Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Fort Worth: the bishop writes

Updated again Wednesday evening

Bishop Jack Iker has written 10 Reasons Why Now Is the Time to Realign.

This appears in the current issue of the diocesan newsletter, Forward in Mission. The complete newsletter is available here as a PDF.

The first URL above appears to be only temporary, so the full text is reproduced below the fold.

Update Wednesday morning

A detailed response to this has been published by Fort Worth Via Media and can be found at 10 Reasons Why Now Is NOT the Time to Realign.

Update Wednesday evening

Further responses can be found by Pluralist - Adrian Worsfold at Iker’s Inaccurate Slur, and also by Mark Harris at Bishop Iker’s Reasoning.

10 Reasons Why Now Is the Time to Realign

Our 26th annual convention is approaching, and a momentous decision is before us as a diocese. At last year’s convention, your clergy and elected delegates voted by majorities of around 80 percent each to remove language in our Constitution that affiliates us with the General Convention of The Episcopal Church (TEC). This year, clergy and delegates will be asked to ratify that decision to separate.

“Why now?” someone might ask. “Why is this the time for our diocese to separate from the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and realign with another Province of the Anglican Communion?”

Here are a few of the thoughts that come to mind:

1. This is God’s time – our kairos moment – and it has been coming for a long time. We believe that God the Holy Spirit has guided and directed us to this particular time and moment of decision. Some might well ask, “Why has it taken us so long to take definitive action, given the past 30 years of the shenanigans of The Episcopal Church?” We have explored every avenue and exhausted every possibility. Now is the time to decide to separate from the moral, spiritual, and numerical decline of TEC.

2. Actions of the General Convention have brought crisis and division to the whole Anglican Communion, not just TEC. More than 20 of the Provinces of the Communion have declared themselves to be in a state of broken or impaired communion with TEC because of the ordination of a homosexual bishop living in a sexual relationship with another man and the blessings of same-sex unions in many places throughout this church. We need to dissociate ourselves from the bishops and dioceses that are violating the teaching of Scripture by doing these things.

3. The heresies and heterodoxy once proclaimed by just a few renegade bishops – like James Pike and John Spong – are now echoed by the Presiding Bishop, who is the chief spokesperson for TEC and speaks on behalf of our church to the rest of the world. She does not reflect the orthodox beliefs of Episcopalians in this diocese. The greatest problem we face with Katharine Jefferts Schori is not that she is a woman, but that she is not an orthodox bishop.

4. If we do not act now, we will lose our momentum and lose our God-given opportunity. Many laity and clergy who have been standing with the Diocese, as a beacon of hope, will give up and leave for other Anglican bodies. We will never be stronger than we are right now! We will never have another chance to act with such a strong majority. The Episcopal Church many of us were born into or became members of many years ago no longer exists! It has been replaced by a liberal, revisionist sect that does not deserve our allegiance or support any longer.

5. TEC is not turning back and matters will only get worse. General Convention is out of control and beyond reform. The Deputies seem to think that they can do whatever they want as long as they can muster a majority vote, even if what they propose is contrary to Holy Scripture. We will not accept majority votes of the General Convention that compromise the Christian ?faith. The more they change the teachings of the church, the less tolerant they are of dioceses such as ours. By the time I retire (in the next 7 to 13 years), this diocese will be unable to elect an orthodox bishop to succeed me.

6. TEC is coming after us, and they are the ones that brought on this crisis. In October 2006 the chancellor to the PB wrote a letter to our diocese demanding that we change our Constitution to remove the clause that says that we will not accept General Convention dictates that are contrary to the Bible and the apostolic teaching of the church. In addition, we were instructed to remove provisions stating that all church property in this diocese is held in trust for the use of our congregations and to state instead that our property ultimately belongs to TEC. If we don’t make such changes, the letter asserted that the Presiding Bishop would have to determine what actions she must take “in order to bring your diocese into compliance.”

7. At this time there is nothing in the Constitution or Canons of TEC that prevents a Diocese from leaving. Oh, I know that General Convention officials claim that dioceses cannot leave TEC, but you will not find that anywhere in the Constitution and Canons as they presently stand. So we have this window of opportunity to do what we need to do, for you can be sure that the next General Convention will close off this option by adopting amendments that will make it even more difficult to separate in the future.

8. The vast majority of our younger clergy, those ordained in the last 10 years or so, are in favor of the decision to separate and realign. They are the voice of the future of this diocese; they are the leaders who will take us into the next decade and beyond. You will notice that most of the clergy leaders opposing this move are already retired or on the verge of retiring. This is not their battle; they have had their time to lead. Now it is time to let this next generation step forward and lead, as we prepare a future for our children and our grandchildren.

