Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A day well spent

I've spent the day with my two grandsons. We raked leaves, tidied up the garden, and played with their new walkie talkies. Curran, 6, is "legos" and Gavin, 4, is "ghostrider." When I asked what my "handle" is, they looked at me in astonishment.

"It's Mom,"they both said with a look that said, "Well, duh."

That's what they call me and it's clear I am allowed to have no other "handle."

Since we have an acre and half of garden, there are lots of places for them to play. So what happens? They both end up wanting to be on the swing, or in the hammock, or playing with the sand table at the same time. So I spend lots of time mediating.

After soothing Gavin's hurt feelings for the third time, I told him to cheer up, he was a beloved child of God, beloved by his parents, and beloved by Da and me.

"What's beloved?" he asked.

"That means we love you more than you can ever know," I said.

"Well, I don't love Curran,." he said huffily.

"Oh yes, you do. You're just upset with him now. But love is stronger than anger. It's like we all still love you even if we send you to time-out."

He looked dubious, and crawled into my lap as I sat on the porch swing in the pergola.

Curran saw this and said, "Gavin's a baby."

And I said, "You will both always be my babies -- even when you are married and have your own babies."

Gavin shot upright in my lap, narrowly missing my chin.

'Mom! We won't lay babies. We're boys! We won't grow babies in our tummies!" he said.

"Well, you won't lay babies, that's for sure. But you might get married and have babies, or you might adopt a baby. But even when you do that, you'll still be my baby."

He snuggled in again, thinking about that. Curran came over and crawled on top of us both. I moved over to make room. We all three sat there, wrapped in each other's arms.

After a minute, Gavin said, "Sing the bread song, Mom."

This is Gavin's favorite song, the one that seems to comfort him most.

You may know it. It's a Taize song.

Eat this bread, drink this cup,
Come to me and never be hungry.
Eat this bread, drink this cup,
Trust in me and you will not thirst."

We sing it at the 11:30 service at Trinity before Communion. Gavin has known the words since he could barely talk.

I think that, in some inchoate way, Gavin does indeed "get" what it means to be a beloved child of God, and that somehow he knows this song is talking about that.

So for a long time, we rocked in the swing, holding on to each other, as I sang "the bread song."

Then we went inside and watched Monsters Inc.

Have a happy New Year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Two things - setting the record straight and Standing Committee not recognized

Here is an excerpt of a story that ran today on the OpEd page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

EPISCOPALIANS: Pressing on after a split in the local church
Special to the Star-Telegram

North Texas Episcopalians and those observing recent activities in our diocese can be forgiven for some confusion.

A quick update is that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is alive and well and doing ministry and mission everywhere from Gainesville to Wichita Falls to Brownwood to Hillsboro and back.

A chronology:
On Nov. 15, Bishop Jack Iker led a diocesan convention at which a majority of delegates voted to leave the Episcopal Church and align with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

As the canons — church laws — require when a bishop announces he has left the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori inhibited Iker from performing sacramental acts and gave him 60 days to change his mind.

Almost immediately, Iker posted a notice on the Internet announcing that the presiding bishop has no authority over him because he is a bishop in another church.

On Dec. 5, the presiding bishop accepted that as notice of his renunciation of orders in the Episcopal Church. That means that Jack Iker is no longer an ordained minister in the Episcopal Church and no longer has any authority in the Episcopal Church, having very publicly left it.

While those who have gathered themselves around Iker still insist they are the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, it is simply not possible to leave the Episcopal Church and then claim to be still part of it. And while they still occupy property that belongs to the Episcopal Church, they have no legal rights to it, according to the church’s canons.

All this will in due course be sorted out, most likely in the courts.

Meanwhile, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth continues its ministry as an integral part of the Episcopal Church.

Many Episcopalians in the diocese never supported Iker’s aims. Months before Nov. 15, they began planning to reorganize and refocus the diocese — not to organize a new one, as Iker’s office has recently claimed — to carry on the work of the church. They formed the mostly lay-led Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, made up of representatives from the remaining Episcopal congregations.
Since Nov. 15, 15 intact an
d reorganizing parishes and somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 Episcopalians in North Texas, some meeting in their parish property and some in temporary space, have continued to worship and explore new and effective ways to carry out the church’s mission of reconciling the world to God and all humankind to each other through Jesus Christ.

Among the organizing principles of the continuing diocese are a commitment to a life of prayer; honoring Holy Scripture and participating in true Episcopal worship; and to an empowered lay leadership and a return to the emphasis on Christ’s instructions to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and comfort the lonely.

A reorganizing convention is scheduled for Feb. 7. Committees are preparing a budget, reviewing canons to bring them into compliance with national norms, communicating with the wider church and the public, nominating qualified lay and clerical candidates for diocesan offices and designing strategies and programs for various outreach ministries. In time, the full range of diocesan ministries will be reestablished.

