The efforts of Episcopalians in Wichita Falls to Remain Episcopal has made front page news in the Thursday Wichita Falls Times Record. You can see the story here.
The headline reads "Meeting on neutral ground, Episcopals to hold gathering to address rumors."
NOTE: We "Episcopals" clearly have some education to do, but I remind everyone that reporters do NOT write the headlines for their stories. The copydesk does. All in all, reporter Jessica Langdon has done a good job of reporting the facts in this story.
Here's an excerpt from the story:
As the diocese that oversees the Episcopal churches in Wichita Falls tries to distance itself from the Episcopal Church as a whole, some members of the three congregations in the city are planning to meet on neutral ground to take a closer look at the future of their faith.
A group that calls itself North Texans Remain Episcopal is sponsoring a meeting Jan. 18, to give attendees a chance to ask questions and hear from the Rev. Thomas B. Woodward, an Episcopal priest who lives in Santa Fe, N.M., and who has served as a priest for 42 years.
Woodward has found constructive ways in his diocese to deal with conflicts, and will offer insight to members of the Wichita Falls congregations during the event, said Owanah Anderson. Anderson is part of the Remain Episcopal group and a longtime member of All Saints Episcopal Church.
“I’m a Remain Episcopalian,” said Anderson, who worked for the Episcopal Church’s national office in New York before coming back to Wichita Falls to retire. “I intend to remain an Episcopalian. I’m not going to transfer my allegiance to anything outside the Episcopal Church.”
Several issues, particularly those related to homosexuality within the church, have created a split among Episcopalians and prompted some of the dioceses to leave the larger congregation.
Members of all three churches in Wichita Falls — All Saints, Church of the Good Shepherd and St. Stephen’s — are collaborating on the meeting, which will take place at First Christian Church at 7 p.m. Jan 18. That church is separate from the Episcopal faith to ensure the meeting doesn’t raise problems for the churches, Anderson said.
In addition to Woodward, writer Katie Sherrod of Fort Worth and George Komechak, president of the Fort Worth Chapter of Via Media, will attend the meeting. Via Media USA is a group dedicated to protecting and promoting the Episcopal Church and its unity, life and faith, Anderson explained.
She encouraged everyone to attend the program and ask questions. One of the goals is to provide more information, she said.
“There are lots of rumors that the Episcopal Church is attempting to revise the Book of Common Prayer,” she said. “That is not true.”
There are also rumors about scriptural incorrectness, she said.
The Diocese of Fort Worth, which includes Wichita Falls and other North Texas areas in its Northern Deanery, is among three of 110 dioceses that do not ordain women, Anderson said. Headlines over the past several years have also put a spotlight on issues related to homosexuality.
“There are those of us who believe God loves all the people,” she said.
The meeting is designed to address rumors and to answer questions, she said.
Some of you will remember Owanah from her work with the Native American Ministries desk at the Church Center in the late 1990s. She retired in 1998. But she clearly has not retired from advocacy work. She has been a major source of common sense in her area of our diocese.
Note that the meeting is not being held in an Episcopal Church "to ensure the meeting doesn’t raise problems for the churches." This is true everywhere. With very few exceptions, rectors are afraid to allow Fort Worth Via Media or any other group who questions the bishop's plans to meet in their parishes for fear of retaliation from the bishop/Standing Committee.
I thank God for Owanah and others like her. Pray for us all, especially for our clergy.