"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.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

ACNA figures to grow by five more parishes next week!

There will be five new congregations welcomed into the diocese of Fort Worth next week. Assuming the diocese accedes formally to the Constitution and Canons of the ACNA at our convention next Saturday (as seems likely) this will mean five new parishes for the new province! Several of these parishes are former TEC churches, while one is a new church plant.

The Church of Christ the Redeemer will be recognized as a mission parish in Fort Worth, under its vicar, Fr. Christopher Culpepper. St. Francis Church in Dallas will be welcomed as a new parish of the diocese, while St Gabriel's Anglican Church in Bentonville, AR, will become a mission station of the diocese. And St. Matthias' Anglican Church in Dallas and the Church of the Holy Spirit in Tulsa, OK, will become parishes of the diocese under a new Parish Affiliation Agreement that has been put into place here.

Welcome to the dioFortWorth family, friends!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

George Conger+ surveys the Communion and finds only individuals likely to take up Vatican's offer

From the Rev. George Conger, quoting in part Bishop Iker's letter of October 20th, on the website Religious Intelligence:

US Anglo-Catholic leader Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth said the proposal was a “very generous and welcoming offer” for those seeking to maintain “certain aspects of the Anglican way of worship, spirituality, and ethos while entering into full communion with the Pope.”

However, “not all Anglo-Catholics can accept certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, nor do they believe that they must first convert to Rome in order to be truly catholic Christians,” Bishop Iker said on Oct 20 noting that “other Anglicans who desire full communion with the See of Peter would prefer some sort of recognition of the validity of Anglican orders and the provision for inter-communion between Roman Catholics and Anglicans.”

The rest of the article is well worth reading. The C of E Newspaper's survey reveals no jurisdictions are likely to take up the Vatican's offer. Conversions will apparently be solely on an individual basis.

Conger's conclusion: In jurisdictions where traditional Anglo-Catholics predominate: the Provinces of Central Africa, Tanzania, West Africa, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the West Indies; the Australian dioceses of The Murray and Ballarat and the US dioceses of Fort Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin---individuals may take up the Vatican’s offer, but no institution is likely to follow. Nor is the offer likely to divide North American conservatives into rival Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical camps, its leaders tell CEN.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Roses of Bishop Davies Home, taken by my father Randy

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The most important news from my ministerial world today

The really big news in my cure of souls tonight is the marvelous VICTORY of our beloved St. Vincent's Middle School Lady Eagles in the Christian Schools Athletic Fellowship's North Texas Regional Volleyball Tournament!!!! Congratulations, my dear sisters in Christ! A great way to end a great season. Regional Champions--woo-HOO!!
Maren was named to the All-Region Team and Stephanie was named Tournament MVP. Great work, everyone. I am very proud of you!

Response to Vatican announcement of “personal ordinariates” for Anglicans

Bishop Iker has issued the following statement regarding today's announcement from the Vatican:

I have read with great interest various reports concerning today's announcement from top officials in the Vatican about some new provisions being made whereby Anglicans may enter into full communion with the Holy See. For some time now I have understood that high-level discussions about this were taking place in Rome and that an announcement along these lines would be made before the end of the year. As today's announcement indicates, a new Apostolic Constitution is soon to be released which will spell out Pope Benedict XVI's response to Anglicans who wish to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Many Anglo-Catholics will welcome this development as a very generous and welcoming offer that enhances the Pastoral Provision that has been in place for several years for those seeking reunion with Rome. Other Anglicans who desire full communion with the See of Peter would prefer some sort of recognition of the validity of Anglican orders and the provision for inter-communion between Roman Catholics and Anglicans.

The virtues of the proposal as I understand it have to do with maintaining certain aspects of the Anglican way of worship, spirituality, and ethos while entering into full communion with the Pope. But of course, not all Anglo-Catholics can accept certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, nor do they believe that they must first convert to Rome in order to be truly catholic Christians.

This option to choose different paths comes at a difficult time for us as together we face the challenges of the litigation brought against us by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Rather than making hasty decisions or quick resolutions, we will continue to work and pray together for the unity of Christ's holy catholic church throughout the world.

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

Major News from the Vatican about Anglican Use Expansion and Structure--UPDATED

There will no doubt be many of my brother priests here in Fort Worth who will rejoice mightily at this news. And I am happy that some of them may find it easier to accomplish what they have longed for--immediate and full reunion with the see of Rome.

