Skip to comments.Ft. Worth: +Iker plans to stay in church [TEC]
Posted on 06/24/2006 5:30:10 PM PDT by sionnsar
FORT WORTH (6/24/2006)--Bishop Jack Iker plans to keep his Fort Worth Diocese within the Episcopal Church, U.S.A., despite his unprecedented plea this week to the Archbishop of Canterbury to provide him and the 24-county diocese with a leader other than Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Shori.
Whether both goals can be accomplished remains a mystery, a diocesan spokeswoman said.
"There's never been a diocese try this," spokeswoman Suzanne Gill said after a stormy Episcopal General Convention in which Shori, a strong supporter of gay and lesbian clergy, became the church's first female presiding bishop-elect.
"We are asking the Archbishop of Canterbury if it's possible. We don't know what steps have to be worked out."
The Diocese of Fort Worth's Standing Committee, its main governing body between diocesan conventions, unanimously voted to ask Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams for "alternative primatial leadership" after Shori's election during the General Convention, which ended Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio.
"We are not leaving the church," said the Rev. Christopher Cantrell, rector of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Fort Worth and a member of the committee.
"We are asking for alternative leadership because of the new presiding bishop-elect has clearly indicated she is fully committed to gay and lesbian clergy."
Questions about the future of the diocese will be humming throughout churches in the diocese during services this Sunday, said George Komechak, president of Fort Worth Via Media, an Episcopal coalition dedicated to remaining a part of the 2.4-million-member Episcopal Church.
"Right now, it's a great unknown," he said. "We don't know what's going to happen. We hope our diocese remains in the Episcopal Church. We don't know whether it can actually be done and have alternative leadership."
Iker, bishop of one of three U.S. dioceses that still refuse to ordain women, said in an interview on the Web site standfirminfaith.com that he finds it hard to be led by the new presiding bishop-elect, not only because of her stands on gay and lesbian clergy, but also because she is a woman.
"For me, personally, being in a diocese that doesn't accept the ordination of women. ...It puts us in a compromising position to be told we are now under primatial authority of someone that we question whether really is a bishop," he said.
"It's nothing against Katharine Shori. It's not against women. It's a theological position. We believe that ordination of women ... is a fundamental break with Apostolic tradition and biblical teaching." Iker said he is seeking alternative leadership under a model approved by American bishops that allows congregations alienated from their diocesan bishops to have leadership from a more sympathetic bishop.
"We are simply trying to apply that at the diocesan level," he said.
Katie Sherrod of Fort Worth, a board member of the Episcopal Women's Caucus who attended the General Convention, said Iker's rejection of the new presiding bishop could have consequences.
"There's some question if you don't accept the leadership of the presiding bishop, you automatically remove yourself from the Episcopal Church," she said. "I hope that doesn't happen. We don't want Jack Iker to leave. I think the new presiding bishop will do everything she can to keep Jack Iker in the family."
Iker also was among conservative bishops who strongly criticized what they called the General Convention's "inadequate" response to the 2004 Windsor Report, a document written by a committee of the worldwide Anglican Communion after the election of a gay bishop, the Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, caused an uproar in 2003.
The Windsor Report asked the American church to apologize for not consulting with other sections of the Anglican Communion before electing a gay bishop.
Also, it asked for a moratorium on electing gay bishops living in same-sex relationships and to hold off temporarily in approving liturgical rites for blessing of same-sex couples.
The General Convention approved statements apologizing for the pain caused by Robinson's election, but delegates took no action concerning rites for same-sex couples and rejected a call for a full moratorium on electing gay bishops.
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