Friday, January 11, 2008

Breaking News from San Joaquin

We have recently posted news from the Diocese of San Joaquin, whose convention voted to leave the Episcopal Church and join the South American Province of the Southern Cone. This evening, Episcopal News Service has posted two significant stories.

Presiding Bishop inhibits San Joaquin bishop
Action comes after Review Committee says Schofield has abandoned the Episcopal Church
By Mary Frances Schjonberg

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on January 11 inhibited Diocese of San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield.

In the text of the inhibition, Jefferts Schori wrote: "I hereby inhibit the said Bishop Schofield and order that from and after 5:00 p.m. PST, Friday, January 11, 2008, he cease from exercising the gifts of ordination in the ordained ministry of this Church; and pursuant to Canon IV.15, I order him from and after that time to cease all 'episcopal, ministerial, and canonical acts, except as relate to the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of San Joaquin,' until this Inhibition is terminated pursuant to Canon IV.9(2) or superseded by decision of the House of Bishops."

Jefferts Schori acted after the Title IV Review Committee certified that Schofield had abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.
The full story is at Episcopal Life Online. As previous reports (including this one) have explained, an inhibition is followed by a two-month period during which the bishop will be allowed to recant. What happens if an inhibited bishop fails to recant? An earlier ENS story provides the answer:

If [an inhibited bishop] failed to do so, the matter would go to the full House of Bishops. There is no appeal and no right of formal trial outside of a hearing before the House of Bishops.

If the House concurred, the Presiding Bishop could depose the bishops and declare the episcopates of those dioceses vacant. Members of congregations in the diocese remaining in the Episcopal Church would be gathered to organize a new diocesan convention and elect a replacement Standing Committee, if necessary.

An assisting bishop would be appointed to provide episcopal ministry until a new diocesan bishop search process could be initiated and a new bishop elected and consecrated.

A lawsuit would be filed against the departed leadership and a representative sample of departing congregations if they attempted to retain Episcopal Church property.

Meanwhile, the remaining Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin are going about their work, according to this story at Episcopal Life.

San Joaquin's remaining Episcopalians to gather for reconciliation, inclusion, celebration
By Pat McCaughan

[Episcopal News Service] A January 26 gathering of continuing Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin and national church leaders, "Moving Forward, Welcoming All," will focus on reconciliation, inclusion, and celebration, event organizers said.

"We are just so encouraged; we're looking forward to welcoming more people," said Cindy Smith, president of Remain Episcopal, a group which opposed the December vote to realign the Central California Valley diocese with the Argentina-based Province of the Southern Cone, which has about 22,000 members and encompasses the South American nations of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

Former Bishop John-David Schofield had urged the realignment, approved by 42 of the diocese's 47 congregations. Clergy approved the split 70-12 and laity voted 103-10 for realignment.

But in recent weeks, momentum and enthusiasm have spiked as additional people and some congregations "have thought about what has happened, what it means to not be part of the Episcopal Church anymore" and sought out continuing communities of faith, said Smith.
Episcopal Life Online has the full story.

Father Jake has been carrying the most comprehensive coverage of news from the Diocese of San Joaquin. At his site, go to the sidebar on the right and scroll down to the subsection, "The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin." Click on any of the links to access those discussions.

What can Episcopalians do in the light of all this?

With all that is occurring within San Joaquin, this much is clear: It's going to take a great deal to support the Episcopal Church in this region. The organization taking the lead in working with the leadership of the Episcopal Church is Remain Episcopal.

First and foremost, pray for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. Episcopalians there will need comfort, strength, discernment, and wisdom.

Second, send a tangible note of support via their website, as The Episcopal Majority – like many other individuals and organizations – have done.

Finally, the tasks facing the diocese will require considerable financial support. You can make contributions (via their 501(c)(3) organization) to Remain Episcopal at:

Remain Episcopal
2067 W. Alluvial
Fresno, CA 93711

Saturday morning update:

Thinking Anglicans is carrying news reports about this development.

According to Kendall Harmon (of TitusOneNine), the "Diocese of San Joaquin" has issued the statement:

The Episcopal Church’s assertion that Bishop Schofield has abandoned the communion of this Church is an admission that TEC rejects the historical Anglican faith which is why The Diocese of San Joaquin appealed to the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of South America for emergency and temporary protection. The majority of the other provinces of the Anglican Communion hold to the traditional faith. It is the primary duty of bishops to guard the faith and Bp Schofield has been continually discriminated against for having done so while Bishops and Archbishops around the world have affirmed not only his stance but the move to the Southern Cone. Bishop Schofield is currently a member of both the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone, a position not prohibited by either house. Governing documents of TEC do not prohibit relationships between different members of the Anglican Communion, rather they encourage it. TEC’s action demonstrates that there is an enormous difference between their church and most of the Anglican Communion Again, this action is a demonstrationthat TEC is walking apart from the faith and its expression of morality held by the rest of the Anglican Communion..

The Episcopal Church’s own identity is dependent upon its relationship with the whole Anglican Communion. TEC should consider whether it is imperiling that relationship by taking such punitive actions.

How is it that over 60 million Anglicans world wide can be wrong while a few hundred thousand in the American Church can claim to be right?
The source of that statement is not specified (i.e., whether it was issued by a communications officer or Schofied, voted upon by a diocesan group, etc.). We expect clarification will be offered.


Blogger Kirstin said...

Alleluia! And thank you.

1/11/2008 8:52 PM  
Blogger Kirstin said...

...and back, reading your update. The piece "from the Diocese of San Joaquin" is so poorly written, my first thought was that it was sent by an individual. No one with professional communication skills would make this many grammatical, factual, and punctuation errors.

Take heart.

1/12/2008 8:36 PM  

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