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I have frequently said, however, that my own convictions are thoroughly Anglican on the matters that have sadly divided us from our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. Reunion with the bishop of Rome is not in the cards for me so long as papal infallibility is still the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. So my joy for those friends of mine who have been hoping for this is mixed with trepidation at what this might mean for the future of my own diocese and that of the ACNA. Time will tell. Let us all pray for wisdom.

The Vatican's clarifying statement may be read in its entirety here.

Here is the AP story out of Rome this morning:

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has created a new church structure for Anglicans who want to join the Catholic Church, responding to the disillusionment of some Anglicans over the ordination of women and the election of openly gay bishops.

The new provision will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining their Anglican identity and many of their liturgical traditions, Cardinal William Levada, the Vatican's chief doctrinal official, told a news conference.

The new church structure, called Personal Ordinariates, will be units of faithful within the local Catholic Church headed by former Anglican prelates who will provide spiritual care for Anglicans who wish to become Catholic.

"Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church," Levada said. "At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey."

Levada said the new canonical structure is a response to the many requests that have come to the Vatican over the years from Anglicans who have become increasingly disillusioned with the ordination of women, the election of openly gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions in the 77-million strong Anglican Communion. He declined to give figures on the number of requests that have come to the Vatican, or on the anticipated number of Anglicans who might take advantage of the new structure.

The new canonical provision allows married Anglican priests to become ordained Catholic priests — much the same way that Eastern rite priests who are in communion with Rome are allowed to be married. However, married Anglicans couldn't become Catholic bishops.

The Vatican announcement immediately raised questions about how it would be received within the Anglican Communion and the prospects for continued ecumenical talks between the Vatican and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Noticeably, no one from the Vatican's office on relations with Anglicans and other Christians attended the news conference; Levada said he had invited representatives to attend but they said they were all away from Rome.

However, the Vatican's archbishop of Westminster and Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the global Anglican church, issued a joint statement, saying the decision "brings an end to a period of uncertainty" for Anglicans wishing to join the Catholic Church. The statement said the decision in fact could not have happened had there not been such fruitful dialogue between the two.

"The ongoing official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing cooperation," the joint statement said.

The announcement was kept under wraps until the last moment: The Vatican only announced Levada's briefing Monday night, and Levada only flew back to Rome after finalizing the details at midnight.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A quote from 1843 that reflects beautifully why I have been an Anglican since the day I was baptized in 1990, and why I remain one today.

"The Romish Church had been accustomed to defend her errors by the authority of vague traditions, having their origin in the obscurity of the dark ages, or in the selfish cunning of her hierarchy. The continental Reformers went to the extreme of rejecting all tradition, and church authority, even though they pertained to primitive times, and were calculated to illustrate and harmonize the doctrines of the Gospel. The Reformers of the Church of England, while they maintained the supreme authority and the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and rejected such traditions as inculcated articles of faith in addition to what they contained, yet received with respectful veneration all those catholic and primitive usages of the Church which were in accordance with Scripture, and paid a due regard to the testimony of those holy men of early times, whose writings were peculiarly calculated to throw light upon the doctrines of the Saviour and the Apostles, and to show us how those doctrines were received and carried into practice in the primitive ages. This course is in accordance with the dictates of reason and common sense. In the investigation of any fact, especially if it pertain to remote antiquity, the first rule of evidence requires that we should examine it by the light of contemporary history. And, though the English Reformers ascribed no Popish infallibility to the Church, or to the early Fathers, yet, as the instruction they afforded came from sources where the truth was likely to be well understood, at a time when there was no motive to pervert it, and when the Holy Spirit seems to have been more abundantly shed upon the Church and upon its ministers, for the establishment of the Christian faith, they felt bound to receive that instruction, and to take it as a most useful guide, in all doubtful questions relating to the interpretation of the Scriptures, as well as to the rites and ceremonies which properly pertained to the Church.

In the "Necessary Doctrine of a Christian Man," agreed upon by the whole Church of England, in the year 1543, it is declared that "All those things which were taught by the Apostles, and have been by an whole universal consent of the Church of Christ ever sith that time taught continually, and taken always for true, ought to be received, accepted, and kept, as a perfect doctrine Apostolic."

