We have previously discussed the plans of the Diocese of San Joaquin to attempt to leave the Episcopal Church, and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's response to these plans. Bp. John-David Schofield of San Joaguin has been making pre-convention presentations at the various deaneries within his diocese in an attempt to explain why he feels the proposed constitutional changes must be approved at their diocesan convention which begins this weekend. From the reports of those who were present at these deanery meetings, we can glean some new insights regarding what is going on in San Joaquin. What follows is the information that has been passed on to me, without commentary.
Regarding the New York meeting between Bps. Griswold, Jefferts Schori, Duncan, Iker and others, Bp. Schofield stated that at the end of the first day, Bp. Katharine was willing to let the Network have an Alternative Primatial candidate, but she would be the one who selected the alternate.
The next morning, according to Bp. Schofield, Bp. Griswold said that no decision could be made without going through the Executive Council. At that point, Bp. Iker made clear that he could not agree to what had been offered, which ended the meeting.
Regarding the meeting of the Windsor bishops, Bp. Schofield claims they received a message from Archbishop Rowan Williams containing these words; " I believe the Windsor bishops are the hope of the future of the American church. I want to encourage you and I pray that your numbers will grow."
Regarding the recent meeting with the Steering Committee of the Global South Primates, Bp. Schofield offers us some new information. Abps. Gomez (West Indies), Venables (Southern Cone), Akinola (Nigeria), Chew (South East Asia), Nzimbi (Kenya) and Akrofi (West Africa) were present. Those representing the Network that were mentioned by name included Bps. Schofield, Salmon and Duncan and Bill Thompson of All Saints, Long Beach.
The Primates were asking for specific things of the Network;
2. A single spokesman (Bp. Duncan was selected)
3. Signatures on a document which will be submitted to the Primates (all present signed, although the contents of the document were not revealed.)
Bp. Schofield announced that he had received a message from Bp. Duncan stating that the Primates (apparently the 6 listed above) said that they endorsed what was being proposed in San Joaquin, encouraged them to go forward with their plan to make the changes in their constitution (which eliminates all references to The Episcopal Church), but then the Primates said not to have an immediate second reading. They do not want San Joaquin to get ahead of the other dioceses. (The constitutional changes do not technically go into effect until the second reading).
According to Bp. Schofield, the Primates want to see a new Network Province set up, but not just with San Joaquin as a member. They want a number of dioceses represented. The Primates want to see San Joaquin unified with other dioceses, and willing to take direction from them. From this point on, the Primates would call the shots. San Joaquin was to go forward with the first reading and then await further instructions from the Global South Primates.
Bp Schofield stated that if the proposed constitutional changes were passed, that does not take them out of TEC. Nothing will change until the second reading. He stated that it is not an irreversable decision; the diocese would have a year to study it. He stressed that it was important to make the decision to change the constitution now because it makes it possible for them to respond positively to the Primates. He further suggested that not making it says to the Primates that they are unwilling to take their offer of leadership.
As far as what the new Province would look like, Bp. Schofield stated that the diocese of San Joaquin would be free to do evangelism, "even in the deepest darkest Los Angeles, and the deepest darkest San Francisco...wherever." He compared it to planting a church of another denomination in the same neighborhood as an existing Episcopal Church. He mentioned that there would be a number of churches on the West Coast who would be ready to join them, and specifically stated that over 14 different parishes in California have expressed an interest in becoming a part of the Diocese of San Joaquin.
Bp Schofield also said that any congregations wanting to leave the diocese are free to leave, "...and take all that is yours."
After careful study of the information that I have received from those who were present, I am confident that the above is an accurate representation of Bp. Schofield's public statements at the deanery meetings. Make of them what you will.