Monday, January 26, 2009

Speaking Truth to Power

The vestry of the parish of All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Worth Texas want to continue to be members of the Episcopal Church.  Jack Iker their former Bishop doesn't.  you would think this would be easy.  Jack you go do your thing and leave them alone.  But no that isn't good enough for Jack.  He wants it all and oddly in this big play because he is pushing for everything he may well end up with nothing.  

Anyway the vestry of All Saints wrote a letter to Jack about their plans and their annual meeting.  It very clearly says what I have been saying here, that if he sues them he will lose.  

They held their annual meeting this weekend and Jack didn't show up.  It will be interesting to see what happens next.

This is an excellent letter.

January 20, 2009
Jack Iker
Bishop of the Southern Cone

Dear Sir:
Your recent letter "inviting" Fr. Jambor, the Vestry, and our parishioners to a Canon 32 proceeding on January 22, 2009 makes clear that your ultimate motivation is to attempt to seize our Parish and its property. It could not be more clear that Canon 32 was designed merely to be a tool for you to try to gain control of the property of any Parish which does not travel with you to the Southern Cone. We all saw the result of your Canon 32 "invitation" at Christ the King -- you purported to fire the majority of the vestry and declared Christ the King to be a "Southern Cone" church.

As of now, it seems every remaining Episcopal parish in your former diocese has received notice of your intent to "settle their controversies" through Canon 32. No doubt you plan to "fire" any Vestry member from any Parish who does not agree to willingly leave the Episcopal Church of the United States with you, even though you have absolutely no authority to do so. 

Do you intend to "settle" your supposed controversy with All Saints' by trying to fire the Vestry and seize all of the Parish property? Will you tell our parishioners in writing that this is not your intention?

We will not recognize any actions you take against our Parish. The reason is simple - you abandoned the Episcopal Church of the United States and therefore have no authority over this Parish, its leadership, or its members.

Not only are you not our bishop, but your attempt to not only leave the Episcopal Church, but to also take property belonging to the Episcopal Church will be declared illegal, null and void for the following reasons: 

The Episcopal Church of the United States is a "hierarchical church."

You will fail first of all because the Episcopal Church of the United States is a "hierarchical" church. A "hierarchy" simply means levels of authority. The Episcopal Church of the United States is a hierarchical church because, like it or not, the Episcopal Church has authority over this Parish and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

This authority is reflected in our bylaws ("The affairs of the Corporation shall be conducted in conformity to the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America"). This authority is reflected in our articles of incorporation, which date back to 1953 ("to associate ourselves together ... according to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America in conformity with the Constitution and Canons of its General Convention"). Both of these documents establish our Parish's place in the "hierarchy" of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

This authority is also reflected in the vows that you took and which you abandoned last November:

"I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word
of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly
engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal

For these reasons, as well as many others, the courts of Texas will recognize that All Saints' Episcopal Church is a part of a "hierarchical church" -- the Episcopal Church of the United States. We challenge you show us any authority from an actual Texas court that says otherwise.

Because the Episcopal Church of the United States is a hierarchical church, we are
bound by its Constitution and Canons, including the Canon establishing a trust in all
parish property. Canon I.7.4 (the "Dennis Canon") dictates that all property held by or for the benefit of a Parish is held in trust for the Episcopal Church of the United States. This canon has been upheld time and time again in courts across this nation. As late as this month it was upheld again by the California Supreme Court. There is little doubt that Texas will follow suit.

So our question to you is, will you nonetheless take such futile and selfish actions
against our Parish?

It bears repeating that we will fight for this Parish. Our parishioners only want to worship in peace. Do not claim on the one hand that it is un-Christian to file lawsuits and then on the other hand leave us with no choice.

If, on the other hand, we have misread your intentions and you actually have no intent whatsoever of interfering in the affairs of our Church, then rest assured that our parishioners would take great comfort in seeing that in writing.

Very truly yours,
The Vestry of All Saints' Episcopal Church
Kent Henning, Sr Warden Gilman Tracy, Jr Warden Stephanie Burk
Grace Forderhase Suzy Griffin Laura Fleming
Ramsay Slugg Tommy Miller Mollee Westfall
Amy Robinson Linda Christie
not joining: Gay Marquardt Fran McDonald Elaine Edwards

cc: The Members of All Saints' Episcopal Church

Good for them.

1 comment:

airedale said...

Amen and again I say, Amen.