"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.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Huge Votes at the Fort Worth Convention

Well, I am home from convention. The bishop's address was outstanding and passionate. But other than that, it was a very polite, almost low key affair. No major theatrics from either side.

But big votes were taken, including our first votes on a series of constitutional and canon changes that will sever our relationship with the GenCon national Episcopal church if ratified at our 2008 convention.

The big ones included Canon 32, which was changed to allow for parishes to negotiate to leave our diocese and take their property with them if they do not wish to depart TEC with us. It passed with 88% of the clergy vote, and 82% of the lay vote. Since this canon required only one vote to become effective, it will soon take effect.

The proposal to remove the name of the Episcopal church from the preamble to our constitution and allow parishes outside of our geographical boundaries to join us passed with 83.5% of clergy and 78.8% of laity voting in favor of the change.

Finally, the vote to remove our accession to the constitutions and canons of the GenCon national church passed with 83% of the clergy vote and 77.2% of the lay vote. This is the one that will officially "take us out of TEC" if ratified in 2008.

The "submit and comply" amendments proposed by Via Media folks failed to pass by similar margins. One amendment would have restored our accession clause to the form TEC's lawyer Mr. Beers has demanded by removing our caveat that acts of GenCon that are contrary to Holy Scripture and apostolic tradition were null and void here. This "submit and comply" amendment failed with only 16.5% of clergy voting for it and 19.6% of the laity.

Finally a "submit and comply" amendment to recognize that the national GenCon church owned all of our property (rather than our diocesan corporation) received a mere 12% of the clergy vote and 13% of the lay vote.


Anonymous Tom B. said...

Thanks for the update, Fr. Foster. As we are on the road (vacationing in the frozen NE) we have not been able to keep up with the goings on. We are praying hard for the holy spirit to be in all the diocesan decisions, and will keep you all in those prayers. Happy thanksgiving one and all....

Tom B.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Jill C. said...

Glad to hear the results! I am a little surprised that the percentage of the clergy voting for the constitutional changes was higher than the percentage of laity. Seems like the clergy are often more "on the fence" and not so inclined to rock the boat. Your diocese must have more than its share of godly men with collars! ;)

8:17 PM  
Anonymous robroy said...

God bless the laity and clergy of the diocese of Fort Worth.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

8:47 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Thanks for the update, father. I had a chance to tune in briefly to AnglicanTV, but not to the whole thing. It seemed, from what I saw, a peaceful affair. I was particularly impressed with how the Bishop handled the dissenting voices.


9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the event was thankfully a peaceful one for all who attended. The greatest surprise for me is that the Diocese of Fort Worth is still insisting on calling itself officially ,"The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth," when it clearly asserts it is taking the first step towards dissassociating from the Episcopal Church. The "Episcopal" title the convention insists on keeping is at best misleading, and at worst, downright dishonest. To state the obvious, members of the Southern Cone will not be members of the Episcopal Church, they will be members of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. If the diocesan convention wants to leave the Episcopal Church so badly, why keep the name Episcopal? Surely those opposed to the actions of the Episcopal Church do not want to be associated with anything called "Episcopal?" I understand it is all about the corporation that holds title to the property. Since when is it the business of Christians to lie about who they are instead of legally fixing the problem? There are still so many holes in the current Diocesan Canons and Constitution (some canons mention the Episcopal Church (including amendments not up for changes at the convention),while other canons do not accede to the Episcopal Church's assertion of canonical authority over the diocese. For instance: according to Fort Worth diocesan canons as now written: Newly formed missions are still required to submit a statement to the bishop indicating their unqualified accession to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church. If you are so interested in church planting for some other Province besides the Episcopal Church, why was this not addressed at the diocesan convention? There are so many ambiguities currently in the diocesan canons and constitution, I'm sure there will be little trouble for the Episcopal Church to dig up many reasons for court depositions, inhibitions, etc. We'll just have to wait and see how it all turns out to know for sure what becomes of the actions made today at the diocesan convention.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous WannabeAnglican said...

