There’s a religious war, of sorts, going on in the Episcopal church and, here in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, it has created a parting of the ways between the Fort Worth Diocese and the Dallas Diocese.
The first shot in this war came back in 1976 when the Episcopal Church officially allowed women in the ministry. As you might expect, church liberals cheered and the traditionalists cringed. Then in 2003 the shot heard literally around the religious world was fired when an openly gay bishop was allowed into the Episcopal church’s hierarchy.
Since that monumental break with tradition, (and, some on the Conservative side say it was a break with biblical teachings) three Episcopal Diocese have broken away from the Episcopal church and have joined Anglican ‘communions’. Today (Saturday, November 15th) the Fort Worth Diocese voted to join the ranks of Episcopal deserters and form an alliance with a conservative, Argentina-based Anglican community.
At least most of the Fort Worth Diocese left the Episcopal fold; within that diocese lines are being drawn; individual churches have no intention of leaving the Episcopals and some members of Episcopal churches that are leaving are not going to leave with their churches — forming their own worship groups until they make moves to other churches.
On the Dallas side of the metroplex, the Dallas Episcopal Diocese is not breaking away — although some individual churches in the diocese are leaving. James Stanton, the Bishop of the Dallas Diocese and long-time friend of the Fort Worth Bishop, Jack Iker, while not completely happy with the path of the Episcopal church, is refusing to follow Iker’s lead saying: “If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times; you don’t win a battle by leaving the battlefield.
To top off this bit of Dallas/Fort Worth Episcopal excitement, guess who’s coming to town later this month. The gay Episcopal bishop from New Hampshire, Bishop Gene Robinson, has been invited as a guest of honor at Dallas’ “Black Tie” dinner, which is a fundraiser for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered) community. Bishop Robinson, while saddened by the bitter divisions caused by his ascension to Bishop, feels that “a fully inclusive Episcopal Church is the church of the future.”
Apparently the majority of Episcopals either agree with him or have decided, like Bishop Stanton, that the battle is best fought on the battlefield.
New York Times: Diocese in Texas Leaves Episcopal Church
Dallas Morning News: Presiding Bishop comments on Fort Worth diocese action
A Blogspotting Anglican Episcopalian: Bishop Jack Iker’s Address to the Convention
The Evolution of Jeremiah: Episcopalians to seek repeal of ban on gay, lesbian bishops