Central Valley

Episcopal church sues to recover Valley diocese property

The Diocese of San Joaquin and the Episcopal Church has filed a 30-page civil lawsuit against Bishop John-David Schofield and the Episcopal Foundation of San Joaquin, seeking to recover church assets and property.

The suit, filed Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court, asks that Schofield stop acting on behalf of the Diocese of San Joaquin, to declare Bishop Jerry Lamb, appointed as Schofield's temporary replacement, to be the diocese bishop, and to order Schofield to vacate offices and turn over all church property to Lamb and the church.

The lawsuit is the latest step in a dispute that has split the diocese. In December, 42 of its 48 parishes voted to leave the U.S. Episcopal Church and align with the Southern Cone of South America.

The split, which affected congregations in 10 Central California counties, was primarily over interpretation of the Bible and views on the ordination of homosexuals.

Lamb previously served as bishop of the Sacramento-based Diocese of Northern California.

The other parishes that left the U.S. church remain under the leadership of Schofield. He resigned from the U.S. church, then was stripped of his title and authority.

Schofield has said he believes that once his members voted to end their affiliation with the U.S. church, he no longer was under their jurisdiction.