Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bp. Iker Explains It All

Bishop Iker lays out his agenda very clearly in this speech.

You can listen to the speech for yourself on the Internet at
Scroll down to Bp. Iker's photo and click on it.

[I have added the emphasis in the text below].

He makes it clear that it is indeed, all about Bp. Katharine Jefferts Schori being a woman. This is in direct contradiction to all the speakers at last year's diocesan convention in Fort Worth who kept assuring everyone that the request for alternate primatial oversight wasn't because she was a woman, it was because of her "theological views."

He also narrows it down as to where he plans to "take the diocese."

"Our plan is not only to disassociate, then, from The Episcopal Church, but to officially, constitutionally re-affiliate with anexisting orthodox Province of the communion that does not ordain women to the priesthood. These conversations are very far along but cannot be announced until the Province that is considering our appeal has made their final decision public."

Given that, as near as I can determine, these are the Anglican provinces Bishop Iker has to choose from, since they do not ordain women to any of the three Holy Orders (deacon, priest, bishop):

Central Africa, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Korea, Melanesia [may be ordaining women to the priesthood now, but can't confirm it], Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, and Southeast Asia.

These are the provinces that ordain women only to the diaconate:

Indian Ocean, Southern Cone (in South America), and Pakistan.

All the other Anglican provinces ordain women to the priesthood.

My money is on the Southern Cone, especially since Greg Venables, Archbishop of the Southern Cone, was the Bible teacher for the Network's Annual Council Meeting in late July in Bedford, a suburb of Fort Worth. More on that below.

Bishop Jack Iker’s Address to the Forward in Faith International Assembly in London

– October 20, 2007

Thank you very much for that welcome.

Madam Chairman, members of the Assembly, it’s a privilege to have this opportunity to briefly report on the state of affairs of Forward in Faith in North America.

I bring you warm greetings and assurances of our prayers and best wishes from all the members of Forward in Faith there, especially our national council and our president,Bishop Keith Ackerman.

I ask you to keep Bishop Keith in your prayers. As some of you may have heard, he has had some illness over the past year, some of it most recently related to high blood pressure, and he’s not able to be here to make this presentation himself, not because of his health but because he is presiding at his diocesan synod at this very time.

I’d like to make my report to you in two parts. First, I want to speak about the situation with the Forward in Faith dioceses and our relationship with The Episcopal Church. And then the second part of my report will deal with the Common Cause Partnership and the role that Forward in Faith plays in that new venture.

There are three Forward in Faith dioceses in the United States, and the three bishops of those dioceses have come to a common conclusion that we have no future in The Episcopal Church. Our conventions in those three dioceses, Fort Worth, Quincy, and San Joaquin, will be taking constitutional action to separate officially from TEC. Because it is a constitutional change, it must be passed at two successive annual conventions.

As you may know, the Diocese of San Joaquin passed on first reading their secession clauses last year, and they will take the second vote on the first Saturday of December. The Diocese of Quincy, which is in session now, will be taking their vote today, and before the day is out we should hear the results of that vote. And then my own Diocese of Fort Worth will be voting for our first reading on November 17th.

A fourth diocese in TEC is expected to take the same action to separate from The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Pittsburgh. In the Diocese of Pittsburgh, as you know, a diocese that ordains women to the priesthood, they are led by the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network and the Chairman of the Common Cause Partnership.

But for the Forward in Faith dioceses it cannot be any clearer that we have come to the end of the road in The Episcopal Church, and there is no future for us or for those who hold our theological position in TEC in the years ahead. The acceptance of women priests is now mandatory in every diocese.This means that none of the three existing Forward in Faith dioceses will be able to secure the consecration of a new, orthodox Bishop-elect. I think each of the three dioceses will elect an orthodox successor, but in our system we have to have the approval of the majority of the Standing Committees of the other dioceses and a majority of the bishops of The Episcopal Church to proceed with the consecration, and that simply is not going to happen.

Therefore, rather than waiting until it becomes time to attempt to replace an orthodox bishop and have it turned down, we’ve decided to take our affairs into our own hands and to secure our own future by separating from the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and governance by the dictates of the General Convention.

As you know, the election of a woman to the office of Presiding Bishop in The Episcopal Church makes our situation clearly untenable. The day after her election an appeal was made on the floor of the House of Bishops for an arrangement called Alternative Primatial Oversight, something that had not been used before because there had been no need of it before, but a way forward that would allow Forward in Faith bishops, priests, laity to remain in The Episcopal Church while under the spiritual coverage and primatial leadership of an orthodox primate of the Anglican Communion.

Without rehearsing what has gone on over the last year and a quarter about that appeal, I can simply say we believe that the appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight has been rejected. The primates put forward a very workable plan that we were willing to go along with when they met at Dar es Salaam, but the bishops of The Episcopal Church overwhelmingly rejected that, encouraged the Executive Council to do the same and have made no alternative suggestion.

