Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bp. Iker Explains It All

Bishop Iker lays out his agenda very clearly in this speech.

You can listen to the speech for yourself on the Internet at
Scroll down to Bp. Iker's photo and click on it.

[I have added the emphasis in the text below].

He makes it clear that it is indeed, all about Bp. Katharine Jefferts Schori being a woman. This is in direct contradiction to all the speakers at last year's diocesan convention in Fort Worth who kept assuring everyone that the request for alternate primatial oversight wasn't because she was a woman, it was because of her "theological views."

He also narrows it down as to where he plans to "take the diocese."

"Our plan is not only to disassociate, then, from The Episcopal Church, but to officially, constitutionally re-affiliate with anexisting orthodox Province of the communion that does not ordain women to the priesthood. These conversations are very far along but cannot be announced until the Province that is considering our appeal has made their final decision public."

Given that, as near as I can determine, these are the Anglican provinces Bishop Iker has to choose from, since they do not ordain women to any of the three Holy Orders (deacon, priest, bishop):

Central Africa, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Korea, Melanesia [may be ordaining women to the priesthood now, but can't confirm it], Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, and Southeast Asia.

These are the provinces that ordain women only to the diaconate:

Indian Ocean, Southern Cone (in South America), and Pakistan.

All the other Anglican provinces ordain women to the priesthood.

My money is on the Southern Cone, especially since Greg Venables, Archbishop of the Southern Cone, was the Bible teacher for the Network's Annual Council Meeting in late July in Bedford, a suburb of Fort Worth. More on that below.

Bishop Jack Iker’s Address to the Forward in Faith International Assembly in London

– October 20, 2007

Thank you very much for that welcome.

Madam Chairman, members of the Assembly, it’s a privilege to have this opportunity to briefly report on the state of affairs of Forward in Faith in North America.

I bring you warm greetings and assurances of our prayers and best wishes from all the members of Forward in Faith there, especially our national council and our president,Bishop Keith Ackerman.

I ask you to keep Bishop Keith in your prayers. As some of you may have heard, he has had some illness over the past year, some of it most recently related to high blood pressure, and he’s not able to be here to make this presentation himself, not because of his health but because he is presiding at his diocesan synod at this very time.

I’d like to make my report to you in two parts. First, I want to speak about the situation with the Forward in Faith dioceses and our relationship with The Episcopal Church. And then the second part of my report will deal with the Common Cause Partnership and the role that Forward in Faith plays in that new venture.

There are three Forward in Faith dioceses in the United States, and the three bishops of those dioceses have come to a common conclusion that we have no future in The Episcopal Church. Our conventions in those three dioceses, Fort Worth, Quincy, and San Joaquin, will be taking constitutional action to separate officially from TEC. Because it is a constitutional change, it must be passed at two successive annual conventions.

As you may know, the Diocese of San Joaquin passed on first reading their secession clauses last year, and they will take the second vote on the first Saturday of December. The Diocese of Quincy, which is in session now, will be taking their vote today, and before the day is out we should hear the results of that vote. And then my own Diocese of Fort Worth will be voting for our first reading on November 17th.

A fourth diocese in TEC is expected to take the same action to separate from The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Pittsburgh. In the Diocese of Pittsburgh, as you know, a diocese that ordains women to the priesthood, they are led by the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network and the Chairman of the Common Cause Partnership.

But for the Forward in Faith dioceses it cannot be any clearer that we have come to the end of the road in The Episcopal Church, and there is no future for us or for those who hold our theological position in TEC in the years ahead. The acceptance of women priests is now mandatory in every diocese.This means that none of the three existing Forward in Faith dioceses will be able to secure the consecration of a new, orthodox Bishop-elect. I think each of the three dioceses will elect an orthodox successor, but in our system we have to have the approval of the majority of the Standing Committees of the other dioceses and a majority of the bishops of The Episcopal Church to proceed with the consecration, and that simply is not going to happen.

Therefore, rather than waiting until it becomes time to attempt to replace an orthodox bishop and have it turned down, we’ve decided to take our affairs into our own hands and to secure our own future by separating from the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and governance by the dictates of the General Convention.

As you know, the election of a woman to the office of Presiding Bishop in The Episcopal Church makes our situation clearly untenable. The day after her election an appeal was made on the floor of the House of Bishops for an arrangement called Alternative Primatial Oversight, something that had not been used before because there had been no need of it before, but a way forward that would allow Forward in Faith bishops, priests, laity to remain in The Episcopal Church while under the spiritual coverage and primatial leadership of an orthodox primate of the Anglican Communion.

