of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
Table of Contents
the 2005 edition
from the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, Bishop of
Pertaining to the Clergy
Matters Pertaining to the Laity
Guidelines on the Diaconate
Parish and Mission Policies
Departments and Commissions
Map and Forms
I through VIII in PDF format
IX in PDF format
Audit, Bonding, etc.
of Children to Holy Communion
Annulment of Marriage Information & Petition
Bishop Davies Center
Reteat & Conference Center
Policy and Procedures
on Church Architecture and Applied Arts
Deans and Deaneries
Departments and Commissions
Diocesan Curacy Program
Diocesan Ministries Commission
Dress of the Clergy
Mission News Items
Information Form & Petition to be Married in the Church
Items Available at
the Diocesan Center
License to Officiate
Licensed Lay Ministries
Map of Diocesan Centers of Ministry
of Divorced Persons in the Church
Marriage of Divorced Persons-Information Form & Petition
Mausoleum and Columbarium of the Diocese of Dallas
Examinations and Clergy Wellness
Prayer Book Policy
Standards of Sexual
Title to Property
Matters Pertaining to
Because the basic life facts regarding the clergy are essential to
the Bishop in his role as Chief Pastor, informational data forms
on all clergy
of the Diocese are maintained for the Bishop’s files. All clergy
are required to submit such data to the Bishop and to periodically update
Transfer of canonical residency by Letters Dimissory should be requested
to be sent to a new diocese by clergy who move there, immediately
after taking up residence and being received by their new Bishop.
we receive such letters under the same conditions. However, both
the issuance and acceptance of Letters Dimissory may be delayed by
Bishop for cause.
A license to officiate in the Diocese may be requested from the Bishop
by clergy living within this Diocese who are canonically resident
in another Diocese, provided that they have first received a call
an assistant priest at one of the congregations of the Diocese
of Fort Worth. Such licenses are to be reviewed annually by the Bishop,
an annual activity report must be submitted to the Bishop by all
licensed clergy prior to having their license renewed.
Examinations and Clergy Wellness:
Clergy should practice good stewardship by setting the discipline
of having thorough physical examinations on a regular basis.
We who are
to self-examination at frequent intervals and know the benefit
for spiritual health must also care for the physical vehicle
provided by God. In taking
responsibility for their physical, spiritual and mental well
being, all clergy are to take time to be with their spouse and children.
are to take at least one full day off from work each week and
Clergy are entitled to one month’s vacation for every calendar year’s
work and ministry. It is to be taken in consultation with the vestry (or
Bishop’s Committee in the case of Vicars of missions). Should a
priest or deacon leave their cure before completing a calendar year,
can expect only part of the vacation in proportion to the time served.
Clergy Retreats and Conferences:
Clergy Retreats provide a necessary ingredient for the development of
priestly spirituality, and an annual retreat for all clergy is considered
mandatory by the Bishop. Clergy Conferences are of a different nature
and provide opportunities for the Bishop and clergy to share vital
concerns, develop mission and ministry plans and to enhance the quality
of collegiality expected in the Christian community’s leadership.
Expenses for retreats and conferences are to be shared by the priest
or deacon and the congregation. Each congregation is encouraged to budget
an annual amount for clergy continuing education and retreat expense.
When necessary, financial assistance is available from the Bishop. At
all Clergy Conferences and at the Mass of Collegiality during Holy Week,
all active clergy are required to be in attendance, unless excused by
All clergy are encouraged to plan times for continuing education and
to take sabbaticals when appropriate.
Diocesan Canon 24 covers the calling and the dismissal of assistant
clergy and curates. The Bishop deems it a serious pastoral responsibility
his ministry to consult with the rector and vestry in this matter since
the curate becomes a member of the diocesan family and is possibly
eligible for a later move within the diocese. No priest or deacon
to affiliate with a congregation of the Diocese as an assisting member
of the clergy without the express permission of the Bishop.
This category is related to the relationship of clergy with their
colleagues living and working in a Christian community. There are
protect the rights and privileges of the incumbent rector/vicar.
In addition to these "legal" rights, the exercise of common respect and
courtesy require protecting the ministry of a successor, for instance,
by being circumspect in visiting or returning to his former cure. Should
a request be made by a parishioner to a former rector/vicar to perform
a marriage, funeral, baptism, etc., permission must first be granted
by the incumbent rector/vicar and such ministry is to be performed only
at his invitation to do so. Such requests may become a difficult problem
for the clergyman in relationship with a former parish. He will be loved
and remembered, and he himself will have left behind close relationships.
Former parishioners may well continue to call upon him for ministerial
functions. But for the sake of his former parishioners and for the sake
of the new rector/vicar, who is trying to establish his relationship
with his people, the former rector/vicar must refrain if at all possible
from accepting these requests. It is painful to make this kind of sacrifice,
but ethically he is obliged to say NO and thus, further strengthen his
successor’s pastoral relationship and ministry. Good instruction
of the laity before leaving a cure will serve to fortify this position.
of Sexual Morality:
All members of the clergy of this Diocese, having subscribed to the Declaration
required by Article VIII of the National Constitution, shall be under
the obligation to model in their own lives the received teaching of the
Church that all its members are to abstain from sexual relations outside
of Holy Matrimony. The Bishop refuses to admit any clergy into this Diocese
who will not subscribe to this standard.
All clergy functioning within this Diocese are required to receive training
in the prevention of sexual harassment, adult sexual misconduct, and
child sexual abuse and to be familiar with the Sexual Misconduct Policy
of the Diocese. Copies are available from the Bishop’s Office.
It is to be understood that when a member of the clergy is divorced
under a cloud of scandal he or she must resign his or her cure and
be able to continue to serve within the Diocese. He or she is not
necessarily resigning from or renouncing the ministry and, in certain
may transfer and serve in another diocese. The Bishop will assist
that person in seeking such a call, when appropriate.
Remarriage following divorce is not normally permitted for one who
wishes to remain on active service in the Diocese of Fort Worth.
It is expected that when marital difficulties arise among the clergy,
the Bishop will not be the last to know, but will have sufficient
opportunity to work with and counsel the priest and spouse so that
divorce will not
be the only option.
Supply Policies and Procedures:
The Diocese, through the Canon to the Ordinary, maintains a list
of clergy available for clergy supply. On request, this list will
be sent to any
parish, rector or vicar in need of a supply priest.
minimum remuneration is:
One principal Sunday Eucharist......................................$125.
Other Sunday Eucharists (each).......................................$75.
Weekday Eucharist (each)................................................$75.
Mileage is to be reimbursed at the standard rate per mile under current
When there is a vacancy in any parish of the Diocese, the Bishop
will assist the vestry in engaging the services of interim clergy,
to serve until such
time as a new rector is called. An interim priest-in-charge will serve
with the understanding that he is not eligible for consideration as
the new rector.
of the Clergy:
Clergy must be ever mindful that their personal appearance while
in the performance of official duties in public is not only a reflection
also upon their parishes, the Diocese and the Episcopal Church. Appropriate
clerical attire, clean and pressed, shoes shined, etc. is expected
of all clergy of the Diocese at all times, sports and leisure time
the "black suit, black shirt standard" as the norm for all diocesan
priests and discourages the wearing of loud colors or flashy attire with clericals.
The cassock is the ordinary dress of the clergy while in the church.
The surplice or cotta is the ordinary dress, worn over the cassock,
for all services and ministrations, except when Eucharistic vestments
The stole (outside Mass) is never worn over the surplice as a mere
decoration; it is worn when some occasion requires it. The stole
is, therefore, worn over the surplice or cotta:
• At Baptisms
and Weddings (white)
• While hearing confessions and when giving Unction (purple);
• By the priests who assist the Bishop in laying on of hands in the
ordination of priests (white or red, as
designated by the Bishop);
• In administering Communion from the Reserved
Sacrament to the sick (white);
• When conducting a funeral (purple or
• When local custom is observed at certain
services, such as the Stations of the Cross.
(2) The Eucharistic Vestments:
When Eucharistic vestments are worn in this Diocese for the celebration
of the Holy Eucharist, the following is strongly advised:
The priest who is to celebrate Mass is encouraged to wear
the cassock, over which is worn the amice, alb, girdle, maniple,
chasuble. The cassock/alb
may be substituted for the cassock and alb.
The deacon wears cassock, amice, alb (cassock/alb), stole
(over left shoulder), dalmatic and maniple.
The sub-deacon wears cassock, amice, alb (cassock/alb), girdle,
At a Low Mass, the celebrant is to wear the same vestments,
but assisting clergy are to wear cassock, surplice, and stole,
are to assist
in the administration
of the Sacraments. An acceptable alternative for assisting
clergy would be to wear a cassock/alb and stole.
Pertaining to the Laity
Activities of acolytes are to be handled by the Parishes and Missions. Proper
training and instruction of all acolytes are the responsibility of the rector
of Children to Holy Communion:
Admission to Communion is given in the sacrament of Baptism. Guidelines
set forth in the 1988 House of Bishops resolution should be followed
those baptized as infants:
that the mind of the House of Bishops is that: Those baptized in
infancy may, as full members of the Body of Christ, begin receiving
communion at any time they desire and their parents permit; and that the following
pastoral principles are recommended to guide the Church in
those baptized as infants:
That the reception of communion by young children should normally
the context of their participation with their parents
and other family in
the liturgy of the Church;
instruction is required for adults and older children before
their baptism and first communion; instruction
is also essential for
after they are baptized and have received communion
in infancy, that they may grow in appreciation of the
grace they have received
to respond in faith, love, and thankful commitment
of their lives to God;
pastoral sensitivity is always required: in not forcing the
sacrament on an unwilling child,
in not rejecting a baptized
who is reaching
out for communion with God in Christ, and
in respecting the position of the parents in this regard; and
That the practice of some parishes which customarily give first
to infants at their baptism,
then next offer
when they and
their parents express a desire that they
receive, is seen to be acceptable practice in the spirit
of these guidelines.”
who desire to provide First Communion classes for children should
consider five year olds as the appropriate age group
for such instruction.
It is the policy of the Bishop that no congregation will engage in the
sale of alcoholic beverages or mixed drinks at any function of the congregation
or any of its organizations. The sale of any alcoholic beverage or mixed
drinks is also contrary to the laws of the State of Texas without proper
The serving of alcoholic beverages (without charge) at wedding receptions,
suppers, picnics, etc., either on or off the church property, is left to
the discretion of the priest and the vestry. Where alcoholic beverages
are served, alternative drinks (non-alcoholic) must be provided and attractively
displayed for those who desire them.
Communicant In Good Standing
A baptized person who has been confirmed or received by a Bishop
of this Church and who receives Holy Communion on a regular basis
in the Episcopal Church
is a communicant of this Church. All communicants whose names are duly recorded
in the Parish Register where they are attending, who for the previous year
have been faithful in corporate worship, unless for good cause prevented,
and have been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread
of the Kingdom
of God, are to be considered Communicants in Good Standing.
It is both appropriate and necessary to expect lapsed communicants
and those who have changed church affiliations and are seeking
readmittance to the
Episcopal Church to be received back into communion
with the Bishop following a regular
attendance at an Inquirer’s Class.
The priest is in charge, not only of the funeral service, but also
of the decoration of the church and the choice of music. Due
consideration to the
the bereaved should be given in a pastoral, sensitive way. Funerals for
communicant members of the Church are normally celebrated in
the context of the Requiem
Mass, during which all communicants are to be given opportunity to receive
the Blessed Sacrament during the Communion of the people. Homilies by
the clergy are appropriate at funerals in the church, but eulogies
are to be discouraged.
It is the Bishop’s policy to allow congregations or organizations
within a congregation to host, sponsor, or participate in raffles and games
of chance (i.e., Bingo) provided they are conducted with discretion and
have no connection with an outside commercial organization. He does not
condone parishes, missions, or other agencies of the Diocese going into
the gambling business (sponsoring Bingo halls, etc.).
speaking, the Episcopal Church does not practice what is called "Open
Communion," i.e., that any baptized person
is invited to receive Holy Communion when visiting an Episcopal
Church. More accurately
stated, our policy is that any baptized person who is a
communicant in good standing in his or her own Church may receive
Church if that person feels the spiritual need to do so,
is repentant of their sins, and approaches the Holy Communion as
of the Real
Presence of Jesus Christ.
We do not publicly announce that everyone may come to the altar
for Communion. Neither do we turn away from Communion
anyone who presents
himself or herself at the Communion rail.
The habitual reception of the Sacrament by persons who are
not affiliated with the Episcopal Church is an indication
for a pastoral invitation
to Confirmation or Reception.
If a printed bulletin announcement is desired, the following
words are recommended by the Bishop:
visitors who have been baptized with water, in the name of the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit, and who have been admitted to Communion
in their own church, are welcome to share the Holy Eucharist. We
are all called to repent
of our sins and to approach the Holy Communion as an
expression of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. Many visitors who
desire on this occasion
to receive Communion in the Episcopal Church find in
it the means to strengthen their life within the Christian family
and their participation in the church
to which they belong, as we pray and work that God’s
Church may be one.
persons who have been baptized with water in the Name of the Holy
Trinity, have been admitted to Holy Communion in their
own church, and accept the teachings
on the Holy Eucharist on pages 859-860 of the Book of
Common Prayer are welcome to receive Holy Communion with us.
Intinction as a normal practice is not sanctioned within this Diocese.
Clergy are requested to instruct Eucharistic Ministers that if a communicant
insists on intinction, the Eucharistic Minister shall take the Host,
dip it in the chalice and place it on the communicant’s tongue.
Intinction is viewed as a mode of communication to be used in cases of
communicable diseases, infirmity, etc. Ancient custom and Scripture would
indicate reception in both kinds as normative.
A confirmed adult communicant in good standing may serve as a Worship
Leader, Lay Preacher, Eucharistic Minister, Eucharistic Visitor,
or Catechist if
licensed by the Bishop. Guidelines for training and selection of such
persons are contained in the Diocesan Manual for Lay Readers and
Ministers, copies of which may be obtained from the Diocesan Center for
The Bishop will issue a license only at the request, and upon the recommendation,
of the rector or vicar of the congregation in which the person will be
serving. The license shall be issued for a period of time not to exceed
three years and shall be revocable by the Bishop, or upon request of
the rector or vicar in charge of the congregation.
Licensed Worship Leader is a person who regularly leads public worship
in a congregation under the direction of a member of
the clergy. A Worship
Leader may give the sermon, provided that sermons published
for Worship Leaders or sermons provided by an ordained priest canonically
resident in the Diocese
of Fort Worth are used.
(B) A Lector is a person
who reads the lessons and leads the Prayers of the People.
This ministry does not require a Diocesan license.
They should, however,
be commissioned for this ministry by the congregation in
which they function.
(C) A Lay Preacher is a person who preaches
sermons of his or her own creation on occasions of public
worship. Both training and
examination by a Diocesan
training team will be required before such a license is granted.
(D) A Eucharistic Minister is licensed to
administer the chalice at services where there are not a
sufficient number of priests
and deacons present to
do so. When there are enough vested clergy in the service,
the clergy will administer
the chalice regardless of how many Eucharistic Ministers
are licensed in the congregation.
(E) A Eucharistic Visitor is licensed to
take the consecrated sacrament from the Holy Eucharist on
to members of the congregation
who, by reason
of illness or infirmity, are unable to be present at the
Celebration. Rectors who wish to use this ministry must carefully
Visitors and strictly
adhere to the provisions of the Book of Occasional Services.
concerning this ministry.
(F) A Catechist is a licensed lay person
who participates in the preparation of candidates for Baptism,
forms for licensed
lay ministries (PDF).
The Book of Common Prayer 1979 is the Prayer
Book of the Diocese of Fort Worth. The Book of Common
Prayer 1928 may be used by
Parishes and Missions
provided that the permission of the Bishop is first obtained.
The Anglican Service Book is not intended to replace the Prayer
Book in the pew of any congregation. Texts from it may be used
for services rendered
only in contemporary language in the Prayer Book, but are to
follow the rubrics of the Prayer Book in all instances.
The Lectionary and Calendar of the Church Year approved by General
Convention will be followed in all congregations in this Diocese.
Except in emergencies, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism should be administered
within the Eucharist as the chief service on a Sunday or other major
feast day. “Holy Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter
Vigil, on the Day of Pentecost, on All Saints’ Day or the Sunday after
All Saints’ Day, and on the Feast of Baptism of our Lord (the First Sunday
after the Epiphany). It is recommended that, as far as possible, Baptisms
be reserved for these occasions or when a bishop is present.” (Book
of Common Prayer, page 312)
Each person to be baptized is to be sponsored by one or more baptized persons,
who are themselves practicing Christian believers who are active members
of the Church. It is the required duty of the clergy to provide adequate
pre-baptismal instruction to all sponsors, parents, and mature candidates.
In the baptism of infants and children, it is the Bishop’s expectation
that at least one of the parents will be an active communicant member of
the congregation where the baptism is to take place. In pastoral situations
where this is not the case, the priest is to consult with the rector of
the parish where the family belongs prior to proceeding. Active participation
in the life of the Christian community is expected of all parties involved,
both before and after the baptism.
Confirmation is a significant event in the spiritual life of one making
a public reaffirmation of his or her baptismal vows. It is a time of
empowerment and commissioning, when one receives the apostolic
anointing with chrism. Candidates for confirmation must be properly instructed
in the Christian faith and life, repentant of their sins, and duly prepared
to make a mature, public commitment to following Jesus Christ as their
Lord and Savior.
Though the minimum age for youth confirmations may vary somewhat for
certain pastoral situations, the normative age for young people to be
for confirmation in this Diocese is thirteen or older. The Bishop discourages
confirmation for those who are younger than this.
Persons already confirmed by a bishop in the apostolic succession, but
not in the Anglican Communion, may be received by the Bishop, following
the appropriate instruction and preparation. Any member of the Episcopal
Church who has lapsed from active participation in the life of the Church,
or who for some other appropriate reason wishes to do so, may make a
public re-affirmation in the presence of the Bishop at the time of his
Confirmation, Reception and Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows are three
different, distinct categories of persons to be presented to the Bishop
at the time
of his annual visitation. In this Diocese, we continue to use the three
different categories as traditionally understood in the practice of classical
Anglicanism. Confirmation is for those who have been baptized, but have
never received the laying on of hands by a Bishop in apostolic succession.
Reception is for those who have been baptized and confirmed in another
church of the apostolic succession, (the Roman Catholic or Orthodox churches),
and now wish to be received into the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion.
Reaffirmation is for Episcopalians who wish to reaffirm their vows previously
made at baptism and confirmation. At confirmation, the traditional laying
on of hands by this Bishop is used. At reception and reaffirmation, it
is not; a blessing is given instead. Only those confirmed or received
are to be entered into your parish register in the "Confirmation" section.
Please make these distinctions clear as you present your candidates to
the bishop. He prefers to use the second formula for confirmation, and
you will notice that the words are different for reception and for reaffirmation.
Local clergy should take care to provide a fresh lemon wedge and a slice
of white bread for the Bishop to use in removing the oils from his thumb
immediately after the confirmations.
The priest is in charge, not only of the marriage service, but also
of the decoration of the church and the choice of music. No wedding
may be set without consultation and approval by the priest in charge.
are expected to be celebrated in the church as a service of worship
and not as private affairs or social spectaculars. No marriage
is to be celebrated
during Advent or Lent, except for special or unusual reasons. In such
cases, it is customary to consult with the Bishop before proceeding.
are required to provide careful preparation and instruction to the
couple prior to the solemnization of any marriage. For this reason,
priest must be contacted at least sixty days prior to the anticipated
date of the proposed wedding.
Every congregation is expected to have clear and precise policies regarding
marriages and the use of the Parish Hall for receptions. Matters to
be addressed include the use of flowers, candles, photographers, videos,
music, rehearsals, fees, etc.
It is the practice of this Christian community to celebrate all services
of Holy Matrimony within the normal place of worship, the parish church
building. Marriage is a Sacrament celebrated by, for and with the Christian
community. Any other practice such as garden weddings, or on bridal
paths, at lakeside, in airplanes, while skydiving, etc., are to be
as inappropriate. Marriages of communicant members of the Church are
normally celebrated in the context of the Nuptial Mass, during which
are to be given opportunity to receive the Blessed Sacrament during
the Communion of the people.
If for pastoral reasons an ecclesiastical annulment is requested, evidence
must be submitted based on Canon I. 19, Section 2(a) of the Constitution
and Canons of the Episcopal Church. In requesting an annulment, the
application form provided by the Bishop's office is to be accompanied
by the following:
- A letter
from the petitioner explaining the grounds for a judgment of the
nullity of this marriage.
letter from the priest of the congregation where the petitioner is
stating his assessment of the basis for an annulment
to be granted.
statements from a minimum of two witnesses, supporting the application,
based on their personal knowledge of the marriage
In The Church of Divorced Persons:
A petition to the Bishop is necessary when either or both parties
have been previously married and when the former spouse is still
The Church is not a business for marrying people, and only those
part of the Christian community or those who are seeking to become
part of it
are to be considered. One of the parties must be baptized and should
ordinarily be a member of the parish where the wedding is to take
A petition is something that seeks a decision. Therefore, certain
information is necessary on which to base that decision. The pastoral
established between the priest and those coming to him seeking
permission to marry in the Church is essential. The findings of
the priest are
the most important parts of the petition upon which the decision
Therefore, thorough counseling and teaching are expected.
The information presented to the Bishop, along with the completed
form of petition which is provided by the Bishop's office, must
- A letter
from the divorced person(s) indicating what went wrong in the previous
marriage, whether counseling was sought, what
or understandings were gained from the experience, why it
is believed that
the proposed marriage will be successful, what moral and
financial responsibilities continue with respect to the former spouse
any children of that marriage,
and the reason(s) the person wishes to be married in the
- A letter
from the priest indicating his opinion in the matter and his willingness
to officiate at the marriage.
for remarriage of a person who has already been twice married before
will not be considered by the Bishop unless
the priest can present
data which indicates that there were specific impediments to
one or both of the previous marriages. These impediments are
mistaken identity; sufficient mental deficiency; failure to
the age of puberty; undisclosed impotence, sexual perversion,
or venereal disease; bigamy; concurrent contract inconsistent
contract; or fraud, coercion, duress, or personality defects
which make competent
and free consent impossible.
Communicants of one Diocese who wish to be remarried by a priest
in another Diocese must first secure the consent of the Bishop
which they are canonically resident, and then have it endorsed
by the Bishop
of the Diocese in which they wish to be married.
The Bishop will receive petitions for permission to bless marriages
of those married outside the canonical provisions of the Church.
summarizing the circumstances of the marriage, and stating
that the couple has been instructed in the Church's teaching
The priest involved with them shall determine the time within
these limits. During this period, the couple is expected to
commitment by regular attendance at services of worship, financial
support of the
Church, prayer, and involvement in the life of the congregation.
Letters assuring communicants of their continued good standing
are available if requested, when they are not requesting permission
Such a letter does not carry permission to be married in the
Church at some
future date. A petition must always be submitted to the Bishop
whenever a divorced person, whose former spouse is still living,
be married in the Church.
In all requests for the Bishop's consent to the marriage of
divorced persons, applications must be in the hands of the
Bishop at least
60 days before
the marriage is contemplated, and no announcement of the marriage
may be made until the consent of the Bishop has been received.
will normally be considered by the Bishop only when the divorce
has been final for at least one year.
