Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
|Diocese of San Joaguin|
|Bishop||Chester Talton (provisional)|
Location of the Diocese of San Joaquin
The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin (EDSJ) is a diocese of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA), located in central California with its headquarters in Modesto. It can trace its roots back to the earliest days of American settlement in California.
Over the years, the diocese had become known as one of the more conservative dioceses within the Episcopal Church. Due to ongoing disagreements with the national church in matters such as the blessing of same-sex relationships and the ordination of women a rift developed within the diocese between those who wished to remain in the Episcopal Church and a majority who wished to leave. On December 8, 2007, a majority of the delegates at the diocese's convention voted to leave the Episcopal Church in order to form the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. The remaining clergy and laity who did not vote to leave continue to constitute the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. Various court decisions have determined that those who left largely did so as individuals and not as a diocese.
Until this vote, the diocese was one of the most conservative within the Episcopal Church. The diocese had been one of the last three that did not ordain women (the others were the dioceses of Quincy and Fort Worth). The pre-separation Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin had a membership of approximately 8,500.
On January 11, 2008, the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, inhibited Bishop John-David Schofield from the exercise of the office of a bishop. On March 1, 2008, Schofield tendered his resignation from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, although he continued to claim the title of bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin. On March 12, 2008, he was deposed by action of the House of Bishops.
A special diocesan convention met on March 29, 2008, in Lodi, California elected Jerry Lamb (retired bishop of Northern California) as provisional bishop of a reorganized Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. Bishop Schori stated that "The Episcopal Church will continue in the Diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership." The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church as a whole agreed to provide $700,000 to help defray the expenses associated with reorganization in San Joaquin and other dioceses facing similar challenges. At the regular diocesan convention in October 2008, delegates voted to create an "equality commission", charged with affirming marginalized communities within the diocese, including women, lesbians and gays, as well as several ethnic groups.
On May 22, 2009, Bishop Lamb, with the support of other Episcopal leaders removed fifty-two clergy members (priests and deacons) who had aligned with the former Bishop Schofield.
On March 5, 2011, the Rt. Rev. Chester Lovelle Talton was formally seated at Holy Family Church in Fresno as the diocese's provisional bishop. Talton succeeded the Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, who had served as provisional bishop since February 2008. Lamb had announced his intention to retire and called for the special meeting, in accordance with the diocesan constitution.
In early 2014 Bishop Talton retired and was succeeded by Bishop David Rice a young and energetic and forward looking leader who previously served as a Bishop in the Anglican Church in New Zealand.
On July 21, 2009, the Superior Court of California ruled that the diocese cannot leave the Episcopal Church and that Bishop Lamb is the head of the diocese. Bishop Schofield was found not to be the head of the diocese and was ordered to relinquish all money, property and any assumed authority. However, on November 11, 2010 the lower court's ruling was overturned by the 5th appellate court, remanding the property issues to be retried by the lower court under neutral principles. The appeals court, however, also ruled that several matters of fact had been established in the trial record and were not subject to re-litigation. These included that former Bishop Schofield had been inhibited from all episcopal actions in January 2008, that in March 2008 he had been deposed; and that from the date of the special convention in March 2008, Bishop Lamb was the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese.
 Litigation over parish property has resulted in court orders awarding various properties to the Episcopal Diocese, including churches in Bakersfield, Sonora, Turlock, and Ridgecrest. Other cases involving parish property remain unsettled.
Some properties have been returned to the Episcopal Diocese voluntarily. St John's In Stockton, a historic and important Church was suddenly returned to the EDSJ on April 17, 2014, just days before Easter. Easter services were hastily arranged by newly elected Bishop David Rice who thought it important that no lapse in services should be allowed to occur. On May 7, 2014 The Rev. Anne Smith celebrated the Eucharist at St. John's, Stockton. Mother Anne was the first woman to celebrate the Eucharist at St. John's, in its 150+ year history and 38 years after the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women.
In May of 2014 the courts announced a tentative decision ordering the remaining 27 properties and various other assets to be returned to the Episcopal Diocese. St. James Cathedral, the former diocesan offices, the Episcopal Camp and Conference Center near Yosemite National Park (known as ECCO), the diocesan investment trust and 25 other church properties, valued at about $50 million, are included in the May 5 decision. In the 41-page opinion in the case brought by the Episcopal Church and its Diocese of San Joaquin, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald S. Black also said that “because a diocese is a geographical construct of the Church, it makes no sense that a diocese can ‘leave’ the Church; it does not exist apart from the Church.” More complete information on this ruling may be found at http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2014/05/16/calif-courts-preliminary-decision-return-27-properties-to-episcopalians/ .
- San Joaquin votes to leave Episcopal Church, realign with Southern Cone, Episcopal Life online, The Episcopal Church, December 8, 2007. Retrieved September 26, 2008
- Presiding Bishop inhibits San Joaquin bishop, Episcopal Life Online, The Episcopal Church, January 11, 2008. Retrieved September 26, 2008
- Letter from Schofield to Schori and the House of Bishops, March 1, 2007, Episcopal cafe. Retrieved September 26, 2008.
- House of Bishops consents to deposition of John-David Schofield, William Cox Episcopal Life Online, The Episcopal Church, March 12, 2008. Retrieved September 26, 2008
- San Joaquin Episcopalians anchor reorganization in themes of resurrection, hope, Episcopal Life Online, The Episcopal Church, March 12, 2008. Retrieved September 26, 2008
- The Living Church Foundation | Presiding Bishop Eyes New Leadership for Diocese of San Joaquin
- Christian Post: "Episcopal Diocese Approves Commission to Support Gays" (sic), 28 October 2008
- Official church Lamb Deposition. Retrieved May 29, 2009 "SAN JOAQUIN: Bishop John-David Schofield Responds to Deposition Actions of TEC". Retrieved May 29, 2009
- Official website
- Remain Episcopal, a group within the diocese opposed to the separation.
- Appeal against TEC faction, the 5th Appellate District Court's ruling that invalidated the July 21, 2009 ruling in favor of Lamb's party.