Without rehearsing what has gone on over the last year and a quarter about that appeal, I can simply say we believe that the appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight has been rejected. The primates put forward a very workable plan that we were willing to go along with when they met at Dar es Salaam, but the bishops of The Episcopal Church overwhelmingly rejected that, encouraged the Executive Council to do the same and have made no alternative suggestion.

APO, as far as we are concerned, as a part of The Episcopal Church, is dead, therefore we must seek a primatial relationship outside ECUSA.

The second thing that hangs over us, of course, is not just a female Presiding Bishop but the overwhelming rejection of the requests of the Windsor Report made of The Episcopal Church whereby we can move towards reconciliation in the life of the communion. It is our contention that The Episcopal Church has decided to walk away from the Anglican Communion and our Forward in Faith dioceses will walk with the Anglican Communion.

Our plan is not only to disassociate, then, from The Episcopal Church, but to officially, constitutionally re-affiliate with an existing orthodox Province of the communion that does not ordain women to the priesthood. These conversations are very far along but cannot be announced until the Province that is considering our appeal has made their final decision public.

Realignment is taking place in the Anglican Communion. It took place in the United States first with parishes that could not in conscience remain in The Episcopal Church and affiliated with overseas dioceses, and now it is taking place as four dioceses believe that realignment calls for us to leave The Episcopal Church structure officially and become a part of another Province.

What will be the response of The Episcopal Church? We believe it will be very much like the response they have made to congregations that have made the decision to leave. They’ve taken them to court. They’ve sued them in civil courts. They’ve deposed the priests, declared the parishes vacant and have claimed title to the property. It’s a messy affair. It’s being worked though the courts, but it will reach another level of controversy when entire dioceses attempt to separate from The Episcopal Church.

The official structure has made itself clear what they will attempt to do in those cases. They will declare those sees vacant, depose the bishops and call a convention of those faithful to the General Convention teaching and practice to reconstitute what they call continuing dioceses.

The second part of the report I want to make to you has to do with the Common Cause Partnership. This began in discussions that started, I suppose, two or three years ago in what was called the Common Cause Roundtable. It reached a new level at the end of September, when we formed a College of Bishops.

The Common Cause Partnership has its origins in two things. One, a resolution of the Lambeth Conference in 1998 ( Resolution 4.11) which spoke about the place of the continuing churches in the Anglican world. It called upon bishops of the Anglican Communion “to initiate and maintain dialogue with such groups with a view to the reconciliation of all who own the Anglican tradition.”

Secondly, it has an origin in an appeal from the primates of the Global South who said to bishops in the United States,“There are too many different conservative groups, too many different bodies. You need to come together and speak with a unified voice so that we can speak to one group rather than several different groups.”

So Common Cause is an effort to bring together those who own the Anglican way in united voice to speak to the rest of the communion. It’s a gathering the fragments, planning for a united witness in the future.

The significance of the agreement entered into in late September of this year is that Anglican bishops from ten different jurisdictions and organizations took the first steps toward establishing “a new ecclesiastical structure in North America,” which comes from the Communiqué from the Global South primates issued in Kigali in the year 2006.

Meeting in Pittsburgh at the end of September, representing over 600 congregations, 51 bishops organized themselves as a College of Bishops that will meet together every six months for consultation. We have adopted a time line leading to a constitutional convention sometime in 2009, the purpose of which would be to form an orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion in North America.

Members of the Common Cause Partnership, in case you don’t know, include the Anglican Communion Network, Forward in Faith, CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, an initiative coming out of the Nigerian province), AMiA (the Anglican Mission in America, an initiative coming out of the province of Rwanda), APA (the Anglican Province of America), and the Reformed Episcopal Church (which broke from The Episcopal Church in the 19th century).

Of those organizations only some of the dioceses in the Anglican Communion Network ordain women to the priesthood. New participants in the Common Cause Partnership have been added by the recent consecrations of American bishops to serve Kenyan and Ugandan congregations located in the United States. Other participants come from the Anglican Communion Network in Canada.

In closing, I’d like to say three things which are of particular interest to Forward in Faith in the United Kingdom as Forward in Faith in North America participates with our Common Cause partners. The first is to say that we will be in full communion with only those Common Cause partners which do not ordain women or receive ordained women into the priesthood. Our cooperation with the bodies that do so cannot extend to communio in sacris but we will cooperate with them in every way possible in a state of continuing impaired communion.

The second point is to say that leaders of the Anglican Communion Network and the Common Cause Partnership are fully committed to undertaking a substantial theological study of the question of the ordination of women, once a structure is in place and we have relatively settled in.

We will have a chance, in other words, to bring those who now accept this innovation to reconsideration of their decision for the future.

And third, and last, in the new Common Cause Partnership or in a restructured orthodox Province in North America, Forward in Faith dioceses will be free, first, to maintain our own line of episcopal succession; secondly to select, form, ordain and deploy our own ordinands; third, to reject any decisions of the Partnership that are contrary to our theological position; and fourth, to pursue our own ecumenical relationships.

So there are some challenging months and a couple of years ahead of us in Forward in Faith. We ask for your prayers as we try to take a bold and courageous stand to uphold and maintain the catholic faith and order of the Church and to pass on a secure future to our children and our grandchildren.

Thank you very much


Of course, we now know that the Diocese of Quincy did NOT take action to separate from TEC at its convention.

Here's some history of the Province of the Southern Cone from the Anglican Communion web site: "British immigrants brought Anglicanism to South America during the nineteenth century. The South American Missionary Society continues to work among indigenous peoples. In 1974, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave over his metropolitical authority for the dioceses of the Southern Cone and, in 1981, the new Province was formed. It includes Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay."

Wikipedia reports, "The province currently has 27,000 members thinly spread across the nations of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, which makes it one of the smallest provinces in the Anglican Communion in terms of numbers, although one of the largest in geographical extent. It has seven bishops - about one bishop per 4,000 people. However, it has augmented its membership by recruiting conservative American parishes who wish to opt out of their national church whilst retaining a link with the Anglican Communion. This has caused tensions within the Anglican Communion.

"Presiding Bishop Venables has been outspoken in support of a conservative position on homosexuality and other issues. Under his leadership, the province refused to participate in the listening process mandated by Lambeth Conference resolution 1.10, stating that it was 'small with few resources and does not have time'. It indicated concern for conservative heterosexuals, whom it described as 'members of the Communion who have been pastorally abused by those who foist a sexual political agenda upon them.'"

It says this about the Right Reverend Frank Lyons of the Diocese of Bolivia -- "A 1976 graduate of Wheaton College, Wheaton Ill USA; a conservative evangelical Christian college in the near Chicago. As Bishop of Bolivia the Right Reverend Lyons oversees some 35 churches in the United States who have left the Episcopal Church USA. Bishop Lyons was sent to Bolivia as a missionary by South American Missions Society. He was consecrated bishop in 2001."

And ENS reported in 2006 -- " The Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, during its November 6-11, 2006, Provincial Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, unanimously renewed the position that it remains in impaired communion with the Episcopal Church and supported 'our Primate and other Primates who are overseeing the development of a new ecclesial structure in the United States."'

"Southern Cone Primate Gregory Venables has been a leading opponent to actions taken by provinces that endorse the full inclusion of gay and lesbian members in all levels of the church.

"Signed by Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia, a statement released at the end of the Buenos Aires meeting said that the Episcopal Church, at its 75th General Convention, 'did not responsibly address the minimal recommendations of the Windsor Report' and that various dioceses and the new Presiding Bishop 'hold a position concerning human sexuality that stands in open contradiction to Lambeth 1998 resolution I.10 and the historic teaching of the Church.' As a result, 'we renew our conviction that the Province of the Southern Cone of the Americas remains in impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. ' "

As you can see, Venables and Iker are using the same play book.


Lisa Fox said...

Is it just me? or are others intrigued by the notion that +Iker would seek out the only other "white guys" in the Global South? Heterosexism, homophobia, misogyny, and racism -- They're all cut from the same cloth that Iker wears so proudly.

Bryan said...

I think Southern Cone is the obvious choice, too. It's a closer cultural match than any of the other options. Spanish is spoken by some Episcopalians, some whole congregations of our church, and by millions scattered across the whole country. I predict they'll sell this choice in part as a way for doing major evangelism in the Spanish-speaking communities of the U.S.

The other thing I find noteworthy is that the Common Cause partners are now on notice that the price of having all those groups that oppose women's ordination in the coalition is that they're going to have to give a lot of time and energy, right out of the starting box, to a re-examination of what some of them long ago accepted and practice. They're going to have to let the minority tie them up in wrangling over whether most of them having been doing a very bad thing that they must now repent. Instead of whatever they might have imagined their new and orthodox church was going to do. And they know it won't be pretty, because they've been fighting together and know each other well.

It can't be a cheerful thought for Bob Duncan or the rest, for the ordained women in their dioceses, or the people of those dioceses--women and men alike.