It has been an eventful two weeks in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. With a suddenness no one could have foreseen, the Orlando headquarters of the diocese has become ground zero for the latest phase of controversy in the Episcopal Church.
Last week, nine priests in the diocese – two of them from Polk County – met with Bishop John Howe to discuss ways they and parts of their congregations might “disaffiliate” with the Episcopal Church. The move was not exactly a surprise. It had been rumored that as many as 17 priests, disaffected by the liberal direction of the Episcopal Church, might seek to break away. But following the Oct. 18 meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury weighed in, and the implications have reverberated around the Episcopal blogosphere. More on that momentarily.
Howe has been in a tough spot. He’s conservative on moral questions and participated in various consultations among the minority of bishops unhappy with the Episcopal Church’s actions on the ordination of gays and the blessing of their unions.
But Howe has steadfastly pledged his loyalty to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the international Anglican Communion, and he has been reluctant to take steps that might put himself at odds with Williams.