Modesto Bee: Bishop Schofield removes Episcopal vicar from Atwater post

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About two months ago, Risard said, the bishop summoned him to Fresno. He took along a church official.

"He started building a case as to why he was getting rid of me," Risard said. "I asked him, 'What's this all about?' He said, 'We already talked that you're going to leave at the end of '08.' He said, 'The bottom line is you have to go because we're not going to have the money to support the mission. If we vote up (to leave the Episcopal Church USA and join Anglicans elsewhere), we're going to lose the liberals and their money, and if we vote down, we're going to lose the conservatives and their money.' "

The diocese office in Fresno was closed this week. The bishop and other officials could not be reached for comment. But an e-mail from the bishop's assistant, the Rev. Canon Bill Gandenberger, sent to two St. Nicholas officials on Dec. 25, reads in part:

"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 we will do all that we are able to support you during this transition."

It also says the "most important directions from the bishop" include changing the exterior locks "immediately," as well as locks "to the priest's office and any file cabinets"; retrieving bank statements; forwarding minutes from past committee meetings ("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"); and an assumption that the church's deacon can "lead worship for a short period of time, especially this next Sunday."

Despite the loss of his church, Risard isn't bitter.

"The bishop hasn't defrocked me. He's just asked me to go away and leave him alone. He's the one who priested me and tried to form me in his way, so I still have some affection for him.

"I believe as a priest that Christ calls us to love one another as friends. I sign my letters to the bishop 'faithfully, your friend in Christ.' He really is a Christian, maybe operating in a particular way these days, but he truly means well."

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

Posted December 29, 2007 at 3:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. bob carlton wrote:

Risard’s comment at the end of this report shows a level of humility that we would all do well to embody in the coming year:

“I believe as a priest that Christ calls us to love one another as friends. I sign my letters to the bishop ‘faithfully, your friend in Christ.’ He really is a Christian, maybe operating in a particular way these days, but he truly means well.”

December 29, 4:43 pm | [comment link]
2. Choir Stall wrote:

Susan Russell jumped on this story very quickly in her shrinking blog, perhaps hoping to pick up on some disgust and angst from Fr. Risard. Fr. Risard has not complied.

December 29, 4:54 pm | [comment link]
3. Chris wrote:

apparently Risard didn’t get the memo from the left wing agitators that he should demonize +JDS.  or he ingored it (even better!).  either way, this story looks a lot different from the Modesto Bee than it does as spun by ECUSA:
(nary a kind word from Risard about +JDS in this one)

December 29, 4:55 pm | [comment link]
4. robroy wrote:

I, for one, think there is more than meets the eye. First Father Risard sent the bishop a rather uncharitable, hostile missive, “Don’t show up to the church as a bishop.” I am glad Father Risard has change tack. It is promising of an amicable parting of ways. I hope that we all pray that outside forces of dissension can be resisted and this path of Christian charity can be followed.

December 29, 5:13 pm | [comment link]
5. Choir Stall wrote:

Demonize IS the word there, Chris. Susan Russell continues to post one very unflattering picture of Bishop Schofield and allows cheap shots about him to stand unchallenged. One of her priest cohorts from New Jersey even used the word “trolls” in reference to reasserters on that same blog - again going unchallenged. Hope General Convention delegates get a whiff in time before handing the whole shop over to such.

December 29, 5:19 pm | [comment link]
6. Susan Russell wrote:

Let’s give credit where credit is due: Fr. Jake “broke” the story. As for Fred Risard, he is indeed, by all reports, a very fine priest and the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is lucky to have him.

December 29, 5:21 pm | [comment link]
7. Bob from Boone wrote:

Hey, guys, this is about the “Bee” story, not Susan Russell. Get back on thread, will you?

December 29, 6:06 pm | [comment link]
8. JeffriH wrote:

Choir Stall, regarding your comment about “trolls” in #5:  it’s a term for a specific type of blog or listserv commenter.  Check Wikipedia.

And now back to our regularly scheduled topic.

December 29, 6:20 pm | [comment link]
9. Tom Roberts wrote:

Actually “Sophia” broke this story in a prior thread

December 29, 6:36 pm | [comment link]
10. Kendall Harmon wrote:

Thanks, Bob in #7.

December 29, 6:52 pm | [comment link]
11. Nikolaus wrote:

Fr. Risard should be truly commended for his humility and restraint in what I’m sure is a difficult situation for both bishop and priest.  His tone is in stark contrast to the revisionist bloggers.

December 29, 8:09 pm | [comment link]
12. Tom Roberts wrote:

#11- that last sentence was an ad hominem attack, for which I ought to take offense, if it had meant anything cogent.

December 29, 8:31 pm | [comment link]
13. JackieB wrote:

Did you read this letter?  Rev. Risard has been in discussions about this very subject for most of 2007.  Bishop Schofield is honoring Rev. Risard’s choice.  Doesn’t seem to be much of a story here.

December 29, 8:56 pm | [comment link]
14. Tom Roberts wrote:

#13 From the way everyone has reacted, I’m getting the idea that this whole process has been as unexpected as a glacier’s advance (or retreat). The lines were drawn up long ago, and who stood where was commonly understood. The only question was “When?”

Additionally, I don’t see much of a parallel with the Connecticut 6 situation, except in some of the numbers and roles involved.

December 29, 9:11 pm | [comment link]
15. Choir Stall wrote:

Hey JeffriH,
Still hardly flattering. Permissable though if one usually gets by with denigration without challenge.
To the main: Fr. Risard deserves praise for his opposition to Bishop Schofield’s policies - done with conviction and with respect. No stooping to snide remarks and churlish jibes about one’s physical qualities. Should be part of Blogging 101.

