Defining “Alternative Episcopal Oversight”

The following is from the blog “Drell's Descants.” The author, Brad Drell, is a lawyer living in Alexandria, La., and was a lay deputy to this last General Convention.


It seems many have a hard time understanding what the [six] Dioceses are saying when they are requesting alternative primatial oversight. Quite simply, these Dioceses are requesting the ministry of a different Primate. What is the ministry of the Primate? This should have been well considered when we added the title to the office of Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. As I read our documents, the Primate of the Episcopal Church does the following things: 1.) Acts as chief pastor for the entire church, 2.) Must either preside at consecrations of new bishops or authorize another bishop to do so, and 3.) Represents the province at the Primate's meetings, the ACC meetings, and, to a lesser extent, the Lambeth Conference, with the Primate being tacitly authorized to speak for the entire Episcopal Church.

So, what do the Dioceses want when they request Alternative Primatial Oversight?

1.) A different chief pastor. To the extent the President Bishop provides this ministry, these Dioceses are asking for someone other than [Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold] and [Presiding Bishop-elect Katherine Jefferts Schori] to provide it.

2.) A different chief consecrator than the Presiding Bishop should a consecration of a new bishop need to occur in one of these Dioceses.

3.) An understanding that these Dioceses, largely as a part of the chief pastor relationship, will communicate their feelings and needs to a different Primate and will be considered to be represented by that different Primate at the aforementioned meetings. It is saying that the Primate of the Episcopal Church does not speak for these Dioceses.

Note that none of this denies that the Presiding Bishop, current or future, has the right to preside over the House of Bishops, which, previously, was the Presiding Bishop's sole function, as I understand it. It is not a repudiation of membership in the Episcopal Church or its General Convention. Many have misinterpreted these moves as leaving the church when nothing could be further from the truth.

This should not appear to be all that strange; we do allow alternative oversight, albeit in a weak from, as DEPO, and that still allows a parish to remain in the Diocese and the Episcopal Church. Seems APO ought to work as well - if we but have the generosity to grant it to our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Again, I hope this sets the record straight.

Your brother in Christ,

Brad Drell



Bishop Iker has sent the following message to reporter David Michael Cohen:

Your article "Diocese Votes to Leave Church" is seriously in error. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has made no such decision. That decision could only be made by the Annual Convention of the Diocese which meets in November.

We have asked for the alternative oversight and pastoral care of an orthodox primate of the Anglican Communion, but this is a pastoral arrangement, not a legal one, and the request has been made in full accord with official church procedures.

Our Diocese is still a full member of The Episcopal Church, and I would appreciate a retraction and correction in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. You have misinformed your readers.

Thank you.
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Friday, June 23:

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is seeking to align itself with an Anglican primate other than the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States. The proposed shift was mischaracterized Wednesday in the headline for an article about the diocese.
















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