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SAN JOAQUIN: Bishop Schofield responds to Dar Es Salaam

SAN JOAQUIN: Bishop Schofield responds to Dar Es Salaam

A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of San Joaquin To be read or distributed on either Sunday, February 25, or March 4, 2007

Dear Friends in Christ,

At a joint meeting of the Bishop, Standing Committee, Diocesan Council and Rural Deans of the Diocese of San Joaquin held on Saturday, February 24th, being gathered in prayer and having reviewed the Communiqué of the Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, we expressed our thankfulness for the Primates of the Anglican Communion and for their faithful and diligent work at their recent meeting. As a Network Diocese that has requested Alternative Primatial Oversight, we declared our support for the process as described in the Key Recommendations ("schedule") they provided. We stand ready to participate in this way forward leading to the development of an Anglican Covenant.

The Communiqué of February 19, 2007, signed unanimously, directs the way forward for The Episcopal Church and for the Communion world-wide. [It is worth noting that the Primates' Communiqué is not the sole work of oversees bishops telling us what to do in America but carries the signature of the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.] The Primates' demonstrated a clear understanding of the serious divisions within our domestic Province and the reality that we are wholly unable to heal ourselves without their bold and continuing intervention under the direction of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As Bishop Martyn Minns has written, "...the Primates concluded that The Episcopal Church had NOT responded adequately to the requests of The Windsor Report and gave them one last chance with a date certain set for September 30, 2007. The Primates were clear that after that there will be serious, though not yet specified, consequences."

I ask everyone in our congregations to be in prayer for the swift adoption and good faith implementation of these Primatial plans. Further, I pray that at its March meeting the House of Bishops will make a clear and unequivocal response to the Primates' request to clarify the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report. I seek your prayers as we work together to implement the Report of the Primates.

Please know that as decisions come before us I will do my best to communicate as much information as is available. Deliberations have already begun on a broad-based scale with the leadership of our Diocese. And, it is my hope that those who find themselves with a theological position different from mine will feel comfortable in writing, telephoning, or meeting face to face to present their perspectives and understanding. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit these perspectives could well influence any action we might take as a Diocese in the future.

Serious questions remain unanswered, and many difficulties must be addressed in the months that lie ahead leading to September 30th. I agree with Archbishop Orombi's assessment that this Primates' meeting has not solved the current crises in the Anglican Communion but has "clarified the steps needed for trust to be restored, healing to take place, and for our full bonds of affection to once again flourish." How appropriate that we begin this time of prayer as we enter the Season of Lent.


---The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield is bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin

VOL Footnote: This diocese is seriously weighing whether it will continue to stay in the Episcopal Church. It faces a critical diocesan vote in October.

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