Getting off the fence in San Joaquin

Episcopal Bishop Jerry Lamb sent a letter dated yesterday to the active clergy in San Joaquin who have not yet recognized his authority within the Diocese—giving them the benefit of the doubt that perhaps they are still undecided, but also giving them a date by which they need to make up their minds. From a diocesan press release:

Bishop Jerry Lamb directed all active clergy who have not indicated their recognition of him as the duly authorized ecclesiastical authority of the Diocese of San Joaquin to do so by September 5, 2008 or potentially face disciplinary action.

In his letter Bishop Lamb stated that he did not “relish” using disciplinary action, adding “I would prefer to engage you in conversation and reconciliation.”

This is a followup action after his July 10 letter asking, Are you in? We covered that one here. According to the release, some one-third of the priests answered that yes, they are staying.

The release and the letter are available from the San Joaquin website as PDFs here.

This letter follows a previous letter mailed July 10 requesting each clergy member to confirm his or her status in the Episcopal Church. About one-third of the active clergy members living in the diocese responded to this letter by stating their desire to remain in the Episcopal Church. According to the Canons of the Episcopal Church, clergy who do not comply with a directive of their bishop may be subject to ecclesiastical discipline for violation of their ordination vows or other offenses. They also may lose their eligibility for church medical insurance as well as further contributions to the church’s pension fund.

Prior to the letters of July and August, Bishop Lamb extended invitations to all clergy to participate in the Special Convention held in March of this year, and personally invited clergy to talk with him individually or through a “reconciliation tour” in June 2008. Letters were not sent to clergy who are inactive, or who are no longer residing in the diocese.

A copy of the letter is posted on the diocesan website ( ).

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