9. We have international support for making the move at this time. Not only has the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone made provision for us to join them on a temporary basis as full members and partners in mission, but several Global South Primates are standing with us and have expressed their willingness to support us in this bold move. They have stuck their necks out for us and offered their encouragement, assistance and support. We must now have the courage of our convictions and act! What a joy and relief it will be to be part of a Province where we are not always under attack and on the defensive. We will then aggressively pursue the formation of an orthodox Province in North America in conjunction with the Common Cause Partnership.

10. Most importantly, this decision is about the truth of the Gospel and upholding the authority of the Holy Scriptures. We believe in God’s full self-revelation in Jesus Christ, not in the speculation of humanist unitarians who have been elected to high offices in our church. Many leaders of TEC are teaching a false Gospel and leading people astray. Now is the time for us to take a bold, public stand for the biblical faith and practice of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

Now is the time to decide. Our cause is right, and the choice is clear. Let us act together, decisively, and with courage, faith and charity.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
September 2008

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 4:21pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

"The heresies and heterodoxy once proclaimed by just a few renegade bishops – like James Pike and John Spong – are now echoed by the Presiding Bishop..."

Would Bishop Iker please cite specifically what "heresies and heterodoxy" he means? If it is only the support of homosexuals in loving and committed relationships, why does he place this at a higher level of importance than the Christology he does not share with so many of his allies in the realignment movement?

"The Episcopal Church many of us were born into or became members of many years ago no longer exists! It has been replaced by a liberal, revisionist sect that does not deserve our allegiance or support any longer."

Yes, heaven forfend that others might experience the Holy Spirit leading them in a direction that Jack Iker does not approve of! Does the bishop believe that only he and his allies hear the true calling of the Spirit? I am constantly reminded of scenes from "Inherit the Wind" when I read of their hubris. ("Brady, Brady, Brady almighty!" indeed.)

"The more they change the teachings of the church, the less tolerant they are of dioceses such as ours. By the time I retire (in the next 7 to 13 years), this diocese will be unable to elect an orthodox bishop to succeed me."

In what manner has GC been intolerant of Iker and Fort Worth? Specifics please. And by what measures could GC prevent Ft. Worth from electing a bishop of its choice?

"At this time there is nothing in the Constitution or Canons of TEC that prevents a Diocese from leaving. Oh, I know that General Convention officials claim that dioceses cannot leave TEC, but you will not find that anywhere in the Constitution and Canons as they presently stand."

And there's nothing in the Constitution of the United States that specifically says a state cannot secede. Yet, we fought a war over that very question, and for 140 years now we have held that it is not possible. The diocese of Fort Worth was created by The Episcopal Church; it cannot claim it has any existence outside that body.

When will HoBs pursue the deposition of Jack Iker?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 4:53pm BST

“Why has it taken us so long to take definitive action, given the past 30 years of the *shenanigans* of The Episcopal Church?”= An example of the 'charity' that Iker signs off with? Such language is only boorish at best, and simply indicates to me, a complete outsider, that if the spirit of the 'Realigners' expressed here is indeed embodied by the words and the tone used, I would not touch the AC, were it dominated by such people, with a barge pole - I would be indeed be off to the Unitarians or the Quakers, shaking the dust from my feet at them (the 'Realigners').

Posted by: orfanum on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 6:05pm BST

"not in the speculation of humanist unitarians who have been elected to high offices in our church"

Has he ever met any? One thing they are not is humanist unitarians.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 6:34pm BST

"We have international support for making the move at this time. Not only has the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone made provision for us to join them on a temporary basis as full members and partners in mission, but several Global South Primates are standing with us and have expressed their willingness to support us in this bold move. They have stuck their necks out for us and offered their encouragement, assistance and support. We must now have the courage of our convictions and act! - Jack Iker -

The above statement by former Bishop Jack Iker betrays his naivete - in his expectations of his (and his fellow rebels') relationship to the rest of the Anglican Communion. Those he has named as being his supporters may prove to have made a real mistake - in terms of their championship of Iker's act of schism from TEC.

The only silver lining in this cloud is that a troublesome and reactionary element will have been excised from the Body of Christ in TEC - not by the action of TEC but by the hubris of the departing puritans.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 9:52pm BST

Such arrogance. ""Why now?” someone might ask....This is God’s time." I've rarely seen a clearer example of a man presuming to know the mind of God.

Posted by: Graham Ward on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 10:59pm BST

OK, time to deal with Jack the way we dealt with Bob Duncan -- there can be no question that he has abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church and violated his ordination vows, big time. Time to go, Jack.

