Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Steering Committee Statement Re: Venables' Visit

Steering Committee Statement Regarding
Visit of Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables

Gregory Venables, Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America, at the invitation of Bishop Jack Iker, spoke at a special convocation of the Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth on May 3 at St. Vincent’s School in Bedford.

Last November the Province had passed a resolution that would “welcome [our diocese] into the membership” of that province. At our own diocesan convention later that month, a resolution was passed directing the “Bishop and Standing Committee [to] prepare a report for this diocese on the constitutional and canonical implications and means of accepting this invitation.”

Following his remarks, Venables held a question and answer session in which he described the possible alignment of our diocese with the province on an “emergency and pastoral” basis of indefinite duration. Venables also made reference to a “larger structure coming into place in which we could all participate.”

Venables graciously and ably presented the fundamentalist case for a literal interpretation of selected scripture. He also continued to misstate the position of our presiding bishop and the Episcopal Church regarding the role of Christ in salvation and characterized Christianity as an “intolerant” faith. While emphasizing that the church is the people, he urged as to church property that, "We must retain what is rightfully ours."

The Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians (“Steering Committee”), recently created to support the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth as a constituent part of the Episcopal Church, contends that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was created by the approval of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, and as with every diocese in the Episcopal Church, exists solely by virtue of its unity as part of the Episcopal Church. Should our bishop and some clergy and laity decide to leave the Episcopal Church, those Episcopalians who remain will continue to be the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and full participants in the Episcopal Church.

The Steering Committee also notes that a visit of this nature by a foreign bishop violates the call in the Windsor Report for a moratorium on interventions by bishops in provinces and dioceses other than their own. This visit ignored the objection of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who wrote to Venables requesting that he cancel his visit, calling it "an unprecedented and unwarranted invasion of, and meddling in, the internal affairs of this Province."

Those who plan to remain as Episcopalian can check the website of the Steering Committee of North Texas Episcopalians at www.SteeringCommitteeNTE.org and contact the Steering Committee by e-mail at inquiries@SteeringCommitteeNTE.org or by letter addressed to Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, P.O.Box 100846, Fort Worth, TX, 76185-0846.

May 4, 2008

Relevant Documents

Sections of the Windsor Report dealing with boundary violations
149. In some instances, this breach of trust has been felt so keenly that a parish or
diocese has found itself unwilling to accept the ministry of a bishop associated
with such contrary action, and has invited bishops from elsewhere in the
province or beyond to provide pastoral and sacramental oversight. In some
cases, there are primates and bishops who have acceded to these requests with or
without reference to the proper authorities of the diocese concerned. We want to
make quite clear that we fully understand the principled concerns that have led
to those actions even though we believe that they should have been handled

150. In these circumstances we call upon the church or province in question to
recognise first that dissenting groups in their midst are, like themselves, seeking
to be faithful members of the Anglican family; and second, we call upon all the
bishops concerned, both the ‘home’ bishops and the ‘intervening’ bishops as
Christian leaders and pastors to work tirelessly to rebuild the trust which has
been lost.

154. The Anglican Communion upholds the ancient norm of the Church that all the
Christians in one place should be united in their prayer, worship and the
celebration of the sacraments. The Commission believes that all Anglicans
should strive to live out this ideal. Whilst there are instances in the polity of
Anglican churches that more than one jurisdiction exists in one place, this is
something to be discouraged rather than propagated. We do not therefore favour
the establishment of parallel jurisdictions.

155. We call upon those bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to
intervene in provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own:
¨ to express regret for the consequences of their actions
¨ to affirm their desire to remain in the Communion, and
¨ to effect a moratorium on any further interventions.
We also call upon these archbishops and bishops to seek an accommodation
with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own

Letter of the Presiding Bishop to Gregory Venables

Dear Gregory,
I write to urge you not to bring further discord into The Episcopal Church. Visiting a special convocation of the Diocese of Fort Worth with the expressed purpose of describing removal to the Province of the Southern Cone is an unprecedented and unwarranted invasion of, and meddling in, the internal affairs of this Province. I ask you to consider how you might receive such a visit to your own Province from a fellow primate. The actions contemplated by some leaders in Fort Worth are profoundly uncanonical. They also prevent needed reconciliation from proceeding within this Province. I urge you to focus your pastoral ministry within your own Province. May your ministry there be fruitful.
I remain
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori


Beryl Simkins said...


This is a little off topic, but a number of us faithful Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin have been having a discussion about the little door you have on the Episcopal Shield. Does it have symbolic meaning?

One person thought the door should be open, welcoming all.


Katie Sherrod said...

Red doors on Episcopal churches are a continuation of a ancient tradition. Historically, red doors were a symbol of refuge and sanctuary for all people who entered. To all concerned the red on the doors signified the blood of Christ that had been shed so that all who came to him could be saved. Anyone who passed through those doors was safe as long as they stayed behind them.

Over time, Christian people began to see the red doors of the church as symbolizing not only physical refuge and safety, but spiritual refuge as well. The blood of Jesus, and of the Church's martyrs, that the red doors of the church symbolized, would protect you from evil, both physical and spiritual. The red doors spoke to the world of holy ground that existed inside those doors, space that had been purged and made clean by God's Holy Spirit.

The red door is a symbol used by North Texas Remain Episcopal, a group started in Wichita Falls in the northern part of our diocese. They are part of the Steering Committee. When I was working on a logo, it seemed to me that the red door backed up by the Episcopal Shield, symbol of the national church, was a powerful symbol of how those of us who will remain Episcopalians feel "backed up" by The Episcopal Church, welcomed into a place of sanctuary behind a door symbolizing Christ's blood spilled for us all.
That's the thinking behind the logo.

Beryl Simkins said...

That is so beautiful and I thank you very much. I will be sharing your answer with the others.

These are difficult times, are they not, and yet many of us are finding new friendships and forging new alliances with others who understand the journey.