By Kirk Petersen

The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker, one of the founding bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), retired at the end of 2019. He served from 1995 to 2008 as Bishop of Fort Worth in the Episcopal Church (TEC), then led many of the clergy and parishioners in the diocese in disassociating from TEC as part of a broader separation movement.

Since 2008 he has continued to lead the “Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth” — one of two entities claiming that name. The breakaway diocese affiliated first with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, then with the ACNA since since that church’s founding in 2009.

In a Christmas Eve homily, Iker, who is 70, noted that a year earlier he had been unable to participate in Christmas activities because he was being treated for Stage IV cancer. “But God intervened … Since May I have been cancer-free, thanks to your prayers and the treatment I received at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston.”

The Rt. Rev. Ryan S. Reed, who was consecrated bishop coadjutor in September 2019, will be installed as bishop diocesan on January 5.

Fort Worth is the one remaining jurisdiction where ownership of the name “Episcopal Diocese of” has not been settled judicially, despite a decade of litigation. The parties made oral arguments in December in the Texas Supreme Court, seeking to establish “which convention matters” in determining ownership of church property and the name Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

In late 2019, a federal judge ordered the ACNA entity based in Charleston, South Carolina, to stop using the name Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. It now operates as the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina.

Iker and four other bishops left TEC over a period of years in response to church policies that they considered contrary to scripture. A key milestone was the election of an openly gay, partnered man as bishop in 2003.

ACNA has left the issue of ordination of women up to its individual dioceses, some of which do ordain women. Iker has been a strong opponent, and in 2017 declared “a state of impaired communion [with other dioceses of the ACNA] because of this issue,” and said vowed to “work with other dioceses to amend the Constitution to remove this provision.” Women are not eligible to become bishops in ACNA.

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