Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Fort Worth Bears False Witness

Lisa points us to this interesting commentary by Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth regarding the recent House of Bishops meeting. Here's the opening lines:

A palpable sense of apprehension was in the air as the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church gathered at Camp Allen in Texas on 16 March 2007, for their five-day spring meeting. Everyone was in a dither about the recently issued Communique from the Dar es Salaam meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, calling for an 'unequivocal' response from the American bishops to the Windsor Report requests for a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions and the consecration of any bishop living in a same-sex partnership. The bishops have to give an answer by 30 September 2007...
This sound to me like a first-hand report. The problem is, Bishop Iker was not at this meeting. He chose to boycott it to avoid being contaminated by all those heretics he knew would be there. Yet, nowhere in this commentary does he mention that fact.

Once we know that his knowledge of the meeting is second-hand at best, it is not surprising that he gets almost all the facts wrong. Consider his description of how the statement from the bishops rejecting the pastoral scheme came about:

...In the days leading up to the meeting, all the bishops had been peppered by emails and letters from the lesbi-gay lobby group to 'just say no!' to this interference in our internal affairs. The Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, preparing to preside at her first meeting of the HOB, wrote to all the bishops to assure them that no decisions were to be made on the Communique at this meeting and to publicize that fact to others. This was to be a time for gracious conversation and careful listening to one another. Decisions were to be put off until the September meeting of the House in order to comply with the Primates' deadline.

However, the liberals were not buying that approach and were determined to take a stand now, perhaps not on the issue of the requested moratoria, which could wait until September, but certainly on the proposed Pastoral Scheme that would undermine the canonical integrity of TEC. A small group of bishops had been discussing a paper that they would spring on the meeting near its end and had arrived at Camp Allen with draft copies in hand...
Compare this with the account of Bishop Jim Kelsey, a saint of God who moved on to the nearer presence of our Lord just this week. Note that Bishop Kelsey was present for this meeting. We have previously discussed his commentary on the Bishops' meeting. Here is how describes the formation of the bishops' statement:

...I traveled to Texas on Wednesday, March 14. I was arriving two days before the full Bishops' meeting to participate in the regularly scheduled meeting of a group known as Bishops Working for a Just Society. Our coalition of about 50 bishops meets twice a year, facilitated by the Office for Government Relations of The Episcopal Church...

...On Friday, March 16, the full meeting of the bishops got underway. There were about 140 of us present...

...By the time the scheduled meeting was over for the day, and our group of concerned bishops assembled in a designated meeting room, it was clear that our group was not representing a minority position, but was in fact beginning to gather the overall mind of the full Meeting. There were 34 of us present. We went around the room and identified things we had heard in the full Meeting that we had found encouraging, and things we had found discouraging. We zeroed in on the over-riding concern about the so-called "Pastoral Scheme", which so obviously attacked the autonomy of the various Provinces (especially ours), and which clearly had little to no support among the full gathering of Bishops. We discussed the best way to articulate this concern, and many individuals agreed to speak with others not present to build consensus. A drafting committee of five bishops was asked to begin work on a draft statement, which we would review together on Sunday evening, and talk again amongst those gathered to see how things seemed to be progressing...

...By Sunday evening, our group had grown to 46. We spent considerable time reviewing the draft, suggesting changes, and asking the drafting committee to further refine it...

...On Monday evening, following the full bishops' session, our group met again. By now, we had over 80 bishops who had indicated their support for the content of our statement (though the actual text had not been available for people to review, since the drafting committee was still working on it). The group crammed into our meeting room and heard the text of the proposed resolution read. Changes and refinements were proposed...
These two renditions of the same meeting tell very different stories. One claims that a group of bishops arrived with a draft statement already prepared. The other claims that the statement was the result of conversations during the meeting, with the first draft prepared after the meeting had commenced. Since Bishop Kelsey was present for the meeting, and also present for the discussions that led to the statement refuting the pastoral scheme proposed by the Primates, and Bishop Iker was not, I am inclined to believe Bishop Kelsey's recollection of the events.

Since Bishop Iker was not there, yet had access to commentaries such as Bishop Kelsey's, he either chose to hear what he wanted to hear, or is intentionally bearing false witness against his brother and sister bishops. Unless we hear a detraction from Bishop Iker, now that the truth of what happened has been made clear, one must assume that the latter charge is the correct one; the Bishop of Fort Worth is intentionally misrepresenting his role in this meeting, and making false statements about what happened at that meeting, in an attempt to rewrite this latest chapter of the history of the Episcopal Church.

J.

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