At issue in this Convention today are constitutional and canonical decisions about how we shall chart our course as a Diocese for the next 25 years and beyond. We are preparing a future for our children and our grandchildren. As you know, by way of background, the chancellor to the Presiding Bishop, wrote my chancellor on Oct. 19, 2006, declaring that certain provisions in our diocesan Constitution and Canons were contrary to those of the Episcopal Church and needed to be changed, or else the Presiding Bishop would “have to consider what sort of action she must take in order to bring your diocese into compliance.” The following month, on Nov. 15, the Executive Council of the General Convention received a task force report identifying Fort Worth as a “problem diocese” that needed to be monitored. On June 14, 2007, this same Executive Council declared certain constitutional and canonical amendments in this Diocese to be “null and void.” Our Standing Committee and I replied by pointing out that such declarations exceeded the authority of the Executive Council, which is responsible for the program and budget of the General Convention, and that they had no legislative or judicial authority to make such a pronouncement. The Council’s declaration about the legitimate legislative process in this Diocese is, in fact, null and void.
And then just last week, the Presiding Bishop sent me an open letter, that she quickly posted on the internet, threatening disciplinary action against me if I did not prevent this Convention from acting on certain legislative proposals. I believe all of you have seen my reply. What you may not have seen is the Episcopal News Service story saying that if I did not heed her warning it would (and I quote) “force her to take action to bring the diocese and its leadership into line with the mandates of the national Church.” Now hold on there a minute. I don’t want to force her to do anything, but I must object to the claim that the Presiding Bishop has any canonical authority in this Diocese or any legitimate power over the leadership of this Diocese. She has no authority to bring Fort Worth into line with the mandates of a so-called “national Church.” There is no such thing as “the national Church.” We are a confederation of Dioceses, related to each other by our participation in General Convention. From the earliest days of the beginnings of the Episcopal Church in this country, including the formation of dioceses and eventually the creation of the General Convention itself, there has been a strong mistrust of centralized authority that is deeply rooted in our history as Episcopalians. We do not have an Archbishop in this Church, who has authority over other Bishops and their Dioceses. Instead, we have a Presiding Bishop, with very limited canonical responsibilities, mainly administrative in nature. We must object to the tendency in recent years in this Church to create some sort of central bureaucracy at the top that holds power and authority over the various Dioceses of this Church. We do not have a Curia that dictates policy and dogma in this Church. We do not have a Presiding Bishop with papal authority over us, nor do we believe in the infallibility of any Bishop or any council or, indeed, of any General Convention. If I may be so bold to speak on your behalf, dear friends: the leadership of this Diocese does not need to be brought into line with the mandates of some mythical “national Church.”
Read it all.