Saturday, March 28, 2009

A much-needed prayer

This litany was written by the Rev'd Joseph A. Harmon, an African American priest in New Jersey.

For more than a generation, people in THIS diocese have been carefully tutored in heterosexism and homophobia has been nurtured by people who call themselves spiritual leaders. Such teaching has terrible consequences for our LGBT sisters and brothers in Christ.

But it also has terrible consequences for those who teach such things, for it is a violation of our Baptismal Covenant. It causes parish leaders to cater to the homophobia of those who threaten to leave if all God's people are invited to God's Table. Worse, it tempts people into thinking they have the power to decide who is within the circle of God's love and who is not.

If ever there was a prayer needed in this diocese, this is it.
A Litany for Healing Homophobia


Sometimes it is too easy for us to forget the oppression that we create when we fail to recognize those who may be different from us as our sisters and brothers. Today, let us pray that each of us individually, our church, our community and our world, may be healed of homophobia's oppression so that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people may live with dignity and respect, in safety and wholeness. May we remember and not forget God's call to reconciliation.

Leader: O God, when we pray, help us to remember. Help us to remember those we would rather not remember, those we would rather not see, those we would rather not love, and those we would rather not accept.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That you created us in your image and that all that you created is good.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That you call us to be sisters and brothers of Christ and of one another.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That we have not readily welcomed all our sisters and brothers, especially those who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: When we hear our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender sisters and brothers called foul names that we should speak up to stop such abuse.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: When we hear of people brutalized and murdered because others perceive them to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender that they are children of God, worthy of dignity and respect.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That there are still countries around the globe where Gay and Lesbian people receive the death penalty just for being Gay and Lesbian.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That millions of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people are still closeted within faith communities that do not treat them with value, respect and acceptance.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That every year, Lesbian and Gay-friendly churches are still targets of vandalism and hate crimes based on homophobia.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That homophobia contributes to higher rates of suicide in Lesbian and Gay teens, higher rates of Lesbian and Gay homelessness, lower wages for Lesbians, and employment and housing difficulties for Lesbian and Gay people.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That homophobia distorts the spiritual message of God's love for all people.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That we can do something to end homophobia by opening our hearts and minds to see Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people as our sisters and brothers.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: That we can participate in healing our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities and churches of homophobia by creating a space where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people may find safety, respect and acceptance.

People: Help us to remember, O God.

Leader: And now, aloud or silently in our hearts, let us name our own needs and concerns and those needs and concerns, those individuals and groups, who have asked our prayers (the congregation is encouraged to speak their prayers and intentions at this time).

Gracious and loving God, who hates nothing that you create and desires that all should come to know your love: help us to remember the things that we have heard this day, the things that your Holy Spirit teaches us, and those things that we know to be right and just.

Make us ambassadors of your reconciling goodness as we work to heal the oppression of homophobia and the scars it has inflicted upon so many individuals and families, institutions and communities.

Empower us to reach out in love to all people, including our sisters and brothers that are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. We ask this through Jesus the Christ, who himself was despised and rejected and by whose wounds we are healed.


Copyright © 2009 by the Rev'd Joseph A. Harmon,
Pastor, Church of the Incarnation, Jersey City, NJ.
Permission freely granted for liturgical use, with attribution. [And permission was granted for use on this blog.]

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Brite Divinity School adds Episcopal Studies Program

Below is an announcement of great good news for Episcopalians in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. It is not only an opportunity for lay people to pursue theological study, it also offers a local place for Episcopalians to study for ordination to the priesthood.

But perhaps even more important, it is deeply symbolic of our diocese's move out of isolation and into a healthier relationship with our community as well as with our larger church. That is worth celebrating.


Brite Divinity School at TCU will add Episcopal Studies Program in fall 2009

FORT WORTH, TX (March 26, 2009) — Brite Divinity School has announced the establishment of an Episcopal Studies Program rooted in classical Anglican tradition.

The Episcopal Studies Program will begin on Aug. 24 with the opening of the fall 2009 semester.

