St. Timothy's Church, Fort Worth


From The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
Dec. 8, 2011

On Dec. 2, leaders of the Diocese announced they had received a request from the Bishop's Committee at St. Timothy's, Fort Worth, asking that members of the mission congregation, as well as Fr. Christopher Stainbrook, the vicar, be permitted to become part of the Roman Catholic Church's Anglican Ordinariate while continuing to use the real property of the church for worship, instruction, and fellowship activities. It was announced that a forum would be held on Sunday, Dec. 11, to discuss the situation, and that a vote of the qualified members would be taken the following week in order to ascertain the wish of the majority of the congregation.

On Dec. 6, lawyers for The Episcopal Church parties delivered a letter to our legal team inquiring about the situation at St. Timothy and commenting that the proposed use of the St. Timothy property by a body from another denomination would not be a "normal course of business use" in compliance with the order of the 141st District Court signed Oct. 20, 2011. The team was asked to explain how the situation would be handled to be in compliance with the order to avoid a hearing before the court, or the TEC lawyers indicated they would proceed to bring the matter to the court's attention.

Our attorneys have therefore informed Fr. Stainbrook and the Bishop's Committee that "Bishop Iker and the diocesan leadership … cannot jeopardize the entire Diocese as a result of your desire to join the Ordinariate." It is imperative that all parties to the proceedings in the 141st, including St. Timothy, obey the October 20 order.

As a result, the Dec. 18 vote of the mission congregation has been canceled. The Dec. 11 forum will be held as planned, so that the congregation has an opportunity to ask questions and share its concerns. Bishop Iker will accept Fr. Stainbrook's resignation from Anglican orders as part of his stated intention to seek re-ordination for service in the Ordinariate.

"We regret," Bishop Iker says, "that the desires of the St. Timothy's Ordinariate group to continue to use the facilities after Jan. 1, 2012, would be contrary to the court order and subject all of us to unnecessary legal proceedings that the TEC lawyers have stated they are prepared to pursue. Sadly, this prevents a pastoral solution to a sensitive issue of spiritual discernment. We are grateful to Bishop Keith Ackerman for his willingness to provide Sunday services at St. Timothy's beginning on the first Sunday after Christmas Day."

* * *

Here's some great news from…(drum roll, please…) TEXAS! Yes, yet another group in the Lone Star State is moving into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The people of St. Timothy's Church, under the leadership of Fr. Christopher Stainbrook, are petitioning for entrance into the U. S. Ordinariate when it is erected. Here is the press release from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:

Diocese responds to request from St. Timothy’s Bishop’s Committee

The Bishop’s Committee of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, a mission congregation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, has informed Bishop Jack Iker that they wish to join the U.S. Anglican Ordinariate of the Roman Catholic Church when the Ordinariate begins functioning on Jan. 1, 2012. The Rev. Christopher Stainbrook, vicar of the church, intends to resign from the ordained ministry in order to seek admission to holy orders within the Ordinariate.

The Bishop’s Committee – a body of elected lay leaders in the congregation – discussed its decision with the Bishop and other key diocesan officers – including the President of the Standing Committee, the President of the diocesan Corporation, and the Chancellor – in a meeting Tuesday, Nov. 29. Approximately 90 persons worship at St. Timothy’s each Sunday. It is not known how many members of the congregation intend to join the Ordinariate.

St. Timothy’s, which was founded in 1956, became a parish in 1960, but had to revert to mission status in 1993, requiring significant financial support from the Diocese to continue operations.

Bishop Iker has asked that an open forum be held on Dec. 11 with the entire congregation, and, one week later, that a vote be taken to determine the will of the members. This will provide a benchmark number so that the Bishop can make provision for worship and pastoral ministry to that portion of the congregation that will be staying in the Diocese.

Bishop Iker said, “While we regret that many members of St. Timothy's feel called at this time to leave our fellowship for the Roman Catholic Church, we respect their conscience and spiritual discernment in this matter. We live in a very conflicted time in the life of the Church, and it is important to maintain charity and patience with one another. We wish them well, in the name of the Lord.”