December 29, 10:03 pm | [comment link]
16. Bob from Boone wrote:

You will find extensive coverage of the St. Nicolaus, Atwater, incident on Fr. Jake’s blog at Scroll down first to the first-hand account (posted Dec. 28) by the Rev. Michael Bukkland who was present, and you will see how Bp. Schofield behaved. The reasserter blogs have been mostly quiet about this, and I’m glad to see this post here. Fr. Jake provides in another post the same day numerous links to other blogs reacting to this incident. I thought Anglican Scotist raised some serious ethical questions regarding the manner in which this matter was carried out by Bp. Schofield.

December 29, 10:05 pm | [comment link]
17. William P. Sulik wrote:

Once again, this goes back to the tearing at the deepest levels which was set in motion in 2003 and still not repented of by the TEC. 

The roads to Zion mourn,
    for no one comes to her appointed feasts.
    All her gateways are desolate,
    her priests groan,
    her maidens grieve,
    and she is in bitter anguish.

Lamentations 1:4 (New International Version)

December 29, 10:27 pm | [comment link]
18. robroy wrote:

Fr. Jake and Susan Russell have raised shrill voices, attempting to foment uncharitable animosity. The gracious letter of Bp Schofield in the letter referenced by Jackie #13 and the gracious words of Father Risard in the newspaper article signal that they are going to take the higher road. Good for them.

December 29, 10:28 pm | [comment link]
19. Ron Baird wrote:

Am I the only one puzzled about why Fr. Risard received an email informing of this on Christmas Day?

December 29, 10:41 pm | [comment link]
20. Tom Roberts wrote:

I think the answer to that not contained in this news report. A good reporter might have asked DoSJ, but phrased more directly than you put matters. To whit: “what motivated your office to work on Christmas to generate that email?”

December 29, 10:48 pm | [comment link]
21. Adam 12 wrote:

I can’t explain the Christmas notice entirely but there may be tax and financial reasons for ending the relationship before 2008.

December 29, 10:49 pm | [comment link]
22. The young fogey wrote:

My tuppen’orth.

December 29, 10:58 pm | [comment link]
23. Susan Russell wrote:

Edited by elf. A repeat of comment #13.

December 29, 11:43 pm | [comment link]
24. John Donnelly wrote:

The very sad reality is that +JDS has been closing missions across his formerly-Episcopal diocese for years. His heavy-handed action on 4 Advent and Christmas Day is a public relations disaster, but the good bishop has placed himself in a position, precariously perched between the US and the Southern Cone, where every single thing he does will cause controversy somewhere. The Body of Christ is being torn when Christians leave chuches in droves because of the unceasing strife caused by those who desire only schism.Is it considered a success when San Joachin is in such turmoil that churches are closed and sold for the sake of ideological purity?

Slightly edited by elf.

December 30, 12:06 am | [comment link]
25. John Donnelly wrote:

OK, elf, and I really do long for the civility of which you probably consider yourself a faithful guardian, but I still wonder why this site did not consider the events and missives involving St. Nicholas, Atwater and +JDS worthy of note a week ago. Say you all were on Christmas vacation and I’ll be (relatively) content.

This is Kendall’s blog. He determines its content.

December 30, 1:04 am | [comment link]
26. The young fogey wrote:

Re: comment 13: THANK YOU! Some cool-headedness and common sense at last.

24: Missions are directly under the bishop not the national Episcopal Church nor the congregation so the bishop can open and close them as he likes.

Of course conservatives say the innovations of the liberals have ripped apart the Episcopal and other Anglican churches, from those of the 1970s, derailing perhaps for ever the then-newly begun rapprochement with a now ecumenically minded Rome as well as decades of friendly relations with the Orthodox and other Eastern churches, to those of the Noughties sealing that as well as offending conservative Protestants.

Another sensible answer is what one credally orthodox but liberal loyal TEC blogger wrote: if one believes what one is doing is prophetic one ought to take the consequences and opt out of the Anglican Communion at least for a while to continue the experimentation. Bit like the Gamaliel principle.

(To take the sting of perceived judgementalism out of that I’ll compare it to my view of soldiers who refuse to go back to Iraq to continue the war. IMO they’re heroes but I also understand why they have to be court-martialled and go to prison.)

San Joaquin is in such turmoil that churches are closed and sold for the sake of ideological purity

If I understand you rightly that’s part of what bishops do at least in the Catholic including Roman view, sharing in the church’s teaching authority. Earlier this month Episcopalians and other liturgical Christians commemorated a holy hero, St Ambrose of Milan. The Roman empress at the time ordered him to give a church to the Arians and he refused.

I believe a standard of common decency should apply to all of our bishops, even those who’ve (mostly) renounced the church.

Yes but what strikes me again is this notion that they’ve ‘renounced the church’ in a very Roman Catholic and Orthodox sense, which when you filter out the gay issue seems the heart of the TEC loyalists’ argument; it’s as if an RC bishop broke with Rome but a parish and priest declared themselves loyal to the Vatican. I didn’t know TEC had any such claims to be the one true church like the one Pope Benedict repeated this year to liberal Protestants’ consternation. (As the Orthodox likewise believe in an infallible church they weren’t offended - they understood and respected him.)

I’m half-expecting somebody to take the reasoning behind the loud online left’s disregarding of Bishop Schofield’s orders to a logical conclusion and deny the validity of the Pope’s orders for not toeing their line on homosexuality. (The Donatism of the left like ‘Gene Robinson’s orders aren’t valid’ from some theologically ill-informed quarters of the right.)

It’s also like the view of hard-line Orthodox that outside ‘the church’ as they define it there are no valid orders. (Echoing the opinion of St Cyprian.)

And it sounds like a kind of high churchmanship historically well known in England (thanks to establishment) and not unknown in America (Charles Grafton, late Bishop of Fond du Lac for example) that saw the official Anglican church in the land as the canonical church there, full stop. (Which partly explains sneers in the 1800s at a restored English RC hierarchy as ‘the Italian mission’.)

