Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (Episcopal Church)

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This article is about the diocese of the Episcopal Church. For the diocese in the Anglican Church in North America, see Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (ACNA).
Diocese of Fort Worth
Seal of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.gif
Location
Ecclesiastical province VII
Information
Rite Episcopal
Current leadership
Bishop The Rt. Rev. Rayford High Jr. (Provisional)[1]
Map
Location of the Diocese of Fort Worth
Location of the Diocese of Fort Worth
Website
episcopaldiocesefortworth.org

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is a diocese of the Episcopal Church (United States), which in turn is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The diocese includes a geographic area of 24 counties in the north central part of Texas.[2] As of 2012, it included 20 churches and a number of other congregations in the process of reorganization.[3] The diocese is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. The cathedral of the diocese, St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford, is currently used by the Diocese of Fort Worth (ACNA); property claims related to the cathedral are currently in legal dispute.

The diocese came into being in 1983 with the administrative division of the increasingly large Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. Along with its parent Diocese of Dallas, the Diocese of Fort Worth was one of the originators of a strong conservative movement within the Episcopal Church. Fort Worth and Dallas clergy and parishes have both had a long history of leadership in the Anglo-Catholic faction within American Anglicanism.[4]

After the consecration of an openly gay New Hampshire bishop, Gene Robinson, most of the parishes in the diocese affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network, an association of dioceses, parishes, and clergy opposing what its members considered a liberal shift in doctrine and practice that abandoned what they considered to be traditional teaching and discipline. There were also, however, some parishes and individuals who took a moderate or progressive position.

Following the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church on June 18, 2006, Bishop Jack Iker petitioned Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to place the diocese under the jurisdiction of another primate. This appeal was joined by several other conservative dioceses but Archbishop Williams did not indicate any willingness to grant the request.

At the 26th annual convention of the diocese, on November 15, 2008, delegates voted by over 80% to have the diocese become part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone instead of being part of the Episcopal Church. Such a move, which would realign a diocese with another province of the Anglican Communion, is not provided for in the Canons of either of these churches.

Bishop Jefferts Schori declared on November 21, 2008, that Bishop Jack Iker was inhibited from exercising his office as a bishop in the Episcopal Church because by supporting the resolution to leave the Episcopal Church he had violated Title IV, Canon 9, and abandoned "the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of the Church". In turn, Iker rejected the authority of the Presiding Bishop. Thus, the Presiding Bishop, on December 5, with the advice and consent of the church's advisory council (bishops who are the presidents or vice-presidents of each province), accepted Iker's deemed renunciation and declared the Fort Worth diocese without a bishop.[5] The Standing Committee of the diocese, which in the absence of a bishop would then be the highest ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, regarded the inhibition of Iker as an "illegal, unconstitutional, and uncanonical attempt to interfere with the rights and ministry of a diocese of another province of the Anglican Communion", thus affirming their unanimous decision to abandon the Episcopal Church and realign with the Southern Cone.[6] The Presiding Bishop then declared the diocesan leadership vacant and called a Special Convention in response to the wishes of the roughly 8,000 members of the diocese in 17 parishes who wished to remain in the Episcopal Church and had therefore been "heartened" by the inhibition of Bishop Iker.[7]

The Special Convention was held in Fort Worth, at Trinity Episcopal Church, on February 7, 2009. The Right Reverend Edwin "Ted" Gulick, Jr., Bishop of Kentucky, was chosen as provisional bishop and other vacant diocesan offices were filled.[8] Although one of the last dioceses in the Episcopal Church to refuse to ordain women, the first woman was ordained in November 2009 and a new provisional bishop, C. Wallis Ohl, was named.[9]

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