The Rev. Fred Barber, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, has been named part-time acting director of the new program, which will allow candidates for the Episcopal priesthood to complete the Master of Divinity in preparation for ordination without leaving North Texas. The program has the enthusiastic support of the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. (Ted) Gulick, Jr., provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. It will follow the model of the other denominational studies programs at Brite.

Brite is affiliated with Texas Christian University and related to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). President Dr. Newell Williams notes that the school has long been committed to serving the whole church. In addition to enrolling students from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Brite offers specialized programs in Baptist Studies, Presbyterian Studies and United Methodist Studies. Each denominational studies program has a program director that helps students maintain connections to their denomination. Brite also offers courses addressing distinctive traditions and contemporary issues of African American, Hispanic and Asian American faith communities, provides courses in Jewish Studies and sponsors a Catholic lecture series.

The Episcopal Studies Program will be funded by individual donors.

For more information, contact the Dean’s office at Brite Divinity School, 817-257-7577.

The Episcopal Church wins again

[UPDATED. See below.]

"While freedom of religion recognizes the right of any faction within a church to leave that church whenever they choose, the trust that has been created through past generations of members of Grace Church and St. Stephen's prohibits the departing parish members from taking the property with them.” Colorado District Court Judge Larry Schwartz


Here's the news of another victory for the Episcopal Church in a dispute over property ownership. You can also read it here:

Statement Regarding March 24 El Paso County District Court Ruling

The Bishop and Diocese of Colorado, and the more than 500 members of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church rejoice today that the members of the Episcopal parish will be returning to their church home as a result of a decision issued by District Court Judge Larry Schwartz. In that ruling, Judge Schwartz found that the historic property is held in trust for the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church and ordered the breakaway congregation that wrongfully took possession of the property two years ago to leave. Judge Schwartz' opinion states:

“I find and conclude that, like [Bishop and Diocese of Colo. v. Mote, 716 P.2d 85 (Colo. 1986)], the founding documents, various bylaws, relevant canons of the general church and consistent parish loyalty to the diocese over most of its 135 year existence demonstrate a unity of purpose on the part of the parish and of the general church that reflects the intent that all property held by the parish would be dedicated to and utilized for the advancement of the work of [the Episcopal Church of the United States of America]. While freedom of religion recognizes the right of any faction within a church to leave that church whenever they choose, the trust that has been created through past generations of members of Grace Church and St. Stephen's prohibits the departing parish members from taking the property with them.”

The Bishop of Colorado, the Rt. Rev. Robert J. O’Neill expressed satisfaction with the court’s decision, saying, “This outcome honors the history of Grace and St. Stephen’s as an Episcopal parish, and of the Episcopal Church in Colorado Springs. We are extremely pleased that present and future generations of Episcopalians in the Colorado Springs community will continue to worship on Tejon Street.”

"We're coming home!” said Lynn L. Olney, senior warden of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, "and we invite all our friends to come home with us. During the past two years of exile, our parish congregation has shown the meaning of a faith community. Now, we're coming home!”

“We are very pleased that the judge was persuaded by the significant legal precedent that, while individual members and even clergy may leave a church, they may not take church property with them,” said Larry Hitt, chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese. “Today’s ruling is consistent with the outcome of similar cases throughout the country, almost all of which have held that breakaway groups do not have the right to take away church property,” Hitt added.

Martin Nussbaum, lead attorney for the Episcopal Diocese and Parish said, “We are very pleased. The District Court's decision affirms the First Amendment freedom of churches to define their own governance and property relationships. It is difficult to imagine a much more important constitutional freedom for people of faith in this country.”

The Rev. Martin Pearsall, priest in residence at Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church remarked that “These past two years have been a time of challenge for the people of Grace Episcopal, and we have grown in faith, in love and in service to the community. We are thankful that the court has returned our property to us, and we are eager to resume our worship and ministry at our historic facility.”

He went on to say, “There are no winners here, just lots of wounded faithful people. It will be our task and responsibility in the months ahead to strive for healing and to reach out into the community.”

