Albany Votes to Join Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes

Episcopal News Service. June 17, 2004 [061704-1]

Jan Nunley

At its annual diocesan convention June 12, the Diocese of Albany (New York) approved a resolution to join the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDP).

The network, formed in January, 2004, was chartered to be "a true and legitimate expression of the world-wide Anglican Communion" for those opposed to two controversial actions by the 2003 General Convention in Minneapolis: the ratification of the election of an openly gay priest as bishop of New Hampshire, and the acknowledgment of same-sex blessings as a part of the church's common life (C051).

The action brings to eight the number of dioceses affiliated with the NACDP by action of their annual convention. Twelve dioceses sent representatives to the meeting establishing the network.

Balloting suggested that parishes in the diocese are more divided over the action than clergy. The vote was taken by orders, with a majority of both clergy and parishes required to vote in favor for the measure to pass. Clergy approved by a vote of 89-36, or 71% in favor and 29% against. With each parish of the diocese casting one vote, the parish tally was closer at 60-42, or 59% for and 41% opposing.

During an hour-long floor debate with alternating two-minute speeches, opponents said that membership in the network amounted to a first step towards "realignment or schism," citing calls by network officials during a recent meeting in Long Beach, California, for the network to be recognized by the Primates' Meeting as a successor to the Episcopal Church in the US. Proponents of the affiliation said it would stem the departure of conservatives from the Episcopal Church.

In an address given the evening before the vote, Albany's Bishop Dan Herzog said that the Archbishop of Canterbury had "expressed support for a Network to work within the Church."

The measure was successful in spite of the efforts of Albany Via Media, a moderate group working for unity within the diocese, which lobbied against joining the network.

"Now that the Diocese of Albany has officially joined the Network, we in Albany Via Media will do our best as faithful Episcopalians to see that the Diocese of Albany's participation in the Network remains faithfully 'within' the Episcopal Church," said the Rev. John T. Sorenson, co-president of Albany Via Media, in a news release. "I hope for a cooperative relationship between Albany Via Media and our bishop, as we remain faithful to the Episcopal Church and to our own sense of the depth and breadth of Anglicanism we call the middle way, the via media. We ask the prayers of the larger church for our diocese."