December 8, 2007
Entire diocese jumps out of Episcopal Church
Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin votes 173-22 to remove all references to the national body from its constitution.
Dozens of churches and groups have left the Episcopal Church in recent years. Today is the first time that an entire diocese has voted to officially split from the national body. The votes weren't close: the clergy in California's Diocese of San Joaquin voted 70-12 to withdraw, and laity voted 103-10.
"We have leadership in the Episcopal Church that has drastically and radically changed directions," diocesan spokesman Van McCalister told the Associated Press. "They have pulled the rug out from under us. They've started teaching something very different, something very new and novel, and it's impossible for us to follow a leadership that has so drastically reinvented itself."
The diocese, which has 47 parishes, 48 church buildings (including its headquarters), and 8,800 members, will affiliate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, headquartered in Buenos Aires. As it removed all references to the national Episcopal Church body in its constitution, the diocese added a clause describing itself as "a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and in full communion with the See of Canterbury."
The New York Times notes that the diocese "has long been different from the rest of the Episcopal Church":
It is one of three dioceses that does not ordain women priests. It stopped sending money to the Episcopal Church budget after the consecration of Bishop Robinson. Its cathedral runs a ministry for those struggling "with sexual brokenness," Bishop Schofield said, which includes homosexuality.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori refused to acknowledge that the diocese is leaving.
"The Episcopal Church receives with sadness the news that some members of this church have made a decision to leave this church," she said in a press release. "We deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness. We wish them to know of our prayers for them and their journey. The Episcopal Church will continue in the Diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership."
- Diocese Secedes | In a historic vote, the conservative Diocese of San Joaquin becomes the first in the nation to split from the more liberal Episcopal Church in a debate over the role of gays, women in the church (The Fresno Bee)
- Diocese will leave Episcopal Church | San Joaquin 1st in nation to make dramatic move (The Modesto Bee)
- Diocese votes to split from church | Talk of schism heated up after gay bishop was installed in 2003 (The Bakersfield Californian)
- Episcopal fold loses 1st diocese -- in valley (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Church votes to secede | Episcopal Diocese of S.J. to join more conservative group (The Stockton Record, Ca.)
- Episcopal diocese secedes in rift over gays | The Diocese of San Joaquin in Central California is the first to break from the U.S. church over its relatively liberal views on homosexuality and biblical authority (Los Angeles Times)
- Episcopal Diocese Secedes over Role of Gays (All Things Considered, NPR)
- Diocese splits from Church in gay row (The Telegraph, London)
- US Church splits over gay rights (BBC)
- Historic split for U.S. Episcopals (Reuters)
- What would Jesus rue? | The scriptural basis for homophobia is thin, culturally difficult to translate and open to interpretation. Yes, ordaining gays is controversial. But is it apostasy? (Michael Fitzgerald, The Stockton Record)