Further Update 1/21/2004 The following statement has been released with respect to the network.
The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes
A statement from Bishop James M. Stanton
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ
The Charter conference held in Plano is now concluded and the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes has been established.
It was unanimously agreed to by the bishops and representatives of the dioceses noted, and by representatives of parishes in other dioceses concerned to preserve the unity of the Church within the Anglican Communion.
There are two points of paramount importance to me and, I trust, to us all.
1. The Charter makes very clear that the Network “shall operate in good faith within the Constitution of The Episcopal Church” (Article I). At no time was the suggestion made or considered that the Network would work outside the Constitution of the Episcopal Church.
2. The purpose of the Network is to “constitute a true and legitimate expression of the world-wide Anglican Communion” and to maintain the widest possible connection to that Communion (Articles II, III, IV).
The Network Charter provides a simple structure which will permit its affiliates to explore and pursue ministry together. I hope and pray that by this means we can begin to look to the future and, confident of our relationships with all others in the Anglican Communion, carry on our God-given mission.
Those representing the Diocese of Dallas besides myself were: Dr. Bill Power, President of the Standing Committee; Canon Paul Lambert, dean of our General Convention Deputies; Neil Anderson and Laura Allen, both deputies of long experience particularly in the area of Constitution and Canons (Laura has served as secretary of the relevant Convention Committee for two General Conventions, and is also a member of the Standing Committee).
Alternate representatives included: Dean Michael Mills of the Cathedral; Fr. Henry Pendergrass, member of the Standing Committee; Lana Valenta, chair of our Diocesan Convention Committee; Canon Neal Michell of our Staff; and Fr. David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church and host of the Conference and Fr. Larry Smith, rector of Incarnation.
A Network is only as good as the purposes it is designed to serve. My hope is that the Network will become a resource to all of us as we seek to move forward as the Church we are and which our Constitution proclaims us to be.
Much discussion among the representatives focused on matters that, in fact, are consistent with our own Strategic Plan: planting new congregations, discipling new members of the Body of Christ, educating our people for leadership in the years ahead. It will take time to reflect on and deepen our understanding of the Network.
I leave today (Wednesday) for the enthronement of the Rt. Rev. Henry Orombi as the new Archbishop of the Church of Uganda. (That event will take place on January 25. Please pray for him and all of us.) On my return, I will call a meeting of the Clergy to discuss the Network and will plan to present it to the Diocese in local meetings in the weeks ahead.
How would I describe our participation in this Network? For the time being, we will be provisional participants.
As I said to the Executive Council and the Standing Committee, I expect that if the Network meets a need and serves the purposes for which it has been established it will be presented to the Diocesan Convention in October for formal action.
Let me add a comment concerning an article that appeared in the Washington Post concerning a document that was circulated by a sub-committee of a sub-committee of the American Anglican Council. It concerned “adequate episcopal oversight.”
As I understand it, that document was a draft. It was never circulated to any bishops, and in fact had never been approved by the AAC. I certainly knew nothing about it until the matter appeared in the press, and would never have supported any such approach.
I raise this matter because the Post article and the document itself seemed to link it to the Network - which had not yet been formed!
I trust that the Network will be judged on its own merits and by what it does, and not by the acts or interpretations of others.
For my own part, as I have said consistently throughout the weeks preceding and all the time following our General Convention, we stand on the Constitution and Canons of the Church and will not depart from them.
I want to be clear that the matter of “adequate episcopal oversight” was first raised by the Primates (including our own) at the Lambeth Meeting on October 15-16 and was set out in their letter issued at the conclusion of that meeting.
The Network is committed to “work for the provision of adequate episcopal oversight” (Article VII) as envisioned by and in cooperation with the Primates. Nothing more, nothing less. Please look at the Charter.
Update 1/21/2004: The network has been established. Here is their charter.
Original Post (12/19/2003):
It was unclear how conservatives in the Episcopal Church were going to procede after the canonization of an openly gay bishop in November. There was communication to the people on the ground something would happen before Christmas. This appears to be it.
FORT WORTH, Texas - (KRT) - The Fort Worth Episcopal Diocese has joined an alliance of 13 dioceses opposed to the ordination of an openly gay bishop, a move some priests and theologians see as a step toward a split in the denomination.
Other priests said the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes will work toward reconciliation and is not breaking with the U.S. Episcopal Church.
The network's strategy is to win recognition from the worldwide Anglican Communion and to oversee conservative congregations in liberal dioceses, according to a letter written by Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker posted on the diocese Web site.
Iker, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment. The alliance also includes the Dallas diocese. Dallas Bishop James Stanton did not return several phone messages this week.
Network representatives plan to meet Jan. 19-20 in Plano, Texas, to adopt a charter.