From the Bishop
June 30, 2009
Memo to All Diocesan Clergy

In recent days I understand that all of you have received two threatening letters from representatives of the rump diocese. The first is a letter from The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., the Bishop of Kentucky, in a capacity he claims as the “Provisional Bishop” of the rump diocese, threatening to inhibit and then depose you if you do not recognize his authority over you as your bishop. The second is a letter from Jonathan Nelson, legal counsel for the Gulick-led group, addressed to our vestries, treasurers, and finance committee members, as well as to all our vicars and rectors.  It too is meant to intimidate and control us. It is the preliminary notification that will lead to additional lawsuits to be brought against us by The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (PECUSA).  Both of these letters are now in the hands of our attorneys, and they will be responding on our behalf.  There is nothing you need to do at this point in time. We are no longer members of PECUSA and are not subject to their discipline. It is indeed regrettable that they find it necessary to engage in such harsh, uncharitable tactics, rather than enter into negotiation.

The Bishop of Kentucky has no ecclesiastical authority to act within the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, first and foremost because the Diocese has realigned with another Anglican Province in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. We assume that he is seeking to exercise some authority in Fort Worth based upon Canon 13 of the Canons of PECUSA. Setting aside the obvious argument that the Diocese is no longer a part of the PECUSA because of realignment and Canon 13 is inconsistent with Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution of PECUSA, and is therefore null and void, his reliance upon Canon 13 for his authority is misplaced.  The meeting that was held in Fort Worth on February 7, 2009, by some clergy and laypersons of the Diocese was not a duly-constituted meeting of the Convention. Neither the Bishop nor the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth issued a call for a special meeting of the Convention, as required by Article IV of the Constitution of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. Moreover, there was no quorum present at the February 7, 2009, meeting, because less than one-third of all clergy and lay delegates of the Diocese entitled to seat was present for the meeting. Consequently, the individuals in attendance at the February 7, 2009, meeting lacked any legitimate power or authority to perform any official act, including but not limited to the placement of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth under Bishop Gulick’s “provisional charge” pursuant to PECUSA Canon 13. All actions purportedly taken at the meeting clearly were null and void. 

Archbishop Venables
writes to the diocesan clergy

We challenge the allegation that the realignment of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone constitutes an abandonment by us of the “Communion of this Church”, pursuant to PECUSA Canon IV.10.1. We have made no “open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship” of the Church, nor have we sought formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the Church. Upon our ordinations, Holy Orders were conferred upon us in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Although we do not consider ourselves affiliated with PECUSA, we do intend to continue to exercise the obligations, duties, rights and privileges associated with the Holy Orders that were conferred upon us.

We very much regret the fact that this matter is being placed before secular courts. We would much prefer a negotiated settlement among brothers and sisters in Christ who have been separated from one another. However, we are fully prepared to make our case in a court of law and will do so when the time comes. Attached is a “Litigation Perspective” that I think should be very helpful to you and your people.

With God’s guidance and grace, we shall defend our churches, our faith, and our property against these unjust claims. Do continue to keep these concerns before the Lord as a part of your daily prayers.

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

Litigation Perspective (pdf)
Letter to clergy (pdf)
Letter to churches (pdf)