"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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Shape of Things to Come

For anyone interested in what a rump TEC "diocese of Fort Worth" would look like in the aftermath of 80%+ of our parishes and parishioners departing from union with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in November, take a look at these recent developments from the 815-loyalists "diocese of San Joaquin" (hat tip to MCJ, emphasis added by me):

Delegates to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin's Oct. 24-26 annual convention meeting in Hanford overwhelmingly approved creation of a new "equality commission" and an agricultural outreach ministry to the Navajoland Area Missionary Diocese. The commission is to include at least nine lay and clergy members to support, engage and affirm marginalized communities within the diocese. Echoing the baptismal promise to "respect the dignity of every human being" the resolution identified the marginalized as "gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender persons; women; various ethnic communities; the disabled and those adversely affected by socioeconomic circumstance in the life and worship of the Church, as the Diocese works toward justice, reconciliation and peace." ...

Dubbed as an "Episkofest," the gathering was planned as a time for fun and "for us just to get to know each other," said Nancy Key, diocesan communications officer. "It was exciting," she said of the meeting, which also included at least 33 ministry workshops and was held at the Church of the Saviour in Hanford. About 250 Episcopalians attended Episkofest, the first diocesan annual meeting since the March 29, 2008 special convention that elected the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb as Bishop of San Joaquin. Lamb, preaching at the 10 a.m. Sunday morning Eucharist, compared reconstituting the diocese to "refloating the boat." The Central California Valley diocese, with 19 congregations and faith communities, remains loyal to The Episcopal Church (TEC). ...

Meanwhile, another set of convention delegates—those who in December 2007 approved former Bishop John-David Schofield’s attempt to realign the diocese with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone—attended their own convention Oct. 24 and 25, about 38 miles to the north at St. James Cathedral in Fresno. Litigation is still pending to determine rightful ownership of the cathedral and other diocesan properties and assets. Delegates from about 37 congregations attended the convention, referred to as the 49th annual convention on the diocesan website, which "promised to model a whole new approach to our being together as God’s people." ...

Schofield was deposed by the Presiding Bishop in March with the consent of the House of Bishops, but he has refused to relinquish diocesan property and assets. Those assets are now frozen, pending the outcome of litigation. ...

In other convention business, delegates approved a $600,000 budget and approved resolutions to provide Episcopal Life and Episcopal Life/San Joaquin publications to all members and constituents of the diocese; and to authorize missionary outreach to establish new congregations. The Executive Council, meeting October 23 in Helena, Montana, renewed its ongoing support of San Joaquin and other dioceses in which the leadership has left or plans to leave the church, and pledged the church to seek reconciliation "without precondition on our part."

RWF resumes: As I understand it, the 19 "congregations and faith communities" represented at the 815-loyalist diocese's convention included some delegates drawn from small 815-loyalist contingents arising out of parishes that departed from TEC last year. They are, I believe, seating these folks as the representatives of parishes where the substantial majority of the members no longer consider themselves to be within the bounds of TEC at all! But even with the use of this questionable tactic, their 815-loyalist group still claims only 19 "communities" compared to the Southern Cone diocese's fully-functioning 37 congregations.

I would be very interested in seeing how much of that $600,000 budget actually originates in their "diocese" and how much is provided from New York City.

The entire text of this news story may be found here.

If anyone out there reading this believes that parish life in an 815-loyalist "diocese of Fort Worth" would not be radically different than parish life here is today, please read the story carefully and take note. The folks running the "Steering Committee" here (your future "diocesan leadership") will most likely be following this blueprint. Please don't vote to stay inside TEC at our convention next month in order to "keep things just the way they are." Your new 815-loyalist "diocese" will resemble Newark or California or Chicago far more than it will resemble the present diocese of Fort Worth! There are plenty of people out there who want it to be so!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why the heck are you so concerned about those who wish to stay with TEC? You spend an awful lot of time worrying about what as you call us, loyalists, are doing. Why do you care?

I am admittedly intriqued about all the blogs that discuss "our plans". The concern is so evident that it clear you are afraid of us for some reason. You seem intent on wishing us ill will too. That I completely don't understand.

We welcome your prayers but there is no need to worry about us.

10:49 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Anon, I must admit that I do worry a bit. I worry not so much about those who are fully committed to the teachings and goals of the natioal TEC as about the nice "little old ladies" I've met in some of our parishes who "just want things to stay the way they've always been." They think, "I've always been an Episcopalian, I guess I will just stay were I am." But I fear that many of those good souls will be much taken aback in the months and years after the separation by the radical changes coming their way. The agenda of the San Joaquin 815-loyalists (and I suspect the agenda of the leaders of the Steering Committee here) is fully dedicated to 815's version of "the Gospel of full inclusion."