APO, as far as we are concerned, as a part of The Episcopal Church, is dead, therefore we must seek a primatial relationship outside ECUSA.

The second thing that hangs over us, of course, is not just a female Presiding Bishop but the overwhelming rejection of the requests of the Windsor Report made of The Episcopal Church whereby we can move towards reconciliation in the life of the communion. It is our contention that The Episcopal Church has decided to walk away from the Anglican Communion and our Forward in Faith dioceses will walk with the Anglican Communion.

Our plan is not only to disassociate, then, from The Episcopal Church, but to officially, constitutionally re-affiliate with an existing orthodox Province of the communion that does not ordain women to the priesthood. These conversations are very far along but cannot be announced until the Province that is considering our appeal has made their final decision public.

Realignment is taking place in the Anglican Communion. It took place in the United States first with parishes that could not in conscience remain in The Episcopal Church and affiliated with overseas dioceses, and now it is taking place as four dioceses believe that realignment calls for us to leave The Episcopal Church structure officially and become a part of another Province.

What will be the response of The Episcopal Church? We believe it will be very much like the response they have made to congregations that have made the decision to leave. They’ve taken them to court. They’ve sued them in civil courts. They’ve deposed the priests, declared the parishes vacant and have claimed title to the property. It’s a messy affair. It’s being worked though the courts, but it will reach another level of controversy when entire dioceses attempt to separate from The Episcopal Church.

The official structure has made itself clear what they will attempt to do in those cases. They will declare those sees vacant, depose the bishops and call a convention of those faithful to the General Convention teaching and practice to reconstitute what they call continuing dioceses.

The second part of the report I want to make to you has to do with the Common Cause Partnership. This began in discussions that started, I suppose, two or three years ago in what was called the Common Cause Roundtable. It reached a new level at the end of September, when we formed a College of Bishops.

The Common Cause Partnership has its origins in two things. One, a resolution of the Lambeth Conference in 1998 ( Resolution 4.11) which spoke about the place of the continuing churches in the Anglican world. It called upon bishops of the Anglican Communion “to initiate and maintain dialogue with such groups with a view to the reconciliation of all who own the Anglican tradition.”

Secondly, it has an origin in an appeal from the primates of the Global South who said to bishops in the United States,“There are too many different conservative groups, too many different bodies. You need to come together and speak with a unified voice so that we can speak to one group rather than several different groups.”

So Common Cause is an effort to bring together those who own the Anglican way in united voice to speak to the rest of the communion. It’s a gathering the fragments, planning for a united witness in the future.

The significance of the agreement entered into in late September of this year is that Anglican bishops from ten different jurisdictions and organizations took the first steps toward establishing “a new ecclesiastical structure in North America,” which comes from the Communiqué from the Global South primates issued in Kigali in the year 2006.

Meeting in Pittsburgh at the end of September, representing over 600 congregations, 51 bishops organized themselves as a College of Bishops that will meet together every six months for consultation. We have adopted a time line leading to a constitutional convention sometime in 2009, the purpose of which would be to form an orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion in North America.

Members of the Common Cause Partnership, in case you don’t know, include the Anglican Communion Network, Forward in Faith, CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, an initiative coming out of the Nigerian province), AMiA (the Anglican Mission in America, an initiative coming out of the province of Rwanda), APA (the Anglican Province of America), and the Reformed Episcopal Church (which broke from The Episcopal Church in the 19th century).

Of those organizations only some of the dioceses in the Anglican Communion Network ordain women to the priesthood. New participants in the Common Cause Partnership have been added by the recent consecrations of American bishops to serve Kenyan and Ugandan congregations located in the United States. Other participants come from the Anglican Communion Network in Canada.

In closing, I’d like to say three things which are of particular interest to Forward in Faith in the United Kingdom as Forward in Faith in North America participates with our Common Cause partners. The first is to say that we will be in full communion with only those Common Cause partners which do not ordain women or receive ordained women into the priesthood. Our cooperation with the bodies that do so cannot extend to communio in sacris but we will cooperate with them in every way possible in a state of continuing impaired communion.

The second point is to say that leaders of the Anglican Communion Network and the Common Cause Partnership are fully committed to undertaking a substantial theological study of the question of the ordination of women, once a structure is in place and we have relatively settled in.

We will have a chance, in other words, to bring those who now accept this innovation to reconsideration of their decision for the future.

And third, and last, in the new Common Cause Partnership or in a restructured orthodox Province in North America, Forward in Faith dioceses will be free, first, to maintain our own line of episcopal succession; secondly to select, form, ordain and deploy our own ordinands; third, to reject any decisions of the Partnership that are contrary to our theological position; and fourth, to pursue our own ecumenical relationships.

So there are some challenging months and a couple of years ahead of us in Forward in Faith. We ask for your prayers as we try to take a bold and courageous stand to uphold and maintain the catholic faith and order of the Church and to pass on a secure future to our children and our grandchildren.

