By Mary Ann Mueller with David W. Virtue
"He has hijacked the parish," commented Remain Faithful chairman Chad Bates about the Rev. Christopher Jambor following Sunday's Annual Parish Meeting.
The battle for the heart and soul of All Saints, Fort Worth, spilled over into the Annual Meeting which resulted in locked doors, a bomb sweep and heart sick parishioners leaving before the meeting was over.
According to reports coming out of All Saints Sunday evening, Fr. Jambor, and his hand-picked vestry were ready for the meeting. They made sure that "voting members" of the parish were previously identified and given official name badges proving they were members in good standing at All Saints. Those without the name badge were denied entry.
There are also allegations that long-time active All Saints members were also precluded from attending the meeting. Normally, an Episcopal parish annual meeting is an open event and embraces interested bystanders. This particular All Saints Annual Meeting was a tight, closed affair.
All Saints has a communicant membership of 1,127 members, so a valid annual meeting quorum would be 118 souls, or 10 percent of the members in good standing. More than 300 turned out for Sunday's annual meeting. In years past, fewer than 200 have usually attended the All Saints Annual Meeting.
The question was raised as to just how "qualified" were the members in good standing. Many of the established members of All Saints saw a host of unfamiliar faces. Nonetheless, these outsiders were considered qualified members in good standing and permitted a seat, voice and vote at the annual meeting.
There were rumors that Fr. Jambor recruited people to made a $5 contribution and temporarily transfer their membership to All Saints in order to booster his membership rolls. Allegedly, some of these people were members from Trinity Episcopal who were asked to transfer their letters to All Saints solely for voting purposes.
"Numerous people were denied the right to vote, even though they protested their life-long membership and affiliation with the church, which was dismissed." H. Fielding Chandler reported in an e-mail to VOL.
"My Grandfather was a founding member of my Church (All Saints) and my family was shown the way to the door," he continued.
"Several members were turned away because they had not paid their pledge or had given cash instead of checks," explained one former member who e-mailed VOL with information he was given following the meeting. "Every vote was rigged."
"The Rector put many onerous measures in place to give him "veto" power of the meeting," explained Bates. "Motions submitted by the faithful were overruled."
One of the "new" annual meeting rules put into place gave the rector full authority to take any action he deemed necessary and disallow appeals to the bylaws.
This resulted in many of the traditionalists being overruled and denied their say.
"Every parliamentary procedure was followed by the faithful, but to no avail," Bates lamented.
Annual Parish members were only given the revisionist view of the realignment. They were told that Bishop Iker had "left the church" and those faithful to him in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth had "abandoned the communion".
Bob Ferguson explained that momentum was building around the misinformation that All Saints is a TEC parish and that Bishop Iker has lead his diocese out of the fold.
"The only fact that seems to conflict with the message is that the Diocese is called the 'Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth'," Ferguson noted. "The message does not include the fact that the members of the Diocese voted to leave TEC for the Southern Cone."
A slate of names was proffered for vestry seats and convention delegate slots. Five nominations from the floor were rejected for cause that being the refusal of nominees to sign the Loyalty Oath.
John S. Morgan explained that five candidates, whom he called "dissenters" and who were nominated from the floor, were not considered viable candidates because "they would not sign the oath required to support the constitutions and the canons of The Episcopal Church."
The loyalty oath has been a bone of contention since its requirement. At least four -- if not more -- of the All Saints vestry have refused to sign the document claiming violation of personal conscience and have consequently left the vestry. The refusal to sign the pledge also resulted in the resignation of one priest and the youth director, last month.
Finally, after much name calling, aggravation, frustration and the blatant violation of parliamentary procedure, about 100 orthodox All Saints members said enough was enough, stood up, and sadly left, leaving the revisionists to their own devices.
"After it was apparent that the Rector would not allow a proper vote, the faithful walked out," Bates explained. "There was nothing legal about how he conducted this. Nothing at all."
"It was a very stressful meeting," explained Christine Martin. "I was only there for the first half and could not stay for the rest."
"This church has been ripped apart," she sadly concluded.
Humble Servant reports on another blog that after the walkout, the All Saints treasurer reported 2008 was the best year the church has had financially in several years.
Yet the December 30 edition of the All Saints church website, "Pro Omnibus Sanctis" reports a nearly $104,000 short fall in pledges with a more than $81,000 cash flow shortage.
VOL has been told that Bishop Jack Iker has been made aware of the tenor and tone of the All Saints Annual Meeting, Sunday afternoon - a meeting he was warned not to "disrupt" under the threat of legal action.
---Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline