Monday, November 20, 2006

Presiding Bishop Writes to San Joaquin Bishop

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -- concerned by current affairs in the Fresno-based Diocese of San Joaquin, California -- has written to its bishop, the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield. The diocese, which is scheduled to meet in convention December 1-2, includes an estimated 10,000 Episcopalians in some 48 congregations. The text of Jefferts Schori's November 20 letter was released today by Episcopal News Service and is reproduced in full below.

Anyone wishing to contact Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori may contact her at
815 Second Avenue New York City, NY 10017
(212) 716-6276 • (800) 334-7626
pboffice@episcopalchurch.org


November 20, 2006

The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield
Diocese of San Joaquin
4159 E. Dakota Avenue
Fresno, California 93726

My dear brother:

I have seen reports of your letter to parishes in the Diocese of San Joaquin, which apparently urges delegates to your upcoming Diocesan Convention to take action to leave the Episcopal Church. I would ask you to confirm the accuracy of those reports. If true, you must be aware that such action would likely be seen as a violation of your ordination vows to "uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them." I must strongly urge you to consider the consequences of such action, not only for yourself but especially for all of the Episcopalians under your pastoral charge and care.

I certainly understand that you personally disagree with decisions by General Conventions over the past 30 and more years. You have, however, taken vows three times over that period to uphold the "doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church." If you now feel that you can no longer do so, the more honorable course would be to renounce your orders in this Church and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate those vows puts many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence. I urge you, as a pastor, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity.

As you contemplate this action I would also remind you of the trust which you and I both hold for those who have come before and those who will come after us. None of us has received the property held by the Church today to use as we will. We have received it as stewards, for those who enjoy it today and those who will be blessed by the ministry its use will permit in the future. Our forebears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be removed from the Episcopal Church. Nor did our forebears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation.

The Church will endure whatever decision you make in San Joaquin. The people who are its members, however, will suffer in the midst of this conflict, and probably suffer unnecessarily. Jesus calls us to take up our crosses daily, but not in the service of division and antagonism. He calls us to take up our crosses in his service of reconciling the world to God. Would that you might lead the people of San Joaquin toward decisions that build up the Body, that bring abundant life to those within and beyond our Church, that restore us to oneness.

I stand ready for conversation and reconciliation. May God bless your deliberation.

I remain

Your servant in Christ,

+Katharine
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Sunday was my first time to say the words: "Our Presiding Bishop Katharine" in the prayers of the people. I cannot express in words how that gladdened my heart. And now this letter!

Thanks be to God!
Amy

11/21/2006 7:28 AM  
Blogger BabyBlue said...

Just learned that this letter has been found in the attick of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Makes for fascinating reading - Lord North writes John Adams on the eve of the Revolution. You can see it here: The Letter .

11/22/2006 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/28/2006 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading all the comments from our new Presiding Bishop I am saddened by the impending demise of the ECUSA occasioned by her election. I truly loved the Episcopal Church and its form of worship but I must remain Christian. I have no choice but search for another community. Good-Bye.

12/15/2006 9:00 PM  

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