Thursday, December 27, 2007

Q. What's worse than a lump of coal in your stocking on Christmas Day?

A. A letter from your ex-bishop in your mailbox on Christmas Day!
(That is, if you're the vicar of a mission congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and plan to STAY a mission congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin!)


On the first day of Christmas
+John David gave to me
Instructions to get off the property!
(OK ... It doesn't quite rhyme, but you get my drift.)

Here's the deal:

After declaring himself a Bishop of the Southern Cone and freed of the shackles of the apostate Episcopal Church, +John David Schofield (erstwhile bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin) paid a December 23rd visit to the mission congregation of St. Nicholas in Atwater. A "first person report" of the visit included this account of +Schofield's "announcements:"

"...he said, there was a rumor that he was closing St. Nicholas. He said that was absolutely not true. Second, he said there was a rumor that he had or was going to “fire Fr. Fred.” Again, he said that was simply not true at all. He said that he had no intention of closing this church or firing their Vicar."

AND ...

“I have to say that this church does not have the financial means to continue as it is ... It certainly had nothing whatsoever to do with Fred’s position or the congregation’s position vis-à-vis the “realignment.” It was completely, totally, and only a financial decision."

My, my, my!
And then came the Christmas Day Coup de grâce: (as reported today on Fr. Jake): The following was received by St. Nicholas Episcopal Church on Christmas morning:

Dear Jo and Deacon Buck,

The attached document is the letter notifying Fr. Risard that his deployment at St. Nicholas is now over. We wish you to know that the Bishop and the Diocese are fully behind the continuation of your church in Atwater and will do all that we are able to support you during this transition.

There are many details to take care of, and many questions which you probably have for the Bishop or me. The most important Directions from the Bishop to accomplish immediately include:

Change the exterior locks immediately, including the interior lock to the priest's offices and any file cabinets.

Retrieve the bank statements of any accounts that Fr. Risard had signature authority to: the discretionary account, and any other accounts.

Notify me of any minutes from past Bishop's Committee meetings for the past three months and forward them to me. This is especially important if there are commitments made to Mr. Michael Glass, an attorney referenced in the letter of Fr. Risard to the Bishop.

We will assume that the Deacon will be able to lead worship for a short period of time, especially this next Sunday. Reserved sacrament will be provided by the Rural Dean, Fr. Ron Parry, or by me if necessary.Our prayers are with you during this time of transition.

Yours faithfully,
The Rev. Canon Bill Gandenberger

So there you have it. "Breaking News" that for some odd reason doesn't seem to have "broken" on the "usual suspects" neo-con blogs ... imagine JUST FOR A MOMENT that such a thing had happened in, oh, let's just pick the Diocese of Los Angeles out of a hat ... or Connecticut or San Diego or ... oh well -- I think you get my point!

No double standard ... no Sirree Bob ... just a "financial decision" ... made by a bishop no longer an Episcopal Bishop in regards to a mission congregation of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

I'm thinking it's time for some Wise Folks to come from Country Far bearing some gifts to San Joaquin ... and let's skip the gold, frankincense and myrrh this year and opt for some lock changes, signature card switches and a new bishop-in-residence for the EPISCOPAL Diocese of San Joaquin.
Enough is enough, folks. Pray for the Diocese of San Joaquin -- for Fred Risard, his family & his congregation -- and most of all for the mission and ministry of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus ... held hostage to the power struggles of those who would recreate the Church in their own image ...

... forgetting that we are intended to BE the Body of Christ in the world -- the Christ at the celebration of whose birth we sang just a few short days ago, "Peace on earth, Good will to All!"
Happy Third Day of Christmas, everybody! (No wonder why Jesus wept!)



Unknown said...

You stated:
I'm thinking it's time for some Wise Folks to come from Country Far bearing some gifts to San Joaquin ... and let's skip the gold, frankincense and myrrh this year and opt for some lock changes, signature card switches and a new bishop-in-residence for the EPISCOPAL Diocese of San Joaquin.

Amen! And again I say Amen!

Muthah+ said...