On Feb. 7, the presiding bishop will call the convention to order and preside over election of a Standing Committee (three clergy, three laity), the highest level of elected leadership, and other officers. She also may then ask the convention to ratify a provisional bishop, appointed by her in consultation with the Steering Committee, to oversee the diocese until a bishop can be elected under ordinary circumstances.

Meanwhile, the church’s worship is going forward. Retired priests — including one woman — are leading services in the faith communities, and the parish congregations’ life of prayer goes on unimpeded.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is alive and getting healthier.

The people reorganizing the diocese want those who have separated to know that we hold them in our prayers as our brothers and sisters in Christ and that we hope to see the day when we are all back together at the same table, a family of blessed, happy Episcopalians.

Read it here.

Visit the web page of the reorganizing diocese here.

Since our entire Standing Committee -- Christopher Cantrell, Timothy Perkins, Thomas Hightower, Judy Mayo, Frank Salazar, and Walter Virden -- has left the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori informed them she does not recognize them as the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Dec 15,2008
Dear Sirs and Madam,

I am writing to you because I have been informed that you constitute a group holding itself out as the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. It has come to my attention that recently you have taken actions in support of an attempt to take the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth out of the Episcopal Church and into affiliation with the Province of the Southern Cone. I understand that these have included meeting as the purported Standing Committee of an entity that identifies itself as a diocese in union with the Province of the Southern Cone, and electing officers of such a purported committee. These actions directly conflict with the Constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church.

Canon 1.17.8 of the Episcopal Church provides that "[a]ny person accepting any office in this Church shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which the office is being exercised." Your recent actions demonstrate that you have been and are unable to well and faithfully fulfill your duties as members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth under Canon 1.17.8. Accordingly, with this letter I inform you that I do not recognize you as the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

I regret the decisions you have made to attempt to take the Diocese out of The Episcopal Church and the necessary consequences of these actions. I give thanks for your service in the past, and pray that it may once again be a blessing to this Diocese. I remain

Your servant in Christ,

Katharine Jefferts Schori

Please continue to pray for us as we move forward into the New Year with high hopes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas magic

Here is a Christmas card. Please watch it all the way through.
Merry Christmas.

The Baby is on the way!


The Baby is on the way!!
May your Christmas be filled with the songs of the angels, the wonder of the shepherds, the awe of Joseph and the overwhelming love, tenderness, and courage of Mary.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's the season for new things

Things have been very busy here in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, as we work to reorganize and bring forth a healthier happier diocese.

Forgive the dearth of posts -- I've not only been busy, but I broke my left hand in a fall and that has hampered many things, not the least of which is my ability to type.

So here are some updates:
The Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians counts 15 intact parishes and “re-organizing parishes” as participants in the continuing Episcopal Diocese and an estimated five to six thousand Episcopalians. We fully expect this number will grow in the weeks ahead, particularly following the Special Convention on Feb. 7.

There are several events planned for the Special Convention beginning with a Friday Feb. 6 evening reception for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. On Saturday Feb 7 we will have a morning Eucharist celebration, with the presiding bishop celebrating and preaching. There will be an afternoon Convention business meeting and a festive evensong.

The convention will be Trinity Fort Worth. The Eucharist will be at All Saints Fort Worth.

Bishop Katharine may propose a candidate to the Special Convention for it to either accept or decline as provisional bishop, to serve until a new bishop can be elected. This will probably take a year and half to two years.

Her office already is in close consultation with the Steering Committee re: potential candidates, and we anticipate a public announcement in advance of the special convention.

For some reason, the former leadership of the diocese continues to send out misinformation about the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, a name they illegally continue to use. Here's a recent news release that's an example:
New Diocese planned for North Texas area

December 18, 2008

According to Internet announcements, plans are under way for a new Episcopal diocese to be formed in North Central Texas. The sources indicate that an organizing meeting or convention may be held as soon as Feb. 7, 2009. The new diocese is being organized by North Texas Episcopalians who wish to be affiliated with the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. A group known as Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians is initiating the organizing effort.

The announcement has appeared on the Steering Committee's Web site and on a site launched by a group leaving St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Arlington. It indicates that the probable conference site is All Saints' Episcopal School in Fort Worth, and that the organizers hope TEC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will be present to preside.

Fr. Christopher Jambor, rector of All Saints' parish in Fort Worth, is named as the head of the organizing committee. The business of the meeting is expected to be the adoption of a constitution and canons for the new diocese, as well as the election of founding officers.

It was not immediately clear how many conferees will participate in the event, how they will be selected, or what congregations or other groups they will represent.

Suzanne Gill

Director of Communications

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

I know this can be confusing, because our former diocesan leadership continues to use the name "Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth" even though they are no longer in the Episcopal Church, having very publicly left it for the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

The truth is the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth continues.

- We are not forming a "new" diocese, we already are the diocese.

- We are not "adopting" a constitution and canons; we are declaring portions of the existing diocesan constitution and canons to be null and void.

- We will not be electing "founding officers." We will be filling offices left vacant by those who have left the Episcopal Church.

