San Joaquin Standing Committee not recognized as official, Presiding Bishop says

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on January 25 wrote to inform each member of the standing committee elected at the last convention of the Fresno-based Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin that she does not recognize them as the standing committee of that diocese. She also assured continuing Episcopalians of financial and legal support in reconstituting the diocese.

Jefferts Schori, in a letter delivered January 26 to the committee's eight members, cited their unanimous vote to disaffiliate with The Episcopal Church (TEC) and their "attempt to organize as the standing committee of an entity that identifies itself as an Anglican Diocese of the Province of the Southern Cone," actions which violate church canons.

"In light of your recent actions, I find that you have been and are unable to well and faithfully fulfill your duties as members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin under Canon I.17.8," she wrote. Canon I.17.8 provides that anyone accepting an office in the church "shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which the office is being exercised."

"Accordingly, with this letter I inform you that I do not recognize you as the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin," she wrote. "I regret the decisions that you have made to attempt to take the Diocese out of The Episcopal Church and the necessary consequences of these actions."

Read it all.

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

Posted January 26, 2008 at 6:17 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Ad Orientem wrote:

Since I believe the Standing Committee does not recognize Ms. Schori as their Presiding Bishop, I think that makes things about even.

January 26, 7:25 pm | [comment link]
2. stevenanderson wrote:

Her Grace needs to learn to listen. The committee—the diocese were first to say THEY dont recognize HER as their Primate. So, what she recognizes about them as the Standing Committee is mute.

January 26, 7:28 pm | [comment link]
3. Sir Highmoor wrote:

ENS could be described as a “FOX.” Like Fox News in the states which reports to be “fair and balanced.”
“I regret the decisions that you have made to attempt to take the Diocese out of The Episcopal Church and the necessary consequences of these actions.” KJS
I thought they did take the Diocese out. I am glad to learn they only “attempted to.” And now the courts will decide, if members of a Diocese can leave. Is this Alice in Wonderland stuff?

January 26, 7:29 pm | [comment link]
4. TomRightmyer wrote:

Some of the Standing Committee members have not yet made their decision whether to remain in the Episcopal Church or join the Southern Cone. If I remember correctly the Bishop has removed them. Now the Presiding Bishop sends a “nonrecognnition” letter. I think her action is in error.

January 26, 7:39 pm | [comment link]
5. Bishop Daniel Martins wrote:

This makes the heart sad. The Presiding Bishop has squandered an opportunity to be a reconciling influence, and to pick up some great PR. It leads one to suspect that she is not interested simply in reviving an Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, but in creating a Diocese of San Joaquin that toes the line of her ideology and the tyrannical majority holding power in TEC.

January 26, 7:39 pm | [comment link]
6. wildfire wrote:

She cites no canon giving her the authority to do this.  She alleges there is a canon the conditions of which they do not meet, but none giving her the authority to fire without further process a diocesan standing committee.  After her disregarding the plain language of canon IV.9 with respect to +Duncan, the Episcopal Church has now clearly abandoned the rule of law.

January 26, 7:47 pm | [comment link]
7. Dale Rye wrote:

This is rather fascinating. The good people of San Joaquin in convention assembled, while still in the Episcopal Church, elected a Standing Committee in accordance with the National Constitution and Canons. Most of that committee has now been told by the Primates of two different provinces that they are somehow unfit to serve.

Once again, 815 is presented with an opportunity to exploit a serious misplay by its opposition. Once again, it manages to blow the chance by sheer pig-headedness. The PB had at least a chance to reorganize the Continuing Diocese of San Joaquin with legitimate, locally elected leadership entitled to recognition as the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese under the express terms of the national canons. After their mistreatment by Southern Cone, it is possible that a quorum of the Standing Committee could have been persuaded to stay by making only minor concessions. Instead, she decided to treat them just as badly and emulate Abp. Venables by substituting a primatial choice for elected local leadership.


January 26, 7:55 pm | [comment link]
8. Tom Roberts wrote:

4- Schori is betting that she can depose the current bishop (aka ecclesiatical authority, aka +JD Schofield) in a corporation sole (which only has one member of its corporate board, the bishop). These committee members are only advisory in nature, so this action is effectively meaningless, except in casting Schori and 815 in another unsavory light.