I don’t think that would or ought to have any clout in an American court of law thanks to the First Amendment which applies to conservative and liberal Christians alike, thanks be to God.

December 30, 1:15 am | [comment link]
27. TomRightmyer wrote:

The bishop’s letter indicates that the decision to end diocesan support at the end of December was made in the spring. Early in my ministry I served as a mission vicar and I am aware of diocesan constraints on mission funds. There is an Episcopal church a few miles away in Modesto.

These are the “continuing Episcopal” churches in San Joaquin from the web site, with Average Sunday Attendance and Pledge and Plate income - from the national church charts:

Holy Family Episcopal Church - Fresno - 559-439-5011:
2006 ASA 120 Income 175K

The Episcopal Church of St John the Baptist - Lodi - 209-369-3381:
2006 ASA 130 Income 369K

The Episcopal Church of St Anne - Stockton - 209-473-2313
2006 ASA 100 Income 180K

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church - San Andreas - 209-754-3878
2006 ASA 30 Income 78K

Church of the Saviour Parish - Hanford - 559-584-7706 website here
2006 ASA 79 Income 180K

St. Nicholas Mission - Atwater - 209-358-7741
2006 ASA 45 Income 55K

If the basic unit of the church is the diocese, then these churches are as schismatic as any other church that rejects the authority of the diocese.

Tom Rightmyer in Asheville, NC

December 30, 2:36 am | [comment link]
28. jamesw wrote:

Pay attention carefully to the story here, and remember that this story is taken almost entirely from the anti-JDS perspective (i.e. the DSJ and JDS did not present their side.

“We’re a mission, which by definition isn’t self-supporting of clergy,” Risard said. “My opinion is, yes, he relieved me because of my stand. I was very neutral when I first came (two years ago). I don’t believe in creating conflict.

Yet, despite this stated neutrality…

“For the last two years, some of the people have left. Everyone who left was in the bishop’s camp on schism. I know they were all conservatives and supported the bishop.  But for my first year here, in 2006, the record shows we had double-digit growth in members, attendance and giving. We continued those same growth numbers in new members and attendance the first part of this year.”

Well, what happened then?  This vicar appeared to have driven away the conservatives, and had been drawing in who?  And where did all these people go?

Then why the claim that the church can’t support itself financially? For one thing, Risard admitted, attendance has dropped in the past few months.

“We were down to around 20 people on average (for Sunday services),” he said. “It declined from 35 or 40. They were a solid group of people here for 29 years. The newcomers don’t come every Sunday like the old faithful did.”

And who were the “old faithful”?  Perhaps the conservatives that left during Risard’s tenure?

I mean the facts are rather clear, aren’t they?  Liberal priest takes over mission.  He drives out the conservative “old faithful” who had kept the church financially feasible.  His liberal views initially draw in an unstable group which bumps up the numbers, but they don’t stick for the long term.  End result is a drastically reduced church unable to maintain a viable ministry.

So JDS has a choice:  he can continue to support a failing mission that the facts suggest is not financially feasible, and which, under its current vicar, is going to leave the DSJ anyway.  Or, he can do what he did, and direct diocesan money to plants that are growing.

December 30, 2:45 am | [comment link]
29. FrJake wrote:

First of all, by Bishop Schofield’s own words, he is no longer a Bishop in the Episcopal Church.  Consequently, he no longer has the right to remove an Episcopal priest from an Episcopal congregation.

Second of all, even if somehow you can follow the twisted logic of him being a Bishop of the Southern Cone and a Bishop of the Episcopal Church simultaneously, don’t you think it was rather poor judgment on his part to show up last Sunday with body guards,  fight over the altar with the Vicar before the liturgy,  announce during the liturgy the removalof their priest, and then slide out the back door?  And, if that does not concern you, why send the eviction notice, along with instructions to change the locks and confiscate all documents, on Christmas Day, unless your intention was do cause as much hurt as possible?

December 30, 3:25 am | [comment link]
30. Dale Rye wrote:

#26: I think you are missing a major point here. Bp. Schofield, like Bps. Duncan and Iker, has repeatedly criticized the national church for not providing a safe place for those who dissent from national policies for reasons of theological conscience. I agree with them on that, as does the leadership of the Anglican Communion and almost everybody here.

The said bishops have all also said they they, unlike the national church, will avoid penalizing those who dissent from diocesan policies for reasons of conscience. Specifically, they have said in the recent past that clergy and congregations who wish to continue in TEC despite the diocesan breaches with that body will be just as free as the diocese itself to realign themselves. I think that would be a good policy, as do many of the most reasserting of souls here. If you are a goose who demands a particular sauce, you should not deny it to ganders who find themselves in a similar situation.

Notwithstanding those public statements, however, Bp. Schofield has now insisted that a congregation within the former Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin must continue to accept his oversight as bishop, notwithstanding his decision (and that of the majority of his diocese) to leave the Episcopal Church, and the apparent decision of the majority of the congregation to stay. He then removed the pastor of that TEC-loyalist congregation and told him that he will only be able to continue his ministry as an Episcopal priest if he will transfer out of the diocese. To do so while remaining in compliance with TEC policy, as supported by the most recent official statements of all the Anglican Instruments of Communion, the priest would have to physically relocate into another diocese (until or unless TEC recognizes a replacement ecclesiastical authority with jurisdiction over the territory formerly in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin).

The graciously-worded letter from the Bishop essentially tells the members of the congregation that their local church is leaving TEC, whether they like it or not. As their priest is, they are individually welcome to remain Episcopalians, but apparently only if they are willing to drive to some location outside the diocese to worship (and Central California has some mighty long potential commutes). If they aren’t willing to do that, they have no choice but to accept whatever decisions the Southern Cone diocese makes concerning their fate… or to take precisely the sort of local unilateral action that the Communion has roundly condemned.