- We do not wish to be affiliated with the Episcopal Church; we ARE affiliated with the Episcopal Church.

- We are not 'hoping" the presiding bishop will be here, we know she will be here and that she will call the convention to order.

-The participants will be selected as canons require. Delegates to the convention will be elected at annual parish meetings held in January.

- The group is not leaving St. Albans; it is St. Albans. As is the case with several parishes in the diocese, the congregation and the rector occupying the building are no longer Episcopalians. We fully expect that we will regain that property and all the other properties now occupied by former Episcopalians for the Episcopal Church.

The announcement is also in error as to the location of the convention. It will be at Trinity Church, Fort Worth.

It will take some time for the confusion to sort itself out, but to those who are confused, here's a clue. The "real" Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is the one recognized by the Episcopal Church. That would be us, not those who left for the Southern Cone. They have done what they have wanted to do for years.

We wish them well. And we wish they would leave us and our property alone.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Jack Iker no longer an ordained minister in the Episcopal Church


Dec. 5, 2008

The Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians has learned that the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has accepted former bishop Jack Iker's written statement of November 24, 2008, that he is no longer a priest or bishop of the Episcopal Church and has sent notification of that acceptance to the appropriate church officers, effective December 5, 2008.

The Presiding Bishop's action saves the Church the expense and distress of formal procedures to depose the former bishop and opens the door for an early reorganization of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The Steering Committee speaks for many Episcopalians who opposed Iker's contention that he could remove the diocese from the Episcopal Church.

The Steering Committee will continue to hold him and Mrs. Iker in our prayers.

The pertinent documents and further news developments will be posted at the Steering Committee’s website,

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.

The ENS story can be read here here, as can a copy of the Presiding Bishop's letter.

Title III, Canon 12, Section 7 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church

Sec. 7. Renunciation of the Ordained Ministry
(a) If any Bishop of this Church not subject to the provisions of
Canon IV.8 shall declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a
renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to
be removed therefrom, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to
record the declaration and request so made. The Presiding Bishop,
being satisfied that the person so declaring is not subject to the
provisions of Canon IV.8 but is acting voluntarily and for causes,
assigned or known, which do not affect the person's moral character,
shall lay the matter before the Advisory Council to the Presiding
Bishop, and with the advice and consent of a majority of the members
of the Advisory Council the Presiding Bishop may pronounce that
such renunciation is accepted, and that the Bishop is released from the
obligations of all Ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to
exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God's Word
and Sacraments conferred in Ordinations. The Presiding Bishop shall
also declare in pronouncing and recording such action that it was for
causes which do not affect the person's moral character, and shall, if
desired, give a certificate to this effect to the person so removed.
(b) If a Bishop making the aforesaid declaration of the renunciation
of the ordained Ministry be under Presentment for any canonical
Offense, or shall have been placed on Trial for the same, the Presiding
Bishop shall not consider or act upon such declaration until after the
Presentment shall have been dismissed or the said Trial shall have been
concluded and the Bishop judged not to have committed an Offense.
(c) In the case of such renunciation by a Bishop as provided in this
Canon, a declaration of removal shall be pronounced by the Presiding
Bishop in the presence of two or more Bishops, and shall be entered
in the official records of the House of Bishops and of the Diocese in
which the Bishop being removed is canonically resident. The Presiding
Bishop shall give notice thereof in writing to the Secretary of the
Convention and the Ecclesiastical Authority and the Standing
Committee of the Diocese in which the Bishop was canonically
resident, to all Bishops of this Church, the Ecclesiastical Authority of
each Diocese of this Church, the Recorder, the Secretary of the House
of Bishops, the Secretary of the General Convention, The Church
Pension Fund, and the Church Deployment Board.

This is Bishop Iker’s statement of Nov. 24, 2008, as posted on the diocesan website, here.

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

A reality check

Reality will eventually begin to intrude into the fantasies of Bob Duncan, Jack Iker and others of a non-geographic Anglican province to take the place of the Episcopal Church. Episcopal News Service, the LA Times, and the Religious News Service provide a reality check. You can read the ENS story below or here.
The LA Times story has the first public comments by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori since the dissidents announced their new denomination. The LA Times story is below the ENS story, and the RNS story, which does an excellent job of explaining the situation, is below that.
Process presents challenges for proposed province
Dissident Anglicans must conform to established guidelines for official recognition, Lambeth says
By Matthew Davies and Mary Frances Schjonberg
December 04, 2008 [Episcopal News Service] Despite claiming to have God and history on their side, proponents of a new Anglican province in North America could face a years-long process for gaining official recognition by the rest of the Anglican Communion.
A statement from Lambeth Palace, the London office of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, responded to the Common Cause Partnership's (CCP) December 3 proposal to form a new Anglican province in North America. The statement said that there are legislative procedures to follow in such instances.