The 500 members of the Episcopal congregation have been worshipping at nearby First Christian Church for nearly two years, while the case has worked its way through the court. “We cannot express enough gratitude to our brothers and sisters at First Christian for their continued hospitality and genuine fellowship,” Olney said.

The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado comprises 115 congregations and diocesan institutions all over the state, and is part of The Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church continues to be one of the largest congregations in the diocese.
# # #

Read more at Eiscopal Cafe here and here.

Let those who have ears to hear, hear.

From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Judge orders Anglican parish to vacate Grace church by April 3
March 25, 2009 - 11:21 AM

A judge on Wednesday ordered the Anglican parish that's been meeting at Grace Church, 631 N. Tejon St., to vacate the building by April 3 at 5 p.m., setting the stage for the exiled Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal parish to hold its first service in the gothic church on Palm Sunday.

Judge Larry Schwartz also ordered the Anglican parish priest, Donald Armstrong, to vacate the rectory, where he lives on Electra Drive in the Skyline Way area, by May 8. This revised the original order issued on Tuesday, which stated that Armstrong would have to vacate by April 1.

The motion hearing in Fourth Judicial Court was held to resolve issues involving transition of the parishes into and out of Grace Church and those involving security of the $17 million property, among other issues. Schwartz urged both sides to work together to get through this transition. "If we act like adults, this can all be resolved," he said.

Read it all here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Violence in the House of God

When was the last time your parish talked about family violence?

I suspect it never has.

My education on the subject began in my early 20s. I was a very young reporter when I met the person who opened my eyes to that grim reality.

She was my age -- 22 -- and every part of her body that was visible was black and blue. Three of her teeth had been knocked out. Part of her ear had been bitten off. Her right arm was broken as were three ribs. She didn't know yet if the doctors had been able to save the vision in her left eye, which was still covered with heavy bandages.

Who had beaten this woman so horribly?

It was her husband of six months, the man who said he loved her. After her husband had slapped her the first time, she had gone for help and advice to the minister who had married them. He told her to "examine her conscience" to see if she was being "properly submissive" to her husband. When she went back after the third beating, he scolded her for not trying hard enough to please her husband. When she got out of the hospital after this last beating, she didn't bother to call her minister. Nor did she ever go back to church. When I saw her a few years ago, she was still angry and bitter at "Christians."

My friend who introduced me to this woman had said only that I needed to hear her story, because she was only one of the hundreds of battered women each year who came into the emergency room where my friend worked.

Battered women? I had never heard that term before, but as I encountered this incarnation of the term I was shocked into speechlessness.

To my shame, the first question I managed to ask her was, 'What did you do to make him so angry?"

Essentially I was asking what she had done to deserve such a beating.

The truth is, of course, that she had nothing to "deserve" that beating. She had just been a convenient target for her husband's frustration, anger and control issues.

My encounter with her began my education into the dark and secret world of family violence, a world in which women are targets of abuse ranging from verbal slurs and threats to slaps to a brutality so horrible that veteran police officers often throw up at the sight of the victims.

Battering is the single largest cause of injury to women, more than muggings, rapes and car wrecks. Domestic violence is the largest cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44. Women are more often the victims of domestic violence than victims of burglary, muggings, or other physical crimes combined. Forty-two percent of murdered women are killed by their intimate male partners.

When I began my education, these women were often abandoned by their families [you made your bed, you lie in it], by law enforcement [what did you do to make him so mad?], by the court system [DAs routinely refused to prosecute the man unless the woman agreed to divorce him], and perhaps most painfully, by their churches. Pastors, priests, rabbis and ministers usually counseled these women to "forgive" their husbands, and urged them to continue to "submit" to the very men who were beating them.

Since that encounter in the early 1970s, the treatment of victims of family violence has vastly improved, largely due to the efforts of women's groups. Shelters now exist where women can find safety for themselves and their children while they put their lives back together. Police officers are trained in the realities of domestic violence. Laws have been improved and prosecutors and the courts have vastly the changed the way these women are treated.

Men have begun to realize their responsibilities in combating family violence. And slowly, much too slowly, the mainstream media has begun to deal with the issue.

The one place that's been the slowest to deal with this issue? That would be the religious community.