Posted by: jn wall on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 2:25am BST

Simon, your readers may be interested to responses to each of Iker's 10 points here,

http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/dioceses/httpwwwfwepiscopalorgbishopbis.html#more

Posted by: John B. Chilton on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 3:36am BST

You know, I think we should be saying:
"Now is the time to depose these thieving Donatists.

Posted by: John Robison on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 4:09am BST

Pat: Whether or not you agree with Bishop Iker's view of TEC's decline, he is right about his successor. There is no way that a majority of the standing committees or General Convention (depending on the year) would consent to a bishop who does not ordain women. Actually this is impossible after the 1997 vote of GC to specifically exclude opponents of the ordination of women from the church. This issue, probably more than the gay issue, is what Iker means when he talks about an orthodox successor.

Posted by: Drew on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 11:18am BST

"The greatest problem we face with Katharine Jefferts Schori is not that she is a woman, but that she is not an orthodox bishop."

How remarkable. So women are now (potentially) OK, as long as they toe the Iker line.

I wonder what his Forward-in-Faith confreres make of this...

Posted by: kieran crichton on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 11:25am BST

I am sure I am not the only Episcopalian who toyed with the idea of "humanist unitarian"ism, and for good reasons returned to trinitarian Anglicanism. We have visited Anglican churches in many countries, and have yet to find a single one that is theologically or liturgically humanist Unitarian.

Posted by: Andrew on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 11:36am BST

If you ask me, the Episcopal church is deposing itself into increasing irrelevance. Most pew-sitters don't even know about the latest deposition, but many of us who have been following things since GC 2003 are either staying away in droves or withholding pledge money.

I'm a cradle Episcopalian, but the current heavily revised Episcopal Church is not one to which I feel particularly loyal. There is far too much talk about social justice and not enough talk about redemption. There is too much ritual during the Eucharist and not enough intellect during the sermon.

Posted by: Polly Prim on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 2:39pm BST

There is a fine line between delusion and deception.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 4:31pm BST

"It has been replaced by a liberal, revisionist sect that does not deserve our allegiance or support any longer."

For as long as I've heard +Iker's name in the press, I have not noticed that he was remarkable for his allegiance to or support of the Episcopal Church at large at all.

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 5:21pm BST

"I'm a cradle Episcopalian, but the current heavily revised Episcopal Church is not one to which I feel particularly loyal. There is far too much talk about social justice and not enough talk about redemption. There is too much ritual during the Eucharist and not enough intellect during the sermon."

Polly, if you think that the Episcopal Church has too much emphasis on social justice, I wonder what you'd make of St. John Chrysostom's saying things like, “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours but theirs.” Or St. Basil when he says, “The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry man; the coat hanging in your closet belongs to the man who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the man who has no shoes; the money which you put into the bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help but fail to help."

By the way, of the many things that Bishop Iker thinks are wrong with ECUSA, too much ritual during the Eucharist is probably not one of them.

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 5:26pm BST

Drew, how important a test of orthodoxy is the ordination of women? If it is really so important that no one who ordains women can be considered orthodox, then not even Bishop Duncan, with whom Bishop Iker sides in other matters, can be considered orthodox. Additionally, while you are most likely correct about the impossibility of getting enough consents for a candidate who refuses to ordain women, the candidate's demeanor and willingness to lead the diocese in engaging with the opinion of the broader church could significantly alter the outcome of the consents process. As far as I am aware there is no canon or resolution which specifically forbids the consecration of those who disagree with the broader church on WO. If you know of something please cite the specific canon or resolution.

Jon

Posted by: Jon on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 6:32pm BST

Beneath his holier than thou tone, in between the lines - one reads clearly Iker's troubles. His orthodoxy is all packaging and spin.

Firstly he is quite aware, though he is loathe to admit it, that his sort of conservativistic package and spin is under great, continuing duress in the 21st century. Particularly, I hear from him that he actually strongly knows - or at least deeply suspects - that his strong antiwomen and antigay belief systems are being more and more widely discerned as the flat earth preachments the indeed are. But it's okay, all of us are still sorting this or that flat earth preachment our times and our traditions have mistaken for eternal truth.

A strong corollary? I hear Iker grudgingly awakening to the fact that it will indeed be tricky in conservative Anglican realignment to have it both ways - i.e., to have a top down hierarchy of strict control and obedience inside his diocese while maintaining quite a bit of ad hoc leeway and flexibility to maneuver and affiliate or disaffiliate and otherwise play around outside his diocese.

