Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fun Facts to Know and Tell About the Diocese of San Joaquin

My, my, my ... And after you've read this, don't miss Fr. Jake's great commentary on this latest episode of "As The Anglican World Turns"

From Bishop John David Schofield of San Joaquin

Constitutional amendments are being offered at the Diocese's 47th Annual Convention on December 1-2,2006, which are designed to preserve our place in the Anglican Communion but which will eventually alter our relationship with The Episcopal Church (TEC). The 47th Annual Convention will be a test of where we as a diocese stand. The worldwide Anglican Communion will be watching to see how we vote.

Do we recognize Holy Scripture as authoritative? Will we follow the Lord? Will we be leaders to
disenfranchised Anglicans across the country? Our actions at the 47th Annual Convention will answer these questions for the entire world. As your Bishop, I ask you prayerfully to consider the information below and to prepare yourselves to vote your faith through your clergy and delegates to the Annual Convention on December 1 - 2,2006.

The Spiritual Crisis In The Episcopal Church. Much has been said and written about the controversy over the revisionist teachings of TEC. The truth is that TEC (1) denies the unique divinity of Jesus Christ and (2) takes a position on human sexuality which undercuts marriage and is destructive to the family unit designed by God and revealed in Scripture. These are not positions and teachings which are merely "revisionist" or "liberal." These are positions of those who have abandoned the Christian faith.

Jesus says in the Bible that "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." ( John 14:6) This is a cornerstone of the Christian faith and Anglican worship. It is what we believe in the Diocese of San Joaquin. It is our mission, and that of the
Church, to bring all people into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

TEC at GC 2006 refused to pass a resolution endorsing John 14:6. By extension, TEC questions the validity and authority of Holy Scripture. According to the leadership of TEC, Jesus simply represents one of many ways of coming to a relationship with the Father. According to the leadership of TEC, the mission of the Church is "social justice" and "world peace" and not the Great Commission as set forth in Matthew 28.

TEC's unrepentant adherence to these heresies has wrought havoc within the American Church and throughout the world-wide Communion. At least 22 of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion have declared impaired or broken communion with TEC. Vast numbers of faithful Anglicans have left and continue to leave TEC on a daily basis. Major parishes across the country have left and continue to leave in record numbers. (We are not immune in this Diocese having lost one parish already.) The statistics are staggering and clearly demonstrate that TEC is disintegrating. This is not surprising given that TEC has chosen to walk apart from the Christian faith.

Does This Spiritual Crisis Really Affect Us? You already know the answer to this question: it's "YES". Heresy is insidious by nature and, over time, the victim becomes desensitized to its effects. There are four recognizable stages from prolonged exposure. Initially, there is condemnation of the heresy; then it is tolerated; then it is accepted; and, finally, it is practiced. TEC is currently preaching and practicing heresy and the majority of TEC's leadership will not repent as evidenced by, among other things, TEC's refusal to comply with the Windsor Report. Continuing in communion with TEC poses a clear and present danger to the spiritual health of the Diocese and its parishioners. TEC's continued membership in the Anglican Communion is tenuous and excommunication or isolation is a reality which, in turn, threatens the Diocese's place in the Anglican Communion. We must remember, we are Anglicans first and Episcopalians second.

What Does Scripture Tell Us To Do? When faced with unrepentant and public false teaching, Scripture is very, very clear. Christians are called to withdraw from Eucharistic fellowship. There are many biblical references directly on point, among them: "If anyone comes to you bringing a different doctrine, you must not receive him in your house or even give him a greeting. To greet him would make you a partner in his wicked work." (I1 John, 10-1 1. Also Mt. 8: 17, I Cor. 5:11-13, Gal. 1:8, 2 Thes. 3:6, Rev. 2:20; BCP, p. 409.)

What Will The Constitutional Amendment Do? The proposed constitutional amendment will reaffirm our commitment to the historic Anglican Faith and our membership in the Anglican Communion and our relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury without having any direct ties to The Episcopal Church. We will continue to worship in the historic Anglican tradition as we have for the past 100 years and without fear that the actions of TEC will disenfranchise us from the rest of the Communion

What Changes Will You See If The Amendment Passes? First, you will be surprised by the changes you will not see. You will see no change in the worship services; they will follow the historic Anglican Faith as they always have. The prayer book and hymnals will remain the same. You will worship and attend services in the same buildings. Your clergy will remain the same. Best of all, Holy Scripture will continue to be our ultimate authority. What will change? The flag; the word "Episcopal" will most likely be replaced with the word "Anglican;" Our delegates and clergy will not attend the TEC General Convention.

On the other hand, the Diocese could experience rapid growth if the amendment passes. For example, there are many large parishes in southern California which have seceded from TEC
and have expressed interest in affiliating with an Anglican diocese headed by an American bishop. Initial discussions with a number of priests and parishes indicate a desire to find a way to become part of an orthodox diocese in Communion with the rest of the Anglican world and with the rchbishop of Canterbury.

