Fort Worth Weekly describes the state of The Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. Writer Eric Griffey interviews people from a variety of views on issues in the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Fort Worth and their Bishop Jack Iker.
The fight between liberal and conservative Episcopalians comes to Cowtown.
….this rich tapestry, threaded with strong strands of tolerance and freedom from clearly defined dogma, is threatening to unravel. The American-based Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion of which the church is a part are engaged in a bitter struggle over the roles of homosexuals and women within the church. This long-simmering disagreement broke out into open warfare in 2003 with the consecration of the openly gay V. Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire. Since then, the events in this intense and increasingly less polite fight have often seemed more like something you might read while standing in the checkout line in the grocery store than in the annals of a denomination that intuitively searches for the “middle way.”
Fort Worth has become a poster diocese for the issues that have plagued the whole church. There are no women or openly homosexual priests within the diocese as a result of the conservative leadership — some would say tyranny — of Bishop Jack Iker. A polarizing figure to Fort Worth Episcopalians, he has aligned himself with other dissidents within the church, steering the diocese toward a separation and legal battles over property rights. He’s also aligning the Fort Worth diocese, or at least some of its churches, with a portion of the worldwide church led by a gay-hating Nigerian cleric. Individual churches are already deciding whether to stay in the American church or possibly break away with Iker, if he tries to take the diocese out of the national church — a move that may be made as early as this fall.
Very few people in the area are willing to talk openly about the conflict for fear of retribution from Iker. His critics say that he has bullied and manipulated the laity and laws of the church to maintain a hold on his fiefdom. His supporters point to a number of panels and resolutions from the Anglican Communion that support his positions. They believe he is acting as a steward of the traditional teachings of the church.
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