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Fort Worth Episcopal Diocese votes to leave mother church

BEDFORD -- Clergy and lay delegates of the Fort Worth Episcopal Diocese, which is theologically conservative, voted overwhelmingly Saturday to leave the Episcopal Church, which is more liberal.

The vote by 219 valid delegates was nearly 80 percent in favor of leaving. The vote was taken at St. Vincent's Episcopal Cathedral in Bedford, where a vote also is scheduled on whether to temporarily align with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, a conservative entity that includes parts of South America.

Those voting to split say they disagree with the Episcopal Church over issues ranging from same-sex unions to interpretations of Scripture regarding salvation. With its action, the Fort Worth Diocese became the fourth in the nation to split from the Episcopal Church, following San Joaquin, Calif.; Pittsburgh; and Quincy, Ill.

Local Episcopalians on both sides of the issue predict conflict, probably in court, over who gets church property.

The Anglican Communion has more than 77 million members worldwide, including 2.1 million in the Episcopal Church, which includes the United States and 16 other countries. The Fort Worth Diocese covers 24 Texas counties and has 19,000 members.