"There are clear guidelines set out in the Anglican Consultative Council Reports, notably ACC 10 in 1996 (resolution 12), detailing the steps necessary for the amendments of existing provincial constitutions and the creation of new provinces," the statement said. "Once begun, any of these processes will take years to complete. In relation to the recent announcement from the meeting of the Common Cause Partnership in Chicago, the process has not yet begun."

However, at least one leader of the movement has questioned the London-based ACC's process, asking "Why is England still considered the center of the universe?"

Members of the 11 self-identified Anglican organizations that form the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) announced December 3 the creation of what they called an Anglican "province in formation" for those who say that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada promote erroneous biblical interpretation and theology, particularly in terms of the doctrine of salvation and acceptance of homosexuality.

Former Episcopal Church Diocese of Pittsburgh bishop and CCP moderator Robert Duncan, who will become the proposed province's first archbishop and primate, told a December 3 news briefing that the movement he leads is a descendant of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Both periods in history required Christians to reassert the power of revelation that some of their leaders had lost, he said.

"That, brothers and sisters, is what I would submit is happening right now in the 21st century across the whole Christian church, particularly in the West," he told reporters. When asked, Duncan refused to claim that the announcement amounted to a schism of the Anglican Communion. Cynthia Brust, communications director for the Anglican Mission in the Americas (a member of the partnership), told reporters that the communion "has been fractured, it has been damaged, it has been in disarray, it's been coming for a long time."

"Rather than today being about division and breaking apart in disunity, it's the day that the Anglican Communion began to be healed," she said.

The leaders of the movement released a "provisional" constitution and canons during the meeting in the suburban Chicago community of Wheaton, Illinois. The two documents are due to be ratified by participants in a planned summer 2009 "provincial assembly" at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford, Texas. (St. Vincent's is in the Diocese of Fort Worth, one of four Episcopal Church dioceses in which many members have realigned with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.)

The leaders also signed onto the Jerusalem Declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and affirmed GAFCON's Statement on the Global Anglican Future (both available here). The GAFCON documents said "the time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognized by the [GAFCON] Primates' Council."

Duncan claimed that statement and a higher authority as the authorization the group needed. "It's the Lord who's called us to do this work" after the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada caused a "crisis," he said.

"The Lord is displacing the Episcopal Church," Duncan said, adding that "it's our anticipation" that the archbishops and the provinces representing what he called the majority of the Anglican Communion "will begin to recognize this province."

Duncan appeared to lay down a challenge to the Archbishop of Canterbury. "We stand where the mainstream of Anglicanism stands," he said. "The question will of course be will the archbishop recognize those who stand where the mainstream of Anglicans -- or the mainstream of Christians -- stand, or not."

On December 3, prior to the release of details of the proposed province, the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, noted in a statement that "the Episcopal Church, along with the Anglican Church of Canada and La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico, comprise the official, recognized presence of the Anglican Communion in North America."

"And we reiterate what has been true of Anglicanism for centuries: that there is room within The Episcopal Church for people with different views, and we regret that some have felt the need to depart from the diversity of our common life in Christ," he added.

Recognition of any new province by the official structures of the Anglican Communion is complicated. The ACC, the communion's main policy-making body, meets every three to four years and has the authority "to advise on inter-Anglican, provincial, and diocesan relationships, including the division of provinces, the formation of new provinces and of regional councils," according to its constitution.

The ACC legislation about new provinces cited by Williams' spokesperson refers to provinces being created on a geographical basis as opposed to on theological grounds such as the Common Cause Partnership's proposed province.

"Once initial consultation had taken place, and it was agreed in principle that it would be expedient to form a new province in the region, the promoters would appoint a drafting committee, to consider the outline draft constitution set out by the ACC," the resolution says, noting that "the drafting process in itself is likely to take some considerable time."

ACC resolutions have repeatedly stated that before the creation of a new province there should be consultation "from the earliest stages in their discussions" with the secretary general of the Anglican Communion or the Anglican Consultative Council "for guidance and advice, especially in regard to the form of constitution most appropriate."

Asked whether the secretary general had been consulted by any member of the Common Cause Partnership, a spokesman for the Anglican Communion Office said December 4 that there has been no approach.

Martyn Minns, a former Episcopal priest and a bishop of the breakaway Convocation of Anglicans in North America, told the New York Times December 3: "One of the questions a number of the primates are asking is why do we still need to be operating under the rules of an English charity, which is what the Anglican Consultative Council does. Why is England still considered the center of the universe?"

If the Common Cause Partnership were to abide by the ACC's procedures, the process could take several years, according to the schedule outlined in the resolution. "Having agreed on the form of the new constitution, the proposers are asked to submit their application ... to the ACC not less than 15 months ahead of the next meeting of the full council," the resolution says. The ACC's next meeting will be held May 1-12, 2009 in Jamaica. According to the resolution's schedule, any formal attempt by the Common Cause Partnership to have the ACC accept its proposed constitution would need to wait until the following meeting, presumably in 2012.
Two-thirds of the primates would also have to approve such a constitution before it is presented to the ACC for consideration.

