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By Casey Christie/ The Californian
By CALIFORNIAN STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
FRESNO -- Retired Anglican Bishop John-David Schofield, who led a movement that separated the Diocese of San Joaquin from the U.S. Episcopal Church over debate about same-sex marriages and the consecration of a partnered gay priest, died Tuesday morning. He was 75.
Current Anglican Bishop Eric Menees said on the diocese's website that Bishop Schofield died peacefully at his northwest Fresno home, sitting in his favorite green chair.
Born: Oct. 6, 1938
Died: Oct. 29, 2013
Occupation: Retired Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin in Fresno
Services: Arrangements are pending.
He had prepared breakfast for himself. He was discovered later by friends who checked on him after he didn't answer his phone.
Menees was in Rome on Tuesday when he was notified of Bishop Schofield's death.
In a statement posted on the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin website, Menees said: "My heart is heavy because I am selfish and desire my brother by my side, but also joyful because I know that at this moment he has heard the words of our Lord: 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' "
Bishop Schofield had been ill, said the Rev. Gordon Kamai, pastor of Anglican Christ Church in Oakhurst.
In retirement, Bishop Schofield recently reached milestones -- 50 years since his ordination as a priest and 25 years as a bishop. He also had his 75th birthday on Oct. 6.
He served as vicar of Saint Columba Parish Church in Inverness for many years before being named bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, which includes Bakersfield, in 1988. He served 23 years in the Episcopal Diocese and then the Anglican Diocese before he retired in 2011. He remained as a bishop in residence.
In 2007, he caught the attention of national media when he led the movement that split the Diocese of San Joaquin from the Episcopal Church. At that time, the national church had ordained gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, setting off debate about the Bible's interpretation of gay issues.
The local separation resulted in the breakaway Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, which then became part of the Anglican Church in North America.
Kamai said, "John-David Schofield was an Anglican bishop who embraced the three streams of Anglicanism: Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical and Charismatic. He will be remembered as a champion of biblical truth in a post-modern culture."
The split in the Episcopal Church led to recriminations and lawsuits as some parishes joined the Anglican Diocese and Episcopal leaders fought to retain the buildings.
Bishop Schofield placed the breakaway churches -- including, in Bakersfield, All Saints Anglican Church, St. Luke's Anglican Church, St. Mark's Anglican Mission and St. Peter's Anglican Mission -- under a South American province of the Anglican Church. The four Bakersfield churches did not own title to their property.
As they have done elsewhere across the country, bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church sued to regain control over the breakaway churches' assets on the grounds that the buildings belong to the diocese, not to the parishioners. Years of legal motions ensued.
One church that split was St. Paul's Episcopal Church on 17th Street in Bakersfield.
A Kern County judge ruled in February that the church -- as well St. Michael's in Ridgecrest and two others outside Kern -- belonged to the Episcopalians, not the Anglicans who had occupied it since leaving the diocese five years ago.
A related case set to go to trial next year in Fresno is expected to decide the ownership of five other Kern County church properties claimed by Anglicans.