QUOTE\ More than 100 former members of Christ Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., are leaving the Episcopal Church to form a new Anglican congregation -- a move its pastor says is partly due to the ordination of a gay bishop in New Hampshire two years ago.
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Robinson's ordination, supported in 2003 by Bishop Edwin "Ted" Gulick and other representatives of the Diocese of Kentucky, was the "catalytical event" in the formation of Holy Apostles, said the Rev. Kent Litchfield, its founding pastor. Litchfield retired as rector of Christ Church last month.
Litchfield's church will be part of the Anglican Communion Network, an American-based group that formed after Robinson's ordination, and will be under the bishop of Bolivia.
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Gulick was unavailable for comment yesterday. His principal assistant, Canon James B. Magness, said diocesan officials are assisting Christ Church in finding a new rector.
"We regret and are saddened that he's (Litchfield) done this," Magness said. "On the other hand, that doesn't change any of the processes that we have in the works for Christ Church of Elizabethtown." Magness said the decision to form a new church surprised diocesan officials. Christ Church will continue to have "a sound, solid corps of Christian people," he said.
At the beginning of last year, the church reported having 261 members in good standing, Magness said. Within the past year, attendance was rarely more than 100, he said, based on a review of church records.
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Breakaway groups generally hold a view that the Episcopal Church has a belief system that is "monolithic," Magness said. But "the reality is that there are, and always have been, a variety of viewpoints," he said. Although he considers himself to be conservative, Magness said he believes that the Episcopal Church must make room for discussion among members whose beliefs differ within the religion. /UNQUOTE