We have arrived at the first anniversary of the attempt by John David Schofield and his henchmen to take the diocese of San Joaquin "south for the winter". In addition, the bishops from the diocese of Forth Worth, Quincy, and Pittsburgh have also decided that "going south for the winter" was a good idea.
In all of the machinations from both our beloved Episcopal Church and from the reasserters, a policy, a manner of approach is coming clear. It appears that we are being abandoned. At a minimum, benign neglect and at worst, abandonment. Now, before everyone goes crazy about this let's look at the facts. First, the reasserter side. In San Joaquin we have a wonderful bishop, Jerry Lamb, who is doing all he can to pull this diocese together after a horrendous first few months. The laity and clergy left behind in the aftermath of the split up of the diocese is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome brought on by the insensitivity with which Mr. Schofield and ++Venables has treated them. The selling of churches out from underneath parishes, the locking out of the clergy and laity of their own churches, the mean-spirited way in which those that occupy the buildings treat those that have been removed is all well documented. When confronted with these actions, those that have gone with John David are silent. They clearly do not give a damn about the toll in human suffering they have caused. They refuse to answer the human question. Questions about God's love for us and our response. They refuse to answer questions about the ethical and Godly treatment of our fellow LGBT Episcopalians as they continue to heap abuse upon them. The Schofield, Venables, Akinola, Duncan, Iker, Orambi, Wantland, Ackerman, etal group simply believes that "what is a few dead people" along the path to righteousness. Their path is clear, their plan is out in the open and they believe that if they run a few people down in order to get their the sacrifice is well worth it.
I have grown to understand why they cannot deal in human suffering. If they stopped to deal in the toll that they have exacted along the way they might become distracted from their main destiny -- power and prestige, Lord knows they cannot have that!
But what of our friends? What of the Episcopal Church? Where are they? What are they doing to slow down and stop this inane trip to Argentina, Nigeria, Uganda or Australia? Well, it appears they have cooled to the idea that we need help. Let's take a look at but one of our Executive Council's ideas about what is going on:
Father Mark Harris, a member of the Executive Committee has given us this rationale for the split:
"Hostility is a good motivator, but as a sustainable and rational basis for creative new understandings of a faith community it fails miserably."
Explain this to those who lost their church, had it sold out from underneath them. On a global perspective you may indeed be correct but in the microcosm it destroys the lives of those who were in that church.
and then this:
"First most of the fight is irrelevant at best and obscene at worse. Outside a small circle of friends and enemies who give a damn about all this, the world’s issues are of much greater importance, and the churches’ issues much less importance, for this to make any difference in their lives. Even the plan as played out in the forgoing appears as an absurdity and an irrelevance."
Apparently, those of us in those diocese of Pittsburgh, Quincy, Fort Worth and San Joaquin are merely irrelevant -- we are fighting an obscene fight and who is it that doesn't give a damn about us?
"For many people, including my family and most of the people I love, the machinations of the Anglican Communion or its churches, as regards the current possibilities of a split in the Communion, are mildly interesting but of no ultimate importance. They are right."
See, those of us left behind would be more important to Father Harris if we were members of his family? Hey, we are members of your family -- we are Episcopalians Father Harris. I thought that made us members of your family!
"“So what?” Very little will change in what we do or how we proclaim the Gospel because of the plots and plans of those who have left.""
For those of us in San Joaquin very much has changed. Friends have turned into foes. How we look at this world and how we treat each other has been radically altered. Trusted clergy are now suspect. The joyful trips on Sundays are for some, grim reminders of a terrible time. We now ask, as we pass a church, "Is that an Episcopal church or a church that is Southern Cone?"
"We are very proud of who we are and what we have done and our stance on Bishop Robinson, on full inclusion and on women's ordination has put us in an unenviable position apparently."
So are we! But we are also proud of our inclusiveness of our parishes and we miss the multiplicity of voices that have historically echoed in our halls. We want to stay open and positive and working hard or the kingdom of God. But we are slowly drifting, swirling around the drain.
"But when they have finished doing whatever it is that they purport to do, there will still be The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and churches throughout the world that remain willing to work together as the Anglican Communion we know and to which we belong. "
What about the rest of us? Where will we be? Last year the Executive Council sent a little under $600,000.00 to San Joaquin. This year the Executive Council will send a little over $700,000.00 to San Joaquin, Fort Worth, Quincy, and Pittsburgh. What have they done to stave the tide? Nothing. What have they done to slow the process down? Nothing. What have they done to bring us back into the Episcopal Church? Not much. The presiding Bishop, ++Katherine is concerned. But it appears that as a plan of action abandonment is the best the Executive Council can come up with, after all, we are just some back water places that are irrelevant.