"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.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"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By voting to change our diocesan Constitution and Canons, we have withdrawn from the General Convention, dissociating ourselves from the moral, theological, and disciplinary innovations of The Episcopal Church.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."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you and I have had our own rounds with each other on another blog or two. But that's water under the bridge.

You don't know me personally, as you joined the staff sometime after I had left St. Vincent's Cathedral (I was there from late 1999 through early 2004). I still live in Bedford, but my last years in the Episcopal Church, until late 2007, were mostly out at All Saints'.

I was one of those caught in the middle. I was too conservative for TEC, but didn't care to join forces with the ACN or the Common Cause Partnership.

So I originally was going to stay with TEC rather than follow Bishop Iker, but in the end I took a radical turn, left Anglicanism altogether, and headed Romeward. (Something I had actually considered for years, but only recently was my heart ready to follow.) Next Easter Vigil, God willing, I will be received into the Catholic Church.

However, I have continued to watch things unfold since I have friends on both sides, although I admit it is from a more detached viewpoint these days (which may be a good thing). Anyway, you are all in my prayers, (you guys and those staying with TEC). May God be with all of you in the months to come.

9:26 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Thanks for dropping by, Doni M, and for your prayers. May God bless your journey into the Roman Catholic Church richly.

9:30 PM  

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