I did not previously notice that you all are willing to take on parishes outside your boundaries. I approve. :)

2:53 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Anon, it will take us a while (more than a year, I suspect) to get our constitution and canons in shape to officially join the Southern Cone. And of course, we haven't officially even left TEC yet. It will take another annual convention to do that. Until then, our diocese will remain "the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth" formally in name. But we can be out of the General Convention well before we fully join the Southern Cone officially. BTW, just because the word "Episcopal" appears in your title does mean you are TEC. Look at the REC, for example. I am quite certain we will change the name one day. Be a bit patient with us, will you? ;-)

6:15 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Wannabe, I am credibly informed that a dozen or more parishes have inquired about affiliating with our diocese from outside of our present geographical boundaries. I don't know where they are, but I am told that some of them would "require airplane tickets" for episcopal visitations. ;-)

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I have to say is thanks a lot.
Now I have to drive to Dallas to get a eucharist.

It is just so disappointing that I am to spend my college student earned wages(which is very little) on gas, just so I can go to an Episcopal/Anglican church who is inclusive and Christ-like.


2:41 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

I don't know where you live, anon, but might I suggest Trinity across the street from TCU? They have told us all time and time again that they are going to stay with TEC. They consistently oppose pretty much everything the diocese of Fort Worth stands for, so it might be just the kind of place you are looking for. In any event, may God bless you in your journey.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Devon W said...

To the anonymous one:

Really, you don't have to drive to Dallas to receive the Eucharist, even at an "inclusive and Christ-like church." A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that "Christ-like" means letting any and all types in.

There is a difference between loving your neighbors and respecting their dignity, and allowing any variation or interpretation to seep into the Church.

But even still, there may be some parishes in Ft Worth that choose not to follow the rest of the Diocese when the move is made. You just need to find the one that fits your needs. Even still, I'm sorry you feel the way you do.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not concerned with any problem that Bishop Iker supporters have in remaining in a diocese called "Episcopal." I was referring to the problem this creates for all the parties involved, including a few churches in the diocese wish to remain within the Episcopal Church. If the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth follows the model previously created by the former Episcopal Church of Confederate States of America, it will NOT petition the General Convention of the Episcopal Church to withdraw itself from the province of the Episcopal Church USA. This creates a HUGE problem for churches now standing within the geographical boundaries of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, including the part of the diocese wishing to remove itself from the Episcopal Church. General Convention only recognizes ONE Diocese in each geographical area as being part of TEC . The resolution that was passed allowing for parishes to leave the diocese if they wish to remain in the Episcopal Church will not be of any use whatsoever to those parishes wishing to remain in the Episcopal Church, because they will have nowhere else to go BUT the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth if they want to be part of TEC. The convention did not understand (or take into consideration) that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is (and due to the geographical constraints of Dicoeses within the US as defined by TEC CANONS),the ONLY recognized Episcopal diocese recognized by TEC in this particular geographical area. Because the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is still legally a part of the Episcopal Church (and if it does not petition TEC to be removed from TEC by General Convention), action can be taken at any time by TEC to BRING THE DIOCESE INTO CONFORMITY with the Constitution and Canons of TEC, which could include DEPOSITION OF ALL NON-TEC Clergy (and all those who are delegates(clergy and lay) to convention who do not conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of TEC) within the current Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in order to recognize another entity as the Episcopal diocese in this geographical area. That is where your group is in trouble. As long as one or two churches that are Episcopal remain within the diocese, I assume that TEC will recognize the diocese as a member of the Episcopal Church (because it will not have been officially withdrawn from TEC if the example of the Confederacy is followed), and TEC will consider that the diocese is subject to the Canons and Constitution of TEC because the diocese has not withdrawn oficially from TEC. I do not understand why a new entity was not created, instead of attempting to change the current system. It seems to me that a lot of opportunities for litigation would have been avoided if the Convention created a new diocese/district/jurisdiction for those wishing to join the Southern Cone province.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Devon W said...

Far be it from me to speak for anyone, let alone the Diocese, but I would be very surprised if the word "Episcopal" was maintained following the official split. My impression of Bishop Iker and the leadership of the diocese is that they are wiser than that, and understand the full weight of what is happening.

In all honesty, if the word Episcopal is maintained after the official split, I'll have a few things to say. But then, I always have a few things to say.

Let not your heart be troubled, sir. This will go as it is meant to.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The trouble could come for Trinity and a few others when they realize that the diocese's gesture to allow them to "leave the diocese" is examined and found to be a non-viable option. If the diocese does not petition General Convention to be removed from the Episcopal Church (that's what Bishop Wantland was talking about when he mentioned the "Confederate Church model" at the convention), there will be in truth NO alternative diocese to join for Episcopal congregations remaining in the Episcopal Church because two Episcopal dioceses cannot exist in the same location by canon law of TEC.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Devon W said...

Your argument seems entirely based on the idea that the diocese will not, in fact, leave the Episcopal Church. I haven't seen or heard anything that suggests the diocese will fail to follow this through to completion.

2:30 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Devon, Anon may be taking the 815 party line that "individuals may leave TEC but not dioceses and parishes." So 18,000 individuals may bolt--including the bishop and virtually all of the Standing Committe and most of the vestry members of 95% of the parishes-- but what is left of the TEC loyalists, no matter how small their numbers, will be the "real" diocese of FW. This tiny "rump TEC diocese" will hold another convention and elect a new bishop to replace the "fleeing" ex-bishop [+Iker]. (But if it takes 33% of the elected delegates and clergy to reach a quorum at a convention, how can they actually do business until after the terms of the old delegates has expired? They may have to wait a year.) That is clearly 815's plan.

But even if he or she isn't thinking this way, Anon should know that Bishop Stanton of Dallas has agreed to take on any parish that wishes to leave us. That would make them part of the diocese of Dallas. Granted, I suppose someone somewhere might say this is "non-canonical." But are the minions of 815 so hard hearted that they turn on some of their own just because of a technical violation of canons? There would, of course, be no sanction by TEC's GenCon against Trinity if they joined Dallas. There is no need for concern.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Devon said:
" A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that "Christ-like" means letting any and all types in."

Really? Because I don't think Jesus would have turned anyone away? And if we are going to get picky about blessing those who willingly sin on a regular basis, lets not give blessings to those who eat pork or shellfish either.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Devon W said...

Anon said:
"Really? Because I don't think Jesus would have turned anyone away?"

Well, Anon, you've got me. There's really nothing I could possibly say to dispute your points.

Since I'm not capable, I'll turn to someone who is.

Matthew 10:32-33
"So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."

Matthew 10:38
"And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."

John 5:13-14
Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you."

John 8:7-11
"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

Anon said:
"And if we are going to get picky about blessing those who willingly sin on a regular basis, lets not give blessings to those who eat pork or shellfish either."

Matthew 18:8
"And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire."

Luke 5:32
"I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

Matthew 4:17
"From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Ok, I think that's enough. I don't want to flood the page. Before I close, however, I'd like to point out that simply saying you're sorry isn't enough. Let's look at the key phrase in John 8:11 one more time.

"Go and sin no more."

Obviously, that's not entirely possible. We are fallen creatures, and as such we will always fall to sin. The point is to not throw yourself into it willingly and willfully.

Hope this insight was helpful.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Devon W said...

Minor edit, if I may.

John 5:13-14 was supposed to be in response to the second point, about willingly sinning, not the first about Jesus turning people away.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Devon W said...

Fr. Foster,

I find it troubling that the party line of the current Episcopal leadership, and those who support them, is a doctrine of acceptance and understand- unless it's for someone who disagrees with them.

Open wide your arms and accept all into the flock, and accept the differences of all people. . . except those who are standing up for their beliefs.

I hope this trend turns around soon.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Open wide your arms and accept all into the flock, and accept the differences of all people. . ."

This is what TEC is trying to do. The seperatists(those wanting to split) are not accepting of a bishop who is in a wholesome relationship, which happens to be homosexual.

Rejecting a good man with great leadership skills on the account that he loves another man, doesn't sound very accepting to me.

Of course you didn't really answer my question. If you would rather see a Gay Bishop leave on the count that he is supposibly sinnging, then why not cast out those who eat shellfish or swine, or etc etc etc?

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is something I found from a biblical scholar.

"Actually the Old Testament only calls a "man sleeping with a man" as the same abomination as eating shellfish and that's the only original 'gay' reference. They're talking ritual impurity anyways. Take in context seeing in the begining of Letveticus God is comanding His people not to sacrifice their children to the god Molech so things are a bit different now with what rituals are happening today. The other references of homosexuality didn't exist until the King James Version (ex: the other Letveticus reference only state "sexually immoral" originally)."

1:42 AM  
Anonymous buhbye said...

I'm a Roman Catholic but it seems to me that the only negotiating involving church properties should be The Episcopal Church telling the departing bishop and diocese what the properties are worth and what they'll have to pay if they'd like to take them with them when they go.

4:14 AM  

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