Notice of the intention of the Bishop’s Committee and plans for the open forum and vote are being communicated in a letter to the congregation. The text of the letter is below.

* * *

Dear Friends in Christ,

On Sunday, Dec. 11, and Sunday, Dec. 18, we will have two very important meetings for all members of St. Timothy’s Church. Please join us in the Parish Hall following the 9:30 a.m. Solemn Mass on these dates. All active members are strongly encouraged to attend these meetings pertaining to the future of our congregation. They are being held with Bishop Iker’s full knowledge and support.

The December 11th meeting will be informational and will focus on the petition of the Bishop’s Committee for St. Timothy's to be admitted, as priest and congregation, to the Anglican Ordinariate in the Roman Catholic Church when it is established on Jan. 1, 2012. After this petition was sent to Bishop Iker last week, the Bishop’s Committee and Father Stainbrook met with the Bishop and key officers of the Diocese of Fort Worth on Tuesday, Nov. 29, to discuss the best way to address this concern. If approved by our members, the most likely possibility would be for the St. Timothy's Ordinariate group to pay a use fee for the buildings until the property litigation is finally resolved by the courts.

The following representatives of Bishop Iker and the Diocese will be present on Dec. 11 to address our concerns and answer any question you may have: Dean Ryan Reed, President of the Standing Committee; Bishop Keith Ackerman, President of Forward in Faith; and Shelby Sharpe, lead attorney for the Diocese in the litigation.

To encourage attendance and foster fellowship, a lunch will be served prior to the open forum.

This meeting will be followed by a week for prayer, reflection, and the opportunity for clarification, before the December 18th meeting where all eligible members will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not St. Timothy's should join the Ordinariate at this time, as proposed. The results will be presented to Bishop Iker for his consideration prior to being announced to the congregation.

We urge all voting members of St. Timothy’s to attend these two very important meetings. Eligibility for voting will be the same as at the Annual Meeting:

  1. Attend church on every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation unless for good and sufficient cause prevented. [These causes are (a) serious illness or infirmity, (b) necessity to perform charitable service, (c) unavoidable obligations connected with one’s vocation, and (d) unavoidable difficulties with travel.]
  2. Contribute to the financial upkeep of the Congregation.
  3. Have been confirmed or received by a Bishop of this Church or of a Church in communion with this Church.
  4. Have received Holy Communion at least three times in the preceding twelve (12) months.
  5. Not be under ecclesiastical discipline or censure.
  6. Be enrolled (via letter from another congregation or Confirmation register) as a communicant of this Congregation and be at least 16 years of age.

Do pray for God’s wisdom and guidance as we seek His will in this decision.

Faithfully in Christ,

Bishop Iker and Father Stainbrook

As the people of St. Timothy's prepare for these meetings, they ask for our prayers.

Author: Fr. Christopher Phillips

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served for the past twenty-eight years. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. Fr. Phillips was ordained as an Anglican for the Diocese of Bristol, England, in 1975. After serving as Curate for three years at St. Stephen Southmead, he returned to the United States and served in two Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Rhode Island. In 1981 he left the Episcopal Church and moved with his family to Texas, where he was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in 1983. Fr. Phillips and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for forty years. They have five children, all grown and married, and three grandchildren.

44 thoughts on “St. Timothy's Church, Fort Worth”

  1. Great news!
    Is it known to whom the property belongs? I hope there will be no legal procedure againt St Timothy from the faux-diocese of Ft. Worth headed by Bp. Ohl…

    + PAX et BONUM

    1. Given that there are contentious issues between the Episcopal Church and the diocese headed by Bishop Iker, I imagine that St. Timothy's might be better off finding its own diggs. As to calling the Episcopal Diocese of Fr. Worth headed by Bishop Ohl a "faux diocese", reflect on how the Roman Catholic Church would handle a diocese choosing to leave the world-wide church. What is applies to one applies to all, methinks. Remember the load of bricks that Archbishop Burke dropped on the Polish congregation that tried to simply form its own parish.

      1. In all fairness to Card. Burke, the polish congregation is now as liberal as the ECUSA – fully inclusive, open communion, etc. And the issue there wasn't in forming their own parish, it was in hiring a pastor without his consent.

