17, 2001, corrected December 19, 2001
Committee Issues Presentment
Against The Rev. Samuel Edwards
WORTH, Texas - Members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal
Diocese of Fort Worth today took the following action regarding
charges against the Rev. Samuel Lee Edwards. (For
the actual presentment, click here)
The charges were issued May 29, 2001, by clergy of the Episcopal
Diocese of Washington, under Title IV, Canon 7, Section 1 of the
Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.
the first charge, of a violation of Article III, which requires
ordained persons to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and
Worship of the Episcopal Church, the committee found that
no offense had occurred, and the charge was dismissed.
second charge, alleging that Fr. Edwards had held or taught doctrine
contrary to that of the Episcopal Church, was withdrawn by those
bringing the charge, in correspondence dated Nov. 13, 2001.
the third charge, the committee issued a Presentment accusing Fr.
Edwards of violating Title III, Canon 16.2, which requires that
no priest officiate more than two months within the limits of any
diocese other than that in which he is canonically resident without
license of the Ecclesiastical Authority.
In the preface to its finding, the committee stated:
circumstances that give rise to the necessity of reviewing charges
against our brother in Christ, the Rev. Samuel Lee Edwards make
clear the unhappy divisions present in the Episcopal Church today.
We find ourselves faced with this task because of the estimation
made by the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of Washington
that Fr. Edwards is not a duly-qualified priest and
is thereby considered unfit to be rector of the parish that has
strongly disagree with that assessment. We also understand that
Fr. Edwards moved to Accokeek to take up duties as rector in the
belief that he had been duly called. He does hold a view of the
meaning, purpose and operation of Canon III.17.2 and .3 that differs
from that held by the Rt. Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon, Bishop pro tempore
of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. As the Review Committee
which reviewed the charges brought against Bishop Dixon concluded,
Both parties apparently hold these views in good faith and
with the support of their advisors and canonical commentators.In
the light of this unhappy division, we are charged with, and are
committed to, upholding the canonical integrity of the Episcopal
committee's Presentment will be given to the Ecclesiastical Trial
Court of the Diocese of Fort Worth, which will try the case. A Presentment
is not a conviction; it is an accusation.
Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth consists of 55 congregations serving
24 north central Texas counties. The major cities in the diocese
include Fort Worth, Arlington, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Wichita Falls
Grand Prairie, North Richland Hills, Brownwood, and Stephenville.
The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker has served as the third Diocesan Bishop
of Fort Worth since 1995.
Contact: Suzanne Gill
Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
2900 Alemeda Street
Fort Worth, TX 76116
817-244-2885 ext. 11
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Attorneys Report Received.
its regular meeting on November 19th, 2001, the Standing Committee
of The Diocese of Fort Worth received the report of the church attorney
regarding the charges against The Rev'd Sam Edwards and will formulate
a response in writing by December 17, 2001.
The Very Rev. William Crary, Jr.
President, Standing Committee
Diocese of Fort Worth
FORT WORTH HIRES CHURCH ATTORNEY
Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has engaged
the services of William R. Cathcart to serve as the Church Attorney
who is to conduct a confidential investigation of the charges brought
against The Rev. Samuel L. Edwards in the Diocese of Washington.
serves as the Chancellor of the Diocese of Oklahoma and is a senior
partner in the law firm of Cathcart, Gofton & Dooley in Oklahoma
City. Mr. Cathcart has been an Episcopalian for 42 years and an
active member of All Souls' Church in Oklahoma City since 1967.
He has held numerous positions of leadership at the parish level
and has served on the diocesan level as a member of the Stewardship
Commission, Vice-President of Diocesan Council, and Deputy to Provincial
Synod (1990, 1993, 1996 and 1999). He has served as an Alternate
Deputy to the General Convention of 1991 and as a Deputy to the
General Conventions of 1994, 1997, and 2000. In Province VII, he
has served as Chair of the Ordinances Committee and is currently
a member of the Court of Review.
Cathcart is a highly respected attorney who brings to this position
the experience and expertise that is required. His office address
Gofton & Dooley
2807 Classen Boulevard
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
Release: August 13, 2001
Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth convened
in special session today to consider charges against the Rev. Samuel
L. Edwards, a priest of this diocese serving as Rector of Christ
Church, Accokeek, Maryland in the Diocese of Washington. The charges
were filed by the Rev. Canon John Frizzell and other clergy of the
Diocese of Washington. They charge Father Edwards with "disobeying
both the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church."
the allegations state that Father Edwards does not "conform
to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Episcopal Church,"
because of his theological opposition to the ordination of women
as priests and bishops. They allege that to hold such a position
makes Father Edwards guilty of violating Title IV, Canon 1, Section
1(c) "Holding and teaching publicly or privately, and advisedly,
any doctrine contrary to that held by this Church."
they charge Father Edwards with violating the canonical provision
which states that no member of the clergy may officiate in another
Diocese for more than two months without a license from the Ecclesiastical
Authority of the Diocese.
Standing Committee at todays meeting elected to engage an
independent Church Attorney to make a full investigation of the
allegations and render a confidential report to the Standing Committee
within sixty days of the receipt of their request for an inquiry.
Within thirty days of receiving that confidential report, the Standing
Committee must convene to consider whether or not a formal Presentment
against Father Edwards is to be issued.
Worth To Investigate Charges Against Father Sam Edwards
Bishop of Fort Worth, The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, confirmed today
that he has called for a special meeting of the Diocesan Standing
Committee for Monday, August 13th, in order to consider certain
canonical charges that have surfaced in the Diocese of Washington
against The Rev. Samuel L. Edwards. Fr. Edwards is the Rector of
Christ Church, St. John's Parish, Accokeek, Maryland, but remains
a member of the clergy of the Diocese of Fort Worth.
of the complaints was brought to Bishop Iker from The Rt. Rev. Jane
Holmes Dixon, acting as Bishop of Washington. She accuses Fr. Edwards
of performing services in the Diocese without a license to officiate.
Other charges, which have not yet been forwarded to Fort Worth by
Bishop Dixon, were filed by a number of priests resident in the
Washington Diocese, accusing Fr. Edwards with violations of the
doctrine and discipline of the
Iker has pledged that a full and impartial investigation will be
conducted of all charges against Fr. Edwards. If the facts warrant
it, the case will be placed before the Ecclesiastical Court of the
Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth for a trial.
Bishop re-iterated that Fr. Edwards is a priest in good standing
in his Diocese and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Statement of the Primates/Archbishops Council of Ekklesia
By Maurice Sinclair, Primate Southern Cone
July 3, 2001
Chair of the seven member Primates' and Archbishops' Council guiding
Ekkesia, I distribute this letter to make known our support for
Bishop Jack Iker's initiative.
greet you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
are writing because we are concerned with the lack of evidence of
provision for "sustained pastoral care" in ECUSA as expected
in the Pastoral Letter issued from the Primates meeting at Kanuga.
an immediate consequence we are writing to offer our strong support
for Bishop Jack Iker in providing "Episcopal oversight and
protection" for Christ Church/St. John's Parish, Accokeek,
Md. Our support for his action is based first on our understanding
that the canonical requirements of a valid call of the rector have
been met. We are informed that The Rev. Samuel Edwards is a priest
in good standing of the Diocese of Ft. Worth. In addition, we are
given to understand that Bishop Dixon, who has been responsible
for the oversight of Christ Church, did not publicly or officially
indicate any canonically justifiable reason for not issuing him
with a license to serve in the parish to which he was duly called,
within the period required for such action to be taken.
also understand that Fr. Edwards, though unable in conscience to
accept women as priests or bishops, has declared that he is willing
to acknowledge the institutional responsibilities and authority
of Bishop Dixon within the life of the Diocese and in respect of
himself and Christ Church. In addition, he has promised that should
he at some future time find himself no longer able to fulfill that
undertaking he would inform the Bishop and tender his resignation.
light of the above we, the Primates/Archbishops Council of Ekklesia,
urge that Rev. Samuel Edwards be accepted as Rector and licensed
forthwith as such. The absence of other evidence of "sustained
pastoral care" and oversight, has made Bishop Iker's action
conclusion we would point out that time is running out for the restoration
of conditions in which traditional Anglicans can in good conscience
remain within dioceses led by bishops committed to the unauthorized
experiment of an alternative sexual ethic and the imposition of
women's ordination. ECUSA's failure in these areas has directly
resulted in marginalizing traditional people, and it has created
an environment in which extraordinary alternatives for care and
oversight will occur at an increasing rate. In this difficult environment,
our support for Bishop Iker, and those who seek to maintain the
traditional practice of the faith, is resolute.
