Thursday, August 7, 2008

No Lying Down with The Lamb for The So. Cone

Last month, Bishop Greg Venables (Province of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina) wrote to gone-but-not-really-gone deposed Bishop David Schofield (San Joaquin Diocese, CA, formerly a Bishop in The Episcopal Church (TEC)) in regard to Schofield's position in the Anglican Communion and his plans to attend the Lambeth Conference which ended this past Sunday.

After Schofield was deposed, Bishop Jerry Lamb was installed as TEC's San Joaquin Bishop while Schofield was taken on by Venables. Schofield has made it perfectly clear he intends on taking TEC property and assets with him something now to be decided by California courts.

Shortly before leaving for Lambeth, Bishop Lamb wrote to all Diocese Clergy asking for them to kindly clarify their desire in relation to their standing in TEC.

Meanwhile, Venables instructed So. Cone clergy not to respond to Lamb. Ping pong.

Apparently, however, San Joaquin Bishop Schofield, the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council felt the need to send a letter to Bishop Lamb which, in context, just basically sticks it's tongue out at Bishop Lamb saying, we're not part of TEC, we don't recognize you, we don't recognize Schofield's deposing, and if there's anything else you think is true, well we don't believe it that either. So there.

"Therefore, as the lay and clergy leaders of the Diocese of San Joaquin, within the Province of the Southern Cone, we accept the recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury of our Bishop and reject any purported authority of The Episcopal Church, or Bishop Jerry Lamb, over any of our ministries. Our obligation is to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the world-wide Anglican Communion."

So, no news there. It is unknown whether any clergy has responded to Lamb.

What I find interesting, though, in a slap-you-in-the-face sort of way, is Schofield's apparent post-Lambeth thinking (since he did not attend Lambeth it might be Venables thinking, after all) that somehow they are conforming to a different Anglican Communion than TEC. This is particularly odd since a number of Bishops NOT recognized by Archbishop Rowan Williams, and thus not invited to Lambeth, now allege to the Southern Cone, as well. Another issue, of course, is that the Southern Cone's own documents prohibit them from accepting a church, let alone a whole diocese, from outside their province boundary.

I suspect that the letter is probably just another legal iteration of their departure and detachment from TEC given the litigation, however, the letter (as all their letters seem to be) is very odd.

In yet another statement, the letter insists,
"We do not recognize the uncanonical actions of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in moving to depose Bishop John-David Schofield. " The day Schofield announced his and the diocese intentions to depart TEC and their affiliation with the Southern Cone, Schofield claimed, in an amazing if confuzzled statement, that he was a Bishop in both TEC and the Suthern Cone. That press release was snapped up quickly, and Bishop Venables announced that Schofield was NOT a Bishop under TEC but under the Southern Cone. When presentment was brought against Schofield, he did not even bother to protest it. Then after, Schofield and his odd minions protested his deposing, a matter TEC's Presiding Bishop and her Cannon Lawyer said was over... done.

In other words, Schofield belongs to a Province that does not allow for his presence and even he cannot seem to figure out where he belongs but insists that he isn't part of TEC while not recognizing his removal. Yes, it is odd.

So in writing to Clergy in San Joaquin, Bishop Lamb is both leaving the door open for any who choose to return, but is also, apparently, trying to allow clergy to self-identify where they think they belong or choose to belong, though they were instructed not to respond by Venables.

And you thought the news from Lambeth was often confusing and odd?