Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Remain Episcopal" Gathering in San Joaquin

From Episcopal Life:

Hundreds of people—from as far south as San Diego and as far north as Seattle—packed the historic Church of the Saviour in Hanford January 26 in joyous celebration and support for remaining Episcopalians who are "Moving Forward, Welcoming All" and claiming their status as the official Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Cindy Smith, president of Remain Episcopal, said the organization has received generous financial, liturgical and emotional support from all over the country, including from clergy from across the nation who willing to serve congregations on an interim or permanent basis.

Organized in 2003, Remain Episcopal is "planning for the day we cease to exist, a day the renewed leadership of the Fresno-based Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin can once planning for the day we cease to exist, a day the renewed leadership of the Fresno-based Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin can once again continue the reconciliation, work and mission of the church," said Smith, who called for patience as the way forward as communities of faith continue to form and grow and the future of the Central Valley churches continues to unfold.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori sent both written and videotaped greetings to the gathering. "We expect to work next to clarify the status of members of the clergy in the Diocese of San Joaquin, and the status of any former diocesan leaders who wish to remain in The Episcopal Church," she wrote in a letter read by the Rev. Canon Bob Moore, the designated interim pastoral presence for the diocese.

"Once the ultimate status of John-David Schofield is adjudicated by the House of Bishops, and if he is deposed, I will seek to gather the remaining members of the Diocese in a special convention to elect new leadership and make provision for an interim bishop. I will work with diocesan leaders to clarify ownership of the personal and real assets of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin," the Presiding Bishop's letter said.

On January 11, Jefferts Schori inhibited Bishop John-David Schofield of San Joaquin from continuing to serve after a Title IV review committee determined he had abandoned the communion. He has the options of recanting his position, renouncing his orders or declaring that the Title IV assertions are false.

If a majority of bishops concur with the Title IV review committee's findings during the March 7-13 House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, the Presiding Bishop will depose Schofield and declare the episcopate of the San Joaquin diocese vacant.

[T]he Rev. Canon Robert Moore, who was appointed as the interim pastoral presence for remaining Episcopalians, presided and served as homilist.

"It is wonderful to look out here and see so many faces," said Moore who told the gathering they are in the process of recreating and reforming a "new and wondrous" church. "It's happening as we speak," he said amid hearty applause.

"We are not establishing a new Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, we are celebrating, worshipping and working for the continuing Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. You are the Episcopal Church in this part of the world," he said.

What struck me about the service was its fullness of joy and its familiarity. It was so very like the service in my church. I love that they prayed the "Prayer of Humble Access", although the Rite II Eucharist was used. I often say the prayer silently before the Eucharist because of my fondness for it.

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

What a glorious day of celebration for the faithful Episcopalians of the Diocese of San Joaquin. May the Spirit of the living God continue to be powerfully present with them.

Here's a link to the video of the service at the Church of the Savior, Hanford, California.


  1. that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood

    This clause was dropped from the payer in the 1979 BCP because it suggests that the body and blood of Christ affect different parts of one's being. Personally, I have no problem with it, and miss it.

  2. An additional note:

    (1) "payer" is of course "prayer," and

    (2) The late Father Robert John Dodwell of St Anna's, New Orleans, named a chapel at his fishing camp "Church of the Most Precious Blood," after this phrase in the prayer. The bishop tried to get him to change it, unsuccessfully.

  3. Ormonde, you are correct. The words you quote are not in the BCP now. I confess that I did not even notice them when I did copy and paste. I don't mind them either.

    I like the story about Fr. Dodwell and his chapel.

  4. It really looks as if people are organising now and the initiative is no longer with the breakaway group.

    I look for further positive developments.

  5. DP, as you see, the group was organized in 2003, but they have not been able to do much publicly until the inhibition of Bp. Schofield by Presiding Bishop Katharine.

  6. I also miss the prayer of humble access (going to a Rite II service) -- in whole or in the part left in Rite I. It seems to me a heartfelt reaffirmation of Confession.

  7. SusanKay, some folks don't like it. I believe they think it's humiliating. To me, it not humiliating at all. It seems the proper attitude of the heart in which to approach the table of the Lord.


Anonymous commenters, please sign a name, any name, to distinguish one anonymous commenter from another. Thank you.