Bishop Iker addresses Accokeek situation to his Diocesan Clergy

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Wed May 30 01:14:02 EDT 2001

Bishop Iker Addresses Accokeek situation to the
Clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

May 29, 2001

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In light of the events of this past Sunday at Christ Church in
Accokeek, Maryland, I am writing to explain to you my own position in
this situation and to ask for your prayers.  For your additional
information, I have attached the letter I sent to the Vestry and Rector
of the congregation, in which I grant their request for "Episcopal
oversight and protection."

1.  If we are one Church, then the standards for serving in one diocese
should be the same in all dioceses. As a priest in good standing in the
Episcopal Church and in this diocese, Fr. Sam Edwards has the right to
accept a call to a parish in any diocese of this Church, and I believe
I must defend that right just as I would for any of you. He has assured
Bishop Jane Dixon in writing that he and his parish have no intentions
of leaving the Episcopal Church and that should they ever consider
doing so, he would resign first. Yet she refuses to accept this

2.  The ministry that I have agreed to extend to this congregation is
not a canonical or juridical one, but a pastoral and spiritual one.
Though there are canonical provisions to deal with the breakdown of the
pastoral relationship between a vestry and their rector, no such
provision is provided for the breakdown of the relationship between a
vestry and their bishop.  It is because such a breakdown has occurred
between the vestry at Accokeek and the acting bishop of the Diocese of
Washington that I have agreed, at the request of the vestry, to give
the parish my episcopal care and support.  By doing so, I hope to
create a holding ground that will keep both the congregation and their
priest within the Episcopal Church. My only desire is to find a
creative solution to the present impasse, which will stop all
persecution and heal the divisions between the parish and their
canonical diocesan authority.  If, as I sincerely hope, Bishop Dixon
invites me to function there on her behalf, this will do much to unify
the congregation and present a workable way for all of us to move
forward. I am working with other bishops and church leaders, including
our Presiding Bishop, to find a way through this controversy, and I am
hopeful that we will succeed.

3.  Accokeek is a microcosm of the problems facing our Communion. We
must get it right here, because it symbolizes so much of the tensions
that are present throughout the Church.  We must not allow a woman
bishop to refuse to accept a traditionalist priest into her diocese,
because of his convictions.  We cannot silently stand by as a
revisionist bishop, who has endorsed the gay agenda for our Church,
attempts to prevent an orthodox priest, who rejects this agenda, from
having his rightful place in the diocese where he has been duly called
to ministry.

4.  The 1998 Lambeth Conference, the Primates Meetings of 2000 and
2001, and our own House of Bishops have expressed support for the
concept of "sustained pastoral care," including appropriate episcopal
ministry, for congregations that are alienated by changes in the life
of the Church.

My decision is in pursuit of this aim. We are breaking new ground, and
this requires courtesy, sensitivity, and patience on all sides. I am
hopeful that in the days ahead, my new relationship to the parish in
Accokeek will provide a helpful example to the whole church as to how
we can continue to live together with the highest degree of communion
possible, in spite of theological differences.

I know that this new situation may raise many other concerns for you.
Please feel free to contact me if I can assist you in addressing any of

Faithfully in Christ,

The Rt. Rev.Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth

More information about the VirtueOnline mailing list