Opponents of gay bishop meet in US
US evangelicals opposed to the election of their church's first openly gay bishop are gathering in Dallas, Texas, today to plan a strategy that may precipitate a schism within the Anglican communion and put pressure on leaders of the church meeting next week in London reports the Guardian.
More than 2,500 representatives from dioceses in every state are meeting to express their outrage at the election of Gene Robinson, a divorced gay man living with his male partner, as bishop of New Hampshire.
"We want to send a message to the church. We are not dispirited but we are in need of help. If nothing happens in London, people are going to leave," said Bruce Mason, spokesman for the American Anglican Council, which has organised the Dallas meeting.
Canon Robinson's appointment was endorsed by the US Episcopal church's general convention in August but the evangelicals are praying that the 38 primates who lead the 70 million-strong worldwide communion, called to Lambeth Palace for the emergency summit next week, will find some way of overturning it, or disciplining those who back the decision.
If all those promising to attend turn up, more US Anglicans will be present than were at the convention, the Episcopal church's decision-making body. A fifth of the church's diocesan bishops are expected.
They have the support of many Church of England evangelicals as well as church leaders in the developing world for their opposition to the legitimacy of homosexual relationships.
Those attending were instructed to undergo a day of fasting last Friday, abstaining from food to "instead feast on the word and promise of God". Clergy have been instructed to wear clerical garb, laity to wear "business attire" and bishops to bring their rochets - ceremonial surplices - to show they mean business.
Questions have been raised about some of the organisers' links to wealthy and extreme US fundamentalists. The American Anglican Council, founded seven years ago, shares office space in Washington and has links through board members with the Institute for Religion and Democracy.
The IRD is largely funded by the rightwing multi-millionaire Californian fundamentalist Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson Jr, heir to a savings and loan fortune, who supports causes calling for the introduction of Bible-based laws. These apparently include the death penalty for adulterers, homosexuals, witches and incorrigible children and people who spread "false" - non-Christian - religions. Mr Ahmanson is reported in the US to give 0,000 (£120,000) a year to fund the AAC's activities.
The IRD also receives financial backing from Richard Scaife, the Pittsburgh-based heir to the Mellon family's banking and oil fortune, who helped to fund the rightwing campaign against Bill Clinton.
The three-day meeting in Dallas is intended to produce a declaration to increase the pressure on the primates at their London meeting.