Monday, March 24, 2008

A "Heads Up" to San Joaquin

The Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin will meet this Saturday. They will begin with a Healing Service and Reception on Friday night (I presume it will be Friday night; note to EDSJ webmaster-a date would be helpful on that page). The agenda, report of the nominating committee and resolutions can be found here.

There's a couple of matters that I would hope faithful Episcopalians in San Joaquin will keep in mind during what should be a joyous and historic moment in the life of this Diocese.

First, anticipate some gate crashers. From the tone of the latest missive of the "Standing Committee Who May or May Not Be Episcopal, But We're Not Telling", it appears that they intend to keep up the charade that they are the REAL Standing Committee, and that John-David Schofield is the REAL Bishop of San Joaquin. Both claims are erroneous, yet I think it is still safe to assume that some of these men are going to show up on Saturday and try to disrupt things.

Why do I think that? First of all, because of their evident arrogance in their response to our Presiding Bishop's announcement that she could not recognize them as members of the Standing Committee of San Joaquin. For more on that,I refer you to a previous post; SC Shoots Themselves in the Other Foot. The bottom line is that all they had to do was declare their desire to remain as Episcopalians. Instead, they wrote an angry letter voicing various accusations against our Presiding Bishop. We're still waiting for these men to let us know if they are Episcopalians or members of the Southern Cone. Their refusal to answer that simple question suggests that our Presiding Bishop made a good call in deciding not to recognize them. Obviously, they have abandoned the Episcopal Church. Time to elect a new Standing Committee.

There's another reason to be prepared for these gate crashers. A prominent member of this former Standing Committee has a history of throwing temper tantrums. Numerous times he has been seen berating and shouting at members of his congregation, reducing them to tears. In every case, these members were women, of course. Keep in mind that this Diocese was first well known for its anti-women stance before it jumped on the anti-gay bandwagon. This man obviously has some serious personal problems, and has no business continuing to function as a priest, let alone a member of the Standing Committee, until they are resolved. If he had not been protected by John-David for all these years, he would have probably been removed a long time ago.

I am inclined to believe that this priest was the primary author of the angry letter sent to our Presiding Bishop. After all, she's just another uppity woman, right? The problem for them is, it takes more than a few petty bullies to reduce Katharine Jefferts Schori to tears.

So, anticipate some rude disruptions, most likely when a woman is speaking from the podium. Plan how you will deal with these angry men. These are not "nice" people, keep in mind, so pleas to be civil are most likely going to be ineffective. Local police, or security personnel, may have to remove them. Just my opinion. As someone who thinks "being nice" is not always the appropriate response, and can actually be detrimental to resolving some situations, I'm advocating for a rapid and strong response to such shenanigans. But do what you think is best.

The other matter I would think it would be prudent to keep in mind is that there may be an attempt to sidetrack the Convention into a debate on the validity of the vote to depose John-David. It is clear, from the good comments made by some folks here and elsewhere, that the Canon needs to be cleaned up. But, that does not invalidate the vote.

For background on that matter, I refer you to Mark Harris' latest thoughts; Beyond Schofield and Cox.

Something that Mark brings up is worth noting. There are at least two precedents for the way the recent vote was carried out. In 1993, at a meeting of the House of Bishops, consent was given to depose Donald Davies. 137 bishops were present to vote at that meeting. In 2004, the House of Bishops consented to the deposition of Neptali Larrea Moreno. Here is how that action is described:

The Rt. Rev. Neptali Larrea Moreno, Bishop of Ecuador Central, has been deposed from the ministry by a unanimous vote of the House of Bishops, meeting at Camp Allen, Texas, on March 23...
Now, unless you want to believe that by some miracle every single bishop of TEC was present for that meeting, it is clear that the unanimous vote was of those bishops present for the meeting.

Yes, the wording of that canon needs to be cleaned up, and most likely will be in 2009. But right now, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin needs to move on. John-David Schofield is deposed. On Saturday, Jerry Lamb will become the new provisional Bishop of San Joaquin.

So, don't let that discussion distract you from the important business you have to carry out on Saturday. And beware of the gate crashers.

Pray for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Pray for the Church.


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