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SAN JOAQUIN: Episcopal Church in Cyber War. Diocesan Website Disappears

SAN JOAQUIN: Episcopal Church in Cyber War. Diocesan Website Disappears
Presiding Bishop Says She Plans to Reconstitute Diocese, Revise Canons

By David W. Virtue

The Episcopal Church has engaged in a cyber war resulting in the disappearance of the website of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. Seekers are redirected to the diocesan website of the reconstituted TEC Diocese of San Joaquin.

The website just disappeared, an irate searcher told VirtueOnline. Visitors to www.sanjoaquin.anglican.org - the website of the (Southern Cone) Diocese of San Joaquin - are magically redirected to the new website for the reconstituted TEC diocese, at www.diosanjoaquin.org. The Society of Archbishop Justus is the custodian of www.anglican.org, of which www.sanjoaquin.anglican.org is a sub-domain. While the Anglican Domain web site is not official in any way, it is produced and sponsored by the Society of Archbishop Justus as a global resource, the website states.

Bill Gandenberger, Canon to the Ordinary to Bishop John-David Schofield, in an interview with VOL, attributed the problem to an improperly "published" website, making it vulnerable to attack. "We had an address under an anglican.org isp, which came under the control of the Episcopal Church. Our site is safe at present, but people may not be able to find us." It can be found here: http://www.sjoaquin.net/

The hijacked cyber link now run by the Episcopal Church claims 14 parishes in their reconstructed diocese, now under the authority of the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb.

Gandenberger says that the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin site and their intra-net, or First Class system, is safe and secure. "What seems to have taken place is that The Episcopal Church has been able to empower all search engines (Google, Yahoo, Ask, etc.) to direct visitors who try to reach us by simply typing in '"Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin'" to the new TEC site. Regardless, our website and intranet are secure at this time. The Episcopal Church '"coincidentally with their convention'" altered the way that people are able to reach our Diocesan website."

According to a news report in "The Living Church", the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, told some 300 Episcopalians at a special meeting in St. Anne's Church Stockton that she will direct The Episcopal Church to move ahead swiftly to reconstitute the Diocese of San Joaquin and to establish control over church property. In addition, she said, she intends to begin the process of revising the denomination's canons to allow it to deal more expeditiously with breakaway bishops.

"I expect to see revisions to the canons to deal with situations like the one that you have been living with in San Joaquin for several years," she said.

Jefferts Schori participated in a service of "healing and reconciliation" for the newly reconstituted diocese. This failed to impress a number of Episcopalians who issued a "Protest text" saying they objected and protested "the canonical legality of this meeting as an official legislative convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin." It was presented as a point of personal privilege before the Special Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin held on March 29, 2008 by George Sutton who then read it aloud to the convention.

The text was then handed to the person identified as the Secretary of Convention for inclusion in the minutes of the Meeting. The person identified as Parliamentarian (and Chancellor) ruled that it could not be included except by approved Motion from the floor of the Meeting. Sutton responded to the ruling, "To be consistent with our position of not acting in any legal fashion at the meeting, we chose not to do so, nor to ask anyone else to do our work for us. We knew that some of the proceedings were being recorded and there would be the potential of some sort of media posting of the protest. We therefore chose to exhibit the complete prepared text of the protest here at http://sanjoaquin.wordpress.com/2008/03/30/the-protest-text from members of St. John Parish."

Here is Sutton's statement: "We greet you all in the name of Jesus Christ. We are here at this proceeding by choice to be considered as Episcopalians and a part of this Diocese voluntarily signing our allegiance as Episcopalians. The signing of the allegiance as Episcopalians prior to any Episcopal Convention is an unwarranted and unprecedented act especially for already certified delegates from an Episcopal Congregation or Diocese. Nevertheless, we have come to publicly state our place in this Diocese and because we do have a place, we object and protest the canonical legality of this meeting as an official legislative convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. We will not be casting any votes for any measure or resolution presented at this meeting. By direction of the Canons only the ecclesiastical authority of a diocese can call a special convention if there is no Bishop. That responsibility falls to the Standing Committee as per Title 3, Canon 13. The Standing Committee has not called this special convention. Therefore, it would be our understanding that any decision made today on behalf of the Diocese cannot be implemented because they are null and void."

Another parishioner, Gillian Busch read the following statement. "Beyond the issues we have just raised concerning canonical status of this meeting, we are also very concerned about a precedent of "non-inclusion" set by the Steering Committee. It came to our attention, by un-official notice, that a Steering Committee for the re-organization of the Diocese would be established. In that notice, it was stated that a Steering Committee would be composed of one (1) priest and one (1) lay person from each congregation that chose not to leave the Episcopal Church. St. John Parish, in Tulare, a Parish in good standing, never having left the Episcopal Church was not included in the Steering Committee process. As a result, a clear voice for a canonically compliant path for the Diocese was not followed."

The Rev. Robert G. Eaton, rector of St. John Parish, Tulare and a Clergy Delegate by Canonical Residency, Standing Committee Member, elected to 4-year term in December 2007, said this, "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."

Citing the Presiding Bishop's earlier explanation regarding such objections, the chair declined the group's objections.

At their December diocesan convention, delegates to that convention led by Bishop John-David Schofield amended their constitution and canons to allow the central California diocese to leave The Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.


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