ELLSWORTH (AP) – Clerics from the Anglican Church in America kicked off a three-day regional conference Thursday where they will discuss how to welcome Episcopalians who are upset with their church’s election of an openly gay bishop.

The 12th annual synod of the church’s Diocese of the Northeast will continue through Sunday. More than 80 clergy members from New England and New York are registered to attend.

The Rev. Lester York of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Portland said he and church leaders from the other two church parishes in Maine have heard from Episcopalians interested in learning more about the church.

“In the past few days, members of the Episcopal Church have called to see if they can come and see what we’re all about,” York said. “They want to see if we’re for real.”

York said the Anglican Church in America was created when members left the Episcopal Church over that denomination’s ordination of women in the 1970s. He said there are 21 parishes in New England and New York, including three in Maine.

He said the church is opening its doors to Episcopalians who are upset at the election of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson’s election as bishop of New Hampshire. Robinson has lived with a male partner for more than 13 years.

The Episcopal Church has been thrown into further turmoil over confusion on the church’s stance on same-sex unions.

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