Dio. Ft. Worth Trustees sign now


Dear Sirs and Madams,

On Tuesday 13 October, the Board of Trustees ruled against seating the trustees elected by the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth led by Bishop Iker. The trustees elected by the Continuing Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth were seated according to the rules set forth in the Charter of the University of the South and the Canons of The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth led by Bishop Iker constitutes roughly eighty percent of the Continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth realigning away from The Episcopal Church, including a large number of individuals and institutions with deep ties to The University of the South.

Though the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has had their duly elected Trustees rightly seated, there are those with longstanding historic ties to the University of the South who have been dismissed from the Board of Trustees. These former trustees, now members of the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth led by Bishop Iker, remain Christians in good faith attempting to live out their Baptismal vows, and many remain immensely loyal to the University. The delegates sent from that diocese have, again rightly, not been seated as full trustees by the current board. However, this dismissal seems guilty, to some extent, of the same overreaction of which those of us in the Episcopal Church of the United States often accuse those who have parted ways with the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. If we are to seek to serve Christ in all persons, as well as strive for justice and peace, as we promised in our baptismal vows, we must be also willing to open dialogues and try to heal wounds both in the Church and in the world.

It would be both unfair and against the declaration of the charter of the University and the canons of the Church to seat trustees who are not members of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. However, Section Four of the charter of the University allows the Board of Trustees to form a committee which includes those who are not trustees. Though non-trustees clearly have no vote, it would be possible, with the Board of Trustees permitting, to allow members of the committee a voice in the proceedings of the board. Allowing those with historic ties to the University, particularly the former trustees from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth led by Bishop Iker would be a large step in good faith to work towards the reconciliation of our One, Holy, and catholic Church.

Along with the ecumenical benefits of working towards inclusion, the practical benefits of the continued inclusion of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth led by Bishop Iker are many. With a large number of the parishes of the Diocese of Fort Worth joining the diocese, it is in the interest of the University to continue relations, even in such a diminished capacity, with the Episcopal Diocese under Bishop Iker for the purposes of fundraising and recruitment. To slight those who have contributed so much to the University, spiritually, materially and educationally is, to put it simply, the wrong thing to do.

Therefore, we the undersigned would like to ask the Board of Trustees of the University of the South to appoint a standing committee consisting of elected representatives from the Diocese of Fort Worth led by Bishop Iker for the purpose of offering advice, initiating proposals, and commenting on the proceedings of the Board. Its members, though without a vote, would be allowed a voice during the proceedings of the Board of Trustees. This compromise would enable us to remain true to the constitutions and canons by which the University must operate, while also accepting that though we may, as Christians, faithfully disagree on some issues, we can and should work together on that which unites us in common mission to forge stronger bonds. We would also encourage the board as a body to consider allowing for the creation of two Associate Trustee positions from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth led by Bishop Iker. This would bet a further step taken to improve relations between the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth led by Bishop Iker, the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and the Episcopal Church. We believe this would be an effort made in good faith to allow those with historic ties to the University to continue to serve the school in its mission, recognizing the common ground we share as Christians in the Anglican tradition and the bonds that tie us all so closely to the University we love.

In Peace

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Gary RayBy:
Nature and EnvironmentIn:
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Board of Trustees of the University of the South

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