Diocese of San Joaquin Convention votes to leave TEC
November 19, 2007

DVD released of EFSC Conference addressing unity and schism in TEC

In This Issue:

San Joaquin votes to leave Episcopal Church, realign with Southern Cone.......

Abstract of an ENS article by Pat McCaughan, December 08, 2007

[Episcopal News Service, Fresno, California] Delegates attending the 48th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin on Saturday, December 8, overwhelmingly voted to leave the Episcopal Church and to align with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield asked for a moment of silence in deference to those who opposed the change, reminding the gathering that he "knows what it feels like to be a minority" before the vote tallies were read. The results, by orders were: 70-12 clergy and 103-10 vote in the lay order to effectively remove all references to the Episcopal Church from its constitution and describe the diocese as "a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and in full communion with the See of Canterbury."

"The Episcopal Church receives with sadness the news that some members of this church have made a decision to leave this church," said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. "We deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness. We wish them to know of our prayers for them and their journey. The Episcopal Church will continue in the Diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership."

"This is a historic moment...a vote for freedom," Schofield had told the gathering of about 88 clergy and 113 lay delegates meeting at St. James Cathedral in Fresno. He reminded the gathering that the diocese as a whole was realigning and said that clergy who rejected the move had time to discern whether or not to accept the invitation to join the Southern Cone...............

"Those who want to remain Episcopalians but reject the biblical standards of morality, the ultimate authority of the Bible, and the biblical revelation of God to us in His Son the only savior of mankind, will in the end be left solely with a name and a bureaucratic structure," he said.

The central California-based diocese represents about 8,500 Episcopalians in 47 congregations, at least five of whom Schofield predicted will opt to remain with the Episcopal Church.

Nancy Key, a co-founder of 'Remain Episcopal,' said those who wished to remain in the Episcopal Church have felt marginalized and maligned.

"It feels like spiritual violence," said Key, a parishioner at Holy Family Church in Fresno, which has chosen to remain within the Episcopal Church. "All we want to do is be in the Episcopal Church that actively ordains women and is inclusive," she said. San Joaquin is among three dioceses that refuse to ordain or deploy women priests. The others are Fort Worth and the Peoria, Illinois-based Diocese of Quincy...............

Schofield said San Joaquin congregations wishing to remain with the national church may retain their property, as long as they don't owe the diocese money. "I just wish the Episcopal Church was as generous in the other direction," he said.

He said that nothing will change immediately as the diocese waits to see what, if any, action the Presiding Bishop will take. "On Monday, the doors won't be locked." ..............

In June, the Executive Council, the governing body of the Episcopal Church between meetings of General Convention, warned that actions by Episcopal Church dioceses that change their constitutions in an attempt to bypass the Church's Constitution and Canons are "null and void."

During an exchange of letters prior to convention, Jefferts Schori had advised Schofield that approval of the constitutional changes would "implicitly reject the Church's property and other canons."

Regarding the diocese's intention to affiliate with the Southern Cone, she said: "If you continue along this path…it will be necessary to ascertain whether you have in fact abandoned the communion of this church, and violated your own vows to uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this Church."

If Schofield is considered to have abandoned the communion of the church, he would have two months to recant his position. Failing to do so, the matter would be referred to the full House of Bishops. If the House were to concur, the Presiding Bishop would depose the bishops and declare the episcopates of those dioceses vacant. Those 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.

And that's how Nancy Key and other "loyalists" intend to proceed, she said. The group, "Remain Episcopal" will convene immediately after the close of San Joaquin's convention to strategize.

"We are prepared to work with the Episcopal Church to reconstitute our diocese," she said. "I feel this is what we are called to do. I am so convinced of this."

-- The Rev. Pat McCaughan, a correspondent for Episcopal News Service, is associate for parish life at St. George's Church and Academy in Laguna Hills, California.

Link to complete ENS Article

Presiding Bishop Eyes New Leadership for Diocese of San Joaquin

The Living Church News Service - POSTED ON: December 8, 2007

The Episcopal Church will continue in the Diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said after she learned that clergy and lay delegates to the diocese’s annual convention voted today to approve the second and final reading of a constitutional amendment to leave The Episcopal Church and accept an offer of affiliation from the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

“We deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said. “We wish them to know of our prayers for them and their journey. The Episcopal Church receives with sadness the news that some members of this church have made a decision to leave.”

