Clergy and lay members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin voted 173-22 at their annual convention to remove all references to the national church from the diocese's constitution, according to spokeswoman Joan Gladstone.
The Fresno-based congregation is the first full diocese to secede because of a conservative-liberal rift that began decades ago and is now focused on whether the Bible condemns gay relationships.
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They've decided to become part of the South American congregation. They've been considering cutting ties with the Church since V. Gene Robinson was consecrated in 2003.
Expect a lawsuit:
The diocese's holdings include 48 church buildings, including its Fresno headquarters, a series of mission-style buildings surrounded by olive, Chinese elm and cherry trees. Its total assets are worth millions, said the Rev. Van McCalister, a diocesan spokesman.
San Joaquin Bishop Jon-David Schofield said that the Church "has isolated itself from the overwhelming majority of Christendom and more specifically from the Anglican Communion by denying Biblical truth and walking apart from the historic Faith and Order."
It's funny what will create an uproar and what events and decision people will consider important. His statement that the Church has moved away from "Biblical truth" puts him at odds with the Episcopalians' long history of agitating for social justice. They rebuked the Bible's literal words that support slavery to help the abolitionist movement and consecrated female bishops in the 1970's.
In their time, those were big issues. And while the diocese is still refusing to take the Church's position on ordaining women, the fact that there's a gay in the congregation is what's causing this split. They chose not to take a similar stand on gay bishops as they did on female bishops, or take the spirit of Jesus' message over a few Old Testament admonitions as the Church did back when there was slavery.
This is the issue to part ways over.
I guess we know their priorities.