"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, June 30, 2009

A Memo from Bishop Iker to our Clergy--And a Letter from Archbishop Venables on the Same Topic

The following memo was received via email by diocesan clergy today (and was posted here with the kind permission of it's author):


JUNE 30, 2009

In recent days I understand that all of you have received two threatening letters from representatives of the rump diocese. The first is a letter from The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., the Bishop of Kentucky, in a capacity he claims as the "Provisional Bishop" of the rump diocese, threatening to inhibit and then depose you if you do not recognize his authority over you as your bishop. The second is a letter from Jonathan Nelson, legal counsel for the Gulick-led group, addressed to our vestries, treasurers, and finance committee members, as well as to all our vicars and rectors. It too is meant to intimidate and control us. It is the preliminary notification that will lead to additional lawsuits to be brought against us by The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (PECUSA). Both of these letters are now in the hands of our attorneys, and they will be responding on our behalf. There is nothing you need to do at this point in time. We are no longer members of PECUSA and are not subject to their discipline. It is indeed regrettable that they find it necessary to engage in such harsh, uncharitable tactics, rather than enter into negotiation.

The Bishop of Kentucky has no ecclesiastical authority to act within the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, first and foremost because the Diocese has realigned with another Anglican Province in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. We assume that he is seeking to exercise some authority in Fort Worth based upon Canon 13 of the Canons of PECUSA. Setting aside the obvious argument that the Diocese is no longer a part of the PECUSA because of realignment and Canon 13 is inconsistent with Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution of PECUSA, and is therefore null and void, his reliance upon Canon 13 for his authority is misplaced. The meeting that was held in Fort Worth on February 7, 2009, by some clergy and laypersons of the Diocese was not a duly-constituted meeting of the Convention. Neither the Bishop nor the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth issued a call for a special meeting of the Convention, as required by Article IV of the Constitution of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. Moreover, there was no quorum present at the February 7, 2009, meeting, because less than one-third of all clergy and lay delegates of the Diocese entitled to seat was present for the meeting. Consequently, the individuals in attendance at the February 7, 2009, meeting lacked any legitimate power or authority to perform any official act, including but not limited to the placement of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth under Bishop Gulick's "provisional charge" pursuant to PECUSA Canon 13. All actions purportedly taken at the meeting clearly were null and void.

We challenge the allegation that the realignment of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone constitutes an abandonment by us of the "Communion of this Church", pursuant to PECUSA Canon IV.10.1. We have made no "open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship" of the Church, nor have we sought formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the Church. Upon our ordinations, Holy Orders were conferred upon us in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Although we do not consider ourselves affiliated with PECUSA, we do intend to continue to exercise the obligations, duties, rights and privileges associated with the Holy Orders that were conferred upon us.

We very much regret the fact that this matter is being placed before secular courts. We would much prefer a negotiated settlement among brothers and sisters in Christ who have been separated from one another. However, we are fully prepared to make our case in a court of law and will do so when the time comes. Attached is a "Litigation Perspective" that I think should be very helpful to you and your people.

With God's guidance and grace, we shall defend our churches, our faith, and our property against these unjust claims. Do continue to keep these concerns before the Lord as a part of your daily prayers.

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

Bishop Iker received the letter below from Archbishop Venables today:

To The Bishop and Clergy of The Diocese of Fort Worth
Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings in the wonderful name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to you celebrating the official launch of the Anglican Church in North America. You are to be congratulated for your faithfulness in the Gospel and in your cooperation with the organization of the new Province. It is likely that it will take some time before the institutional structures catch up to the realities of the present day situation in the Communion. Until that time, you can be sure of your dual status with us in the Southern Cone. This is true not only for Bishop Iker, but also all of the priests and deacons who received licenses through him under my authority when your diocese came to us.

You may have heard negative things about your ministries and orders from some quarters, but I can assure you of your good standing and favour with me and this Province under me as Primate. Your orders and ministries are secure in the Lord and as Anglicans.

At the last Primates' Meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, there was clear agreement that you and your bishop are fully members of the Anglican Communion. Any other assertions are, in our view, completely unfounded. What is important is that people are brought to saving faith in Christ and to maturity in Him. We need your full energy to be devoted to that task. The harvest is indeed plentiful, and the workers few! Thank you for your faithfulness.

Yours sincerely,
The Most Rev. Gregory J. Venables
Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone of South America

Monday, June 29, 2009

ACNA Flag Debuted at St. Vincent's Cathedral on Sunday

I got a chance to introduce the flag of the Anglican Church in North America to our parishioners during "adult forum" between masses on Sunday morning. Dean Reed, Tom Murrell, and I then gave brief reports on the highly successful ACNA Provincial Assembly. Following those reports Bill Murchison, a columnist for the Dallas Morning News, talked about his new book, Mortal Follies, to our parishioners. I am sure this book is a fine analysis of the decline of the Episcopal church into it's present decrepit state, but I must admit that I find it more and more difficult to take a strong interest in the affairs of TEC. Frankly, while I remain concerned for the well-being of those faithful Christians who remain trapped within the structures of TEC, I am personally delighted to be done with that whole sorry business.

