion from the Episcopal Church's growing acceptance of openly gay clergy and same-sex blessings.
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With about a dozen national organizations representing Anglicans who have quit the Episcopal Church, plus nearly as many foreign bishops overseeing parishes in the U.S., many worry the movement is becoming irreparably fragmented.
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On the First Coast, former Episcopalians from more than a dozen congregations have accepted oversight from bishops in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Brazil.
Meanwhile, at least 10 national Anglican organizations have been formed, including the Anglican Communion Network, the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Province of America and the Anglican Mission in America.
Some fear the longer congregations are led by different foreign dioceses, the harder it will eventually become to draw them together under a common banner.
Anglican parishes are stuck in a "survival mode" as long as that fragmented state exists, said the Rev. Jim McCaslin, a priest who led All Souls in Mandarin out of the Episcopal Church and into a Ugandan diocese in 2006.
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The Rev. Sam Pascoe, rector of the Kolini-led Grace Anglican Church in Orange Park, said a new denomination is necessary eventually.
Otherwise "it's just complete disintegration and everyone goes their own way and you end up with hundreds of different jurisdictions," Pascoe said.