Suzanne Gill (Fort Worth Star Telegram)—Episcopal Confusion

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was formed in 1982 by an organizing convention of clergy and lay delegates. The diocese then voted to affiliate with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. General Convention does not establish dioceses; rather, dioceses join the General Convention voluntarily.

Diocesan conventions in 2007 and 2008 voted by 80 percent to withdraw from the General Convention. As an unincorporated association, the diocese simply exercised its right to withdraw. Nothing in the constitution or canons of TEC says a diocese may not leave. The litigation against us is an attempt to deny this legal right.

Read it all.

(Please note that the letter to which Ms Gill is responding may be found here [starts at the bottom of the page and continues on the following page at the top]).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Posted August 28, 2010 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Dallasite wrote:

Legalities aside, the confusion that Ms. Gill and Ms. Sherrod both point out is understandable.  The Iker-led diocese is free to come or go as it pleases.  The use of the name Episcopal is, in my view, a fraud, however.  Yes, I know that they have the legal name.  Legal names are easily changed, and I don’t understand why they don’t simply change the name.

August 28, 3:40 pm | [comment link]
2. Teatime2 wrote:

It IS confusing. But don’t at least some of the legal arguments (especially regarding property) in the case rest on the incorporation of the diocese in Texas and under Texas law? If so, they can’t change the name until it’s all ironed out.

But I think it’s led to a lot of accusations and misunderstandings in the St. Vincent’s flap. With “Episcopal” in the name of the school, the lesbian couple likely figured it was GLBT-friendly when they sought to enroll their kid. The school should probably consider removing “Episcopal” from its name or changing it to “Anglican.”

August 28, 4:09 pm | [comment link]
3. COLUMCIL wrote:

Not every Episcopal church, school, cathedral or diocese is accepting of the position GLBT advocates hold.  Episcopal - the word - isn’t a reference to sexuality though the sad thing you point out is that many both inside and outside TEC immediately think so.  Would that it pointed out a church of bishops following the teaching of Christ Jesus as, for the most part, it did four decades ago and more.  The agenda of GLBT advocates will continue to be finding ways to make the secular agenda the church’s agenda in toto.  This couple knew exactly what they were doing and with whom.  They didn’t get all the wanted but they made the news, part of the strategy.  Until the court battle ends there is not a chance of changing what has been corrupted, the word Episcopal.  That day will come, I suspect because of the association of Bishop Iker and the diocese with TEC, not because of a misunderstanding by GLBT advocates.  It is a shame to give up a name of what was and no longer is a reflection of Christian life.  But the name will have to go.

August 28, 5:58 pm | [comment link]
4. Philip Snyder wrote:

Dallasite - the reason they didn’t change the name is they knew they would be sued.  I believe simply changing affiliation (BTW I don’t agree with the tactic or strategy of +Iker) is possible, keeping the same name was their right as the corporation and the diocese.

In legal eyes, the diocese existed prior to joining with General Convention - it had to exist and be organized prior to joining General Convention. 

Teatime2 - IIRC, the school had removed “Episcopal” from its name quite some time ago.  It is simply “St. Vincent’s School.”

Phil Snyder

August 28, 6:57 pm | [comment link]
5. Sarah wrote:

I am personally very pleased that Iker has kept the word Episcopal.  Why should they drop using a perfectly good name, particularly since they are, after all, an Episcopal diocese.

There are other provinces of the Anglican Communion that use the word “Episcopal” in their names—no reason why a former diocese of TEC should not use that nice descriptive adjective.

I look forward to the word “Episcopal” being reclaimed from the noxious reputation that TEC’s current leaders have inflicted upon it.

August 28, 9:02 pm | [comment link]
6. NoVA Scout wrote:

All Episcopal churches are Anglican and I certainly don’t mind that those of traditional theology who are attempting to counter-balance some very disquieting trends in the Episcopal Church show their dedication by continuing to be Episcopalian.  In fact, I applaud it.  But one can’t have it all ways.  If folks leave the Church, as did these people in Fort Worth, the only reason I can see them continuing to use the term “Episcopal” or its variants is to confuse the situation concerning property ownership.  I assume that is the motivation in Texas, rather than devotion to the term, “Episcopal.”  Is there another explanation?

August 28, 10:18 pm | [comment link]
7. Sarah wrote:

RE: “All Episcopal churches are Anglican and I certainly don’t mind that those of traditional theology who are attempting to counter-balance some very disquieting trends in the Episcopal Church show their dedication by continuing to be Episcopalian.”

And no reason why people can’t continue to be Episcopalians without being members of the organization known as TEC.  TEC does not own the word “Episcopal” any more than it owns the word “Anglican.”

August 28, 10:25 pm | [comment link]
8. Tomb01 wrote:

Well, Scout, I am part of the Fort Worth Diocese.  And you are probably right in the legal aspect of the name issue, but many of us still are emotionally tied to the ‘Episcopal’ church.  We used to be able to describe what the ‘Episcopal’ church believed as core values, but the current leadership has the ability through majority vote to change the tenets of the church.  We can’t go with that, but many of us BECAME Episcopalian because of the historical beliefs of that denomination.  Just because the current controlling majority has decided to adapt their beliefs to the prevailing cultural norms does not remove our historical ties with that name.  In fact, we could actually claim to be more ‘Episcopal’ than the current management, as our beliefs are much closer to the historical faith than theirs….

August 28, 10:27 pm | [comment link]
9. Dallasite wrote:

Phil, the name of the corporation doesn’t affect the rights of the corporation to the property-that’s what the courts are sorting out, and the name of the corporation won’t affect the legal rights at issue.  THe name could confuse the jury (or, if you prefer, at least allow them to demonstrate a continuity of ownership); I’m clearly not privy to the legal strategy being used, but I can certain see why the Iker folks want to keep the name at least as long as the lawsuit is going on.  And I agree it’s within their legal rights as the corporation to keep whatever name they choose.  I do think, however, that it’s hypocritical of the Iker diocese to continue to use the name of a denomination that it has corporate disavowed and seems to hold in contempt.

August 29, 6:32 pm | [comment link]
10. Sarah wrote:

RE: “I do think, however, that it’s hypocritical of the Iker diocese to continue to use the name of a denomination that it has corporate disavowed and seems to hold in contempt.”

It is not using the name “The Episcopal Church”—which is the name of the denomination.

It is using the name “the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth”—it’s name prior to ever joining TEC.  The opposite is true.  It would be hypocritical for the diocese to make its claims—“we are the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, regardless of whether we are a part of TEC or not” and then change their name.

I wish other withdrawing dioceses had done the same thing.

The sooner the name “Episcopal ” is reformed in the US, the better!

August 29, 7:34 pm | [comment link]
11. NoVA Scout wrote:

I think the people who left TEC in Pittsburgh tried something similar, did they not?

August 30, 9:41 am | [comment link]
12. MichaelA wrote:

Another example is the Reformed Episcopal Church which left PECUSA in the 19th century and is now part of ACNA.

I am having difficulty in following NoVA Scout’s point. If the diocese first joined General Convention and then validly chose to withdraw, why should it be obliged to drop the word “episcopal” from its name, a word it had always used, and which other entities completely separate from TEC also use?

September 1, 12:51 am | [comment link]
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