“Equipping the Saints for the Work of Ministry”
For Your Information

Many have asked for resources to help them understand the crisis in our Church and the issues facing the bishop, clergy, and people of this diocese. This page is an attempt to respond to that need. It is not intended to be a source of the latest news, but a place to find background. Most of these documents have been available on our Web site for some time.

Please visit again. From time to time more links will be added.

The Episcopal Church (TEC)
  How has the Episcopal Church changed over recent years?
  + Read “Reflections on Personal Experiences of ECUSA,” the viewpoint of Bishop Harold Miller, from the outside looking in.
  + Read “Ten Examples of how the essentials of the Christian faith are being eroded, challenged, or contradicted by The Episcopal Church” by the Rev. Jonathan Millard, Diocese of Pittsburgh
  + According to TEC's own statistics, between 2002 and 2004 the number of congregations dropped from 7305 to 7200, and the number of baptized members fell by 72,402 persons. Many other events and statistics are available in the 20-page booklet “Equipping the Saints: A Crisis Resource for Anglican Laity,” a publication of the American Anglican Council.
  + In a pamphlet titled “Can Two Walk Together, Except They Be Agreed?,” a footnote says: “ECUSA’s [former] Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold admitted to the Philadelphia Inquirer that “the Episcopal Church is in conflict with Scripture.... So one would have to say that the mind of Christ operative in the church over time . . . has led the church to in effect contradict the words of the Gospel.” The Bishop of Pennsylvania [the Rt. Rev. Charles Benison] explained more bluntly that “we [the Church] wrote the Bible, and we can rewrite it.”
  An Open Letter from Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) Community – Oct. 9, 2007
The Presiding Bishop
  What has Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said she believes about the faith and doctrine of the Church?
  + “We who practice the Christian tradition understand [Jesus] as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.” From Time Magazine. Read it all.

+ Here is an excerpt from a January 2007 interview in the Arkansas Gazette:

Q: Could you elaborate a little bit on your take on “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life” [a paraphrase of John 14:16]?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I certainly don’t disagree with that statement that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. But the way it’s used is as a truth serum, or a touchstone: If you cannot repeat this statement, then you’re not a faithful Christian or person of faith. I think Jesus as way – that’s certainly what it means to be on a spiritual journey. It means to be in search of relationship with God. We understand Jesus as truth in the sense of being the wholeness of human expression. What does it mean to be wholly and fully and completely a human being? Jesus as life, again, an example of abundant life. We understand him as bringer of abundant life but also as exemplar. What does it mean to be both fully human and fully divine? Here we have the evidence in human form. So I’m impatient with the narrow understanding, but certainly welcoming of the broader understanding.

Q: What about the rest of that statement –

KJS: The small box?

Q: Well, the rest of the verse, that no one comes to the Father except by the son.

KJS: Again in its narrow construction, it tends to eliminate other possibilities. In its broader construction, yes, human beings come to relationship with God largely through their experience of holiness in other human beings. Through seeing God at work in other people’s lives. In that sense, yes, I will affirm that statement. But not in the narrow sense, that people can only come to relationship with God through consciously believing in Jesus.”

  + Listen to an October 2006 interview that aired on public radio.
The Anglican Communion Network
  What is the Anglican Communion Network?

+ The Network is a group of dioceses, congregations, and clergy formed within the Episcopal Church; Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh is the elected Moderator of the Network. Its core purpose is “to be a united missionary movement of Anglicans in fellowship with global Anglicanism, making disciples who make disciples of Jesus Christ and planting churches that plant churches in North America and to the ends of the earth.”

+ An article with basic questions and answers: “What is the Anglican Communion Network?”

The Network's Web site: Vision and Core Values are here. Home page is here.

  Who are the Network Bishops? What is a Windsor Bishop?

+ The Dioceses of Albany, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, the Rio Grande, San Joaquin, South Carolina, and Springfield are affiliated with the Network. Their bishops all are Network Bishops.

+ A Windsor Bishop is one who agrees with the findings of the Windsor Report (issued in October 2004) and wants TEC to comply with its requests. Many Windsor Bishops are also Camp Allen Bishops; that is, they were among those who met at Camp Allen (near College Station, TX) in September 2006 and/or January 2007. The meetings attempted to find a way forward within TEC for Windsor-affirming bishops, dioceses, and individual parishes (which may not be in dioceses with Windsor bishops). The group of Windsor Bishops is larger than the group of Network Bishops.

