Convention Report and Text of the Bishop’s Address
Report from the Convention The mission congregation of St. Philip the Apostle, founded in Arlington in 1999, was elevated to parish status on Saturday, Nov. 19, at the 34th Annual Convention of the Diocese. Members of the church arrived by charter bus and came into the convention hall praising God in song as the parish was received. This was followed shortly by Bishop Iker’s annual Address to the convention, in which he announced that the congregation of Christ Church in Waco has committed itself to achieving parish status in time for next year’s Convention. (The full text of Bishop Iker’s address is below.) The business meeting, held this year at the Granbury Resort Conference Center, also included the adoption of a $1.64 million balanced budget and the election of new members of the Standing Committee and Ecclesiastical Trial Court, as follows: Standing Committee Clerical member: Fr. Joel Hampton (Church of the Holy Apostles, Fort Worth) Lay member: Judy Mayo (St. Andrew’s, Fort Worth) Ecclesiastical Trial Court Clerical member: Fr. Andy Powell (St. Andrew’s, Grand Prairie) The Convention began Friday, Nov. 18, with an opening Eucharist at Church of the Good Shepherd in Granbury and dinner. The Rev. Canon David Roseberry preached a sermon on the unearned treasure we have in our relationship with God. The mission and ministry of the Diocese have grown in a number of ways in 2016, as the clergy and delegates hear in various reports. Participation in diocesan events for youth has increased, pro-life ministries are prospering, Summer Camp attendence is growing each year, the TELET evangelism training is expanding to additional congregations, and several churches are building new facilities. Fr. Stanley Maneikis, who introduced a brief video on the work of Union Gospel Mission and thanked the many congregations that participate in that ministry, was honored with a special courtesy resolution celebrating his 50 years of ordained ministry, including 10 as Chaplain at the Fort Worth non-profit.
Bishop Jack Iker’s Address 
to the 34th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Fort Worth, held at the Granbury Resort Conference Center November 19, 2016 Greetings to all of you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and welcome to this our 34th Annual Diocesan Convention. The theme for this year’s convention are words very familiar to all of us – “Our Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving.” You recognize them as a phrase from the prayer of consecration said by the priest at every Rite One celebration of Holy Communion. They were written by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer for the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549, and they remain in use still today. The celebrant says: “And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.” It defines every Eucharist as a sacrificial offering to Almighty God, expressing our praise and thanksgiving for the once-for-all saving death, the self-sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our salvation. But it goes beyond that to speak our lives as Christian believers as a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.” The celebrant goes on to say, “And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.” ﷯This echoes the words of the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Romans, chapter 2, verse 1: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” We are to live consecrated lives, giving ourselves as spiritual offerings, living sacrifices to Almighty God, and continually rendering to Him praise and thanksgiving in all we say and do. This, then, is the lens through which I suggest that we view the life and ministry of our Diocese in this Annual Convention. As we hear various reports and consider the work God has given us to do in the Diocese of Fort Worth, let us see it all as “Our Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving,” a spiritual offering to the Lord. Among the many ways God has blessed us and provided for us in this past year, surely the clergy of our Diocese must come to mind. We thank God for them, all our priests and deacons – for their faithfulness and devotion and obedience. Every year at this Convention, we welcome new clergy to our fellowship of faith, and we thank God for sending them to us. Three new Rectors were installed since our last Convention, and I am pleased to tell you that there are no clergy vacancies in the Diocese at this time and that I have on file a list of clergy who have applied for consideration for any future vacancies. In addition, God continues to provide us with new vocations to the ordained ministry, every year. Two candidates are preparing for ordination as vocational deacons at Cranmer House in Dallas. Two new seminarians enrolled at Nashotah House this past fall, bringing the total number to four young men now studying for the priesthood, and I am pleased to report that I have already interviewed two aspirants who have applied to begin the ordination discernment process, with hopes of enrolling in seminary in the fall of 2017. We thank God for the sacrifices these young men are making to answer the call to ordination and for God’s providence in raising up among us faithful ministers of Word and Sacrament for the Church of the future. Speaking of the future, let us thank God for the numerical growth and the new construction projects taking place in several of our congregations. First, we honor the Church of St. Philip the Apostle in Arlington, as we congratulate them once again on achieving parish status at this Convention. Many of you will remember when they were started as a mission congregation in 1999, under the leadership of Fr. Felix, to reach out to the ever-growing population of African Anglicans in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Now, under the pastoral leadership of Fr. Kingsley, they have developed plans for a much larger, new church building, with the current sanctuary being converted into a parish hall. We wish them well in these exciting new plans for expansion. It is also a joy to tell you that the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Austin is now in the final stages of completing a lovely new church building, and if all goes well, they hope to have their first service in the new sanctuary on Christmas. They have been worshiping in leased meeting rooms in a strip mall for some time now, and it will be