(Fort Worth is considering leaving TEC and joining another Anglican Province. The Presiding Bishop wrote to say they must not do this and could not do so, and if they tried then they are in trouble….P.T.)
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
I have received your letter of November 8th and am rather surprised by your suggestion that I have somehow abandoned the communion of the church and may be subject to ecclesiastical discipline. Such a charge is baseless. I have abandoned nothing, and I have violated no canons. Every year at our Chrism Mass, I very happily reaffirm my ordination vows, along with all our clergy, that I will be “loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” (BCP, pages 526 and 538)
It is highly inappropriate for you to attempt to interfere in the internal life of this diocese as we prayerfully prepare to gather in Convention. The threatening tone of your open letter makes no attempt to promote reconciliation, mediation, or even dialogue about our profound theological differences. Instead, it appears designed to intimidate our delegates and me, in an attempt to deter us from taking any action that opposes the direction in which you are leading our Church. It is deeply troubling that you would have me prevent the clergy and laity of this diocese from openly discussing our future place in the life of the wider Anglican Communion, as we debate a variety of proposals. As you well know, the polity of this Church requires the full participation of the clergy and lay orders, not just bishops, in the decision making process. It grieves me that as the Presiding Bishop you would misuse your office in an attempt to intimidate and manipulate this diocese.
While I do not wish to meet antagonism with antagonism, I must remind you that 25 years ago this month, the newly formed Diocese of Fort Worth voluntarily voted to enter into union with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. If circumstances warrant it, we can likewise, by voluntary vote, terminate that relationship. Your aggressive, dictatorial posturing has no place in that decision. Sadly, however, your missive will now be one of the factors that our Convention will consider as we determine the future course of this diocese for the next 25 years and beyond, under God’s grace and guidance.
In closing, let me be very clear. While your threats deeply sadden us, they do not frighten us. We will continue to stand firm for the unchanging truth of the Holy Scriptures and the redeeming Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whatever the costs. I shall continue to pray for you, as I trust you will pray for me, in the difficult days ahead.
Faithfully in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth