Saturday, November 29, 2008

Entering into a pregnant time

I love Advent. It always makes me feel closer to Mary's season of waiting for the birth of the Child. I suspect any woman who has ever been pregnant shares this feeling at this time of year.

I think of Mary's courage in saying "Yes" to the angel as all Creation held its breath, for God would not have acted without her consent.

I think of the young Mary engrossed, as are all pregnant women, in the changes in her body as it goes about the business of growing a baby. I ponder the fact of this one woman, the one person in all humanity who could actually truthfully say, 'This is my body, this is my blood," for it was out of her being that the infant Jesus took his human substance.

Yes, this is a season for reflection and dreams, for prayer and contemplation of the wonder of a God who was willing to come to us as a helpless newborn baby, a God who loves us more than we can know or imagine.

For those of us in the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, this Advent season will be a special one. Like all pregnant times, this Advent will be a time of acknowledging that change has brought some losses. But those losses pale before the sense of anticipation, of hope, of delight in the work we have been given to do.

Since I had time today, I made our Advent wreath with greenery from the garden and candles from last year. It sits on a side table in the living room of the Farm House, holding place of honor for the next four weeks.

I also put out an Advent Calendar. This calendar has a magnetized scene of the barn at the Inn in Bethlehem that is surrounded by small numbered drawers. in each drawer is a little magnetic item, either a star, a sheep, a shepherd, a king, a camel, a donkey, a cow, or Mary, Joseph and, of course, in the very last drawer, Baby Jesus. My grandsons love opening the drawers each day and taking out an item to begin creating the Christmas Story on the board. It's especially fun when they haven't been here for a few days and so get to open several drawers in order to "catch up."

And then there is online Advent Calendar of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. This is the fifth annual such calendar. Here's how Jim Naughton describes it:

"In addition to the usual seasonal content, this year’s calendar features videotaped interviews with young people who have benefited from the work of the terrific Bokamoso Youth Program in Winterveld, South Africa.

"The calendar, which will live here, goes live in the wee hours of Monday Dec. 1.

"Since its founding in 1999, the Bokamoso Youth Program has helped hundreds of young people survive and thrive amidst the poverty, crime and despair of the AIDS epidemic. Until recently, the program was funded by the Anglican church of South Africa but the overwhelming social needs of the country brought an end to that support. The program now relies on donations, and we are trying to help insure its future. Every $1,500 we raise through the calendar will be used to pay one year’s fees for one student at a community college or technical college in South Africa. You can learn more about Bokamoso through the links on the calendar. "

I urge you to visit the online calendar every day. It will feed your soul as it gives you an opportunity to feed others in body, mind, and spirit.

I wish you all a holy Advent.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rich in friends

We in the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth are still figuring out what our budget will be, but we are sure of one thing -- we are rich in friends.

People in San Joaquin have shared surplus liturgical items from the many sent to them last year.

People in Pittsburgh have written encouraging notes and letters.

And today, this wonderful letter was found by the treasurer of the Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians when she checked the P. O. Box.
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
6538 Northumberland Hwy
Heathsville, VA 22473

Dear North Texas Episcopalians,

We wanted to write to you to express our support and encouragement for you as you continue to live your faith as Episcopalians under very difficult circumstances. We are the parishioners of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia. In December of 2005 the rector and a majority of the congregation voted to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Church in Nigeria. The Nigerian congregation is now occupying the buildings while the property issues are in litigation. We reorganized ourselves to continue as an Episcopal congregation, and even without our property we have continued to worship God, to serve the poor, and to love our neighbors. Our journey has not been easy, but we have found a new awareness of God's grace and love, a deepening of our faith, and even a rich sense of joy.

We know that your situation is different from ours, and much more difficult than ours. Since there have been many people who have worked to isolate you, we want you to know that we are praying for you, and cheering you on from Virginia. May you find God's blessings even in the worst of times. We are thankful for your courage, hope, faith and determination!

Grace and peace,

[18 signatures]

The Rev. Lucia K. Lloyd, Priest-in-Charge


What a great gift of hope and community. Until Nov. 15, one of the hardest thing about being in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has been the ongoing efforts of the former leadership to isolate parishes one from the other and certainly from the national church.

The continuing Diocese of Fort Worth is working to keep parishes connected and certainly is reaching out to the larger church. How wonderful to find yet another example of the larger church reaching back.

And St. Stephen's Virginia has been added to our prayer list.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cause for Thanksgiving

For years, those in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth who are loyal to the Episcopal Church have been told that the Episcopal Church was losing membership because of the heretical actions of the church in ordaining women and in including all the baptized in the life and ministry of the church , ie, not demonizing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians.
But here's some interesting data from the former bishop of Fort Worth himself.
The Bishop's Report of Official Acts 11/11/07 - 11/1/08, distributed in the delegate packets and reported officially by the bishop at the diocesan convention, notes 25 baptisms, 254 confirmations, 43 receptions, and 12 reaffirmations.
Even using these official diocesan numbers, the 5 parishes with established rectors that are remaining in the Episcopal Church (not including all the parishes in exile from their property and those others which will remain Episcopal parishes but do not yet have rectors and other parishes who will soon declare their allegiance) account for 98 of the 334 official acts, or 29.3% of the entire diocese of 56 parishes and missions in the past year.

Note: This report does not include the 11 confirmands and two receptions that Bishop Iker confirmed at Trinity Fort Worth [my parish] on 11/1 (though the report says through 11/1), which if added in shows that the five parishes actually account for a whopping 32% of the entire diocese during the past year.

Former diocesan leaders claim that giving and attendance is down because people have left because of the heretical Episcopal Church. Well, not in the parishes that are strongly and publicly Episcopalian. In fact, folks are by comparison flocking to the Episcopal parishes in this diocese, even though they have had to work very hard to avoid the parishes which actively and constantly denigrate and undermine the Episcopal Church and have had to overcome the steady diocesan-sponsored drumbeat of diatribe railing against the presiding bishop specifically and TEC in general.

And if we add in only 1/2 of the confirmations, etc. reported from the additional parishes that remain, the continuing diocese as of today accounts for a whopping 40% of the official acts.

The steady growth in membership of and donations to those parishes who have publicized their allegiance to the Episcopal Church since Nov. 15 is heartening indeed. It appears the Episcopal Church is alive and well in the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

I think all of this is cause for thanksgiving.

I wish you and yours a happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day.

Bishop and Standing Committee gone

Lest there is any doubt that Jack Iker, former bishop of Fort Worth, and all members of the Standing Committee have left the Episcopal Church, here are their own statements, issued in a response to the inhibision of Iker by Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop.
It can be read here.

November 24, 2008


FORT WORTH, Texas – A letter of inhibition and supporting documents were issued Friday, Nov. 21, from the office of Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, to the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth. However the inhibition is of no force or effect, since the Bishop and Diocese, meeting in annual convention, constitutionally realigned with another province of the Anglican Communion on Saturday, Nov. 15, and are now constituent members of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Documents to this effect have been made public. Consequently, this attempted inhibition will not deter the Bishop from the continuance of his ministry.
Two responses are being issued at this time.

From Bishop Iker:
Katharine Jefferts Schori has no authority over me or my ministry as a Bishop in the Church of
God. She never has, and she never will.

Since November 15, 2008, both the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and I as the Diocesan
Bishop have been members of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. As a result, canonical
declarations of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church pertaining to us are irrelevant
and of no consequence.

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

From the Standing Committee:
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is a member of the Province
of the Southern Cone as of November 15, 2008. Bishop Iker is a member in good standing of
the House of Bishops of the Province of the Southern Cone.

