A Memo from Bishop Iker to our Clergy--And a Letter from Archbishop Venables on the Same Topic
MEMO FROM THE BISHOP TO ALL DIOCESAN CLERGY
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.
The Most Rev. Gregory J. Venables
Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone of South America