The Blessing of a Civil Marriage by a priest of the Church
requires the same consent from the Bishop and must meet the
I.19, if there is a previous divorce with the previous spouse
The Blessed Sacrament is to be reverently reserved (generally in
one kind) in a tabernacle or aumbry in the church. This reservation
indicated by a Presence Lamp (or Sanctuary Lamp), which is kept
burning at all
This lamp is preferably of clear, uncolored glass (not red), and
the sanctuary candle is to be white.
The Blessed Sacrament in reserve is to be replenished on a regular
basis. Only ordained persons are to lock or unlock the tabernacle
and remove the Sacrament from or replace it in the tabernacle.
on the Diaconate
Book of Common Prayer describes the work of a Deacon
as "a special
ministry of servanthood" directly under the Bishop. As such, the life
and ministry of a Deacon goes far beyond liturgical functions and Sunday
morning activities. It is an active ministry in the world, seeking to serve
all people, “particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely.”
(BCP, pg. 543)
The following guidelines are offered by the Bishop and the Commission on
Ministry to assist in the discernment of vocations to the Diaconate in
this Diocese. All aspirants should familiarize themselves with these guidelines
prior to applying to enter into the ordination process and must thoroughly
discuss them in advance with the priest who is to sponsor their application.
The academic course of study in preparation for ordination as a Deacon
will be a combination of a program at The Anglican School of Theology in
Dallas and a series of seminars offered here in the Diocese.
The process begins by attending the Bishop’s Conference on Vocations to
Deacons are non-stipendiary ministers. They do not receive a stipend
without the express permission of the Bishop. Wages, salary, or housing
not to be expected. The reimbursable expenses related to the performance
of their duties should be described in the individual contracts
with the rector
or institution to which they are assigned.
Deacons wear ordinary street clothes. They do not wear clerical attire
without the permission of the Bishop. They should wear the
pin or the
Deacon's cross as a rule. If clerical attire is required, the Deacon should
request permission from the Bishop by specifying the times, locations,
to be performed as well as the reason for the request.
Deacons serve as the rubrics of The Book of Common Prayer direct in the
liturgical services of the Church. A priest should never
of a Deacon when a Deacon is present. Deacons do not officiate at public
services of Communion from the Reserved Sacrament (so called Deacon's
the written permission of the Bishop.
Deacons are assigned and re-assigned at the will of the Bishop as stated
in Title III, Canon 7, Sec. 4 of the Canons of the Episcopal
no Deacon may be "called" by a rector, vicar or parish to
serve as a curate or interim clergy. Each assignment should be reviewed
annually by the
Deacon, the parish or institution, and the Bishop.
Deacons should have seat and voice at all meetings of the vestry, and
they shall make a report to the Annual Parish Meeting regarding
the “needs, concerns,
and hopes of the world.”
Deacons should have a written contract in force for one year and reviewed
each year. This contract should be renegotiated with the
Bishop and the parish or institution to which the Deacon is assigned.
specify the duties, hours, and expenses eligible for reimbursement
as well as covering other areas that may be unique to the specific
supervising the work of Deacons shall always be aware that such
ministry is voluntary. Therefore, the hours expected must not be
10-20 hours per week and
must always leave room for occupation and family responsibilities.
The Deacon preaches at the discretion of the rector or vicar of the parish
to which the Deacon is assigned. The content of
with ministry in the diaconal context.
Deacons are entitled to seat and voice, but not vote in the Annual Convention
of the Diocese. A report from the Diaconate
to the Diocese
shall be presented
at each Convention.
Deacons are expected to attend periodic conferences as required by the
Bishop and should engage themselves in regular study
as a way of
upon their individual ministries.
Aspirants for the Diaconate should not assume that following ordination
they will be assigned to their home parish to
serve as a Deacon.
When there is a change of Rectors, the parish Deacon will normally be
reassigned by the Bishop to another
and Mission Policies
Each year in the parishes of the Diocese, a number of vestry members
are elected at the annual parish meeting. These men and women are chosen
by members of the congregation to act as their representatives in the
parish's relations with its clergy and the management of its corporate
property. The vestry is thus, in an important sense, the management
team of the parish.
The Canons of the Church regulating the duties of the wardens and vestry
of a parish are simple and meager. This is advantageous in that latitude
is given to meet varied circumstances and conditions and disadvantageous
in that there are practically no instructions to give guidance and authority.
It is vital to remember that the vestry acts as a "council of advice" to
the rector. As such, the rector and vestry form a TEAM MINISTRY. Members
of the vestry should also be fully aware that they are part of the Diocese
and that what they do or fail to do, affects the life and work of the
Diocese and is lifting up or lowering the morale and effectiveness of
the work of the general Church.
Many parishes are heavily colored by "congregationalism" which
is totally contrary to our polity in the Episcopal Church. The rector
and vestry of a parish must work together as a team, and a spirit of
mutual recognition and appreciation should be far more visible and articulate
than it often is.
These guidelines are presented in the hope that vestry elections and
service may be all that they should be in the parishes of the Diocese
to the advancement of the Body of Christ.
The principal purpose of the parish’s annual meeting, as defined by Canon
Law, is to elect vestry members to replace those whose terms have just
expired. But with careful planning, it can also become a major occasion
in the parish year for rallying morale, analyzing the progress of the
past twelve months, and concentrating on your goals for the immediate
In most parishes, the rector usually appoints the outgoing members of
the vestry to serve as a nominating committee. It is their duty to present
nominees who will bring additional know-how to the vestry, so that its
membership will reflect a broad spectrum of expertise ranging from the
legal and fiscal to such fields as communications, teaching, social work,
Many nominating committees prepare a slate of more names than there are
positions to be filled to offer a choice to the parishioners and to forestall
any embarrassment among the losers. A person's commitment to the parish
is utmost in determining his/her willingness to service.
It is foolhardy to expect that being elected a member of the vestry will necessarily
activate what has been a nominal churchman. Likewise, it stands to reason that
any nominee not personally convinced and practicing Christian stewardship can
hardly be expected to bring a concern for stewardship and fiscal needs of the
parish if elected.
In some parishes, it is customary to supplement the nominating committee's list
by making nominations from the floor of the meeting. Others provide that this
be done in advance, by petition with a prescribed number of signatures. Whatever
procedure is followed, you will want to be sure that all candidates know what
election to the vestry will mean in terms of their time, energy, and imagination.
Although many priests are reluctant to do so, it is quite within the rights of
the local clergyman to make suggestions to the nominating committee and most
especially to express his previous relations with the nominees, and possible
difficulties or problems which could be encountered if they were elected to vestry
CRITERIA FOR VESTRY NOMINATION ARE THE FOLLOWING:
the nominee meet or exceed the canonical requirements of Communicant
status in this Church?
the nominee a consistent, concerned steward? Does he/she make a
pledge each year and pay that pledge?
Does the basic lifestyle of the nominee conform to Christian
expectations and is it consistent with his/her evaluation by
the community and parish?
lay ministry have they performed?
the nominee hopeful about the life of the parish, the Christian
faith, and life in general?
the rector work with the nominee?
information should quite properly be published for each nominee at
the parish meeting or before and in that way
a more intelligent selection
by the voting constituency.
Vestry election is one of the more important tasks accomplished
by the parish, therefore the following have been written for the
CANONS: Title I, Canon 14, Section 1, 2, and 3.
CANONS: CANON 25, Section 1-10, “Wardens and Vestry of Parishes”
The wardens are designated as senior or junior, although sometimes
called the “Rector’s
Warden” and the “People’s Warden.” At any
rate, the duties are usually assigned on the theory that
the ultimate responsibility is with the senior
warden who is closest to the rector. The junior warden is
most often given the special responsibility of the care of
the property and is expected to represent
the interests of the people of the parish.
The position of warden should never be allowed to become an "honorary
office"; it is too important for that. One of the
handicaps of church work is that it is voluntary; this
means that we too often allow the perpetuation
of conditions which would not be allowed in business. To
be a member of the nominating committee of a vestry is
to hold a very responsible position. In most parishes
this group determines the caliber and character of the
vestry over the years. By taking pains to secure the very
best persons available, they can make a vestry
a board on which it is a signal honor to serve.
Bonding, etc.: (See Diocesan
Each vestry is responsible for the fiscal affairs of the congregation.
It is the requirement of the Diocese of Fort Worth and the Canons
of the Episcopal
Church that there be an annual audit of the church's financial records.
This audit may be done by a professional audit firm, by a CPA,
or by an audit
committee appointed by the vestry and using the “Financial Guide” provided
by the Diocese. Copies are available from the Diocesan Center.
Every treasurer handling money in the name of the church or any of its
organizations is covered under a Diocesan blanket bond up to an amount
of $50,000. It
is not necessary for a congregation to acquire additional bond coverage
there is a desire to supplement the amount of the Diocesan bond.
Each rector and vestry is expected to comply with the requirements
of the National Church in preparing and submitting annual Parochial
report for the preceding year is due in the Diocesan Center no
later than March 31 of the succeeding year. In addition,
the clergy and vestry have
of supplying any information requested by the Diocesan Center.
Delegates and Alternate Delegates to the annual conventions of the
Diocese of Fort Worth are elected at the annual parish meeting of
until their successors are elected. The annual meeting of each parish
shall be held no later than the 31st of January. Delegates and Alternate
be communicants in good standing of the parish they are to represent
and at least 18 years of age. The number of delegates to be elected
on the basis
of the size of the congregation as determined by Canon 1 of the Diocese
of Fort Worth. If a Delegate cannot serve and no elected Alternate
the rector may certify another person to serve in place of the elected
A “Bishop’s Committee” shall be formed in each mission of the
Diocese to oversee the temporal concerns of the mission.
Members of the Bishop’s Committee are elected to the committee in the
same manner as that of members of the vestry of a parish. However,
they serve at the pleasure of the Bishop, who appoints the wardens
committee upon recommendation of the vicar.
The Bishop’s Committee functions in the same capacity as a vestry of
a parish, guided by the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese
pertaining to Vestries and Bishop’s Committees.
When a mission attains parish status, the congregation of the new parish
elects a vestry as prescribed in the Canons of the Diocese. When
that vestry is in place, the Bishop’s Committee is dissolved.
Title III, Canon 18, Section 4(a). Every Bishop shall visit the congregations
within his jurisdiction at least once in three years, for purposes of examining
their condition, inspecting the behavior of the clergy, administering Confirmation,
preaching the Word, and at his discretion, celebrating the Sacrament of the
Lord's Supper. At every visitation it shall be the duty of the Bishop to
examine the records required by Title III, Canon 18, Section 4(b).
III, Canon 9, Section 5(c). At every visitation it shall be the duty
of the minister, and of the church wardens or vestry,
or of some other officer,
to exhibit to the Bishop the Parish Register and to give information
to him of the state of the congregation, spiritual and temporal,
under such heads
as shall have been previously signified to them in writing, by
the Bishop. He will want to review the register of all burials,
baptisms, and marriages
which have taken place since his last visitation and to be given
a copy of the most recent financial report of the congregation.
a visitation of the Bishop, the services are under his direction.
The liturgical color and Propers of the day are to be used, whether
or not there are to be confirmations. A special offering is to
be received at all
services for the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund on the day of his
Normally, the Bishop's visitation schedule is established at
least nine months to a year in advance. This requires for the
to make known
requests or local needs far in advance, (i.e. anniversaries,
special celebrations, etc.), by calling or writing the Administrative
to the Bishop.