  What can a parish of the diocese do if it does not want to belong to the ACN?
  Resolution 3A was passed by our 2006 Convention to provide a way for a parish to withdraw from Network membership.
  What has our diocesan convention said about those who disagree with the majority here?
  In Resolution 3B, our 2006 Convention called them “valued members of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.”
Anglican Origins – Two Views
  Schism: An Essay by the Rev. Chuck Collins
  The Canon Theologian response to the essay by the Rev. Chuck Collins: Schism
The Authority of Scripture
  Article XXI of the Articles of Religion states that councils of the church “may err, and sometimes have erred.” As a remedy, it prescribed a test: that “things ordained by [councils] as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.”

Article I of our diocesan Constitution affirms this test, saying, “The Church in this Diocese accedes to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and recognizes the authority of the General Convention of said Church provided that no action of General Convention which is contrary to Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Teaching of the Church shall be of any force or effect in this Diocese.” (The portion from “provided” to “this Diocese” was added by amendment in 1997.)

+ In 2003, our diocesan convention said, “We declare our commitment to work with those Bishops, Dioceses and congregations and those Primates and Provinces that will now move forward with a realignment of the Anglican Communion; we reaffirm the authority of Holy Scripture and our intention to continue faithfully to uphold and propagate the historic Faith and Order of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church under the sovereignty of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

  The Chancellor of the Episcopal Church sent a letter to this diocese last year taking exception to Article I of our Constitution. In June 2007 the Executive Council of TEC passed a resolution attempting to declare parts of our diocesan constitution “null and void.” What is it in our diocesan Constitution that offends Episcopal Church leadership?
  +Writing in October 2006, before the installation of the new Presiding Bishop, but using a female pronoun (the incumbent Presiding Bishop was Frank T. Griswold), TEC Chancellor David Booth Beers asked for a change in the document's wording because it might “be read as cutting against an ‘unqualified accession’ to the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.” In particular, he asked that the condition concerning Holy Scripture be removed. He concluded his letter saying, “Should your diocese decline to take that step, the Presiding Bishop will have to consider what sort of action she must take in order to bring your diocese into compliance.”
  + In June 2007, the national Executive Council said, "Any amendment to a diocesan constitution that purports in any way to limit or lessen an unqualified accession to the constitution of The Episcopal Church is null and void, and be it further resolved that the amendments passed to the constitutions of the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin, which purport to limit or lessen the unqualified accession to the constitution of The Episcopal Church are accordingly null and void and the constitutions of those dioceses shall be as they were as if such amendments had not been passed.” Read the response of Bishop Iker and our Standing Committee here.
Marriage and Human Sexuality
  What is “Lambeth I.10”?
  + This is a resolution passed by the bishops attending the Lambeth Conference in 1998. It remains, as the Archbishop of Canterbury has stated, the teaching of the Anglican Communion on the topic of human sexuality. This is the standard upheld by the Windsor Report. Since 2003, no governing body of TEC has found itself able to affirm Lambeth I.10 as the regulating standard for behavior of clergy or lay people.
  Does our diocese have a written statement concerning the sacrament of marriage and rites of same-sex union?
  + Yes. We have always held to the Church’s historic understanding of Holy Matrimony. But because of the variant practices and theology emerging in other Episcopal dioceses, we adopted a clear and unequivocal statement at the 2006 Diocesan Convention. This is now Canon 43 of our diocesan canons.
  How did this diocese respond to the election and consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003?
  + The Diocesan Convention in 2003 passed a resolution calling his consecration a “violation of the clear teaching of Holy Scripture” and “a schismatic act.”
  Some people say it is wrong to argue about sexuality when there is so much suffering in the world. The Episcopal Church has endorsed the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. What is this diocese doing to care for the needs of others?
  + The Millennium Development Goals are directed at relief of suffering and development (through education and economic assistance) of persons in the “two-thirds world.” Our World Mission Committee is the focus of our outreach efforts in this diocese, primarily focusing on our “companion dioceses” in Northern Malawi and Northern Mexico. Hundreds of people in our diocese are actively involved in giving, praying, and going on mission. We have been blessed to play a role in the betterment of lives through adult literacy, sustainable agriculture, reliable transportation, elementary education, health education, housing, small business, medical care, and the provision of pharmaceuticals and clinical equipment. Several of our parishes are active, too, through medical missions and trips organized for construction or other community tasks. We have a long-term commitment to La Gran Familia, the church-affiliated children's home in Curate, Mexico. Within our own diocese, we are involved with Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan House, Union Gospel Mission, the Baylor All Saints Hospitals, and other projects. Our Episcopal Church Women support the United Thank Offering. And besides all this, the Anglican Communion Network has developed international outreach programs through the Anglican Relief and Development Fund.
Women’s Ordination
  How does this diocese respond to women who feel called to ordination as priests of the Church?
  + For over a decade, Bishop Iker has made use of The Dallas Plan. Through an agreement with Bishop Stanton of Dallas, our bishop has referred women to our neighbor diocese for possible participation in vocational discernment and training for the presbyter ate.
  + In its December 2006 report, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Panel of Reference has unanimously endorsed the Dallas Plan (scroll down to paragraph 17), saying “no diocese or parish should be compelled to accept the ministry of word or sacrament from an ordained woman … The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop and the other Primates of the Anglican Communion should publicly commend the adequacy of the Dallas Plan.”
  + In March 2007 Bishop Iker and Bishop Stanton expanded the provisions of the Dallas Plan, so that, in addition to the pastoral care offered by Bishop Stanton to persons and parishes in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Bishop Iker can now provide certain types of pastoral care to persons and parishes in the Diocese of Dallas. Bishop Iker's summary is here. The text of the Dallas/Fort Worth Plan is here.

