Friday, 25 April 2008

lawsuits and letters in San Joaquin

Updated Sunday morning

The Diocese of San Joaquin has issued this press release (PDF):

Michael O. Glass, Esq., Chancellor to the Diocese of San Joaquin has provided notice that on April 24, 2008, the Diocese of San Joaquin and the Episcopal Church filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief in Fresno County Superior Court to reclaim possession of the real and personal property belonging to the Diocese. Glass said, “The primary defendant is John-David Schofield, the former bishop of the Diocese who was recently deposed from the episcopate by the Episcopal Church on March 12, 2008 as a result of his attempts to remove the diocese from the Episcopal Church. Such actions are contrary to the Canons and Constitution of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese.”

Mr. Glass added that prior to the filing of the Complaint, the current Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, the Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, attempted to secure Mr. Schofield’s timely turnover of Diocesan assets and property. “Mr. Schofield did not agree to this request,” said Glass.

Bishop Lamb has emphasized that the Diocesan leadership and the Episcopal Church have a canonical, fiduciary and moral duty to protect the assets and property of the Church for the Church’s mission. Lamb said, “While it is regrettable that legal action is necessary, the Diocese and the Episcopal Church have no other viable option but to seek the intervention of the Court to recover the property and assets of the Diocese.”

“Regardless of the necessity of proceeding with the litigation,” Bishop Lamb continued, “the diocesan leadership and I remain committed to reconciliation with clergy and parishes that are still trying to understand their relationship with the Episcopal Church.”

The Bishop has recently sent letters to all clergy in the diocese inviting them to meet and enter into dialogue with him directly on these issues. The Diocese is also preparing for a three day faith-based reconciliation seminar in June and further programming regarding rebuilding and reconciliation in its October diocesan convention.

For further information please contact Michael O. Glass, Esq., Chancellor to the Diocese of San Joaquin at mglass@diosanjoaquin.org, or the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin at jerrylamb@diosanjoaquin.com or 209.952.0006. For information about the Diocese of San Joaquin, see its website www.diosanjoaquin.org.

The Complaint document can be found here (PDF).

Also, Bishop Jerry Lamb has sent a letter of complaint to the Primate of the Southern Cone, Bishop Greg Venables. The PDF of the letter is here. The body of the letter reads as follows:

Peace be to you in the Risen Christ.

I have been informed of your intention to visit the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin on April 29, 2008. I understand you will be preaching and celebrating the Eucharist at St James Cathedral in Fresno, California.

As you know the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church deposed John-David
Schofield on March 12, 2008. I was nominated, selected and installed as the Provisional Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin on March 29, 2008.

I strongly protest your visit to this Diocese without my invitation or permission. Your
visit would violate the traditions of the ancient church as understood in the Anglican
Communion. It also violates the Windsor Report and statements from subsequent meetings of the Primates since the Windsor Report.

I strongly urge that you cancel your meeting in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
scheduled for April 29, 2008. I also strongly urge you to refrain from interjecting yourself into the internal affairs of the Episcopal Church, the only Anglican Church in the United States.

The Anglican Communion Network issued a press release (not found on this website) titled Realignment Complete, San Joaquin Refocuses on Mission and Ministry.

Episcopal News Service has a report: San Joaquin diocese, Episcopal Church file suit to regain property.

Sunday morning update

Bishop Schofield has issued this statement:

To the clergy and parishioners of San Joaquin -

We recognize that the news of a lawsuit from the Presiding Bishop and the representatives of Remain Episcopal in Stockton, may be unsettling. However, please be assured that we have been expecting this litigation and the contents contain no surprises. Please know that our legal team has been at work for some time. They are optimistic and remain unperturbed by The Episcopal Church’s most recent action. What our legal counsel has accomplished on our behalf is already proving most helpful in defense of property and assets despite the fact that this preparatory work had to be done without the benefit of seeing what the Episcopal Church intended to do.

Furthermore, I want to remind you that in spite of the claims by The Episcopal Church, nothing in their current Constitution and Canons prohibits a diocese from leaving one province and moving to another. Also, just as we stood together for the sake of our witness to the Gospel at our Convention in December, so now will we continue to stand together for that same witness. I will continue to respond to those who disagree with us in a Christian and charitable manner and I trust that you will, as well.

