Bishop Iker Interviewed
Here are some highlights:
Is the diocese officially a member of the new province?
It wouldn't be accurate to say that the Diocese of Fort Worth has joined the new province until we have a new convention vote to do that. We meet in November for our annual convention. And so presumably we wouldn't have reason or opportunity to vote on this until our convention in November.
In practical terms, what's changed for the diocese?
Nothing really. We had a three-pronged [approach]. The first one was to separate from [the Episcopal Church], which we did in the convention. The second was to affiliate on a temporary basis with an already existing province, which we did. And the third was to declare our intention to work with others who are working toward the establishment of a new province in North America.
Realistically, how viable is the new denomination?
Historically, in the Anglican Communion, to form a new province required four existing dioceses to organize it and put forward a constitution. We have those four dioceses in Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, [San Joaquin, Calif.; and Quincy, Ill.]. . . .I think the figure they were using [Wednesday] is . . . 100,000 average Sunday attendance. So it's certainly viable financially, and it's certainly viable in terms of number of dioceses involved because there are four already existing dioceses.
What do you foresee, legally and financially, for the local congregations that want to remain in Episcopal Church? Are lawsuits likely?
The congregations in this diocese that want to remain in TEC [Episcopal Church] will have to organize a new diocese or join an already existing diocese such as our neighboring Diocese of Dallas. I have offered my assistance to help them achieve this, as has the bishop of Dallas.I certainly hope that lawsuits over property will be avoided and that a negotiated settlement will satisfy the interests of all parties. Sadly, the TEC authorities have been all too eager to litigate in disputes like this. However, unless the local churches want to litigate against the Diocese of Fort Worth, there isn't much that the TEC leaders can do about it. Charity and forbearance are required on both sides.
Can you envision a way for this divide to be bridged so you would come back to the Episcopal Church?
We've given that, I think, about four years already to ask the Episcopal Church to back away from the path they've chosen. . . . Then you have these various communion organizations like the Windsor Report asking the Episcopal Church to declare a moratorium on all ordination of practicing homosexuals, a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions. And the Episcopal Church has refused to do that. If the Episcopal Church would repent and reverse their course, then there would be no need for the separation. But after four, five years now, there has been no indication that they're willing to draw back and adopt a moratorium.