"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, November 24, 2008

Dio. Fort Worth Rejects PB Schori's "Inhibition" of Bishop Iker

A Press Release from the Diocese of Fort Worth:

Fort Worth, Texas: A letter of inhibition and supporting documents were issued Friday, Nov. 21, from the office of Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, to the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth. However the inhibition is of no force or effect, since the Bishop and Diocese, meeting in annual convention, constitutionally realigned with another province of the Anglican Communion on Saturday, Nov. 15, and are now constituent members of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Documents to this effect have been made public. Consequently, this attempted inhibition will not deter the Bishop from the continuance of his ministry.

Two responses are being issued at this time.

From Bishop Iker:

Katharine Jefferts Schori has no authority over me or my ministry as a Bishop in the Church of God. She never has, and she never will.Since November 15, 2008, both the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and I as the Diocesan Bishop have been members of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. As a result, canonical declarations of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church pertaining to us are irrelevant and of no consequence.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth

From the Standing Committee:

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is a member of the Province of the Southern Cone as of November 15, 2008. Bishop Iker is a member in good standing of the House of Bishops of the Province of the Southern Cone. We wonder by what authority the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States presumes to inhibit a bishop of the Province of the Southern Cone. We do not recognize the authority of the Presiding Bishop over us. We regret this illegal, unconstitutional, and uncanonical attempt to interfere with the rights and ministry of a diocese of another province of the Anglican Communion. We call upon her to desist from any further actions in our diocese and that she refrain from any further border crossing.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Hightower
President, Standing Committee

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth consists of 56 congregations. The major cities in the diocese include Fort Worth, Arlington, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Wichita Falls, Grand Prairie, Richland Hills, Brownwood, and Stephenville, Texas. The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker has served as the third Diocesan Bishop of Fort Worth since 1995. The diocese enjoys companion relationships with the Dioceses of Northern Malawi and Northern Mexico.

Dio. Fort Worth Being Pushed Out of Sewanee?

Stand Firm has a link to an interesting letter from the Chancellor of the University of the South (a.k.a. Sewanee), Bishop Parsley, in Tennessee. In it, Bishop Parsley says:

We at Sewanee are concerned by the news that a majority of the delegates to the 26th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Fort Worth, one of the 28 owning dioceses of the University of the South, voted on Saturday, Nov. 15, to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and to align with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

We will be communicating with our elected trustees from Ft. Worth and with the continuing members of the Episcopal Church there as we work to discern the implications of this action.

The Board of Trustees will work through its committee structure to respond to these issues, most likely by the Board's annual meeting in October 2009.

We bid your prayers for our sisters and brothers in Fort Worth and for the unity of the Church.

RWF resumes: I was looking at the website for Sewanee this evening, and it is clear that Bishop Iker's name has already been removed from the list of trustees there! Does anyone out there know by what authority this action has been taken?

UPDATE: Apparently someone got on the stick and got Bishop Iker back on the list of trustees on-line this afternoon. Quick action, once they were called out on it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The December 3rd Meeting Will "Present a Draft Constitution"

The Anglican Communion Network has produced a press release that clarifies what will take place in Wheaton in a few weeks. Here is the opening paragraph (emphasis added by RWF).

Leaders of the Common Cause Partnership, a federation of more than 100,000 Anglican Christians in North America, will release to the public on the evening of Dec. 3 the draft constitution of an emerging Anglican Church in North America, formally subscribe to the Jerusalem Declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and affirm the GAFCON Statement on the Global Anglican Future at an evening worship celebration in suburban Chicago.

The full press release may be found here.

In light of this statement, it seems clear that the December 3rd meeting will not actually "launch" the new province. It will, instead, present what its framers intend for it to become once its new constitution is ratified by member ecclesiastical entities.

This actually makes sense, in light of the fact that the diocesan conventions (or equivalents) of each of the member dioceses and ecclesiastical bodies will surely have to ratify the proposed constitution individually before they will officially become members of such a new provincial structure. The CCP's leaders seem to be following the course taken in adopting the U.S. Constitution. It was proposed and debated for months before the individual states ratified it one-by-one and it went into effect.

