Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bishop Iker reports and responds

Bishop Jack Iker's comments on the letter he received Tuesday and his comments on the action against Duncan are appended below the Ad CLerum.
From: Suzanne Gill :
Wednesday, January 16, 2008 10:30 AM
Cc: Bishop Iker; Canon Hough
Subject: Ad Clerum: A Message from Bishop Iker

Yesterday was a rather interesting day, and I wanted to make certain that all of you were aware of the following events:

BISHOP SAM HULSEY, the retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas, hosted an organizational meeting yesterday afternoon at his home here in Fort Worth for all clergy of this Diocese who are opposed to the decisions made by our Diocesan Convention in November and who are committed to keeping this Diocese in The Episcopal Church, no matter what. Though I was not given a list of those invited, I understand that only two or three rectors attended and that the rest were a handful of retired priests and a couple of deacons. Of the 14 clergy who voted against the constitutional changes in November, it is believed that half are retired or non-parochial.

I HAVE RECEIVED A SECOND THREATENING LETTER from the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Interestingly enough, it arrived on the same day as the meeting convened by Bishop Hulsey. As you will recall, in a much-publicized letter in November the PB had threatened me with disciplinary charges of “abandonment of the communion of this church” if I permitted the Diocesan Convention to vote on the proposed constitutional revisions that were put before us. This time she threatens me with charges of a violation of my ordination vows if I continue “any encouragement of such a belief” that parishes and dioceses can leave The Episcopal Church. Well, so much for an invitation to dialogue and conversation! It’s all about threats of dire consequences if you don’t comply with the party line.

BISHOP BOB DUNCAN of Pittsburgh was officially charged with abandonment of the communion of the church on this very same day! Though the Review Committee endorsed the charges brought by the PB, the three senior diocesan bishops would not consent to his being inhibited from functioning as a bishop, as they had done in the same charges brought against Bishop John-David Schofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin just last week. The essential difference in the two cases is that San Joaquin approved measures to separate from The Episcopal Church with a second, ratifying vote on December 8th, whereas the Pittsburgh Convention approved of their measures at the preliminary, first reading vote in November, an action which will need to be ratified at the 2008 Convention. Fort Worth is in the same position as Pittsburgh.

BISHOP STANTON OF DALLAS AND I had a very good meeting yesterday at St. Vincent’s, where we discussed how to make provision for any parishes in this Diocese that may choose to remain in TEC if the Diocesan Convention votes to separate from The Episcopal Church. We were joined by our Canons to the Ordinary, the Presidents of our respective Standing Committees, and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Dallas. You will be hearing more about this in due course.

Thank you all for our prayers, encouragement and support during these difficult days in the life of our beloved church.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth


Also, last night Bishop Iker released the comments which are appended below to the press concerning the charges against Bishop Duncan and the letter Bishop Iker had received from the Presiding Bishop. A copy of the letter is being posted on the diocesan Web site.
Suzanne Gill
Director of Communications
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

Concerning Bishop Duncan, Bishop Iker said:
I find it tragic and deeply disturbing that the Presiding Bishop would seek to take canonical action against the Bishop of Pittsburgh prior to any final decision by his diocesan convention concerning separation from The Episcopal Church. The fact that Bishop Duncan and the Diocese of Pittsburgh are still a part of The Episcopal Church was clearly affirmed by the refusal of the three senior diocesan bishops to consent to his being inhibited for this alleged offense. The Episcopal Church continually gives lip service to the need for ongoing conversation and dialogue to heal our divisions while at the same time closing off any possibility of continuing conversations by aggressive, punitive actions such as this.

Concerning the letter he received from the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Iker said:

Today [Tuesday] I received a second threatening letter from the Presiding Bishop, this time by regular mail. Unlike her November letter, it did not imply a charge of “abandonment of the communion of this church,” but it said that I would be liable for charges of violation of my ordination vows if I continue “any encouragement of such a belief” (i.e. that parishes and dioceses can leave The Episcopal Church). She also claimed that conservative voices are “disappearing” from TEC “by their own decision and at their own hands.”


You can read the "threatening" letter here.

Read Mark Harris' analysis of the whole situation here.

Read Fr. Jake's take here.

Read the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh press release here.

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