Texas diocese challenges female leader’s authority

Published June 19, 2006

Bishop Jack Iker

Columbus, Ohio Less than 24 hours after the election of the Episcopal Church in the USA’s (ECUSA) first female presiding bishop, the diocese of Fort Worth (Tex.) appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for alternative oversight.

Fort Worth is one of three American dioceses that do not ordain women. There are about 100 dioceses in the Episcopal church.

Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth told the house of bishops and lay delegate Judy Mayo told the house of deputies (laity and clergy) that the diocese is appealing “to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the primates of the Anglican Communion, and the Panel of Reference for immediate alternative primatial oversight and pastoral care, following the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.”

Canon Jim Rosenthal, communications officer at the Anglican Communion office in London, who is attending General Convention, said the request would go to the secretary of the panel, which has met twice, most recently in May, 2006.

The panel was established by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, after a meeting of the 38 Anglican primates, or national bishops, to respond to parishes and dioceses that are at odds with their leadership over controversial decisions such as, in the U.S., the consecration of a gay bishop and, now, the election of a female presiding bishop (primate).

As to the timing of the panel’s actions, according to the mandate published on the Anglican Communion Web site, “it is the hope of the panel to offer advice to the Archbishop of Canterbury on any matter referred by him to the panel within six months of its receipt of a formal reference.”

Archbishop Williams said in a statement on June 19, the day after Bishop Jefferts Schori’s election, “she will bring many intellectual and pastoral gifts to her new work and I am pleased to see the strength of her commitment to mission and to the (United Nations’) Millennium Development goals.”

He also stated that “her election will undoubtedly have an impact on the collegial life of the Anglican primates and it also brings into focus some continuing issues in several of our ecumenical dialogues.”

The announcement also said Archbishop Williams spoke to Bishop Jefferts Schori by telephone “to assure her of prayers as she prepares to take up her post.” The next primates’ meeting is scheduled for February 2007 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


  • Solange DeSantis

    Solange De Santis was a reporter for the Anglican Journal from 2000 to 2008.

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