Thank you for the trust that you have placed in me as your bishop and senior pastor, and know that I will continue to honor that trust with God’s help.

Faithfully, yours in Christ,

+John-David

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 25 April 2008 at 11:05pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

"Your visit would violate the traditions of the ancient church as understood in the Anglican
Communion."

More foolish citing of ancient traditions from someone who recognizes Katherine Jefferts Schori as "bishop."

Posted by: robroy on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 6:06am BST

Stand firm have a legal defence fund..what about a similar effort by Thinking Anglicans?

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 7:37am BST

These 'peace be with you' greetings are in danger of becoming a formality which is immediately contradicted by what follows. Reminds me of the child's letter: 'Dear Daddy, I hate you. Love, Susie.'

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 9:04am BST

Gertrude Stein claimed to have told a fellow writer that "remarks are not literature, Hemingway".

Assertions, however boldly stated, are not facts, Robroy.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 11:14am BST

Whoa Robroy---Hold you horses partner - I feel you are "shooting from the hip" and may have imprinted on one too many "shoot 'em ups"!! Many non-fools cite ancient traditions and all I know accept Katherine Schori not only as a Bishop but as the Presiding Bishop of the only branch of the Anglican Community in these here United States. If Venables comes to the USA he does so as a poacher or a rustler.

Posted by: ettu on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 11:59am BST

The ABC has reaffirmed that the diocese is the traditional center of authority, not the national church. One diocese, the diocese of San Joaquin, has voted overwhelmingly to realign. It is Lamb who violates ancient traditions by entering uninvited by Bishop Schofield. But again a church that has a woman for a presiding bishop and an openly homosexual man for a diocesan bishop and then calls on adherence to "ancient traditions" is foolish and hypocritical. It really is hard not to laugh about it.

But as St. Paul, those that engage in lawsuits against other Christians are already completely defeated. Perhaps this is why they were the fastest declining denomination, last year.

Posted by: robroy on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 2:27pm BST

Let's remind ourselves, too, why such legal proceedings became necessary in the first place. It is not because of some perceived "liberal drift" in the Episcopal Church; those who perceive, fear or otherwise reject change in the church are quite able to leave the church. It is because those who wanted to leave the Episcopal Church are attempting to take with them - to steal - properties and assets held in trust for the entire Episcopal Church and to claim them for another province, or, at some point perhaps, for another denomination separate from the Anglican Communion. If they were not attempting this theft, there would be no need for lawsuits.

This, by the way, is a type of theft that could be - perhaps will be - attempted in any number of provinces in the Anglican Communion. It goes far, far beyond any concept of providing pastoral care to disaffected ecclesiastical minorities; it is an attempt to alienate - repeat: to steal - property to advance a particular cause.

Posted by: christopher+ on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 2:36pm BST

Let us remind ourselves and each other (lest we forget) also that the secessionist Propaganda about TEC being the un-Christian party resorting to worldly means (litigation) is contra factual.

It was the dozen or so seceding Diocese of Virginia congregations who first went to court, apparently in the hope that the Congregationalist Virginia statute would give them what they wanted: a legitimate church organisation of their own – and the real estate and money to go with it!

We will see about that one… but probably their legal counsel was right so far: it’s the Virginia statute or nothing.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 5:31pm BST

Robroy:

The ABC's statement is utter nonsense. Dioceses are not parthenogenic, coming into existence on their own. They are created by and remain creatures of the national church. In the case of San Joaquin, the creation of this particular diocese by TEC is a matter of relatively recent history.

Here's a question for you: If the diocese is not subject to the national church for its existence, why then is it required to have its choice of bishop confirmed and accepted by the church?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 5:49pm BST

Sadly Venables is showing himself a lead thief for the moment, wrapped up in the flappy windy disguises of conservative realignment campaign pastoral care which says it is protecting traditionalistic Anglican believers from having to rub shoulders with queer folks, uppity women who went to university then on to graduate school, or an interesting range of other manifestations of equality and modernity and variety in planetary cosmological and cultural evolution.

Imagine then how dangerous such possibilities must be: Having to rub shoulders in daily life and in church life - with - queer folks of equal human rights and equal citizenship, uppity women who read literature or history or law or medicine or theology or ethics or science, and of course - all the other varied, rich manifestations of modernity in our current century.