Most of us were upset at the unpastoral performance of some reappraiser bishops who fired the staff and changed the locks at reasserter churches. At least in those cases, however, both the bishop and the congregations claimed to belong to the same denomination (one named for its policy of giving bishops oversight, episcope, over its congregations). In this case, both the bishop and the congregations claim membership in different ecclesiastical organizations. Neither side has claimed, up to this point, that the bishops of one organization can individually govern unwilling congregations belonging to the other.

That is precisely the claim that Bp. Schofield seems to be making here. Making that claim appears to renege on prior promises to negotiate a peaceful divorce, just like the Virginia actions that have frequently been cited here as evidence of reappraiser bad faith.

December 30, 3:34 am | [comment link]
31. jamesw wrote:

Dale:  There are several important differences in this situation and the what has happened elsewhere between liberal bishops and conservative parishes.
1. This is a mission congregation, not a parish.  As you well know, the bishop is the rector of this congregation, and Fr. Risard is the bishop’s vicar.
2. As I read the story, despite the spin coming from Fr. Risard and others, he was not “fired” but was rather “laid off” for financial reasons - specifically, that Fr. Risard had run the church down both numerically and financially (a charge that appears to be supported by the facts), such that a regular priest was no longer viable for the mission.
3. Fr. Risard has not been defrocked or anything of the kind.  There is no suggestion that Fr. Risard has been told he is forbidden from seeking another position in the Diocese of San Joaquin.  If Fr. Risard chooses not to because he does not agree with the DSJ’s decision to change affiliation, that is not the Bishop’s fault.

Fr. Jake:
1. The Diocese of San Joaquin - including all of its parishes, missions, and bishop - no longer is part of the Episcopal Church.

2. We have no independent confirmation of when the email was sent.  We do know that Remain Episcopal has been plotting with attorneys to attempt to seize the property of the parishes and laity of the Diocese of San Joaquin, despite the overwhelming vote to change the Diocese’s affiliation.  This seems like self-defense to me.

December 30, 5:48 am | [comment link]
32. Tom Roberts wrote:

#31 though you bring up an interesting issue for this case of Risard+, getting a clerical position elsewhere in ecusa will require a Letter Dismissory from his prior diocese, which if you take DoSJ’s Convention seriously, is no long part of ecusa to give such a letter. On the other hand, if DoSJ can still issue such letters, then they really haven’t officially left. This is simply another way 815 has left Risard+ out to dry due to nobody taking responsibility for picking up the pieces in the wake of diocesan secession.

December 30, 8:25 am | [comment link]
33. robroy wrote:

I posted the following comment at Jake’s place:

I am glad that Father Risard is taking the high road: “I believe as a priest that Christ calls us to love one another as friends. I sign my letters to the bishop ‘faithfully, your friend in Christ.’ He really is a Christian, maybe operating in a particular way these days, but he truly means well.”

The posting did not last the night but was quickly deleted. It is clear that Jake wants simply to stir up discord.

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him…a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. Proverbs 6:16, 19
A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. Proverbs 15:18
A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends. Proverbs 16:28
A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper. Proverbs 28:25
An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins. Proverbs 29:22

It must gall poor Jake that Father Risard is playing along with Jake’s scheming.

December 30, 8:30 am | [comment link]
34. TonyinCNY wrote:

#32: Tom, it looks as though you are missing a bit of the picture.  The DSJ is remaining in the Anglican Communion and can therefore issue lettors dimissory within the AC, which, unfortunately, still includes pecusa.

December 30, 9:20 am | [comment link]
35. Tom Roberts wrote:

Tony- this is where the “you can’t have your cake and eat it also” comes in. Those letters would have to come from a diocese In Communion with ecusa. So, is DoSJ In, or Out, of Communion with ecusa, at this moment? I hope you see a reason for 815’s reluctance to answer that one just to make Risard’s position better.

December 30, 9:26 am | [comment link]
36. TomRightmyer wrote:

If we believe as the Episcopal Church has been teaching, and Archbishop Williams’ recent letter states, that the diocese is the basic unit of the church, then the Diocese of San Joaquin has the same right as any other diocese to withdraw from one voluntary association of dioceses and join another. Canterbury, York, London, Dublin, Armagh, etc. did so in the 16th century and San Joaquin has done the same in the 21st.

Tom Rightmyer in Asheville, NC

December 30, 1:09 pm | [comment link]
37. D. C. Toedt wrote:

TomRightmyer [#36], the ABC’s personal opinion that the diocese is the basic unit of the worldwide church is not Anglican doctrine, and certainly not part of the “doctrine, discipline, and worship” of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Stacy Sauls did a fine analysis of Anglican polity in general here, which I summarized here.

December 30, 1:49 pm | [comment link]
38. D. C. Toedt wrote:

Tom Roberts [#35], Fr. Risard doesn’t need letters dimissory, because he’s not changing dioceses. What he and the rest of the diocese needs is a new bishop, the former one having deserted his post.

December 30, 1:51 pm | [comment link]
39. Tom Roberts wrote:

DC- that is why I predicated that subthread with “...getting a clerical position elsewhere in ecusa  will require ...”

Or is your ending poke at needing a new bishop your real point?

December 30, 3:54 pm | [comment link]
40. nochurchhome wrote:

Fr. Risard should be very grateful that Bishop Schfield has not nor will not defrock him.  When conservatives are in liberal dioceses and wish to join the other side the liberals deal with it by defrocking the priests.  Bishop Schofield handled it very gratiously.

As for the timing….again the other side is just as guilty.  In north Florida a conservative parish was told to turn their keys in and vacate the property immediately….1 week before Christmas.

Thay refused until they had a court order to do so and a sheriff’s car was parked outside the church to ensure no one was entering or taking over the building without proper authority to do so.  Wonderful and very christian huh?  Merry Christmas all.

