Christ Church Episcopal in Plano, Texas — drawing the largest weekly attendance of any Episcopal church — announced its decision to leave the Episcopal Church USA [ECUSA] on June 24. The church’s decision came just hours after the conclusion of the denomination’s General Convention in Columbus, Ohio [see articles below].

As the Rev. Canon David H. Roseberry and the church’s vestry explained, their decision came in light of the fact that the ECUSA General Convention refused to adopt the two measures demanded by the world-wide Anglican Communion — an absolute moratorium on the election and consecration of openly-homosexual persons and bishops, and a statement of repentance for having elected and consecrated the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

From the statement released by Rev. Roseberry and the vestry:

The mission of Christ Church is to make disciples and teach them to obey the commands of Christ. The direction of the leadership of the Episcopal Church is different and we regret their departure from biblical truth and the historic faith of the Anglican Communion.

As the vestry of Christ Church, we declare our intention to disassociate from ECUSA as soon as possible. We are thankful for the shepherd role of the Right Rev. James Stanton and his standing in the Anglican Communion, and we regard him as our apostolic leader.

We assure the clergy, staff and congregation of Christ Church that throughout this process we will continue to worship, teach, pray and study as we have in the past with renewed and vibrant commitment to the mission of Christ Church.

Finally:

Over the next few weeks we will explore the ways that this separation will be best realized. Both the vestry and I will keep you informed and updated as needed, and you can be assured of our prayer and definite actions. We likewise would request your patience and prayers. But rest assured that our church is Anglican now… and will always be within the great historic family of the Anglican Communion.

This church’s departure from the Episcopal Church USA is historic, serving as an example to many others that will surely follow. Rev. Roseberry was my guest on Thursday’s edition of The Albert Mohler Program, and we were all tremendously moved as he reflected on the heartbreak and hope that mark his church’s experience. Listen to the program here.

We are witnessing an historic moment of transition in the life of the major Christian denominations. In order to maintain their Gospel witness, some (indeed, many) churches will face the decision made so boldly by Christ Church Episcopal in Plano. All Christians of good will should be encouraged by this church’s willingness to sacrifice the comfort of familiar structures for the sake of the Gospel.