The theological differences that precipitated the exodus of Sellers’ congregation and others from the Episcopal Church are the root of the latest strife to affect the denomination. This new conflict, though, which has managed to unite groups that abandoned the denomination as far back as 1873, could mean serious trouble for the Episcopal Church, said Bill Leonard, dean and professor of church history at Wake Forest University Divinity School.
“It is very fascinating historically that the Anglican Communion in this country has decided to split over issues of sexuality, when they resisted schism over slavery, temperance, and fundamentalism and liberalism in the 1920s, those controversies that divided so many Protestant groups in North America,” he said.
“It took a long time, but now that it has started, it is moving along with a vengeance.”
In Pinellas, the squabble between the two churches continues over matters such as ownership of an early learning center and a bingo license. The Episcopal congregation wants its website and phone number back.
“It’s like a family breaking up,” said Jim DeLa, spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese.