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A letter from Bishop Iker to the Presiding Bishop

November 12, 2007

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Dear Katharine,

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. Every year at our Chrism Mass, I very happily reaffirm my ordination vows, along with all our clergy, that I will be “loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” (BCP, pages 526 and 538)

It is highly inappropriate for you to attempt to interfere in the internal life of this diocese as we prayerfully prepare to gather in Convention. The threatening tone of your open letter makes no attempt to promote reconciliation, mediation, or even dialogue about our profound theological differences. Instead, it appears designed to intimidate our delegates and me, in an attempt to deter us from taking any action that opposes the direction in which you are leading our Church. It is deeply troubling that you would have me prevent the clergy and laity of this diocese from openly discussing our future place in the life of the wider Anglican Communion, as we debate a variety of proposals. As you well know, the polity of this Church requires the full participation of the clergy and lay orders, not just bishops, in the decision making process. It grieves me that as the Presiding Bishop you would misuse your office in an attempt to intimidate and manipulate this diocese.

While I do not wish to meet antagonism with antagonism, I must remind you that 25 years ago this month, the newly formed Diocese of Fort Worth voluntarily voted to enter into union with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. If circumstances warrant it, we can likewise, by voluntary vote, terminate that relationship. Your aggressive, dictatorial posturing has no place in that decision. Sadly, however, your missive will now be one of the factors that our Convention will consider as we determine the future course of this diocese for the next 25 years and beyond, under God’s grace and guidance.

In closing, let me be very clear. While your threats deeply sadden us, they do not frighten us. We will continue to stand firm for the unchanging truth of the Holy Scriptures and the redeeming Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whatever the costs. I shall continue to pray for you, as I trust you will pray for me, in the difficult days ahead.

Faithfully in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth


The Presiding Bishop’s letter

8 November 2007

The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker
The Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth
2900 Alemeda Street
Fort Worth, TX 76108

Dear Jack,

As you are undoubtedly aware, it is my view that recent amendments to your Diocese's
constitution violate the Constitutional requirement that the Diocese maintain an
"unqualified accession" to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. I have
now reviewed several proposed constitutional amendments that will be considered at
your forthcoming diocesan convention. It is evident to me that several of these proposed
changes would further violate the Church's Constitution, while some other proposed
changes would undo the problems created by the earlier amendments. It is clear from
your public statements and from what I understand your position to be regarding these
matters that you endorse the first set of changes. Your statements and actions in recent
months demonstrate an intention to lead your diocese into a position that would
purportedly permit it to depart from the Episcopal Church. All these efforts, in my view,
display a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between The Episcopal
Church and its dioceses.

I call upon you to recede from this direction and to lead your diocese on a new course
that recognizes the interdependent and hierarchical relationship between the national
Church and its dioceses and parishes. That relationship is at the heart of our mission, as
expressed in our polity. Specifically, I sincerely hope that you will change your position
and urge your diocese at its forthcoming convention to adopt the proposed amendments
that will bring the Diocese's constitution into agreement with the Church's Constitution
and Canons.

If your course does not change, I shall regrettably be compelled to see that appropriate
canonical steps are promptly taken to consider whether you have abandoned the
Communion of this Church -- by actions and substantive statements, however, they may
be phrased -- and whether you have committed canonical offences that warrant
disciplinary action.

It grieves me that any bishop of this Church would seek to lead any of its members out of
it. I would remind you of my open offer of an Episcopal Visitor if you wish to receive
pastoral care from another bishop. I continue to pray for reconciliation of this situation,
and I remain

Your servant in Christ,

Katharine Jefferts Schori