"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, December 17, 2007

Bishop Iker Responds to ABC Williams and PB Schori

Last Friday Bishop Iker briefly responded to Archbishop Rowan Williams' Advent Letter to the world's Anglican primates. In the ABC's letter he had taken his by now customary approach of "If only we could facilitate more dialog between the parties 'a better level of mutual understanding' would help get us past our problems." Bishop Iker was to the point in his response on our diocesan website (emphasis added by RWF):

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best wishes to Texas. But be prepared to litigate -- 815 will spend its penny litigating over all the real property it believes it has "stolen fair and square."

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to your comments about Saint Vincent's School
"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."

Since the Fort Worth diocesan schools and their properties are held independently from the other parish and mission properties in the diocese, I doubt that anyone is going to "go after" the school, especially since the title to the school buildings are not held by the Corporation of the Diocese of Fort Worth, or at least according to diocesan canons, they should not be. If they are, it is because of an error. The diocesan canons specify that school property titles are held by the individual schools, not by the diocese of Fort Worth or its diocesan corporation. I do not believe it would be possible for ANYONE to sue the diocese for property that DOES NOT BELONG TO THE DICOESE or its corporation. That's crazy. If the property is not held seperately from Saint Vincent's Cathedral, if you are a member there, I would seriously ask the vestry to consider transferring the title to the portion of the property that is used for the school to the school itself. If the school's portion of the land is legally divided from the cathedral and deeded to the school and its trustees, the diocese would have NO claim to the property, and also NO obligation to forfeit property that does not belong to it in a court case.

See your nearest title lawyer for more information.

8:41 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Thanks for the note, Anon. Unfortunately, SVS is not presently incorporated separately from the parish. It is simply a ministry of the parish alone as a "parish day school" (as classified under the bylaws of SWAES). And our physical plant at the school is intimately tied up with the parish (not only is the church building itself our chapel, but the parish hall is our dining hall, and all of our lower school classrooms double as the church's Sunday school classrooms--it is all one building). There is at present no legal separation at all between the parish and the school that I am aware of. In fact, our "school committee" is technically simply a subcommittee of the parish vestry. I cannot imagine a future for the school in any way if Via Media got its hands on our parish property.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One does not need to look far to see who owns Saint Vincent's property. The information (although it may not be the most current information available) is accessible on the Tarrant Appraisal District website. Your vestry can also tell you if ownership changes have been made recently. Even though the property is exempt from taxes, a record is still kept by the county, and the records for ALL of the properties in Tarrant county (and all of the other counties in Texas, their owners names, and their appraised values are accessible via the internet.The owner of 1300 Forest Ridge Drive is listed as "Saint Vincent's Episcopal % Church & Daycare." I know that ownership names can be changed by title lawyers, in fact my own church recently changed its title to reflect ownership by the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, in order to bring it into compliance with diocesan canons. It appears that your cathedral is in non-compliance, although it could have been updated to reflect that it belongs to "the corporation" and may not have been changed on tad's website. The address is zoned F1 commercial, the exemtion is Absolute Church, and the deed date is 01/01/1988. The legal description is Saint Vencents Blk 1 Lot 1 (THEIR SPELLING, NOT MINE).The appraised value of the property in 2006 was $6,476,149, which may or may not be accurate, as churches do not pay taxes and sometimes because of this, the appraisal district does not update property values regularly because they will not be collecting taxes from the church or school. The Tarrant Appraisal District's website is http://www.tad.org/
I encourage you to ask questions of your vestry about this. They are in charge of church matters, and could probably help you (and could also have any title issues fixed before they become a problem for the school.

Even though the church is "tied up" with the school, a percentage of the property is listed as belonging to the school (in this case it says daycare). This is the portion that is NOT owned by the diocese or the cathedral per se. Anyway, if you are so interested in this you should speak to your vestry members. I'm sure something can be done to preserve at least the portion of the buildings that are used exclusively for the school. We are all going to have problems, and let's face it, some of them cannot be avoided. Worrying does not help. That is wasted energy. DO what you can to help the situation. Then move on to the next thing you can do to help instead of dwelling on what you cannot do. I can only hope that Saint VIncent's School is not going to go the way Saint Alban's School in Arlington did. It abruptly closed and no refunds were given. I'm sure that did not make any of the parents want to send their children to another diocesan school, especially as Saint Alban's kept ALL of the kids tuition money (in August when it closed just before the school year started). I'm sure we all agree that the diocese does not need that type of publicity again.

10:00 AM  

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