Fourth Diocese Leaves Episcopal Church

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The conservative Diocese of Fort Worth voted Saturday to officially break ties with the Episcopal Church.

It was the fourth diocese to leave the liberal Episcopal Church over an array of biblical differences, including the ordination of female priests, homosexual unions and other issues.

Other seceding dioceses include Pittsburgh, Penn.; Quincy, Ill.; and San Joaquin, Calif.

Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker argued for the split from the national church. He's repeatedly argued that the Episcopal Church has abandoned orthodox Christianity for a liberal social agenda.

"The Episcopal Church we once knew no longer exists. It's been hijacked," Iker told the Dallas Morning News.

About 80 percent of the clergy and delegates attending the Texas diocese convention voted for the break. Those in attendance also approved aligning the group with the conservative Argentina-based province of the Anglican Communion.

"We're so looking forward to getting this past us, so we can do the mission of the Church and build the kingdom of God," said Chad Bates, chairman of a group favoring the break.

Five Congregations to Stay with the National Church

Five of the 55 churches in the diocese will reportedly stay in the Episcopal Church, which represents about 4,000 of the diocese's 19,000 members.

In a written statement, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the church "grieves the departures of a number of persons from the Diocese of Fort Worth."

"We will work with Episcopalians in the Diocese of Fort Worth to elect new leadership and continue the work of the Gospel in that part of Texas," the statement read.

Insiders say a lengthy legal battle is expected over who owns the diocese's property and funds.

Sources: Christian Post, The Dallas Morning News

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