"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Day Has Come--Sad But Necessary--Fort Worth Will Vote on Constitutional Changes

From our diocesan website (emphasis added):

Standing Committee sponsors proposed changes to diocesan Constitution and Canons

October 1, 2007

Today the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth announced its decision to sponsor five proposed amendments to the Diocesan Constitution and Canons for consideration at the diocese’s 25th Annual Convention on November 16 and 17, 2007. [RWF: The text of proposal D on page 7 of this document is what the Committee is proposing. It would replace the present "accession clause" that places our diocese under the authority of the General Convention of TEC.]

If adopted, the Diocese would take the first step needed to dissociate itself from the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and to begin the process of affiliating with another Province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Since constitutional changes do not go into effect until they are approved by two successive diocesan conventions, the second, ratifying vote would come at the annual meeting in 2008. Under the proposals, the Diocese would reaffirm its position as “a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, consisting of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces and regional churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.”

EXPLANATION from the Very Rev. Ryan S. Reed, President, on behalf of the Standing Committee

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has always been a traditional, conservative diocese, adhering to the beliefs and practices of the historic catholic faith. This means it has often found itself in conflict with decisions of the General Convention, which has continued a series of innovations in liturgy, theology, and the sacraments. For 25 years, the diocese has attempted to differentiate itself from the actions of the General Convention and its ongoing effort to revise and redefine the historic teaching of the Church on faith and morals, as revealed in Holy Scripture.

To submit to and comply with the current direction of the General Convention would mean for us to embrace a distortion of the Christian faith that our forebears would not recognize as a continuation of “the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship.” It would mean driving an even deeper wedge between us and the rest of the Anglican Communion, as well as other Christian bodies, who do not condone recent actions of the General Convention, but rather view them as schismatic and sectarian. We cannot act against our conscience and in violation of the faith once delivered to the saints.

For 25 years, we have struggled to remain as a faithful remnant within The Episcopal Church, witnessing to our beliefs, which have been repudiated by our brothers and sisters in other dioceses. Over these years a great deal of subtle and overt pressure has been exerted in an effort to make this diocese conform to their innovations. Among these were visits in 2001 and again in 2002 from members of a task force established by the General Convention to bring us into compliance with the ordination of women priests. During the past year there has been an escalation of threats and intimidation as officials of the General Convention church have brought additional pressure to bear upon our diocese and others like us, demanding full compliance with and unqualified accession to the decisions of General Convention. Our freedom to continue to be who we have always been and to practice what we have always believed is rapidly coming to an end in The Episcopal Church.

Beginning in June 2006 with the election of a new Presiding Bishop, we have sought Alternative Primatial Oversight as an intermediate measure that would afford us a way of remaining a diocese of The Episcopal Church, but under the leadership of an orthodox Primate. We have worked through the structures of the church in pursuit of this goal, and we have waited patiently for some accommodation of our need. We were encouraged by the pastoral plan proposed by the Primates’ Meeting in February 2007, with the full support of the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the resounding rejection of this proposal by the House of Bishops and the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church has sent us a clear message: “We have no need of you and will provide no secure place for your future in this church.”

We have now seen the expiration of the September 30th deadline set by the Primates for a statement of unequivocal assurance from the Bishops of The Episcopal Church that our Province would abide by the provisions of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 concerning same-sex blessings and the ordination of practicing homosexuals. The statement from last week’s New Orleans meeting of the House of Bishops maintains the status quo and signals no change of direction for the future. Same-sex unions continue to be blessed in a number of dioceses across the church, and in the Diocese of Chicago a partnered lesbian is now an official nominee for Bishop.

We believe it is time for us to take action to secure our future as a diocese. We believe it is time to separate our diocese from General Convention religion and to join an orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion. However, we do not wish to compel any parish in the diocese to remain with us as we pursue this course of action. With Christian charity toward those who differ from the majority, we are offering an amendment to Canon 32 to provide a process whereby parishes may leave the diocese in an amicable and Christian manner.

It is important to note that the four Constitutional amendments to be voted on in November will be on a first-reading basis, and they will not have any force or effect unless ratified at our next annual Convention in 2008.

In closing, we wish to express our gratitude to the Committee on Constitution and Canons for its work in the drafting process, and we call the whole diocese to prayer as we undertake the challenges that are before us.


Blogger Tregonsee said...

If TEC, whose current patron saint is St. Clarence of Darrow, behaves true to form, you may soon hold the record for shortest time between ordination and deposition. My prayers that your diocese takes the needed action, and will have the strength to see their way through.

