SAN JOAQUIN: Episcopal Church Seizes Property in Anglican Diocese
By David W. Virtue
The Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, Jerry Lamb has seized the property of the 18-member St Andrew's Church in Taft, California. He appropriated it from the Anglican Bishop of the diocese, John-David Schofield, changed the locks on the parish doors and told the priest-in-charge that he was out and not to return.
Schofield described the act as illegal as no court order has been issued for such a seizure. "They prevented Anglican members from entering freely, as they had been able to before," he told VirtueOnline.
Lamb sent in Canon Hall to preside at services on Sunday, June 8th.
Eleven members of the St. Andrew's Mission, Taft, held an unpublicized meeting in late May with The Rev. Canon Mark Hall, Canon to the Ordinary for Bishop Jerry Lamb. A majority (9-2) voted illegally to join the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
The Jr. Warden discovered that the meeting was to take place only one hour prior to its occurrence.
"Neither the priest, nor the wardens nor Bishop Schofield were advised of this meeting, and therefore the gathering, held on church property, was without the authority reserved to the Priest-in-Charge. New by-laws were signed March 2008 declaring this an Anglican Mission of the Diocese of San Joaquin This was confirmed in a document sent to the Diocesan Chancellor from the Bishop's Committee Clerk," said Schofield.
Following the meeting, the Junior Warden and Treasurer both resigned. The Priest-in-Charge (appointed there by Bishop Schofield many months earlier) got a call from Canon Hall, informing him that he had been terminated.
The priest immediately notified Bishop Schofield. Lamb also re-appointed the Treasurer who had resigned just days before, despite the fact that this person is no longer a member of St. Andrews. She transferred her membership to the Diocese of Hawaii, said Schofield.
"I am grieved by the aggressive and disturbing behavior exhibited by Bishop Lamb, his agents, and the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the USA. Established protocols exist within the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin to assist churches to rightly discern the mind of their members, yet none of these seem to have been considered and Bishop Lamb appears to follow no protocol at all as he reached out to seize this Church. It might be considered abusive behavior that many of the members of St. Andrews received no knowledge of that meeting about to take place."
This was not an informed congregation nor could an informed decision be made as, apparently, two strong personalities, within their body, manipulated the situation so that only those who could be counted upon for affirmation were notified of the meeting and called upon to vote accordingly, said Schofield.
"No Canons or By-Laws were followed to provide the congregation proper notification of a Parish Meeting (normally 30 days notice), to confirm the qualifications of those voting, minutes of said meeting, or any other ecclesiastical standards. While this is a very small congregation averaging only 18 in attendance on a Sunday (according to 2007 parochial reports submitted), it appears that a vote of 9 to 2 is not a simple majority of those qualified to vote, but only a majority who had the select knowledge and opportunity to be present at this secret meeting of church members.
"We mourn the fact that leaders within The Episcopal Church continue to behave in ways that cause damage to the Body of Christ by initiating ecclesiastical actions and litigation against Bishop Schofield and this Anglican Diocese, and proceed to further tear the fabric of the world-wide Anglican Communion."
Schofield condemned the behavior of Lamb who, he said, verbally claims to seek reconciliation, while his actions say otherwise.
At their diocesan convention held December 8, 2007, the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin withdrew from membership in the Episcopal Church and realigned with the Province of the Southern Cone. The vote of the people of the Diocese was overwhelming; nearly 90 percent were in favor of the realignment. Special provision was made for those who disagreed with the majority's decision: each parish in the Diocese was given an indefinite period of discernment and the option of staying with the Episcopal Church. Those who did so, were permitted to keep all of their real and personal property with the blessings of the Diocese and its elected bishop of nineteen years, The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield.
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