ACC resolutions on the creation and division of provinces date back to its first meeting in 1971 and have been reaffirmed by subsequent meetings of the council. At the first meeting, the ACC resolved (resolution 21) that when creating and dividing provinces "there must be the good will of the existing province in order not to create difficulties of disunity after division." (A first set of guidelines for drafting and revising provincial constitutions was developed at the fourth meeting of the ACC in 1979).

While the new province would be based on theological commonality rather than the geographical proximity that generally shapes the rest of the provinces in the Anglican Communion, the members are not united in all of their theological positions. This is especially true on the issue of women's ordination.

"Scripture is unclear" on the subject, Duncan said in response to a reporter's question. He noted that both the Old and New Testaments give women leadership roles and that "clearly it is the case that women had an apostolic function in the New Testament" even though all the apostles were male and the church has "traditionally" defined the priesthood as all male.

"Whereas some issues are quite clear in Scripture, others have a complexity," Duncan said.
Noting that some members ordain women only to the diaconate and not the priesthood, Duncan said they agreed that women could not become bishops in the province. To allow female bishops "wouldn't bring unity and it wouldn't be universally accepted," said Duncan, who has ordained women as priests. "We've submitted to one another on matters that make for unity."

Questions about that issue evolved into a larger discussion about the authority of Scripture. Duncan accused the Episcopal Church of being unwilling to adhere to what he called the clear biblical "standard" that defines marriage and the family as a lifelong union that mirrors Christians' relationship with God.

"Scripture makes it plain that homosexual relations are not in God's will," Duncan told reporters. "Jesus' love is for absolutely everybody. Jesus meets people where they are and then he says 'go and sin no more.' What the Episcopal Church has done -- and the Anglican Church in Canada -- has been to leave the whole scriptural notion of transformation in the power of the Holy Spirit out of the equation. The gospels being preached particularly in the West -- and it's not only in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada -- [are] a gospel of acceptance, a gospel of affirmation. The classic gospel is a gospel of transformation where people are delivered out of their own desires into God's desires for how we live our lives."

The group's provisional constitution and canons have several differences from those of the Episcopal Church, including:

-an archbishop elected to up to two consecutive five-year terms only by his fellow bishops (Episcopal Church bishops elects not an archbishop but a presiding bishop for one nine-year term and the General Convention's House of Deputies ratifies that election);- all congregational property is owned by the congregation and not subject to "any trust interest or any other claim of ownership arising out of the canon law of the province" (the Episcopal Church asserts such trust interests);
- member groups (known as diocese, clusters or networks) can leave the province at any time (the Episcopal Church maintains that while people may leave dioceses and parishes, those entities remain a part of the church unless they are dissolved or otherwise reconfigured by their governing bodies); and
- "an ecclesiastical court of final decision," to be known as the provincial tribunal, to settle all disputes arising from the constitution and canons (the Episcopal Church has no such court).

The actions in Wheaton are the latest in a more than two-year-old effort to create an alternative province in North America for those Anglicans who disagree with the theological and biblical interpretation stances of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. The outlines of that effort are available at the end of this story.

The Common Cause Partnership's members include the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (also known as the Anglican Communion Network), the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Forward in Faith North America, the Reformed Episcopal Church, and bishops and congregations linked with Kenya, Uganda, and South America's Southern Cone.

Common Cause says that together the groups represent 700 congregations and more than 100,000 Anglicans. The Episcopal Church includes some 7,600 congregations and 2.4 million Episcopalians. There are an estimated 77 million Anglicans in 164 countries worldwide.
You can read the whole LA Times story here.

Here's some excerpts:

Episcopal Church leader says those who defected 'are no longer Episcopalians'
Responding to the creation of the Anglican Church in North America over the role of gays, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says that she thinks 'we're past the worst of it.'
By Duke Helfand
December 5, 2008 The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church declared Thursday that church members who joined a newly formed conservative denomination "are no longer Episcopalians," even as she predicted that the exodus had largely run its course and would not trigger further large-scale defections.
In her first public comments since a coalition of 700 parishes announced the formation of a new North American church Wednesday, the Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori also reiterated that church property must remain in Episcopal hands, a position disputed by breakaway leaders.
"They are no longer Episcopalians," Jefferts Schori said of those who left. "They have made that very clear in their departures. "
Those who were formally bishops in the Episcopal Church are no longer understood to be bishops in the Episcopal Church," she added in a meeting with Times reporters. "They are free to associate with whom they wish."
But Jefferts Schori said she expected the departures to have little effect on the 2.4-million-member Episcopal Church. The new Anglican Church in North America has an estimated 100,000 members.
Jefferts Schori said she had tried to persuade leaders of the newly formed church not to leave, but traditionalist bishops rejected the overtures. She said that four former Episcopal dioceses, including one in the San Joaquin Valley that a year ago became the first to secede, had stopped their financial contributions to the national church, in some cases years earlier. She emphasized that all Episcopalians were welcome "if they want to be part of a diverse church. . . . But the expectation has to be that we are not a single-issue church. We're not a church that says you have to believe this one thing in this one way and there is no room for difference of opinion."
Jefferts Schori said those who chose to leave the church were free to do so but were not free to take its property with them.The national church and its dioceses, including Los Angeles, have filed numerous lawsuits over church buildings and other property claimed by breakaway parishes. A key case, involving several Southern California congregations, is before the state Supreme Court, with a decision expected by early January.
"The property that belongs to the Episcopal Church, to congregations and to dioceses is the product of legacies of generations before us, given . . . in the name of the Episcopal Church," the presiding bishop said. "Leaders in the church do not have the right to give it away for other purposes."
Read the RNS story here.
Here's an excerpt:
But a number of significant hurdles lie ahead for the Common Cause Partnership, as the conservatives' umbrella group is known. The self-declared province will need to:
-- Gain recognition from leading Anglican archbishops;
-- Win the favor of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the communion's spiritual leader;
-- Overcome serious theological discord among its own members.
"It's like starting a new business," said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, a conservative leader from South Carolina who is not formally affiliated with the splinter group. "It's a whole lot harder than people think."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Stovepipe Anglicans