During my seven years of living in the diocese of Chicago I got a strong dose of "the new thing God is doing," and I don't want people to be roped into being part of it without knowing what is coming.

That is the point of this post--to let everyone know that the new, 815-loyalist version of the diocese of Fort Worth will steam full speed ahead into the kind of Episcopalianism that is practiced today in Chicago, and California, and Boston, etc. If that is what you want, that is fine with me. I say "Good luck and Godspeed to you." But I don't want anyone to mistakenly think that life in the TEC diocese of Fort Worth after November 15 (should the vote go as I anticipate it will) is going to resemble life in our diocese today.

Again, anon, I am well aware that there are plenty of people here would be be delighted by the immediate and full implementation of the "Gospel of full inclusion" in Fort Worth. And I am quite certain they will get it starting early in the new year. Peace be upon them. Let us go our separate ways as quietly and charitably as possible.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take it you believe God and the Holy Spirit abandoned the world sometime around the fourth century CE? That God’s power is no longer active in the world and therefore there can be no “new things” coming from God? I myself cannot conceive of an almighty and everliving God, as we call him in our beautiful collects, who would have closed the book on Christianity in the year 393, thought “Very well, this is the faith once for all entrusted to the saints, I’m finished here,” and gone on his way. Such a faith frozen in amber is the creation of men, not God.

I am one of those “little old ladies” you refer to (rather disparagingly, I must say), and I assure you I am quite capable of thinking these matters through for myself.

12:07 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Anon, you clearly have thought out where you stand and are fine with the future I have outlined here. That is well and good for you. I simply want everyone else to know what is assuredly coming in the future so they can make up their own minds. They may not all be as enthusiastic about it as you are.

And my remark about "little old ladies" was intended affectionately, not disparagingly. I apologize if it offended you, or any other reader. However, you can rest assured that you are not one of the persons to whom I referred. I meant by that term those people (of either gender or any age--[hence the quotation marks--I used it as a metaphor for an entire class of persons]) in our pews who have grown up in the Episcopal church and have never much seriously questioned whether or not they ought to stay there, who simply like their parish life as it is and do not want it to change. They have taken little interest in national church affairs over the years and are today often not terribly well informed about the present matters in dispute.

Clearly none of these qualities apply to you. You seem well-informed and dedicated to your vision of the Episcopal church's future here in Fort Worth. But surely you will recognize that these characteristics do apply to a significant number of the folks in Episcopal parishes around the country. My post was direct toward them.

Indeed, anon, I do not believe the Holy Spirit would ever direct a change in the Catholic faith--period. The ecumenical councils of the ancient period did not change the faith of Christ, they simply clarified how to describe it and rejected certain errors that ran contrary to it. The Catholic faith is the same yesterday, today and forever, like its Lord. God handed it over to the apostles , who handed it over to the Church intact, and the Holy Spirit will not change it--ever. God does not "update" the Faith to take into account changes taking place in human culture over time.