Soon after the legislative session began this morning at St. James’ Cathedral in Fresno, Calif., an amendment to the language of the proposed constitutional amendment was moved for consideration. If approved it would have negated the first reading of the vote last year. The amendment failed.
Debate on all of the motions was fairly limited after that. Several times during the day San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield urged those delegates voting with the majority to show compassion and respect toward those who did not want to leave The Episcopal Church. Subdued applause followed the announcement that the canonical amendment to accept the invitation to join the Southern Cone had passed. Delegates did not see the actual language of the proposal to join the Southern Cone until this morning. Because the deadline for submitting canonical amendments had expired, it required approval from three-fourths of those present to be introduced for consideration.

When a vote by orders was required, delegates walked between pairs of tellers who were stationed at either side of the room, one side for those in favor and the other for those opposed. Bishop Schofield referred to this process several times during the day as “London Bridge” voting because of its resemblance to the children’s nursery rhyme game. The unprecedented decision by an Episcopal diocese to affiliate with another diocese will undoubtedly have significant implications for the future of the Anglican Communion as primates and provinces line up either for or against whether Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams withdraws Bishop Schofield’s invitation to next year’s Lambeth Conference.

Archbishop Williams was briefed on the invitation by the Southern Cone in September during a meeting in London with Archbishop Gregory Venables. To date he has not issued a public statement. Archbishop Williams is expected to address this and other issues of Communion in an Advent letter to be released soon.

There are also new legal complications in the U.S. Some congregations and clergy in the Diocese of San Joaquin do not want to leave The Episcopal Church and it appears likely that Bishop Jefferts Schori will attempt court enforcement to ensure that all property and other assets remain with the loyal minority. Some members of the minority have organized as Remain Episcopal San Joaquin. They were scheduled to meet at Holy Family, Fresno, at the conclusion of convention.

After the results to affiliate with the Southern Cone were announced, a lay delegate from Holy Family Church, Fresno, rose on a point of personal privilege to ask who the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese would be if Bishop Schofield were to be inhibited. One of the two diocesan chancellors responded that since the convention no longer recognized the authority of The Episcopal Church, Bishop Schofield could only be inhibited by the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone. Toward the conclusion of convention, Bishop Schofield announced that certificates from the Southern Cone were available for clergy to display in their offices.

Just how complicated the legal environment is likely to become was highlighted toward the end of the meeting during debate over a motion to permit Holy Family, Fresno, to begin the process to file incorporation paperwork with the State of California. One of the diocesan chancellors left the convention podium and from one of the microphones set up for delegates inquired whether the convention had the authority to grant the parish’s request given the fact that Holy Family had already stated that it wished to incorporate as an Episcopal parish.

Despite some misgivings that approval of the request would add to the complex legal situation the votes had created, delegates approved the request after one of the delegates reminded the convention that Bishop Schofield had previously said both he and the diocese would do all in their power to assist any congregation or member of the clergy who wanted to remain with The Episcopal Church.

Link to full text

Recap of actions at San Joaquin diocesan convention – Dec. 8, 2007

The following summary is based on notes taken by Joe Gilliland during the live streaming video of the San Joaquin convention today:

On constitutional amendment removing language of Episcopal Church affiliation- Clergy Aye 70, No 12.; Lay Aye 103, No 10; not voting 6. Passed by exceeding required 2/3 vote in each order.

After inquiry by one delegate, Bishop Schofield agreed to have names of delegates who voted in the minority listed in the convention journal if a letter is sent to him making the request. He asked for a letter after a question was raised as to whether putting the names in the journal could lawfully be done on a personal privilege request from the floor, since the convention had voted the previous day against a roll-call vote. (It also voted down a motion Friday that the convention conduct its business in “executive” or closed session.)

Also after this vote, Bishop Schofield said that, once the diocese formally accepts the invitation to join the Province of the Southern Cone, all members of the clergy will automatically become Southern Cone clergy. But, he added, any individual clergyman who want to opt out of that affiliation “has the privilege and right to refuse” the invitation. He said such clergy may take such action immediately or may have a “period of discernment” to decide what to do. He added that those who are “excited today and want to have that certificate, you can get it,” apparently referring to those strongly in favor of the Southern Cone. “The diocese will move on,” he said.

On three other constitutional amendments considered as a block:

One amendment removes limitations on the present diocesan geographical boundaries.

Another establishes the bishop as the ecclesiastical authority, with the coadjutor filling that role if the bishop is absent or cannot act, and with the Standing Committee having that authority if there is no coadjutor or if the episcopate becomes vacant.

The third amendment vests all present and future diocesan trust funds “in the Corporation Sole of which the Bishop of the Diocese is the incumbent.” Clergy Aye 73, No 12.; Lay Aye 103, No 10; not voting 4. Passed by exceeding required 2/3 vote in each order.