Thank you very much


Of course, we now know that the Diocese of Quincy did NOT take action to separate from TEC at its convention.

Here's some history of the Province of the Southern Cone from the Anglican Communion web site: "British immigrants brought Anglicanism to South America during the nineteenth century. The South American Missionary Society continues to work among indigenous peoples. In 1974, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave over his metropolitical authority for the dioceses of the Southern Cone and, in 1981, the new Province was formed. It includes Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay."

Wikipedia reports, "The province currently has 27,000 members thinly spread across the nations of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, which makes it one of the smallest provinces in the Anglican Communion in terms of numbers, although one of the largest in geographical extent. It has seven bishops - about one bishop per 4,000 people. However, it has augmented its membership by recruiting conservative American parishes who wish to opt out of their national church whilst retaining a link with the Anglican Communion. This has caused tensions within the Anglican Communion.

"Presiding Bishop Venables has been outspoken in support of a conservative position on homosexuality and other issues. Under his leadership, the province refused to participate in the listening process mandated by Lambeth Conference resolution 1.10, stating that it was 'small with few resources and does not have time'. It indicated concern for conservative heterosexuals, whom it described as 'members of the Communion who have been pastorally abused by those who foist a sexual political agenda upon them.'"

It says this about the Right Reverend Frank Lyons of the Diocese of Bolivia -- "A 1976 graduate of Wheaton College, Wheaton Ill USA; a conservative evangelical Christian college in the near Chicago. As Bishop of Bolivia the Right Reverend Lyons oversees some 35 churches in the United States who have left the Episcopal Church USA. Bishop Lyons was sent to Bolivia as a missionary by South American Missions Society. He was consecrated bishop in 2001."

And ENS reported in 2006 -- " The Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, during its November 6-11, 2006, Provincial Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, unanimously renewed the position that it remains in impaired communion with the Episcopal Church and supported 'our Primate and other Primates who are overseeing the development of a new ecclesial structure in the United States."'

"Southern Cone Primate Gregory Venables has been a leading opponent to actions taken by provinces that endorse the full inclusion of gay and lesbian members in all levels of the church.

"Signed by Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia, a statement released at the end of the Buenos Aires meeting said that the Episcopal Church, at its 75th General Convention, 'did not responsibly address the minimal recommendations of the Windsor Report' and that various dioceses and the new Presiding Bishop 'hold a position concerning human sexuality that stands in open contradiction to Lambeth 1998 resolution I.10 and the historic teaching of the Church.' As a result, 'we renew our conviction that the Province of the Southern Cone of the Americas remains in impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. ' "

As you can see, Venables and Iker are using the same play book.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Legal Help Requested

Attention! Legal help requested!

Here’s the thing -- in places such as Virginia, Georgia, etc., the diocesan bishops are using diocesan resources to help people who want to stay in The Episcopal Church. They seem to be getting ample help from the national church.

But in the Diocese of Fort Worth, the bishop and all the diocesan leadership and nearly all the clergy are using diocesan resources to try to take all the diocesan property out of The Episcopal Church.

So here it’s a bunch of lay people who are struggling to keep our property in TEC. Mostly it has been Fort Worth Via Media working on this. Even the clergy who might want to stay in TEC don’t trust us [the bishop has branded us liars, thieves, and troublemakers since the day we formed the organization] or the other clergy enough to band together with us.

This has made meeting Bonnie Anderson’s challenge to saddle our own horses, well, a challenge.

We have limited resources, say, to hire our own attorneys or to counter the barrage of misinformation the diocese is putting out in the runup to our diocesan convention at which the bishop wants to pass constitutional and canonical changes that will “take the diocese out” of TEC.

See them here:

And here is the note from bishop’s chancellors about their claims on property ownership:

To All Diocesan Clergy and Convention Lay Delegates:

Over the past several months, a great deal of interest has been expressed concerning the ownership of church property in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. A fair amount of misinformation has been bandied about in various forums.

In the interest of clarifying this matter, I have asked the Diocesan Chancellors to issue an explanation that I could share with you. Their very helpful statement is below. If you wish to refer to our Constitution and Canons in greater detail, they are available on the Diocesan Web site. Please share this statement with your vestries, as well as any other interested parties.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
October 15, 2007

cc: Standing Committee, Executive Council



In the early 1980s, a decision was made to carve a new Diocese – the Diocese of Fort Worth – from the old Diocese of Dallas. It would include Tarrant County and 23 other western and neighboring counties.

At this same time, there were discussions on how to retitle the property within the new diocese. Prior to this time the property had been held in the name of the Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas or his successor in office. This was traditional in most dioceses of the Episcopal Church and had served well for literally decades. In these new times, however, there were occasions when our bishop would be away from the diocese for extended periods. Therefore, real estate closings had to be continued until such time as the bishop was back in residence. Today fax machines, e-mails and FedEx would help us keep things going but those were not universally available, if at all, in the early 1980s.