4:23 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Actually, I don' think they have much grounds to attack us legally until Fall of next year, since it takes two conventions for the constitutional changes to become effective.

Still, we are most certainly in need of your prayers. Thank you.

4:45 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

I should add that they wouldn't have much of a leg to stand on legally even a year from now, as far as I can tell.

I must admit, the idea of New York "city clicker" lawyers from 815 trooping into a Tarrant County state district court to argue before a Texas jury that the good people of our diocese don't own the buildings they built themselves is an interesting one! Somehow I think they would have a rather difficult time carrying off that argument, don't you? Let's hope that the better angels of KJS's nature convince her to do the right thing and let us part on the most amicable terms possible.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Tregonsee said...

"...better angels of KJS's nature..." It has been a very long, busy day. I needed a good laugh. Thanks for that!


5:40 PM  
Anonymous r reed said...

Remember the Alamo!

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe...but I think she (the PB)would not be up on her Texas History...
Remember the Alamo...
Remember Goliad....
BUT beware of San Jacinto!!!

Onward Christian Soldiers...
Great Work to our SC.

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might want to pop 'round to the Fort Worth Diocesan website and take a look at the changes proposed to Article 1. I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY don't think the committee meant to remove ALL REFERENCES to HOLY SCRIPTURE and the BIBLE when refering to the Diocese of Fort Worth's "Anglican Identity." You might want to suggest a change to include the Bible to that one before convention. I have heard many an oldtimer say that they don't like the fact that the 1979 Prayer Book leaves out parts of the Bible in order to promote inclusivity. I don't agree with your position on leaving the Episcopal Church, but I do think that every religious entity is entitled to have documents (such as canons or constitutions) that TRULY reflect their identity and opinions. I think leaving the Bible out of Article 1 was a BIG BOO BOO on the part of the committee.

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also think that it would be hard to argue that the three churches that have left the Anglican Communion Network who are members of the diocese of Fort Worth could be included in some diocesan realignment involving Network membership . Trinity Fort Worth, Saint Martin in the Fields Southlake, and All Saints', Wichita Falls are no longer members of the Network. The three are, however, members of the Diocese of Fort Worth, and as far as I know, none of them have plans to leave the diocese.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Anonymous - This is why, at the bottom of Article 1, it says: "The Committee on Constitution and Canons unanimously recommends rejection."

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

"Anonymous - This is why, at the bottom of Article 1, it says: "The Committee on Constitution and Canons unanimously recommends rejection.""

Sorry, I was looking at the first proposal when I responded. I actually am surprised by this as well.

Maybe it could read, "...as set forth in Holy Scripture, the Apostolic Faith, and in the Book of Common Prayer." because, after all, it never identifies which BCP or which edition.


5:43 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Upon reflection, it seems there needs to be some kind of attention given to the proper way in which to interpret the Scriptures, what is meant by Apostolic Faith, etc.

AMiA has something about the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the three (Apostles, Nicene, & Athanasian) in theirs, do they not? This might be helpful...if not in the diocesan constitution, maybe in the new emerging province's constitution?

Just some food for thought.

Fr. Foster, what are your thoughts regarding these things?

5:47 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

The creeds are an element of the Theological Articles of the Common Cause Partnership, which is the de facto constitution of the emerging province until that can be worked out late next year. Personally I don't think this sort of thing needs to be in the diocesan constitution. Rather than opening up a can of worms at the diocesan convention (God forbid enough changes be suggested that the thing gets kicked back for reconsideration next year), I plan on a strong affirmative vote in November. (I feel so honored to be able to vote now as a member of the house of clergy.)

7:07 PM  
Blogger Douglas said...

"The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has always been a traditional, conservative diocese, adhering to the beliefs and practices of the historic catholic faith."
-- Very Rev. Ryan S. Reed, President, on behalf of the Standing Committee

Ok. Explain how that's possible given that Fort Worth remained after the ordination of women?

No....really. Please, someone explain. I've posted (admittedly obnoxious posts similar to this one before...sorry :-)....forgive me....i'm orthodox...so sue me). I'd really like a response. How do you square this comment from "Mr." Reed with orthodoxy?

7:31 PM  
Blogger Douglas said...

How do orthodox, traditional episcopalians deal with that doctrinal travesty known as the 1979 "prayerbook?"

