Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bp. Iker Calls Steering Committee "Vigilantes" and Idolaters

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has a story this morning on the formation of the Steering Committee.

Walt Cabe, the Steering Committee president, is quoted as saying, ""We might not agree on every position or action, but it's that diversity that has attracted us to remain Episcopalians. That's an important witness."

The story reported "Cabe said that the steering committee is a way for several Episcopal groups to bond and work with the national church to stay intact. He said it should not be categorized as liberal or conservative. 'We want a more tolerant attitude toward one another, a willingness to engage in informal adult conversation and eliminate fear and intimidation," he said."

The story also included Bp. Iker's response: "Fort Worth Diocese Bishop Jack Iker said in a statement Tuesday that the steering committee is 'a self-selected vigilante group whose only stated purpose is 'to remain in The Episcopal Church' no matter what -- and regardless of what TEC believes or practices. They espouse a blind institutional loyalty that borders on institutional idolatry.'"

Iker's statement is also quoted as saying "that the diocese's main purpose is to be faithful to biblical teaching and that the annual diocese convention, composed of elected lay and clergy leaders from every diocese congregation, is the only body that can act on behalf of the diocese."

The story also includes Suzanne Gill, the diocesan director of communications, describing the diocese's "generous" offer to let those parishes who want to stay in The Episcopal Church keep their property.

To which Cabe replied "property issues 'are at the heart of the tangible consequences' that might result if the diocese aligns with another province."

I'd say he hit that nail on the head.

This is indeed a strange place when Episcopalians are called vigilantes for seeking to keep an Episcopal diocese in The Episcopal Church, but a bishop who invites the primate of another province to come persuade our convention delegates to "move" to his province is called "Windsor compliant."

It's also sad that while Bp. Iker insists that those who oppose him do not vilify him, he is free to call members of his diocese idolaters and vigilantes.

Vigilante is an interesting word. It is Spanish for "watchman" or "watcher." It came into the English language through the Southwestern United States, where many Spanish words are used daily. The term has gotten a bad rap because some vigilante groups in our history have resorted to violence when those in positions of power failed to deliver the justice they thought was needed.

But mostly those in power don't like vigilante groups because they are "watchers." People who are walking on a thin line of legality particularly do not like "watchers." I think it is a very interesting choice of words by Bishop Iker.


Fr Craig said...

Katie - thanks for the updates. You all are in my prayers. It's no surprise that Iker et al demonize their opponents - all conservatives do this. When they are rationally and theologically shown to be wrong, but refuse to admit it, all they have left to do is to demean and villify their opponents. Same thing in politics. My only fear (and this is not directed at you!) is that the bloggers on the liberal side do not degenerate into this as well. On the whole, I don't think that we have. It's God's church - all will be well in time.

Anonymous said...

all conservatives do this

I am a moderate-to-conservative Episcopalian in the Diocese of Fort Worth. but one who absolutely HATES the Anglican Communion Network. I'll be honest. I wasn't thrilled about Gene Robinson becoming a bishop when it happened. But still, I love the Episcopal Church, and I don't care for the direction Bp Iker wants to us. I for one aim to stay with TEC. (And for the record, I'm totally okay with women's ordination.)

BUT... one really big reason I have not been eager to team up with the liberal side on all this is because I have often been pigeonholed by people like Fr. Craig here. Believe it or not, not all conservative Episcopalians are on the same page as Bp. Iker. I'm not.

Katie Sherrod said...

Doni M,
I totally agree with you. The whole point in NOT to pigeonhole people. We are all the baptized. I rejoice that you are remaining in The Episcopal Church.
The truth is, you are most likely among the majority here -- conservatives who love The Episcopal Church, who weren't thrilled about Gene Robinson, but who have no problem with women priests and who have no plans to leave.
God needs us all, and we all need each other.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment (and the post on my own blog as well).

Yes, I read your blog often. I read many blogs, both sides of the issue, although I rarely post anywhere anymore since last summer.

While I’ve spent much time straddling the fence concerning where I stand on the “liberal” or “conservative” side of the battle, I have always had a distrust of the Network and related groups.

I used to be a parishioner at St. Vincent’s Cathedral, and was still there when the GC2003 happened. After that it got really nasty, with things like asking us to sign petitions or to join the AAC.

When they dropped Griswold from the Prayers of the People, that was the last straw for me. I just thought, even if you don’t agree with Griswold, why stop praying for him? That’s stupid, and Jesus told us to pray for our enemies, and so forth and so on. I came home crying each week, and by early 2004, I left altogether.

After that, I spent most of the last few years at All Saints’, leaving late last year because it got harder and harder to commute back and forth as much as I was having to do so. But my years at All Saints’ were terrific, and I had (and still have) many friends there.

(Meanwhile, even though I left the Cathedral, I kept St. Vincent as my personal patron saint. I like him, even if I can’t stand being at the Cathedral... LOL)