A new plan was adopted to retitle the real property of the diocese in the name of a corporation which would be called “Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.”

This not-for-profit corporation was set up to hold and service the real property within the diocese, and it became infinitely more efficient than waiting for the bishop to return from an extended trip since the corporation was always open for business. It did, however, take a far-sighted and gracious bishop to agree to relinquish the real property traditionally held by him.

It would have been a strenuous task to deed all of the real properties of the diocese from the bishop to the newly formed corporation. Consequently, a lawsuit was filed in the district court of Dallas County, Texas. Its purpose was to obtain a court order that all real properties formerly standing in the name of the bishops of the Diocese of Dallas but now physically located within the 24 counties comprising the new Diocese of Fort Worth would henceforth be held in the name of Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. That Judgment was later recorded in all of the 24 counties of the new diocese.

At the primary convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth on November 13, 1982, Article 14 of the Constitution was adopted to support the new corporation.

Article 14 of the Constitution as amended to date provides in part as follows:
The title to all real estate acquired for the use of the Church in this Diocese, including the real property of all Parishes and Missions, as well as Diocesan Institutions, shall be held subject to control of the Church in The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth acting by and through a corporation known as “Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.” All such property as well as all property hereafter acquired for the use of the Church in the Diocese, including Parishes and Missions, shall be vested in Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.
The second provision restates that the corporation holds title in trust for such parish or mission but that the income and expenses attributable thereto belong to the parish or mission.

The third provision holds that there shall be no conveyance or encumbrance of any kind unless executed by the corporation or as otherwise provided by the canons.

Canon 18, TITLE TO PROPERTY at Section 2, as amended to date, provides in part that:
Real property acquired by the Corporation for the use of a particular Parish, Mission or Diocesan School shall be held by the Corporation in trust for the use and benefit of such Parish, Mission or Diocesan School. It is immaterial whether such acquisition is by conveyance to the Corporation by a Parish, Mission or Diocesan School now holding title, by the Bishop now holding title as a corporate sole, by a declaratory judgment upon division from the Diocese of Dallas, or by subsequent conveyance to the Corporation, so long as such property was initially acquired by a Parish, Mission or Diocesan School by purchase, gift or devise to it, as a Parish, Mission, or Diocesan School.

Sec 18.4 as presently amended, provides in part as follows:
Property held by the Corporation for the use of a Parish, Mission or Diocesan School belongs beneficially to such Parish, Mission or Diocesan School only. No adverse claim to such beneficial interest by the Corporation, by the Diocese, or by The Episcopal Church of the United States of America is acknowledged, but rather is expressly denied.

The Honorable William T. McGee
Chancellor, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

Rickey J. Brantley
Assistant Chancellor, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

N. Michael Kensel
Chancellor Emeritus, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

October 15, 2007


I confess to being baffled at how much difficulty we are having getting legal advice on all this from the national church. What’s more, they don't say, "Well, we can't help until you get your own lawyer," or "Here are the steps you need to take before we can help you," or "Jump through these hoops to prove you are worthy of our help."
We would gladly do whatever we need to do -- if we had the slightest idea what that is.
We are not canon lawyers. The lawyers we are talking with are not canon lawyers and will have to do research on this. Texas courts are very reluctant to intervene in a church fight and, we are told by lawyers here, they always defer to the canons of hierarchal churches. Well, that sounds good. But nothing I've been able to find talks about what to do when a bishop is trying to take everything in a diocese with him.
That changes the dynamic in ways 815 doesn't seem to grasp.
Everyone tells us it will have to be fought out in court. OK. But when? And by whom? And with what money? And what should we be doing in the meantime?
Most of the clergy here are in the bishop’s pocket. Those who are not are few, and pretty beat up.
So it is us lay people [basically Fort Worth Via Media] who are struggling to find ways to stay in TEC. We do not have diocesan resources to help us, and few of the parishes are willing to use their resources to help us. Trinity, my parish, is clear it wants to stay in TEC but it’s not getting any more help than FWVM is getting.

Other parishes whose congregations might want to stay in TEC are being led by clergy in Bishop Iker's pocket and so those people are essentially being told to sit down and shut up.

Bishop Iker is systematically changing the titles on all the property to the diocesan corporation- even parking lots. He has his own lawyers who are operating on a legal theory that has NEVER been tested in court, but of course, he's not telling anyone that.
The diocese is putting out a barrage of misinformation, and it's hard work to counter that. They have already announced the pre-convention deanery meetings will be tightly controlled -- only clergy and lay delegates will be allowed to ask questions. I have personally been warned that visitors will be ejected if they don't behave. [I'm not sure what they think I'm going to do. . . ]
Here's the bishop's announcement:
PRE-CONVENTION MEETINGS for each deanery are scheduled for Thursday, October 25th. Please remember that these are not open hearings or forums for thegeneral public, but are to provide information for the voting lay delegatesand clergy at a canonically prescribed meeting called the Deanery Council.Any visitors and observers (including alternate lay delegates) do not haveseat, voice or vote at the meeting. The place for open forums is in thelocal congregation as called for and scheduled by the priest in charge.
Of course, most priests in charge do not allow any open forums on it either. There is almost NO DISCUSSION on this that is not tightly controlled by the diocese. And the local newspaper is not covering this well at all.
So we've been writing letters to the editor, sending out personal letters to various people, having meetings in private homes, and announcing FWVM meetings as widely as we can. We are making contacts in every parish that we can.
We are bringing Tom Woodward on Oct. 29 to speak and there will be a Q&A session after that. We are buying ads in the newspaper to publicize it.

