When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels—to say nothing of ordinary matters? If you have ordinary cases, then, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one believer and another, but a believer goes to court against a believer—and before unbelievers at that? In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?–1 Corinthians 6:1-7
Jack Iker spent years at war with the House of Bishops, declaring The Episcopal Church hopelessly apostate. Now, he bizarrely claims to be a Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Worth after a much-publicized schism where he led most of the Episcopalians out of The Episcopal Church. Why?
By claiming that the Diocese of Ft. Worth of the Anglican Church in North America (a splinter group of former Episcopalians trying to get recognition as an “official” Anglican national church) is the same as The Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth, Iker and his lawyers hope to be able to keep the property of The Episcopal Church.
And the court is as bewildered as can be. The 2nd Court of Appeals has ruled that “a corporation cannot sue itself” and that a judge deciding the merits of the case would be “unnecessarily confused by presentations from two opposing factions who claim to be the ‘The Corporation’ and ‘The Fort Worth Diocese.'”
Instead of following St. Paul’s suggestion that wayward (or whacky) believers be left to their own devices rather than being hauled into court, The Episcopal Church has now created another mess. Even Jack Iker has figured out the PR benefits of letting dissidents take their toys with them: the (ACNA) Diocese of Ft. Worth has allowed individual congregations to retain their property if they chose to stay part of the (TEC) Diocese of Ft. Worth. Who’s looking more Jesus-y here?
What happens next in this dispute is anybody’s guess. But as a Deacon of The Episcopal Church (the real one), I have a bit of advice for our leadership: let them go in peace and take the hit to the balance sheet. In the end it doesn’t matter. This is just stuff. Our treasure is in heaven.
Continuing this court case is only going to further alienate the world from the Church. And that means no matter how the lawsuits turn out, Jesus loses either way.
2 thoughts on “The Diocese(s) of Ft. Worth: Jesus Loses Either Way”
Tim, I am fascinated that these two articles are placed together in this column. The discussion about “who wins the issue/point” and “gets the spoils” is so clearly illustrated by our beloved Presiding Bishop Katharine Schori carrying her mitre in peace and demonstrating the Love of Christ “with skin and bones” as has been described. She physically demonstrates the Gospel everywhere she goes, and in every circumstance and situation. The real question here is not “who owns the property and keeps/takes it with them.” It is the answer to Christ's command to love….How best do we LOVE ONE ANOTHER by giving up our “rights” in this world in order to accommodate our “friends”? Your answer to the question is held in Katharine Schori's hands as she processed down the aisle. “How BEST do we love” as Christ loved us? Think about it….Peace.
I strongly disagree with some of your characterizations, but I do agree with your conclusion.
Fr. Christopher Cantrell, SSC
President, Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth