Bishop Iker Responds to ABC Williams and PB Schori
The main disconnect for me in the Archbishop's letter is this: On the one hand, in reference to TEC's response to the Windsor Report and the Lambeth Resolutions, he acknowledges that "it is extremely unlikely that further meetings will produce any more substantial consensus than that which is now before us." I believe he is correct. TEC is not going to turn back from its present course. It is not going to abide by the consensus of the Anglican Communion on matters of human sexuality.
But on the other hand, he then goes on to call for "professionally facilitated conversations between the leadership of The Episcopal Church and those with whom they are most in dispute" in the hope of somehow gaining "a better level of mutual understanding." This hope is in vain. TEC does not negotiate with those with whom they are in dispute; they litigate. Numerous meetings have produced no acceptable solution for the minority to remain with integrity within TEC.
The best assistance that the Archbishop can offer to address the situation in TEC is to host a mediation that seeks a negotiated settlement for separation, without rancor or litigation.
[Resume RWF]: Greg Griffith of Stand Firm has an interview with Bishop Iker, prompted by comments recently made by PB Schori through an ENS article. In response to Griffith's questions, "do you plan, if invited, to participate in further discussion? Can you envision any discussion the outcome of which would alter your future plans?," the bishop had this to say (emphasis added by RWF):
Bishop Iker: An invitation from Katharine at this point is going to be received as a token gesture and as too little, too late. Also, we must realize that the ground has shifted dramatically, as has the focus of what is to be discussed. A year ago, it was alternative primatial oversight. This was rejected. In March, it was the pastoral scheme from the Primates' Meeting in Dar es Salaam. This too was rejected. Now we are talking about the reality of dioceses separating from TEC and realigning with an orthodox Province. That being the framework for future discussions, I am willing to cooperate with the Archbishop of Canterbury's proposal in his Advent Letter for "professionally facilitated conversations" that will "clarify options" before us. However, we would only enter into such discussions as equal parties with the 815 authorities, not as suppliants petitioning for some form of relief. A negotiated settlement for separation seems to be the best way to proceed.
[RWF resumes]: I hope that some people at Lambeth and 815 are listening carefully. No one in Fort Worth wants lengthy and costly litigation. We simply wish to be able to serve Christ as we feel called to do, without compromising the truth. All we ask is to be allowed to depart for an orthodox province of the world-wide Anglican Communion where we can do just that, with minimal interruption to the lives our people and without having to abandon the physical plants that make that service to the Kingdom as efficient and effective as possible.
St. Vincent's School, for example, would be utterly destroyed by a victory of Via Media and their 815 overlords should they triumph over the diocese and the parish in court. We could never just "up and move" a school with 230 students to new accommodations. Have these people really thought about exactly what destruction their "replacement strategy" will wreck in the lives of the ordinary Christian people of our diocese if they succeed? Why do they wish to do this terrible thing? We are more than willing to let the three or four parishes [at most] that wish to remain in league with 815 depart in peace. Why cannot they do the same for the 80% or more of us who can no longer remain under PB Schori's authority in good conscience?
With God's help and in His name the people of our diocese have built the church buildings and created the ministries that 815 now claims as its own. And the people of our diocese have already spoken once with an overwhelming voice to say that it is time for us to bring our long-dysfunctional relationship to the General Convention of TEC to an end. I have no doubt they will ratify that decision in 2008 in equally resounding numbers. If Archbishop Williams wants to be of service to the faithful Anglicans of North America, let him help us find a way to separate graciously, with minimal rancor and expense, so that we can get back to focusing on winning the world for Christ.