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SAN JOAQUIN: Whither Bound?

SAN JOAQUIN: Whither Bound?

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

The question is what will happen now that the first diocese, in the history of The Episcopal Church (TEC), has officially voted to leave the denomination. San Joaquin is just one of four dioceses, and possibly six or seven more, ready to follow suit.

Several things are assured.

The lightning rod issue of Gene Robinson's consecration, as the first openly homoerotic bishop living in a same-sex relationship with another man, brought to a head what has been the church's simmering, underlying rejection of Holy Scripture as normative on all matters of faith and order.

The Episcopal Church's rejection of 2,000 years of church history and biblical exegesis on human sexuality is the final straw for orthodox Episcopalians. (The Anglican Church of Canada is also breaking up for the same reasons.)

We will now see a huge exodus from The Episcopal Church exposing what will become an enormous public relations nightmare, a disaster that it cannot possibly reverse, despite the fiction put out by homosexual leaders like Louie Crew and Bishop Robinson that an inclusive church would see an enormous influx of Roman Catholic homosexuals and other closeted homosexuals who want a place to worship. That hasn't happened. Robinson's consecration four years ago has only emptied churches.

An ecclesiastical blood-bath is clearly in the making. Mrs. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of TEC, has made it abundantly clear, in less than reconciling language, that there will be "potential consequences", code for lawsuits, now that Bishop John-David Schofield and the majority of his diocese have voted to leave the national church.

She will inhibit Bishop Schofield on the grounds that he has abandoned the communion of the church, though in point of fact he has abandoned neither its doctrine nor the Anglican Communion. She will declare the diocese hers and those remaining in the Episcopal Church will organize with a new diocesan convention and elect a replacement Standing Committee. Meantime Mrs. Jefferts Schori will probably put in an assisting bishop with an office to serve the handful of parishes she says belong to her until a new diocesan bishop search process is initiated and a new bishop elected and consecrated. This will change nothing. Schofield has declared himself under the ecclesiastical authority of the Most Rev. Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone and is answerable only to him. He is now outside the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church. He will not be intimidated by any of the actions of TEC, Mrs. Jefferts Schori, HOD leader Bonnie Anderson or legal schnauzer David Booth Beers. The bishop has had plenty of time to prepare for whatever they will do to him and those fleeing TEC.

A legal blood-bath is now in the making in which millions of dollars will be spent by both sides to retain properties through secular law courts. Whoever wins or loses, it is an overall public relations disaster for the Episcopal Church that no amount of fine talk about inclusion and diversity can or will reverse. The net loss is to the denomination. The net winner will be Beers' law firm. Furthermore, the issues will be aired publicly in the media where TEC will be officially known as "the gay church" that ordinary straight folk run away from in revulsion in order to protect their children. (They will make sure their sons join the Boy Scouts, a movement also reviled by The Episcopal Church for its lack of sexual inclusion.)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, from whom we have yet to hear, will issue a statement that can be read by both sides as a win or a loss depending on how one chooses to interpret it, but it will, in the end, change nothing. The die has been cast and whatever he says will be ignored by the orthodox as they have waited long enough for a definitive stand from him. The House of Bishops meeting recently in New Orleans,reconfirmed their worst fears that there will be no change of direction by TEC. The communion is effectively in tatters.

Dr. Williams retains the option of withdrawing Bishop Schofield's invitation to Lambeth, next year, but the San Joaquin bishop might not care as more and more Primates and bishops have said they probably won't be attending, anyway. Nigeria, the largest province in the Anglican Communion, has said they will not attend if their North American franchise (CANA) bishops are not invited. They won't be. Other African provinces including Uganda and Rwanda have said their bishops won't be attending. Lambeth itself might be irrelevant by that time.

All in all, Bishop Schofield and the majority of his diocese are free at last from the revisionist clutches of a Gnostic Church bent on its own self-destruction. The Episcopal Church has declared itself forever motu proprio from the truth of the gospel by the actions of General Convention in 2003. The winner is Jesus and the gospel, and the freedom the diocese now has to proclaim that message in a clear unalloyed fashion, no longer burdened by having to hear endless whining about inclusion and diversity, sodomy and transgendered behavior.

The Kingdom of God can now be advanced in an atmosphere free of spiritual pollution, with the diocese free to make its own mistakes, but never free to compromise the message. That message can now be shouted from freed parishes unhindered by compromise.


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