Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on January 25 wrote to inform each member of the standing committee elected at the last convention of the Fresno-based Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin that she does not recognize them as the standing committee of that diocese. She also assured continuing Episcopalians of financial and legal support in reconstituting the diocese...From Bp. Katharine's letter:
...Canon I.17.8 of the Episcopal Church provides that "[a]ny person accepting any office in this Church shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which the office is being exercised." In the light of your recent actions, I find that you have been and are unable to well and faithfully fulfill your duties as members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin under Canon I.17.8. Accordingly, with this letter I inform you that I do not recognize you as the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.This clarifies the status of the six members of the Standing Committee who were removed by Bp. Schofield because they were not yet ready to declare themselves as members of the Province of the Southern Cone.
I regret the decisions that you have made to attempt to take the Diocese out of The Episcopal Church and the necessary consequences of these actions. I want you to be fully aware that a future declaration of adherence to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and, for clergy, a reaffirmation of the Declaration of Conformity, will once again make you eligible for election to office in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. I give thanks for your service in the past, and pray that it may once again be a blessing to this Diocese...
However, by voting as the Standing Committeee for the Diocese to leave TEC before and during the December Diocesan Convention, the clergy members could face charges of abandonment already, regardless of their apparent second thoughts a month later. Actions have consequences.
The concern was that these six members would now claim to be the "official" Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. Bp. Katharine's letter refutes any such claim.
But, it does offer them a bridge back. Apparently they will not face charges of abandomnment. If they simply declare that they will continue to honor their ordination vows; "to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church," they will be reinstated as full members. That is a graceful move by Bp. Katharine.
So, we return to the original itinerary for the future of the Episcopal Church in San Joaquin:
In March, Bp. Schofield will be deposed by the House of Bishops. Shortly after that, faithful Episcopalians will gather to elect new leaders, including a Standing Committee. Most likely, an interim Bishop will be selected. Then a Diocesan Convention will be held, to elect a new Bishop. I've already heard the idea of Canon Bob Moore as a possible nominee. After listening to him in Hanford, I think he would be an excellent choice.
Let us give thanks for the leadership of our Presiding Bishop. Let us give thanks for the redemptive love of God, who uses all things to work for good.