Attorneys for a bishop deposed by The Episcopal Church say they plan to appeal a judge's ruling recognizing another bishop as the head of the Diocese of San Joaquin.
Though Episcopal leaders say they removed John-David Schofield as the head of the Fresno, Calif.-based diocese last year after he and other conservative church members attempted to remove the diocese from the American arm of Anglicanism, the bishop maintains that he possesses continuing authority as the leader of the diocese, which he claimed simply realigned itself with the more conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America.
The Episcopal Church, however, disputes the ability of a diocese to transfer from one province to another without the consent of its original province.
Furthermore, as the Superior Court of Fresno County ruled last month, The Episcopal Church maintains that the Diocese of San Joaquin being led by the TEC-elected Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb is "not a new organization" but that it is "the older organization from which ([defendant] Schofield and the other) defendants removed themselves."
Therefore, while Schofield may be bishop of the “Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin,” he is no longer bishop of the “Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin” and has no claim to any of the corporate or ecclesiastical offices of the Diocese.
“The order will greatly expedite the resolution of the remainder of the case, which will ultimately provide for the recovery of the Diocese's properties and assets so that the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin can continue to pursue its ministry to the central third of California utilizing these resources,” the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin reported after the court’s July 23 ruling.
With a trial is set to begin early next year to decide who controls the diocese's properties, attorneys for Schofield plan to file their appeal to last month’s decision later this month.
In June, the breakaway diocese joined hundreds of conservative parishes that split from The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to launch a new national Anglican province called the Anglican Church in North America( (ACNA).
The emerging province, led by Bishop Robert Duncan, is seen as a rival body to the already existing national churches in North America.
The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin is currently aligned with both ACNA and the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.