To the Clergy and Laity of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
Dear Friends in Christ:
The Primates of the Anglican Communion concluded their six-day meeting in Tanzania on Monday, February 19, by issuing a unanimous Communiqué that points the way forward in these troubled days in the life of our Church. I commend it to you for your careful reading and study. While the meeting avoided a formal schism, it recognized that serious divisions still confront us and called upon The Episcopal Church to take specific actions to heal the breach in relationships caused by actions of our General Convention and a number of our bishops.
The traditional teaching of the Bible, that sexual relations are confined to heterosexual marriage, was reaffirmed as the official teaching of the Anglican Communion, and the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church has been given until September 30th to reverse practices at variance with this or face the consequences. In particular, we are asked to “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions” and to confirm “that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent” to be consecrated as a bishop.
The Primates responded to the appeals for Alternative Primatial Oversight from several dioceses by agreeing to establish a Pastoral Council that will oversee the ministry of a Primatial Vicar, who will in effect act as the Presiding Bishop for those who are unable to accept the ministry of Katharine Jefferts Schori. There are several problems with this proposal, and it raises some serious questions that warrant further discussion.
Another significant element of the Communiqué urges that all legal actions on property disputes between The Episcopal Church and congregations that have left TEC be suspended. Litigation in secular courts is not the way for the Church to resolve these controversies.
There are many questions that remain unanswered, and there are some serious difficulties that have to be addressed. Do keep these concerns in your prayers as various details and decisions are made in the weeks and months ahead.
Best wishes for a devout and holy Lent. May the Lord Jesus fill you with his grace and peace.
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
February 20, 2007