The following letter is a correspondence from Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori (left) of the Episcopal Church to Bishop Jack Iker (right) of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. I found this originally printed at Thinking Anglicans (a pro-TEC site) along with the comment that follows her letter below.
8 November 2007
The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker
The Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth
2900 Alemeda Street
Fort Worth, TX 76108
As you are undoubtedly aware, it is my view that recent amendments to your Diocese’s constitution violate the Constitutional requirement that the Diocese maintain an “unqualified accession” to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. I have now reviewed several proposed constitutional amendments that will be considered at your forthcoming diocesan convention. It is evident to me that several of these proposed changes would further violate the Church’s Constitution, while some other proposed changes would undo the problems created by the earlier amendments. It is clear from your public statements and from what I understand your position to be regarding these matters that you endorse the first set of changes. Your statements and actions in recent months demonstrate an intention to lead your diocese into a position that would purportedly permit it to depart from the Episcopal Church. All these efforts, in my view, display a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between The Episcopal Church and its dioceses.
I call upon you to recede from this direction and to lead your diocese on a new course that recognizes the interdependent and hierarchical relationship between the national Church and its dioceses and parishes. That relationship is at the heart of our mission, as expressed in our polity. Specifically, I sincerely hope that you will change your position and urge your diocese at its forthcoming convention to adopt the proposed amendments that will bring the Diocese’s constitution into agreement with the Church’s Constitution and Canons.
If your course does not change, I shall regrettably be compelled to see that appropriate canonical steps are promptly taken to consider whether you have abandoned the Communion of this Church — by actions and substantive statements, however, they may be phrased — and whether you have committed canonical offences that warrant disciplinary action.
It grieves me that any bishop of this Church would seek to lead any of its members out of it. I would remind you of my open offer of an Episcopal Visitor if you wish to receive pastoral care from another bishop. I continue to pray for reconciliation of this situation, and I remain
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori
Thank you, Katherine, for having the strength of character to step up and properly warn these bishops, who are preparing to claim to take their dioceses out of TEC, of the inevitable consequences of their actions. After many years of attempts at dialogue, it has come to this. I had a small role on the sidelines of the diocesan reconciliation commission in the diocese of Los Angeles, now almost a decade ago. From the beginning, from the demands made on us by David Anderson, it was clear that the threat of schism was there. It was spelled out in the original reconciliation process proposal that he presented. That process of dialogue went on for several years, to no avail. No amount of provision for the “orthodox” in our diocese was sufficient. It has been the same all over TEC. No episcopal visitor, no matter how conservative, has been good enough for those determined to leave TEC. All of this became very clear during the last HOB meeting. The now about to be departing bishops attended the HOB meeting only as long as Rowan was there. As soon as he departed, these bishops refused to meet further with the HOB and convened their own meeting in another city, where they planned their departure, and where Bishop Venables spoke to them and gave them assurances that he would provide “a safe haven” from the “persecution” of TEC. It could not be clearer that there is nothing further that can be done to seek accomodation with these bishops. If reconciliation was ever on their agendas, it was a long time ago. They simply cannot abide the majority decisions of the General Convention and they refuse to cohabit with us in this House of God. Their suffering is the anguish that some of them feel to leave the Church of their ordinations. The suffering they inflict on others is that of whipping their parishioners into a headlong rush to the door. It would serve their integrity a great deal more if these bishops simply resigned their offices, as Jeff Steenson so nobly did at the HOB meeting. Then they could seek office in the actual Global South, as opposed to creating this ecclesial mess in the U.S. But that won’t happen. And, having repudiated their consecration vows to defend the faith as this Church has received it, having turned their backs on every offer of reconciliation and alternate oversight that was compatible with the Constitution and Canons of TEC, they will now send out a cry of outrage that they will not be allowed to trample on the Constitution and Canons of the Church that ordained them. Nor will they be allowed to make off with as much of the property as possible to create an ersatz Anglican entity in the U.S. in which they can further fragment over ordination of women, which prayerbook should be controlling, and various other matters that they deem necessary to salvation. This would be funny, if it weren’t so sad. I pray that God will bless and guide all of us in this shameful episode of church history. And, most especially, that God will forgive us for once again failing to live up to our Lord’s call on us to refrain from judgement and to genuinely love one another. Now to the business at hand, protecting the Episcopal Church from those who would tear it apart in their hurt and anger.
Posted by: revkarenm on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 2:25am GMT