updated 11/8/2008 11:20:10 AM ET 2008-11-08T16:20:10

A third conservative diocese is splitting from the liberal Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, in a long-running dispute over the Bible, gay relationships and other issues.

The Diocese of Quincy voted to leave the Episcopal Church during an annual meeting that ends Saturday.

It joins dioceses in Fresno, California, and Pittsburgh. A fourth diocese, in Fort Worth, Texas, will decide next weekend whether to follow suit.

The secessions are a response to decades of debate over what Episcopalians should believe. Tensions erupted in 2003 when the denomination consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The head of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, said she laments the departure.

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