Friday, April 25, 2008

Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin Sues Former Bishop

From the website of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin:

...Michael Glass, Esq., Chancellor to the Diocese of San Joaquin has announced the filing of a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief in Fresno County Superior Court to reclaim all property currently being held by John-David Schofield, the former Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, according to a Press Release issued April 25, 2008 by the Stockton-based temporary headquarters for the Diocese.

In a related matter, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, has sent a letter of protest to Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the April 22, 2008 letter, Lamb reminded the Archbishop that his visit to the Diocese of San Joaquin is a violation of the traditions of the Anglican Communion and of the recommendations of the Windsor Report.
From the letter of protest:

...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.

In Christ’s Name,
+The Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb
Bishop of San Joaquin

Cc: The Archbishop of Canterbury
The Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Primates and Moderators of the United Churches of the Anglican Communion
This is the second letter like this Abp. Venables has received this week. Most likely he will ignore this one as well.

Since the Southern Cone is known as one of the poorest Provinces in the Communion, I do wonder how Abp. Venables can afford to go jetting about to Canada and California. It couldn't be from the additional assessments he is receiving from the new parishes he is claiming in North America, could it?

Most likely, Abp. Venables will claim that he is visiting "his" Diocese, meaning the Southern Cone Diocese of San Joaquin. The problem with that, as Bp. Lamb pointed out, is that no such Diocese exists.

That's not just my speculation. As we have previously discussed, according to the Southern Cone's own Constitution and Canons, a new diocese in North America cannot be created without amending their Constitution.

From Article 2 of the Southern Cone's Constitution:

The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, which shall henceforth be called The Province, is composed of the Anglican Dioceses that exist or which may be formed in the Republics of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay and which voluntary declare themselves as integral Diocesan members of the Province.
They might amend this at some future time. Such an amendment will not be easy, however, due to the stipulation included in Article 4.3:

For any changes or amendment to this Constitution, the following procedure is to be used:

...4.3 The proposed change shall then be submitted to the Anglican Consultative Council for consideration and then to each Diocesan Synod for approval...
Since the Southern Cone announced over a year ago their plans to expand North, why have they not started the amendment process and consulted with the Anglican Consultative Council? Most likely it is because the Southern Cone is quite aware that any plan to establish dioceses in places where a Diocese that is part of the Anglican Communion already exists would be rejected by the ACC.

There's a bit more about this being offered by Episcopal Life:

...At issue is control of assets included within "corporation sole … which administers property owned by or under the control of the diocese in accordance with the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church and diocese," according to court records.

The lawsuit does not specify a monetary value, but seeks recovery of: "personal property, bank and brokerage accounts, monies, valuable chattels, personnel records, financial records, real property records and deeds and historical records of the diocese held in the name of "The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, a corporation sole, " the Episcopal Foundation and the Investment Trust.

On April 3, 2008, according to the lawsuit, Lamb asked Schofield to vacate diocesan offices at 4159 E. Dakota Avenue in Fresno, via letter, and to relinquish "all real and personal property held by the Diocese, the Episcopal Foundation, and the Investment Trust." He requested a response by April 9.

When the request went unheeded, Lamb filed corrected articles of incorporation with the California Secretary of State, which Schofield allegedly had altered by removing references to The Episcopal Church (TEC). The corrected articles clarify that "the name of the corporation sole is 'The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, a corporation sole'"...
You can view the corrected articles of incorporation here.

This was the next obvious step. In the meantime, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin leaves all this legal stuff to the experts, while they get on with their mission:

...Meanwhile, the continuing Episcopal diocese is moving forward with its goal of creating a culture of reconciliation, Key said. They are preparing for a three-day faith-based reconciliation seminar in June and further rebuilding efforts at its October diocesan convention.

She said the diocese is open to the possibility of reconciliation for all congregations. "The rest of them could come back and declare themselves as part of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and we welcome them and hope they do so."

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