and Archbishops Council Guiding Ekklesia:
Most Rev. Maurice Sinclair (Southern Cone), Chairman
The Most Rev. Drexel Gomez (West Indies)
The Most Rev. Peter Akinola (Nigeria)
The Most Rev. David Gitari (Kenya)
The Most Rev. Yong Ping Chung (SE Asia)
The Most Rev. K.J. Samuel (South India)
The Most Rev. Harry Goodhew (Sydney-Retired)
Anglican Council Support for the Provision Of Sustained Pastoral
Care And Protection For Christ Church Accokeek
June 8, 2001
IMMEDIATE RELEASE - JUNE 8, 2001
American Anglican Council (AAC) today announced its support for
the recent action by the Bishop of Fort Worth, The Rt. Rev. Jack
L. Iker, to provide continued pastoral care for the Rev. Samuel
Edwards and provide alternative pastoral care for the congregation
of Christ Church, Accokeek, Maryland. The AAC is a network of Episcopal
bishops, clergy and laity working for the reform and renewal of
the Episcopal Church.
AAC's support comes in response to the continued refusal by The
Rt. Rev. Jane H. Dixon, Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Washington,
to accept Fr. Edwards' Letters Dimissory, or transfer papers, from
the Diocese of Fort Worth.
Iker's action is a very understandable and logical response in light
of Bishop Dixon's refusal to accept the Letters Dimissory of Fr.
Edwards," said the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh
and Chair of the AAC Bishops Advisory Council. "As any bishop
would, Bishop Iker is trying to provide responsible pastoral care
for his own priest and for an Episcopal parish that has legitimately
called that priest."
Dixon's rejection of Fr. Edwards' transfer documents means that
Fr. Edwards still remains under the canonical jurisdiction of Bishop
Iker and the Diocese of Fort Worth. For this reason, Bishop Iker's
assumption of authority over Christ Church is actually a necessary
pastoral response to insure that Fr. Edwards and the congregation
receive appropriate episcopal care, since the parish and Fr. Edwards
have become completely alienated from Bishop Dixon. As an interim
response, Bishop Iker's action does not solve the problem of long-term
pastoral care for the parish, which needs to be addressed as soon
as Bishop Dixon de-escalates the tensions.
join with Bishop Iker in expressing hope that his oversight of Christ
Church will only need to be a temporary arrangement until an agreeable
solution to this crisis is reached," added Bishop Duncan. "It
is time for urgent mediation of this dispute and we ask Presiding
Bishop Griswold to take action to put such a process into place."
AAC bishops, including Bishop Duncan, have already offered to help
mediate the dispute, though their offers have yet to be embraced
by either Bishop Dixon or the Presiding Bishop.
simply doesn't make sense to continue to allow the Accokeek crisis
to tear apart our Church," said the Very Rev. Canon David C.
Anderson, AAC President and CEO. "Let's work together to find
a constructive solution to this dispute before even deeper wounds
are inflicted. We do feel strongly, however, that any solution should
include a more formalized system of sustained pastoral care for
the past several years the AAC has issued repeated calls for sustained
pastoral care (also known as alternative episcopal oversight) in
the Episcopal Church. In the Fall of 1999, the AAC introduced to
the House of Bishops the Jubilee Initiative, a common-sense plan
for sustained pastoral care. This plan would allow a parish that
holds irreconcilable theological disagreements with its own bishop
to seek pastoral care from a more theologically supportive Episcopal
Bishop from another diocese. A similar arrangement has been in place
in England for years. Many now argue that if such a system had existed
in the Episcopal Church, the current crisis in Accokeek could have
been easily avoided.
ironic thing in the Accokeek case is that Bishop Iker's action,
in a crisis situation, has essentially instituted sustained pastoral
care in the Episcopal Church," said Canon Anderson. "While
the AAC will continue to work for a constructive and mutually agreeable
way for sustained pastoral care be implemented in our Church, it
does appear that the concept is now a reality."
Bruce Mason 202-296-5360 firstname.lastname@example.org
the Clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
May 29, 2001
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
light of the events of this past Sunday at Christ Church in Accokeek,
Maryland, I am writing to explain to you my own position in this
situation and to ask for your prayers. For your additional information,
I have attached the letter I sent to the Vestry and Rector of the
congregation, in which I grant their request for "Episcopal
oversight and protection."
