When reviewing the major religion news stories in the Fort Worth area over the past year, one subject kept rising to the top — the Episcopalian split.
Two groups of Episcopalians — the breakaway group led by Bishop Jack Iker and the other that voted to stay in the national Episcopal Church — went separate ways, each claiming the title Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.
Members of Iker’s group voted to leave the Episcopal Church, saying it has strayed from biblical principles in many ways, including ordaining an openly gay man, Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
Area Episcopalians who stayed in the national church reorganized the Fort Worth diocese, naming a provisional bishop, now the Right Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, to replace Iker. Also, they, along with the national church, filed suit in Tarrant County’s 141st District Court, seeking that Iker’s group give up all church property in the 24-county diocese.
Iker’s group voluntarily gave up church properties where a majority of members had voted to stay in the Episcopal Church. But it says that all other properties belong to the diocese, not the national denomination. Iker also holds that he is still bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and that the diocese has just shifted its allegiance to the Argentina-based Southern Cone province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Courts will ultimately decide the issue.