TEC spokeswoman Neva Rae Fox said a Quincy vote to leave would have to go through the church’s General Convention in 2009 in order to be recognized. Dioceses can’t leave The Episcopal Church on their own say-so because they were created by the church’s General Convention, Fox said.
“They’re dead wrong on that,” said Wicks Stephens, legal adviser for the Anglican Communion Network in Pittsburgh, of which the Diocese of Quincy is a part.
“If you read the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church, in order for a diocese to come into union with other dioceses of The Episcopal Church through the General Convention, that diocese has to meet certain standards, including forming itself, becoming financially sustainable and other things, including allegiance to The Episcopal Church.”
The Rev. Jim Naughton, director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., said, though, that “this is an argument that didn’t exist until they needed it to exist.”
“No one has previously interpreted constitutions and canons in this way,” said Naughton, whose diocese leans liberal and who contributes to an Episcopalian blog called The Lead.
But the Rev. John Spencer, president of Quincy’s joint standing committee, agreed with Stephens.
“If you actually read the constitution carefully, what it says is the people and the churches and the clergy form a diocese,” Spencer said.
Dioceses, the vicar of St. Francis Church in Dunlap said, created the General Convention, not the other way around.