December 30, 4:31 pm | [comment link]
41. Henry Troup wrote:

Dale at #30 seems to hit the nail on the head.  What price freedom of conscience?  If Bishop Ingham was wrong to change locks and demand papers, how can Bishop Schofield be right to do that same thing?

December 30, 4:46 pm | [comment link]
42. Tom Roberts wrote:

Henry- in the DoSJ convention proceedings it was described how parishes (missions were not addressed) would have the choice that we all think is appropriate in this type of case. So, there are places for TEC adherents to go. What was not specified was what the fate of the missions would be, until that 25 Dec email to this particular mission. Now is that to be a general approach to missions in DoSJ? I really don’t think that a decision has been made, but that is just my guess. DoSJ hasn’t announced such a general decision.

But I would not compare the Canadian situation to the DoSJ situation, except in so far as Canadian parishes legally have much in common with US missions. The one good thing to be said for the New Westminster situation is that DEPO has been granted to +Yukon for dissenting parishes. As I have repeatedly remarked above, getting some sort of ecusa bishop to be delegated as Episcopal Pastoral Oversight to the TEC adherents in the DoSJ’s geographical region is the least which 815 should have done at this point, and to date they have failed miserably in not doing so. The huge advantage this would give to this sort of situation would be that DoSJ and +Schofield would have a point of contact with which to work matters out, like this one ought to have had. Risard should not have been confronting the mission rector, Schofield, or visa versa. The overseers should have worked out the matter by themselves.

But that would also set a very prejudicial precedent for 815, as it would simply be the converse of what all manner of missions and parishes have asked for in the 100+ other non DoSJ dioceses.

December 30, 5:04 pm | [comment link]
43. D. C. Toedt wrote:

nochurchhome [#40] writes: “Fr. Risard should be very grateful that Bishop Schfield has not nor will not defrock him.”

Bishop Schofield renounced his authority over Fr. Risard, and over all other things relating to DSJ and TEC, on December 8. So there’s no call for Fr. Risard to be grateful, over and above the very charitable expression of general gratitude he made toward his former bishop a few days ago.

Let’s make a pact: If you guys will stop making statements about what adverse actions Bishop Schofield can supposedly take, my friends and I will stop reminding you, every single time you do, that +Schofield no longer has authority to do anything in TEC. For the time being, both assertions are purely matters of opinion that can’t be resolved, except, where property matters are concerned, in a secular court. So there’s no point in the two sides continually yelling the equivalent of “Less filling!” and “Tastes great!” at each other.

December 30, 5:37 pm | [comment link]
44. DietofWorms wrote:

Father Jake / Father Terry Martin:

- Bishop Schofield is still Bishop of the Diocese in charge of St. Nicholas/Atwater.  Even Father Risard admits this by leaving.  You can only be let go by your boss.  Where do you think his paycheck comes from?

- You base your attacks on Bishop Schofield on your own assumption on his status, which isn’t even the same assumption as 815 at this point.

- It is definately not poor judgement to show up with body guards.  Anyone who had been the subject of the comments on your Father Jake website would be wise to have them in this day and age of church/school shootings.  Your accusations of theft and robbery are sickening.  If you, Father Terry Martin believe Schofield has committed a crime, have you called the police?  What has he stolen?

Enjoy the outrage, Terry.

December 30, 5:40 pm | [comment link]
45. Tom Roberts wrote:

DC- who are “you guys”? Or is that just a ‘one size fits all’ appellation, signifying nothing more than subjective angst?

December 30, 5:46 pm | [comment link]
46. nochurchhome wrote:

Well DC that is exactly why I do not waste my time posting my opinions on sites like Fr. Jake and other liberal blogs.  If liberals come over to a conservative blog to post their opinion then my question is, “what’s the point?”  Are you looking for sympathy, support, trying to change minds or to argue, “Less filling”, Tastes Great.” If you are looking for me to sympathize, well I can’t offer any.  If you are looking for me to be outraged and horrified at Bishop Scholfield, well that’s not going to happen either.  You see I’m a conservative in a liberal church and diocese and the treatment here was terrible.  I have no sympathy. To explain it the way the liberal priest at my church explained it to me….You are in enemy territory and you are a minority here.  Maybe that is Fr. Risard’s reality too.  Hey, I’m sure he is a nice guy and all, but he is a liberal in enemy territory, to use the words from my priest.  My family and I were shown no mercy and neither were some conservative priests, parishes and bishops.  Why would you ask us to do any different?

On a side note, I like what DoW says….Who signs the paycheck?  That is the ultimate test.

December 30, 5:58 pm | [comment link]
47. nochurchhome wrote:

A comment on the use of body guards…..I read one comment on a liberal blog where the person was not happy that Bishop Schofield would use body guards suggesting that someone may use physical violence.  Ummm, didn’t Gene Robinson wear a bullet proof vest to his ordination?  Talk about being dramatic!!!

December 30, 6:03 pm | [comment link]
48. MJD_NV wrote:

I do not understand the leftist angst.

Missions are owned by the diocese.
Vicars work for bishops.
Bishops are rectors of missions.
Even St. Nick’s own web-site links show them as a mission of the diocese of which Bp. Schofield is the ecclesial authority.
Fr. Fred is not a rector, he’s a vicar.
He’s a vicar who was already told before the beginning of December that he was not going to have a job after 12/31.
He’s a vicar who was publically horrible to his bishop, and in spite of his horrible, publicized letter to the bishop, the bishop did not discipline him.
Schofield did nothing less than say, “I am the rector here.”  Which he is.  So it was completely his call to make a visitation.  If Fr. Fred were the rector, it would have been a different thing.  But he was not - Schofield was.
JD then graciously offered to help the guy get another job.

I read the take on Fr. Jake’s - the author wrote the facts, showed how gracious Schofield really was, and then spun them into something they were not but that the liberals wanted them to be.

One more non-story of leftist desperation at the disintegration of the church they destroyed.

