Monday, July 27, 2009

Judge rules against bishop who led break

Good News from California!!

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has prevailed in its first lawsuit against a deposed bishop who led a secession movement prompted by the church's ordination of women and gays.
National church leaders removed John-David Schofield as the head of the Fresno-based diocese in March of last year, after he led parishioners to break with the national church.
On Thursday, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Adolfo Corona ruled that Schofield improperly set up outside accounts to transfer up to $5 million in church money to a new holding company.
The ruling also established that Jerry Lamb, a bishop loyal to the U.S. Episcopal Church, officially heads the Fresno diocese.


Jr. said...

Here is Bishop Lamb's letter:

Dear Friends,

We received word yesterday that the Superior Court in Fresno had issued its final judgment in our motion for summary adjudication concerning who is the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin. I am pleased to tell you that the court found overwhelmingly that I am the Episcopal Bishop and therefore the Corporate Sole of the Diocese and have control of the properties and assets of the Episcopal Church. The importance of this decision by the Superior Court should not be underestimated. Here is a quote from the decision, “The diocese of San Joaquin (plaintiffs),” i.e. the Episcopal Church, “is not a new organization that ‘split off’ from the defendant’s older organization. It is the older organization from which defendants removed themselves.” I rejoice in this decision and give thanks to God in this blessing, but I am aware that there are more legal hurdles ahead of us as we continue to recover assets that belong to the Episcopal Church.

I am also aware of the pain and suffering that these legal actions and reactions have caused. I hope that this recent ruling will cause some of the congregations that chose to attempt to leave the Episcopal church to rethink their actions and become open to conversations about the return of properties to the Episcopal Church.

Please be in conversations with friends and acquaintances who are part of the group that left the Episcopal Church and invite them to return to the church. A motto of the Episcopal Church in 2009 is “All are welcome here.” We are strong enough and broad enough for everyone to be welcome here. I look forward to conversations with those who have left the church.

+Jerry Lamb,
Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin

Jr. said...

The Diocese issued a press release in which some of the particulars were spelled out:

On July 23, 2009, the Diocese received an order issued by the Superior Court of Fresno County, California, sustaining the position of the Church and the Diocese that the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb is the Bishop of the Diocese and the officeholder of the Diocesan corporations, and that former Bishop John-David Schofield is no longer the Bishop and has no claim to any of the corporate or ecclesiastical offices of the Diocese.

In reaching this conclusion, the Court found that there is no question that The Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church, of which the Diocese is an integral part. It also held that “If the Constitution of the Diocese incorporates and accedes to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, which require accession, then the Constitution of the Diocese cannot be amended to remove such language.” The Court additionally ruled that the continuing Diocese of San Joaquin is "not a new organization" created after former Bishop Schofield attempted to remove the Diocese from the Church, but that the Diocese "is the older organization from which ([defendant] Schofield and the other) defendants removed themselves."