But even if I believe that God might some day tell the Church to change its faith, to think that GenCon of TEC, representing roughly 5% of Anglicanism, which is less than 5% of the universal Church, could see the Holy Spirit doing a "new thing" here in TEC that He is not telling the rest of the universal Church to do is completely out of the question for me. I hope this clarifies things a bit.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the diocesan leadership's original intent was to wipe the Episcopal Church off the map in the geographical area of the Diocese of Fort Worth so that when the current leadership joined another province, there would be no competition. It has not turned out that way because 815 and those choosing to remain Episcopalians in the diocese have come to the conclusion that joining the Diocese of Dallas is not an option for them. I think the reason the continuing Episcopal Diocese will become more liberal is because most of the conservatives currently members of the diocese are intending to leave the Episcopal Church in a couple of weeks, which will tip the scales of the continuing diocese to the left ( not because of some "Powerful influence from 815). How much influence has 815 had on the diocese up until now? My case in point. Of course, people may join any church they choose at any time, they can come and go as they please. This is hard for all of us, but we must make the decision individually. I think in the beginning the leadership of the dicoese thought that if they made a decision, all of the laity would follow without questioning. This has not turned out to be the case in some places. I attended a Steering Committee meeting a few weeks ago and was surprised to hear that the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth expects to have as many as eight thousand communicants. Even if this is not the case after November 15th, the Diocese which will be in the Southern Cone has not provided for the budget shortfall that will happen when All Saints Fort Worth, Trinity, St. Christopher, Saint Martin's, and maybe one or two other parishes start giving their assessment to TEC instead of to the Southern Cone. The proposed diocesan budget is pie in the sky at best. I wonder how many missions (and their clergy) will have their church plants closed and their clergy laid off due to lack of funds because of the budget shortfall? With just those 4 parishes remaining in TEC, The Southern Cone Diocese will lose TWO MILLION DOLLARS in pledge revenue for 2009 alone. I know that there is a donor ready to pay for legal expenses, but is there a backup plan to pay clergy salaries when the budget numbers are not reached? I wonder how many clergy realize what the amount of the budget shortfall will be? There is not a projected shortfall listed on the diocesan website, but it does not take a rocket scientist to know that churches remaining in TEC are not going to pay a Diocesan assessment to a Southern Cone Diocese.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to clarify my post above, using the budget numbers provided on the 2009 diocesan assessment calculation worksheet, considering just the four parishes named above (whose vestries and clergy have expressed interest in staying in TEC, I came up with the following numbers for a projected 2009 budget shortfall (this is what the diocese is not talking about). The 2007 operating budgets of these four parishes combined(All Saints' FW, TrinityFW, St Christopher'sFW, St Martin'sSouthlake)(which are used to create the 2009 assessment figure) equalled $2,545,945.00. The combined 2009 assessment (diocesan assessment) for these 4 parishes is $408,080.93. So the amount the Southern Cone Diocese will lose in assessment revenue in 2009 will in all probablility be about $400,000. The total assessment of all of the churches in the diocese combined in 2009 is estimated to be $1,879,675.76. Thus $400,000 is roughly 25 percent of the 2009 diocesan budget. The Southern Cone diocese will be faced with a 25 percent cut in it's operating budget in 2009 if only those four parishes (and no more than that) stay in TEC. Like it or not, up until now, buth sides have needed each other in order to operate the diocese efficiently. If you look at the budget pie chart, amounts have alerady been trimmed to low levels (community ministry is only one percent of the budget) while missions, diocesan ministry, and Personnel add up to 75 percent of the budget, not to mention the expense of the diocesan center and its upkeep. This is not a secret, but for some reason, no one is willing to look at the figures and see that what they are doing will have an impact on all of the churches in the diocese, especially the missions.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that St. Lukes Episcopal in Stephenville is staying with TEC aswell.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I had heard that St. Luke's Stephenville is staying in TEC as well, and did not mean to leave them out of the list. I think those who remain in TEC will be pleasantly surprised at how the diocese will have the money to do things such as outreach on a scale that has not been done before in our diocese. The Southern Cone people will have a budget shortfall because of TEC congregations continuing to give their money to TEC instead of contributing to the Southern Cone, but the TEC diocese will have its own money plus (at least for the year 2009) money that the National Church will provide to help us also (without the burden of having to pay for missions (the existing faith communities are already self-supporting) or the upkeep of Camp Crucis or the Diocesan Center (I'm sure a much cheaper office rental can be acquired for the continuing Episcopalians, as less space would be needed for administering the now smaller group. I doubt seriously that a small province such as the Southern Cone will be in a position to privide financial assistance to the Southern Cone Diocese of Fort Worth if it gets into trouble financially.
Also, the Standing committee and Executive Council have built into their plans the burden of providing financially for ALL of the missions of the diocese, whether they want to go to the Southern Cone or not. I think that puts the Southern Coners at at least a temporary financial disadvantage.

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well thank you for that information. I used to go to Good Shepherd in Acton, but now knowing that St. Lukes in stephenville is staying TEC, I will start going there instead. Its a shame, I really love the Rector at GS.

Its been a while since I have been to GoodShepherd though. I stopped going there when Goodshepherd stopped praying for PB Schori during the Eucharist. I thought it was in terrible bad taste and rude. You can disagree with someone and seek to remove yourself with dignity from the national church, but to exclude the PB from our prayers during service is just WRONG.

These priests and bishops need to be reminded that what they DO is a service for its congregation. They are supposed to serve us, not their own ego.

I guess I will try and contact St. Lukes and see if I can speak with the Rector about switching membership.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Anon I, not so eloquent nor as knowledgeable as Anon II (excellent responses Anon II) but I too am in my mid 50's so probably would be considered an "old lady".

