A STATEMENT BY BISHOP IKER  
SEPARATION? AT WHAT COST?  
 

In recent weeks, there has been much discussion about what the Anglican Communion Network may or may not do in response to the decisions of the next General Convention in June. Among some of us, there are fears that the Network dioceses will do nothing substantive, while among others, there are fears that (some) Network dioceses will vote to separate themselves from ECUSA.

Though none of us can say with certainty what will be enacted in Columbus, we do not expect the General Convention will fully comply with the recommendations of the Windsor Report. ECUSA wants “to have her cake and eat it too.” The majority in leadership positions in this Church wants to continue to ordain and consecrate partnered clergy in same-sex relationships and bless same-sex unions, while at the same time remaining a full member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

While there are continuing efforts among the bishops of the Network dioceses to work together and to choose a common path for the future, it must be said that we are not all on the same page. Our dioceses are not the same. They differ in a variety of ways. Even with our common commitment to "upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order" of the catholic church, we are not of one mind in terms of tactics and strategies. As much as we might hope and pray for a consensus among us as to the best way forward, unanimity is not likely at this point in time – or so it seems.

What I can say is that amongst some of us all options are being actively explored, discussed, weighed and prayed over. We have not reached a conclusion at this time, but must count the cost that will be incurred before we decide the way forward.

Jesus said, "Which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build, and was not able to finish.'" Luke 14:28-29

If by the vote of a significant majority of the clergy and laity of a Network diocese, the decision is made to terminate its relationship with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, what will be the consequences and what will be the cost? What becomes of those clergy, laity and congregations that do not wish to remain in the diocese? What is the relationship of that diocese with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the rest of the Anglican Communion? What becomes of the assets and properties of the diocese? Should they somehow be divided among conflicting entities? What about pensions and insurance and all the rest? The lawyers would have a field day to no end!! And what of those who have already left ECUSA, but want to remain Anglican? How would they be incorporated into the new realities?

At the same time, it must be asked, "What are the consequences if the diocese votes to stand and witness from within ECUSA, and no separation occurs?" Will congregations and clergy continue to leave us, one by one? Will we be able to “practice what we preach” with any integrity? Will we be seen by the rest of the Communion as part of the problem rather than the hope for the future of an orthodox province of the Anglican Communion in North America?

Let us continue to count the cost and consider all the options. Only then can we prayerfully decide how God would have us proceed. Extraordinary times require that extraordinary care be given to discerning the best way forward before acting. But once the decision is made, we will act decisively and boldly.


The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
BISHOP OF FORT WORTH
Lent 2006