There Is a Vacancy
Whenever a Rector resigns or retires and a Parish is left vacant
in the Diocese of Fort Worth, the following steps are to be
Notification of Vacancy: The Senior Warden is to notify
the Bishop in writing
that the Parish is vacant. The Bishop
a telephone call
Special Vestry Meeting: The Bishop will call a meeting
of the Vestry in which
either he or the Canon to the Ordinary
search process which will lead to the calling of a new
priest. A brief description of the search process is outlined
Formation of a Search Committee by the Vestry: It is expected that the Vestry
serve as the Search Committee.
the Search Committee is
the Vestry plus additional parishioners who possess abilities
and skills that will help the Search Committee with its
at the end of this
process when the Vestry elects the new Rector, those
who have served on the Search Committee who are not members
of the Vestry
not be allowed a
vote.) The Vestry alone is authorized to make the final
decision (in consultation with the Bishop) and to issue
SEARCH – PHASE
Parish Self-Evaluation: The Vestry/Search Committee
in consultation with
the Bishop’s office will conduct a congregational study
to determine the needs, desires, expectations, wishes,
vision and call of
in order to be able to determine the kind of priest
that is needed. This comprehensive
study will result in what is called a Parish Profile
and will include such things as the history of the Parish, the ministry
on both inside
the congregation and outside in the community. It
will thoroughly describe what congregational life is like. This Parish
be used long after a new Rector is chosen as a handout
to new individuals and families.
The study and profile must be completed before names
of potential candidates for the position of Rector are gathered.
SEARCH – PHASE
will receive names of potential candidates from two sources:
a. The congregation members may be asked to suggest
names to the Search Committee. These names
will be forwarded
Bishop will review the Parish Profile and appropriately
advertise the vacancy among
of the Diocese
and among his connections
the Church. He will select and finalize a list
of candidates that he believes are the
that list to
Contacting the Candidates: The Vestry/Search Committee will send a letter of
first contact with the Parish
a request for
personal resumes of
each candidate. This letter will formally ask if
they are interested in the position.
Selection of a Short List of candidates: Once resumes are received, additional
may take place
calls) and/ or written
questions which will enable the Vestry/Search
Committee to form a short list of two or three candidates.
Interviewing the candidates: Once the short list is selected, the Vestry/Search
of the Vestry/Search Committee may make a visit to the Parish where
Once these visits
are completed the Vestry/Search Committee
will discuss these visits.
Vestry/Search Committee will bring each candidate and his wife for
two days in which they
will be given the opportunity to Celebrate
the Eucharist and preach (this is a private
only.) In addition, a formal
interview will take place in which the
Vestry/Search Committee presents its questions that have
been carefully formulated
based on the Parish
self study data. This
interview should provide a substantial
opportunity for the Vestry/Search Committee and the candidate
healthy match is
possible. During these two
days, a social/fellowship
activity should take place in which the
Vestry/Search committee and candidate get
to know each
other. The candidate and
also be given the opportunity
to see the community. If the candidate
is not a priest of the Diocese of Fort
to interview the
his office sometime during
the two-day visit.
Issuing the call: It is MANDATORY that a background check is done prior to
the call. Upon
completion of all
will meet to discuss each candidate thoroughly.
The Bishop is then
notified if the Vestry is ready to elect.
Upon permission granted, the Vestry proceeds to
elect the new Rector and a call is issued.
This should be done immediately by telephone
with a formal
letter which stipulates
b. Moving arrangements and conditions
c. Financial package
d. Vacation terms (one month per year)
e. Expectations of ministry
f. Continuing education and sabbatical
Wrap-up Activities: Once a call is accepted, the Senior Warden notifies the
A date should be
negotiated with the Bishop
regarding the service of
Institution for the new Rector. All candidates
who were not elected must be notified by
the Senior Warden
themselves to be considered.
The Diocese is divided into geographical
groupings of congregations called Deaneries.
of the Deanery
is to enable
clergy and laity to share common interests
and concerns and to work together with
more strength than is sometimes available
of each Deanery who serves
at the Bishop's pleasure. Deans are members
of the Executive Council with voice but
Activities on the Deanery
meetings of the Clericus,
the Deanery Council, and the Church Women.
Missions within the Diocese of Fort Worth
are the responsibility of the Bishop
and are part
and of the Diocese of which
he is the
constitutional head. Canon 21 of the
Diocese states that “the power to establish
a mission is hereby vested in the Bishop of the Diocese.” It
also gives him sole authority to appoint clergy and lay persons
serve in the missions
Committees of Missions will have the
same duties as Vestries of Parishes.
Canon 10 of the Diocese has also provided
for an Executive Council of which the
of the Diocese
the Department of Mission. The basic
policy of the Missions Department is
of all mission
aid him in the establishment of new
on Church Architecture & Applied Arts:
This commission is composed of people
skilled in church architecture and
ecclesiastical art. Any
building plans is required by Canon
14 to obtain the approval of this
Commission before erecting, adding
to, or making
parish house, or
Article 14 of the Constitution of
the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
“The Title of all real estate acquired for the use of the Church in
this Diocese, including the real property of all parishes and missions,
as well as Diocesan
Institutions, shall be held subject
to control of the Church in the Diocese of Fort Worth acting by and
through a corporation known as the Corporation
of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort
Forms for the sale or purchase
of property, and for church, loans.
are to be obtained
transactions must be approved
by the Finance Committee, the Standing
Committee and the Board of Trustees
of the Corporation
of the Episcopal
Policy: The mission policy for the Diocese is determined by the
Bishop and the Mission Department and approved by the Executive Council.
The Mission Strategy and Development Committee, consisting of clergy
and lay members, is appointed by the Bishop and is responsible for
establishing new congregations, as well as assisting in the growth
and support of existing mission churches. The Canon to the Ordinary
serves as Executive Officer for the Department.
Diocesan Curacy Program: All newly ordained transitional
deacons and priests working full-time in parish ministry and related
fields are under
the supervision of the Mission Department’s Curacy Program. Each ordinand
will serve the first two years of his ministry as curate to an experienced
rector. The rector and curate are expected to cooperate with the guidelines
and policies set forth by the Mission Department. The Diocese shares
with the parish the expenses of the program.
World Mission Committee: The members of this committee
are appointed by the Bishop and are charged to help our Diocese be
minded,” by stimulating our interest and involvement in mission
work beyond the boundaries of our own Diocese. The committee assists
the Bishop in coordinating our relationship with our Companion Dioceses
in Northern Mexico and Northern Malawi.
The Finance Committee, consisting of appointed members of the Executive
Council, is responsible to the Executive Council for oversight of the
following procedures for the Diocese:
forms for loans, sale of property, purchase of property, etc., may
be obtained from the Director of Business and Finance.
The Church Insurance Company also writes Property and Liability Insurance
or any other insurance needed for church property at a considerable
savings to the parish or mission.
Workman’s Compensation Insurance must be obtained by each Parish or Mission
who pays any salary or stipend to one or more employees. This insurance may
be obtained from the Church Insurance Company.
Church Life Insurance Company, another company owned and operated by the
Church Pension Fund, underwrites the Church Group Life & Comprehensive
Medical Care Plan for clergy and lay employees. You may obtain a copy of
the plan from the insurance secretary at the Diocesan Center.
to Send Checks:
All checks sent to the Diocese of Fort Worth should be made out to “Diocese
of Fort Worth” and marked for Assessment, Bishop’s Discretionary Fund,
or whatever purpose you may indicate. Any checks so made out to the Diocese
of Fort Worth will be credited to the proper purpose.
The Commission for Community Ministries is appointed by the Bishop
from the membership of the Executive Council to deal with the Church’s
in which it lives.
The Commission's responsibilities are divided into the following areas
Hospital and Nursing Home Ministries
2. Hispanic Ministries
3. Episcopal Relief and Development
4. Airport Ministry - DFW
5. Urban Ministries
6. AIDS Ministries
7. Drug and Alcohol Abuse
8. Counseling Center Ministries
9. Habitat for Humanity
The Diocesan Ministries Commission is appointed by the Bishop from
the membership of the Executive Council and oversees the Church's
College Chaplaincy Ministries
Saint Anselm - UT in Arlington
b. Saint Edward’s - TCU in Fort Worth
c. Tarleton State University, Stephenville
d. Midwestern State, Wichita Falls
3. Lay Ministries
5. Day Schools
6. Youth Commission
7. Worship Commission
8. Arts & Architecture Commission
9. Evangelism Commission
10. Stewardship Committee
11. Christian Education Commission
12. Episcopal Center for Renewal
13. Spiritual Life Committee
14. World Mission Committee
in Mission News Items
Contributions to the diocesan newsletter should
be sent to the Diocesan Office marked "For
the Editor of Forward in Mission"
Twice a year a computer printout of each parish/mission mailing list
will be sent for corrections. These should be corrected and returned
as possible. It would be helpful to receive any changes of address as
soon as this information is received by the congregation.
The Editor of the Forward in Mission and the Bishop should
both be on the mailing list of every parish and mission of the Diocese.
Available at the Diocesan Center from the Bishop’s Secretary:
Iker's Official Portrait 8" x 10" … $15.
Lapel Pins (Diocesan shield) … $5.
Lay Reader Medallions … $7.50
Diocesan Directories … no charge
The Apostolic Succession 11" x 17 " … $ 5.
Diocesan Shield (color print) in two sizes: 8" x 10" … $5.00
15" x 20 1/2" … $5.00
Call the Canon to the Ordinary or his secretary to schedule use of the meeting
facilities at the Diocesan Center. These facilities include a kitchen, chapel,
conference room (40-50 people), and three smaller meeting rooms. A resource library
for Christian Education and youth ministry is also housed at the Diocesan Center.
It is very important to check with the Canon to the Ordinary or his secretary
in the scheduling of all activities, which should be on the Diocesan Calendar,
whether or not they are to be held in the Diocesan Center. In this way, we can
avoid unnecessary scheduling conflicts.
a year-round camp, conference, and retreat center owned and operated
by the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth under the direct supervision of
Director. It has a Board of Managers that is responsible in turn to the Bishop.
It offers a variety of retreats and conferences for all ages, as well as its
summer camping sessions for young people.
The facilities can accommodate a maximum of three hundred and three (303) persons
as follows: ten (10) in the Bishop Davies Lodge, sixteen (16) in Bishop Pope
Lodge, thirty-six (36) in Bishop Mason Youth Lodge, two (2) in St. Leo’s,
nine (9) in the Friary, ten (10) in the Infirmary, with two hundred twenty
(220) in the camper cabins which have heating and air conditioning.
Mason Retreat and Conference Center is owned by the Diocese of Dallas to be used by the people of the parishes and missions of both the Diocese of Dallas and the Diocese of Fort Worth for the purpose of conducting retreats, conferences, workshops, and/or quiet days.
The Center has excellent meeting, lodging, and dining facilities. Comfortable sleeping accommodations are available for up to 42 guests in 21 rooms. Several meeting rooms are available; these can be configured as classroom space with tables and chairs or set up with theater-style seating. For more information, call the Center office at 972-318-7030 or refer to the Web site at www.bishopmasoncenter.com.
Davies Center is a non-profit corporation located
at 2712 N. Hurstview in Hurst. The center is not simply a nursing facility;
a retirement home,
which provides its residents with comfort, security and peace of mind. The
facility has 150 beds. Rates are variable and are dependent upon the
selection of the
level of care provided to the resident. Services offered are: Physical, occupational,
and speech therapy, X-ray, EKG, lab, beauty/barber shop, social services and
The Columbarium and Mausoleum of the Diocese of Dallas is located next to the Orand Memorial Chapel at the Bishop Mason Retreat and Conference Center at Flower Mound, Texas. Visitors are welcome; however, please call in advance to be sure that someone will be present to greet you. For information about the hours of operation and services offered by the Columbarium and Mausoleum, see the Web site at www.mausoleumdfw.com or call the office at 972-318-7020.
Locator Map for Diocesan Centers of Ministry:
All forms are available in PDF format for downloading and printing.