Convention Report and Text of the Bishop’s Address
Report from the Convention
Two new congregations were added to the Diocese by the clergy and delegates of the 33rd annual Diocesan Convention on Saturday, Nov. 14. The business meeting also included the election of new members of the Standing Committee and Ecclesiastical Trial Court, a video greeting from Archbishop Foley Beach, and the adoption of a $1.7 million balanced budget.
The Convention began Friday, Nov. 13, with an opening Eucharist at St. Peter & St. Paul Church and a dinner prepared by the parish’s Brotherhood of St. Andrew men’s group. The Most. Rev. Robert Duncan, first Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), preached a sermon on the gift of the episcopate to the U.S. through the consecration of Samuel Seabury in 1784.
On Saturday the convention received Fr. Len Giacolone and members of St. Francis Church in Austin with enthusiastic applause as they brought a banner representing their congregation to the front of the parish hall. In addition, the brand new congregation of Incarnation Church in College Station was admitted as a mission station under the leadership of Fr. Lee Nelson.
To everyone’s surprise, four ballots were required to elect four people to diocesan office. The eventual winners were:
Standing Committee Clerical member: Fr. Chris Culpepper (Christ the Redeemer, Fort Worth)
Lay member: Jimmy Henry (St. John’s, Brownwood)
Ecclesiastical Trial Court Clerical member: Fr. John Munson (St. John’s, Burkburnett, and All Saints, Wichita Falls)
Lay member: Joseph Francis II (St. Peter & St. Paul, Arlington)
The Convention heard reports from more than a dozen ministry leaders describing activities from the past year. Bishop Iker invited Archbishop Duncan to report to the Convention on the current situation of the ACNA and its prospects for the future. He encouraged the clergy and delegates to give thanks for the smooth transition of leadership in the province from himself to Archbishop Beach, without any disunity. Around the Anglican Communion, he said, some had not believed this was possible. He also encouraged the Church to take the Gospel particularly to the Hispanic community and to millennials, who, he said, are dealing with “chaos” in their lives and need the hope and stability of the Gospel in their lives.
The 33rd Annual Convention was a joyful time of encouragement and thanksgiving. Members of the Diocese were invited to a number of events early in 2016, beginning with the March for Life in Dallas on Saturday, Jan. 16. February is busy, with the annual Parish Leaders’ Workshop on Saturday, Feb. 6; the Bishop’s Ball on Feb. 13; and the diocesan Men’s Conference, to be led by Archbishop Beach, on Feb. 19 and 20. New Beginnings, for youth in grades 7-9, will be held at Camp Crucis during the weekend of March 4-6. The international New Wineskins conference on mission, which meets just once every three years, is scheduled for early April. A Happening weekend for youth in grades 10-12 is also coming up at that time. Later in April a conference on healing will be held in the diocese, sponsored by the Order of St Luke. And early May brings a Parish Revitalization conference to be held at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Fort Worth. Mark your calendar now and be a part of these events!
With all business done and a wonderful fajita lunch prepared by the people of Iglesia San Juan having been enjoyed by all, Bishop Iker adjourned the Convention around 1:30 p.m. The next Diocesan Convention will be held on Nov. 11 and 12, 2016, at the Lake Granbury Conference Center.
Bishop Jack Iker’s Address
to the 33rd Annual Convention of the Diocese of Fort Worth,
held at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Arlington
November 14, 2015
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2
Greetings and welcome to all of you to this 33rd Annual Convention of the Diocese of Fort Worth. It is a particular joy to welcome as our special guests, Archbishop Bob Duncan and his wife, Nara. Donna and I have been good friends with the Duncans for almost 45 years now, having first met as fellow seminarians in 1971 at the General Theological Seminary in New York City.
All of us are indebted to Archbishop Duncan for his courageous leadership, first as President of the American Anglican Council during the tumultuous General Conventions of 2003 and 2006, and then as the bold leader of the Common Cause Partnership. It is that coalition of orthodox Anglicans that led to the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in June of 2009, and his election as the first Archbishop of the ACNA. At the completion of his five-year term a year and a half ago, he declined to serve a second term as Archbishop and returned to his full-time work as the Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. As you may know, at their Diocesan Convention last weekend, he announced he would be retiring as diocesan bishop at the end of June and put in place plans for the election of his successor.
On behalf of all of us, I want to extend to you, my dear brother, and to you, Nara, our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for all you have done for the church over the years. Thank you for your leadership and vision and for the many sacrifices you both have made as you have sought to serve our Lord and His Church, no matter what the costs. God bless and protect you both as you begin a new chapter in life as you transition into retirement.
“To God be the glory, Great things He has done!” These words from an old, evangelical, Gospel hymn express the theme of this year’s Diocesan Convention. Our primary purpose in gathering in this Convention is to give glory to Almighty God and to thank Him for the great things He has done for us.
One of first things causing us to give thanks today is the admission of two new congregations into union with this Convention. We welcome St. Francis Anglican Church in Austin as a full parish member and the Church of the Incarnation in College Station as a mission station. Fr. Len Giacolone and his congregation began in 1993 as part of the Episcopal Missionary Church under the leadership of Bishop A. Donald Davies, who became the first Diocesan Bishop of Fort Worth when this Diocese was formed in 1982. They are a traditional 1928 Prayer Book congregation with an average Sunday attendance of 70 people. While presently meeting in a strip mall facility, they own land and have building plans for the construction of a new church in the near future. We welcome them into our fellowship and pledge to them our encouragement and prayers as they move forward in this exciting next step of their development and mission.
The Church of the Incarnation has its origins in a special ministry to Texas A&M students, known as the “Anglican Aggies.” What began as a weekly Bible study and then developed into a once a month Sunday evening mass celebrated by a visiting diocesan priest, has now given birth to a new mission station, under the leadership of Fr. Lee Nelson, Vicar of Christ Church in Waco. The core group for this new plant is several local families who want to see a new Anglican church in their area, as well as the Anglican Aggie students who partner with them for outreach, evangelism, and worship. We will be praying for their continued growth and success in the coming year.
At the same time as we greet these two new congregations, we bid a fond farewell to Fr. John Slavin and St. Gabriel’s Anglican Church in Springdale, Ark., which has been a mission station of the diocese since 2009. They have been transferred to the Diocese of the South, with plans of cooperating with other Anglican churches in Arkansas in exploring the possible startup of a new Diocese in Formation in the Anglican Church in North America, and we certainly wish them well in this new venture.
I was deeply blessed and enriched this past summer by a three month sabbatical, which I know all of you have read about. Thank you once again for your generosity in making possible this time of refreshment and renewal. I returned to my work in early September fully engaged and reinvigorated for my ministry as Bishop of this wonderful diocese. My sincere thanks once again for those who covered for me while I was away and made sure that all ran smoothly during my absence: Dean Emeritus Bill Crary, Bishop Wantland and Bishop Ackerman, and our faithful diocesan offices staff.
My sabbatical came at the time we were celebrating two great court victories in our on-going litigation battle with The Episcopal Church over property ownership. As you know, Judge John Chupp ruled totally in our favor as to all the property involved in this dispute, including the church and rectory of All Saints’ Episcopal Church here in Fort Worth. His signature was not even dry on the final judgment before TEC was notifying the Second Court of Appeals here in Fort Worth that they would be appealing the decision. Needless to say, this came as no surprise to any of us. Their appellate brief is due on Nov. 23, and our reply is to be filed on Dec. 23. Our legal counsel expect that oral arguments will be heard in the spring, with a written decision being handed down sometime in the fall. It is expected, of course, that the appellate court will confirm that Judge Chupp’s decision is in full compliance with what the Texas Supreme Court said about this case. In Texas, church property disputes are decided by neutral principles of law that apply to all parties, instead of by deference to a hierarchical church body. We continue to thank God for the direction and assistance of our legal team – Scott Brister, Shelby Sharpe, David Weaver, and Bobby Rubarts. To God be the glory.
While I was away this past summer, our diocese earned national attention by hosting two international conferences. In early July, the Catholic Congress of Anglicans met at the Hilton Hotel and St. Andrew’s Church in downtown Fort Worth. Over 300 participants gathered for five days of excellent lectures and sermons from Anglican leaders from around the world, undergirded by inspirational worship services at St. Andrew’s. This historic gathering did much to strengthen our confidence in the catholic expression of Anglicanism and to deepen our hope for the future realignment and growth of the Anglican Communion of which we are a part.
The second international conference was held at Camp Crucis in early August, when my sabbatical schedule provided me with the opportunity to greet Hispanic Anglicans from across the United States, as well as from parts of Mexico, Chile, and Brazil, including six Spanish speaking Bishops. This annual gathering is called Caminemos Juntos and is sponsored by the Anglican Church in North America. Like here in our own diocese, the Hispanic ministry of the ACNA is growing and producing wonderful fruits all over North America. We continue to thank God for this opportunity for mission among the growing Hispanic population here and in many other places. Among those participating in the Crucis gathering, who are to be commended for their leadership in this work, are Canon Sergio Diaz, Fr. Javier Loyo, and Fr. Salvador Ordonez, as well as many faithful lay members of our Spanish speaking congregations. It is also my pleasure to tell you that plans are progressing for the ordination of another Hispanic deacon in the near future – Luis Banda of St. Timothy’s Church in Fort Worth. Please continue to pray that God will raise up additional Hispanic vocations to the ordained ministry in our Diocese. We give thanks for what has been accomplished and for all that is yet to come. To God be the glory.
