Monday, June 19

The... Episcopal?... Diocese of Ft. Worth

The Episcopal Church yesterday elected a female presiding bishop.

This morning, the Episcopal diocese of Ft. Worth, which does not recognize women's ordination, in an emergency meeting this morning, requested alternate primatial oversight:

The Bishop and the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth appeal in good faith to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Anglican Communion and the Panel of Reference for immediate alternative Primatial oversight and Pastoral Care following the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
This action is taken as a cooperative member of the Anglican Communion Network in light of the Windsor Report and its recommendations.

Vote: Unanimous in favor

Because Ft. Worth-Episcopal does not recognize women bishops, it is arguing that it has no primate. Thus, it is seeking oversight from another Anglican province, not the Episcopal
Church-USA (which is the Anglican province of the USA).

As explained to me, this may have interesting implications. If the Diocese of Ft. Worth is given oversight by another province (most likely an African province, or the Archbishop of Canterbury himself), technically it would not be out of communion with the Episcopal Church, because the Episcopal Church at large is in communion with Canterbury which is in communion with Ft. Worth.

But, the new presiding bishop has, apparently, hinted that she might file charges against Ft. Worth for breaking its communion with the Episcopal Church-USA. This is tricky, however, because it could suggest that the Episcopal Church is not in communion with whichsoever primate takes over guidance of Ft. Worth, and, roundaboutly, would suggest the Epsicopal Church isn't in communion with the Anglican Communion.

But, if both the Episcopal Church-USA and the Diocese of Ft. Worth stay in communion with Canterbury, but each under different primates, that amounts to there being two Anglican Provinces operating within the United States: one province which would likely be very traditional, the other which would be... well, Episcopal as we have come to know it.

The opening address of this resolution was pointed out to me as particularly meaningful. The Diocese of Ft. Worth has addressed past concerns to the Archbishop of Canterbury and Panel of Reference, only to have them completely ignored. This time, Ft. Worth has addressed its concerns to all the Anglican Primates as well. Thus, while the Archbishop of Canterbury will ignore the motion and hope that it simply go away, if there are any African primates interested in making a statement to the Episcopal Church-USA, all they would have to do is pipe up, "We'll be your primatial oversight!" ... And, the fireworks.

Interesting. If any primates take Ft. Worth up on the deal, thus creating two operative Anglican provinces with dioceses in the US... very interesting.

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