December 30, 9:23 pm | [comment link]
49. Henry Troup wrote:

#48 - and others - there’s a palmed card (maybe several) in the deal.  Let’s expand your point two: “Vicars work for Bishops.” Vicars work for the office of the Bishop of a Diocese within a particular church. They don’t work for an individual. 
Nonetheless, it does seem that character of a mission under TEC rules is such that the action would have been legitimate - under TEC rules.  But, what are the Southern Cone rules?  Since the Diocese changed affiliation, it should now use Southern Cone rules on missions, whatever they might be.
(So far I haven’t found an official Southern Cone website that’s in English, and my Spanish is not up to dealing with Canon law.)
If Fr. Fred believes he’s still in TEC, then he wasn’t “...publically horrible to his bishop”.  At most he was rude to a Bishop of another province - under TEC rules, again.  What I saw was that he asked if the person of Bishop Schofield was attending in the persona of Bishop Schofield of TEC, or of Bishop Schofield of the Southern Cone.
What we have here is the equivalent of one team deciding in the middle of a game that they are playing basketball, not soccer, then calling foul on the other team for kicking the ball.  You can’t make a proper argument under either the rules of basketball or the rules of soccer; you need to decide it at a meta-level.  Fr. Fred thinks he’s still playing soccer.

Had Bishop Schofield done exactly the same thing the day before the vote, Fr. Fred would clearly have been entirely in the wrong.  As it was, I’d say that it’s a complete mess, and just the first of many.

December 30, 10:00 pm | [comment link]
50. jamesw wrote:

Henry, D.C., Fr. Jake and others:

There is no longer a TEC Diocese of San Joaquin.  THE “Diocese of San Joaquin” voted to disaffiliate with TEC, as is well within its rights under TEC’s Constitution.  If TEC desired to have a different rule, they could have passed one, but they have not done so.

Currently, in the Diocese of San Joaquin, the “Anglican franchise” is held by the Diocese of San Joaquin which is affiliated with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.  There are a handful of DSJ parishes that have indicated that they would like to disaffiliate with the Diocese of San Joaquin and affiliate back with TEC.  The Bishop of San Joaquin has graciously agreed to permit this.

I would further remind everyone that 1) Fr. Risard has accepted the authority of Bp. Schofield; 2) It is THE Diocese of San Joaquin that is paying the bills for this mission; 3) if TEC wished, it could hire Fr. Risard to establish its own mission in Atwater (but somehow I doubt they will); 4) Fr. Risard was removed from his position because under his tenure, the mission has declined numerically and financially.

December 30, 10:23 pm | [comment link]
51. Henry Troup wrote:

#50, jamesw - One thing we can all agree on is that Bp. Schofield is not the Bishop of the TEC Diocese of San Joaquin.  I took a moderate look into the TEC constitution and didn’t find any provisions for disaffiliation; could you name the section that you mean?

December 30, 10:52 pm | [comment link]
52. Tom Roberts wrote:

51 Henry, you are being obtuse. The diocesan entity is a California corporation and can do as its corporate governance board votes. That might not be in accordance with ecusa canons, but if you don’t want to follow ecusa anymore, then what is the legal issue? Now, by your post, you need to cite how there is a “TEC Diocese of San Joaquin” as the corporation that had that function prior to the DoSJ convention no longer is a “TEC diocese”. It is affiliated with the Province of the Southern Cone. To the best of my knowledge, nobody else has filed incorporation papers in California, or anywhere else, with the name you have cited, or any functional equivalent.

Now, before DC starts citing “what IS the legal issue”, I will admit that there may well be many legal issues in getting the DoSJ votes accepted by all parties concerned. But that does not prevent the diocesan convention or its Standing Committee from voting as it will, and as it has. In these votes, they vote for the incorporated Diocese of San Joaquin.

December 30, 11:01 pm | [comment link]
53. D. C. Toedt wrote:

Tom Roberts [#52]:  Yes, the DSJ’s convention, bishop, and standing committee have done what they’ve done. And they will, I predict (and devoutly hope), be sued for possession of all diocesan property; for restitution of every nickel they’ve spent since the vote; and for a judicial declaration that they breached their fiduciary duty to the Episcopal Church that created them.  But California being what it is, who knows what the California courts will rule.

December 30, 11:36 pm | [comment link]
54. Tom Roberts wrote:

53 agreed, on calling a spade a spade, and a mess a mess.

December 30, 11:47 pm | [comment link]
55. robroy wrote:

These guys spout nonsense, “dioceses can’t leave because I say so or Jefferts-Shori says so.” Show me the canon law, chapter and verse. As they say in Texas, put up or…

Link to canon law text.

December 31, 12:30 am | [comment link]
56. D. C. Toedt wrote:

C’mon, robroy [#55], we reached an impasse on that one long ago. There’s no chapter and verse in TEC’s canons, just as there’s no chapter and verse in General Motors’ articles of incorporation saying that OnStar (a wholly-owned GM subsidiary) can’t secede. Suppose OnStar’s executives were to announce that they were going to ‘realign’ with Ford, because GM’s management had abandoned the True Faith of Automobiles. The OnStar execs would rightly be the laughingstock of the industry. Moreover, they’d find themselves hauled into court so fast it’d make their collective heads spin. But you obviously see things differently.

December 31, 12:58 am | [comment link]
57. robroy wrote:

More inane banter. There certainly is corporate law to prevent the hypothetical situation that D.C. talks about, thus it is irrelevant. But as D.C. points out there is no canon law prevent dioceses from realigning. In fact, as Bp Schofield has pointed out, it has occurred on many occasions in history. So the silly chanting “dioceses can’t leave” will not create canon law, nor will it change historical precedence, nor will it help in a court of law.

December 31, 4:09 am | [comment link]
58. Tom Roberts wrote:

56 not for profit corporations don’t have subsidiary corporations, or ownership interests in outside corporations, outside of holding their shares as investments. By your logic either
1. all the ecusa dioceses should have issued shares and 815 held its portfolio of diocesan shares, voting its proxies at conventions or convocations, or
2. ecusa should have incorporated subsidiaries which would have been dioceses itself

As neither has ever happened, I don’t take your presumptions seriously. Your analogy to for profit corporations fails, and moreover would have adverse tax consequences.

December 31, 8:10 am | [comment link]
59. Henry Troup wrote:

So, isn’t this the whole reason “Anglicanism is over” - that the system of consensus has broken down and now we have only the poverty of the written rules?  “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  We’re falling back on the letter too often, myself included.

December 31, 9:18 am | [comment link]
60. Tom Roberts wrote:

Indeed, as was quoted today in another context:
“When the corpse twitches, the jaws snap.”

December 31, 9:36 am | [comment link]
61. D. C. Toedt wrote:

OK, you guys want canon law?  At ordination, bishops are required to vow to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of TEC. For a bishop to affirmatively repudiate that discipline — for example, by unilaterally claiming that he and his diocese are members, and under the ‘primatial oversight,’ of another province — is, by any rational definition, a breach of that ordination vow. 

Here’s another possibility: Under TEC’s constitution (art. 6, sec. 2), a bishop may not resign from jurisdiction without permission of the House of Bishops. ‘Jurisdiction’ clearly means jurisdiction of a TEC diocese (as opposed to a free-agent diocese that can play for whatever team pleases it at the moment). For a bishop to claim to be leading his diocese out of TEC amounts to resigning from jurisdiction of a TEC diocese, which without consent of the HoB is a violation of the constitution.

I’m sure 815’s lawyers will do a much better job with canon law when the time comes.

December 31, 10:47 am | [comment link]
62. Tom Roberts wrote:

see #45

December 31, 10:55 am | [comment link]
63. robroy wrote:

I have no doubt that the good bishop will be deposed by the depraved TEC. It will make the TEC appear foolish. A foolish gesture that is irrelevant to the diocesan realignment. Remember precious democratic polity? So the inhibition and deposition of the bishop by the TEC is as silly an act as them trying to depose ABp Akinola.

December 31, 11:03 am | [comment link]
64. Tom Roberts wrote:

robroy- The unfortunate logic for ecusa is that they have to go through with some sort of sham trial, or at least the abandonment of communion hearing in the HoB. If they don’t then they’ve recognized that DoSJ have really, de jure, realigned. The de facto situation isn’t what is motivating that process, and on the way folks like Risard+ and the mission at St Nicholas get caught in the middle.

December 31, 11:38 am | [comment link]
65. TomRightmyer wrote:

Fr. Jake’s blog reports that the December 30 congregation at St. Nicholas in communion with the diocese of San Joaquin was about 15. The bishop’s canon presided and preached. The congregation at the schismatic “Episcopal” congregation was 25 including some newcomers from other local churches. Fr. Risard presided and preached. The congregation plans to move to some place where coffee hour can be offered.

December 31, 12:30 pm | [comment link]
66. miserable sinner wrote:

#61 “OK, you guys want canon law?”

Not right now thanks.  How about first we all read the Dar Communique and the AoC’s Advent letter one more time.  Then pray and “fast for a season”. Until Lambeth.

December 31, 1:34 pm | [comment link]
67. D. C. Toedt wrote:

There’s no dispute that individuals can leave TEC and renounce its discipline. The question is, when a group of individuals in a diocese does so, does the diocese itself (and its property) likewise leave TEC? Here are some follow-ups to my #62 — additional points in TEC’s constitution and canons that weigh against a “yes” answer; I’m sure 815’s lawyers will do a much better job than this:

• Const. art. VIII prohibits ordaining any priest or deacon unless the candidate vows to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church (the “discipline vow”).

• Const. art. X requires all dioceses to use the approved Book of Common Prayer. Non-BCP services must have the approval of the bishop — who of course is required by the BCP itself to take the discipline vow. Under the same constitutional article, the BCP cannot be changed without jumping through significant hoops, including approval by two successive General Conventions.

• Canon I.7.1(f) and (g) require annual financial audits of all dioceses, parishes, etc., with audit reports to be made to the bishop, i.e., to an individual who has taken the discipline vow.

• Canon I.7.3 prohibits transferring or mortgaging parish real estate without consent of the bishop (except pursuant to regulations prescribed by diocesan canons), who has taken the discipline vow.

• Let’s not forget the Dennis Canon (I.7.4):

All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located. The existence of this trust, however, shall in no way limit the power and authority of the Parish, Mission or Congregation otherwise existing over such property so long as the particular Parish, Mission or Congregation remains a part of, and subject to, this Church and its Constitution and Canons. [Emphasis added]

Footnote: The people who claim that the Dennis Canon was never properly enacted may well be clutching at straws. That canon has been in the published canons for going on 30 years (and some 9 or 10 General Conventions). To my knowledge, no one has ever objected to the Dennis Canon’s inclusion in the church’s published canons, nor tried to get any GC to state that the canon is not effective. That being the case, I think a court would be extremely reluctant to rule that the Dennis Canon was not in effect. It’s been argued, e.g., in the California litigation, that denominations cannot unilaterally impose a trust on their congregations’ property without conforming to state trust law.  The U.S. Supreme Court, however, suggested in Jones v. Wolf that a denomination can do precisely that. The suggestion seems to have been a non-binding dictum, but I can envision the argument that the Free-Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment override any contrary state law. We’ll have to see how future litigation plays out on this point. can see

• Canon I.14.3 requires that vestry meetings be presided over by the rector, who is required to take the discipline vow.