We wonder by what authority the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United
States presumes to inhibit a bishop of the Province of the Southern Cone. We do not recognize
the authority of the Presiding Bishop over us. We regret this illegal, unconstitutional, and
uncanonical attempt to interfere with the rights and ministry of a diocese of another province of
the Anglican Communion. We call upon her to desist from any further actions in our diocese and
that she refrain from any further border crossing.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Hightower
President, Standing Committee

Other members of the Standing Committee are:

Judy Mayo
Walter Virden
Frank Salazar
The Rev. Christopher Cantrell
The Rev. Timothy Perkins

So it appears the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is without an ecclesiastical authority.

Monday, November 24, 2008

News and notes from here and there

The Episcopal News Service has posted a story on the inhibition of Bishop Iker here.

Mark Harris comments on Bishop Iker's actions here.

Pierre Whalon, Bishop of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, has written of why dioceses just can't up and leave, no matter what some may claim. Here's his response to one such claim:

The latest from Phil Turner—there’s the rub

The Rev. Dr. Philip Turner is a significant thinker of a conservative cast of mind. Among many things, he is a member of the Anglican Communion Institute.

He has written a paper entitled “Subversion of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church: On Doing What it Takes to Get What You Want.”

This is a paper to be contended with. Dr Turner has done us all a favor by making the case for diocesan autonomy, something argued by some people both on the Left as well as the Right.

In essence Turner sets out the whole matter of diocesan independence. When a diocese acts with its bishop and convention (synod), what are the limits of its action? Dr. Turner invokes subsidiarity, which I think is perfectly appropriate, though the concept itself was certainly not around when the framers of our Constitution & Canons wrote it. However, subsidiarity works both ways: not only does the local need to have the powers and rights to do what it is competent to do, without interference; the local "owes" to the provincial body the rights and powers to do what only bodies of that competence can do.

Those who have argued that a diocese has the right to elect whomever they want as bishop (so long as the election is free and fair) are the mirror image of those who argue, like Turner, that dioceses trump the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. Both sides make hash both out of historical precedence as well as what good church governance requires. Bishops are ministers ordained for the world, not just a region, and as such it is not only a diocese but a higher authority that must validate the selection of bishops--whether by ballot or otherwise.
Historically, GC has invalidated episcopal elections simply on its say-so. Furthermore, the fact that the standing committee can act in the bishop's stead under certain conditions is not proof that the Standing Committee can run a diocese indefinitely. Throughout the C&C, the role of bishops is basic, while the SC's role is in essence to temper the powers of the bishop. That is arguably the founders' original intent, and recent canonical changes have not invalidated it—they have clarified it.

The Constitution makes clear that dioceses are created by General Convention (Article V). It also provides that dioceses can be merged and therefore dissolved by action of GC, but in all cases a diocese does not have by itself the power to vote to secede or merge with another diocese. It could petition General Convention to do so, of course. In particular, there is significant provision for transferring TEC jurisdictions to other provinces of the Communion, in "foreign lands." Through this we have been able to create about 25% of the Communion's provinces. But none of those happened merely by diocesan action.

Nor does a diocese have the power to change the doctrine of the church, though it would have the right to petition the GC to do so, by action of its convention and bishop. (Whether the General Convention can change the doctrine of the church is an issue for another day.)

Turner's argument against the interpretation of Canon IV.9, “Of Abandonment of the Communion of This Church by a Bishop,” to depose Bishops Cox, Schofield, Duncan and soon Iker has a little more substance. (You can download the Canon Law in .pdf here.) Certainly Canon IV.9 has some confusing passages. Does it really intend to give one single bishop, on the basis of seniority alone, the power to stop a proceeding of abandonment? One can read it that way, and it would seem that the whole argument against these actions turns on that issue. But this is inconsistent with the rest of the canon. What is the Review Committee for, in that case? Or the House of Bishops, for that matter? Why not just submit the matter to the triumvirate of the seniors?

The failure of the House of Bishops to discipline our own for lesser infractions than pulling a diocese out of TEC (thereby giving incontrovertible proof of violating the oath to “conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church) is a matter of significance, I think.
Bishop Duncan in particular has done a number of things which should have called for a disciplinary response from the HoB. Indeed, he asked for it specifically, back in September 2002, when he stated to the House that he had deliberately "provoked a constitutional crisis" (his words) by interfering in a parish in another diocese. And nothing happened. That the present Presiding Bishop is acting may be closing the barn door after the horse has left. But just leaving it swinging in the breeze would be dereliction of duty.

In the final analysis, our polity exists to support a dynamic missionary expansion as its first priority, and it does this admirably. After all, TEC, despite our small size, has launched about one-quarter of the provinces of the Communion. As such, it is less well suited to resolving significant conflicts about doctrine and discipline, because sufficient agreement on these is presupposed in the structures themselves. How can you undertake to evangelize the world if you do not have enough basic trust in each other's grasp of the Gospel and catholic order—the synthesis that is the genius of Anglican ecclesiology?

Therein, Gentle Reader, lies the rub.

23 novembre 2008/ Last Sunday of Pentecost
And here is Dave Walker's advice [from Cartoon Church] on how Christians can work together across the divide:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Healing advice

Joan Chittister, OSB, is the founder and executive director of Benetvision. She is the author of 35 books [so far], and is internationally known for her lectures on spirituality, not just that based in the monastic way, but also the spirituality that can be found in our daily lives. This piece comes from her weekly posting Ideas in Passing here, which I get by email each week.

It seemed particularly appropriate for everyone in our diocese right now.

Photo from


Who has not known what it is to be hurt by either hate or neglect? Who has not known what it is to be targeted for scorn or rejection or jealousy or misinterpretation?

What is the process, then, of coming to wholeness again, once the bonds of human community have been broken? What repairs the breaking of a golden cord?

Healing depends on our wanting to be well. I may not forget the blows I have suffered in life but I must choose not to live under their power forever. Most of all, I must choose not to imprison myself in my own pain. Whatever has mutilated us—the betrayal, the dishonesty, the mockery, the broken promises—there is more to life than that. The first step of healing, then, is to find new joy for myself to tide me through the terror of the abandonment. It is time to get a new life instead of mourning the old one.

The second step in healing is to find new ideas in which to live. Whatever we needed before the breakpoint came—security, love, connectedness, certainty, identity—we must now find someplace else. We must put our hope in risk and find it challenging, in self and find it strong, in newness and find it enough.

The third step to healing is to trust ourselves to someone else just when we think we cannot trust anyone or anything at all. Just when we are not sure who the enemy really is, we must risk confidence in someone again. Healing comes when we step across the line in our minds and hope that this time, in this person, we will find the acceptance the enlightenment needed to join the human community one more time.

Healing comes when I have been able to desensitize myself to the indignity of hurt by telling it to death until I have bored even myself with the story. For this I need the healers, who by taking me into the arms of the heart to let me cry, transcend their own small lives and learn about the human condition what they themselves would never have come to, perhaps, without me. We need the listeners who understand. It is not the wounding that kills, after all; it is lack of understanding that paralyzes the soul. It is, after all, understanding which every soul on earth is seeking.

The final step in healing is a matter of time itself. To honor the fact that there is "A time for healing" means surely that we come to peace with the notion that healing does not come before its time, that healing takes time, that time itself is a healer who comes slowly bringing new life and new wisdom in its wake. It is the spiritual power of the healing process in each of us that goes unnoted and so unappreciated. We fly the hurts—ignore them and dismiss them and detest them—and so miss the values of the healing time itself.

"Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground," Wilde teaches. It is in the healing process that we come to a new appreciation of life. What the human being survives is the mark of the mettle of humanity. What we manage to transcend is what we have triumphed over. What we have wrestled with and won is what measures in us the quality of our lives.
– edited excerpt from There Is A Season (Orbis)

You can read all of the Ideas in Passing postings at the web site.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jack Iker is inhibited

Jack Iker has been inhibited from sacramental acts by the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. He now has 60 days to recant his abandonment of the Episcopal Church. If he does not change his mind, the House of Bishops will most likely depose him at their next meeting, which means he will no longer be a bishop of the Episcopal Church. This is what has happened with Robert Duncan, former bishop of Pittsburgh; and John David Schofield, former bishop of San Joaquin.

Please note that deposition is not a punishment for his theological beliefs. It is an acknowledgement that he has chosen to leave our church and can no longer function as a bishop in the Episcopal Church.

These are consequences for the choices he has made, consequences he is well aware of.

These are sad days for those who have faithfully followed their bishop. Please pray for them and for Jack Iker, that they may find the spiritual home that is best for them. If some of them should decide that is the Episcopal Church, we will welcome them home with open arms.

Please pray for those of us who will reorganize the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

You can read the letter of inhibition here.

Two things, one minor, one major

A couple of quick notes, the most important of which is the second:

Here is the Ad Clerum the former bishop of Fort Worth sent to the clergy. He apparently does not think the clergy of the Southern Cone know how to prepare for Advent, because the priests of the Episcopal Church certainly do. And they also know who their Presiding Bishop is, and it ain't "Gregory."

Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2008
Subject: AD CLERUM
From: Bishop Iker
ADVENT WILL SOON BE UPON US and with it the beginning if a new Christian year. I am sure that you know that we go to Year B in the Eucharistic Lectionary and to Year One for the Daily Office. In addition to those changes, I would like to suggest that you give some thought to an Advent Customary in your worship services. There is a rich selection of Advent hymns in The Hymnal 1982, which I commend to you. Though there is a definite penitential theme in Advent, nonetheless, this is not a "little Lent." The Gloria in Excelsis should not be used during Advent, and either the Trisagion or the Kyrie should be used in its place. You may wish to begin the service each Sunday with the Penitential Order and perhaps use the Decalogue on the first Sunday of Advent. The opening acclamation is not changed, but remains "Blessed be God..."

I would suggest for those of you using Rite II, that you go to Eucharistic Prayer B for the Advent and Epiphany Seasons, due to its emphasis on the incarnation. In place of the usual fraction sentence, the Agnus Dei would be appropriate. You may wish to change the form of your usual Prayers of the People, switching to either Form I or V during Advent. Instead of the usual blessing at the end of the service, I would suggest that you use one of the seasonal blessings for Advent found on pages 22 and 23 of The Book of Occasional Services.

If you do a Festival of Lessons and Carols during this season, make certain that the selections are for Advent, not Christmas. We need to resist the inclination to start celebrating Christmas prior to the night-time service on Christmas Eve, December 24.

The Advent Wreath should be lit for all Eucharists during Advent, including weekday celebrations. I want to draw your attention to the guideline on page 30 of The Book of Occasional Services, which reads as follows: "The Advent Wreath is a visual symbol marking the progress of the season of Advent. When it is used in the church, no special prayers or ceremonial elaboration beyond what is described on page 143 of the Prayer Book is desirable. At morning services the appropriate number of candles is lighted before the service begins."

I hope these comments are helpful to you. With a little additional planning, your Advent services may be an enrichment to the spiritual life of your congregation.

When you pray for our Primate or Presiding Bishop in the intercession, I assume you are using the name "Gregory."

Note: The Book of Occasional Services and the Book of Common Prayer are authorized for use by the Episcopal Church by the General Convention, whose authority the former bishop of Fort Worth no longer recognizes. Interesting that he continues to use books so tainted by association with a church he deems heretical.

Here's the most important note:
Integrity Fort Worth's Advent Party this year is gathering up items needed by children who are HIV positive. Integrity is working with Catholic Charities who help them. Here's the notice from Integrity Fort Worth:

"We have received the wish list from Catholic Charities of Fort Worth. We have 8 boys: 1-9mos., 1-19mos, 1-2yrs, 2-11yrs, 1-13yrs, 1-16yrs, 1-17yrs, 1-18yrs. We have 9 girls: 1-1yr, 1-8yrs, 1-9yrs, 1-13yrs,1-14yrs. , 1-17yrs, 2-18yrs.

"Please select which child you would like by identifying what age you would like to buy for. Then contact Susann Eller by e-mail or phone and she will work to coordinate with you the information from the list what items are available. This will keep from more than one person buying for the same person unknowingly.

"Susann's e-mail is jeller3639@sbcgloba Day phone is 817-929-8817 and evening phone is 817-426-5346.

"Sorry for getting this out so late but we didn't get the information from Charities until Wednesday afternoon.

You do not have to attend the party to bring the gift. You can coordinate with Susann or myself to pick up or drop off gifts. You can e-mail me at tsquiers@inbox. com or you can call me at 817-784-5132.

The 2008 Advent Party will held on Saturday, December 6, from 1-3 p.m. at Blue Mesa Grill at University Park Village, 1600 S. University Dr.
So everybody, see if you can't help these kids. It's a lot more important than a former bishop pathetically trying to act as if nothing has changed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shield the Joyous!

Episcopalians in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth worshipped together Sunday. So did some former Episcopalians, although they did so in churches that belong to the Episcopal Church.

For the Episcopalians, it was an occasion for joy, however tentative. Joy has been in rare supply around here for a long time, so it will take a while for us to get used to using those emotional muscles.

The five parishes that are remaining in the Episcopal Church had the highest attendance they've had in months, which most attribute to the fact that there has been a clear decision about their direction.

One group of Mid-Cities Episcopalians had a woman celebrant. The Rev. Maurine Lewis, a priest canonically resident elsewhere, recently retired and moved to Fort Worth -- just in time to help us out. [Her grandkids are here, in case you were wondering why she would do such a thing.]

The Mid-Cities groups include the continuing parishes of St. Stephen's, St. Laurance, and St. Vincent's. Their buildings are being used by people aligned with the Province of the Southern Cone.

That is the case with several faith communities. None of them are relinquishing their claim that the property belongs to the Episcopal Church, but they also are not willing to have confrontations in the parking lots. So they found alternative places to worship, which I've listed below.


Here is a report from The Rev. Lewis:

The Church in the Mid-Cities expected about 40 folks. I arrived at the Oak Crest Woman's Club 45 minutes before service time to talk choreography with the altar guild and the Steering Committee chair, and found that about 15 folks were already there. They were all Very welcoming. Met the altar guild person, and the contacts I'd made last week by phone and email.

One of the parishioners is a music teacher who had one of her students play the piano, and another sing the anthem. Both young people, both terrific. I was afraid there would be no music. How silly. I guess I'd call the mood 'tender.' Tears came easily, some folks were a little reserved, not sure what they'd make of a woman cleric, or how they'd manage without a building or a larger crowd. Some avoided talking to me before the service.

We processed to a very subdued 'Morning Has Broken,' and then started with the grand old words of blessing and prayers for the cleansing and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The lessons for the day were pretty scathing. More gentle ones would have been helpful, but the lectionary always seems to bring its own blessings. No difference this time. Prayers of the People were Form VI, with several added petitions (travelers, expectant mothers, folks in the military, job losses, etc.). Then there was a lovely collect/doxology asking for "the boldness and wisdom of our patron Stephen."

