Monday, November 20, 2006

Episcopal Presiding Bishop takes on conservative gadfly

This is exciting! And it is about time that the church leadership took on the trouble makers:

San Joaquin bishop sent letter from Presiding Bishop

[ENS] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -- concerned by current affairs in the
Fresno-based Diocese of San Joaquin, California -- has written to its bishop, the Rt. Rev.
John-David Schofield. The diocese, which is scheduled to meet in convention December 1-2,
includes an estimated 10,000 Episcopalians in some 48 congregations. The text of Jefferts
Schori's November 20 letter follows.

November 20, 2006

The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield
Diocese of San Joaquin
4159 E. Dakota Avenue
Fresno, California 93726

My dear brother:

I have seen reports of your letter to parishes in the Diocese of San Joaquin, which
apparently urges delegates to your upcoming Diocesan Convention to take action to leave the
Episcopal Church. I would ask you to confirm the accuracy of those reports. If true, you must
be aware that such action would likely be seen as a violation of your ordination vows to
"uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them." I
must 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.

I certainly understand that you personally disagree with decisions by General Conventions
over the past 30 and more years. You have, however, taken vows three times over that period
to uphold the "doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church." If you now feel
that you can no longer do so, the more honorable course would be to renounce your orders in
this Church and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate
those vows puts many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence. I urge you, as a
pastor, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity.

As you contemplate this action I would also remind you of the trust which you and I both hold
for those who have come before and those who will come after us. None of us has received the
property held by the Church today to use as we will. We have received it as stewards, for
those who enjoy it today and those who will be blessed by the ministry its use will permit in
the future. Our forebears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they
be removed from the Episcopal Church. Nor did our forebears give liberally to fund endowments
with the intent that they be consumed by litigation.

The Church will endure whatever decision you make in San Joaquin. The people who are its
members, however, will suffer in the midst of this conflict, and probably suffer
unnecessarily. Jesus calls us to take up our crosses daily, but not in the service of
division and antagonism. He calls us to take up our crosses in his service of reconciling the
world to God. Would that you might lead the people of San Joaquin toward decisions that build
up the Body, that bring abundant life to those within and beyond our Church, that restore us
to oneness.

I stand ready for conversation and reconciliation. May God bless your deliberation.

I remain

Your servant in Christ,


The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate


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