Until recently, fragmentation seemed to be the strategy du jour of traditionalists in the current Anglican crisis. This crisis was precipitated by the decision of the Episcopal Church to consecrate a divorced non-celibate gay man as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and to allow the blessing of same-sex unions. A minority of Episcopalians in the U.S. and a majority of Anglicans worldwide disagreed strongly with this decision and set about to scupper it.
Offshore Anglican archbishops, mainly in Africa, came to the rescue of American traditionalists by offering membership in their own traditionalist provinces. It seemed like an almost perfect solution for American conservatives. Africans provided them with new missionary bishops to oversee their congregations in the United States, while providing a way for former Episcopalians to remain (more or less) in unbroken communion with the archbishop of Canterbury.
But therein lies the rub. The problem was not that American traditionalists lacked friends overseas but rather that they seemed to have far too many of them, including sympathetic archbishops from Bolivia and Singapore. By August, conservatives could choose between missionary bishops from Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya — and many of them did. Once again an Anglican dissenting group seemed headed toward fragmentation and diminished influence.
That is, until Sept. 27-28, when Anglican conservatives made a move toward greater unity among themselves. Bishops and bishops-elect from the Episcopal Church, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Mission in America, the Anglican Province of America, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Anglican Network in Canada, as well as missionary bishops from Uganda and Kenya met in Pittsburgh as a Common Cause College of Bishops.
According to a joint statement, the bishops “repented” of the divisions that had existed among them and vowed to meet every six months as a continuing College of Bishops. Their primary agenda was to unite as soon as possible the divided Anglican groups of which they were representatives into one undivided church. Toward that end the participating bishops agreed to share clergy across the lines that still separated them.
Among the supporters in principle of this agreement were several dissenting bishops of the Episcopal Church, who proposed to bring their dioceses with them, including (one assumes) titles to church property. The dioceses present were Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Quincy, Western Kansas, Springfield and Albany.