From Andrew Plus, the blog of Andrew Garns, used with permission.


Updated:They call themselves a "province" but what has happened in Chicago this week is that a collection of denominations with Anglican roots, interest groups with roots in the Episcopal Church, and groups that have broken away from the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada have banded together to form a new denomination called the Anglican Church in North America.

Here is what Episcopal Cafe says:

Contrary to news reports that a new North American province pledging allegiance to the Anglican Communion is being created today, such is not the case. It is not possible to unilaterally declare yourself to be a province of the Anglican Communion. The AP's early report is more on target: a new group is forming its own denomination which it says represents true Anglican beliefs.

If that denomination wishes to call itself a province that's a good example of the exercise of doublethink. You can't name yourself as a province of the Anglican Communion, and it drains the word of meaning for a body to call itself a province. In short, the usage can only be meant to confuse and manipulate.

AP reports it correctly:

WHEATON, Ill. - Theological conservatives upset by the liberal views of the Episcopal Church are forming a rival denomination.A quick glance at their constitution says that the new denomination will not organize itself geographically but pretty much preserve the structures of the constituent groups.

Here are the groups which make up the new denomination:

The American Anglican Council
The Anglican Coalition in Canada
The Anglican Communion Network
The Anglican Mission in the Americas
The Anglican Network in Canada
The Convocation of Anglicans in North America
Forward in Faith – North America
The Missionary Convocation of Kenya
The Missionary Convocation of the Southern Cone
The Missionary Convocation of Uganda

The Reformed Episcopal ChurchThe group is so scattered that this may not have much practical effect, but it is conceivable that one could see multiple ACNA churches in the same area, all in different "dioceses" and under different bishops that correspond roughly to their former allegiance to a constituting group.

The New York Times says that

The founding members of this new province have major theological differences among themselves on liturgical practices, and whether to ordain women.

Bishop Duncan, whose theological orientation is more evangelical, has ordained women in the diocese of Pittsburgh. Bishops of other breakaway dioceses, like Jack Iker in Fort Worth and John-David Schofield in San Joaquin, are more “Anglo-Catholic” in orientation, modeling some elements of the Roman Catholic Church, and are opposed to ordaining women as priests or bishops. Under their new constitution, each of the nine constituent dioceses or groups that would make up the new province could follow its own teachings on women’s ordination. Each congregation would also keep its own property.

Mark Harris over at Preludium has a detailed analysis of their constitution here.

Their constitution says:

The fundamental agency of mission in the Province is the local congregation.
Congregations and clergy are related together in a diocese, cluster, or network (whether regional or affinity-based), united by a bishop.
Each diocese, cluster or network (whether regional or affinity-based) shall be represented in the Provincial Assembly.
Dioceses, clusters or networks (whether regional or affinity-based) may band together for common mission, or as distinct jurisdictions at the sub-Provincial level.
Each bishop in active episcopal ministry shall be included in a Provincial College of Bishops as provided by canon.
There shall be a Provincial Council elected by the Provincial Assembly.

This Constitution recognizes the right of each diocese, cluster or network (whether regional or affinity-based) to establish and maintain its own governance, constitution and canons not inconsistent with the provisions of of the Constitution and Canons of this Province.The idea that there will be overlapping dioceses with differences in polity is not entirely without precedent.

Within Roman Catholicism there exists a tapestry of jurisdictions. Two examples that comes to mind are the parishes that are connected to religious orders that may or may not report to the Diocesan and the Byzantine Rite churches. The Byzantine Catholics have married clergy and an Eastern style liturgical tradition along their own Bishops and diocesan structures that often overlap traditional diocesan structures.

But there are unifying factors that the new Anglican denomination in North America will lack. In the Roman Catholic examples I have named there is still the underlying, normative structure of the diocesan church that is geographically based under a Bishop. And, of course, all of these various forms of Roman Catholicism all recognize the Bishop of Rome as the person in succession to Peter as the head of the Church.

