Fort Worth–Change of plans at St. Timothy's

From here:

On Dec. 2, leaders of the Diocese announced they had received a request from the Bishop’s Committee at St. Timothy’s, Fort Worth, asking that members of the mission congregation, as well as Fr. Christopher Stainbrook, the vicar, be permitted to become part of the Roman Catholic Church’s Anglican Ordinariate while continuing to use the real property of the church for worship, instruction, and fellowship activities. It was announced that a forum would be held on Sunday, Dec. 11, to discuss the situation, and that a vote of the qualified members would be taken the following week in order to ascertain the wish of the majority of the congregation.
On Dec. 6, lawyers for The Episcopal Church parties delivered a letter to our legal team inquiring about the situation at St. Timothy and commenting that the proposed use of the St. Timothy property by a body from another denomination would not be a “normal course of business use” in compliance with the order of the 141st District Court signed Oct. 20, 2011. The team was asked to explain how the situation would be handled to be in compliance with the order to avoid a hearing before the court, or the TEC lawyers indicated they would proceed to bring the matter to the court’s attention.

Our attorneys have therefore informed Fr. Stainbrook and the Bishop’s Committee that “Bishop Iker and the diocesan leadership … cannot jeopardize the entire Diocese as a result of your desire to join the Ordinariate.” It is imperative that all parties to the proceedings in the 141st, including St. Timothy, obey the October 20 order.

As a result, the Dec. 18 vote of the mission congregation has been canceled. The Dec. 11 forum will be held as planned, so that the congregation has an opportunity to ask questions and share its concerns. Bishop Iker will accept Fr. Stainbrook’s resignation from Anglican orders as part of his stated intention to seek re-ordination for service in the Ordinariate.

“We regret,” Bishop Iker says, “that the desires of the St. Timothy’s Ordinariate group to continue to use the facilities after Jan. 1, 2012, would be contrary to the court order and subject all of us to unnecessary legal proceedings that the TEC lawyers have stated they are prepared to pursue. Sadly, this prevents a pastoral solution to a sensitive issue of spiritual discernment. We are grateful to Bishop Keith Ackerman for his willingness to provide Sunday services at St. Timothy’s beginning on the first Sunday after Christmas Day.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

11 comments on “Fort Worth–Change of plans at St. Timothy's

  1. A Senior Priest says:

    Fr Stainbrook is a wonderful guy and a good and holy priest. The people of St Timothy’s are a fine body of devout Catholic Christians. If this development had been brought to me as their bishop, I’d have told Fr S and the Bishop’s Committee that DioFW would continue to hold title to the property and the congregation, if they decided to change jurisdictions to Rome, could rent the space for a sum representing the Diocese’s costs, plus maintenance and utilities. In every journey there are multiple routes to get to the goal. I pray they find one that’s suitable for them.

  2. TomRightmyer says:

    Saying 102 of the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said, “Woe to the Pharisees, for they are like a dog sleeping in the manger of oxen, for neither does he eat nor does he let the oxen eat”. – from Wikipedia

  3. Tom Hightower says:

    I have known Fr Stainbrook for many years. He is a wonderful priest. In fact, Bp Iker did make arrangements to release the congregation and rent the property to them. The TEC diocese notified Bp Iker that this was not acceptable and they would take us back to court. It was at that point that Bp Iker had to withdraw the offer of renting. I am confident that if Bp Iker and our diocese wins the suit, we will release the property to St Tims, just like we released property to St Luke, Stephenville, Trinity, Fort Worth, and St Martin in the Field because they wanted to remain in TEC.

  4. A Senior Priest says:

    May the Lord bless you, Tom, and everyone at St Timothy’s now and always.

  5. Henry says:

    Fr. Hightower is exactly right…+Iker is not releasing the property to St. Timothy’s only because the TEC bunch can’t stand it and are threatening still another law suit!! UHG!!!

  6. anthonyc17 says:

    Actually TEC was not threatening another lawsuit; they were arguing that allowing the ordinariate group to rent the property was not “in the normal course of business” according to the court order, and was threatening to bring it to the court’s attention. The latest is that the vicar of the parish has announced that a nearby Catholic church has offered them a place to worship (as well as office space). They may just walk away at this point and leave an empty building. So much for the court order requirement to “keep the property made subject to this lawsuit fully insured and maintain in force and good standing property and casualty insurance at least at the coverage levels effective in 2010…” Who’s going to keep that part of the order if the building is essentially empty? This is as dumb as a box of rocks!!!! Well actually, dumber!!!

  7. Nikolaus says:

    [blockquote]“in the normal course of business”[/blockquote]
    I’m not a lawyer but I do work frequently with court decisions, laws, etc. Unless it is further defined elsewhere, it strikes me that continued use as a church, regardless of denomination, constitutes the “normal course of business” to sufficiently satisfy the court order. But if St. Timothy’s can move on and leave TEC holding an empty building, more power to them.

  8. Connie Sandlin says:

    7. Nikolaus – “But if St. Timothy’s can move on and leave TEC holding an empty building, more power to them.”

    Who would be holding the potentially empty building is exactly what the court case is about. If the congregation ups and leaves, it will be +Iker’s FW Diocese’s problem, unless the courts ultimately rule otherwise.

  9. anthonyc17 says:

    8. Connie – [blockquote] “…it will be +Iker’s FW Diocese’s problem, unless the courts ultimately rule otherwise.” [/blockquote]
    I think that is what TEC is counting on; just another drain (financial and psychological) until there is no money left. It’s beyond insidious, in my opinion.

  10. NoVA Scout says:

    Anyone can leave a building anytime he chooses to do so. There’s nothing holding back the departing group. Moreover, there are probably a number of Catholic churches in the area that can accommodate them. These issues are very simple, really. If a person or persons decide to reaffiliate, they can just walk out the door.

  11. doxology says:

    As a member of St.Timothy’s I feel truly blessed to have a Vicar (Father Stainbrook) that is willing to stand behind what he preaches. I thought the goal of ALL Anglicans was to eventually head home (Rome). And by the graciousness of His Holy Father we have that opportunity.