One might also ask, where in the canons is the PB authorized to dismiss the members of a diocesan standing committee? I believe that this unilateral action on Schori’s part is uncanonical and extremely ill advised. She should have worked with a diocesan convention and in consultation appointed an interim bishop and let him do the dirty work after the HoB had deposed +Schofield from his episcopal status in ecusa. Why Schori cannot or would not wait for this process to proceed normally is hard to see today. (See canons I.2.4.a.3 and III.13.1)

January 26, 8:04 pm | [comment link]
9. flabellum wrote:

“L’ eglise? C’est moi.”

January 26, 8:07 pm | [comment link]
10. Tom Roberts wrote:

9- the source for your pilfering also said, relevantly:
Après moi, le déluge..

January 26, 8:10 pm | [comment link]
11. Oldman wrote:

I do not understand Bp. Jefforts-Schori. Her house is burning down and she throws gasoline on the fire. Is she not too bright, extremely stubborn, or just filled with lack of understanding about what is happening to the church she ostensibly heads?

January 26, 8:15 pm | [comment link]
12. James Manley wrote:

Whoopsie!  Think she’ll call for a do-over?

January 26, 8:24 pm | [comment link]
13. The_Elves wrote:

Wow.  The drama never stops.  Who cares about a Hollywood writers’ strike when you have these kind of plot twists!

January 26, 8:31 pm | [comment link]
14. Ken Peck wrote:

I, too, wonder by what canonical authority Jefferts Schori does these things. Does she really have the authority to unilaterally fire a standing committee by fiat? Does she have the authority to organize a “special convention,” have an interim bishop appointed, etc?

Where in the Constitution and Canons is the Diocese of San Joaquin defined? It seems to me that the entity known as the Diocese of San Joaquin is defined in the the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese and under state law. That entity has followed its Constitution and Canons and state law to amend its definition, ceasing to give unqualified accession to the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and has aligned itself with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

It would also seem to me that it is the House of Bishops that has the constitutional authority to create missions and that they do not have the authority to create missions in geographical areas (such as the Diocese of San Joaquin) which are under the jurisdiction of another province of the Anglican Communion. (See Article VI, Section 1 of the Constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.)

January 26, 8:41 pm | [comment link]
15. Tom Roberts wrote:

14- I think that the ecusa HoB will have no trouble imagining that the geographical extent of the former DoSJ (which has in various rumor mills such as this web site removed itself to another province) is still in its warm embrace. Why, it is still on the ecusa map!

January 26, 8:48 pm | [comment link]
16. jamesw wrote:

Folks are right - there is NO CANONICAL AUTHORITY for KJS to do this.  I do so hope the lawyers are noting all this down, because it might play quite nicely in a future court case.

January 26, 9:01 pm | [comment link]
17. Ken Peck wrote:

If we were to grant the hypothesis that there is still an entity as a Diocese of San Joaquin of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, by what constitutional or canonical authority does the Presiding Bishop dismiss a standing committee of that hypothetical diocese?

Could a Presiding Bishop on her own authority dismiss the standing committee of the Diocese of Los Angeles or New Hampshire for some supposed error?

January 26, 9:06 pm | [comment link]
18. AnglicanFirst wrote:

If Ms Schori said, “let them eat cake,” it might put her leadership in historical context.

January 26, 9:24 pm | [comment link]
19. Nikolaus wrote:

Standing Committee to the Presiding Pharisee: You have no power here!  Now be gone, before someone drops a house on you, too!

January 26, 9:49 pm | [comment link]
20. Cennydd wrote:

The more this woman opens her gob, the worse she sounds!  Stow the gaff, Katherine!  You make no sense!  The Diocese of San Joaquin no longer exists…...except in your imagination.  I thought we had explained to you that we are now the ANGLICAN Diocese of San Joaquin, so now if you don’t believe us, why don’t you just write to Archbishop Venables and ask HIM about our status?  I’m sure that he’ll be more than happy to set you straight.

January 27, 12:06 am | [comment link]
21. Cennydd wrote:

Oh, and are you now going to tell all of the vestries and bishop’s committees that they are no longer legitimate committees?  You’ll get a laugh, I’m sure!

