LATROBE, Pa. - A Southern cleric has been picked as the new archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America.
The bishops of the conservative church voted last Sunday to elevate the Right Rev. Foley Beach to the position at a conclave near Latrobe.
Beach has been bishop of the church's Diocese of the South, which includes 42 parishes in 10 Southern states. As archbishop, Beach will lead more than 112,000 Anglicans in nearly 1,000 congregations in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Beach succeeds Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, who became the church's first archbishop in 2009, a year after the Anglican Church broke away from the Episcopal Church over disagreements on doctrine and the ordination of homosexuals.
"This is a happy day for the Anglican Church in North America, a happy day for the Anglican Communion, and a happy day for the Christian Church," said Duncan, who will continue to serve as bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese. Beach will serve a five-year term and be eligible for re-election.
The denominations parted ways after disagreements over the authority of the Bible, the nature and divinity of Jesus Christ and other differences that had come to a head since the 2003 ordination of the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, of New Hampshire. Robinson earlier this year announced he was divorcing his husband.
As Pittsburgh's bishop, Duncan will continue presiding over 69 parishes.
Beach, a married father of two grown children, was rector and pastor of Holy Cross Anglican Church of Loganville, Ga., near Atlanta, since its 2004 founding until December.