Updated Sunday morning
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin at email@example.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,