Here is a little example of the paranoia that is still within me even though I am 800+ miles from the Diocese of Fort Worth.
Today, as I walked down the hall of the Cathedral to go to the Bofinger Chapel to lead Noonday Prayers, I came upon two guys. I greeted them and asked if I could help them. The first guy said, “I know you. You are from Fort Worth.” I said “yes, I am Barbi Click”. He said, “I am from St. John’s in Fort Worth.”
Well, the man seemed nice enough but I swear, the first thought I had was suspicious – as in, is he here to get information on me? Silly, I know.
Now, I know that sounds a bit egotistical. I am sure it does. But it isn’t that. It’s that there is this sense of always looking over one’s shoulder to see if a “spy” is lurking around. That feeling doesn’t exist here in Missouri but it certainly does in Fort Worth. It is sometimes difficult to know who is who and what they believe in Fort Worth.
That suspicion is one major reason why it took so long for any type of dissension to be noted. People literally sat in the pew next to someone for years and did not know for sure whether that person next to them loved or loathed the bishop. There were definitely those who made their thoughts known but these were rather few and far between. For the most part, people just went about their particular business within the parish and left the politics at the clergy and diocesan level.
Which is why the Diocese of Fort Worth is in the state it is in now.
It did not take me long to sweep away my suspicious nature regarding the visitor from Fort Worth but it also didn’t take me long to realize that he was a product of the “I just want to be a good Anglo-catholic orthodox Christian” school of thought. I told him that one could not get much more Anglo-catholic that this Cathedral, that I had to watch myself or otherwise I was bowing and kneeling with all the rest. Old habits are hard to break.
When asked what decision St. John’s would make come November, he said that it would probably follow the diocese wherever it went. I told him that would be with TEC; he cocked his head to the side curiously. I proceeded to remind him that the Diocese could not leave the Episcopal Church in that its existence was dependent upon the very Church from whence it came (even if it did come by way of splitting the Diocese of Dallas). I told him that the bishop and any who wished to follow him could leave but that the Diocese could not, that it would go through the same process that San Joaquin is now going through. I also reminded him that those Fort Worth Episcopalians who claim to be orthodox Anglo-catholics did not really mean orthodox as in doctrine or Anglican tradition or catholic universal. Rather, they meant…and he finished the sentence for me…”Roman Catholic”. And I just smiled.
Oh, there goes that suspicious mind again...