Alas, dear Venables seems to have lost his sense of direction - enlarging himself and his diocese through theft of property and assets is essential conservative campaign pastoral care? - one cannot intelligently discern one ancient custom or conscientious judgment from another, so take the whole package whole including slavery and subservience of tribally demeaned women, or else be modern and have no history, no roots, no legacies worth remembering. What sheer presuppositional folly we are preached to realign us, and then we are supposed to be mind-boggled and unable to see and hear and weigh the traditionalistic realignment folly going on?

If the property and assets somehow disappeared overnight, evaporated into sheer riches-eating fogs of hot button realignment Anglican controversy, one wonders if there would be another point to Venables' campaigning and visiting? Would Venables still bother? Would he still be blaming the queer folks for being so unethical that his stealing is innately justified and good?

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 6:07pm BST

Please look at the comments on this topic by the " Godly" on Stand Firm...totally vile and speaking as clashing gongs without charity.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 6:57pm BST

In my opinion, any Church that intends to follow the unpopular route laid out by Christ should rejoice in being able to transcend the easy "perceived wisdom" of popular society and elect a woman as Presiding Bishop and a gay as a Diocesan Bishop.

Posted by: ettu on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 7:48pm BST

Robroy: I find it curious that you use the expression 'openly gay' bishop. A slip of the pen perhaps which indicates your recognition that the church has always had and indeed still does have closeted homosexual bishops, none of whom, as far as I know, have come out in favour of G Robinson - more's the pity.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 8:17pm BST

I realize that many (most?) here have no qualms about simply ignoring any scripture that they find inconvenient. However, Paul's injunction against lawsuits amongst believers are not unclear (1 Cor 6:1-6). Paul's concern was that it would bring shame to the church and was directed to those who clearly thought they were in the right (Why not suffer wrong?). Do the readers not care about bringing shame to the church?

And truly these are "heads I lose, tails you win" situations for the TEC. They either lose the lawsuits or they "win" turning thousands onto the streets generating terrible publicity. To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a case where a building has been "sued" back and had that building go on to a viable parish. And I needn't remind readers that the real estate market has tanked. These empty buildings will only be albatrosses around the necks of the dioceses.

Posted by: robroy on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 12:14am BST

Rob Roy -- You're crazy, you know?
Last I saw, San Joaquin was part of the USA. And Schofield is no longer an Episcopalian. He has no more right to keep Lamb out of San Joaquin than does the Pope.

Posted by: Phylmom on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 1:22am BST

Robroy - Please note even Bp. Schofeld calls Katherine the Presiding Bishop - a little more civility and respect to her office on your part would be wise for the anger in refusing her this well deserved title makes your following statements suspect.

Posted by: ettu on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 11:23am BST

Why shouldn't "we" have any qualms about ignoring any scripture that "we" find inconvenient Robroy? I mean after all, you're doing the same against Second Great Commandment!

As for Schofield and his band of unmerry whiners, they are doing exactly what you are doing...engaging in a schism based upon prejudice. If that's Christianity I'll eat my prayer book.

What did "Pee-Wee Herman" once say? "I know you are, so what am I?"

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 11:50am BST

Ettu - my point was that a church that has a women and openly homosexual man for bishops shouldn't be citing ancient traditions. Hypocrisy degenerates into risibility.

Pat O'Neill - I must admit that I had to look up the parthenogenesis business. Entomology applied to ecclesiology? Wonderful etymology, though. If you read the constitution and canons of the TEC, you will find the discussion of the admission of a diocese into the TEC most illuminating. The diocese is an independent structure that qualifies for admission into the "club." And as Bp Schofield points out in his most recent missive, there is nothing in the canons that states it can't opt out of the club. Part of being a member of the club is to have the club approve your diocesan leaders.

Posted by: robroy on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 2:49pm BST

Just read Bishop Lamb's attorneys case against Schofield. If I were Schofield, I would be making hasty arrangements to hire local union halls and Seventh Day Adventist churches to house my remnant diocese. By the way has Rowan withdrawn his invitation to Lambeth ?

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 5:42pm BST

"I realize that many (most?) here have no qualms about simply ignoring any scripture that they find inconvenient."

Why do we have to talk about "ignoring" anything at all?
This modern pretence that there is only one way of reading Scriptures is really getting a bit tiresome.
And the denial that the Holy Spirit can influence how we change our reading over time is almost a blasphemy.