Is Our Place In The Anglican Communion Assured? Yes. First, we have a commitment from the Southern Cone (Archbishop Greg Venebles) that the bishops of his dioceses are open to our joining their Province. Second, the Global South, representing 80 percent of the Anglican Communion, issued a public statement known as "The Kigali Communique" in which it pledged to "take initial steps toward the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA."

Diocesan representatives have been invited to meet with Primates of the Global South November 15-17, 2006, to begin work on this plan. The Diocese could be the vanguard of a new 39th Anglican Province in North America. At present, there are seven or more dioceses lined up behind us waiting to follow our leadership example.

Are There Risks? Yes, of course. TEC is highly litigious and will likely file lawsuits in the California state courts seeking to take our property away. Our lawyers tell us we can successfully defend ourselves but there are risks inherent in any litigation. There will be significant costs of defending such lawsuits. However, property considerations are, and should
be, secondary to our spiritual salvation and well being. Ours is a spiritual decision which should not be driven by property issues. We can seek guidance from the parable of the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-22.

Is there risk to our clergy? There has been considerable risk to me which is one reason why the release of this information comes just a few weeks before our Annual Convention. If you have been following the news, you know that standing strong for the Lord subjects one to reprisals and persecution from the leadership of TEC. I have been repeatedly threatened for my ppposition to the heresy of the American Church. Formal charges were levied against me this summer by four California bishops. Immediately after a clergy wide meeting this October about the proposed constitutional amendment, the chancellor to the Presiding Bishop, David Beers, phoned and threatened to take action against me and Diocese. Clergy concerns over pensions they have been accruing are real.

Yet, those with pensions of five years or more have vested (or protected) insurance against losing anything that is already due to them. Those who have been with the Pension Plan of the Church fewer than five years may be surprised to learn that other financial institutions are prepared to offer similar plans with a vesting taking place from the first day of participation. Clergy already assured of pensions that could be capped at the present level would also be able to add to their pensions in a new plan.Equally, medical insurance as well as dental plans will be made available to clergy and lay employees.

It is all of you who will be voting your faith on December 1 and 2.



Jeff Martinhauk said...

It's difficult to see how the presentment was not successful with this language.

This is clearly antithetical to the canons of the Episcopal church, and abandonment of his Episcopate within TEC.


Ann said...

And now from your friends in Falls Church VA:
FALLS CHURCH, VA: Letter to Parish on Vestry Decision. "We will disaffiliate from TEC"

To the family of The Falls Church November 14, 2006

Dear Friends,

I want to inform you of the Vestry decision last night. First let me say how much I appreciated the attitude and tone of mutual love and respect that everyone demonstrated at the parish meeting Sunday afternoon. We all know these are terribly hard decisions, and you showed the love of Christ to one another in our time together. Your thoughtful, wise, and serious comments were very helpful to me and to the vestry in being able to come to a decision last night.

The decision of the vestry, as we met last night, was to recommend to the congregation that The Falls Church disaffiliate with The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican District of Virginia, an association of Virginia churches who are joining together to realign traditional Anglicans in Virginia. The district is part of CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America), a branch of the Anglican Communion within the Church of Nigeria that has The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns as its Bishop. The vote was 15 aye, 2 nay, and 1 abstention.

The Vestry and I will be providing you with as much information as we can about the Anglican District of Virginia and CANA in the next few weeks. We will have two congregational informational meetings to explain and discuss these matters, as well as to go over the resolution and ballot, which we expect to use in the congregation-wide vote on this matter.

The first meeting will be next Monday Nov. 20 at 7:30 pm in the Main Sanctuary. The next will be on December 3rd, when the 9:00 am & 11:00 am services will be shortened to have a meeting after each of those services. Please plan to attend! I may also be sending out additional information via email.

The congregation will decide this matter at a meeting that begins Sunday morning Dec. 10. Please do make plans to vote; I am sure you can appreciate how important that vote - and your individual vote! - will be. This is likely the most important vote that this congregation will take in any of our lifetimes, perhaps ever. The voting times will be stretched over a week to enable those who may be traveling on Sunday to vote. The polls will be open from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Sunday, December 10th, as well as a couple of hours Tuesday evening, Wednesday afternoon, and mid-day on Saturday the 16th. The results will be announced on Sunday, December 17.

We have informed the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, of the vestry's decision. As a congregation, we are following a protocol, approved by the Diocese, that sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church.

At the outset of last night's meeting we prayed for the wisdom of God as described in James 4:17-"But the wisdom from above is first pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." Those qualities characterized the tone and conversation all night long. At the end of the evening, the sentiments of this prayer were in our hearts as we gathered at the chancel rail for prayer:

"Direct us, oh Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favor, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works, begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen." (BCP, p. 832)

Please continue to keep this a matter of earnest and heartfelt prayer.


John Yates, Rector of The Falls Church