        1. The Episcopal Church is acting like the Catholic Church would act if a diocese were to try to split off. Also, remember that it was the liberal Bishop John Chane, emeritus of Washington DC who made the way easy for Good Shepherd Badenburg to leave ECUSA and join the Catholic Church. Not all Episcopalian liberals are evil, insensitive, or lacking in faith.

          1. How would a Catholic diocese "decide to split off"? There is no diocesan synod that makes such decisions or appoints the bishop. A Catholic bishop, and therefore the diocese, ultimately receives his appointment from the Pope and can be reassigned or removed by the Pope. If a bishop decides to go against the Pope, the Pope, the appointing authority, simple removes him. Here it is the appointing authority, the diocese, fighting with the "higher-ups".

            That there is no such Papal-like authority within the Anglican Communion and Continuum is a systematic flaw that leads in the long run to more fights and more schisms, going all the way back to Henry VIII.

  2. Is this the first ACNA parish to seek to come into the Ordinariate? Bishop Iker is a Bishop in the Anglican Church North America a different group than the TEC.

    Regardless this is great news?

    1. Technically he is a Bishop of TEC and ACNA. He has opposed TEC and has led his dioceses (over 90% of the congregations) into the ACNA. The TEC PB tried to steal the dioceses from him and has appointed a 'faux' bishop but to know avail. It's in the Texas courts right now. Pray for them and the Texas judges.

  3. Great news!. Texas seems to be the place to be if one wishes to belong to a parish within the Ordinariate.

    Hopefully there will be many more parishes coming after the Ordinariate is established. Prayers are needed for Northern and Central California, as there doesn't appear to be any groups headed for the Ordinariate.

  4. I'm not surprised that the Fort Worth ACNA diocese is providing the first, post-announcement of erection, group to declare for Anglicanorum coetibus. It was always going to to be the case that there would be groups who would be waiting to declare their hand until it became clear that there actually would be an Ordinariate. Such is also the case in Britain, though the circumstances there are somewhat different; just last week a group in Darlington under the episcopal care of Martyn Jarrett, the only flying bishop not to join the OLW, declared they would be entering OLW. They are the first major group (71 persons if I recall correctly) in the Province of York to do so.

  5. My heartfelt congratulations to FR. Stainbrook and his loyal congregation as they prepare to join the rest of us as we move together into the Ordinariate!

    Looking forward to seeing you in Houston next month, Fr. Chris! Godspeed in all your good work as you secure your flock for the big transition into Holy Church. Who knows? Maybe we can do some youth ministry together again in the Ordinariate!

  6. Well done, Fr Stainbrook and Saint Timothy's! I am especially glad of this news, since I served two cures at this parish: My first out of seminary as Curate from 1979 until 1981 (during which I was ordained priest by Bishop Robert Terwilliger of blessed memory) and later as Rector from 1989 until 1993. Canon Charles Hough, now Ordinariate-bound, is a son of the parish, as is Fr Timothy Church, long a Pastoral Provision priest in the Catholic Diocese of Dallas. These are just a couple of several who, having been solidly founded in the Catholic religion at Saint Timothy's, are now in or en route to full communion with the Catholic Church. Deo gratias!

  7. Just to reiterate that it is hypocritical to criticise the Episcopal Church for taking action to retain its property when no Roman Catholic Diocese would consider just giving their property away. Many Anglo-Catholic parishes and clergy have had tremendous amounts of leeway over the years theologically and liturgically to do as they pleased. Now they take advantage of this sense of entitlement to expect to be handed property as well. It will be interesting to see how they fare when, under Roman discipline, they are not a law unto themselves.

    1. Re: "their property away"

      Who's the "they"? Does the diocese belong to the bishop? Or to the group that appoints the bishop, the diocesan synod? Or to some other more-equal-than-others bishop? To Canterbury? It is this confusion at the heart of the Anglican Continuum that leads to this and so many never-ending fights. It's all very tiring. And just plain distracting from Him. There are disputes over property and closing churches in Catholicism (see parish closings for instance) — we're all human — but they do not disrupt the spiritual life of the church as much.

