Saturday, January 12, 2008

Episcopal Church - Working To Stop The Long, Slow Slide To The Bottom Rung (UPDATED)

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is the geographic territory encompssing the former Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, now the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Episcopal Church - Working To Stop The Long, Slow Slide To The Bottom Rung (UPDATED 1-12-2008)

It has taken eighteen months for a diocese in the Episcopal Church here in North America to change the direction of its "new" tradition.

In June of last year, The Episcopal Church elected Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to become the first woman elected to lead a church in the global Anglican Communion when she was picked to be the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. It was another groundbreaking and controversial move for a denomination that consecrated Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop just three years earlier.

Tradition based churches here in North America have been in a quandary ever since. The churches and their congregations had to ask themselves -- Do we stand on the side of change where Gay Marriage, and Openly Gay and/or Female leadership at the highest levels is pursued and embraced, or do we match up with the centuries old traditions that had come to define the global Anglican Communion?

Churches that are confirmed in the belief of tradition, are voting to join up and answer to church leadership that governs geography other than the leadership that features this new approach set by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Anglican traditionalists believe gay relationships violate Scripture and they have demanded that the U.S. church adhere to that teaching or face discipline.

Just as has happened last February when two Virginia churches voted 92% to leave The Episcopal Church, the U.S. wing of global Anglicanism, and join up under the leadership of Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin voted 173-22 (or 87.28%) to bolt and join up with a conservative South American congregation of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Bishop of San Joaquin, the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield. Photo taken July 31, 2007. Image Credit: geoconger (Rev. Canon George Conger)

The break is likely to spark a lengthy, expensive legal fight over the historic properties in the San Joaquin valley, which are worth tens of millions of dollars.

This excerpted from the Sacramento Bee -

Diocese votes to split with Episcopal Church

By Associated Press - Last Updated 12:45 pm PST Saturday, December 8, 2007

An Episcopal diocese in central California voted Saturday to split with the national denomination over disagreements about the role of gays and lesbians in the church.

Clergy and lay members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin voted 173-22 at their annual convention to remove all references to the national church from the diocese's constitution, according to spokeswoman Joan Gladstone.

The Fresno-based congregation is the first full diocese to secede because of a conservative-liberal rift that began decades ago and is now focused on whether the Bible condemns gay relationships.
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The decision is almost certain to spark a court fight over control of the diocese's multimillion-dollar real estate holdings and other assets.

President of the [Episcopal] House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson speaks about her experiences of pastoral visits to various parishes and dioceses throughout the Episcopal Church. This person speaks for the current Episcopal Church leadership, on behalf of the United Nations program entitled "Eight Millennium Development Goals", and the 22 “Clergy and lay members” who voted against the 173 “Clergy and lay members” to secede. She is part of the machinery that is taking The Episcopal Church on its long, slow slide to the bottom rung of respected, tradition based, organized religion ladder in America. Video Credit: TECtube

The head of the U.S. denomination had warned Bishop John-David Schofield of the Fresno-based diocese against secession.

"I do not intend to threaten you, only to urge you to reconsider and draw back from this trajectory," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, head of the U.S. denomination, wrote in a letter to Schofield earlier this week.

Schofield responded that the Episcopal Church "has isolated itself from the overwhelming majority of Christendom and more specifically from the Anglican Communion by denying Biblical truth and walking apart from the historic Faith and Order."

The Fresno diocese has explored breaking ties with the American church since 2003, when Episcopalians consecrated the church's first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. The resulting uproar throughout the world Anglican fellowship has moved the 77 million-member communion toward the brink of schism.
Reference Here>>

What do the United Nations "Eight Millennium Development Goals" have to do with spreading and bringing Christian ideals to the rest of the world? Just asking.

Don't get us wrong, here at MAXINE, these goals are nice if they are included as part of an overall missionary effort, but this Episcopal Church agenda seems to only lead with and extol the Eight Millennium Development Goals as opposed to leading with the Word Of God!

UPDATE January 12, 2008:

Episcopal Church officials push back and place Bishop John-David Schofield on practicing ban.
This edited and excerpted item from AP via the Sacramento Bee -

Episcopal Church bans Valley bishop from practicing for 2 months
Associated Press FRESNO - Last Updated 6:28 pm PST Friday, January 11, 2008

The Episcopal Church banned a California bishop Friday from practicing for two months after he led his congregants in seceding from the national church. Bishop John-David Schofield drew sharp criticism from the U.S.-based denomination when he urged his conservative diocese to sever its ties to the church in early December in a fight over the Bible and homosexuality.

Clergy and lay members of the Diocese of San Joaquin became the first full diocese to secede from the denomination on Dec. 6.

Schofield cannot perform any religious duties until early March, when the national denomination's leaders will meet to determine a final judgment, said the Rev. Canon Charles Robertson, Canon to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. A spokeswoman for the diocese did not immediately return calls Friday.
Reference Here>>

Excuse us for asking ... but if this Diocese has seceded, what position does the Episcopal Church have in banning the Bishop from performing duties within the Diocese of San Joaquin?

It seems to me that if a break was voted on and the Diocese is no longer operating as part of the Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Episcopal Church, Bishop John-David Schofield can do what ever the Diocese wants him to do in the course of Diocese duties. I don't expect that he will be traveling to Episcopal Church chapter of the Worldwide Anglican Communion anytime soon, however.

1 comment:

Mark said...

The situation within the San Joaquin Diocese is so very sad.

Where has gone the sense of loyal opposition?

The Bishop speaks of "freedom." What more freedom could he have wanted? He did not ordain women. He refused to allow women, or openly gay or lesbian individuals to serve as priests in his diocese (even if they were celibate). The national church did not and was not able to force such things upon the diocese. The worship life of his diocese is governed by the Book of Common Prayer which is something he fully endorsed. So exactly what freedoms were being denied that would have necessitated a schism? It seems that the true agenda was to control the national church, and upon failing to do that the agenda is to leave.

Because the diocese will have to now focus itself on a variety of court fights the real losers in this will be the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the members of the parishes, both clergy and lay, of the San Joaguin diocese. If Jesus were to really come on December 25, I think he would be very saddened by the actions of the diocese.

My prediction is that after the court fights, the former San Joaquin Diocese will split apart even further. When an organization declares itself more "pure" than another, more splits inevitably follow. US church history is full of such stories. Individuals and the organization are never "pure" enough and as a result a chain of splits occur with each new generation declaring itself more "pure" than the previous. Eventually they disintegrate into nothing.

This diocese has now defined itself not by who it includes but by who it excludes. This is ironic considering that Jesus was and is defined by who he included (tax collectors, non believers, the sick and poor, believers, non devout and the pious). It is ironic that the San Joaquin Diocese which has now publicly defined itself by who it excludes will gather today to worship Christ who was defined by who he included.

I think I will open a consignment shop dealing in used Episcopal church furniture from the former San Joaquin Diocese.