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US Bishop wins wide backing in dispute: CEN 1.11.08 p 7 January 12, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, San Joaquin.
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A coalition of 33 Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical bishops has endorsed an open letter to the Bishop of San Joaquin, backing him in his battle with US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

On Jan 3, Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker released the statement saluting Bishop John-David Schofield and the Diocese of San Joaquin’s “courageous decision” to “to take leave” of the Episcopal Church for the Province of the Southern Cone.

“We know that decision was to a large extent the result of your tenacity and faithful leadership, and for that we give thanks to God,” they said.

In an arch response to Bishop Schori’s Dec 14 statement that she felt badly for Bishop Schofield in his loneliness, the bishops wrote that though “it has been said that you are isolated and alone,” we “want you and the world to know that in this decision for the faith once delivered to the saints, we stand with you and beside you.”

Joining Bishop Iker were Evangelical leaders Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney and Bishop Wallace Benn of Lewes as well as Anglo-Catholic bishops John Broadhurst of Fulham, Martyn Jarrett of Beverley, John Goddard of Burnley, Keith Newton of Richborough, Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet and Lindsay Urwin of Horsham, along with active and retired bishops from the US, Africa, Australia, Papua New Guinea and England.

A spokesman for Bishop Iker told The Church of England Newspaper the letter arose from conversations between the members of the International Bishops’ Conference on Faith and Order, a group of Anglo-Catholic bishops who do not ordain women to the priesthood.

The Anglo-Catholic bishops are not a political action group, the Fort Worth spokesman explained but come together for study and fellowship. The letter was organized by Fr. Stephen Parkinson of Forward in Faith UK and distributed to the Anglo-Catholic group for signature. The spokesman noted that as other bishops learned of the letter outside of Anglo-Catholic circles, they too asked if they might endorse it.

The letter comes in response to an exchange of correspondence between Bishops Schofield and Schori over the San Joaquin bishop’s status within the Episcopal Church.

After being asked by Bishop Schori to clarify his status, on Dec 22, Bishop Schofield responded his answer would be guided by Dr. Rowan Williams’ Advent letter to the Primates.

Bishop Schofield stated that his status within the Episcopal Church would be defined at the forthcoming Lambeth Conference. “It is the Archbishop’s proposal for a course of action in the months ahead that may affect my status,” Bishop Schofield wrote. “Since everything that the Diocese of San Joaquin has done, it has done with an eye toward remaining Anglican and in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury; his proposal should naturally take precedence” in determining San Joaquin’s status.

He stated he was open to Dr. Williams’ proposals for “professionally facilitated conversations,” stating that “it may well be” in these exchanges “my own status and even that of The Episcopal Church vis-à-vis its membership in the Anglican Communion will be clarified.”

Bishop Schofield added that it would be a mistake to interpret the Dec 8 decision to align with the South American church as a mere protest vote. The San Joaquin synod was “saying that no matter what the consequences, they take a stand for a clear reading of Scripture, the faith that The Episcopal Church first received – but from which it has departed – and for Catholic Order within the Anglican Communion. Truly, the vote was for their bishop and diocese to remain in the Anglican Communion with the fullness of the heritage we have received as a part of that worldwide body.”

The vote did not “change anything within the diocese,” Bishop Schofield said. “With the status of The Episcopal Church’s member-ship in the Anglican Communion looking more and more precarious, the people of San Joaquin simply wanted to remain what we have always been, namely Anglican,” he explained.

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