We saw how things had improved in the media when rapper Chris Brown severely beat up his girlfriend, singer Rihanna. It was reported as a crime, not as a lover's spat among celebrities. And when Rihanna decided to continue the relationship, many stars, including Oprah, cautioned her that "he will beat you again." Many talk shows discussed the issues of family violence in depth.

How many sermons did you hear about it? How many adult forums were held at churches on the issue of family violence? How many youth groups discussed it?

Why should churches be concerned? Because real life ordinary women and way too many teen-aged girls -- part of the Body of Christ -- are being beaten up in increasing numbers by men who say they love them. And way too often these men use the Bible as justification for their violence.

And as the economy worsens, family violence is on the rise.

Our local paper reported that area shelters and family violence hot lines have seen demand rise significantly in recent months.

"I don't know that I've ever seen a spike like this, " the Star-Telegram quoted Mary Lee Hafley, CEO of SafeHaven of Tarrant County. Of the 29 shelters the paper surveyed statewide, 83 percent reported an increase in hot line calls and admittance to shelters. The survey was funded by the Allstate Foundation.

"Our emergency rooms, our shelters, our hot lines and our law enforcement folks started seeing a higher number of incidents of domestic violence," the paper quoted Jane-marie Clark of the Foundation as saying. She also said that abusers are becoming more violent and that fatalities are increasing.

In all of last year, only seven of the county's 50 homicides involved domestic violence, the paper reported. So far this year, of the 11 homicides in Tarrant County, six have involved domestic violence.

And this is in a state that hasn't been as hard hit by the recession as have others.

This increase is also coming at a time when shelters and hot lines have seen significant drops in donations. Many are having to reduce staff at shelters, which reduces the number of women they can house. And hot lines are cutting staff as well.

When a woman is turned away from a shelter, or can't get through to a hot line, it isn't just an inconvenience. It can be a matter of life and death.

The most dangerous time for a girl or a woman in an abusive relationship is when she tries to leave it.

If she can't get into a safe place where he can't find her, she will almost certainly end up dead.

How many times have you read a variation on this headline -- "Man Kills Estranged Wife [or Girlfriend]"? We all read story after story of dead women and girls, killed by the men who were abusing them.

What can your church do?

-- Make sure your clergy have received training in how to spot signs of family violence. Local shelters can help arrange such training. This training will also help clergy deal pastorally with the victims AND the abusers. And just because the abuser is one of the big donors to the parish is NOT a reason to turn a blind eye.

-- Have adult forums on family violence. It happens in the "best" and most prosperous families as well as the poorest, so don't think your parish is immune just because your congregation is well-off.

-- Have counselors in to talk with the youth of the parish about date rape and other forms of violence. Why should you do this? Read Ten Facts About Teen Dating Violence here. Here are some of the shocking facts they report:

* Each year approximately one in four adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
* Approximately one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
* Nearly 80% of girls who have been victims of physical abuse in their dating relationships continue to date the abuser. [Shades of Rihanna and Chris Brown.]
* Nearly 20% of teen girls who have been in a relationship said that their boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm in the event of a break-up.

* Nearly 70% of young women who have been raped knew their rapist; the perpetrator was or had been a boyfriend, friend, or casual acquaintance.
* The majority of teen dating abuse occurs in the home of one of the partners.
* Dating violence among their peers is reported by 54% of high school students.

Have the girls meet separately from the boys. And have some much-admired men in to talk to the boys about how real men don't beat up women.

-- Preach and teach about this. The Bible has been used for centuries to oppress women and still is being used today to teach women that "good" women submit to their husbands -- even if those husbands are beating them.

-- Adopt a local shelter as one of your outreach ministries. Now more than ever, they need our money and time.

The Church has great deal of women's blood on its hands.

It's time for the Church to help change this.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blossoms in the rain

It's a rainy day in Fort Worth -- been rainy all week, much to the joy of all of us in this drought-plagued part of Texas. Even though all this rain won't be enough to break the drought, it certainly helps!

