A Call For Healing

3/29/2008 Fresno Never before has the Episcopal Church gathered for a meeting like the one held in Lodi. The head of the U.S. Church was on hand to oversee the reorganization of the San Joaquin Diocese torn apart by controversy.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said lots of faithful were here today rejoicing once again: "Rejoicing that they are once again clearly the Episcopal Diocese of the San Joaquin."

At the top of the agenda was replacing Bishop John David Schofield, who was stripped of his title after splitting from the U.S. church over the role of gays and lesbians. That's an important topic that should be debated in the months ahead according to Bishop Jerry Lamb who was elected Saturday.

"I see my role as leading this diocese in a time of healing of renewal and in a very real sense one of rebirth," said Lamb.

With less than half of San Joaquin congregations on hand to elect Lamb, the new bishop admitted there's a lot of work to be done. "There are also others who have not declared whether they are coming back to the Episcopal church or what's going to happen with them. That's going to be a major piece of my work and my agenda."

Jefferts Schori said once things settle down she's confident more people will come back to the diocese.

Royce Scales of Fresno's Holy Family Church said he agrees the diocese can be whole again. "I am very hopeful this is a new dawn, a new sunlight for the San Joaquin Valley and the Episcopal Church," he said

The diocesan headquarters will now be moved from Fresno to Stockton. Meanwhile, the church and John David Schofield are still at odds over what happens to church property. Church leaders say that dispute will most likely end up in court.

We tried repeatedly to contact Reverend Schofield, but he did not return our calls.

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