There were a handful of folks from other parishes as well. We confessed, shared the peace, and moved to the Great Thanksgiving. It all went amazingly smoothly. These folks were prepared!

I believe that everyone there (finally around 60) received, which was a surprise. I fully expected a few folks not to be able to take the Eucharist from a woman's hand, and it always hurts a little when that happens, but I needn't have worried. There was a look of longing in several women's faces as they came forward in the line. They had been waiting for years to have the bread placed in their hands by someone who looked and sounded like them.

After the blessing and dismissal and the departing procession (a much more animated "Here I Am, Lord"), there was a lovely coffee hour, in which folks hugged and said things like "We can do this!" and "We made it!" There were more conversations with folks, some with the ones who had been reluctant before the service. My one sadness was that there were very few Short Christians (kids). The folks said yesterday that they thought that would change. From their mouths to God's ears!

My prayers for this whole diocese at the moment have to do with a continuing authenticity. When people have been wounded, they tend to drop their facades. May the facades and walls stay down at least part way, as people bump into the challenges that have nothing to do with the previous life of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, but just with lurching along with other children of God as they try to be the Body of Christ in the world.

Both laity and clergy can learn that we don't have to live our lives with lies and secrets and silence and threat. We can be honest about our finitude and imperfection. Priests don't have to be answer boxes and despots (even benevolent ones). Laity are perfectly able to exercise leadership in the parish and the diocese, and at least a few of us will be encouraging them to do so.

Finally, one woman came up to me with tears in her eyes, gave me a big hug, and said, "Thanks for being here, Honey. It was great!" Now I can tell you that No One would have ever said or done that to me in Wisconsin! Katie, I think I'm home.

Here's where to find them:

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Union with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church
Holding services at Oak Crest Woman’s Club,1616 Precinct Line Rd., Hurst, TX
9:15 a.m. – Sunday School, 10:15 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, 11:30 a.m. - Fellowship
Contact: Lanette Carpenter at
Mailing address: P.O. Box 54864, Hurst, TX 76054
The Oak Crest Woman’s Club is south of Grapevine Highway and north of Airport Freeway, across from a RaceTrac gas station. There will be a banner that will be easy to see and plenty of parking.

Report from Susan Hekman of St. Albans Episcopal Church:

1. We had 51 people
2. Celebrant was the Rev. James Frensley
3. The mood was celebratory. We were thrilled that it went so well and we were all together.
4. We printed form III of the Prayers of the People and read it together.
5. We hope, of course, to greatly expand our participation (the theater will hold 200). We hope to reach out to other St. Alban's parishioners to join us in the future and grow together.

From Betty Jo Everett:
Our St. Alban's Episcopal Church (Constituent of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church) met Sunday morning ( 9:00a.m.) at Theater Arlington. Celebrating at the altar was Fr. James Frensly from Dallas. It was a loving and joyous beginning for our Episcopal Community. How wonderful it was to pray for Kathrine our Presiding Bishop and once again feel part of The Episcopal Church. The Theater Arlington holds two hundred people and we filled more than one fourth with faces new and old...we had approximately fifty five people present. John Dosher and Chris Menger provided the wonderful Dosher Folk Mass music. We have received many positive comments...mainly the return of a true, joyous Episcopal service.

We have not had time to form a mission statement...but our goal is to be the true Episcopal Church that accepts all people and views to worship together and love one another. I am sure more to follow as we get more organized.

Here's where to find them:
St. Alban's Episcopal Church
in union with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church
holding services at
Theatre Arlington
316 W. Main
Arlington, TX
9:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Contact: Betty Jo Everett at or 817-274-0356


From Owanah Anderson [can you tell she's a veteran reporter?]
WICHITA FALLS, TX - Twelve true-blue Episcopalians prayed aloud together for Katharine, our Presiding Bishop, for the first time in recent years on Sunday morning. Members of Good Shepherd and All Saints worshipped with Morning Prayer in the home of North Texans Remain Episcopal convener, Owanah Anderson.

All Saints Vestry members fired two months ago by Bishop Iker comprised almost half the worshippers, which included Good Shepherd members as well as All Saints members. J.D. Todd and Dr. Millie Lancaster lead the Morning Prayer worship. A spirit of joy, termed by one participant as the "first Sunday of Liberation," permeated the quiet autumn morning.
Next Sunday (November 23) the service of Holy Eucharist will be said with the Reverend Maurine Lewis as celebrant. Mother Lewis is canonically resident of the Diocese of Milwaukee.


From J.D. Todd:

In Wichita Falls we met at Owanah's home. We had 10 from All Saints and 2 from Good Shepherd. We conducted Morning Prayer and used Form VI of Prayers of the People and prayed for Katharine our Presiding Bishop and for our Steering Committee... we were thankful for the blessing of being free from tyranny; we sang "I sing a song of the saints of God.." and stuffed ourselves at the potluck following. It was the most genuinely joyful gathering we have had in more than 2 years. We plan to celebrate with the Reverend Maurine Lewis next Sunday.....location unknown. We have 4 possible locations in the future.

Here's how to find them:The Episcopal Church of All Saints in Union with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church2414 Lou Lane, Wichita Falls, TX10:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist ( November 23), The Rev. Maurine Lewis, Celebrant,(location to be announced) Contact: Dr. Millie Gore at

From Alex Moffat:

Attendance at St. Stephen's in Wichita Falls was down--to no more than 20--but this is to be explained largely by the absence of members of All-Saints-in-Exile, who had been coming to St. Stephen's regularly. They met at Owanah Anderson's home for Morning Prayer, and someone else will tell you about that, since I wasn't there.

More positively, at St. Stephen's the atmosphere was warm and supportive. Father John Payne celebrated as usual. Brent Walker, Father Payne, and I all reported on the Convention to the apparent approval of all present. The very few who had tended toward Bishop Iker's side mixed notably and positively with the rest of us at the Peace and following the service. "Relief" characterized the mood of the service and afterwards, especially since this mission congregation now appears to be in no danger. St. Stephen's is going ahead confidently.

Here's where to find them:

The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
in Union with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church
2414 Lou Lane
Wichita Falls, TX
10:30 a.m. – Morning Prayer (November 16)
10:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist ( November 23), The Rev. Maurine Lewis, Celebrant,
10:30 a.m. – (location to be announced)
Contact: Ann Coleman at

From a phone conversation with Barb Click of the continuing parish of Good Shepherd in Granbury:

"The Episcopalians in Granbury [southwest of Fort Worth] met for morning prayer. The joy was palpable, along with a sense of relief. We had 48 people, and we expect about 70 next week, when we will have a retired priest from another diocese celebrate the Eucharist. It's looking like a chapel in the Wednesday Woman's Club. We have blessed so many things that have been borrowed or donated to us." She also said that their computerized prayer tree is up and running, so they can pray for one another's needs and concerns.

And from an email from Barb -- "We have a newsletter, Vol. I No. 1, News from the Flock (The one we had [before] is called Voice of the Shepherd) which was handed out yesterday. Our web site is Melinda Ray edits it and the newsletter."

