Monday, January 14, 2008

Faithful Episcopalians to Gather in Fort Worth on January 19

From Fort Worth Via Media


2 P.M., January 19, 2008
SID W. Richardson Hall, Lecture Hall 2, TCU
2840 W. Bowie STreet,
Fort Worth, Texas
Sponsored by Fort Worth Via Media

A small group unhappy with decisions made by the majority within The Episcopal Church has been working to undermine the church for nearly two decades. The leadership of The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has been an active part of that effort. They have begun the process of unilaterally taking the diocese and its property out of The Episcopal Church and aligning it with another Province in the Anglican Communion, an action certain to result in expensive litigation. But many Episcopalians in the diocese have no wish to leave The Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Tom Woodward will talk about what is at stake for them on Saturday, January 19, at 2 p.m. in the Sid W. Richardson Hall, Lecture Hall 2, Texas Christian University, 2840 W. Bowie Street. His address will be followed by a question-and-answer session...

...Admission is free, but reservations should be made HERE to insure adequate seating. For further information, please contact Fort Worth Via Media:
Lynne Minor, PR Chair, 682-429-7763George Komechak, President, 817-229-7257
An article about this gathering in the Wichita Falls paper can be found here.

In case you have not been following developments in Fort Worth, here are a few highlights:

In November, the Convention of the Diocese of Fort Worth voted to remove all references to their recognition of the authority of the Episcopal Church within their Diocese and considered an invitation to join the Province of the Southern Cone. Read the resolutions here.

Prior to this convention, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori sent a letter to Bp. Iker of Fort Worth in which she alerted him of some of the possible consequences if he moved forward with his plans to try to take the Diocese of Fort Worth out of the Episcopal Church. Bp. Iker issued a response which included this statement:

I have received your letter of November 8th and am rather surprised by your suggestion that I have somehow abandoned the communion of the church and may be subject to ecclesiastical discipline. Such a charge is baseless. I have abandoned nothing, and I have violated no canons...
However, just a month before this exchange of letters, Bp. Iker made these statements:

"There are three Forward in Faith dioceses in the United States, and the three bishops of those dioceses have come to a common conclusion that we have no future in the Episcopal Church," Iker reported to the London meeting. "Our conventions in those three dioceses, Fort Worth, Quincy, and San Joaquin, will be taking constitutional action to separate officially from TEC. Because it is a constitutional change, it must be passed at two successive annual conventions."

On the recording, Iker continued: "…Our plan is not only to disassociate, then, from the Episcopal Church, but to officially, constitutionally re-affiliate with an existing orthodox province of the communion that does not ordain women to the priesthood. These conversations are very far along but cannot be announced until the province that is considering our appeal has made their final decision public."
I'll leave it to you to decide if Bp. Iker has abandoned the communion of this Church (note that in the Constitution and Canons it is made clear that all references to "the Church" are intended to be recognized as The Episcopal Church). You can read more about these letters and statements here and here.

On January 9 of this year, the Bishop and Standing Committee of Fort Worth issued a report regarding accepting the invitation to join the Province of the Southern Cone. It is no surprise that they recommended this move.

It is interesting to note the language in this report. It begins with this statement:

...The Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in November 2007 took the first step toward dissociating itself from actions of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church...
It is quite clear that the leadership of the Diocese did not simply disassociate itself from the "actions" of TEC, but in fact completely disassociated itself from TEC. What is even more interesting is that at the beginning of this report, they continue to identify themselves as the "Episcopal" Diocese of Fort Worth. Notice how that language changes near the end of the report:

...While nothing will change in the day-to-day operations of the churches in the Diocese of Fort Worth, we expect a significant change in attitude and focus of the clergy and people of the diocese...
They decided to drop the illusion that there remains any connection with these leaders and the Episcopal Church. No doubt the only reason the term "Episcopal" was included in the first place was a weak attempt to protect Bp. Iker from following Bp. Schofield in being inhibited and deposed.

To stay informed about what is happening in Fort Worth, I commend to you these sites:

Fort Worth Via Media
Katie Sherrod's blog: Desert's Child.
Barbi Click's blog: Feathers and Faith.

I'll add to the list as I'm alerted to further resources.

We need to support those faithful Episcopalians in Fort Worth. If possible, plan now to attend the gathering this Saturday. Consider making a contribution. Let's do what we can do to let these folks know that they do not stand alone.


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