As you know, every bishop has a ministry that extends beyond his own diocese, as he takes counsel with his fellow bishops and shares with them in the leadership of the wider church throughout the world, both on a national and international basis. As a member of the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America, I attend two meetings each year of all our Bishops – once in January and again in June. It is at these gatherings that we elect new bishops, pray and worship together, and collegially address matters that concern the welfare and mission of the church as a whole. In addition, I currently serve on three bishops committees of the ACNA, and each of these meet two or three times a year, as needed. In what follows, I would like to tell all of you a little more about the time I spend away from the diocese, serving on these committees.
The first is the Unity Task Force, which, as the name implies, seeks ways to deepen and strengthen our unity, in spite of differences in theology, churchmanship, and ecclesial history. Of primary concern is how we can deal with what are called “overlapping jurisdictions.” In far too many places, four or five ACNA bishops have congregations under their jurisdiction in the same city. This is largely due to the fact that the churches comprising the ACNA have come together from various Anglican backgrounds. The Reformed Episcopal Church, Dioceses like Fort Worth and Pittsburgh (and others that separated from The General Convention of the Episcopal Church), as well as new dioceses formed by churches previously under Anglican Provinces in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and others, have all come together is this new, common structure, and it presents many challenges to unity, as well as opportunities for mission and growth. Pray for this Unity Task Force as we seek ways to do away with so many acronyms that define us and to deepen our oneness as one church body. We meet at The Woodlands, near Houston, next week.
The second bishops’ committee I serve on is the Liturgy Review Committee. This is a small group of five bishops, chaired by Archbishop Duncan, whose work is to review and finalize proposals that come to us from the Liturgy Task Force. As you know, we have already approved new Anglican texts for Holy Communion, the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, the ordination of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, and for Holy Baptism and Confirmation. We meet again on December 1 & 2 in Herndon, Va., where we will consider rites for marriage and burial, as well as a new lectionary and revised church calendar. In due course, we plan to produce final texts to serve as suitable Anglican replacements for the 1979 Book of Common Prayer of TEC. This too is very important, sensitive work, for which I request your continuing prayers.
The third College of Bishops committee of which I am a member is the Dialogue Committee for our Ecumenical Conversations with the Polish National Catholic Church – the PNC. As you may know, this is a catholic church with apostolic orders that separated from the Roman Catholic Church because of theological differences, and at one time was in full communion with The Episcopal Church. However, that agreement fell apart when TEC unilaterally approved the ordination of women priests and bishops, contrary to the historic practice of the Apostolic Tradition. Those ecumenical conversations have now been revived and are moving forward in North America with this new dialogue committee. Many other fruitful dialogues are taking place, I am pleased to say, with Eastern Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholic Church, traditional Lutheran churches, and several others. As our Lord Jesus prayed that we all might be one, so you and I must work and pray for the unity of Christ’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. The next step in the PNC conversations will be in Dallas on Feb. 2 and 3, 2016.
In looking forward to next year, there are two diocesan renewal events that I want to call to your attention at this time. The first is the visit to our diocese of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, the Most Rev. Foley Beach. He will be leading our Men’s Leadership Conference on Friday night, Feb. 19 and all day Saturday, Feb. 20, at St. Vincent’s Cathedral, and then will be speaking at a diocesan banquet that Saturday evening at 7 p.m. at the Ridglea Country Club in Fort Worth. Further details and registration information will be found on the diocesan Web site (fwepiscopal.org) I encourage your participation and support.
The second big event will be a Church Revitalization Workshop to be held at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Fort Worth, beginning on Friday evening, May 6, and then continuing all day on Saturday, May 7. This will be led by a special church growth team from the American Anglican Council. These workshops have been held with great success in various parishes and dioceses across the country, and we are very fortunate to bring one to our diocese this spring. It is designed for a small leadership team from every one of our congregations, and I hope to have the full support and participation of every rector and vicar in the diocese, along with three or four lay leaders from each church. This workshop will be spent on planning and strategizing on how, with God’s help and direction, we can grow our churches. This is a subject of vital concern for all of us, as we seek to be a growing, missionary diocese. Please put this on your calendar. Plan to participate, and begin praying now that God will bless this workshop to renew and revitalize our congregations.
In conclusion, I want to thank all of you once again for your continued support and prayers for my ministry as your Bishop. Donna and I are deeply blessed by your encouragement and faithfulness, by your friendship and love. May the Lord in His goodness continue to bless and guide this Diocese in the days ahead, as we move forward in mission and outreach and as we continue a bold witness to the saving Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To God be the glory, Great things He has done – and will continue to do in all the days ahead.
33rd Annual Convention
of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
THE CHURCH OF ST. PETER & ST. PAUL
NOV. 13 & 14, 2015