    1. It is also worth noting that there is precedent in the Fort Worth diocese (Anglican, not Catholic) for a parish's property being released to the congregation when it decides to leave: When St Mary the Virgin, Arlington became a Catholic parish, then-bishop Clarence Pope and the Standing Committee declined to contest their ownership of the property.

      It is probable that the only real threat to St Timothy's retention of its property is a victory by the Episcopalian faux-diocese of FW in its current litigation against the Anglican diocese.

      Sorry, Mr Rideout: "Faux-diocese" is not an inappropriate title for the outfit led by Bp Ohl. It is simply accurate, as the Episcopal General Convention has not yet established such an entity. Dr Schori and her minions have set up what is at best a provisional structure. In the event of its losing its court case, I doubt it will be recognized as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. Those few congregations that make it up will not be able to adequately support a separate diocesan structure and thus are more likely to be transferred to the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas or the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas.

    1. How inspiring that St John the Evangelist Calgary, of the ACC, will be allowed to take its building with it into the Catholic church.

  8. There's been yet another development. It seems that the congregation may walk away from the property at this point. They have been offered a home at the Catholic Church of St. Mary of the Assumption in Fort Worth.

    1. Losing one's home must be an awful thing, and I can't imagine what it must be like. But what a wonderful statement of witness it would be to say "We love our church building, and if it came to litigation, we think we have a persuasive case. But, you know what? We don't care. If the bricks and mortar mean that much to you, then take them with our blessing, and we'll be on our way."

      And from a more mercenary viewpoint, I'd say that, properly managed, PR like that is impossible to buy.

    2. That's excellent news. St. Mary's is a beautiful church. What I can't get my head round is why the TEC are so quick to resort to law suits. Why can't they just take the time to sit down and talk solutions with the departing groups? Why are they so spiteful and trigger-happy? It's very, very sad indeed.

      1. As my old tutor Peter Toon pointed out some years ago, it has become clear that the leadership of TEC not only aren't interested in Christianity at all, but are actively opposed to it, so being pastoral or using for some kind of worship is not a concern of theirs: if the building were to sit empty or to be turned into a bar they would far prefer it to having any but themselves use it.

    3. St Mary's pastor, Fr David Bristow, is a diocesan priest who came in via the Pastoral Provision and an all-round good egg. When I first knew him he was assistant at All Saints, Fort Worth, later moving on to be Rector at St Luke's, Fort Worth.

      My lack of surprise at this development does not lessen my delight in hearing of it. This is a clear demonstration that Cardinal Wuerl's encouragement to the American bishops to actively assist ordinariate-bound Anglicans is being taken to heart.

  9. I am one of the members of St Timothy. I am so proud of our little parish. We are doing everthing possible to live our lives the way Christ wants us to. In spite of all the obstacles that have been erected to stop us we will prevail with God's help. All your prayers are welcomed and appreciated.

  10. OK here it is December 20. Our last regular mass is on December 24 at 11:30. PM. After that we will be in our new location thanks to the good people of St Marys. God Bless them for stepping up and helping out. Some of our parishoners are sad to leave this current bldg. They have been attending here for 30 to 40 years. But times change and God is leading us. Thanks to all who are and have been praying for us.

    1. Yes, first thanks for informing us, and second, our prayers are with your community.
      I fear that Bishop Ackermann might find a church empty of faithfuls on the first day of his curacy…

      + PAX et BONUM

  11. I was confirmed at St. Timothy's Church 02-15-1961. I'm 81 years of age now, attended St. Timothy's service last Sunday with my godchildren, who are very confused, as am I. Very confused, indeed. I also visited Fr. George Acker's gravesite. May his soul rest in peace, and thank God that I have been blessed with his spiritual teachings.

  12. One last comment . Yesterday approximately 60 people entered tne Catholic Church. With 10 more waiting for finalization of paper work to make same journey. All of these people are from St Timothy Episcopal Church. We made the commitment on Jan 1 2012 and now have found a home. We are all so greatful for the countless prayers and for Gods help in this journey Thank you all one last time.

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