Monday, March 31, 2008

Oh! What a Tangled Web We Weave

There are now charges that "those evil lib'rals" have engaged in a cyber war.

It seems that once John-David Schofield had resigned as the Bishop of San Joaquin, and was then deposed by the House of Bishops, the Anglican Communion's Provincial Directory was edited to list the See of San Joaquin as "vacant." (A side note: the See was listed as "vacant" a few months ago, but after much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the rejectionists, John-David Schofield's name was restored to the listing. The current "vacant" listing is a recent change.) This establishes that as far as the Anglican Communion is concerned, whatever it is that John-David Schofield is leading, it is not the Diocese listed in that directory.

Once the Diocese was re-established at last weekend's Diocesan Convention, another change occurred. The Society of Archbishop Justus, which operates the domain "", redirected "" from the website of John-David Schofield’s Southern Cone group to the website of the official Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Now there is a new round of wailing and gnashing of teeth commencing, but that's not what intrigues me about these changes. What I find fascinating is a little detail pointed out to me by dr. primrose in the comments.

You may recall the former Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin, who were "not recognized" by our Presiding Bishop. They responded to our Presiding Bishop with much bluster, but refused to answer the critical question; are they Episcopalians, or are they part of John-David Schofield's breakaway group? Since then, the numbers of this former group have shrunk to three, since half of their members finally declared that they have left TEC. At least they had the integrity to end the guessing game regarding their allegiance.

At last weekend's Convention, Robert Eaton, a former member of the Standing Committee, voiced his objections. He has published those objections on a website entitled "Surrounded: A weblog of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin". Here is his statement:

Regarding the election of Standing Committee members (and similarly of General Convention delegates), I come before you to simply state that I object to and protest the election of any new Standing Committee member who would in effect replace me, a diocesan Standing Committee member (and any Standing Committee member) validly and duly elected at the December 2007 Diocesan Convention (and prior conventions). I have not, nor did I ever leave the (Episcopal) Church, nor have I acted in such a way as to repudiate my place in the Church.

The Rev. Robert G. Eaton, Clergy Delegate by Canonical Residency
Standing Committee Member, elected to 4-year term, December 2007 Diocesan Convention
St. John Parish, Tulare
So, it appears that Robert Eaton, who is the adminstrator of the website "Surrounded," has declared that he is an Episcopalian and claims to have not "acted in such a way as to repudiate my place in the Church."

If that is so, then I find a very curious thing on the "About" page for that weblog he administers. Here is the text:

The Diocese of San Joaquin is a part of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. The diocesan office - the office of the bishop - is in Fresno, on the grounds of St. James Cathedral. The diocese currently stretches from just south of Sacramento, to the top of the Grapevine, south of Bakersfield; from west of I-5 including Coalinga and Los Banos, to the Nevada border.

This weblog is an offical part of the communications for and by the diocese. It is administered by the Rev. Robert Eaton, the Rector of St. John Parish in Tulare.

For further information on the diocese please view the diocesan website, at .
If you click on the link at the end of that entry, it will take you to the webpage of an organization claiming to be a diocese of the Southern Cone, not the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Accidental? Just needs updating? I don't think so. I was on that site just last week. I even left a rather snarky comment, which Rob removed. I happened to check out the "About" page, and noticed that the link was to "," which was formerly the address of this Southern Cone group. I found it curious at the time that a website declaring itself to be "Episcopalian" would be directing readers to a breakaway group, but thought maybe it simply had not been updated.

But here's the fascinating thing; since the change of website addresses occurred over this last weekend, that means that Rob Eaton has recently, within the last few days, edited that link so that it would continue to direct readers to the Southern Cone site.

So, what to make of this? It appears Robert Eaton claims to be an Episcopalian, but belongs to a Southern Cone group, and continues to encourage visitors to the weblog he adminsters, through an unethical subterfuge, to join this breakaway group.

And yet he expects to be recognized as a faithful member of the Episcopal Church? I think not.


UPDATE: 4/1/08 - Sometime today, the "About" page for the weblog "Surrounded" was edited. It now includes two links; one to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and one to a Southern Cone organization.

Leaving a link to a breakaway group is still somewhat unusual for a site whose administrator has recently made very public claims of being an Episcopalian. But it is an improvement from this, which is what that page looked like yesterday.

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