Despite protest from the head of The Episcopal Church, clergy from a diocese that is moving toward a split with the national church are meeting with Archbishop Gregory Venables, head of the conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America.
Venables was invited by the Rt. Rev. Jack Iker, bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth, to discuss this weekend issues affecting the diocese and the global Anglican Communion which has been wracked by division.
Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, however, urged Venables "not to bring further discord into The Episcopal Church" by accepting the invitation. His visit would be "an unprecedented and unwarranted invasion of, and meddling in, the internal affairs of this province," the Episcopal head said in a letter Tuesday.
The Diocese of Fort Worth is currently in the process of withdrawing from The Episcopal Church and realigning with the Province of the Southern Cone over what conservatives say is the national church's departure from Scripture and traditional Anglicanism. The diocese approved the split in November and will again vote later this year to finalize the withdrawal.
The Diocese of San Joaquin became the first full diocese to secede in December.
In response to Jefferts Schori's letter, Bishop Iker of Fort Worth expressed shock over the "rude letter" she released.
"Far from being 'an unwarranted interference,' he (Venables) is coming at my request as an honored visitor and guest speaker," Iker said in a letter Wednesday.
He denounced Jefferts Schori for her attitude and actions that he argued "bring further discord" and accused her of meddling in the internal affairs of the diocese.
Over the past year, Jefferts Schori and Iker have exchanged letters about Fort Worth's vote to leave last November and the Episcopal head has continued to emphasize the possibility of reconciliation between Iker, the diocese and the wider Episcopal Church, according to the Rev. Dr. Charles K. Robertson, the Episcopal presiding bishop's canon.
Iker said otherwise in his letter this week.
"There are no efforts at reconciliation proceeding within this province, which is one reason why faithful people continue to leave TEC (The Episcopal Church) in droves," he said.
Venables is scheduled to meet with clergy from the Diocese of Fort Worth on Friday and attend a diocesan convocation Saturday. He will be a guest preacher at two local churches Sunday.
The Southern Cone has about 22,000 members across Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Last November, its provincial synod agreed to welcome into the province "on an emergency and pastoral basis" Episcopal Church dioceses "taking appropriate action to separate from The Episcopal Church."
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. arm of Anglicanism.