January 27, 12:08 am | [comment link]
22. trooper wrote:

Fly, you fools, fly.  This is the state of your Church and she is you presiding bishop.  Why in the world are participating in this madness?

January 27, 12:34 am | [comment link]
23. Branford wrote:

Popette Kate

January 27, 1:19 am | [comment link]
24. Irenaeus wrote:

“[KJS] also assured continuing Episcopalians of financial and legal support in reconstituting the diocese”

TO RECONSTITUTE DIOCESE, measure and set aside:
—1 quart honeyed wine
—8 millenium development goals
—0-9 Gospels, according to taste
—1 batch constitution and canons
—1 batch papier-mâché paste
—1 large balloon

Now reconstitute the diocese!

1. Soak gospels, constitution, and canons in honeyed wine. If working in dry climate or using more than 6 gospels, add extra cup of honeyed wine.

2. Tear gospels into 1½ wide strips. Do not tear constitution and canons.

3. Drag gospel strips, constitution, and canons through papier-mâché paste. Wipe off any excess with your fingers, and place it at an angle on the balloon. Place the second strip so that it slightly overlaps the first. Continue until the balloon has been covered with one layer of paper strips—-except for a 2-inch square at the top, through which the deeds will go. Sprinkle with MDGs.

4. Give the papier-mâché up to 24 hours to dry. Cover your leftover paste with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out (if it does, add warm honeyed wine).

5. Puncture the uncovered part of the balloon at the top of the diocese and remove all of the balloon fragments. Make sure the inside of the diocese is completely dry before you fill it, so the deeds won’t stick to the sides. Fill it about halfway with the deeds. Cover the opening with some gospel squares, and your diocese is ready to hang.

6. If diocese misbehaves, whack it with stick and remove deeds. ¡Olé!

January 27, 2:08 am | [comment link]
25. D. C. Toedt wrote:

+KJS’s letter was a brilliant move.  She didn’t do anything uncanonical, because she didn’t do anything. The letter was purely symbolic: She stated that in her eyes, the addressees of her letter are no longer members of the DSJ standing committee, because of their indisputable violation of the fiduciary-responsibility canon (that’s what it’s called in the marginal heading of canon I.17.8).

+KJS’s letter will have zero real-world effect unless and until she has to take (or refrain from) action, action that turns on who is a member of that standing committee.  Off the top of my head, I can’t think of much that would fall into that category. The only thing that comes to mind is this hypothetical possibility: Another diocese elects a bishop; the standing committees nationwide are evenly divided about whether to consent; and the former DSJ standing committee has the deciding vote. Yeah, like that’s really going to happen any time soon.


Dale Rye [#7], your criticism of +KJS for not “reaching out” to the Indecisive Six on the former SJ standing committee is misplaced. First, those Hamlet-like worthies were elected by people who left TEC, not by those who remained. Moreover, they themselves voted unanimously to separate from TEC. They would have zero credibility with the remaining DSJ loyalists, nor with the national church. They have no business being part of a body whose main work, for the foreseeable future, will be the reconstitution of the diocese. +KJS made the right call.

January 27, 11:19 am | [comment link]
26. Tom Roberts wrote:

“The letter was purely symbolic: She stated that in her eyes, the addressees of her letter are no longer members of the DSJ standing committee…”
is logically vacant. How can something turn into something else without a cause for that transformation? Schori says bluntly how that transformation of the SC into not-SC occurred:
“I find that you have been and are unable to well and faithfully fulfill your duties…”

Whether you agree with her findings or not, or whether you think this finding is canonical or not, that is what Schori has done. #25 is trying to put lipstick on a pig.

January 27, 11:53 am | [comment link]
27. The_Elves wrote:

Over at MCJ, Chris Johnson has some very interesting suggestions as to ways the standing committee might respond to +KJS’ letter…

January 27, 2:48 pm | [comment link]
28. Bishop Daniel Martins wrote:

Re #25, just a factual correction: It is mystery what the PB refers to with her “voted unanimously” remark. I as as sure as I am of my own name and address that the Standing Committee of SJ has never voted on the question of leaving TEC, and that not all of its member voted in favor of the move during the convention. There has never been any such unanimous vote. In fact, I would not be surprised were it to be revealed that they have, in fact, taken recorded actions as the SC of TEC’s Diocese of SJ since the December vote, by way of consenting to an episcopal election, or something similar. That would constitute a ‘fact on the ground’ that they have continued to behave in accordance with TEC’s C&C; hence, not breaching their fiduciary duty.