a great accomplishment to see them move into a beautiful new edifice in the near future. You can see pictures of it on their website, and I am pleased to say that I will be there to consecrate the new church at the time of my annual visitation on Sunday, April 2nd. Congratulations to Canon Giacolone and his people on this exciting new accomplishment. St. Laurence in Southlake is also moving ahead with new construction plans for their growing church family. Their need is for new classrooms, a welcome center, more meeting rooms, and a much larger parish hall and kitchen facility. Having completed a very successful capital funds campaign last spring to pay for this new expansion, Fr. Jordan hopes to have a ground breaking ceremony in March and to get the new construction under way shortly thereafter. The parish will also be taking on a new Diocesan Curate this coming summer, to be mentored by the Rector in a two-year program of formation. Senior seminarian Cooper Morelock, who is studying hard for his canonicals in January, hopes to be ordained deacon in early February and then begin his ministry at St. Laurence on July 1st. All this, of course, is made possible by the continued growth and spiritual vitality of this dynamic church family. Add to this list what God continues to do at Christ Church in Waco. Under the leadership of Fr. Lee Nelson, the congregation plans to move from mission status to full, self-supporting parish status at Diocesan Convention next year. They became a mission station in 2009 and have great hope for the future. They have located a prime piece of property near to the Baylor University campus for a new church home, and a fundraising project is currently under way to make this goal a reality. Later in this Convention, Fr. Nelson will have a few words to say about this important ministry at Baylor, in Waco, and in College Station. We also give thanks and praise to God for the continued growth of our Hispanic ministry, and we commend Canon Diaz, Fr. Loyo, Fr. Villareal, and Fr. Ordonez for their servant leadership in this important work. A particular challenge faces us at this time in addressing the need for a new parish hall, kitchen and classrooms at San Juan. This past year the City of Fort Worth condemned the old parish hall due to extensive dry rot and serious foundations problems. The old building has been demolished and the rubbish removed, but they are now without classrooms, a kitchen, or any parish hall meeting space. Plans for new construction are being finalized, and the Board of Trustees of the Corporation of the Diocese is negotiating terms for a loan to finance this much-needed project, which we hope to complete in the spring. In recent weeks, I completed the transfer of one of our smaller mission stations to a new Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America. St. Paul’s Church in Midland has been released to become a part of the missionary Diocese of the Southwest, under Bishop Mark Zimmerman. They affiliated with us in 2010, and with the death of their founding priest last year, they engaged one of Bishop Zimmerman’s priests in Midland to be their supply priest on Sundays. This transfer enables them to be a member church of the same diocese as their priest. I am pleased to tell you that a new congregation is in the infancy stages in Abilene, under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Bryan Stewart, the Associate Professor of Religion at McMurry University who also assists on Sundays at St. Andrew’s Church in Breckenridge. Right now it is being called the Abilene Anglican Fellowship, and they are having 30 people or so for worship services twice a month. If attendance continues to grow as we expect, next year’s Convention will receive this group as a new mission station. Pray for God’s continued blessing upon this new mission venture. ﷯No Bishop’s Address to Diocesan Convention would be complete without an update on our litigation. As you know, we are now in the seventh year of defending ourselves in a lawsuit brought against us by The Episcopal Church and their local supporters, in an attempt to deprive us of our churches, properties, and assets. Yes, we lost the first round in district court because Judge Chupp ruled that under the legal principles of ecclesiastical deference to an hierarchical church, TEC owned everything. However, the Texas Supreme Court reversed this decision and sent it back to Judge Chupp to be decided under the legal concept of “neutral principles of law.” This time he ruled in our favor, recognizing that under Texas property law everything under dispute rightfully belongs to our Diocese and our Corporation. It is this ruling that TEC then appealed and is now before the Second Court of Appeals here in Fort Worth. Following oral arguments, it was submitted to the Court in late April, and we hope to have a decision in our favor by the end of December - which, of course, TEC will probably appeal again. However, in due course, they will run out of appeals and the case will come to an end. Our legal team believes that any additional appeals will probably be exhausted by the end of 2017 and that the litigation finally will end in our favor at that time. Thank God for the legal counsel that has worked so long and so hard on our behalf – Shelby Sharpe, David Weaver, and Scott Brister. As we work through our business agenda at this Convention, we will continue to offer to God “our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” in the many programs and ministries of our diocese in the coming the year: *healing missions, church revitalization workshops, and training days for church administrators and treasurers *our life-changing ministry with young people through Happenings, New Beginnings, the St. Michael’s Conference, Camp Crucis, and many other youth events, coordinated so ably by Megan Pearce, our youth animator *spiritual renewal and inspiration for discipleship at our annual men’s conference, women’s congress, clergy retreats, priests’ wives’ retreats, Cursillos, and so much more. Thank all of you for your prayers and support and encouragement throughout the year. Thank you for your witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in this Great Commission Diocese, in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a joy to serve as your Bishop and to lead us forward into 2017 as we continue to offer to Almighty God this “our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.” May God bless us all!