"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, January 19, 2008

Some Questions for Ms. Sherrod

Katie Sherrod, a supporter of Via Media's efforts to claim the mantle of the diocese of Fort Worth should our convention later this year vote to ratify our decisions of last November, has blogged on her opinions. Do read her comments here. (Hat tip to Apostolicity.)

I have asked her a few questions. Perhaps you can do the same?

Dear Ms. Sherrod,

I truly do not understand how you can be so vehemently opposed to the efforts of Bishops Iker and Stanton to reach an agreement for the peaceful separation of the parishes presently within the dioFW in the event our diocesan convention this year ratifies the decisions of last November. Every effort is being made to allow those parishes steadfastly dedicated to remaining in full communion with PB Schori to do so, without acrimony and litigation, without blackening the name "Christian" in the eyes of the world any further than the present crisis already has. Why is this not a good thing to be encouraged?

If, for example, the people of Trinity Fort Worth or St. Martin's Southlake cannot bear to part from the General Convention of TEC, clearly our diocesan leadership wants to let them go with their property and a blessing. Why are you so adamantly determined to deny that same benefit to the people of St. Vincent's Bedford or St. Laurence Southlake? (Both of these "traditionalist" parishes, I can assure you, are steadfast in their determination to follow our bishop--85%+ of their members would concur with a decision to affiliate with Southern Cone, I have no doubt.) Why are you not doing everything in your power to make this separation respectful, peaceful, and just?

Do you truly believe that the Kingdom of God would be best served by using the secular courts to take away the buildings of these orthodox parishes from the people whose money built them and hand them over to whatever tiny remnant Via Media can cobble together as their "continuing" TEC dioFW, should the 80%+ majority of our diocese depart for the Southern Cone later this year? Does an uncompromising vaunting of Mr. Beer's interpretations of the Constitution and Canons of TEC and the laws of Texas, if it means 80% of the people of our diocese have to leave their property behind for Via Media's tiny remnant to sell off, truly help to win the world for Jesus Christ? Such a court-assisted property seizure for the benefit of the Via Media minority (unlikely as I believe it to be) would deeply impair the on-going ministries of our majority "pro-Iker" parishes, you must admit (St. Vincent's School cannot pack up and move to a high school gym, even if our Sunday worship can!). Would the pugnacious course you seem to advocate truly glorify God or show the degree of charity Christ wishes Christians to have for one another better than an amicable, agreed separation? Ought we not pray that Bishops Iker and Stanton are successful in their negotiations, and that PB Schori will see the wisdom in a friendly parting of the ways rather than extended litigation?


Blogger Bovina said...

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4:25 PM  
Blogger The Bovina Bloviator said...

Why is this not a good thing to be encouraged?

Father Foster, I think the reason Ms. Sherrod and others so vehemently oppose an amicable settlement with parishes wishing to remain is that they have no choice, there would be hell to pay from Ms. Schori and consigliere Beers if they didn't. An amicable settlement is the last thing 815 wants to see while in the thick of litigation with other dioceses and parishes over the same issue. I'm sure Ms. Sherrod and Ms. Schori have discussed the matter.

Additionally, an amicable agreement would further contrast the gracious attitude of dioceses wishing to leave toward parishes wishing to stay with the churlish and mean-spirited attitude of 815 toward dioceses and parishes wishing to leave. Ms. Schori and 815 look bad enough as it is, they can hardly afford to be made to look worse on account of the graciousness of Fort Worth.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think one of the main beefs the Via Media group has is that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was founded as an EPISCOPAL diocese. If members of the EPISCOPAL diocese of Fort Worth wish to leave the Episcopal Church (and even take their buildings in some sort of settlement with the Episcopal Church) it might be workable. Repeated attempts at negotiation instigated by PB Schori have been rejected by +Iker however. What Bishop Iker is proposing is a change in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth for the purpose of CREATING a diocese that will be part of the Province of the Southern Cone. I find fault with the fact that the people formerly of the Episocpal Diocese of Fort Worth will no longer be Episocpalian, and no longer legally qualified to serve in a diocese that qualifies as an Episcopal Diocese (I don't know of any plans to petition General Convention for the diocese to be removed from the Episopcal Church).

Also, even if provision is made for people who wish to remain in TEC to keep their buildings and "join" the Diocese of Dallas, those TEC members would not be entitled to representation at the Dallas diocesan convention because their church(s) do not lie within the geographical boundary of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. (That's a TEC national canon). Those who remain in TEC will want to be represented at diocesan as well as General Conventions of TEC. Anything else will be unacceptable to them.

The leadership of Fort Worth thinks they can morph an Episopcal Diocese into something it is not legally allowed to be. Creating a new diocese may have been the legal way you could have carried out your plan with very few problems, but since you have not chosen to take a legal way forward (changes have been made to the Diocesan Corporation bylaws without the consent of the delegates of convention, even though the corporation is clearly a diocesan entity. By diocesan canon, all changes to its corporate bylaws are subject to two successive votes of the diocesan convention to take effect.) Your people are not even following their own diocesan canons, (you'll see if you read them more closely) much less State and Federal law, not to mention Episcopal Church canons. If you are interested in what those changes to the Corporation are, go look at the documents at the diocesan office sometime or go online to the Secretary of State's office (the documents are available for a small fee.) This and other errors made by the leadership of this diocese are so significant that I think you have no chance of carrying out your plans in the long run.

As a side note, Cana filed the original lawsuit in Virginia, NOT TEC.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry this is so acrimonious, Randall. It might help everyone involved to take a deep breath, read 1 Corinthians 6 several times, and sit still for a while before making any decisions.


10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would almost say that it'd be worth letting the property go just to get rid of guys like you. It sure would be easier. But, it wouldn't be right.

On what planet is it at all honorable to steel the heritage left by generations of Episcopalians and give it to a foreign potentate? It's just wrong.

If you all want to leave, then go. Nobody is forcing you to stay. Go and make Southern Cone Churches and carry on with your mission. Maybe someday we'll all be able to work together again. But, don't think that you can just change the name on the sign and make it so. That is called steeling and, typically, we frown on that.

Linda Diane McMillan
Austin, Texas

11:17 PM  

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