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.”