So December 3rd is a highly significant development in the future of North American Anglicanism--indeed it is an essential step in the process of forming the new province--but it is not yet the actual "creation" of the orthodox province itself. It begins the ball rolling toward its creation and gives the GAFCON primates something they can officially endorse as the proposed orthodox province in their discussions with other leaders of the world-wide Anglican Communion.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

+Duncan & +Murdoch Confirm Presenting, "Signing and Sealing" of New Province's Constitution in Wheaton, Illinois, on December 3rd

From Anglican TV (hat tip to Stand Firm):

"As We Realign"--A Statement Distributed Today within the Diocese of Fort Worth

The following statement was provided to us yesterday at the close our diocesan convention and was intended to be distributed at worship in our parishes this morning:

"The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth--As We Realign"

Our 26th annual convention has taken action to secure our future as a diocese.

During the Nov. 14 & 15 diocesan convention, your clergy and elected delegates have taken a stand as faithful members of the worldwide Anglican Communion. They have heeded the call to "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints." (Jude 3)

What has change?

By voting to change our diocesan Constitution and Canons, we have withdrawn from the General Convention, dissociating ourselves from the moral, theological, and disciplinary innovations of The Episcopal Church. We have realigned with another Province of the Anglican Communion. This is a change in affiliation, not a change in worship or doctrine.

Our Bishop, clergy, and congregations have been received into the fellowship of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. We are deeply grateful to Archbishop Gregory Venables for this provision, which he has made on a temporary and emergency basis, in response to the crisis in The Episcopal Church. We now look forward to the formation of an Anglican Province in North America.

Where we stand.

We remain true to the historic faith and order of the Church.

We remain a member diocese of the Anglican Communion.

We remain the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The word "episcopal" identifies us as part of the apostolic succession, with a bishop as our elected chief pastor.

We remain in communion with other Episcopalians. We share fellowship with all those in any Province who recognize the authority of Scripture and the faith and order of historic Anglicanism.

Everyone is welcome to worship in our churches this Sunday and every Sunday. Our liturgy remains the same, our name is the same. Most of all, we remain committed to the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

What is the status of our clergy?

Our clergy continue to be licensed for ministry by Bishop Iker. TEC benefit programs, which may no longer be available to them, have been replaced by new group insurance policies and a retirement plan. Clergy who have established pension accounts in TEC will be eligible at retirement to receive benefits earned. While these will be less than they might have had by staying with the program longer, their new investment plan will provide supplemental retirement funds.

What about those Episcopalians who disagree with the decision to realign?

We know that not everyone agrees with this change. Those who dissent are valued brothers and sisters in Christ, and they are welcome to remain in their congregations. For some, however, it may be necessary to separate from the diocese, perhaps permanently. In a few cases it may be the will of the majority of the members in a particular parish to remain in The Episcopal Church. Where this is the case, the Bishop, Standing Committee, and Board of Trustees hope to work with the rector and vestry to come to a mutually agreeable separation and settlement of property issues without resort to lawsuits or other hostile actions.

What response should we expect from representatives of the General Convention?

We expect a number of announcements in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Among these may be plans for a new General Convention-member diocese in this 24-county area. There may be lawsuits testing the ownership of our properties. And action may be taken to remove our Bishop and clergy from their positions and ministry in the General Convention church. But such action will have no practical effect, since they will already be ministering under the authority of another Anglican Province. These developments may generate news headlines, and they may cause some confusion, but they will not prevent us from going forward in mission as a diocese.

What next?

On Nov. 24, Bishop Iker will meet with the clergy on the topic of "Moving Forward--Life after TEC." Other events for clergy and lay people will be announced in the weeks ahead. Please continue to pray for our diocese, for all Episcopalians, and for the Church throughout the world. Let us pray for God's guidance for ourselves and for the leadership of our churches and diocese. Let us seek the peace that passes understanding. Let us rejoice in God's saving grace and continue to carry his message of love and salvation to the world.

The actions of our 26th diocesan convention assure us of our future as traditional Anglicans. We are now free to carry out our diocesan mission, "To equip the saints for the work of ministry."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Greetings from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of the Americas

It's official! As of the fall of the gavel adjourning the 2008 diocesan convention at 1:28PM CST, the four constitutional changes that brought to an end our diocese's connection to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States and a resolution admitting us to membership in the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone became effective.

All five of the crucial votes were passed by approximately 80% majorities in both the clergy and lay delegations (plus or minus less than three percentage points each).