By the way, next Thursday is the day the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. "Ted" Gulick, Jr (the provisional bishop of the TEC-loyalist diocese of Fort Worth) is scheduled to inhibit the 60+ priests of the diocese of Fort Worth who departed from TEC last November along with our bishops and people, including myself. No one I have spoken with about this pending action by Bishop Gulick is much concerned. I am certainly not. Ironically, I received Bishop Gulick's letter telling me that I would be inhibited unless I immediately pledged fealty to him and to TEC on the very same day that ACNA was officially "constituted" at St. Vincent's last week.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wrap-Up on the ACNA Provincial Assembly

Well, it was a busy week around St. Vincent's Cathedral. About 800 guests from around the world moved from one end of campus to the other over the three and a half days of the Provincial Assembly, following a three day ACNA House of Bishops meeting in our parish hall. It was a genuine pleasure to have so many dedicated servants of our Lord here with us. A thousand thanks to all the volunteers from St. Vincent's and from around our diocese who made this massive undertaking look so easy. Very well done!

This last week has re-confirmed me in my convictions as an Anglican. I feel energized by the interactions I have had with clergy and lay people from around North America. I now have an even deeper admiration for the breadth and depth of traditional Anglicanism on our continent, and have developed a sincere appreciation for expressions of Anglican worship quite different from my own. I am very excited for the future of our Anglican tradition, and am delighted that I will be part of ACNA as it grows. (And it will grow!)

The installation of Archbishop Duncan on Wednesday night at Christ Church, Plano, was a joy to attend. The excitement in the air was palpable. And I have to admit that--despite misgivings I had walking in the door--the folks at Christ Church carried off a "blended" worship with astonishing elegance, calling upon elements from the Evangelical, Charismatic, and Anglo-Catholic expressions of Anglican worship in such a way that the entire service felt surprisingly coherent. The archbishop's homily was conversational but effective, and the actual installation ceremony was genuinely moving. Well done, Christ Church.

The mood among almost all of the delegates and "attendees" at the Assembly was very up-beat and the feeling of unity was strong despite differences on some points of theology and worship expression. Virtually all of the few negative comments I heard in the halls, which were also reflected on some social networking sites and blogs that I follow, were from opponents of women's ordination who are upset that the dioceses that do not ordain women to the presbyterate and episcopate were simply moving from one ecclesial structure with female priests (TEC) to another that has women priests (some dioceses of ACNA). Therefore, these critics contend, we are simply no better off than before (or they argue that ACNA is doomed to fail from the start because of its unresolved stand on the issue).

While I certainly understand the depth of feelings the issue of women's ordination stirs on both sides of the question, I urge my friends to have a little more patience. We have only just begun to journey together within ACNA. It will take time for people to get to know each other and come to trust one another's intentions. It seems quite wise to me to wait a bit before tackling this very thorny problem. To press the issue today risks destroying five years of hard work in bringing us together. Let us take a couple of years to get to know one another better, then do the serious theological and Biblical study necessary in order to come to a resolution all the parties involved can respect. A bit more patience and a time of rest after all we have already been through would surely serve us well right now. In the meantime, I am confident that in Archbishop Duncan we have a leader who will see that "both integrities" will be fully respected.

I am also aware that some of my dear friends are out there who, longing for immediate reunion with the Roman see, regard the formation of ACNA as a step away from their goal. These dear brothers and sisters (and I mean that sincerely) hope for some sort of special arrangement with the Vatican that would allow for creation of an Anglican Use personal prelature (or some similar structure), permitting significant numbers of Anglican parishes to enter into full communion with Rome without changing their common life and practice very much. Since ACNA clearly contains a sizable number of Protestant-leaning Anglicans who do not share this dream of immediate reunion with the Holy See, they would prefer that Anglo-Catholics have nothing to do with ACNA.

[In the interest of fairness, I should remind my readers of what I have often said on this blog in the past. While I have a high degree of respect for the Roman Catholic tradition generally, and for the present incumbent of the throne of Peter in particular, I cannot in good conscience become a Roman Catholic at present. For me the dogma of papal infallibility, combined with certain teachings of Rome on Marian doctrine, preclude my coming into full communion with the Holy See. I am by conviction an Anglican Christian of the "middling sort," as comfortable with the heritage of the English Reformation as with the heritage bequeathed us by the medieval Church. I am self-consciously a child of the Elizabethan Settlement. After the events of the last week I now have a strong sense that the ACNA is where I belong.]

To these dear friends I would say that ACNA may not be perfect, but it is a place to stand while you await the outcome you desire. Nothing I have seen indicates that your heart-felt longing for large-scale reunion with Rome will be satisfied any time soon. After all, the TAC has been pushing hard for such a thing for a decade now with no discernible results. And while there was a great deal of ink spilled about Anglican Use plans following the C of E's action on female bishops last year, I am aware of no concrete steps yet taken by Rome yet as a result of that momentous decision. The Vatican is not known for haste in taking action. History indicates that you may have many years of waiting ahead before the developments you hope for take place--if they ever happen at all. (And you must admit there are powerful liberal forces within the American Roman Catholic Church who would not be happy to see large numbers of traditionalist Anglicans being brought in via the Anglican Use and will work against such a development).

