Priests and lay leaders from nine Episcopal churches – including two with Polk County ties – have begun talks with the Diocese of Central Florida that could lead to them breaking away from the denomination.
Among the nine priests are the Rev. Andrew Doan, rector of Holy Cross Church in Winter Haven, and the Rev. Geoffrey Boland, who leads St. Nicholas, a newly planted church that meets at Liberty High School in Poinciana in Osceola County but draws members from Polk County. The group has been critical of increasingly liberal policies in the Episcopal Church toward the role of homosexuals, including ordaining them as priests or bishops and using liturgies to bless same-sex unions.
On Friday, Boland would say only that the priests and lay leaders had met Thursday with Bishop John Howe and other diocesan leaders and entered into “a process of conversation and negotiation.”
A statement released Thursday said the two sides discussed “possible scenarios by which all or part of the congregations may disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church.”
Doan said no decisions have been reached.
“We’re still in wait-and-see mode. There’s a lot of talking to do,” he said.