One interesting side of this dimension is that, the closer one gets to such hierarchy and control devoted only to men who are such conservative realigned priests, the less sense reinventing an Anglo-Catholic iteration of Rome makes, given that Rome does not recognize Anglican orders still yet, and the more attractive overall Rome must appear to such believers. If realignment is really all about nothing but salvation through such conservativistic pledges, then go to Rome. You will hardly be sealed off, safe from intelligent and educated and gifted women, otherwise. Iker or others like him are having fantasies of being woman free that actually are not real, even inside Rome.

Secondly, Iker's impending retirement offers him clues of his own passing, which try and disturb him. The diocesan empire he has built will surely crumble as all empires which try to resist change and growth will crumble as Jesus of Nazareth irresistibly leads believers onwards, forwards, and as the Holy Spirit continues to slowly correct our discernment and church life errors.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 6:46pm BST

Simon, I keep forgetting that I can't use html tabs here and should use quotation marks. For example, I tried to put the first paragraphs of my last two comments in italics, and ended up making them look like my own words instead of a quote. Is there any way to fix this after the fact? Any plans on make it possible to use tabs on TA?

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 7:08pm BST

"Secondly, Iker's impending retirement offers him clues of his own passing, which try and disturb him. The diocesan empire he has built will surely crumble as all empires which try to resist change and growth will crumble as Jesus of Nazareth irresistibly leads believers onwards, forwards, and as the Holy Spirit continues to slowly correct our discernment and church life errors."

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 9:26pm BST

"There is no way that a majority of the standing committees or General Convention (depending on the year) would consent to a bishop who does not ordain women."

I'm not sure even this is true.

If a candidate for bishop (presumably male) said "I'm not personally comfortable ordaining women, but I would not stand in the way (nor direct the Standing Committee for Ministry stand in the way) of a parish in my diocese uplifting a woman for ordination/calling an ordained woman, and would respect her with the dignity of her orders after being called . . . AND I will be faithful to the C&C of TEC", then I believe he could still receive consents.

(x)Jack Leo obviously does not fit the above description.

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 10:19pm BST

Polly "There is too much ritual during the Eucharist" Prim: may I suggest you fly south of the equator, and try the sect called Sydneyanglican?

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 10:21pm BST

Billy
We have no plans to change the options for Comments.
I will fix this one for you, but don't undertake to do so in future.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 11:08pm BST

Dear Polly, how Prim can you be? To say that TEC is more intent on doing Social Justice than just talking about redemption is surely an upside-down theory of why Christ established the Church!

I think you need to do a little more biblical study - to find out what the Prophets, Pastors and Teachers in both Old and New Testaments have said about the need to care for the poor and marginalised - wherever we find them. Therein, Jesus says, is redemption realised. Jesus did not die for the prosperity of the Stock Markets, he died for people who are denied Justice - and that's many more than those who currently hold monetary portfolios or investments (even though he died for them too).

The first Commandment is to Love God; the second, to Love your Neighbour as Yourself. That's good enough for most people of good will in the Church - and outside of it, for that matter. What Christians are meant to do is to follow the Gospel example of Jesus and his disciples - not just to talk about the benfits of redemption, but to enable it to be experienced. Perhaps this is the present problem in the new movement of the Purity Brigade; they're so busy talking about the Gospel that they have no time to prectise it.

"God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world but that ther world might be saved through him." (Gospel of Jonn chapter 3, verse 17)The primary task of the Church is offer the prospect of redemption to all - in practical ways, as well as through it's teaching.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 at 11:12pm BST

Thank you, Simon.

Posted by: BillyD on Thursday, 2 October 2008 at 3:03am BST

I think Iker's referring to Resolution A 53 from 1997.

"Resolved, That

no member of this Church shall be denied access to the ordination process, postulancy, candidacy, ordination, license to officiate in a Diocese, a call to a cure in a Diocese or Letters Dimissory on account of their sex or their theological views on the ordination of women; ....

it is the mind of this Convention that, notwithstanding the legislative history surrounding the passage of those Title III canons relating to the ordination of women,... insofar as they may relate to the ordination of women and the licensing and deployment of women clergy, are MANDATORY....(emphasis mine) ... Diocese that are not in compliance ...must give progress reports to the House of Bishops"

Jon, I don't think it's a matter of "forbidding the consecration of those who disagree with the broader church on WO." They simply couldn't perform the duties of the office. Could a priest who really believes that women are not to be priests become a bishop and willingly "ordain" women and place them in parishes believing that the sacraments they performed were null and void? What kind of integrity is that for a leader in the church?

Iker's not the only one afraid of this. One of the breakoff groups that have aligned with Africa in my area did so because they believed they would be forced to have women clergy and, sometime in the future, probably, a gay or lesbian too.

