Skip to comments.Rebel diocese threatens to quit Episcopal Church
Posted on 11/26/2006 3:08:13 PM PST by sionnsar
A battle is brewing in the Episcopal Church over the Diocese of San Joaquin, Calif., which is poised to be the first diocese to secede and position itself as the "vanguard" of a new U.S. branch of Anglicanism.
Home to an estimated 10,000 Episcopalians, the diocese will vote on amendments that would remove all ties to the national church at its convention next Friday and Saturday.
San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield said the 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church is "preaching and practicing heresy" with its progressive approach to homosexuality and the Bible.
In a letter to parishioners, Schofield said his diocese would remain part of the global Anglican Communion but remove itself from the Episcopal Church, the communions U.S. branch.
"The diocese could be the vanguard of a new 39 th Anglican Province in North America," Schofield wrote. The 77 millionmember Anglican Communion, composed of churches with historic roots in the Church of England, has 38 provinces around the world.
Episcopal officials maintain that church laws are clear: People can leave the U.S. church, but dioceses cannot. Diocesan property, they argue, remains held in trust by the Episcopal Church, and dioceses are recognized and designated by the denominations top law-making body, the General Convention, which met in June in Columbus.
New Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stepped into the fray Monday, warning Schofield not to secede.
"I strongly urge you to consider the consequences of such action, not only for yourself but especially for all of the Episcopalians under your pastoral charge and care," wrote Jefferts Schori, who was elected in Columbus.
"Our forbears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be removed from the Episcopal Church," she wrote. "Nor did our forbears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation."
A task force in the Episcopal Church has identified eight "problem dioceses," including San Joaquin, and compiled a "brief bank" of court filings and legal documents to fight any attempts by a parish or diocese to secede with church property, according to the Episcopal News Service.
A year ago, the San Joaquin Diocese amended its constitution to say it takes precedence over national church policies. Last March, the diocese changed its bylaws to prevent the national church from having a say in its choice of bishop.
As a result of those changes, four California bishops filed charges in church court accusing Schofield of abandoning the church. The court ruled the charges were an "inappropriate use of" church law, and it exonerated Schofield.
As Schofield admits in his letter to parishioners, walking away from the church carries risks, including leaving diocesan property behind. Moreover, some clergy could lose their church-provided pensions and medical care, he wrote.
But leaving is necessary, Schofield said, because the Episcopal Church "denies the unique divinity of Jesus Christ and takes a position on human sexuality which undercuts marriage and is destructive to the family unit designed by God and revealed in Scripture."
In 2003, while bishop of Nevada, Jefferts Schori and 61 other bishops voted to approve an openly gay man, V. Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire. For that reason, and because they object to her gender or progressive views, seven dioceses including San Joaquin have asked to be put under the guidance of a foreign bishop instead. San Joaquin is one of three U.S. dioceses that do not ordain women.
The Episcopal Church recorded net losses of 90,000 members between 2003 and 2005, according to Kirk Hadaway, the churchs director of research. An estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of those losses are a result of parish conflicts over Robinsons ordination, Hadaway said.
In recent months, several other dioceses and high-profile parishes have distanced themselves from the church:
Leaders of two large and historic Virginia parishes outside Washington Truro Church and The Falls Church separately voted in mid-November to recommend their congregations leave the national church.
The diocesan conventions of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Rio Grande and South Carolina voted separately to officially apply for oversight from an overseas bishop.
The Diocese of Dallas asserted its ability to revoke or limit its relationship with the national church at its diocesan convention in October.
My sister's church in Buffalo -- St. Bart's -- is breaking away in every way they can.
In the past they were the "profit center" for the Diocese. But they feel so strongly about the liberal path the church is taking, and will not go along with it.
Here's what they've done:
They've set up a second corporation and a second fund, and have informed all the parishioners they have a choice between giving to the old one and giving to the new one. Naturally, almost everyone is giving to the new one.
The old one is the fund they use to give to the Diocese. Of course, they're sending practically nothing. They expect to bankrupt the Diocese, making it impossible for it to keep up the building.
As soon as the Diocese puts the buiding on the market, they will buy it and break away completely.
A good model for others to consider who need to break away from a corrupt "mother" church.
So, will federalism or state's rights carry the day...
"San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield said the 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church is "preaching and practicing heresy""
Now that's the way a hierarch should talk in a situation like this! Reminds me of the comments of a good Greek boy and bishop, +Mark of Ephesus when confronted with a state of heresy among hierarchs of The Church:
"We have excised and cut them off from the common body of the Church, we have, therefore, rejected them as heretics, and for this reason we are separated from them;.... they are, therefore, heretics, and we have cut them off as heretics."
Good Monday morning...Am I correct in noticing that the article used the greatly inflated 2.2 million number for Episcopalians, when the actual number of those who go at least once a month is far lower....believed to be about 800,000?
You are correct.
Our forebears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be used to help the Episcopal Church remove itself from the Christian Church. If our forebears were alive today, they would not recognize either you as episcopal nor the church you head as the Episcopal Church.
"Nor did our forbears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation."
Good. Stop suing, then.
I do strongly object to the use of the term "progressive" to describe a regression towards paganism.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.