It was a joyous and emotional moment when the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops in approving the reunion of the Diocese of the Episcopal Church in North Texas with and into the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. After years of wrangling over property and losing nearly all of it, and having to give up their name (the Diocese of Fort Worth) the two dioceses spent considerable time crafting a plan to come together for their mutual benefit.
You could feel the sense of relief in the two Deputations, and a great deal of love and respect, as the House of Deputies cheered and applauded, and many of the significant players (like chancellors, lay leaders and others who have been involved in the agonizing process over the last 14 years) wept in joy and relief.
All of the dioceses in Texas were originally part of one diocese, the Diocese of Texas. Over the years, the other five dioceses were created. After all, the state of Texas is a pretty big place for one bishop to manage! It was not unlike the Diocese of San Diego, which was formed as a “spinoff” of the Diocese of Los Angeles in the early 1970s. So for the Diocese of North Texas to rejoin the Diocese of Texas, it was a lot like a “coming home” for them. Together they can begin to rebuild. That makes me really happy.
When people ask me where I’m from, I often say I grew up in five dioceses. One of those was the Diocese of West Texas, centered in San Antonio. My brother, who is a retired priest in Dallas and has spent his ministry of about 40 years in the dioceses of West Texas, Texas, and Dallas, told me was really happy about the reunion because it was good for the church and because many of his friends are in that region. He has agonized with many of those friends about many of the issues that lead to the schism in 2008 over issues of women priests and LGBTQ issues.
As a vice-chancellor, I have attended Chancellors’ conferences for more than 20 years. At every annual conference, we received reports on the status of litigation in the dioceses that were enduring conflict over the departure of congregations and issues around their property. After many years of litigation and heartbreak, we all felt as though we were emotionally invested in the outcomes. For me, part of the chaos was the initial loss of property in the Diocese of San Joaquin (Central California, based in Fresno). Since this included the cathedral in which my husband and I were married, it really &%$#ed me off. I asked the Chancellor when we would get the Cathedral back every time I saw him. It was a great day when I heard the litigation was successful, and we got it back!
I love this church and will defend and support her in any way I can always!
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