Posted by: Chris H. on Thursday, 2 October 2008 at 3:31am BST

Nothing in the canons specify that a bishop must ordain women, even resolution 1997 A053 is consistant with a bishop inviting a different bishop to come perform the ordinations of women and permit parishes to concider calling women. The Dallas plan currently used by Ft. Worth also seems to be consistant with that resolution, at least in the 11 years since it passed Bishop Iker hasn't been charged with violating the ordination canons. I think it's worth pointing out that in TEC the bishop generally doesn't place priests in parishes.

While we are worrying about protecting the integrity of those who object to WO, perhaps we might consider what kind of integrity it is for leaders in the church to refuse to engage with their brothers and sisters in Christ in an attempt to come to a common mind on controversial issues.

Jon

Posted by: Jon on Thursday, 2 October 2008 at 5:01pm BST

"because they believed they would be forced to have women clergy and, sometime in the future, probably, a gay or lesbian too."

And why did they think that, if not for the continuous fear and hate mongering of the right? I see Evangelicals much stronger than Anglocatholics, I know of dioceses where it isn't permitted to wear a chasuble, where parishes are not allowed to have an aumbry, and more. Evangelicals will continue in the ascendant for the foreseeable future. I fear that we will one day be forced to have an Evangelical priest in our parish, or worse an EVangelical bishop in our diocese, though we have been blessed up till now with some outstanding clergy, recent bishops not entirely excepted. Yet I am not about to go off and swim the Tiber, and I think my fears are at least as justified as those of any Consevo scared to death of the evil homo liberals.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 2 October 2008 at 9:12pm BST

Go to the Fort Worth Cathedral web site and view the statues, candles and tabernacle etc. This is not mainstream Anglicanism....and yet Gregory Venables, primate of an evangelical province is going to take him on!

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Thursday, 2 October 2008 at 10:49pm BST

"This is not mainstream Anglicanism....and yet Gregory Venables, primate of an evangelical province is going to take him on!"

For now. Once the gays are purged and the evil Hell bound Liberals sent off with the goats, their attention will turn to other areas of heresy. You know the heresies, of course, all those new fangled innovations like baptismal regeneration, Eucharistic sacrifice, Real Presence, invocation of the saints, veneration of images, you know, all those reassessor innovations, or as they used to call them "traditions of men". Because, we all know, letting people read the Bible in their own languages 1500 years after the fact ensures that those doing the reading have a far better understanding of what Christianity is supposed to be than the people who heard it in the first few generations, and who got it all hopelessly mangled when they wrote it down in the very Book the reassessors used, 1500 years on, (did I mention?) to claim that those original Christians got it wrong. The bad side of me wants them to leave ASAP so we can all sit down and enjoy the show when the purging of the impure turns inward.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 3 October 2008 at 1:20pm BST

"Go to the Fort Worth Cathedral web site and view the statues, candles and tabernacle etc. This is not mainstream Anglicanism..."

Honestly, Robert, your view of what "mainstream Anglicanism" entails is a little skewed by your Evangelical background. The photos of St. Vincent's Cathedral (which is actually in Bedford, I think, not Fort Worth proper) are nothing out of the ordinary for ECUSA. Most Episcopal churches I have visited, for example, reserve the Blessed Sacrament somewhere - if not on the main altar, then in a side chapel.

It is true, though, that the Churchmanship of Fort Worth doesn't seem a good match for the Southern Cone.

Posted by: BillyD on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 1:29am BST

"Honestly, Robert, your view of what "mainstream Anglicanism" entails is a little skewed by your Evangelical background."

I'd cut him some slack, BillyD. I grew up in a part of the world where Anglicanism was broad, we used the BCP in Church, and had our own little traditions, like three hours on Good Friday, that we thought belonged to everybody. Anglicans did NOT clap in Church, there was no hand waving, thank you very much. We sang slower, and we certainly did NOT sing most of the hymns associated with our more "enthusiastic" brethren. The Pentecostals, who claimed we were not Christians at all and who were given to various ecstatic practices we thought were, well, unseemly and a bit silly, truth to tell, did that sort of stuff, not us. Communion was twice a month, the hymns were sung, everything else was said, Compline on Wednesdays on Lent, etc. We knew vaguely there were those out there who were "High Church", which meant they used incense, and that was about it. When I found out there WERE actually Anglicans who were more like the Pentecostals than they were like us, I was shocked. I still don't understand it all that well, I just don't see how the two fit together.

So, if someone comes from an area where the Anglicans are as uniformly Evangelical as we were uniformly what we were, I can see them thinking that a statue in Church or somesuch, outside the mainstream. I guess we all have a tendency to think our own little world is normative.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 12:05pm BST
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