Warning from Episcopal Church to Valley Bishop

January 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The bishop who led thousands away from the Episcopal Church is facing serious punishment by church leaders.The order came down from the head of the American Episcopal Church; Bishop John-David Schofield must stop his ministerial work in churches across central California.

The move follows last month's vote by the San Joaquin Episcopal diocese to split from the national church.

Instead of the American church, the Fresno-based diocese has now aligned itself with the Anglican Church in South America.

So Bishop Schofield says the American church can no longer tell him what he can, and can't do. "I have not denounced or renounced the faith or anything. I just simply transferred to another part of the Anglican community."

Schofield says he will be preaching this Sunday if he's still welcomed by the priest and the church where he's scheduled to visit.

Frustrated with the national church's stance on same sex marriages and gay clergy, Bishop Schofield says he knows many Episcopalians will be relieved that he's been ordered to stop his ministerial work.

"The diocese of San Joaquin is an island in that liberal sea. I'm sure there are many Episcopalians who would love to see the end of me," says Bishop Schofield.

But not so says the Reverend Keith Axberg whose part of a group call "remain" that represents valley Episcopalians who did not want to split from the national church.

Axberg believes the head of the church is reaching out to Schofield giving him two months to change his mind, while he's out of the ministry.

Rev. Keith Axberg, Holy Family Church, says "It's really an invitation to please return. We really want you back. Truly what it is. It's not about saying you are wrong. But we really want you to be part of the fold."

Episcopal bishops from around the country will take a look at Schofield's case and decide whether he has abandoned the national church.

If they decide against him, the church says it will start looking for a new bishop to lead the San Joaquin diocese.


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