From Norm Synder, also of Good Shepherd:

The REGS [Remain Episcopal Good Shepherd] group in Granbury met for morning prayer in the off-premises space we have secured. Attendance was 50 or so, and several of our group are traveling.We have secured the necessary piece/parts to erect and dress an alter. Morning Prayer was joyously celebrated. People came early and stayed late. The feeling was upbeat and we are so glad to be worshiping together without the tension. Thanks be to God! Next Sunday we have arranged for an out-of-Diocese priest to bring Communion. One of our members owns a Bed-and-Breakfast, and donates the lodging, so that the priest and his wife can come down on Saturday and enjoy what Granbury has to offer.

From Leslie Guinn:

We had 54 people worshipping together last Sunday. We didn't have clergy, so we had Morning Prayer. Some went to St. Luke's in Stephenville. Next week we will be celebrating our first Eucharist together, and our expectation is to have close to 70. We are a very open, loving and friendly group and are excited about our future. Our dream is to be back in our church building. In the meantime, we will be the church no matter where we are.

Here's where to find them:

The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Granbury
in union with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church
holding services at
The Wednesday Women’s Club
306 Travis Street
Granbury, Texas
9:30 a.m. – Morning Prayer (November 16); Holy Eucharist on subsequent Sundays
Contact: Leslie Guinn at or 817-326-3464.


From Sarah Walker of the Parker County Faith Community:
I was the organist in Parker County on Sunday November 16th. [A priest] celebrated the Eucharist and he said he will come back next week and do it again. We had 21 people there including three teen aged young men (we have the beginnings of a youth group!).

We were all excited to be there. Lots of pictures were taken. We also had Christian Education and refreshments afterward. People are still getting to know each other as they are from at least 4 different churches in the diocese. We also have at least two families who moved in from other dioceses but never joined a church because of what was going on in the diocese.

Twenty-one sounds like a small number, but it was said by one of the priests at a steering committee meeting a few months ago that he would be surprised if they could find five Episcopalians left in Parker County, so I think we are doing pretty good. The biggest thing that was different was that we had to bring everything to the elementary school where we met. So, about five families had carloads of stuff to bring including the portable organ, portable processional cross and banner, card table altar and all of the things that go on it, programs, guestbook (which we all signed because it was the first Sunday), etc. I think someone is setting up a website for us, so those should be forthcoming.

From Marti Fagley:

We had a wonderful day! We met at an elementary school cafeteria in our neighborhood. We used our newly received RED vestments donated by the Diocese of Oklahoma rather than the appointed green ones to commemorate our own "Celebration Sunday!" We used a crucifer made by one of our own members, a red celebration banner was prominently displayed. Our prayers of the people included a Litany for The Episcopal Church in Parker County written by one of own members as well as Prayers Form III in the Book of Common Prayer. We brought and shared our personal prayer books with each other so no one was left out. We had 20 people in attendance and two were visitors (very exciting) and we had a festive coffee hour and Christian Ed session focused on Julian of Norwich.

We took pictures throughout the whole 3-hours we were in our rented facility (from unloading to reloading our cars) including a group photo at the end of the day. All of us signed our visitors book to remember this very special day. It was so much fun, we decided to worship together again next week! :-)

Here's where to find them:
The Episcopal Church in Parker County
comprised of members of
St. Francis, All Saints Weatherford, and Holy Apostles Churches,
in union with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church
holding services at
McCall Elementary School
400 Scenic Trail
Willow Park, Texas
10:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
11:15 a.m. – Christian Education
Contact: Marti Fagley at or 817-637-1820
Contact: Victoria Prescott at or 817-313-8104

From Lynn Minor at All Saints Fort Worth:

Services at All Saints FW went without a hitch; as though nothing had happened in the world the day before. Worship at AS has always been this way. There were some isolated incidents to mention. At the peace, one pro [TEC] member turned to the leader of the opposition at AS to exchange the peace and only got a glare. The one priest whom we are not sure about was helping with the Eucharist - not sure about that at the moment, but we laity may be addressing our problem with that soon. Attendance at services in the past couple of months has been smaller than usual - yesterday, the nave was just about filled to capacity at both morning services! We had a fair number of visitors (at least 3 couples from St. Andrews). Our Evensong last night had quite a few more people than in the past. Two (pro Iker) couples came and seemed very pleased and moved with the service. And we had several visitors from other churches.


From Susan Reeves at St. Martin in the Fields:
Our services at St. Martin in the Fields were very well attended. There were folks we hadn't seen for some time who, after they understood what had happened at the convention, said they just had to be with us in worship. Some came from quite some distance and others from close by, but who had drifted away during the controversy. There were new folks who joined us. Our pews were full.

We had glorious music, commissioned all our Acolytes, and worshipped with our brothers and sisters in Christ in love. Our celebrant was Rev. Jim Reynolds, our recently installed Rector. We prayed for +Katherine as we do every service and for +Jack, who, as Fr. Jim+ explained, is surely in need of everyone's prayers whether he is our bishop or not, and for all who serve God in His church.

I think we at St. Martin's are happy to continue to focus on our worship, mission, outreach and building up the Kingdom of God in this place to His glory and for the benefit of His people. As Fr. Jim+ said, "We will continue to be as we always have been and anyone who walks through our doors is welcome and included."

I feel so proud to be a part of this fabric that is to be the reorganization and renewal of our beloved Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth...every thread woven together to be a beautiful whole that will worship and serve as the re-membered Body of Christ in this place.


At St. Christopher's, they had the highest attendance they've had in six months, which a member attributed to the fact that the parish is very clear about its direction, and because of visitors from other parishes who are looking for an Episcopal church to worship in.


The 11:30 folk service at Trinity Fort Worth was joyous, with the opening song being "The Great Storm is Over." The month "Feasting with the Saints" was crammed full, as we ate Celtic food, watched Celtic dance and learned about Celtic saints.

Episcopal Churches in union with the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth which remains a subordinate part of the Episcopal Church:

All Saints’ Episcopal Church
5001 Crestline Road, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Phone: 817-732-1424
8:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:00 a.m. – Choral Eucharist (Rite II)
11:15 a.m. – Choral Eucharist (Rite I)
5:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist with Healing Service (Rite I)

St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church
3550 Southwest Loop 820, Fort Worth, TX 76133
Phone: 817-926-8277
8:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite I
10:30 a.m. – Choral Eucharist, Rite II

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
595 N. McIlhaney, Stephenville, TX 76401
Phone: 254-968-6949
8:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite I
10:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II

St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church
223 Pearson Lane, Keller, Texas, 76248
Phone: 817-431-2396 or 817-431-2689
(Saturday) 5:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II
(Sunday) 8:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite I
(Sunday) 10:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Trinity Episcopal Church
3401 Bellaire Drive So.
Ft. Worth, TX 76109
Phone: 817-926-4631
8:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. – Choral Eucharist, Rite II
11:30 a.m. – Folk Mass, Rite II
6:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II

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.


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.]

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Statement from those who will reorganize the diocese


The Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians laments the divisive and uncanonical actions taken at the 26th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth today.

Bishop Jack Iker and his adherents, no longer comfortable in the Episcopal Church, tried to remove the entire diocesan structure, including real estate, from the church and align with another Anglican province based in South America. The Constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church do not permit such actions, and we anticipate a lengthy legal engagement to sort out the issues created by this action today.

Though the bishop and his colleagues are departing the Episcopal Church today, many Episcopalians in the diocese will not, and the remaining Episcopal laity, clergy, and congregations will move soon to reorganize the diocese as a fully involved entity of the Episcopal Church in union with its General Convention. We acknowledge the authority of the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop. The Episcopal Church’s work of Christian ministry and evangelization will go forward as Episcopalians worship and work together within the context of the Church’s historical faith, creeds, and Holy Scriptures.

The continuing but reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth will adopt an open-arms posture which will welcome back home those who have left the Church today, should they one day find they want once more to be part of the historic church which has functioned here since the mid-nineteenth century as part of the Episcopal Church.

Those who want to learn more about where and how to continue to worship with Episcopalians and to join our work to rebuild and revitalize the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, can visit the contact points listed below. The Episcopal Church still welcomes you!

The Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians has been formed to assist those who wish to remain Episcopalians if Bishop Jack Iker tries to achieve his publicly stated goal of leaving the Episcopal Church and attempting to align this diocese with another province of the Anglican Communion.

It is these Episcopalians who will, with the help of the leadership of the Episcopal Church, reorganize the diocese if the bishop and other diocesan leaders choose to leave the Episcopal Church.

Media: For more information, contact: Walter Cabe

Statement from Fort Worth Via Media


Fort Worth Via Media regrets the schismatic and illegal actions taken today at the 26th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, but will continue to work with the Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians to reorganize the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and get on with God’s work here in North Texas.

We are sorry that our bishop, much of our leadership, clergy and many lay delegates chose to leave the Episcopal Church today. We wish them well in whatever spiritual home they find.

For our part, we will welcome back any who wish to return at any time. We are confident our diocese will recover quickly from the destructive acts of today to grow into a healthy vibrant part of the Episcopal Church, in union with General Convention and in communion with the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, our presiding bishop.

Visit our website at for information about future meetings and activities.

For further information, please contact:
Lynne Minor, PR Chair, 682-429-7763
George Komechak, President, 817-229-7257

It is done. Now the work begins.

Resolution for Admission to the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, meeting in its 26th Annual Convention, does hereby accept the provision made by the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth does hereby immediately enter into membership with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone as a full and equal constituent member of such province, and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth does hereby accede to the authority of the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone to the extent such Constitution and Canons are not contrary to Holy Scripture and the teaching of the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Clergy - 73 for, 20 against
Lay - 98 for, 28 against

78 percent for, 22 percent against

Letter read from Gregory Venables welcoming "diocese" into the province.
Clergy -- 92 ballots cast with one invalid ballot Lay-- 127 valid ballots cast

A. Preamble
Clergy - 73 for, 18 against
Lay -- 101 for, 26 against

B. Authority of General Convention
Clergy -- 72 for, 19 against
Lay -- 102 for, 25 against

C. Deputies to General Convention
Clergy --71 for, 19 against
Lay -- 103 for, 24 against

D. Canons
Clergy - 72 for , 19 against
Lay - 102 for, 25 against


After almost no debate -- everything has been said too many times already-- the vote was taken. Bp. Iker has said there were to be no demonstrations of any kind, but the room seems subdued, almost weary. But I may be projecting my own emotions here. It is long past time for this to be over.

As we wait for the results of the vote, we are being shown a video about the diocese of Peru. Lots of people wandering around, getting water, quietly chatting. The Rt. Rev. H. William Godfrey, bishop of the diocese, is addressing the convention. He also preached at the opening Eucharist yesterday. He gets another standing ovation at the conclusion of his video and address.

Then we hear the reports of the Canterbury ministries at the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas Christian University, followed by the report of the Corporation of the Diocese. Dr.Frank Salazar. Check the delegates statement for the objections to the actions of the trustees,

Then came the report of the Hispanic ministries of the diocese, Camp Crucis. People are beginning to get a bit restless.

Fr. Jay Atwood just walked in with the results. When the Camp Crucis director is finished we will get the results.

Clergy -- 92 ballots cast with one invalid ballot
Lay-- 127 valid ballots cast

Prop. A -- Preamble
Clergy - 73 for, 18 against
Lay -- 101 for, 26 against

B. Authority of General Convention
Clergy -- 72 for, 19 against
Lay -- 102 for, 25 against

C. Deputies to General Convention
Clergy --71 for, 19 against
Lay -- 103 for, 24 against

D. Canons
Clergy - 72 for , 19 against
Lay - 102 for, 25 against
So to absolutely no one's surprise, they all passed by about 80 percent to 20 percent. As the announcement ended, some wag in the gallery turned on music -- "Hit the Road, Jack."

Jack was not amused. Nor were the many people who are remaining in the Episcopal Church. We have worked VERY hard to be respectful and collegial, and this one "wit" undid all our work.

Now we are on to come canonical changes. All are adopted by voice vote. Resolution to join the Southern Cone will be voted on by secret ballot. It will be effective at the adjournment of the convention, according to Bp. Iker.

Jack Iker's Address to the Convention

The Bishop’s Address
NOVEMBER 15, 2008

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:2)

As we all know, this 26th annual meeting of our Diocesan Convention is anything but “business as usual.” Through a long process of spiritual discernment and prayer over the past year and a half or more, we have come to this historic moment of decision making. The eyes of many others beyond our own diocese are upon us today, and we are deeply grateful for their prayers and support as we deliberate on the matters that are before us.

At our first Convention in 1982, we voted to accede to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and to “be admitted into union with the General Convention.” Today, as a matter of conscience and conviction, we will vote to rescind that action and to align ourselves instead with an orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion, the Province of the Southern Cone.

I will not attempt to rehearse all of the reasons and explanations for this course of action. By now, we have heard them many times before, and most of us are tired of debating them. The clergy and lay delegates to this Convention are probably the most well informed and best prepared in the history of this diocese when it comes to the issues that are before us. I doubt that anyone’s vote will be changed by any of the debates that take place here today. Our minds are made up. The time for discussion has come to an end, and the time for decision is upon us.

This past year has been a tense and at times contentious period in the life of our diocese. Every one of our congregations has engaged the controversies that are before us, some more than others. Most of our churches have hosted forums and conducted study groups on why we are doing what we are doing. Differences of opinion remain in our church family, but we cannot avoid the decision that is before us. Some can no longer remain within the structures of The Episcopal Church, and others cannot bring themselves to leave TEC, even though they may disagree with the direction it is headed. Some have encouraged us to stay and fight as the faithful remnant in TEC, to work for reform from within. I can only reply by quoting the saying that “the definition of insanity is to keep on doing the same thing, expecting different results.” The time has come to choose a new path and direction, to secure a spiritual future for our children and our grand-children.

Today we shall make the decision in the only way we can – by the constitutional, legislative process of this Diocesan Convention, which is the only body that can speak with authority on behalf of all the congregations of this Diocese. No Vestry can override or disregard what is decided here today. Once the vote is cast, we have decided what we will do as a Diocese. If some must separate from the Diocese as a result, then so be it. But let the parting of the ways be as between friends in Christ, without rancor or ill will, without trying to punish or force one another to do what we cannot do.

I have chosen “Contending for the Faith” as the theme of this year’s Convention, for it speaks to the heart of the matter that is before us. It comes from the Epistle of Jude, a letter written to warn the faithful against false teachers who had made their way into the church of the first century. Though we are not told much about the content of their teaching, we are told that they were immoral and covetous men, who rejected authority and created divisions in the Church of God. St. Jude urges his readers to “contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (verse 3) and to stand firm against false teaching and immorality. And so we shall at this Convention, for the controversies that surround us have to do with standing for the truth of the Gospel.

