Episcopal Church diocese sues former bishop

June 3, 2008 4:41pm

•  Says church property had been transferred

•  John-David Schofield had been fired in March

A lawsuit initially filed by the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of San Joaquin against John-David Schofield, former bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, has been amended on the basis of new information gathered about recent transfers of real and personal property and assets to entities formed by Mr. Schofield and his attorney sometime in early April, the church says.

The former bishop was deposed by the Episcopal House of Bishops on March 12.

The amended complaint and summons were filed on June 2, 2008 in Fresno County by attorneys for the Episcopal Church and Diocese of San Joaquin.

The amended complaint also names Merrill Lynch, the financial institution managing the investment accounts of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. as a defendant and seeks a court order to turn over the accounts and to prohibit Mr. Schofield’s further use or access to those accounts.

As a result, Merrill Lynch has frozen the accounts indefinitely until the court issues a ruling, the church says.

The freeze will not affect any of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin’s assets, accounts or operations.

The Diocesan Office in Stockton says it is seeking an arrangement with Merrill Lynch that would allow staff purportedly working for Mr. Schofield to continue to be paid in hardship cases.

“We are working with financial institutions to minimize any financial hardship on their staff such as parish administrators,” says the Right Rev. Jerry Lamb, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. “This legal action is intended to insure that the assets given by faithful parishioners remain in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin for its continuing ministry.”

Mr. Schofield was fired by the national church after he said he and a number of the churches in the Central Valley would align with a South American Anglican diocese.

Mr. Schofield had objected to the Episcopal Church’s ordination of women and gays.

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