DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion are gathering in Africa to determine if the member churches can remain together.
The group, which is composed of national churches, is headed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. He called the meeting Wednesday "a difficult and important encounter," the Christian Science Monitor reports.
The most difficult issue confronting the church is homosexuality, especially the ordination of gay priests and bishops. Member churches are split on the issue and there is a major fissure between conservative African churches, especially the Nigerian church, and more liberal ones, especially the Episcopal Church in the United States.
Archbishop Peter Akinola, head of the Nigerian church, has said he will not meet with Katharine Jefferts Schori, the newly elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States. Akinola is spearheading an effort to create a separate organization for conservative Episcopalians.
This week's conference prepares for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, when delegates from around the world hold a once-a-decade meeting in London.