During debate, one delegate said she believes that the amendments changing the diocesan boundaries violate the Episcopal Church’s constitution and canons. Another asked who would head the diocese if Bishop Schofield were to be inhibited as the result of the convention’s actions.

One of the chancellors pointed to the constitutional provision that the diocese is organized as a corporation sole and said that in his and the other chancellors’ opinion, it would be “business as usual” even with an inhibition.

Bishop Schofield then said that if the diocesan convention accepts the Southern Cone’s invitation, the national church “can do whatever they like…we will have been transferred to the Southern Cone.”............

Before dismissal, Bishop Schofield announced that clergy could pick up at an exit door signed and sealed certificates (“worthy of framing”), attesting that clergy are valid priests in the Province of the Southern Cone. He said again that any clergy who have not yet made up their minds and want to go through a discernment period “can leave them with us and that’s okay too.”

Bishop John David Schofield Address to 48th Diocesan Convention

Abstract of Bishop John David Schofield Address Diocese of San Joaquin - December 7, 2007

...........Timing matters. GOD’S timing is essential! Delayed obedience in Scripture is seen as disobedience when opportunities and blessings are lost.

For twenty years and more we have watched The Episcopal Church lose its way: straying, at first, from Scripture... to the point of dismissing the Word of God, in some instances, as mere historical documents – of value, perhaps in bygone eras – but no longer applicable to us, to appropriating powers to itself through the General Convention it had never had and, finally, on to unilateral decisions about theology, sexuality, and ordination potentially cutting itself off from the Anglican Communion. ............

For years organizations such as Episcopalians United, Episcopal Synod of America, American Anglican Council, and finally the Anglican Communion Network have been founded to explore ways to keep orthodox believers within the liberal Episcopal Church and to allow some measure of freedom to believe, worship, and practice the faith. The newest organization, the Network, went out of its way to declare itself operating under and within the Constitution of The Episcopal Church. However the gap has only widened; and Episcopalians have begun to do what we have always done... leave quietly. This drain was not mentioned at first, but one could hardly help but notice how a Church that had once claimed 4 million members was now announcing itself to the news media as a 2.5 million member Church. The leadership in New York still clings to this public image even though, by its own statistics, there seem to be fewer than 900,000 parishioners nationally in church on any given Sunday...........

Today we stand at a critical juncture in history. It would be myopic to imagine that the rest of Christendom, let alone the Anglican Communion, is not watching and praying as we deliberate. Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us in the momentous decisions that lie before us.

It is only natural to experience fear, for what we are considering takes the Diocese of San Joaquin into unchartered waters. The leaders of the General Convention have expended enormous energy to spread their mantra: “Individuals may the leave the Church, but Parishes and Dioceses cannot.” No one seems to know who dreamed up this idea. What we DO know is that it is simply not true! During the time of the Civil War in the 1860's when this nation was torn apart, dioceses in those states called the Confederacy withdrew from what was then known as The Protestant Episcopal Church. During the war years they held their own conventions, developed their own Constitution, had there own House of Bishops, elected a Presiding Bishop, and consecrated a bishop for one of their dioceses. Nothing could be clearer. The southern dioceses had departed and had created a separate church. Today we might call it their own Province.

Unlike many of the Protestant denominations, however, it didn’t make sense to Episcopalians to maintain the separation when the war ended. Not only were the southern bishops and their dioceses welcomed back, the newly consecrated bishop was recognized, and no punitive action was taken against anyone. Presumably the southerners had taken their property with them when they left. And, they would not have been the first to do this..................

There is no question that what we are considering today will be called Schism. We will be told that unity trumps theology. We shall be told that we are doing is destructive and against history and Catholic Order. Once again, the words of J.I. Packer are most helpful. He notes: “Schism means unwarrantable and unjustifiable dividing of organized church bodies, by the separating of one group within the structure from the rest of the membership. Schism, as such, is sin, for it is a needless and indefensible breach of visible unity. But withdrawal from a unitary set-up that has become unorthodox and distorts the gospel in a major way and will not put its house in order as for instance when the English church withdrew from the Church of Rome in the sixteenth century, should be called not schism but realignment, doubly so when the withdrawal leads to links with a set-up that is faithful to the truth, as in the sixteenth century the Church of England entered into fellowship with the Lutheran and Reformed churches of Europe, and as now we propose gratefully to accept the offer of full fellowship with the Province of the Southern Cone. Any who calls such a move schism should be told they do not know what schism is.”