We will be handing out information at every opportunity, which, of course, the bishop will attempt to stop.
This is all incredibly labor intensive and EXPENSIVE.
We know that all this will pass at diocesan convention -- although by a much slimmer margin that the bishop expects, I think.
Then, of course, we have to have a second convention to pass it all again.
So, here we are -- a bunch of lay people who are struggling to stay in TEC.
Does TEC care?
Helpful advice, strategies, suggestions can be sent to me at ks1246@aol.com.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

An Important Voice Heard From

This was sent out today by the Bishop of New Hampshire. His call for charity and patience is an important one, rarely heard in my diocese.
At General Convention 2006, David Anderson of the American Anglican Council and Gene Robinson were interviewed at the same time on television.
The interviewer asked Anderson why, if The Episcopal Church was so awful, did he stay?
"I love a good fight," Anderson said.
Then the interviewer asked Gene Robinson what he does, and what he suggests LGBT people and their allies do, when they hear attacks from those threatening to leave the church over the "gay issue."
"Love 'em anyway," Gene said.
I know on whose side I prefer to stand.

An Open Letter to the Church's LGBT Community from Bishop Gene Robinson
October 9, 2007

Now that the Church has had some time to absorb and consider the recent meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans and its response to the Anglican Communion, I’d like to share with you what I experienced at the recent House of Bishops meeting, and where I think we are as a result.

There is NO “mind of the House” nor a “mind of the Episcopal Church.” In fact, we are a House and a Church of many different minds. We are in transition from the Church we have been called to be in the past, to the Church we are called to be now and in the future. We are not there yet.

I value highly the thoughts and needs of my brother and sister conservative bishops, who have no intention of leading their flocks out of the Episcopal Church, but come out of dioceses which, for the most part, find the Episcopal Church’s actions of the last four years troublesome and alarming. I listened to them when they voiced the fears of their people that changing our views on homosexuality is a precursor to moving on to denying important tenets of our orthodox faith, from the Trinity to the Resurrection. We worked for a statement which would reflect the diversity we recognize and value as a strength of our Episcopal communion. It was our goal to describe the Church as it currently is: NOT of one mind, but struggling to be of one heart.

My own goal – and that of many bishops – was to do NOTHING at this meeting. That is, our goal, in response to the Primates, was simply to state where we are as an Episcopal Church, not to move us forward or backward. Sometimes, “progress” is to be found in holding the ground we’ve already achieved, when “moving forward” is either untimely or not politically possible. And, doing nothing substantive respects the rightful reminder to us from many in the Senior House that the House of Bishops cannot speak for the whole Church, but rather must wait until all orders of ministry are gathered for its joint deliberations at General Convention.

While many of us worked hard to block B033 and voted against it at General Convention, it IS the most recent declaration of all orders of ministry gathered as a Church. The Bishops merely restated what is, as of the last General Convention.

Yes, we did identify gay and lesbian people as among the group included in those who ‘present a challenge” to the Communion. That comes as a surprise to no one. It is a statement of who we are at the moment. Sad, but true.

Many bishops spoke on behalf of their lgbt members and worked hard to prevent our movement backwards. We fought hard over certain words, certain language. We sidelined some things that truly would have represented a movement backwards.

I want to tell you what I said to the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the course of his comments, it seemed to me that the Archbishop was drawing a line between fidelity to our gay and lesbian members, and fidelity to the “process of common discernment,” which he had offered as a prime function of a bishop. I heard him saying that gay and lesbian members of our Church would simply have to wait until there was a consensus in the Communion. When we were invited to respond, I said something like, “Your Grace, I have always respected you as a person and your office, and I always will. But I want you to know and hear, that to me, a gay man and faithful member of this Church, this is one of the most dehumanizing things I’ve heard in a long time, and I will not be party to it. It reminds me of Jesus question ‘Is the Sabbath made for man, or man for the Sabbath?’ Choosing a process over the lives of human beings and faithful members of this Church is simply unacceptable and unscriptural.” The next morning, the Archbishop tried to assure us that he meant both/and rather than either/or. I tried to speak my truth to him.

On the issue of same sex unions, I argued that our statement be reflective of what is true right now in the Episcopal Church: that while same sex blessings are not officially permitted in most dioceses, they are going on and will continue to go on as an appropriate pastoral response to our gay and lesbian members and their relationships. Earlier versions of our response contained both sides of this truth. I argued to keep both sides of that truth in the final version, providing the clarity asked for by the Primates.

