Lay leader Owanah Anderson died Friday

This tribute to Owanah Anderson was written by the Rev. Bruce Coggin, who served as a “circuit rider” for Wichita Falls Episcopalians after the departure of a former bishop and other leaders from The Episcopal Church.


Early in the morning of Friday, March 24, Owanah Patricia Anderson “walked on” from this life to the next. She died with her son and others gathered to her. She will be buried at 10 am Wednesday, March 29, 2017, from All Saints’ Church, 2606 Southwest Parkway, Wichita Falls. The Rev. Bruce Coggin will celebrate and the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston will preach.

Owanah grew up in humble surroundings in Oklahoma, and as a little girl she realized there was a long way to go up in life from where she was. She determined to do it. She read every book in the local library, finished high school, married, bore a son and raised him by herself. In time she met and married Henry Anderson, an attorney from Wichita Falls, helped raise his children, lived a full life in the city, managed the local symphony orchestra for a while, and was in from the beginning at the birth and life of All Saints’ Church there.

After Henry’s death, Bishop Donald Davies and Presiding Bishop Browning asked her to take over the Native American desk at The Episcopal Church Center in New York City. She moved there and from 1983 to 1998 spearheaded that ministry, transforming it along the way. Her book 400 Years:  Anglican/Episcopal Mission Among American Indians is still used in seminaries. Most recently the publishers, Forward Movement, asked her to update it for republication, a task she was about when her strength failed some weeks ago.

Her life among her Choctaw kith and kin often found her at tribal gatherings where she was honored as a chieftain. She was an active member of the Association on American Indian Affairs Board of Directors, serving from 1985 to around 2000. The AIAA gives an annual scholarship named for her in honor of her work as an advocate for women’s rights, Indian rights, and world peace. She was a member of President Jimmy Carter’s Advisory Council on Women from 1978-81 and a member of SALT II Treaty review team in Madrid in 1979. She was accorded several other national honors including awards from Harvard Graduate School of Education and an honorary doctorate from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.

When the specter of schism began to loom over the Diocese of Fort Worth, she formed one of first local “resistance” organization, North Texas Remain Episcopal, and gathered the exiled Episcopalians from Good Shepherd, All Saints, and St. Stephen’s parishes in her home to begin to organize the continuing life of the Episcopal Church in Wichita Falls.  After Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori came to the diocese for the Special Meeting of Convention to reorganize the diocese in February 2009, Owanah took a note from the bishop’s sermon—“Be aware of the joy you see here”—and began publishing JOYFUL Notes, an astonishingly informative and beautiful parish newsletter for All Saints’, later expanded to represent the reorganized Episcopal Church in Wichita County and Ascension Church in Wise County. The mailing list included hundreds from all around the church, including Jefferts Schori, and Owanah produced right at 500 superlative issues.

Owanah’s spirit was indomitable. She had no tolerance for brutality or injustice, sought out problems and solved them, gave lavishly to various charities—her family and personal friends got cards saying she’d bought a goat in their name for some village in a remote corner of Africa. She was the embodiment of loyalty, and if she set her love on you, the experience was transforming.

Owanah’s health declined in her last decade, and she was eventually confined to a wheelchair, needed oxygen continuously. Yet . . . she never slowed down. It just took more people than her to get it all done. But even hindered and sore let, she never stopped working and planning and praying and loving.

Godspeed, warrior woman. The Great Spirit welcomes you to the skies.

Church planter hired for Parker County

The Rev. Hunter Ruffin has been hired as the church planter for Parker County. In early March the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church approved a $100,00 grant to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth for a church plant in Parker County. Parker County is the site of Walsh, the new development west of Fort Worth on what was the Walsh Ranch. It is currently the largest buildout in the United States. Ruffin will begin work in early June.

The grant is contingent on the hiring of a trained church planter, the use of a coach as the project develops, and matching funds raised by the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The core of the church planting team will be the St. Francis Episcopal Church congregation in Parker County, led by Ms. Marti Fagley.

The New Life Fund: Growing in New Ways Campaign to raise the matching funds of $200,000 over two years – to support this church plant and six other growth opportunities around the diocese –  will be launched at a dinner with the Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, at 6 pm on Friday, April 7, at Colonial Country Club.

“We are so pleased to welcome Father Ruffin to Parker County. And we invite all who are interested in working on this church plant to join us in this exciting adventure,” said Fagley.

The church plant grant is one of several from The Episcopal Church to the diocese. This graphic illustrates the flow of the grant money. 

Ruffin comes to the Diocese of Fort Worth from Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, to which he was called after seminary. From 2015 to 2017, Ruffin served as the associate for Mission and Outreach for St Michael and All Angels, one of the largest parishes in the country.  In addition, Ruffin served as a bishop’s warden for The Gathering, a homeless ministry in downtown Dallas.

Ruffin approaches church planting through the lens of entrepreneurship rather than the traditional formal church plant.

“The hiring of Father Ruffin is another example of this diocese’ willingness to look at new ways of doing things. Before, a diocese might secure land, put a building on it, and hope people would come. But growing a church plant more organically makes sense in today’s world. Father Ruffin brings the talents and strengths we need in this place at this time,” said Bishop Scott Mayer.