The land is loving it. With every drop that falls it seems another plant bursts into bloom. Nature is not the slightest bit interested in the fact that we are in the midst of Lent. She's sending out heralds of Easter everywhere -- Texas and Oklahoma Redbuds covered with an almost embarrassing array of blooms, iris in all colors, forsythia so brightly yellow that it seems sunny even on the grayest of days.

In my garden the Lady Banks rose, the Carolina jasmine [or jessamine] and the Mexican plum tree have conspired to produce a ridiculously colorful show, as you can see below.

Many of us in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth share nature's problem. Joy keeps leaking into our keeping of Lent. Not that Lent needs to be all gray and dour -- indeed some of the most powerful Lenten experiences I have had in my life have involved a wonderful breaking through into a new understanding of God's love and forgiveness, always an experience of joy.

All the same, I'm not sure that giddy joy is what one expects during Lent. But that is indeed what we keep encountering here in Fort Worth.

When Gayland and I arrived a bit late for the first of our diocesan Lenten series, this one featuring the Rev. Mary Earle, we walked into St. Christophers' parish hall and into such a joyful noise we both started laughing. The room was FILLED with talking, laughing, smiling, hugging Episcopalians. I turned to Gayland and said, "Isn't this grand? I can't remember a time when I walked into a diocesan event and saw so many smiling people."

Attendance at the Lenten Series has remained good. Last week we had our own Sam McClain, rector of St. Luke's in Stephenville, and tonight the Rev. Terry Martin, from the office of evangelism at the Church Center will speak. He celebrates and preaches tomorrow at St.Luke's Fort Worth.

St. Christophers is THE place to BE, folks, on Saturday nights. Come at 5 to have soup and salad and to get loved on, then at 6 listen to the speaker and at 7 we'll finish with Compline. You can make a reservation here. It's fun to meet Episcopalians from other parishes.

Here's a short parish update.

Here is what the Episcopalians of St. Anne's wrote this week:


Hi There -

As you may have heard, St. Anne's Episcopal Church continues within the Ft. Worth diocese of The Episcopal Church. We are a happy group of parishioners who worship together at least once a month in someone's home with a priest presiding. A pot luck lunch and social follows our service. Our next service will be at 10AM on Sunday, March 22, at Bob & Linda Johnson's home, phone number 817-236-5523. Father Courtland Moore, Canon to the Ordinary, will preside. Please come. Bring your friends.

On a personal note.....I have experienced a renewed joy with our ancient faith - a faith where all are truly welcomed to the unending love, mercy and saving grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are a part of a much larger church. People quite literally around the world have been praying for us. I have worshipped at other parishes, and attended diocesan events - and there is a great happiness and sense of community and purpose. Currently on Saturday's, there is an awesome Lenten series of soup and social, featuring a different guest speaker every week, followed by evening prayer at St. Christophers. You can find more information at the diocese web site: While you are at the web site, be sure to read about our new Bishop The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. "Ted" Gulick Jr. His visitation schedule is on the web site - and you simply must hear him preach!

We hope you will come and experience what a small faith community is all about.

Blessings to All!

St. Anne's Episcopal Church
On Sunday I worshipped with St. Simon's, a historically African American parish in the diocese. They are using St. Christophers lovely new chapel for their services. But now they have a problem -- they are outgrowing the space!

When I worshipped with them a couple of months ago, there were 15 people at the service. Sunday there were about 43 to 45.

What have they done that accounts for this growth? They have been happy Episcopalians, worshipping God, loving one another, and reaching out to those in need.

St. Stephens in Hurst is helping Christ the King as it gets established in its new worship space at St. Giles Presbyterian Church on Chapin Road. And St. Elisabeth's is reaching out to St. Anne's.

The Episcopalians in Wichita Falls are having their own Lenten Series and happily worshipping and doing ministry, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church meeting in the Chapel of United Regional Hospital, 8th Street Campus; and St. Stephens in its own building.

Bp. Ted Gulick continues his visits around the diocese. His schedule is available here. Come meet him and listen to him preach.