Others made the argument that to state that “a majority of Bishops do not sanction such blessings” implied that a minority do in fact sanction such blessings, and many more take no actions to prevent them. All this without coming right out and saying so. That argument won the day. I think it was a mistake.

Another issue to which I spoke was this notion of “public” versus “private” rites. I pointed out on the floor that our very theology of marriage is based on the communal nature of such a rite. Presumably, the couple has already made commitments to one another privately, or else they would not be seeking Holy Matrimony. What happens in a wedding is that the COMMUNITY is drawn into the relationship – the vows are taken in the presence of that community and the community pledges itself to support the couple in the keeping of their vows. It is, by its very nature, a “public” event – no matter how many or how few people are in attendance. The same goes for our solemn commitments to one another as lgbt couples.

I suspect that these efforts to keep such rites “private” is just another version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If avoidance of further conflict is the goal, then I can understand it. But if speaking the truth in love is the standard by which we engage in our relationships with the Communion, then no.

Let me also state strongly that I believe that the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and Primates MISunderstood us when they stated that they understood that the HOB in fact “declared a ‘moratorium on all such public Rites.’” Neither in our discussions nor in our statement did we agree to or declare such a moratorium on permitting such rites to take place. That may be true in many or most dioceses, but that is certainly not the case in my own diocese and many others. The General Convention has stated that such rites are indeed to be considered within the bounds of the pastoral ministry of this Church to its gay and lesbian members, and that remains the policy of The Episcopal Church.

Lastly, let me respond to the very real pain in the knowledge that the change we long for takes time. This movement forward is going to take a long time. That doesn’t make it right. It certainly does not make it easy. Dr. King rightly said that “justice delayed is justice denied,” but that didn’t stop him from accepting and applauding incremental advances along the way.

We have every right to be impatient. We MUST keep pushing the Church to do the right thing. We must never let anyone believe that we will be satisfied with anything less than the full affirmation of us and our relationships as children of God.

BUT, I will continue to try to remain realistic in my approach. I work hard, and pray hard, to find the patience to stay at the table as long as it takes. And I hope we can refrain from attacking our ALLIES for not doing enough, soon enough. The bridges we are burning today may turn out to be the bridges we want to cross in the future. Let’s not destroy them.

We need to be in this for the long haul. For us to get overly discouraged when we don’t get all that we want, as fast as we want, seems counterproductive to me. We should never capitulate to less than all God wants for us, but to lose heart when we don’t move fast enough, and to attack the Church we are trying to help redeem, seems counterproductive.

The two days of listening to the Archbishop of Canterbury and some members of the ACC were the two hardest days I’ve had since my consecration. (It was a constant and holy reminder to me of the pain all of YOU continue to experience every day at the hands of a Church which is not yet what it is called to be. Ours is a difficult and transforming task: to continue serving a church that seems to love us less than we love it!) I was comforted by the support I DID receive from those straight bishops who spoke up for us, and especially by many of the Bishops of color, who implicitly “got” what I was trying to say and defied the majority with their support of me and of us. I was even encouraged by many conservative bishops’ willingness to work together to craft a statement we, liberal and conservative alike, could all live with.

I believe with my whole heart that the Spirit is alive and well and living in our Church – even in the House of Bishops. I believe Jesus when he told his disciples, on the night before he died for us, that they were not ready to hear and understand all that he had to teach them – and that he would send the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth. I believe that now is such a moment, when the Church, in its plodding and all-too-slow a way, is being guided into truth about its gay and lesbian members. It took ME 39 years to acknowledge who I was as a gay man and to affirm that I too am considered precious by God. Of course, the very next day after telling my parents, I expected them immediately to catch up to what had taken me 39 years to come to. Mercifully, it has not taken them the same 39 years to do so. The Church family is no different. It is going to take TIME.

I voted “yes” to the HOB statement. I believe it was the best we could do at this time. I am far less committed to being ideologically and unrelentingly pure, and far more interested in the “art of the possible.” Am I totally pleased with our statement? Of course not. Do I wish we could have done more? Absolutely. Can I live with it? Yes, I can. For right now. Until General Convention, which is the appropriate time for us to take up these issues again as a Church, with all orders of ministry present. I am taking to heart the old 60’s slogan, “Don’t whine, organize!”

I am always caught between the vision I believe God has for God’s Church, and the call to stay at the table, in communion with those who disagree with me about that vision – or, as is the case for most bishops, who disagree about the appropriate “timing” for reaching that vision of full inclusion. In this painful meantime, please pray for me as I seek to serve the people of my diocese and you, the community of which I am so honored to be a part.

Your brother in Christ,


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Stand Firm: FW Convention faces huge threat!!!!!!!!

This is the threat. Scary, huh?