The meeting was polite and business-like, with no rancor. The bishop gave a good, clear address that no one could accuse of being harsh toward those who disagree with us. Thankfully the opponents of our move to the Southern Cone decided to have a single, twenty minute long statement read aloud opposing the actions of our convention instead of insisting on extended comments from the floor with respect to each of the individual amendments. This courtesy speeded things along nicely.

The only mildly sour note of the day was provided by a small tape recorder left in the visitors' section by some prankster that went off right after the first set of vote totals was announced, playing "Hit the Road, Jack" (an obvious insult to our beloved Bishop Jack Leo Iker, who took the prank with his usual good grace).

A transcript of Bishop Iker's press conference following the convention may be found here.

At the close of the meeting a statement was made available from our leadership intended to be distributed in our parishes on Sunday morning.

Votes on Constitutional amendments (all passing):

A. PREAMBLE--We, the Clergy and Laity of The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, do hereby ordain and establish the following constitution as duly amended: (RWF: This change removes any suggested limitation to the geographical scope of the diocese to Texas, just in case others would like to join us later on!)
clergy for: 73 Clergy against: 18
Laity for 101 and against 26

B. Article 1 ANGLICAN IDENTITY--The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, consisting of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces and regional churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Old and New Testaments and expressed in the Book of Common Prayer. (RWF: This change removes references to accession to TEC's General Convention.)
clergy for: 72 clergy against: 19
laity for: 102 laity against: 25

Sec. 1 At each Annual Convention there shall be elected priests and an equal number of lay persons canonically resident within the Diocese to serve as deputies or delegates to any extradiocesan conventions, synods or meetings that may occur between Annual Conventions and to which this Diocese may wish to send such deputies or delegates. They shall possess the same qualifications as members of the Standing Committee and shall be elected by a concurrent majority of both orders. Such duly elected deputies or delegates shall hold office until their successors are elected.
Sec. 2 At the same Convention there shall be chosen, in the same manner and with the same qualifications, the same number of priests and lay persons to serve as alternate deputies or delegates.

Sec. 3 The Bishop shall assign the Alternate deputies or delegates to fill any vacancy in the delegation. In case there be no Bishop or he is unable to act, this power shall be exercised by the Standing Committee. (RWF: This change reworded the article so that it applies to any extra-territorial meeting the diocese wishes to attend. It no longer applies to TEC's GenCon, as formerly it did.)
clergy for: 71 clergy against: 19
laity for: 103 laity against: 24

D. Article 18 CANONS--Canons consistent with this Constitution may be adopted, altered, amended, or repealed at any Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth by a majority vote of the Convention, provided that no new Canon and no alteration, amendment, or repeal of an existing Canon shall be adopted unless the same shall have been filed in writing with the Secretary of the Convention not less than sixty (60) days before the meeting of the Convention. The Secretary shall, not less than forty-five (45) days before the meeting of the Convention, deliver copies of all proposed amendments or alterations to the Canons to the Chairman of the Committee on Constitution and Canons. The Committee shall report thereon to the Convention on the first day of the meeting.

Where any amendment of a Canon has been so proposed and referred to the Committee, amendments thereto may be made from the floor of the Convention if within the judgment of the presiding officer of the Convention such amendments are germane to the pending amendment.

No other amendments or alterations to the Canons shall be considered at that meeting except by unanimous consent of the Convention.

Changes to the existing Canons shall take effect immediately upon the adjournment of Convention. Typographical errors may be corrected by the Committee on Constitution and Canons and reported to the Convention. (RWF: A final bit of legal "tidying up" to remove references to TEC from our diocesan constitution.)
clergy for: 72 clergy against: 19
laity for: 102 laity against: 25

***And here is the resolution joining our diocese to the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Resolution 1:
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, meeting in its 26th Annual Convention, does hereby accept the provision made by the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth does hereby immediately enter into membership with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone as a full and equal constituent member of such province, and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth does hereby accede to the authority of the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone to the extent such Constitution and Canons are not contrary to Holy Scripture and the teaching of the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Clergy for: 73 Clergy against: 20
laity for: 98 laity against: 28

Images from Day One of Fort Worth's Diocesan Convention--St. Vincent's Cathedral Church & School

Friday, November 14, 2008

George Conger's Unbiased Report Today

If you are looking for unbiased reporting to update you on the last year's worth of activity in TEC and Fort Worth's up-coming diocesan vote on terminating our relationship with the General Convention of the Episcopal church, George Conger has this nice, short piece for a quick read. Hat tip to TitusOneNine.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Live Coverage of DioFW Convention on Friday

For those who want to watch our diocesan convention live, you may find the webcast here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Interview with Bishop Iker--A Must Read!

