Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Breaking news . . .NOT

BIG BREAKING NEWS FROM FORT WORTH
Iker reveals plan to "take the diocese" to foreign province, urges priests and delegates to steal the property of the Episcopal Church. Oh. Whew. For a minute there I thought I was writing for Stand Firm.

Anyway, if you read from the bottom up, you can see all three reports from the bishop and the Standing Committee leading to the absolutely unsurprising recommendation that the diocese affiliate with the Southern Cone -- which it can't legally do, but that little reality does not bother these guys one teeny bit.

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Cc: Bishop Iker
Subject: Ad Clerum: Executive Council approves Standing Committee's Third Report
To all clergy, Convention delegates, Executive Council and vestry members:

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth today adopted and endorsed – with only one dissenting vote – the recommendation of the Bishop and Standing Committee “that this Diocese affiliate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone as a member diocese, on a temporary, pastoral basis, until such time as an orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion can be established in North America.”

This constitutes the third report made in response to Resolution 2 of the 25th Annual Convention of the diocese. The recommendation will be presented to clergy and delegates to the upcoming 26th Annual Convention for consideration on Nov. 14 & 15, 2008.

The full text of the Third Report follows; it is also available on the diocesan Web site.

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Third Report
from the Bishop and Standing Committee concerning
The Anglican Province of the Southern Cone

A resolution adopted by the 25th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth requested “that the Bishop and Standing Committee prepare a report for this diocese on the constitutional and canonical implications and means” of becoming a member diocese of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Two preliminary reports* have been made – one on January 9, 2008, and another on February 12, 2008 – and both should be reviewed at this time, for they are an integral part of the recommendation we are making to the 26th Annual Diocesan Convention.

After months of prayerful discernment and extensive consultation with others, both within our own diocese and beyond, we have come to the following conclusion. We recommend that this Diocese affiliate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone as a member diocese, on a temporary, pastoral basis, until such time as an orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion can be established in North America.

We have been in conversation about this matter with the Committee on Constitution and Canons, and they will be presenting to Convention the necessary changes to our constitution and canons to enact this realignment.

We pray for God’s grace to uphold and guide us in the days ahead and for the Holy Spirit to continue to inspire us “with the spirit of truth, unity and concord” as we seek to serve and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

Presented by
The Bishop and Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

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Additional resources:

Download the Constitution and Canons of the Province of the Southern Cone

Read Resolution 2

Previous items: First ReportSecond Report*

*While the second report invited questions and promised to address additional concerns in a subsequent publication, none have been submitted to the Standing Committee during the intervening months.
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And here's the Second Report:

From the Bishop and Standing Committee

Feb. 12, 2008
Second Report on the possibility of re-aligning with the Province of the Southern Cone

In this second report from the Bishop and Standing Committee on the possibility of re-aligning with the Province of the Southern Cone, we would like to offer a brief analysis of some of the basic differences between the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church as compared with those of the Province of the Southern Cone (PSC). An English translation of the Constitution and Canons of the PSC can be found elsewhere on this Web site.

In our Preliminary Report of January 9, 2008, we arrived at the following conclusion:

Based on our review, we have concluded that the structure and polity of the Province of the Southern Cone would afford our diocese greater self-determination than we currently have under the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. This autonomy would be evident most specifically in the areas of property ownership, liturgy, holy orders, and missionary focus.

One fundamental principle underlying the Constitution and Canons of the PSC is that “the Dioceses are at liberty to provide necessary selection and training of clergy, liturgical use, finances and possessions, and other affairs related to the local situation, provided they are not in conflict with other Anglican norms and this Constitution.” (See item 3, Rules, on page 2)
Specifically, we note the following:

Ordination Standards
Each local diocese has the responsibility for the ordination process and makes its own determination as to the eligibility and the qualifications for ordination to Holy Orders. There are no requirements imposed upon dioceses by the Province regarding gender or sexual orientation.

Liturgy
Each diocesan bishop determines matters of worship and Prayer Book usage in his diocese. The section on Liturgy (Canon 9) notes that “it is the responsibility of the Bishops to keep guard that the forms used in Public Worship and the Administration of the Sacraments be in accordance with Anglican Faith and Order and that nothing be established that is contrary to the Word of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.” Membership in the Southern Cone would not necessitate a change in our liturgical practices or Prayer Book. It would also protect us from experimental liturgies already authorized or under consideration by the General Convention of TEC which advocate the use of expansive language for God, the elimination of male pronouns for God, or the blessing of same-sex unions.

Property Canon 10 states that the Province’s possessions “shall consist of the economic contributions of its Member Dioceses.” The PSC does not lay claim to any buildings, real estate or investments of its member dioceses. Thus, title to all our churches, property, and funds would remain in the Diocese of Fort Worth. TEC makes the claim that all local church property is held in trust for TEC.

Provincial Polity
Instead of having a cumbersome General Convention that meets every three years for three weeks at great expense, with four clergy and four lay deputies from each diocese in the House of Deputies and all bishops in the House of Bishops, as in The Episcopal Church, there is a Provincial Synod (Canon 5) of the Southern Cone that meets every three years for three days. It is comprised of the Bishop and one clergy and one lay delegate from each diocese in the Province. This would be a much smaller legislative body on the provincial level, producing considerable cost savings and a council of far more manageable size for conducting business.

