The Province VIII executive committee is seeking nominations for a lay representative to the national Executive Council to fulfill a vacated position.
The Rev. Jack Eastwood, Province VIII president, said that a decision was made to vacate the seat held by Ted Yumoto of the Fresno, California-based Diocese of San Joaquin after Yumoto told them he "had voted to amend canons and the constitution of the diocese" to realign with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.
Eastwood said he was appreciative of Yumoto's "stable and consistent" leadership to Province VIII and the church over the years. But, the provincial leadership "agreed that we need to have a representative who is professing to be a member of the Episcopal Church and not some other loyalty," Eastwood said January 24.
"I'm really very sorry this is happening," said Eastwood, the retired rector of St. Paul's, Oakland. "But, we felt we needed to take this action for the province and the responsibility to represent it on Executive Council, we felt we needed to move forward on this."
Eastwood has also written to convey word of the Province VIII executive committee's decision to the Secretary of the Executive Council, the Rev. Dr. Gregory S. Straub, who is also secretary and executive officer of the General Convention.
Eastwood said that Yumoto indicated he had, at San Joaquin's December 8 diocesan convention, supported Bishop John-David Schofield's request to leave the Episcopal Church. At that convention, 42 of 47 congregations voted to realign themselves under Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, which has 22,000 members and encompasses Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Peru.
A month later, on January 11, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori inhibited Schofield from serving as bishop after a Title IV Review Committee determined that he had abandoned the communion.
Schofield has the options of recanting his position, renouncing his orders or declaring that the Title IV assertions are false.
If a majority of bishops concur with the Title IV review committee's findings during the March 7-13 House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, the Presiding Bishop will depose Schofield and declare the episcopate of the San Joaquin diocese vacant.
Yumoto, reached at his home in Stockton, said he is "in a process of discernment" and declined to comment until after the bishops meet.
"I'm trying to collect my thoughts and let them sift themselves out as we move toward the first meeting of the House of Bishops and what has come down as an inhibition and potential deposition of my Bishop John-David Schofield," he said.
"Things are getting organized and reorganized in my diocese and a lot of things are in flux," he said. He acknowledged that provincial leadership had informed him of their intention to replace him on Executive Council, but declined to say whether he would offer a formal resignation.
The province will not, in the meantime, be without representation, he added.
"At least there are four others on or immediately around Executive Council from Province VIII and I know they're good leaders, I've worked with them. I just need a time of prayerful reflection on everything that's happened and to discern what are my next steps."
Eastwood said he hopes to fill the seat in time so Yumoto's replacement can attend the Executive Council meeting February 11-14 in Quito, Ecuador.
"That person would stand for re-election at the provincial synod in September 2008 and be expected to take office after General Convention 2009," he said.