Sunday, November 16, 2008

A response to a statement from those who left

Here is the statement that the former bishop of Fort Worth wanted read in all parishes today. My responses are in italics.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth - As We Realign

Our 26th annual convention has taken action to secure our future as a diocese.

During the Nov. 14 & 15 diocesan convention, your clergy and elected delegates have taken a stand as faithful members of the worldwide Anglican Communion. They have heeded the call to "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints." (Jude 3)

[And we wish these individuals well. They just don't get to take the property with them as they go. For our part, we remain faithful members of the worldwide Anglican Communion in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in union with the General Convention, recognizing the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori as presiding bishop. We have already begun the work of reorganizing the diocese.]

What has changed?

By voting to change our diocesan Constitution and Canons, we have withdrawn from the General Convention, dissociating ourselves from the moral, theological, and disciplinary innovations of The Episcopal Church. We have realigned with another Province of the Anglican Communion. This is a change in affiliation, not a change in worship or doctrine.

[But it is a change in churches. You are no longer members of the Episcopal Church.]

Our Bishop, clergy, and congregations have been received into the fellowship of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. We are deeply grateful to Archbishop Gregory Venables for this provision, which he has made on a temporary and emergency basis, in response to the crisis in The Episcopal Church. We now look forward to the formation of an Anglican Province in North America.

[Jack Iker, now calling himself a bishop of the Southern Cone, has said all along that this is a temporary move. Remember when he distanced himself from the visit to the Roman Catholic bishop and had those four poor priests apologize for the "wording" and the "timing" of the request to move the entire diocese to the Roman Catholic Church.

Behold, here's a photo of Jack Iker with l - r: Tommy Hightower, Christopher Stainbrook, Iker, Williams Crary, Bernard Cardinal Law, Louis Tobola, Charles Hough, and Ryan Reed.

Tobola, Crary, Stainbrook and Hough were the four priests who made the presentation to Vann.


So who will go to Rome and who will go to this much touted "orthodox Anglican Province in North America? Actually, I don't much care, now that they are gone. I just hope they find the spiritual home they need. ]

Where we stand.

We remain true to the historic faith and order of the Church.

[And so do the members of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, in union with the General Convention.]

We remain a member diocese of the Anglican Communion.

[Hmmmmm.]

We remain the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The word "episcopal" identifies us as part of the apostolic succession, with a bishop as our elected chief pastor.

[ Now let's have a grammar lesson. Nouns name people, places, and things. Every noun can further be classified as common or proper. A common noun names general items. A proper noun has two distinctive features: 1) it will name a specific [usually a one-of-a-kind] item, and 2) it will begin with a capital letter no matter where it occurs in a sentence.

Yes, anyone who has a bishop as their chief pastor can call themselves an episcopalian -- with a small "e". That's a common noun. But Episcopalians with a big "E" -- a proper noun -- are members of the Episcopal Church. Just like we are all democrats and republicans, but some of us are Democrats and some are Republicans. You're NOT still Episcopalians because you've left the Episcopal Church.]

We remain in communion with other Episcopalians. We share fellowship with all those in any Province who recognize the authority of Scripture and the faith and order of historic Anglicanism.

[This is new. They declared themselves out of communion with bishops who ordain women, yet now they want to be part of a "new" province headed up by Bob Duncan, who ordains women. And according to this statement, they still share fellowship with all of us in TEC, because whether they like it or not, we DO recognize the authority of Scripture and the faith and order of historic Anglicanism.]

Everyone is welcome to worship in our churches this Sunday and every Sunday. Our liturgy remains the same, our name is the same. Most of all, we remain committed to the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

[However, you're no longer members of the Episcopal Church. So why are you worshipping in an Episcopal Church?]

What is the status of our clergy?

Our clergy continue to be licensed for ministry by Bishop Iker. TEC benefit programs, which may no longer be available to them, have been replaced by new group insurance policies and a retirement plan. Clergy who have established pension accounts in TEC will be eligible at retirement to receive benefits earned. While these will be less than they might have had by staying with the program longer, their new investment plan will provide supplemental retirement benefits.