Wonderful things are happening here as we worship and seek to carry out God's mission as the Episcopal Church in this part of North Texas.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The "T" in LGBT

The "T" in LGBT stands for Transgender -- and it's a group that even the L, G and B [Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual] segments of that acronym often are uncomfortable with.

Here is how GLAAD -- Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation -- defines terms dealing with this issue:

Transgender -An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.

Transsexual (also Transexual) -An older term which originated in the medical and psychological communities. Many transgender people prefer the term "transgender" to "transsexual." Some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves. However, unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term, and many transgender people do not identify as transsexual. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.

Transition -Altering one's birth sex is not a one-step procedure; it is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time. Transition includes some or all of the following cultural, legal and medical adjustments: telling one's family, friends, and/or co-workers; changing one's name and/or sex on legal documents; hormone therapy; and possibly (though not always) some form of surgical alteration

Intersex -Describing a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. There are many genetic, hormonal or anatomical variations which make a person's sex ambiguous (i.e., Klinefelter Syndrome, Adrenal Hyperplasia). Parents and medical professionals usually assign intersex infants a sex and perform surgical operations to conform the infant's body to that assignment. This practice has become increasingly controversial as intersex adults are speaking out against the practice, accusing doctors of genital mutilation.

I found these definitions very helpful this past spring and summer as I spent time with African Anglicans who are transgender.

Previously, I had met and spent time with a few American transgender folk and I confess I was usually uneasy at first. What should I call them? How should I act? Do I pretend I don't notice?

Notice all these questions are about ME, not them. That was my first clue that I was starting from the wrong place.

When a kind MTF transgender named Carol said gently, "You can ask me all the questions that are on your face," I was ashamed of how rude I was being and said so.

She smiled and said, "Let's talk." And we did. She was incredibly generous and patient with me as I fumbled around trying to figure out how to frame all the questions rolling around in my head.

She had known from childhood that she was a female, not a male, even though she was raised as a boy. She has had some surgery, but not all transgender folk do. This is especially true in Africa, where cost alone makes such surgery unobtainable for most people.

And yes, she thinks of herself as female and prefers to be addressed as a woman.

I am still learning about this part of God's incredibly diverse creation. But clearly some places are further along on this journey than am I if this television commercial for a bank in Argentina is any evidence.

Think what a difference it would make if we saw commercials like this more often.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Giving them a chance to do the right thing

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth writes to the former diocesan leadership. The letter can be seen here at Episcopal Cafe.

Here's what the news release said:

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth along with the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick Jr., provisional bishop of the diocese, have authorized a letter be sent to the attorneys working with the former bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, seeking a peaceful and orderly transfer of property and other assets still held by Bp. Iker and others working with him who have left the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Frederick Barber, president of the Standing Committee, said, “Our hope is to work together with those who left the Episcopal Church to make this period of transition as painless as possible in what has been a sad time for all of us. Those who left remain our brothers and sisters in Christ. But we also know we have a sacred responsibility to the Episcopalians of the diocese to be good stewards of property that is held in trust for generations of Episcopalians past and to come.”

The letter requests that Bp. Iker and those working with him “preserve and protect all church funds, records, and other real and personal property of the Diocese and its congregations currently under their control.”

The letter further requests that those who left the Episcopal Church “cease using the name of and claiming authority under the ’Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth’ and each of its congregations, e.g., ‘St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church,” as well as stop using the official logo and seals of the Diocese and its congregations. The letter points out that such use is not authorized, that it violates the rights of the existing diocese and “unnecessarily creates confusion among third parties.”

The letter, written by diocesan chancellor Kathleen Wells, is addressed to the Hon. William T. McGee Jr., the former chancellor of the diocese. He is understood to still be representing Bp. Iker and others who left the Episcopal Church. A copy also was sent to Rickey Brantley, former assistant chancellor of the diocese.

Wells requests a meeting be scheduled and writes, “I look forward to working with you and others to accomplish this transition and hope that we can offer a model to others in the manner that we effect these remaining details of this sad chapter in the life of our spiritual community.”

What will happen? Who knows? As a good friend said, I am not optimistic but I AM hopeful. Christians are always hopeful.