“It is with real joy that we embark on this collaboration, particularly since the Diocese of Fort Worth was generously formed out of a portion of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. Almost 40 years on, we hope to return the blessing and support strong and growing ministry in Dallas.” – the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth
The breakaway Anglican Church in North America will expand into the diocesan boundaries of a conservative Episcopal Diocese, the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas headed by Bishop George Sumner. Sumner’s diocese is one of the most conservative in The Episcopal Church.
The breakaway’s announcement follows years of legal wrangling in which the breakaway Fort Worth diocese recently took possession of six churches held by Episcopal Church congregations. The US Supreme Court declined to take an appeal brought by loyalists to The Episcopal Church. That left in place a Texas Supreme Court ruling favorable to the breakaway group.
The draw of ACNA churches in the territory of Episcopal dioceses changes the conservative v. liberal balance in those dioceses as more conservative persons exit Episcopal congregations to join ACNA congregations.
The breakaway ACNA group calling itself (confusingly) The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth announced plans to create a Missionary District of Dallas. Ultimately the plans are for it to become a diocese of ACNA.
ACNA churches are not recognized by the Anglican Communion. There remains an Episcopal Church diocese presence which for legal reasons and to distinguish itself from the ACNA entity calls itself The Episcopal Church in North Texas.
The press release of the breakaway group follows:
THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF FORT WORTH
The Rt. Rev. Ryan S. Reed, Bishop
April 16, 2021
Concerning a proposed Missionary District of Dallas
There have been numerous overlapping jurisdictions in the Anglican Church in North America since its founding; for many this is an encumbrance on ministry, especially if a bishop is hundreds of miles from his flock. Bishop Ryan Reed, who served on the ACNA Executive Committee before his election to the episcopate in 2019, is committed to the historic pattern of geographic diocesan structures, which continue to foster the best pastoral care for clergy and people.
In the Dallas area of North Texas, there have been numerous diocesan affiliations, including Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO) and our diocese. After consultations with Bishop Todd Hunter and others, a draft petition (over Bishop Reed’s signature) has been developed which has yet to be approved by the College of Bishops. However, some planning steps and bridge-building are under way. In accord with ACNA Canon 5 and Canon 12 of Title I, the proposal would establish a Missionary District of Dallas, to operate temporarily as a Deanery of the Diocese of Fort Worth. The petition cites common aims of church planting, evangelism, compassionate ministry, and equipping disciples.
This arrangement would continue until the congregations in the Missionary District are ready to form a new diocese. Up to four churches from the Diocese of Fort Worth and the same number from C4SO are in the process of discerning affiliation with the District. Churches from other Anglican jurisdictions are invited to participate in discernment, or perhaps simply partner in ministry with the District. As a first sign of fellowship, the clergy of Christ Church attended our Mass of Collegiality at St. Vincent’s Cathedral during Holy Week. Full approval of the proposal may be granted by the College of Bishops in June. If the undertaking is a success, it may become a model the province will implement elsewhere.
It is with real joy that we embark on this collaboration, particularly since the Diocese of Fort Worth was generously formed out of a portion of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. Almost 40 years on, we hope to return the blessing and support strong and growing ministry in Dallas.
Contact: Suzanne Gill
Director of Communications