I do hope that the vicar recognizes that with the bishop's removal to the Southern Cone, the bishop no longer has the juridical authority to remove the vicar from the mission. Hang tight, Vicar!

Lumps of coal we can live with! Stealing the church is something that we won't put up with!

Kirstin said...

Thank you, Susan.

Richard said...

Praying is fine and recommended, but why not follow Liz Zivznov's suggestion and have some non-violent action? Such a sit-in by loyal Episcopalians in that diocese? How about blocking the entrance to the Diocesean headquarters like Bishop Marc Andrus did to a government building to protest the Iraq war?
How about 815 freezing all EPISCOPAL Diocese of San Joaquin bank accounts since these acounts do not belong to the Southern Cone?
Richard N. Taliaferro, Jr.
Trinity Episcopal Church
Arlington, VA

Bryan said...

Well, 815? What about it? Can you say "restraining order"?

Richard said...

Praying is to be recommended. But why not also have some non-violent civil rights movement action such as having people remaining in the *Episcopal* Diocese of San Joachin sit-in their parishes and also freezing the bank accounts of the *Episcopal* Diocese of San Joachin since the funds do not belong to the Southern Cone?
Richard Taliaferro

Hreodbeorht said...

Alas, I am afraid that such acts are not exclusive to the radically conservative dioceses. Even the radically "liberal" ones may do such "dastardly deeds." Remember "strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered?" Too often even in LGBT friendly dioceses, the real objects of high-handedness and intimidation involve control, power and MONEY!

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a convenient theory to such prelates. It is useful when useful. What of the LGBT community and parishes that find themselves in arrears financially to the dioceses? Keep your copy of the canons and constitution handy and perhaps find a good lawyer. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. PRAY FOR THE CHURCH!

Stephen Bentley said...

Some months back, I refered to John-David as a "Fat Bastard" and that my comments came from personal experiences with the then-Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin. Well, now you're witnessing a hint of the lies and underhanded dealings of what he can do and has done in closing missions who disargee with him.

Trinity in Madera, St. Dunstan's in Modesto and St. Stephen's in Stockton were closed and the property sold in order to place money in the warchest of J-D for the anticipated departure from TEC. If you were to look at the 2009 Budget you would see that positions were eliminated and programs cut, putting more money into the already top-heavy administrative budget, topping a wopping 51 percent. J-D and his cohorts have been preparing for this since the first vote last year using the excuse that these missions and programs were not financially stable for the diocese. Wow... a youth program not fianancially stable. It's no wonder there are no young people coming to the Diocese of San Joaquin. They are being told they are not worth spit for shionola.

This isn't a time for saying "I told you so", it's a time to ask, when is something going to be done to put a stop to this madness so faithful Episcopalian in the Episocopal Diocese of San Joaquin can get back to doing the business of the mission of the church rather than being worried that another mission will be closed if they don't submit to the will of the Anglican Bishop of the Southern Cone.

Stephen Bentley,
Youth Minister, LEM
Episcopal Church Of St. Anne, Stockton, CA

Unknown said...

One must remember -- or become aware of -- the mindset behind these actions. I have a friend who came out of that mentality and as he put it: "In that world, it is OK to lie to 'the devil'."

If the Bishop or TEC is "apostate" then it is in the hands of the devil. It is OK to be duplicious in order to preserve the higher truth.

Hence, the Bishop can visit Newport Beach and be assured he has their support and that they are not leaving, just days before the announced their decision to go.


sam said...

May I just ask why would someone from this church carry out the order to change the locks?? Shouldn't the ex-bishop himself come to do that? I would not have wanted to put myself in that legal position. I hear through the grapevine, but unconfirmed with my own eyes, that it was thier own Deacon who was with the locksmith. Shame, shame on you!!
But as good Christians, I am sure your brothers and sisters will forgive you, for you know not what you have done.

Unknown said...

Wow, what gall for a schismatic Bishop and his schismatic crew to try and tell Episcopalians ,which they supposedly want nothing to do with, what to do ... I mean these people AREN'T EPISCOPALIAN ANYMORE!!!!

Is all sense of Canon Law and Christian Jurisprudence gone?