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From the Bishop

Dear Friends,

The Annual Parochial Reports from all our congregations have now been tabulated, but the results are nothing to get excited about. As a whole, our average Sunday attendance in 2013 remained the same as the year before. Some places were slightly up and others slightly down, but the end result of 5,234 worshippers in our churches on a typical Sunday is not an increase. Given the population growth in our area, we really should have done much better. Surely we will do better in 2014!

The financial picture is basically the same. Though the total net disposable income for the diocese topped $11,136,520 (an increase of more than $211,360), this is an increase of less than 2% over the previous year. This means there will be no significant increases in the diocesan budget for 2015, nor should we anticipate another reduction in the diocesan assessment formula as in the past two years.

As we look forward to next year, I am pleased to report that Christ Church in Waco has made application for a status change from a mission station to that of a mission. They are averaging over 50 people in their Sunday services and are holding their organizational meeting to elect a Bishop’s Committee on April 27th. Once a mission budget is submitted and diocesan assistance is figured in, I will be appointing Fr. Lee Nelson as their first resident vicar. He will also be acting as chaplain to the student bodies at Texas A&M and Baylor University. All of us are deeply grateful to Fr. Chris Culpepper for the mentoring and pastoral leadership he has provided to the Waco congregation since 2009, in addition to his responsibilities as Rector of Christ the Redeemer in Fort Worth.

We hope to hire a new part-time “Diocesan Youth Animator” next month to coordinate and energize youth ministry throughout the Diocese. This is a vitally important aspect of our ministry, and we look forward to strengthening and expanding our work with young people in the months ahead. Fr. Mark Polley is heading up the search process and interviews for this position.

At the heart of our youth ministry is the annual St. Michael’s Conference and the summer program at Camp Crucis, where this year’s theme is “Saints in the Making.” Fr. Chris Cantrell heads up the St. Michael’s Conference each year, and a fine team of priests and adult leaders always assists him. It is a lot of work, but the conference produces tremendous spiritual fruit in the young lives of the participants. There are 14 priests (two from the Diocese of Dallas) who will be devoting a week of their ministry to the Camp Crucis program this summer, and all of us are deeply grateful for this gift of their time and energy to work with our young people, ages Kindergarten through Senior High School.

Pray God’s blessing upon all our clergy and people in the year ahead, that we may grow in numbers, in giving, and in our work of evangelism in the world about us. To God be the glory – great things He has done – and it is marvelous in our sight!

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
Lent 2014