This in from the testosterone-poisoned Stand Firm In Faith web site:

Greg Griffith
All Saints Won’t Host DioFW Convention; Cites ‘Negative
Publicity’ and Security Concerns
Via email:

Dear Clergy and Convention Delegates:

We regret to announce that All Saints’ Episcopal School has withdrawn its offer to host this year’s Diocesan Convention. Headmaster Tad Bird notified Bishop Iker on Wednesday, September 26th, of the school board’s decision, citing concerns about security and negative publicity for the School in the face of possible pro-gay rights demonstrators at the Convention.


The comments have been, as usual, off the wall. And since one of them addressed me personally, I thought I'd respond -- something I don't usually do to the boys and honorary boys at Stand Firm, because it makes them froth at the mouth even more than usual. The poor dears ARE so easily upset.


Isn’t it sad that the activists are so threatening that a Church School has t ocow down to their threats? Don’t get me wrong...I understand the reason but I just hate the fact that we are being ruled by fear of these no conscience, low level, no moral erhics type of people. To threaten a school...........Just how low can they really go?
Posted by One Day Closer on 10-02-2007 at 05:34 PM [link]

Dear One Day Closer,
No one has threatened a Church School. No one has threatened a "pro gay rights" demonstration. One time, when the diocesan convention was at All Saints School -- this was on a Saturday, so no students were in school -- a few members of Fort Worth Via Media stood at the entrance to the school holding one banner that said, "Episcopalian or Not?"
I guess that simple question was much more threatening than anyone realized.


I don’t know anything about the school, but if it is K-12 there could be no justification, in my opinion, for the children to be exposed to any gay rights demonstration, or to live with there having been such in their building. Lets protect our kids any way that we can.
Posted by Frances Scott on 10-02-2007 at 05:50 PM [link]

Dear Frances,
See above. And how horrible would it be for the children to see adults standing in peaceful dissent? Is that a concept form which you want to protect the children? If so, I think parents would have second thoughts about sending their children to such a school.

Having been a convention delegate in FtW for several years, I can vouch that the Via Media folks demonstrated quite well the last time the convention was held at All Saint’s School. The school is surrounded by a fence and the demonstrators were not allowed on school property. Nevertheless, they made quite a spectacle of themselves with their banners as convention goers “ran their guanlet.” I would be most surprised if they do not have plans to repeat their witness for the General Convention Church.
Posted by Verger on 10-02-2007 at 07:41 PM [link]

Dear Verger,
Glad you pointed out that the school is surrounded by a big fence and a guarded gatehouse and that Fort Worth Via Media wasn't allowed on the property.
I'm also glad you thought our little demonstration was so effective. I think it says volumes about this diocese that a sign saying "Episcopalian or Not?" is seen as a "pro-gay rights" demonstration, given that the House of Bishops in New Orleans just scapegoated our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters in Christ. But this isn't all about homosexuality, is it? That's what our bishop keeps saying, but somehow his actions don't quite convince me of that.
And Sweetie, one more thing. If you think one banner held by two people constitutes a gauntlet, then you are more sheltered -- and easily intimidated -- than I thought.
I don't mean to scare you, but I plan to be at the convention for The Diocesan Convention Church. Haven't decided yet whether to bring the lavender storm troopers or not.

It is a shame when a Christian school has to refuse to hold a scheduled Diocesan Convention in order to protect its’ students from demonstrations by the gay rights crowd. Tell us again about the inclusivity of the GLBT church members---how fair and non-judgemental they are. The big bad non-existent homo is apparently very real! So real that school children have to be protected from him/her/them. And they wonder why the orthodox want to separate. If I had a child at All Saints I would have a cow if he had to wade through a sea of gay rights demonstator to go to school. The school administator’s first responsibility is to protect the children. It is a shame when it has to be from their own members. Way to go Katie (and I don’t mean the PB).
Posted by terrafirma on 10-02-2007 at 08:39 PM [link]

Dear terrafirma,
I am gratified that you think I have the power to force such a decision.
I DO think it's a shame that a school could be so intimidated by the prospect of a very small, peaceful group of Episcopalians holding one or two banners on a Saturday morning when school is not in session. Exactly in what way does that threaten children?
But then, it's typical of the leadership in this diocese to hide behind children as an excuse to drum up more sympathy for the way they are "persecuted" by those of us who speak up in opposition.
Here's some advice -- grow up.

You know, I was wondering last night how many TEC churches have schools attached to them. I know my former parish, St. Barnabas, does. And a mighty fine one at that.
How long before the new TEC dictator orders these schools to include “Heather Has Two Mommies” in their curriculum? Of course it is very possible that the dictator would probably require only “new thing” books with titles like, “God has Blessed Heather with Two Mommies”.
Or maybe she would wait for GenCon.
Nevertheless, how long before this starts happening?
Posted by why1914 on 10-03-2007 at 06:14 AM [link]

Dear why 1914,
You guys crack me up. You remind me of little kids in the tent in the back yard at night sitting around thinking up ways to scare each other. I am, however, impressed with your creativity. I'll send along this suggestion to the PB.

