Thursday, December 20, 2007

Iker's first diocesan convention as president

I was looking through some old journals of the annual conventions of the Diocese of Forth Worth recently (I know, I know--a slow day, a little Christmas reading). I thought the story of Bishop Iker's first convention in 1994 is worth recounting.

Bishop Pope opened the convention at All Saints' Episcopal School in Fort Worth on Friday, 7 October 1994 and made a short farewell statement. He concluded by noting:

"Finally, and I cannot say this more strongly, we are not held together by property and coercive canons. If we fall back on those things, rather than our common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to be pitied and the Church ends up looking like a jail keeper rather than the dispenser of the saving grace of God."

After this, Bishop Pope turned the gavel over to the coadjutor, Bishop Iker. At that point, Pope began a sabbatical leave which lasted until his retirement. Iker assumed the presidency of the convention, and on Saturday morning gave a wonderful address on ecclesiastical unity at the Holy Eucharist to the delegates (will post at a later date).

The convention continued its business session with the consideration of a number of controversial resolutions. Fr Samuel Edwards had proposed several radical changes. Among them, removal of Article 1 of the constitution (accession to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church), withdrawal of consent to be included in Province VII of the Episcopal Church, and a canon specifying that parishes (rather than the diocese) own their property.

Mr. Bill Vermooten of St Andrew's, Grand Prairie, stood on a point of personal privilege and asked if he was correct in his understanding that the passage of this first resolution would begin the steps toward severing the diocese's ties with the national church and the General Convention, asking for clarification of the language.

Bishop Iker stated that he'd be less than honest if he did not say that he believed members of the convention have already decided that they are leaving the Episcopal Church. "I regret that very much, and I would do everything I possibly can pastorally and otherwise to dissuade them from doing so. I believe the resolution before you is to withdraw from the Episcopal Church. It takes two conventions to do that. If it is passed at this convention, it will have to come back to the next convention. Does that answer your question?"

Mr Vermooten indicated that he was satisfied with the bishop's clarification. All of Fr Edwards' resolutions were defeated.

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