Controversy at the Pulpit

March 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A valley bishop gave his first service Sunday since the Episcopal Church stripped him of his title.Bishop John Schofield got a lot of support from his church members this Palm Sunday. It was his first service since the Episcopal Church stripped him of his bishop title.

His church leaders reassured the congregation Schofield is still their bishop under the southern cone of South America which prompted a standing ovation from his church members.

"Last week's decision was for their sake, they had to clean up the business of their house, but you see I'm not in the house of bishops, I'm in the house of bishops in the southern cone," says Bishop Schofield. "There's a difference of opinion, they don't think so, but I do. So I'll be here, nothing has changed."

Bishop Schofield led the split from the Episcopal Church over disagreements of policies including the church's support of same-sex unions and female clergy.

Bill Hughes, church member, says "I think with me it's the right thing to do, that the Episcopalians now don't follow the bible, they make up their own rules when they want to, and I think that's wrong."

The Episcopal Church has nominated Bishop Jerry Lamb to replace Schofield to preside over several valley churches which chose to not secede.

New leadership is welcome news to remaining Episcopal members. Barbara Wade, Fresno Episcopalian, says "We can start having women priests here; we can start opening the doors for all people because Christ said all people were welcome."

George Wade, Fresno Episcopalian, says "My feeling is for the first time in 20 years, we will see an Episcopal Church in the valley. Because the Episcopal Church is all inclusive, we say no to no one."

Now a legal fight is expected over who owns the seceding church properties.

The Episcopalian Church will vote whether to confirm Bishop Jerry Lamb later this month at a convention in Lodi. It will also move its Diocese headquarters from Fresno to Stockton.


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