Why should it not be possible that the Spirit has shown us new ways of seeing women's role in the church?
It doesn't invalidate our claim that people who suddenly try to force only one answer to every modern question are not following Anglican tradition.

Please... a little bit of nuanced discernment could do wonders to raise the level of converstion here.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 8:06pm BST

Anyone who has followed the saga of loyal Episcopalians in San Joaquin---pushed out, kicked out, locked out of their own churches, lo these many years of the xJDS regime---can only rejoice at the prospect of their soon being able to return to Christ's Church, they so loyally served (if in exile).

Truly, God IS merciful! Alleluia! :-D

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 8:40pm BST

Erika, there is no nuance in:

"If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?...I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?"

The was a comment in regards to the new lawsuits in San Joaquin by a reader of the SF Chronicle, "Another good reason not to get involved in organized religion."

The Episcopal Church took out full page ads in the NYT to advertise their positive message costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The lawsuits in Virginia, New York, Georgia, Ohio and now California are basically paying millions to advertise we "have been completely defeated already".

Posted by: robroy on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 10:18pm BST

Robroy:

Glad I could add to your education. However, let me add to it further. Check out the history of the creation of the Diocese of San Joaquin. It didn't just spring up out of whole cloth. It was created by dividing an existing diocese into two--as were most dioceses created in the 20th century, by the way. Who did the dividing? The national church. Essentially, TEC built an entity and then invited it into the "club". To say that this entity can now decide to split from that club and take it with it the property given to it (in trust) by its creating "parent" is ridiculous.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 10:54pm BST

Never heard of anyone who leaves an organisation and then expects to steal its assets before.

And of course, they have left the Episcopal Church. That is the Church to which they belonged.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 11:18pm BST

>>>But again a church that has a woman for a presiding bishop and an openly homosexual man for a diocesan bishop and then calls on adherence to "ancient traditions" is foolish and hypocritical. It really is hard not to laugh about it.

It is not half as amusing as the spectacle of charismatics and other fundamentalists declaring themselves to be "orthodox Anglicans."

Posted by: JPM on Sunday, 27 April 2008 at 11:45pm BST

"Essentially, TEC built an entity and then invited it into the "club". To say that this entity can now decide to split from that club and take it with it the property given to it (in trust) by its creating "parent" is ridiculous." - Pat O'Neil

Pat dutifully reminds the incredibly shortsighted Robroy, who would bend, it seems, any truth to suit his purpose, that the Diocese of San Joaquin was, from its beginning, a creation of the Episcopal Church.

No doubt Robroy will carefully mine selected text from Scripture in order to attempt to justify the attempted theft of property of the Episcopal Church held in trust through its various dioceses, including San Joaquin.

And, no doubt, that attempt to justify theft will be rejected by most of the readers and posters to this site.

Will that matter to Robroy?

I doubt it; I don't believe that any fact that gets in the way of his narrow beliefs will ever be an impediment to Robroy, or his hero the deposed bishop Schofield, or others like him that attempt to make the Episcopal Church into something it never was, and never will be.

Robroy is welcome to become a Baptist, or a Pentacostalist, or some other not-the-historical-Anglican-faith-and-practice church, and depart with grace and even the blessings of those who wish to remain Anglican, whether CofE, or Episcopal Church, or Anglican Church of Canada, or any number of the other affiliated national churches in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brasil, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and so forth, who will not abide the global coup which is being attempted.

Sorry, Robroy, it won't work, and distortions and histrionics, whether from you, or from former bishop Schofield, or from Bishop Duncan, or Bishop Iker, or Archbishop Akinola, will not move the ball downfield one inch.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Monday, 28 April 2008 at 1:24am BST

Robroy, here are some more verses perhaps without a lot nuance:

“He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’” Mark 11:11-12. “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.” Lev 20:10.

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.” Lev. 20:13

The second arguably applies to a certain American bishop and his partner. The first arguably applies to a certain rector of a large Texas parish who led his parish out of the Episcopal Church because of the aforesaid bishop.

So, do you think they all should be stoned together or separately? And who gets to do the stoning?