Our consistent witness in this Diocese over the past 26 years has been to contend for the catholic faith in the midst of a church that is increasingly unfaithful and disobedient to the Word of God – a church that has caused division and dissension both at home and abroad – a church that has torn the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level - a church that acts more and more like a rebellious protestant sect and less and less like an integral part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church. It is time to say enough is enough – we will have no more of this. To acquiesce is to allow the slow deterioration of the Biblical faith to continue. This diocese stands for orthodox Christianity, and we are increasingly at odds with the revisionist practices and teachings of the official leadership of The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church we once knew no longer exists. To contend for the faith as traditional Episcopalians has brought us to this time of realignment in the Body of Christ.

The constitutional and canonical amendments proposed to this Convention offer us a faithful way forward as a traditional diocese of the Anglican Communion. First, we will separate from the errors of General Convention religion. Second, we will affiliate with an orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion. And third we will work with others in the Common Cause Partnership to establish a new Province of the Anglican Communion in North America. In fact, those efforts are already well underway. The future will not be easy, and many will oppose what we intend to accomplish. However, it is my conviction as your Bishop, having struggled with General Convention decisions for the past 16 years, that it is the best way forward for us as a faithful diocese. Now is the time to act.

I realize that for some of you this means that at the conclusion of this Convention, you will no longer recognize me as your Bishop and that the House of Bishops of TEC will initiate plans to depose me as a Bishop of TEC. However, it is important to understand what such an action can do and what it cannot do. I cannot be un-ordained any more than I can be un-baptized. Holy Orders, like Holy Baptism, bestows an indelible character and imparts a grace that is irrevocable. A deacon, priest or bishop who is deposed may be deprived of exercising his ordained ministry in congregations of The Episcopal Church, but he is not thereby un-ordained or removed from Holy Orders. The clergy of this Diocese were ordained not just for The Episcopal Church, but for the one holy catholic and apostolic church. We are deacons, priests and bishops of the Church of God, not an American denomination. As the Preface to the Ordination Rites says on page 510 of the Prayer Book, “The threefold ministry is not the exclusive property of this portion of Christ’s catholic Church.” I can assure you that all the clergy of this Diocese, under the authority and protection of the Province of the Southern Cone, will continue to exercise our ordained ministry as deacons, priests and bishops in good standing in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Our Province will change, but the validity of our sacred orders will remain unchanged.

I am certain that in the months ahead, leaders of TEC will move to depose not only me, but every deacon and priest here present who votes for realignment at this Convention. Sad to say, some of you here in this Convention hall will cooperate with and facilitate those plans. It is my belief that such a course of action is not only unreasonable and uncharitable, but violates our ecclesiological understanding of what the Anglican Communion claims to be. If we are a worldwide Communion of Provinces who share a common faith, practice and ministry, then it does not make sense to depose clergy who move from one Province to another. No one is abandoning the Communion of the Church by realigning with another Province. The far better way to proceed would be for TEC to accept the fact that a realignment has occurred, to recognize the transfer of this Diocese to another Province of the Anglican Communion, and to wish us well in the name of the Lord. There is something deeply disturbing about a Church that would prefer to litigate and depose rather than to negotiate a peaceful, amicable separation among brothers and sisters in Christ who can no longer walk together.

I call upon the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and her colleagues to halt the litigation, to stop the depositions, and to cease the intimidation of traditional believers. Instead, let us pursue a mediated settlement, a negotiated agreement that provides for a fair and equitable solution for all parties, and let us resist taking punitive actions against our opponents. Christians are called to work out our differences with one another, not sue one another in secular courts.
I call upon those who dissent from the decision we make today as a Diocese to remain as faithful worshipping members in your local congregation. If we could welcome diversity and still worship with those who disagree with us before this Convention, then surely we can continue to do so after this Convention. Your church family will still be there for you tomorrow and next Sunday and the Sunday after that. I urge you to remain fully active in your church home, where you have been nurtured and fed, where you are still wanted and loved. I urge you to resist the appeals to go off and find alternative meeting places so that you might worship separately from the rest of your parish family in the weeks ahead. Regardless of the decision of this Convention, there is no reason why we cannot continue to worship together in the future just as we have in the past. Let us strive to maintain the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace, in every congregation of this Diocese, where there is room for everyone.

Some have asked, “Will we still be Episcopalians after our realignment vote is taken?” And the answer is, “Well, yes and no - that all depends!” After all, no one can “un-Episcopalian-ize” you, and no one is being kicked out of the family. We will still be The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. We are not changing our name, because we are not changing our identity. We will still have an Episcopal form of polity, which means being in a church that is under a Bishop. We will continue to stand for what our forebears meant when they called themselves Episcopalians. But we will no longer be a part of the ecclesiastical structure sometimes known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, which is governed by the General Convention. TEC is not the only Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion, and it does not own the name “Episcopalian.” There are the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, and the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, to name a few. Members of those Provinces consider themselves Episcopalians, but not as members of TEC. In many parts of the world, the word Episcopal and the word Anglican are used interchangeably. You may have even visited a church in another part of the world, like near the Canadian border, where the church sign says “Anglican/Episcopal.”

There are various groups of Lutherans – Missouri Synod Lutherans, Wisconsin Synod Lutherans, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – but they all call themselves Lutherans, and rightly so. They simply are members of different jurisdictions or synods. The same may be said of Presbyterians and Baptists. There is more than one kind of Presbyterian or one kind of Baptist. They both have congregations that are under different judicatory bodies or conventions, but they are entitled to use the church family name that has been theirs over the decades. No one group owns the name, to the exclusion of others.

Regardless of what your vote will be at this Convention, if you want to continue to consider yourself an Episcopalian, by all means, do so. On the other hand, if that label embarrasses you or if you want to be free of it because of what it conveys or implies to others, then by all means, proudly call yourself an Anglican. You are entitled to either or both names. Perhaps you prefer to be called an “Angli-palian” or an “Epis-glican!” But to tell you the truth, God does not care so much about denominational labels and what the church sign says out front, as He does for what you believe in your heart, and profess with your lips, and show forth in your lives. And that, my friends, is why we are contending for the faith of the ages in the stance we take at this Convention.

Several years ago my convention address focused on the theme, “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” This is always a challenge for the Church and especially so in times of controversy. I would like to recall us to this theme when today’s Convention concludes. The main thing for us, of course, is the saving mission of Jesus Christ in the world. We are a missionary diocese, and our focus is on bringing others into a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. I am grateful to Bishop Godfrey for the message in his sermon yesterday afternoon, that mission is the main thing. It has been encouraging over this past year to see how many of our congregations have remained mission focused in spite of the controversies that have distracted us. It was a joy yesterday to license and commission 13 people who have completed a course of training for Lay Mission Leaders. In the past year, missionary trips by a number of groups and individuals have gone out from Fort Worth not only to various parts of the United States, but also to other several other countries - to Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Thailand, Belize and Cambodia, just to name a few. May our new freedom in an orthodox, missionary Province, enhance and foster this kind of missionary zeal and enthusiasm.

Here at home, within the diocese, I have rejoiced in a number of other signs of vitality and mission, such as the purchase of property for a new mission start in Crowley and the launching of the Christ the Redeemer church plant under the leadership of Fr. Chris Culpepper. We hope to seat them as a new congregation at our next Convention. It was a joy to worship with the people of St. Barnabas the Apostle in the first service in their new building in late August and to see evidence of what is surely a very bright future of missionary growth that is before them.

Physical plant improvements have been completed at Iglesia San Miguel and are still underway at St. Alban’s in Arlington. Significant building additions are nearly complete at St. Christopher’s in Fort Worth and at the Church of the Ascension and St. Mark in Wise County. We commend each of these congregations on their expansion and growth.

