Bulletin: Fort Worth delegates vote to leave Episcopal Church, realign with Southern Cone

Episcopal News Service, Bedford, Texas. November 15, 2008 [111508-01]

Pat McCaughan

Delegates to the 26th annual diocesan convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth voted Saturday to realign the diocese with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

With little debate or emotion, delegates voted by order, 73 votes in favor, 20 against, among clergy and 98-28 among the laity for realignment. After the vote Bishop Jack Iker read a letter from Archbishop Gregory Venables, welcoming Fort Worth into the Southern Cone.

In a statement, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said after the vote that the church "grieves the departures of a number of persons from the Diocese of Fort Worth. We remind those former Episcopalians that the door is open if they wish to return.

"We will work with Episcopalians in the Diocese of Fort Worth to elect new leadership and continue the work of the gospel in that part of Texas. The gospel work to which Jesus calls us demands the best efforts of faithful people from many theological and social perspectives, and The Episcopal Church will continue to welcome that diversity."

The vote came quickly after the convention gave the second required approval to constitutional changes that removed all mention of the Episcopal Church. They maybe viewed on the diocesan website at: http://www.fwepiscopal.org/diocesanconvention/08convention/08conventionmain2.html

The convention also voted two-to-one for second and final approval of four constitutional amendments that rescinded accession to the Constitution and Canons of General Convention, the national governing body. Fifteen canonical changes were approved by a voice vote.

The canons may be found on the diocesan website.

The four amendments considered by convention delegates were:

  • Amendment A, which stripped the name Episcopal Church from the diocesan preamble, was approved by a vote of 73-18 in the clergy order and 101-26 among the laity.
  • Amendment B, which rescinded accession to the national church's Constitution and Canons and authority of General Convention, to instead assert its "Anglican Identity" as a "constituent member of the Anglican Communion, was approved by a vote of 72-19 in the clergy order and 102-25 among the laity
  • Amendment C, which substituted election of deputies to "extra-diocesan conventions or synods" rather than General Convention, in Article 12 of the diocesan constitution, was approved with a vote of 71-19 in the clergy order and 103-24 among the laity.
  • Amendment D, which stripped the Episcopal Church's name as regards to canons submitted for consideration by convention. It also provided that canons adopted by convention be effective immediately and was approved by a vote of 72-19 in the clergy order and 102-25 among the laity.

A complete report from the Fort Worth convention will be released later today.