Posted by: dr.primrose on Monday, 28 April 2008 at 4:02am BST

Robroy

Thank you for that quote.
I take it that it is part of the story where Jesus calls his disciples and speaks:
You have heard the Father’s commandment “thou shallt not steal”. Verily I say unto you that for those of you who are born again in the Spirit, this commandment shall be annotated thus: If you have to steal, steal from your Christian brothers and sisters, because they will be forbidden to call you back into righteousness and to restore to themselves that which is rightfully theirs. For “"If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?...I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?"

And if they try do restore their goods and chattels to themselves by means of the law, you shall be entitled to call them the greater sinners, because among Christians, it is more righteous to steal than it is to restore the stolen goods to their rightful owner.

This is the word of the Lord.....?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 28 April 2008 at 9:04am BST

Robroy regarding your post "Ettu - my point was that a church that has a women and openly homosexual man for bishops shouldn't be citing ancient traditions. Hypocrisy degenerates into risibility" Well, my point was that the traditon that goes furthest back in time is not that of Paul but of Christ - my understanding is that Christ frequently and readily "hung out" with the rejects and cast offs of His society - therefore I feel that a Church which "does the same" , which seeks to validate the "lower classes" of our current society is indeed harkening back to the most ancient traditions - those of Christ Himself and it is presumptious of us to "dis" that validation of the lower classes as much as it was incorrect for the upper classes of Christ's time to dismiss and denegrate Him for His actions 2000 years ago. We all know where that went, don't we?

Posted by: ettu on Monday, 28 April 2008 at 12:30pm BST

Christians would never sue fellow Christians! Piffle!
Hell, there was a time when Christians thought nothing of burning fellow Christians and slaughtering their children...and all in the name of "orthodoxy" (depending on which prince or which synod and their armies had the upper hand and was defining "orthodoxy" for the day).

You're free to leave the Church, you're free to spit at the Presiding Bishop and at your former brothers and sisters in faith, and you're free to spit at liberals and lgbts to your heart's content. But you're not free to walk off with the silver.

Posted by: counterlight on Monday, 28 April 2008 at 2:15pm BST

Just to echo Erika Baker's excellent point above:

"This modern pretence that there is only one way of reading Scriptures is really getting a bit tiresome."

Well said!

Posted by: christopher+ on Monday, 28 April 2008 at 2:45pm BST

Schofield's citation of the lack of a prohibition on diocesan secession in our Constitution is what is risible here. The US Constitution also lacks such a clause concerning the states -- and it has never been amended to include one, even in the wake of the bloodiest war in American history precisely on that matter. Why? Because it is held to be self-evident by the nature of the Constitution itself that what is "constituted" cannot be divided except by the consent of the whole body. (During that same Civil War the Episcopal Church never acknowledged the existence of the "Protestant Episcopal Church of the Confederate States of America" and simply deemed the bishops "absent" from meetings of the General Convention.

This is where the fallacy that "the diocese is capable of independence from the church" is so nonsensical. I dare say no English diocese could decide, on its own, to secede from the Church of England and become part of Wales or Ireland or Scotland -- to say nothing of the Southern Cone!

Some things don't need to be written into constitutions because they are obvious.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 28 April 2008 at 4:41pm BST

"a church that has a woman for a presiding bishop and an openly homosexual man for a diocesan bishop and then calls on adherence to "ancient traditions" is foolish and hypocritical."

1 Corinthians 6:9,10

It is even more foolish, and hypocritical, that people can quote the above to rule out homosexuals from the Kingdom while happliy reviling and slandering those who oppose them. Do they believe that 'nor' coming as it does before slanderers somehow lets them off the hook? Do they not see how funny it is for, as happened in Canada recently, an ordained woman to make the same arguments against gay inclusion that were once used to claim she could not be a priest? Sorry, old bean, but you can't claim others are ignoring the bits of Scripture they don't like when you do exactly the same yourself. That pretty much defines hypocrisy. You DO know that there are ordained women among your number, right, many of whom would fully expect to be consecrated should the Spirit guide their synods to elect them? What will you do then? Is it just a matter of tolerate them now, but when you get your way, they'll be put in their place?

It's also rather odd for people who adopt an innovative and radical approach to Scriptural interpretation, doctrine concerning sacraments, understanding of the meaning of Redemption, the conduct of worhsip, and on and on, to condemn others for "innovation" for following a more traditional line. And then there's the use of the word 'orthodox', which has not been applicable to any but a vanishingly rare minority of English Christians since 1054.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 28 April 2008 at 5:58pm BST
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