7:40 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Douglas, I know how proud you are of your orthodoxy, but where did you cook up this extreme "taint" theory that utter disfellowships everyone under the sun who has some sort of relationship with someone else that you find objectionable, even when they repeatedly reject the unsound doctrine and practice of those others? Fort Worth has differentiated itself from every unsound change of the last thirty years, as far as I know (except perhaps the 1979 BCP--more below). Obviously that kind of conscientious differentiation is not good enough for you. All right. Please feel free limit your Christian relationships to whatever ideologically pure folks you have managed to associate with up to know and trouble us no more. (I know it cannot be the Roman Catholic Church or any of the Eastern Orhtodox Churches, since they would never meet you purity standards either--too much ecumenism, even positive relationships with the ACN, for goodness sake! Many of those Churches now even have relationships with some formerly "Monophysite" bodies like the Copts!;-)) I am confident that "Mr." Reed and I are orthodox Anglicans, and validly ordained priests as well. It is too bad you do not feel the same.

But if you still feel like writing, please give me SPECIFIC texts from the 1979 Book that are "heretical." I have spent years praying with the 1979 Book, and I know of not one single heresy in it. And I have never seen anyone list a single heretical text specifically. Is it a bit deficient in places (i.e., not as strong as I like on the Atonement, or a diminished sense of human sin)? Yes. Does it wax a bit too political in places (showing a left-wing bias at times)? Yes. Is it down right silly at times (i.e., Eucharistic Prayer C in Rite II)? Yes. But is there open heresy in it? Not a bit that I have ever seen. Please show me precisely where this heresy resides. I mean exact pages and words. (And please don't bother wasting your time with optional female pronouns in the ordination rites for priests and bishops--they are not in effect in Fort Worth, as you undoubtedly know). If you cannot list these heresies, please hold you peace on the subject around here.

Go in peace, sir.
Mr. Foster

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Michaela'sMom said...

Sorry, Fr. Randall...Haven't figured how to post yet. I was the anonymous doing the Texas HX bit, not the other posts. Anyway to answer Douglas, the Diocese of Ft. Worth is only 25 years old this year. We can't get blamed for everything the GCC has done. You pray a lot and work with what you got. Then you pray some more. And some more.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My concern about Holy Scripture not being mentioned is that if the Canons have NO REFERENCE to the NAME of the denomination of the diocese (and its overall rules), there will be no rules stating WHICH version of the Bible is to be used during Church. The versions of the Bible accepted by the Episcopal Church are mentioned in their National canons. If you are no longer part of that denomination, there would be in fact NO VERSION OF THE BIBLE OFFICIALLY APPROVED for use in the Diocese. You think that is not important now, but the current clergy will not live forever, and their job to "guard the faith" will not have been done unless that task is completed.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth B said...

A different perspective from a moderate who has felt pushed out by the Diocese of Fort Worth.

I hated this being caught in the middle here though. I don't care for the agenda of TEC, but don't like how the Fort Worth goes about treating those in its own diocese who don't care for it's own agenda. I spent a few months at several parishes including St Vincent's. And especially at St Vincent's if you don't do the "ACN thing" you just don't have a place there.

So I gave up and am now attending a church in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I can't tell you how glad I am to NOT be in the middle of all the politics of Fort Worth. Good luck to all of you, but I don't miss it at all.

12:22 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Godspeed you in your faith journey, ma'am.

I, too, look for peace on these questions soon. I have no interest in having questions like those now roiling TEC dominate my ministry in coming years. The "great matter" takes up far too much time for all, both revisionist and reasserter. We have the work of building up the Kingdom to tend to!

2:59 PM  
Blogger The Bovina Bloviator said...

Fr. Foster,

Please accept my belated congratulations on your ordainment into Christ's Church! I only know you by your blog but it alone suggests that you will make a splendid priest.

Congratulations, albeit not so joyful, are also due to the Diocese of Fort Worth, one of few bright spots in the dismal Episcopal landscape, for taking the steps to remove herself from that sorry landscape. As an Anglo-Catholic at present and a Roman Catholic to be, I pray the day will come when the term "Catholic" will stand by itself. If you and I are blessed to see that day, I pray the excellent Diocese of Fort Worth will be among the first to be reunited and we might pray together as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

God speed on your Christian journey.


P.S. Should that hypothesized Tarrant County court battle with 815 actually come to pass, I intend flying down from New York City so to savor every minute of it.

11:15 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Thanks, BB. And may Godspeed you along your spiritual path. I went so far as to begin RCIA classes myself in Chicago seven years ago (the TEC diocese of Chicago will do that to a person!). In the end, I discovered that my Anglican identity simply ran too deeply for me to take the plunge into the Tiber. But I also long for the day when we all will be one, as Christ and the Father are One. May God hasten the day.

8:39 AM  

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