seal A Pastoral Request from the Bishop
  This message is specifically directed to every priest in charge of a congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. However, I am sending it to all clergy, vestry members, and convention delegates on our mailing list so that everyone will know what I am proposing.

As the date approaches for our momentous Diocesan Convention vote in November, many parish clergy have attempted to make certain that their parishioners understand the issues surrounding the proposal that we separate from the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. In several places parish forums have been held, where outside speakers have been brought in to present the opposing sides on the question of realignment. Some of you have preached sermons on this subject, written articles for your parish newsletter, and even in a couple of places brought in General Convention authorities to speak to your people. In addition, several different groups have been formed in the Diocese, including Remain Episcopal, Via Media, and Remain Faithful, which have attempted to educate, organize, and motivate the laity to take sides on the question: “Should we remain with TEC or with the Diocese?” Legal counsel has been engaged, lawsuits are being anticipated, various steering committees have been formed, and outside assistance from the “815” church headquarters in New York is being sought.

An important factor that has often been forgotten in all of the controversy is the need for prayerful discernment that seeks, above all else, to know what God’s will is for us at this particular time in our life together as a diocesan family.

As your bishop and chief pastor, I am inviting and urging that every congregation in this Diocese enter into an intentional 40-day period of prayerful discernment to be concluded the week prior to our Convention on November 14 and 15. This means that our start-up day would have to be either September 28 or 29. Furthermore, I am proposing that we all use the same materials and process that will lead us in this venture. All the information that you will need may be found at this website: Please go to that site today or tomorrow and get everything you need in order to begin.

Fr. David Klein has already completed this program at St. John’s Church in Fort Worth, and I am certain that he is willing to commend it to you and to answer any questions you may have about it in advance.

I will not force any of you to comply with this request. At this very tense and troubled time in the life of our Church, I am simply asking each of you to respect and be guided by my pastoral direction and leadership as your bishop by leading your congregation(s) in this discernment program. Ultimately, no one from outside can tell you and your people what you should decide is the best way forward for your congregation. This 40-day program is to help each local congregation, as a body of Christian believers, to enter into a prayerful and reasoned process to help discern a way forward through the crisis that is confronting us.

Please let me know how I can be of assistance as we move forward together as the Holy Spirit leads us.

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

September 3, 2008