In the preface to the Ordinal, agreed upon in the year 1552, the three Orders of the ministry are continued, on the ground that "It is evident unto all men, diligently reading Holy Scripture and Ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' times there have been these Orders of ministers in Christ's Church." The "Homilies of the Church" frequently refer to the authority of the early Fathers, in confirmation of the doctrines they inculcate. And all the venerable champions of the English Reformation have concurred in these sentiments. They never thought of a general license to every man to act as the interpreter of Scripture, according to his own private fancy, nor of giving to every one an unlimited freedom to exercise his own private inventions, in matters of Church Reform.

The general exercise of private judgment, and of the freedom of the will, is indeed the natural and inalienable right of every man. But he is responsible to his God, and, in a minor degree, to his fellow-men, for the manner in which he exercises those faculties. He may not rightly set them up in opposition to the word of God. He may not rightly exercise them in a spirit of vanity, of perversity, or of self-conceit. He may not rightly exercise them in a way injurious to the peace and order of society, nor without a due veneration for the judgment of the Church, and its ministry;--so far as that judgment is supported by primitive tradition and usage, and is in conformity to the divine Word. We deem him self-sufficient and conceited, who pays no respect to public opinion, even though that opinion may perhaps be founded on the caprice of the day. Much less is he to be commended who sets at nought the opinions of the wise and the good;--opinions which have stood the scrutiny of ages, and which have for centuries received the sanction of the universal Church."

from "A Charge to the Clergy of the Diocese of Connecticut" delivered at their diocesan convention in 1843 by the Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Brownell. Hat tip to TitusOneNine. Emphasis added by RWF.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Endorsing the Anglican Covenant at the Diocesan Level is Purely Symbolic, ABC Williams Indicates

After the last TEC GenCon the leadership of the few remaining "orthodox" dioceses within TEC (e.g., South Carolina) started talking about ways of "differentiating" themselves further from the national trends of TEC. In almost every case that differentiation was either completely symbolic (e.g., adoption of a formal statement clarifying the meanings of a word or two in the ordination vows taken by ordinands in that diocese) or the proposals were so vague as to amount to little at present (e.g., increase "co-operation" with Anglicans outside of TEC, etc.). [I have previously reflected on Bishop Lawrence's proposals here.]

Only one thing these orthodox TEC leaders suggested even had a hope of one day truly meaning something "on the ground"--a diocesan-level endorsement of the proposed Anglican Covenant,which national TEC will surely ultimately reject if it has any "teeth" at all. Perhaps ten years from now that kind of diocesan action might actually matter in some way, I thought. Just possibly the Covenant's adoption by South Carolina and other "orthodox" TEC entities might help them to remain part of orthodox Anglicanism world-wide, I hoped.

But now the Archbishop of Canterbury himself has indicated even such a diocesan endorsement of the Covenant is purely symbolic and will have no "official" meaning. Read this article from the Living Church.

Please, folks still trapped in the these handful of dioceses, it is time to admit the facts. Nothing you can do at the diocesan level will ever make you meaningfully different from the rest of TEC as long as you remain members of the national body. Your bishops are still ultimately answerable to PB Schori. You are still subject to TEC's constitution and canons and to it's disciplinary procedures. And most importantly, the heretical majority of TEC's bishops and standing committees will have an absolute veto over whomever your elect to be your next bishop.

Your staunch defense of orthodoxy could evaporate rapidly if your bishop unexpectedly leaves office. The powers that be will insure that your next bishop is "reasonable" and "moderate"--one of those respectable "conservatives" who politely states his traditionalist positions at church meetings and then faithfully implements whatever the decision of the TEC governing body in question are without further cavil. Once such a "reasonable" bishop is in place a majority of your parish clergy will be cut from the same cloth in less than a decade. By 2025 most of the people still left in the once "orthodox" dioceses of TEC will hardly remember what all this fuss was about.

More purely symbolic declarations are pointless at this juncture. Either act to separate from TEC now or come to terms with where your denomination is inevitably heading. Further resistance inside TEC is futile. The TEC ship has left the shore of traditional Christianity and is rapidly sailing away into the brave, new sunset of radical inclusion. Loudly proclaiming that you are not part of the vessel's journey while you still stand on it's deck watching the shoreline recede is simply a denial of reality. It is time to adjust to your new situation either by making peace with the Good Ship TEC's captain and crew or by jumping ship while you still might make it back home!

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