The ACNA does not seek or particularly value the recognition of the Archbishop of Canterbury. So they want to be Anglican without recognizing their ties to England. The ACNA is a church that brings together the former colonials in a way that dismisses the Church from which they sprang.In some ways, the ACNA is a throwback to what the Episcopal Church was before the first Lambeth Conference. A separate church with roots in the CofE, that's all. In some ways, the ACNA is a glimpse of what American Anglicanism might have looked like if the first General Convention had gone a different way.

But much more troubling is that the new denomination will have a purely functional view of the Episcopate. Bishops in the ACNA are merely ordaining and confirming machines.They can teach, but no one in the ACNA has to really listen to what he says let alone live under any discipline exercised by this confirming-ordaining machine. Individual congregations will get to pick whatever flavor of Bishop they want.

So, if a congregation (in all likelihood a Rector) does not believe in the ordination of women, then he can join his church to a Bishop who won't ordain women. If that congregation (again Rector) is Anglo-Catholic, he can set aside the evangelical non-woman ordaining Bishop for an Anglo-Catholic non-woman ordaining Bishop.

I suppose that if a Bishop wanted to set up a diocese, network or jurisdiction where lay presidency of the Eucharist was allowed, it could happen as long as he signed the Jerusalem Declaration and gave a passing nod to the 1662 BCP and the Articles of Religion.

Already, Bishop Jack Iker, the former Bishop of Fort Worth who has parked his mitre temporarily in the Province of the Southern Cone, has said that his Communion is "impaired" with any Bishop (ACNA or otherwise) who ordains women. This means that before the thing is even 24 hours old he is out of communion with the new Primate of the new denomination. Good start, guys. At least the Bishops will all be boys.

You see where this is going?

By tossing aside geographical episcopacy and by making each congregation free to stay within the ACNA at their leisure and choose the Bishop of their own liking, they have made the congregations (and the whims, tastes and preferences of their Rectors) the chief arbitor of church discipline and doctrinal authority. The congregation does not have to contend with anyone who doesn't agree with them, and the discipline that any Bishop might give is reduced to the level of well-meaning advice.

This will be a stove-pipe denomination where people who share a common hatred of the Episcopal Church can interact only with people who agree with them in the moment they need to agree with them. They will never have to wrestle with a Bishop as the personification of the unity of the Church...and so they will never discover the unity in Christ that is over and above the things which divide us humans. They will never discover the point of obedience that an episcopal structure in Anglicanism suggests: that we learn something of what it means to be obedient to God when we live in obedience to our Bishop in common with the congregations of our diocese and province, even (especially) when we don't agree.

But this group does not want the restraining influence of councils or of Bishops in any meaningful way. This denomination will allow people who think and act alike to stay only with each other and if one don't like the teachings of his Bishop or fellow clergy and congregations, he can just shop around for a new bishop, even, perhaps, a new denomination more to his own liking.

Of course, the personalities of most of these bishops is that, while they cannot accept discipline, they cannot tolerate dissension. So we'll see where that leads.

This group calls itself a province but appears to be indifferent to submitting itself formally to any process that make them an Anglican Province. They are a province because they are a collection of dioceses, networks and interest groups in a big geographical space between two oceans. Bishop Minn asks "who made England the center of the universe?" Okay, but in the ACNA universe the center is..what? The personal preference of the Bishop, priest or congregation?All of this comes from a group that has been upset by the apparent inability of we Episcopalians to enforce doctrinal discipline.

All of this from a group that says the phrase "General Convention Church" with a sneer.

For a while I called this potential new body "The Episcopal Church--Missouri Synod" referencing the conservatism of their moral theology and use of the Bible. I take that back. The phrase was an insult to Missouri Synod Lutherans everywhere and I am truly sorry. For one thing, the LCMS would never put up with the inherent lack of discipline.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

All Saints’ Pastoral Center Established

The Rev. Christopher Jambor, rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, has announced the establishment of the All Saints’ Pastoral Center. It will be housed at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 5001 Crestline Road, Fort Worth.

The center is a response to the concern for isolated and/or estranged Episcopalians throughout the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth who have pastoral/sacramental needs.

The Pastoral Center will be a central contact point for those with sacramental needs -- funerals, baptisms, eucharists, etc. – as well as for pastoral services such as hospital visits or visits to shut-ins.

It will be a resource point for clergy and for altar equipment for parishes throughout the diocese that have been temporarily displaced. It also will be in continued proactive contact with known Episcopalians throughout the diocese for encouragement and support.

The office will be staffed by Susan Reeves, who can be reached at All Saints' Monday through Friday, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. She can be reached by email at and by phone at 817-732-1424, ext. 236. She will be checking email and voicemail when she is not in the office.

Tidings of Joy

This is the text of the quarter-page ad that ran today in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, first section A, page 9A.