• Here’s a biggie: Canon IV requires that anyone holding virtually any significant religious lay ministry position — Pastoral Leader, Worship Leader, Preacher, Eucharistic Minister, Eucharistic Visitor, or Catechist — must be licensed by the Ecclesiastical Authority, which under Canon IV.15 means the bishop except during times of vacancy. Moreover, the lay minister must serve under the direction of a priest or deacon. The lay minister’s license can be revoked essentially at will by the Ecclesiastical Authority. The bishop, priest, and deacon of course take the discipline vow.


The upshot:

1) Essentially all religious ministry in the Episcopal Church, and all real property of its component dioceses, parishes, etc., are required to be under the control of individuals who have vowed to conform to the discipline of the Episcopal Church.  I did not find any provision for such individuals to renounce that vow while still retaining any authority whatsoever in the church.

2) Anyone claiming that dioceses per se (as opposed to their congregants) can unilaterally remove themselves from the discipline of the Episcopal Church must find a way to reconcile that claim with the provisions summarized in item 1 above. 

3) Such claimants should also keep in mind that when it comes to disputes over property, secular courts usually treat church constitutional- and canonical provisions as though they were contracts entered into by each person joining, or accepting a position in, the church. (For citations on that point, see 815’s recently-filed brief in the Virginia litigation.)

December 31, 1:34 pm | [comment link]
68. robroy wrote:

The upshot for is that all the clergy of the diocese of Southern Cone could be deposed IF they were still clergy in the TEC. They are not, so all irrelevant. As I said, the TEC will go through the motions of deposing Bp Schofield (and others?) which will make themselves appear foolish.

The only canon law that applies is the Dennis canon which states that property is held in trust for this Church AND the Diocese. Now the Supreme Court might rule that natural law applies and the Dennis Canon is out the window. But even if it doesn’t, in this case, these two parties are conflicted. So who wins? That would be whose name is on the deeds.

December 31, 4:07 pm | [comment link]
69. robroy wrote:

TomRightmyer comment #65 is interesting. I went over to Jake’s place and found that I was banned. All full of invective and cursing Bp Schofield. The average attendance before Father Risard was released was 20. The attendance for the Diocese of SJ’s service was 15. The attendance for the breakaway was 25, but there was much talk at Jake’s about people asking for directions, etc. Thus, probably this represents 5 from the original plus 20 outsiders/visitors. It is my hope that both parishes can succeed. As I said previously, I was heartened to hear Father Risard’s gracious words in the newspaper article.

December 31, 5:01 pm | [comment link]
70. MJD_NV wrote:

1) Essentially all religious ministry in the Episcopal Church, and all real property of its component dioceses, parishes, etc., are required to be under the control of individuals who have vowed to conform to the discipline of the Episcopal Church.  I did not find any provision for such individuals to renounce that vow while still retaining any authority whatsoever in the church.

But since there is no cannon prohibiting a diocese from moving to another province, there’s been no break of the so-called “discipline” of the ECUSAn cult. Schofieild has not renounced anything.

Thus, the rest of the pouint if null.

Furthermore, case law in the matter of Dennis Canon is firmly on the side of the diocese.  There is not a shred of case law that’s ever said the diocese belonged to 815.

December 31, 10:07 pm | [comment link]
71. Dale Rye wrote:

Of course there isn’t a shred of case law that the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin belongs to the Episcopal Church, any more than there is case law that red wagons have to be red. Some things go without saying. It is pathetic that anyone has to argue that a diocese of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is nothing more than a California nonprofit corporation. Is that really a message that Bishop Schofield and his clergy wish to have proclaimed from the pulpits of their diocese? “Jesus is Lord! (Except when the rules developed over 2000 years for His Church conflict with the California Nonprofit Corporations Act.)” We should all be ashamed to be discussing this situation in that light, and to be giving Caesar’s courts authority over the things of God.

January 1, 2:43 am | [comment link]
72. Henry Troup wrote:

#71 - While I agree with you, that claim (and similar ones) has been made and upheld many times in lawsuits against churches.  My local Anglican Diocese had the Bishop testify that the Diocese did not employ parish priests, for example, and therefore fair employment rules did not apply - and got away with it.
I don’t think that the cause of Christ will be served by taking many of these issues to the civil courts; nor do I think the results will reflect well on any party.

January 1, 11:04 am | [comment link]
73. Tom Roberts wrote:

Dale- this site gave Schofield’s address on why the convention should vote to disaffiliate with ecusa. Don’t put words in either his mouth or mine. On my part, I’ve tried to cite how both sides could have done their jobs better for either the whole church or just the local individuals concerned. But your wagon analogy is quite apt, for who gets to decide what color to paint the wagon?

I’ll not address whether the California statutes are inherently contradictory to the mission of the whole church or even local missions in this fact pattern. Your post seems to imply that, but doesn’t make that case coherently. The argument that ‘how things worked out isn’t what you like’ isn’t sufficient for anyone else to have to concede that the way that matters stand now isn’t the only feasible way matters could work out, or alternatively, that the way matters work out isn’t the best of all possible outcomes. Neither of us might like the latter possibilities, but until somebody gets some rather large groups of people to start reversing their current courses (and I’m referring not just to DoSJ and this mission, but rather to whole provinces in the AC), what any of us might like and think proper will be irrelevant.

January 1, 11:44 am | [comment link]
74. MJD_NV wrote:

It is pathetic that anyone has to argue that a diocese of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is nothing more than a California nonprofit corporation.

More ridiculous than claiming that the vow of bishops means to 815 and not the wider Catholic Church as received by Anglicanism?  Certainly you jest.

San Joaquin is not arguing any such thing and you know it, Dale.  They are arguing, in fact, that BECAUSE they are part of One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church, a man-made structure like “national province” affiliation, when it works against the Gospel, is non-binding.  At they same time, they are trying to amintain Catholic order, which is why they have affiliated with another Anglican province - as other dioceses have done before them.

The only ones invoking California civil code are the ones at 815 preparing to sue.  They are the ones at whom your ire should be directed.

January 1, 1:17 pm | [comment link]
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