Greg Griffith has posted a superb interview with the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, bishop of Fort Worth, on Stand Firm. You simply must read the entire interview here.

Some of Bishop Iker's clear and concise answers follow to stoke your interest:

Bishop Iker: I fully expect that I'll receive notification from the Presiding Bishop's office, within days of our diocesan convention, that I've been inhibited. Of course by then it will be irrelevant, because I won't be under the authority of the Episcopal Church. But they'll play that out in the same that they did with Bishops Schofield and Duncan. What the "Remain Episcopal" people here are told by David Booth Beers - they've been to New York and met with him - is that I'll be inhibited right after our convention, then I'll have sixty days to recant, and if I don't then I will be deposed at the next meeting of the House of Bishops, which is some time in March. After that, they're planning on having the new organizing convention here in April, and probably get organized, elect a new standing committee, and a new provisional bishop. [Greg's note: Other sources in the diocese have confirmed that the "provisional bishop" will be Sam Hulsey, retired bishop of the diocese of Northwest Texas] ...

Greg Griffith: Do you expect any attempts by the Episcopal Church's national leadership to take property from your diocese?

Bishop Iker: The plan is to do the same thing they've done in San Joaquin - that is, to form a new diocese and then bring a lawsuit against the true diocese that separated - a lawsuit for all the assets, including property. Obviously the difference (between their approach and ours) is that the "Remain Episcopal" people have a winner-take-all attitude, that they believe everything belongs to the Episcopal Church and those who leave the Episcopal Church should be deprived of their buildings, property and assets. Our position is that those who don't want to continue to be a part of the diocese after our separation from TEC, under certain conditions, should be given their buildings, property and assets, and be cut free from the diocese. ...

Greg Griffith: The African provinces, particularly Nigeria and I believe Uganda - have said that whatever primatial oversight they give to American churches is intended to be temporary -

Bishop Iker: Correct.

Greg Griffith: - and by that we mean several years, perhaps a decade or even more in some cases. Is this your expectation as regards your affiliation with the Southern Cone - that you will be part of the Southern Cone for the next five to ten years?

Bishop Iker: No, not at all. It's supposed to be on an emergency pastoral basis, and very temporary. I think the formation of a new province is going to come much more quickly than any of us really thought. I think it will be up and running in early 2009. So it's possible that we'll be part of the province of the Southern Cone for less than a year. ...

Get over to Stand Firm and read the entire interview immediately!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Diocese of Quincy, Illinois, realigns with Southern Cone

The third diocese has departed from TEC. Here is the press release published on TitusOneNine:

The Annual Synod of the Diocese of Quincy’s meeting November 7-8 in Quincy, Illinois, has voted by strong margins to realign itself with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, breaking its ties with The Episcopal Church in the US. On two key votes more than ¾ of the clergy and lay deputies voted in favor of the realignment.The move came after several years of prayer and discernment about the diocese’s relationship with The Episcopal Church. Many in the Quincy Diocese, both clergy and lay people, have been at odds with the national leadership and other dioceses over the authority of the Bible, church order and discipline, and the church’s moral standards and teaching on Christian marriage.On the vote to disaffiliate from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, 75% of the clergy and 82% of the lay deputies voted in favor. On the subsequent vote to realign the diocese with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone the vote in favor was 92% in the clergy order and 87% in the lay order.

Presiding Bishop Schori of TEC issued this statement, in-keeping with her oft-repeated (and in terms of the Constitution and Canons of TEC, groundless) assertion that "individuals may leave but dioceses and parishes cannot":

We lament the departure from The Episcopal Church of some individuals in southern Illinois. The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy remains, albeit with fewer members, and we are working to assist in the reorganization of diocesan affairs. We assure all, both Episcopalians and former Episcopalians, and members of their surrounding communities, of our prayers for clarity and charity in their spiritual journeys. May all be reminded that the gospel work of healing this world will take the best efforts of every person of faith.

Monday, November 03, 2008

This was the lovely sunset tonight in Bedford, Texas. The photo was taken by my father, Randy.

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