OK, now I've painted a big target on my back. Have fun.
Your sister in Christ,
Katie Sherrod

Monday, October 01, 2007

This is how they plan to do it

It appears that they are going to pretend to be all legal as they try to leave TEC and take everything with them. Here's the latest news from the Standing Committee

To the Clergy and Convention Delegates and Alternates:

Today the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth announced its decision to sponsor five proposed amendments to the Diocesan Constitution and Canons for consideration at the dioceses 25th Annual Convention on November 16 and 17, 2007. [PDF document attached below]
If adopted, the Diocese would take the first step needed to dissociate itself from the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and to begin the process of affiliating with another Province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Since constitutional changes do not go into effect until they are approved by two successive diocesan conventions, the second, ratifying vote would come at the annual meeting in 2008. Under the proposals, the Diocese would reaffirm its position as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, consisting of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces and regional churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.
Note: This Report contains all the amendments proposed for consideration at the convention, including two that received a first reading last year and two that were introduced from the floor of last year's convention and referred to the Committee.
The Report is part of the second information packet to prepare you for Diocesan Convention. The complete packet will be posted within 24 hours on the diocesan Web site. You will receive further e-mail notification at that time.

Suzanne Gill
Director of Communications

EXPLANATION from the Very Rev. Ryan S. Reed, President,on behalf of the Standing Committee
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has always been a traditional, conservative diocese, adhering to the beliefs and practices of the historic catholic faith. This means it has often found itself in conflict with decisions of the General Convention, which has continued a series of innovations in liturgy, theology, and the sacraments. For 25 years, the diocese has attempted to differentiate itself from the actions of the General Convention and its ongoing effort to revise and redefine the historic teaching of the Church on faith and morals, as revealed in Holy Scripture.
To submit to and comply with the current direction of the General Convention would mean for us to embrace a distortion of the Christian faith that our forebears would not recognize as a continuation of the Apostles teaching and fellowship. It would mean driving an even deeper wedge between us and the rest of the Anglican Communion, as well as other Christian bodies, who do not condone recent actions of the General Convention, but rather view them as schismatic and sectarian. We cannot act against our conscience and in violation of the faith once delivered to the saints.
For 25 years, we have struggled to remain as a faithful remnant within The Episcopal Church, witnessing to our beliefs, which have been repudiated by our brothers and sisters in other dioceses. Over these years a great deal of subtle and overt pressure has been exerted in an effort to make this diocese conform to their innovations. Among these were visits in 2001 and again in 2002 from members of a task force established by the General Convention to bring us into compliance with the ordination of women priests. During the past year there has been an escalation of threats and intimidation as officials of the General Convention church have brought additional pressure to bear upon our diocese and others like us, demanding full compliance with and unqualified accession to the decisions of General Convention. Our freedom to continue to be who we have always been and to practice what we have always believed is rapidly coming to an end in The Episcopal Church.
Beginning in June 2006 with the election of a new Presiding Bishop, we have sought Alternative Primatial Oversight as an intermediate measure that would afford us a way of remaining a diocese of The Episcopal Church, but under the leadership of an orthodox Primate. We have worked through the structures of the church in pursuit of this goal, and we have waited patiently for some accommodation of our need. We were encouraged by the pastoral plan proposed by the Primates Meeting in February 2007, with the full support of the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the resounding rejection of this proposal by the House of Bishops and the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church has sent us a clear message: We have no need of you and will provide no secure place for your future in this church.
We have now seen the expiration of the September 30th deadline set by the Primates for a statement of unequivocal assurance from the Bishops of The Episcopal Church that our Province would abide by the provisions of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 concerning same-sex blessings and the ordination of practicing homosexuals. The statement from last weeks New Orleans meeting of the House of Bishops maintains the status quo and signals no change of direction for the future. Same-sex unions continue to be blessed in a number of dioceses across the church, and in the Diocese of Chicago a partnered lesbian is now an official nominee for Bishop.
We believe it is time for us to take action to secure our future as a diocese. We believe it is time to separate our diocese from General Convention religion and to join an orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion. However, we do not wish to compel any parish in the diocese to remain with us as we pursue this course of action. With Christian charity toward those who differ from the majority, we are offering an amendment to Canon 32 to provide a process whereby parishes may leave the diocese in an amicable and Christian manner.
It is important to note that the four Constitutional amendments to be voted on in November will be on a first-reading basis, and they will not have any force or effect unless ratified at our next annual Convention in 2008.
In closing, we wish to express our gratitude to the Committee on Constitution and Canons for its work in the drafting process, and we call the whole diocese to prayer as we undertake the challenges that are before us.

The proposed changes are too long to post here, so here's the link.

In this report you will find that the committee recommends rejections of the two proposals from Fort Worth Via Media. No surprise there.