January 27, 3:08 pm | [comment link]
29. MJD_NV wrote:

Precisely, Fr. Dan (#28).  And since they have not violated canon, they are, in fact, the SC of the ECUSAn San Joaquin.  Ergo, Schori has no legal standing canonically speaking to say she does not recorgnize them without going against the polity of the Episcopal Church.

Senoir bishops, Dr. Schori has gone against the discipline of your church.  You must do your duty and inhibit her at once.

January 27, 5:51 pm | [comment link]
30. Revamundo wrote:

off-topic.  As acknowledged by the commenter himself

January 27, 7:20 pm | [comment link]
31. Tom Roberts wrote:

deleted so as not to encourage the tangent to develop further

January 27, 7:30 pm | [comment link]
32. Alice Linsley wrote:

Number 5 is correct. Another missed opportunity to do the right thing, But realpolitick doesn’t concern itself with right and good, or virtue, only with advancing one’s power.  TEC’s leadership is playing the Devil’s cards just as ordered from below.

January 27, 7:48 pm | [comment link]
33. Revamundo wrote:

deleted so as not to encourage the tangent to develop further

January 27, 8:37 pm | [comment link]
34. Tom Roberts wrote:

deleted so as not to encourage the tangent to develop further

January 27, 10:11 pm | [comment link]
35. Jason S wrote:

I don’t see in any canon where the PB has any authority to recognize or not recognize a standing committee.  Standing committee members are not appointed by the PB and may not be removed by the PB.  I am no more impressed by her withdrawal of recognition than I am by various conservatives who refuse to recognize the current PB as PB.  She’s the PB and they’re the standing committee of the Diocese of SJ unless they’re removed in accordance with canons.

I really can’t see what the point of this letter would be except to be gratuitously insulting in order to drive off even more Episcopalians of traditional views. At this rate she’ll have her liberal monolith soon enough.

January 27, 10:45 pm | [comment link]
36. wildfire wrote:

If they wore name tags would she recognize them?  How about photo IDs?

January 27, 10:56 pm | [comment link]
37. Revamundo wrote:

Tom. Sure. Just keep thinking that.
Mark…very funny! Well done.

January 27, 11:25 pm | [comment link]
38. jamesw wrote:

Upon reflection, I think D.C. is partially correct.  The PB has not actually done anything.  She is gambling that this statement will cause the SC to stand down.  What the SC members should do is respond back to KJS and write something like this:

“We have received your letter dated January 26 in which you state that you do not recognize us as the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin.  We find this to be very unfortunate.  As you are undoubtedly well aware, however, it is the canons of TEC and the DSJ which determine the membership of the SC and not the personal opinion of the PB.

We further regret that you have not bothered to fully inform yourself of our actions surrounding the recent division within the DSJ.  Of the eight original members elected, two have chosen to reaffiliate with the Province of the Southern Cone.  Six of us have chosen not to.  Accordingly, we remain the canonically elected SC of the DSJ and will remain so until we are removed from office according to the constitution and canons of TEC.”

January 28, 4:34 am | [comment link]
39. D. C. Toedt wrote:

It’s interesting how this issue is being thought through here and elsewhere. 

I haven’t come across a specific TEC canonical provision for adjudication and enforcement of the fiduciary-responsibility (“FR”) canon cited by +KJS. I would think General Convention would certainly have plenary adjudication- and enforcement authority, so long as GC’s action didn’t contravene an express TEC constitutional provision.

But what about adjudication and enforcement of the FR canon between GC meetings? Under Canon I.4 and conventional necessary-and-proper reasoning, in it would seem that such authority is vested in the Executive Council, which can do whatever needs to be done (again, so long as an express constitutional- or canonical prohibition is not violated), including for example dismissing the incumbents of the DSJ standing committee and appointing replacements.

(I posted a longer version of this at StandFirm in response to a comment that seemed clearly mistaken factually.)

January 28, 11:38 am | [comment link]
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