Monday, March 31, 2008

Presiding Bishop: San Joaquin ‘could become a pattern for other places’

From The Living Church [boldface mine]:

. . . The action by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the remaining parishioners could become a model for dealing with breakaway dioceses, Bishop Jefferts Schori told TLC during a break in the convention.

“This is the first time this has happened, but it could become a pattern for other places,” she said.

The convention voted unanimously by voice vote to reverse the actions taken by delegates to the annual convention last December that made the Diocese of San Joaquin the first entire diocese to leave The Episcopal Church in its 219-year history. In December, delegates voted overwhelmingly to affiliate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone which has its metropolitan headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

On March 29 the convention voted to remove language from the diocese’s constitution, which had included the words “The Diocese of San Joaquin is a full member of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of South America.”

The movement to restore the diocese to full standing in The Episcopal Church appears to represent a small minority of the former diocese, which stretches from Sacramento to Bakersfield in inland California. But Bishop Jefferts Schori encouraged the delegates to move forward. . .

A majority of members present for a March 12 business session of the House of Bishops voted to depose the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. Bishop Jefferts Schori also refused to recognize members of the diocese’s standing committee who declined to join the Southern Cone in January.

There were two protests from the floor of the special convention. The senior warden of St. John’s Church in Tulare, Calif., George Sutton, and another vestry member, Gillian Busch, both of whom were certified delegates to the convention, objected to the canonical legality of the special convention. The two also objected to the legality of the vote to depose Bishop Schofield.

The Rev Robert G. Eaton, rector of St. John’s and one of the six disenfranchised standing committee members, objected to the Presiding Bishop’s sidelining of the standing committee.

“The only ecclesiastical authority that can authorize the calling of a convention when there is no bishop is the standing committee,” said Fr. Eaton. St. John’s Church has about 145 active members, down about 20 since December, Fr. Eaton said.

Another objective of the special convention was for delegates to endorse the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, retired Bishop of Northern California, as the provisional bishop of the diocese. Bishop Lamb’s nomination was ratified and he was officially seated at a service following the convention business session.

“This convention is not canonical or valid,” Fr. Eaton said in a follow-up interview with The Living Church. He cannot recognize Bishop Lamb as bishop “until the House of Bishops gets its act together,” Fr. Eaton said, referring to the deposition of Bishop Schofield.

The Rev. Canon Brian Cox, rector of Christ the King in Santa Barbara, and leader of an international ministry of reconciliation, said there is “an opportunity to develop a model to glorify Christ and encourage reconciliation.” Canon Cox will be leading a reconciliation seminar June 11-14 at St. Anthony’s Retreat in Visalia, Calif. The convention also approved the creation of reconciliation commission to help bring people together.

But reconciliation may become more difficult as the diocese tries to assert its control over property that even in a bad real estate market could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“That could complicate the process of reconciliation,” Canon Cox said. “It’s hard not to let hostility grow when trying to work out disputes.”. . .

Gee, ya think?

Read it all, and no, unfortunately, it's not an April Fools joke.

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