The sad fact about this diocese is that we have been sheltered from all that wonderful programs and missions that TEC does for a long time. We are only given TEC news or BP news when it can be spun negatively.

We are given the "news" that our Bishop and communication office think we need to know. Just like in the latest Forward, the Bishop takes out of context our BP's comments and puts his spin on them. I suppose the fear is if we are allowed to read her entire interview, speech or sermon, it would not hold up to the spin.

We do want to include all in our church and I can't fathom that you do not. I just can't imagine worshipping a God that would say "you are not good enough because you are black...you are not good enough because you are handicapped....you are not good enough because you are a woman....you are not good enough because you are a homosexual...you are not good enough because you are a sinner...to serve in my house." That is not the God I worship.

Oddly, while the Bible says ok to slavery and no to divorce, and women should not dress like men, men should not shave, and we should not work on the Sabbath.....I could go on and on about Bible don't's that we understand today were written for a time and people that did not have our knowledge. Why is ok for you to pick and choose what you will believe and obey?

Praise God we no longer own slaves in this country! Praise God that divorced people can take communion at the alter and serve the Lord! Praise God that I can wear pants to church on a cold day and not be accused of dressing like a man!

So, yes, I am sure there are many "old ladies" and many other people who just wish to be an Episcopalian because they have always been and frankly, there is nothing wrong with that. You also have no one to blame but yourselves that "they" don't know what's going across this nation in the Episcopal church because the clergy in this diocese have done everything they can to censor TEC.

Maybe those little old ladies would have come to your conclusion or maybe they would have come to mine had their been Bible studies on the issues years ago, if our BP sermons and or her Easter/Pentecost messages etc had been in our newsletters or on our diocesan website, or if there had been open discussions and not hidden agendas and plans behind closed doors. You didn't give the little old ladies or anyone else a chance for discernment over the past years.

You might be surprised to know that most of us went to church to worship and have fellowship. Most of us weren't in the bishop's click and didn't have a clue what was being planned. Most of us didn't know how so much was kept from us...like the fact my $ was not going to TEC but to the Anglican Network.

Our vestry kept it well hidden until a few people made a stink and they had to come clean. Then we were given an opportunity to vote on where we wanted our money to go. The dishonesty of all this has been unbelievable.

And BTW, there are many in the church's supposedly voting to leave (how a church can leave still stumps me) that are not. They will join a church that is staying or a faith community and when they go, so will their money.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"like the fact my $ was not going to TEC but to the Anglican Network."

You have got to be kidding me!!
I sure hope that the Fort Worth Diocese under Iker was planning on letting his congregation know that their (our) contributions and donations were going to TEC. I feel totally mislead by my own local church. NO, robbed.

I donated money out of love for TEC, not to have it surreptitiously funnled away to the southern cone.

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

I must agree with anon's original post.....why do you really care? You say that it's about the "little old ladies" that don't know any better. Well, hopefully they will be reading your blog then. Otherwise, I don't understand your point in even posting this to begin with.

5:37 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Daniel, I posted this because the vote of the diocesan convention is now only nine days away and soon everyone here is going to have to choose whom they shall serve in future years. Once our big vote is over and everyone here in FW has made their decision as to which way they will go, I promise to post nothing more about the affairs of the national TEC and those loyal to it at the local level (beyond news about their lawsuits attempting to take our churches away from us, of course). I hope through posts like these to inform a few remaining fence-sitters about our diocese's "great matter," not convert the dedicated TEC loyalist. Such 815-loyalists can go their way rejoicing, as far as I am concerned. But I don't want anyone to follow after them into the 815-loyalist diocese simply because they are misinformed about what the nature of the future, post-division TEC "diocese of Fort Worth" going to be. It will bear no resemblance to the present diocese of Fort Worth at all. (Which will no doubt make some rejoice!)

The post-division TEC "diocese of FW" will be very "Episcopalian," similar to the dioceses of California, Chicago, and Newark. Folks should know that. This turn of events will no doubt please some and displease others. But I believe it to be true. Hence the post.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to see if I can get my donations I gave to the local parish back with my check stubs. I hate the fact that my money was funneled away to the Southern cone!

I'm so furious, that I was mislead.

7:15 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

If it is any consolation, anon, I don't think any of your money has gone to the Southern Cone in the past. It did go to the Anglican Communion Network rather than 815. I believe that decision was made years ago by diocesan convention. I will do a little research and see if I can find the date for you.

7:42 PM  

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