Ruffin grew up as an Episcopalian and spent his formative years in Mississippi. In 2004, he graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s of the Arts in History and Foreign Language & Literature and went to work for the American Red Cross in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Ruffin worked for the American Red Cross for 15 years serving communities in Mississippi and Florida.  During his tenure with the Red Cross, he attended Florida Atlantic University and completed a Master’s of Business Administration in International Business and Finance.

In 2012, Ruffin began his theological studies at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin.  As a seminarian, he served the parish of All Saints Episcopal Church in Austin and as the research assistant for the New Testament scholars, the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, ThD, and the Rev. Dr. Jane Patterson, PhD.  He also served as the assistant to the vice president for communications, chaired the Black History Month committee, and served on the Diversity Committee for the seminary.

In addition to loving the work of ministry in and through The Episcopal Church, Ruffin has a deep love for reading all sorts of books and articles, laughing out loud while watching and performing improv comedy, water breaks while training for half marathons, and hanging out with his favorite dog, Shelby.






Join Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at kick off dinner

All are invited to join the Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, for a dinner launching the New Life Fund: Growing in New Ways fundraising campaign at 6 pm Friday, April 7, at Colonial Country Club (Map below). Free valet parking will be available at the front door of the club.

The New Life Fund: Growing in New Ways campaign will raise $200,000 over a two-year-period in matching funds for the $600,000 in grant money from The Episcopal Church. This graphic explains the flow of funds:


Honorary campaign chairs are Assisting Bishops Rayford B. High, Jr. and Sam Hulsey.

This money will be used to invest in people – clergy and lay leadership – as we plant churches, train new clergy through curacy programs and support congregational growth and outreach such as the 4Saints Episcopal Food Pantry.

General Admission tickets are $100 per person, although a table for eight can be purchased for $750.  Buy tickets for the dinner here.


Cards outlining the pledge you and/or your family will be able to make over the two-year period of this campaign will be available at the dinner. Some people are planning to give half in 2017 and half in 2018. Others may want to frontload their pledge, giving the bulk in 2017 and the remainder in 2018. Others will want to give the entirety of their pledge at once.  Whatever you decide to give to the New Life Campaign, please do so in the context of prayer.

For the Right Use of God’s Gifts

Almighty God, whose loving hand hath given us all that we possess: Grant us grace that we may honor thee with our substance, and, remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of thy bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

If you cannot attend the dinner, you can contribute online here.

Bishops’ Tables

The seven tickets for the table hosted by Presiding Bishop Curry are $400 each. Tickets for the three tables hosted by Bishop Scott Mayer and Assisting Bishops Rayford High and Sam Hulsey are $200 each. These tickets are limited in number. Please contact Michele King at or 817-534-1900 to purchase tickets at the Bishops’ Tables.

Read more about Presiding Bishop Curry’s visit to the diocese.

All invited to join Women of the Passion in retreat

Everyone — men as well as women — is invited to take part in a half-day Lenten retreat at St. Luke’s in the Meadow, Fort Worth, from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm Saturday, March 25. A light lunch will be served, so please RSVP to so enough food can be prepared.

“Women of the Passion: A Journey to the Cross” is based on a book of the same name. It will start with registration at 8:30 am. At 9 am, participants will take part in an hour-long study led by the book’s author, Katie Sherrod, ending in three meditations featuring the Woman Who Anoints, the High Priest’s Maid, and Pilate’s Wife.

Then readers from among the gathering will give voice to the women from Scripture who encountered Jesus as they stay faithfully with him while he carries his cross to Calvary, is crucified, and dies. This is done in the liturgical format of the Stations of the Cross.

The women accompanying Jesus on this journey to the cross include the Woman with the flow of blood; the Bent-Over Woman, the Syrophoenician Woman, the wife of Simon of Cyrene, Veronica, the Widow, the Women of Jerusalem, the wife of Cleopas, Salome, wife of Zebedee; the Women taken in adultery, Mary Magdalen, and Mary, his mother.

The light lunch will then be served in the parish hall.

Clergy reaffirm ordination vows

On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, the clergy of the diocese, led by Bishop Scott Mayer, reaffirmed their ordination vows, collected chrism for healing and baptism, worship in Holy Eucharist, and shared a collegial meal afterward.
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The annual event, this year at St. Luke’s in the Meadow, Fort Worth, is usually held during Holy Week, but given how busy a time that is, it was moved to an earlier time in Lent.

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See more photos at the diocesan Flickr gallery. 

Read the bishop’s sermon. FW Chrism Mass 2017 Perpetua and her Companions March 7

Watch a short video below or on YouTube.


Watch a video of the bishop’s sermon below or on YouTube.

Bishop Mayer visits St. Stephen’s, Hurst

Bishop Scott Mayer made his first official visit to St. Stephen’s, Hurst, on Sunday, March 5. He preached and celebrated.

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After Eucharist, the worship space was quickly transformed into a parish hall, with tables set up for lunch. After lunch, Bishop Mayer met with the vestry.

Read the text of the sermon. St Stephen’s Hurst 2017 1 Lent – Year A March 5

Watch a video of the bishop’s sermon below, or on YouTube.

Click or swipe through to see more photos at the diocesan Flickr gallery.

Bishop Mayer visits St. Stephen's, Hurst