Bishop Iker to The Episcopal Church: Just a Suggestion—Read St. Paul Lately?

A timely message from Bishop Iker, regarding the ongoing church litigation in Texas:

 

LIVING WITH LITIGATION        

Living with litigation has become a way of life for us as members of the
Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. For the past 4 ½ years, we have been
under the cloud of a lawsuit brought against us by The Episcopal Church
and its local supporters, seeking to deprive us of our buildings and
assets. This has been a huge distraction from our focus on spreading the
Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and making new disciples for the
Kingdom of God. What a relief and a blessing it was to have the Texas
Supreme Court overturn the trial court judgment against us on August 30.
So now we head back to the local court for a reconsideration of the
dispute – based this time upon neutral principles of law, and under this
methodology we are confident we will prevail. Life goes on – the
litigation continues – and we learn again how important it is to trust
in the Lord in the midst of distractions and threats to our security.

The national leadership of TEC has misguided and misled local
Episcopalians by encouraging them to support its litigation strategy,
which sought to undermine the laws of the State of Texas regarding
property, trusts and corporations. They advised people to leave their
local churches following the separation of the Diocese from TEC in
November 2008 and to claim that they had been denied access to these
churches. Nothing could be further from the truth. No one has ever been
asked to leave their church, and our services are open to all. Those
who now wish to return to our fellowship will find an eager welcome.

We regret that millions of dollars have been spent on legal fees by both
sides. All of this could have been avoided in an amicable separation
process as provided for by the Diocese for any congregation that wished
to remain in TEC. This was accomplished in the case of three churches
by a simple transfer of property title to the local congregations.
However, TEC insisted on blocking further transfers and sued for
everything, resulting in a long, protracted process of litigation. But
now the end is in sight.

The Dennis Canon is dead in Texas. Corporations are authorized to
control their own decisions and affairs without the interference of
third parties. That’s the law. Perhaps in light of these rulings by our
Supreme Court, those who have sued us and sought to deprive us of our
property might see the wisdom of terminating their continued use of the
courts contrary to 1 Cor. 6:1-7. Let’s get on with the mission of the
Church and apply our limited resources to advancing the Kingdom of
Christ rather than to continued litigation.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
September 5, 2013

 

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you.

1 Cor. 6:1-7

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