Alternate Primatial Oversight

  What is Alternate Primatial Oversight?

+ From here:

Quite simply, these Dioceses are requesting the ministry of a different Primate. … 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 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.”

  When did this diocese begin to seek APO?
  + On June 19, 2006. The appeal was faxed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and read into the record of General Convention that morning.
  What other dioceses joined the appeal for APO?
  + The Dioceses of Pittsburgh, South Carolina, San Joaquin, Central Florida, Springfield, and Quincy.
  What has happened in response to our APO request?

+ In May 2007 the Bishop, Standing Committee, and Executive Council of the diocese released this statement, giving a summary of events and a reaffirmation of our intent to seek APO.

+ On Sept. 6, Bishop Iker issued this update.

  Why couldn’t we accept the plan proposed in Sept. 2006 by the Presiding Bishop?
  + Instead of putting us under the spiritual authority of a different Primate, it would have added an intermediary TEC bishop between our bishop and the Presiding Bishop. Commenting on this, Bishop Iker said, “The official job description for the [Presiding Bishop] is Chief Pastor and Primate, and it is this role that we seek to have exercised on our behalf by an orthodox Primate of the Communion, and not just someone other than the Presiding Bishop-elect of ECUSA. We require a Primate who upholds the historic faith and order of the catholic church and is fully compliant with the recommendations of the Windsor Report as the way forward for the Anglican Communion. Only in this way will we have an unclouded primatial relationship with the rest of the Communion.”
  What is the “primatial scheme“?
  + This is a plan worked out at the last meeting of the Anglican Primates, in February 2007 at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It was laid out in detail in the “Key Recommendations” section of their Communiqué of Feb. 19. Every Primate present gave consent to the Communiqué, including the Presiding Bishop of TEC. However, less than one month later, the TEC House of Bishops announced that it refused to cooperate with the Primates’ plan for APO, and the Presiding Bishop said she would be guided by “the mind of the House.”
  What did the Communiqué ask the House of Bishops to do by Sept. 30, 2007?

+ Quoting from the Key Recommendations:

In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church

1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and
2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).

The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007. If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.

The Primates urge the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation. We also urge both parties to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations.

Words of encouragement

from Bishop Iker's Address to the 2006 Diocesan Convention:

The one assurance I can give you in the midst of much that is uncertain is this: whatever may happen in the months ahead in the life of our church, the Sunday worship and daily ministry of your congregation will continue to be there for you in the future just as it has been in the past. We will not become something other than what we are and whose we are. God is faithful, and He will continue to bless and guide this diocese in the trying times that are before us. By His grace we accept the invitation, we embrace the challenge, and we renew the commitment – we will continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers.

MP-3 Audio: Bishop Iker's May 6, 2007 sermon. (13 minutes)