Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church spoke in the Diocese of Fort Worth this weekend at the invitation of members of the diocese and Brite Divinity School. The bishop of Fort Worth, although invited to attend the events, declined the invitation saying he had an ordination to do that day. His communications representative, Suzanne Gill, was present. Bishop Iker chose to write a letter expressing his displeasure with Anderson’s presence.
One of the organizers of the event, Katie Sherrod reports 250 people attended:
At NO time did anyone in that room claim to be the ONLY true “loyal Episcopalians” here in Fort Worth. Fort Worth Via Media has never claimed that.
The truth is, not everyone who was in that room “dissents” from “the stated theological positions of this diocese.” Some agree with them, but aren’t sure they are ready to leave TEC. Others agree with some of them, but not all, but do not want to leave TEC. Some disagree vehemently with those positions and are SURE they don’t want to leave TEC. … Where in all this have we “violated” the protocals and polity of The Episcopal Church? …recent actions by our bishop have raised the anxiety level among people in the diocese to higher levels than usual. People wanted information from more than one source.
The purpose of the event was to inform people about national canons, especially regarding property, and to give them information from a viewpoint other than the bishop about recent events in our church and in the Communion, something not readily available in this diocese. It was also designed to empower lay people by informing them of ways to stay informed and to get involved on the parish and diocesan level. We also discussed ways to put people in the various parishes in touch with one another, including setting up a listserve not unlike the HOB/D list so they can share information and ideas.
Bishop Iker WAS informed of Bonnie’s visit to Fort Worth AND invited to the event several weeks prior to yesterday. He declined to attend, saying he had an ordination to do that day.
Suzanne Gill, the diocesan communication director, attended the entire day.
This was emphatically NOT a Bash Bishop Iker event, although he WAS inevitably mentioned. I heard no disrespect for him, only disagreement with him. Last I heard, disagreement with one’s bishop is still permitted in TEC.
This was an event designed to give information about the national church and the Anglican Communion [pointing out, for instance, that none of the “Instruments of Unity” have any power to force TEC to do anything], about what help might be available to people and parishes who want to remain in The Episcopal Church, about what happens if a bishop attempts to take an entire diocese “out of the church,”
Bonnie Anderson was the keynote speaker.
I then talked about the Anglican Communion and gave information about the Windsor Report, the Primates’ Communiqué, invitations to Lambeth, etc. My talk will be posted on the Fort Worth Via Media web site later today.
Two lawyers talked about canon law.
My rector and one of the vestry members at Trinity Episcopal Church talked about ways lay people can get involved.
The event was completely transparent. It was open to anyone who registered, and was all videotaped.
Full report of the event is at Katie Sherrod’s blog Desert’s Child and will be on the Fort Worth Via Media site soon.
Bloggers Andrew Plus and Fr Jake offer their perspectives on his letter here and here.
Andrew writes a letter which replaces Bonnie Anderson’s name with that of Archbishop Akinola.
This visit by Archbishop Akinola was arranged without any prior consultation with the Bishop of Chicago or any of the other elected leaders of that diocese. I consider it a breach of protocol and a violation of the basic polity of The Episcopal Church. It is a clear effort on his part to recognize and empower a small group of people who dissent from the stated theological positions of that diocese and who claim that they alone are the true ‘loyal Anglicans in our sister Diocese of Chicago.
Fr Jake comments on Anderson’s visit and the letter from Bp Iker reminding all of the faithful Episcopalians of the Diocese of Fort Worth:
Let us not forget those faithful Episcopalians in Fort Worth. They need our support, especially right now. Their bishop has recently declared that “the realignment moves forward.”
To clarify the terminology for those who might not be keeping up with the latest Anglican trends, “realignment” is the new fancy term for a very old and sad idea, commonly known as “schism.”
Pray for the Diocese of Fort Worth. Pray for the Church.
Update: Monday: Response to letter from Fort Worth Via Media here
And from Episcopal Life, the story on Bonnie Anderson’s visit here
Copies of invitation letters to and from Bishop Iker ….
From: “Bishop Jack L. Iker”
Subject: Re: An Invitation
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2007 09:04:40 -0500
To: George Komechak
Thanks for the invitation, but I have an ordination that day.
On Jul 17, 2007, at 5:04 PM, George Komechak wrote:
The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, D.D., SSC
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
Fort Worth, TX 76116
Dear Bishop Iker,
On behalf of Fort Worth Via Media, I am writing to invite you to hear Bonnie Anderson, President of the Episcopal Church House of Deputies, speak at the Dee J. Kelly Alumni and Visitors Center on the TCU campus on Saturday, September 8, 2007.
The program schedule is presently being developed, but we expect the event to start in the morning and continue to early afternoon. Ms. Anderson will be the keynote speaker as well as participate in a question-and-answer session at the end of the event. For now, however, we simply wanted to inform you of her visit to Fort Worth and to extend an early invitation.
We also will send details of Ms. Anderson’s visit to Suzanne Gill as soon as arrangements are complete, so that she can inform the entire diocese of this opportunity to hear Ms. Anderson and to participate in a question and answer session with her. .
Yours in Christ,
cc: Canon Charles A. Hough, III, SSC
Ms. Kim Tucker, Asst. to Bonnie Anderson