Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (ACNA)
|Diocese of Fort Worth|
Seal of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
|Ecclesiastical province||Anglican Church in North America|
|Cathedral||St. Vincent's Cathedral, Bedford|
The diocese is divided in 6 deaneries, each one headed by a dean, which are:
- Fort Worth East (churches in eastern Fort Worth)
- Fort Worth West (churches in western Fort Worth)
- Eastern Deanery (churches in suburbs in eastern Tarrant County, as well as ex-TEC churches in Dallas County and the states of Arkansas and Louisiana)
- Western Deanery (churches on the western side of Tarrant County, as well as in counties west of Tarrant County)
- Southern Deanery (churches in counties south and southwest of Tarrant County, as well as ex-TEC churches in Houston)
- Northern Deanery (churches in counties north and northwest of Tarrant County)
The current bishop is Jack Iker, SSC.
The controversial separation between it and the identically named Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in the Episcopal Church arose out of events in 2008, when the 26th annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth voted to remove the diocese from the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.
At the time of the vote in 2008 to separate from the Episcopal Church, the diocese had geographically fixed boundaries covering 24 counties in Texas and claimed 19,000 members. Afterward, in accordance with the non-geographical concept of dioceses in the Anglican Church of North America, it began to accept congregations outside its previous territory. In November 2012, the diocese reported 62 congregations, of which 60 are in Texas, one in Louisiana and one in Arkansas. The cathedral of the diocese is St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford.
Position in the Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth came into being in 1983 and, within the Episcopal Church, was long seen as a leader of Anglo-Catholics and other theological conservatives within American Anglicanism. The diocesan bishop, Jack Iker, SSC, was the last diocesan bishop in the Episcopal Church who held that a bishop could not ordain women to the priesthood.
In 2006, most of the fifty-one parishes in the diocese affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network, an association of dioceses, parishes, and clergy working to counteract a liberal shift in doctrine and practice that abandons or ignores traditional teaching and discipline.
The Episcopal Church maintained that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was still a part of the Episcopal Church and that only the individuals in favor of these motions have left the Episcopal Church. The decision of convention was challenged by a minority of members from few parishes (the vote to leave TEC was 72 to 19 clergy and 102 to 25 laity), who have since reorganized and remain within the Episcopal Church with the Rt. Rev. Ted Gulick as provisional bishop. Following the vote of diocesan convention to leave the Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, declared that Bishop Iker was inhibited from exercising his office as a bishop in the Episcopal Church, on the grounds that he had violated Title IV, Canon 9, by abandoning the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of the Church. In response, Iker rejected the authority of the Presiding Bishop. Thus, the Presiding Bishop, on December 5, with the advice and consent of her Council of Advice (bishops who are the presidents or vice-presidents of each province), deemed that Iker had renounced ordained ministry and declared him removed from it.
The Standing Committee of the Diocese, which in the absence of the bishop would be the highest ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, regarded the subsequent 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 decision to realign with the Southern Cone.
Anglican Church in North America membership
In 2009, the diocese was a founding jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the first convention of which was held at St. Vincent's Cathedral. Joining ACNA therefore created a dual affiliation for the diocese, which remains affiliated to the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America.
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth currently owns property whose ownership is disputed since the diocese's split from the Episcopal Church.
The trial court initially ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church as to ownership. However, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled on August 30, 2013, to remand the case to the trial court. Specifically, the court ordered the trial court to apply a "neutral principles of law" approach as to ownership of the property. The Supreme Court of the United States denied a petition of the Episcopal Church plaintiffs for the reversal of the decision, on November 3, 2014, returning the case to Texas jurisdiction.
Iker, in a public statement, stated, “We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed with our position that the TEC [Episcopal Church] petition for a review was without merit.” In doing so, Iker mischaracterized the action of the Supreme Court, since that Court’s denial of a petition for certiorari never constitutes an expression of opinion on the merits. As the Court has explained, a denial of a writ of certiorari cannot be interpreted as anything other than a signal that fewer than four Justices of the Court deemed it desirable to review the decision of the lower court, and that such a denial indicates nothing about the merits or demerits of a case. Indeed, not even the Supreme Court of Texas, in its 2013 decision, expressed any opinion on the merits, as it merely held that the trial court had applied the wrong legal standard in attempting to resolve the controversy and remanded the case for consideration under the correct standard..
- Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth Parishes
- Terry Lee Goodrich (November 15, 2008). "Fort Worth Episcopal Diocese votes to leave mother church". Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Christian Newswire (June 22, 2009). "Anglican Church Assembly Begins". Retrieved 2009-08-25.
- "U.S. Supreme Court denies TEC petition", November 3, 2014, The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth official website.
- See Maryland v. Baltimore Radio Show, Inc., 338 U.S. 912 (1950).
- Episcopal Diocese v. Episcopal Church, 422 S.W.3d 646 (Tex. 2013), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 2014 U.S. LEXIS 7330 (November 3, 2014).