[The clergy who didn't leave the Episcopal Church didn't leave the Episcopal Church. They don't have do anything and certainly don't have to "leave the diocese" to remain in the Episcopal Church. The diocese remains in the Episcopal Church and so do all the clergy who do not choose to leave for the Southern Cone.]

What about those Episcopalians who disagree with the decision to realign?

We know that not everyone agrees with this change. Those who dissent are valued brothers and sisters in Christ, and they are welcome to remain in their congregations. For some, however, it may be necessary to separate from the diocese, perhaps permanently. In a few cases, it may be the will of the majority of the members in a particular parish to remain in The Episcopal Church. Where this is the case, Bishop Iker, the Standing Committee, and Board of Trustees hope to work with the rector and vestry to come to a mutually agreeable separation and settlement of property issues without resort to lawsuits or other hostile actions.

[Jack Iker, the Standing Committee and the Trustees have all left the Episcopal Church. They are no longer eligible to hold office in the Episcopal Church and should resign their offices. They certainly do not have any standing to make decisions about property that belongs to the Episcopal Church. As long as they try to take what does not belong to them, the lawful owners have the right to protect their property in the courts if necessary. I'd say it's a pretty hostile action to take property that doesn't belong to you.]

What response should we expect from representatives of the General Convention?

We expect a number of announcements in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Among these may be plans for a new General Convention-member diocese in this 24-county area. There may be lawsuits testing the ownership of our properties. And action may be taken to remove our Bishop and clergy from their positions in ministry in the General Convention church. But such action will have no practical effect, since they will already be ministering under the authority of another Anglican Province. These developments may generate news headlines, and they may cause some confusion, but they will not prevent us from going forward in mission as a diocese.

[There are no plans for a new General Convention diocese. There already is an Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and we're it. You are not. We have to get reorganized with new leadership, but the diocese has gone nowhere. The "General Convention Church" happens to be the Episcopal Church, that "mythical church" Jack Iker frequently refers to. I'll be interested in how mythical it will seem when he's in court. The Episcopal Church will look out for the interests of Episcopalians in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. No one will try to prevent any of you from "going forward in mission" as whatever you want to call yourselves in the Southern Cone. You just have to do with your own property, not ours. And for goodness sakes, come up with a new name for yourselves.]

What next?

On Nov. 24, Bishop Iker will meet with the clergy on the topic of "Moving Forward -- Life after TEC." Other events for clergy and lay people will be announced in the weeks ahead. Please continue to pray for our diocese, for all Episcopalians, and for the Church throughout the world. Let us pray for God's guidance for ourselves and for the leadership of our churches and diocese. Let us seek the peace that passes understanding. Let us rejoice in God's saving grace and continue to carry his message of love and salvation to the world.

[Yes, let's. You guys do it where you are as members of the Southern Cone, and we'll do it where we are -- as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in union with General Convention.]

The action of our 26th diocesan convention assure of our future as traditional Anglicans. We are now free to carry out our diocesan mission, "To equip the saints for the work of ministry."

[Nothing was stopping you before, except your preoccupation with the perceived beams in other's eyes. We Episcopalians wish you the best in your new venture in the Southern Cone.]

9 comments:

Doni M said...

Well, a few months ago I posted on this blog that I was going to stay with TEC. When it was all said and done, I did not do that after all. But I didn't go with Bishop Iker either. Alas, I was way too conservative to align with TEC, and not rebellious enough to follow Iker. LOL. No seriously, I came to the belief that I wasn't the real Catholic Church anyway, and the Catholic Church, in communion with the Pope, was where I needed to be

So I am now in RCIA. God willing, I will enter full communion with the Catholic Church this coming Easter Vigil.

Still, I have good friends both at St. Vincent's Cathedral as well as All Saints' Fort Worth (though not as close now since we've gone separate ways), so I have continued to follow all the goings on. I am sad to see how both sides are so angry and so sure they are right. Anyway, my prayers are with everyone. Still, I admit I am glad not to be in the battlezone right now.

Jase said...

As they say in the deep South, or used to say, "I'm just so proud to know you!" You said it so well. Keep up the work!

Dawn said...

As I sat in the pew at St. David's in Austin yesterday, listening to the beautiful, resonant voice of our (female) priest celebrating the Eucharist, you were all in my thoughts and prayers, as you have been. Even knowing for so many years that this day would eventually come, it nevertheless filled me with sadness to read the news alert in my email on Saturday.
We will someday return to FW, and I hope that by that time all of this will be resolved, because being in a parish that focuses on worship and the needs its members and those of our less fortunate neighbors, is dedicated to doing God's work at home and in other parts of the world, celebrates fellowship and friendship, educates members on the MDG, and provides varied and in depth Christian Education for all members of our family, has reminded us how full an experience going to church can and should be. Too much time, energy and money has been spent preparing for this secession, and the undercurrent of tension has affected the community and worship of our former church home in the Dio of FW, and has greatly weakened it. As I have explained to friends here, we are Christians, we are Episcopalians, we will never be Ikerites. God bless you, Katie, for using your words and talents to give voice to those who cannot speak for themselves...

prairiewords said...

Why every time that a 'church' leaves in the US or Canada the first words from your lips is 'the buildings are mine, do you hear me mine'? Callous Kate and freak-out Freddy make no attempt at reconciliation, they just rush to lock up the holy hardware. Understand cash flow, it goes from my pocket to my parish to the diocese after we take out all the building costs, salaries and other expenses. I can see no justification for dioceses claiming ownership for anything they have not contributed to. Calling myself Anglican is not contingent on the ABC the BP or the ACoC so you are not justified in telling someone they cannot call themselves Episcopalian because they don't worship within the structure of TEC.

Katie Sherrod said...

Dear Prairiewords,
I talk about property because people who are no longer members of the Episcopal Church are claiming property that does not belong to them.
I also talk property because it's been made clear that talking theology is a waste of time -- those who have left have made up their minds about us who are staying and nothing we say or do will change that, apparently. Which is fine. You are certainly welcome to find the spiritual home that you need. But you don't get to take our property with you when you go.
WHen you make a donation to your church -- any church -- your treasurer gives you an receipt for your tax records that indicates that it was a gift to the church -- that you got nothing material in return for it.
That's so you can deduct it from your taxes. Now if you are purchasing that building, I'm sure the IRS will be interested in talking to you.
The building belongs to the Episcopal Church, and the property is held in trust by the diocese for the national church. That's what our canons say.
The people currently using the building do not own it -- all Episcopalians who came before them and who come after them own it.
You can certainly be an Anglican, and you can be an episcopalians, but an Episcopalian is either a member of the Episcopal Church or the Scottish Episcopal Church.
And calling our presiding bishop and the head of the Canadian church names doesn't exactly help your case.

Mary Beth said...

Katie,

I'm so grateful for your reporting on this and am supporting you and the Future Diocese of Fort Worth in prayer.

I was shaken to see Iker's comment inviting Dallas, among others, to come over to his newly defined "right."

Um, no thanks.

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

Not only that but the Canon that says that all property is held in trust for The Episcopal Church (the so-called "Dennis Canon") was already in effect when the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth was created, so everyone know what they were signing up for...

preacher1 said...

You all have been in my thoughts and prayers for months--many, many months. The final cut made, I pray that now the wounds can begin to heal. You are making a way where there is no way. Prayers for all of you on this difficult journey. You are not alone.

KHR+ said...

Katie -- you so rock. Man, you're good.

Congratulations on being rid of the troublemakers who have plagued your diocese for so long. God speed to them.

And yay you for your long faithfulness in the desert.

KHR