Also, as a member diocese we would have a seat on the Provincial Executive Council (Canon 6), helping to direct program and budget. Our Bishop would have the right of voice at Council meetings, even if we were already represented on the Council by a priest or lay person.
Presiding Bishop/Primate The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, also referred to as the Primate or Archbishop, is not a separate, full-time, salaried position, as in TEC. Instead, the Bishop elected as Primate continues to serve as a diocesan bishop, like all the other bishops of the Province. There are no “national church offices” staffed with a bureaucracy of paid church employees. This makes for a much smaller structure and budget and keeps the emphasis for mission and ministry on the local diocesan level.

Provincial Budget
The budget of the General Convention of TEC was set at just under $50 million for 2008. Most of this funding comes from an “asking” from each diocese, in the amount of 21% of its annual income. The remainder comes from investment income and other sources. The annual budget of the Province of the Southern Cone totals less than $100,000 and is funded by the member dioceses on a proportionate basis, with contributions ranging between $2,000 and $6,000. Additional support comes from overseas partners. The funds are used mostly for basic costs of administration and communications. This minimal provincial cost keeps the focus and funding for ministry in the local dioceses.

We encourage you to read the PSC Constitution and Canons for yourselves. If you have further questions or matters that require clarification, please feel free to write the Standing Committee at the Diocesan Center for Ministry. Additional concerns will be addressed in our next report.
The Bishop and Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort WorthFeb. 12, 2008

download the Constitution and Canons of the Province of the Southern Cone

read Resolution 2
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And here's the first report:


From the Bishop and Standing Committee
January 9, 2008
A Preliminary Report from the Bishop and Standing Committee on the Invitation to Join the Province of the Southern Cone

In accordance with the Resolution adopted by our Diocesan Convention, this is our preliminary report on some of the implications of accepting an offer which we received from the Southern Cone shortly before our Convention.

The Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in November 2007 took the first step toward dissociating itself from actions of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

This decision was made in response to TEC's failure to heed either the repeated calls for repentance issued by the Primates of the Anglican Communion or the recommendations of the Panel of Reference. The leadership of TEC has threatened us with false claims of canonical power to correct and discipline us while condoning or even promoting in other dioceses false teaching and sacramental actions explicitly contrary to Holy Scripture.

In early November we received an invitation from Archbishop Gregory Venables, on behalf of the Province of the Southern Cone, stating that, as an emergency, pastoral measure we and others like us would have a welcome place within that Province until such time as TEC either changes its direction or a new ecclesial structure within the Anglican Communion is established in North America.

The Province of the Southern Cone includes the countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. With a membership of around 27,000 persons, it is one of the smallest provinces of the Anglican Communion in terms of numbers, but among the largest in geographical size.

Following Anglican missionary work in the region during the 19th century, missionary dioceses were formed in each of these South American countries, and bishops were appointed to serve under the direct metropolitical oversight of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1981 these dioceses came together to form the new Province, focused on carrying out the Great Commission and maintaining a strong commitment to the traditional teachings of the Church in all matters of faith and morals. It is led by an elected Presiding Bishop who serves as the Primate and Archbishop of the Province. This office is currently held by the British-born bishop of Argentina, The Most Rev. Gregory James Venables. He is a principal leader of the traditional, orthodox movement in the worldwide Anglican Communion and has taken an active role in the Primates’ Meetings in recent years.

At its November 2007 Synod, the Province adopted a resolution to extend the offer of membership to traditional dioceses electing to leave revisionist provinces. In December, the Province received the Diocese of San Joaquin in California. Archbishop Venables has also received several retired TEC and Canadian bishops into the Province. It was in that context that he recently declared: “Christianity is specific, definable and unchanging. We are not at liberty to deconstruct or rewrite it. If Jesus was the Son of God yesterday then so He is today and will be forever.”

We have now had opportunity to review the Constitution and Canons of the Province of the Southern Cone; an English-language edition of those documents is being edited and will be released shortly. Based on our review, we have concluded that the structure and polity of the Province of the Southern Cone would afford our diocese greater self-determination than we currently have under the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. This autonomy would be evident most specifically in the areas of property ownership, liturgy, holy orders, and missionary focus.

While nothing will change in the day-to-day operations of the churches in the Diocese of Fort Worth, we expect a significant change in attitude and focus of the clergy and people of the diocese. Becoming a member Diocese of the Province of the Southern Cone would allow the Diocese of Fort Worth the opportunity and freedom to continue to practice the “Faith once delivered to all the saints” without being constantly distracted by the controversies and divisions caused by innovations hostile to traditional Christian norms. Instead, it would allow the Diocese to concentrate on the call of Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel and make new disciples, while at the same time assuring our continued place in the mainstream of Anglicanism, an assurance The Episcopal Church is unable to give.

Presented by
The Bishop and Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
January 9, 2008

4 comments:

Padre Mickey said...

Gee, has it been 40 days already?

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't the Constitution of the Province of the Southern Cone restrict member dioceses to the current geographical boundaries of the diocese? Exactly how is that Province allowed to violate its own constitution?

Just asking...

Fred Schwartz said...

to Padre Mickey: 40 is a mystical number. to Tom Sramek Jr. Ask Mr. Schofield, he can explain how this works.

Fred Schwartz said...

Katie,
here is a thought for your diocese.

http://episcoscamp.blogspot.com/