For those of us who are facing the unknown, Provinces and Property seem to be among the top concerns. As bishop, I would like to suggest to you that a ‘NO’ vote at this convention will not provide the imagined protection needed to get on with our lives uninterrupted. Many do not realize that for 40 years, with the first twenty under Bishop Victor Rivera, and now nearly twenty years with me, as bishops we have been able to provide a buffer for our people from the innovations that abound in dioceses all around us. A quick trip north, south, east or west is all that it takes to wonder if we’re in the same church with those folks. Years ago, it was the moderate Bishop John MacArthur of West Texas who first stated clearly that “we are two churches under one roof.”

A ‘NO’ vote would require my retirement in two years. No reasonable person could expect an orthodox successor. One has only to look at what happened to South Carolina when our own Mark Lawrence, bless him and Alison, went through two separate electing conventions and were close to being unanimously elected at each convention on the first ballot.

The Lectionary, where we draw our biblical lessons from for public services, has already been changed. The fact that you may not have noticed a difference is due directly to the permission I have given to our clergy to continue to use the Lectionary we all know. This along with many other innovations not only would –but will– come about under a new bishop.

If it is property that seems to be your main concern, if you are incorporated and a parish, you own your own property. You, or others before you, bought the land, built the church, have maintained the buildings and grounds, and your name is on the title deed. A ‘NO’ vote might seem to be the “safe” way to go. The effect of such a vote, however, would be to guarantee that this moment in time will NEVER come again before the General Convention meets in 2009. We should need two Annual Conventions to insure the protection we have before us today. With a ‘NO’ vote, everything reverts back to where we were before last December’s Convention. By the summer of 2009 no reasonable person could believe that Canon Laws will not be introduced... making it impossible for dioceses and parishes to leave. There are no such laws now. Property that once belonged to parishes and dioceses will belong to what the Archbishop of Canterbury rightly describes as the abstract reality of the “national church” for whom it will be held in trust. Without a single law suit, it will all be accomplished. Freedom to have the bishop you want, freedom from innovations that are contrary to Scripture, freedom to hold your own property will disappear. A ‘NO’ vote will inevitably bring about the worst of what we have tried to avoid...even if it were to take two years. Job sums it up for us: “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” (Job 3.25)

Finally, lest anyone thinks a ‘NO’ vote would keep the diocese in tact and very much the same is living in a fantasy world. There is good reason to suspect that many of our brothers and sisters’ conscience is at stake because of the major departures from Christianity The Episcopal Church continues to make unabated. Why would San Joaquin be spared the massive exodus of priests and congregations now going on in Central Florida, Texas, Rio Grande, Colorado and California? Many of these dioceses are experiencing a loss that could easily challenge their viability financially. Were we to lose a major portion of parishes where the Gospel is truly believed as God’s revelation and where tithing is accepted as a Scriptural mandate, the Diocese of San Joaquin could be hard put to continue to provide even the basic services most parishes now depend on. No, it is not a matter of “stay the same and be safe” or “leave and face the unknown”. Quite the opposite is true. We are in that critical moment where a ‘YES’ vote tomorrow with a majority brings us into union with a faithful Province, places us under a real Archbishop and Primate who is a holy man of God, and keeps us in the mainstream of Anglicanism. For my part, THIS is worth fighting for!

In the end, it is all about freedom. It is about freedom to remain who we are in Christ. It is freedom to honor the authority of Scripture and to keep the Lectionary we now have. It is freedom to worship with the Prayer Book we know and freedom from innovations and services that are contrary to the Word of God. It is freedom to hold and practice the faith that the Episcopal Church received as a precious gift. It is freedom to “Go” ...to witness, to welcome churches who are looking to us in hostile areas, to plant new churches – in a word, freedom to respond to Jesus’ own command: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28. 19,20) Can we not do these things now? We can, but for how long? A ‘NO’ vote would place us under the authority of those who admit they do not know where they are going and who tell us all relates “to our understanding and embrace of God’s Kingdom and the Salvation we are offered in Jesus Christ– or to our lack of such understanding and engagement.”

This is the time to know who we are in Christ, where we are headed, and to heed the words of Jesus: “Go ye...”

God, give us the different spirit of Caleb who cried out “go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” Amen.

Link to Full Text

DVD released of EFSC Conference addressing unity and schism in TEC

Episcopal Church leaders Bonnie Anderson, Sally Johnson and Frank Wade discussed issues of Unity and Scism in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Community. A panel Q & A discussion including the speakers and Bishop Salmon is included.

Bonnie Anderson, D.D. is President of the House of Deputies, the highest ranking lay office in The Episcopal Church.

Sally Johnson, Esq. is Chancellor to the President of the House of Deputies.

The Rev Frank Wade is a prominent speaker and consultant and was chaplain to the House of Deputies at the 2003 General Convention.

Link to Order Conference DVD

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