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


Anonymous said...

Great reports Katie, thanks for putting this together. It is important to remember that those wanting to remain Episcopalian should go to the churches you cite above and not those churches that that have gone to the southern cone.

Muthah+ said...

I am hearing more energy from Ft.W than I have heard in the past 20 years!

Mary Beth said...

God is good! What wonderful news.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

This is so very exciting, Katie. I rejoice with you and pray to shield you all in your tentative but joy.

I can't help but think that it is the joy that the first disciples knew.