If we are one Church, then the standards for serving in one diocese
should be the same in all dioceses. As a priest in good standing
in the Episcopal Church and in this diocese, Fr. Sam Edwards has
the right to accept a call to a parish in any diocese of this Church,
and I believe I must defend that right just as I would for any of
you. He has assured Bishop Jane Dixon in writing that he and his
parish have no intentions of leaving the Episcopal Church and that
should they ever consider doing so, he would resign first. Yet she
refuses to accept this assurance.
The ministry that I have agreed to extend to this congregation is
not a canonical or juridical one, but a pastoral and spiritual one.
Though there are canonical provisions to deal with the breakdown
of the pastoral relationship between a vestry and their rector,
no such provision is provided for the breakdown of the relationship
between a vestry and their bishop. It is because such a breakdown
has occurred between the vestry at Accokeek and the acting bishop
of the Diocese of Washington that I have agreed, at the request
of the vestry, to give the parish my episcopal care and support.
By doing so, I hope to create a holding ground that will keep both
the congregation and their priest within the Episcopal Church. My
only desire is to find a creative solution to the present impasse,
which will stop all persecution and heal the divisions between the
parish and their canonical diocesan authority. If, as I sincerely
hope, Bishop Dixon invites me to function there on her behalf, this
will do much to unify the congregation and present a workable way
for all of us to move forward. I am working with other bishops and
church leaders, including our Presiding Bishop, to find a way through
this controversy, and I am hopeful that we will succeed.
Accokeek is a microcosm of the problems facing our communion. We
must get it right here, because it symbolizes so much of the tensions
that are present throughout the Church. We must not allow a woman
bishop to refuse to accept a traditionalist priest into her diocese,
because of his convictions. We cannot silently stand by as a revisionist
bishop, who has endorsed the gay agenda for our Church, attempts
to prevent an orthodox priest, who rejects this agenda, from having
his rightful place in the diocese where he has been duly called
The 1998 Lambeth Conference, the Primates Meetings of 2000 and 2001,
and our own House of Bishops have expressed support for the concept
of "sustained pastoral care," including appropriate episcopal
ministry, for congregations that are alienated by changes in the
life of the Church. My decision is in pursuit of this aim. We are
breaking new ground, and this requires courtesy, sensitivity, and
patience on all sides. I am hopeful that in the days ahead, my new
relationship to the parish in Accokeek will provide a helpful example
to the whole church as to how we can continue to live together with
the highest degree of communion possible, in spite of
know that this new situation may raise many other concerns for you.
Please feel free to contact me if I can assist you in addressing
any of them.
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
May 26. 2001
The Rector, Wardens and Vestry
Christ Church, Saint John's Parish
600 Farmington Road West
Accokeek, MD 20607
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
to each of you, in the name Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior.
May His grace and peace be with you always.
am writing in response to your letter of May 22, 2001, in which
you request that St. John's Parish be placed under my "Episcopal
oversight and protection." After a great deal of prayer and
reflection, I have decided to agree to your request, effective immediately.
The Rev. Samuel Edwards, who has served as a priest in good standing
under my oversight for the past eight years, will continue to serve
as your duly called Rector. This arrangement will continue for as
long as the current circumstances make it necessary.
am taking this step because the Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese
of Washington, acting as Bishop pro tempore, in refusing to accept
your Vestry's call of Fr. Edwards as your Rector, is denying you
that "sustained pastoral care" which, in their Pastoral
Letter of 2001 from Kanuga, the Anglican primates committed themselves
Jane Dixon's actions appear to be contrary to the canons of the
Episcopal Church, and also violate the spirit of the 1998 Lambeth
Conference Resolution III. 2, on "The unity of the Anglican
Communion," which reads in part: "[This Conference] calls
upon the provinces of the Communion to affirm that those who dissent
from, as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to
the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans; and therefore
calls upon the Provinces of the Communion to make provision, including
appropriate episcopal ministry, as will enable them to live in the
highest degree of Communion possible."
failure in the Diocese of Washington to find a way to respect recognized
theological positions shared by many throughout the Anglican Communion
is in danger of breaking the peace and unity of the Church, and
is depriving you of necessary pastoral care. This I pray may now
be rectified by my intervention.
also pray that this new pastoral arrangement between us may only
be temporary and that in due course a graceful accommodation may
be made by the Diocese of Washington whereby your call to Fr. Edwards
may be ratified canonically.
together we look forward to a resolution of the controversies afflicting
you, please know that in addition to my oversight and protection,
you have my deep felt love and prayers. God bless you.
Faithfully in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
Archbishop George Carey
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold
Bishop Jane Dixon