Newspaper ads are the most efficient way to reach isolated Episcopalians in our far-flung diocese. It is also the most expensive way. Anyone wanting to support future ads for the reorganized diocese can make contributions here .

The reorganized diocese is growing daily as more Episcopalians begin to find each other. Please pray for us.



The Episcopal Church STILL Welcomes You!

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is still a part of the Episcopal Church, the Anglican presence in the United States of America, despite the recent decision of some to affiliate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Episcopalians continue to carry out the mission of the Church – to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. We invite you to worship with Episcopalians at these locations.

All Saints’ Episcopal Church
5001 Crestline Road • Fort Worth, TX 76107 • Ph: 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

The Episcopal Church of All Saints-Wichita Falls
The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd-Wichita Falls
jointly holding services in the chapel at First Presbyterian Church
3601 Taft Blvd, • Wichita Falls, TX • Ph: 940-767-3199
11:15 a.m.– Holy Eucharist

Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd (USA)-Granbury
holding services at The Wednesday Women’s Club
306 Travis Street • Granbury, TX • Ph: 817-326-3464
9:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist

The Episcopal Church in Parker County
comprised of members from
St. Francis, All Saints-Weatherford and Holy Apostles Churches
jointly holding services at McCall Elementary School
400 Scenic Trail • Willow Park, TX • Ph: 817-637-1820
10:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church
holding services at Theatre Arlington
305 W. Main • Arlington, TX • Ph: 817-274-0356
9:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist

St. Christopher Episcopal Church
3550 Southwest Loop 820 • Fort Worth, TX 76133 • Ph: 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 • Ph: 254-968-6949
8:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite I
10:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II

St. Luke's in the Meadow Episcopal Church
4301 Meadowbrook Drive • Fort Worth, TX 76103 • Ph: 817-534-4925
10:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II

St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church
223 Pearson Lane • Keller, TX 76248 • Ph: 817-431-2396
(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

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church-Hurst
holding services at Oak Crest Woman’s Club
1616 Precinct Line Rd. • Hurst, TX 817 • Ph: 817-882-3911
10:15 a.m. – Holy Eucharist

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church-Wichita Falls
5023 Lindale Dr.• Wichita Falls • Texas 76310 • 940.692.3982
10:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist

Trinity Episcopal Church
3401 Bellaire Drive So. • Ft. Worth, TX 76109 • Ph: 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

Visit the Steering Committee website for news updates and contact information for the continuing diocese and its congregations.
Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Pastoral Assistant to Reorganizing Dioceses named

From Episcopal News Service:
December 01, 2008
The Ven. Richard Cluett named to new post

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has named the Venerable Richard I. Cluett as Pastoral Assistant to Reorganizing Dioceses. In this capacity, Cluett is a member of the staff of Bishop Clay Matthews in the Office of Pastoral Development.

In this new position, Cluett, who hails from the Diocese of Bethlehem, will provide pastoral guidance and assistance to dioceses of the Episcopal Church who are in the process of reorganizing and reconstituting.

“I am honored to be named by the Presiding Bishop to this new ministry,” Cluett said on his December 1 announcement. “I look forward to working with the clergy and laity of our dioceses through their transitions.”

Prior to retirement in June 2004, Cluett was responsible for the coordination and oversight of ministry and administration for the Diocese of Bethlehem, which is comprised of 14 counties in northeastern Pennsylvania. For 20 years he worked with parishes in planning, problem solving, and ministry development; with clergy in vocational and professional development; with persons in the ordination process; and with the diocesan staff, committees and boards that have responsibility for diocesan life and ministry.

He also served as Interim Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, PA, diocesan chaplain to Retired Clergy and Families, Bishop’s Representative for World Mission, and is currently a Conference Leader and Consultant for The CREDO Institute, Memphis, TN.

He is a graduate of the Berkshire School, Sheffield, MA, Hobart College, Geneva, NY, and Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, VA. Ordained a priest in 1971, he served churches in the Dioceses of Bethlehem, Rochester and Washington D.C. Among his many activities, he was a deputy to six General Conventions and was a member of the Benefits Review Advisory Committee of the Church Pension Fund and the churchwide Standing Commission on Ministry Development

He and his wife Patricia are the parents of three adult children.
Read it all here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

An analysis of the Southern Cone

There is much interest in the Southern Cone in parts of Fort Worth these days. I thought it might be helpful to everyone to see how Dave Walker -- of -- analyzed the situation.

I find this very helpful in keeping things in perspective. Please note the sea monster off the eastern coast -- well, it's either a sea monster or the largest earthworm I've ever seen. I hope that boatload of "incoming dioceses" is paying attention to the hazards of their journey.

Dave has a wealth of other observations about "church," so visit his web site here. And even though Dave was the official cartoonist of the Lambeth Conference -- and the fact that the Lambeth Conference even HAD an official cartoonist may be the most hopeful thing I've heard about the Anglican Communion in a long time -- Dave has NOT let it go to his head. He remains his usual wonderfully observant irreverent self.