My former Episcopal diocese begins the process of leaving the Episcopal Church.
From the Fort Worth Star Telegram:
Episcopal diocese takes step to cut tiesGod bless Bishop Iker and all the faithful of the Episcopal diocese of Fort Worth.
By TERRY GOODRICH
FORT WORTH -- Delegates to the Fort Worth Episcopal Diocese's annual convention took the first step Saturday to cut ties to the Episcopal Church, a move driven in part by the diocese's opposition to the ordination of women and non celibate gay men and the blessing of same-sex unions.
More than 200 clergy and lay delegates voted at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, with an overwhelming majority rejecting on first reading an amendment assenting to the authority of the Episcopal Church.
The church's 2.1 million members constitute the U.S. body of the Anglican Communion, but the national church has taken more liberal stances than the worldwide communion in the past 30 years.
Delegates also adopted on first reading an amendment affirming membership with the Anglican Communion, which has 75 million members.
They rejected on first reading an amendment stating that church and mission property within the 24-county diocese are held in trust for the Episcopal Church. Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker and the majority of the delegates to the Diocesan Convention say property owned by parishes and missions is held in trust for the diocese through a corporation.
The second and final votes on those actions will take place at the diocese convention in 2008, diocese leaders said.
Bishop Iker urged delegates to take a firm but loving stand against those who have "strayed from the faith."
"In every age, there are those who would twist biblical truth," he said. "Tradition has become a bad word in many quarters in the Episcopal Church. It's frequently ridiculed, persecuted and dismissed as out-of-date. ... This convention is being very carefully watched to see if we have the courage of our convictions."
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church said in a letter to Iker early this month that he and his followers will "abandon Communion" if they leave the Episcopal Church and that Iker might be deposed.
National leaders say that although a diocese may appeal to be dissolved or moved to another province, it cannot leave without consent. In November 2006, national leaders rejected the Fort Worth Diocese's request to be placed under the authority of an alternative, orthodox authority other than the liberal leaning Jefferts Schori.
Last week, the Southern Cone -- an Anglican province that includes Argentina, Chile and Bolivia -- offered to take in the Fort Worth Diocese on an emergency basis if requested. Anglican Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia visited the convention, and delegates approved a resolution calling for the diocese's standing committee to consider the invitation.
Some diocese members, including a group called Fort Worth Via Media, have remained supportive of the national church's stances. They say an attempt by the diocese to take mission and parish property would be immoral and lead to costly litigation.
A measure approved by delegates Saturday would give parishes the option to remain with the Episcopal Church if they cannot resolve their differences through meetings with the bishop and standing committee.
The Rev. Sam McClain of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Stephenville, who does not favor leaving the Episcopal Church, said those crafting the measure "had honorable intent."
"But from my perception, it's like the diocese is a big ship, and we who want to remain have got to get on the boat with you and then find ways to get back," he said.
Other dioceses taking actions to withdraw from the Episcopal Church are Pittsburgh, which gave initial approval at its Nov. 2-3 convention; and San Joaquin, Calif., which will take a second, final vote in December.
Jefferts Schori, who is at an international peace conference in Seoul, South Korea, could not be reached for comment on the diocese's actions this weekend. But in an October address in San Francisco, she said that "the job of the church is to reach ever wider to include the whole."
Convention at a glance
A look at some of the Fort Worth Diocese Convention actions Saturday, with 86 clergy delegates and 125 lay delegates attending:
Rejection of a proposed constitutional amendment that the diocese accept the authority of the Episcopal Church's General Convention: 85 percent of clergy voted to reject the amendment; 80 percent of lay delegates voted to do so.
Adoption of a constitutional amendment affirming the diocese as a member of the Anglican Communion. The amendment was proposed by the diocese's standing committee: 83 percent of clergy voted for; 77 percent of lay delegates voted for.
Rejection of a proposed amendment that parish and mission property in the diocese are held in trust for the national church. The existing constitution says that the property is held in trust by a corporation of the Fort Worth Diocese, although parish and missions are responsible for expenses and receive income from the property: 88 percent of clergy voted against; 87 percent of lay delegates voted against.
Approval of a canon change that would allow individual parishes an option to remain in the national church. It takes effect in 30 days: 88 percent of clergy voted yes; 82 percent of lay delegates voted yes.