Would it not be better to muddle along in the company of a sizable number of traditionalist Anglican brothers and sisters, albeit ones with more Reformed sympathies than your own, than to go it alone for years to come in hopes that the Vatican might come through with a special dispensation in the end? Archbishop Venables has made it clear that the special arrangements made by the province of the Southern Cone are temporary and cannot go on forever. If the Southern Cone-affiliated dioceses must act to find a home, ACNA is the only clear path presently available to them. And ACNA allows for far more autonomy on the diocesan level than the old TEC structures did. If a diocese really wanted to pull out of ACNA in the future (which is, admittedly, not a thing I personally would hope for), it could do so with minimal interference. Why not come aboard ACNA now, even if you plan on departing in the future? Would the work of the Kingdom really be hampered by such participation? Surely being part of such a larger Christian body has benefits of scale for ministry. I would argue that the participation of worthy Anglo-Catholic prelates like Bishop Schofield, Bishop Ackerman, and Bishop Iker in the formation of ACNA indicates that they see the benefit in such large-scale associations, as do I.

Now that I have got that off my chest, I just want to say again what a positive experience this last week was for me. I am delighted by the spirit of unity displayed here and have much higher hopes for the future of orthodox Anglicanism in America today than I did a year ago. To God be the Glory!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reflections on the First Two Days of the Assembly

I must say, this ACNA Assembly has been refreshing to attend. Having experienced a number of acrimonious meetings during my time in the Episcopal Church, what strikes me most about this ACNA gathering is the absolute lack of bitterness and division. Everyone seems delighted to be here, and perfectly willing to accommodate the differing opinions and worship styles of others. Yesterday, for example, there was so little division over the proposed Canons of the Church that they were all passed in less than half the time allotted in the schedule (and that seemed too brief to me when I first saw the time alotted!). All of the delegates seemed to be willing to say, "The Constitution and Canons may not be perfect but they are good enough and can be amended later if it appears they are not working well. Let's just get on with it so we can get back to doing what the Church ought to be doing."

And participating in the varied worship services, with their diverse styles, has also been refreshing for me. Although I have a preference for a moderate degree of "smells and bells," today I can appreciate better where my more contemporary Evangelical and Charismatic Anglican sisters and brothers are coming from. Everyone's preferences have been accommodated. Yesterday, for example, we began the day with a Rite I low mass in the cathedral at which we sang a couple of very traditional hymns (Mrs. Burton sounded great on the organ, as usual). Later in the tent we said Morning Prayer (Rite II) accompanied at times by a guitarist playing more-or-less traditional hymns mixed with a praise chorus or two. Then noonday prayer was a brief, spoken service. Finally the evening ended with a very traditional Rite I Evensong service, complete with incense. Large numbers of people took part in all four services, more or less comfortably, and seemed pleased to do so. It truly has been a pleasure for me as well.

Now I am off to hear Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America speak. It appears he may have an important announcement to make. I can't wait to find out what it is!

Pastor Rick Warren's Address on Tuesday from Anglican TV

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pastor Rick Warren Addresses ACNA

Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, gave a spectacular address this morning to the attendees and delegates at the Anglican Church in North America's Provincial Assembly here. Take a look at the story from the local newspaper regarding the address.

Monday, June 22, 2009

ACNA Constitution Adopted this Afternoon

All of the proposed provisions of the Constitution of the Anglican Church in North America were adopted this afternoon, with only a scattered handful of "no" voice votes on any of them. It was clear that the mind of the Assembly was to "get this done," and there was little appetite for General Convention-style endless debate on minor provisions.

Thus the Anglican Church in North America was officially constituted at 4:25PM Central Daylight Time this evening. Glory to God in the highest!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Local DFW Fox Affiliate's Coverage of the ACNA Provincial Assembly

ACNA House of Bishops at St. Vincent's

Following a glorious Eucharist this morning at which Archbishop Nzimbi of Kenya preached an inspired homily and Archbishop Venables, Archbishop-designate Duncan, and Bishop Iker spoke from the heart to the congregation, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America resumed their deliberations in the parish hall of St. Vincent's Cathedral. More than 35 bishops from across North America were present at the Eucharist. My father, Randy, snapped these photos. Please pray for our inaugural Provincial Assembly, which begins with a festival Eucharist tomorrow at noon. Pray for wisdom for our worthy leaders, such as my own bishop--the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker (below).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Anglican Church in North America Inaugural Assembly Introductory Video

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I am back from the Holy Land!

I have just returned from my ten day pilgrimage to the Holy Land with 22 members of the St. Vincent's Church and School family. It was amazing beyond words! I will post a full write-up tomorrow, but for tonight I need some sleep. God bless!

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