The last couple of days have been a rough ride in cyberspace over goings-on in and about my former diocese of San Joaquin. There is a great deal of woundedness and mistrust in all quarters--quite enough to go around. My own heart aches for everyone involved, because they are people I know. (Even some of the anonymous commenters on blogs are probably people I know--I just don't know who they are!) They are people with whom I have worked collegially back when times were more normal. It gives me great pain that we have come to his mess.
For the record, lest there be any ambiguity, I do not believe the decision made by the convention last December was a wise one. I was disappointed in the votes. I believe Bishop Schofield has made a grave error in judgment, and it participating in a process that will very probably result in the destruction of the Anglican Communion as we have known it. And it is all needless, because if the Federal Conservatives (to adopt Stand Firm terminology) could just take a longer view, I believe, and have always believed, the evolutionary trajectory in Anglicanism has been in an orthodox direction. They have blown a major opportunity.
Also for the record, I have, within the political and personal dynamics of the Diocese of San Joaquin, labored with others to prevent what has come to pass. Much of that labor will never come to light, and much of it cannot be understood by anyone not involved in diocesan leadership. The realities on the ground have required subtlety and obliqueness. In any case, what has transpired represents a failure of my efforts, and the efforts of those with whom I have collaborated.
There are those who have accused San Joaquin's Standing Committee (and accused me inasmuch as I was a member of that committee until mid-August of last year) of dereliction of duty for not doing more to block the Bishop's efforts to lead the diocese out of TEC. This is where the subtlety and obliqueness come in, which render such efforts as have been made largely invisible.
A couple of cases in point: At last December's convention, a parishioner from one the parishes led by one of the "fired" Standing Committee members, very early in the debate, moved a substitute for the proposed constitutional change. If the substitute had been adopted, it would have, of course, turned it into a new "first reading," thus postponing the whole departure process by a year. The motion failed, but my source informs me that many of the members of Remain Episcopal who were delegates to the convention failed to vote in favor of the substitute. Yes, it was language that may still have resulted in a departure from TEC, so they would have been opposed to it in principle. But as a strategic move, it would have had the effect of delaying the Bishop's plan. One would think it might have merited their support.
Later, after passing the constitutional change that was understood (unnecessarily, in my opinion) as severing ties with the Episcopal Church, the concention still needed to pass a canonical change in order to affiliate with the Southern Cone. Since this canonical change was not made public by the required deadline, it was a "late" resolution, and required a three-quarters majority vote just to be heard by the convention. At least some members (maybe all, for all I know) clearly voted No on allowing this canonical change to be considered. My source tells me that the Remain Episcopal delegates present failed to oppose the consideration of the change, perhaps feeling that the cause had already been lost by the first vote. But it would not have taken very many votes to reject hearing it, and would perhaps have been successful if the Remain Episcopal delegates had joined forces with others on the question.
I do not believe it is yet too late for some redemption to happen here. But we're getting awfully close to a point of no return. Everyone needs to let down their shields. It probably needs to be done not in the blogsphere, and not by the exercise of power, but by a few phone calls and meetings between people who are actually on the ground in the Central Valley. Who will have the courage to stand down first?