In conclusion, I would underscore once again that the proposals before this Convention have one clear message: We here in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth intend to be who we have always been, to believe what we have always believed, and to do what we have always done. We are not going away, nor are we abandoning anything. We are not leaving the Church - we are the Church. We will remain an orthodox diocese of catholic Christians, full members of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Above all else, we remain committed to serving and obeying the Lord Jesus Christ, upholding the authority of the Holy Scriptures as the revealed Word of God and our ultimate authority in all matters of faith, morals and doctrine. I am proud and honored to be the Bishop of this Diocese, and I am deeply grateful for the courage and support of all of you in these challenging times. As we move forward with firm resolve and confident faith, I see a future full of promise and hope. We contend for the faith as we make our stand this day, trusting alone in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and He will never fail us.Thank you, and God bless you in your witness

Statement of delegates who will remain in TEC

Delegate Summary Statement

26th Annual Convention of the
Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

My name is Dr. John Burk. I am a delegate from All Saints, Fort Worth.

I have been asked to present remarks on behalf of many of your fellow delegates who will remain as members of the Episcopal Church. We thank Bishop Iker for graciously designating a place on the agenda for us to make this summary statement of our continuing opposition to the propositions that are before the convention today and for including this statement as part of the formal record of the convention. As a result, those of us who adopt this statement will not present statements when debate opens on the individual propositions.

Specifically we will vote against, and we urge you all to vote against, the propositions which purport to amend our diocesan constitution and canons and the resolution regarding membership in the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Those of us who will remain in the Episcopal Church respectfully but profoundly disagree that passage of these propositions will in fact “remove” the Diocese itself, as well as church property in the diocese, from the Episcopal Church.
1. The propositions are invalid because they are inconsistent with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, such as the requirements that each diocese maintain an unqualified accession to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and for church officials to act consistently with their fiduciary duty to the Episcopal Church, including recognition of the express trust interest of the Episcopal Church in church property.

2. The propositions violate the fundamental conditions under which the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was created from within the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas and by which the new diocese assumed the use of and control over Episcopal Church property. These conditions include conformity with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, as our diocesan officials expressly acknowledged in the primary convention of the diocese in 1982 and as they have judicially admitted on behalf of the Diocese in the declaratory judgment entered in 1984 and again in the Holy Apostles litigation in the mid 1990s.

3. The propositions would violate the interests of generations of Episcopalians who, long before this diocese existed, sacrificed to contribute time, talent, and treasure to build up the body of Christ through the ministry of the Episcopal Church, not some other church, in this area.

4. The propositions that seek to remove the geographical definition of the Diocese would violate the historical understanding of a diocese as having geographical boundaries and would apparently permit the cathedral and diocesan center to be located anywhere, even outside of north central Texas.

5. Clergy delegates voting in favor of these propositions may expose themselves to discipline, including inhibition and deposition, for:
- Abandonment of the communion of the Episcopal Church;
- Violating the Constitution or Canons of the Episcopal Church and this Diocese; and
- Violating their ordination vows, including the vow to “conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church.”

6. Clergy and lay delegates voting in favor of these propositions may violate their fiduciary duty and other legal and canonical duties as church officials in the Episcopal Church.

7. Regarding the Proposed Resolution for Admission to the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone,
- Such an action would violate the Constitution of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, in which Article 2 restricts membership to Anglican dioceses in the countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay;
- Such an action directly violates the recommendation of the Windsor Report against boundary incursions; and
- The resolution violates Canon 30 of our own diocesan constitution which prohibits use of church property by another church.

8. We believe that the proposed budget significantly underestimates the “shrinkage” which will result from the expected passage of the other propositions today.
Under the circumstances it seems unrealistic to assume that all the congregations in the diocese would continue to pay assessments at or above the levels paid in the prior year. Since individual giving will predictably follow changes of church membership, and since assessments are calculated using the prior year receipts but are actually paid from the current year cash receipts, the expected schism within our diocese, joined with the current economic downturn, will drastically reduce the overall revenue to the diocese.

9. Regarding the Report for the Corporation for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, we strenuously object to the continuing inadequacy of the annual reports submitted by the Corporation and the lack of transparency of its deliberations and actions. We continue to object to the attempted effort by the Board of Trustees to amend the Corporation’s articles of incorporation and bylaws to remove any obligation of the Corporation to comply with diocesan constitution and canons, including its trust provisions, and to bypass canonical procedures to determine who is the bishop of the Diocese. We consider these actions to have no legal effect. By their votes, we believe that the trustees violated their fiduciary duties to the diocese and its individual parishes, missions, and congregations, violated diocesan Article 14 and Canons 17.2 and 18, and violated the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

10. Regarding the report on church schools, we are concerned that the report continues to be incomplete and fails to acknowledge the critical financial condition of certain of our church schools.

11. We also incorporate by reference any additional comments made in opposition to these provisions on their first reading at the annual convention in 2007.

For these and other reasons, we consider the propositions presented today to be illegal, extracanonical, and of no effect, under canon law or secular law.
We ask that individual delegates signify in writing their votes on these propositions, to become a part of the official journal of this convention, particularly on the proposed changes to Article I of the Constitution, in the same manner as was done when the delegates adopted the unqualified accession at the primary convention of this diocese on November 13, 1982. We believe that it is essential that all church officials publicly and honestly confirm whether they are members of the Episcopal Church, because those who are no longer members of the Episcopal Church may no longer exercise authority on behalf of the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

For those in our diocese who decide to resign their membership in the Episcopal Church and thus their church offices, we will expect that they will immediately discontinue exercising any possession or control over Episcopal Church entities or property, including use of the names “Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth” and “Corporation for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth,” or continuing to speak for any parish or other church entity of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. While we fully respect your individual right to move your church membership from the Episcopal Church to another church, we cannot recognize your continuing authority to act on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth if you do leave the Episcopal Church.

Do we each agree with every action ever taken by the Episcopal Church? Clearly not. But we will remain in the Episcopal Church, as the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and as Anglicans in this place, professing our belief in the Creed every Sunday while striving to live out the Gospel imperatives of loving God with our whole heart, mind, and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

At some point in the future, some of you may discover that you no longer wish to follow the path you take today and decide to return to the Episcopal Church. Please know that we, as the continuing presence of the Episcopal Church in this area, will joyfully welcome your return to worship with us as Episcopalians in the body of Christ.

We prayerfully urge you to oppose these propositions. Their passage will put our diocese into schism and result in a loss of your needed voice and energy in the Episcopal Church.

Thank you again, Bishop Iker, for this opportunity to lodge our respectful objections to the actions which likely will be taken here today and to do so efficiently to avoid exacerbating our differences on these important issues.

I/we adopt this statement which was read by a representative delegate during the 26th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:

Delegate Name Clergy or Lay? Parish, Mission, or Congregation

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Prayer Vigil Saturday

On Saturday, November 15, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Trinity Episcopal Church, 3401 Bellaire Dr. So., Ft. Worth, TX 76109, will be open and available for those who wish to pray for those who will be attending the diocesan convention. Come observe this historic day in the life of our diocese by praying for the welfare of those who choose to leave the Episcopal Church and for wisdom and guidance for those who will stay and work to reorganize our diocese.

The sanctuary will be open for prayer and meditation. A labyrinth will be available in the Parish Hall. Provision will be made for live-stream internet screening of the diocesan convention proceedings in another part of the church, and a light luncheon will be served at noon.
Episcopalians who will be working to reorganize the diocese are urged to spend at least part of the day doing outreach by volunteering at food banks, at the Presbyterian Night Shelter, or at any other ministry of their choice.