Bishop John-David SchofieldThe Bishop of San Joaquin, California is leading his diocese out of the Episcopal Church in protest at the Church’s increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians.

The Right Reverend John-David Schofield previously attributed his views on homosexuality to his experience of Fresno-based ex-gay group New Creation Ministries.

Although he has been candid about his support for ex-gay ministry, Schofield denies claims that he is or ever has been homosexual. A 1995 newsletter from Voice of Integrity, a pro-gay Episcopalian group, said the Bishop “told members of his clergy that he was a “cured homosexual”.” The publication carried the headline “Bishop outs himself in interview,” a reference to an interview Schofield gave earlier to Foundations Daily, a journal of the conservative Episcopal Synod of America.

On examination, it is not clear whether the Bishop outed himself: his claims are ambiguous. In the interview, he speaks of homosexuality as “a lifestyle which I have seen as destructive,” and apparently alludes to his own experience of ex-gay ministry – but the extent and nature of his involvement is not spelled out.

According to Reverend Bill Gandenberger, of the same diocese, Schofield responded to Voice of Integrity’s charge by saying that he “absolutely never” claimed to be a “cured homosexual.”

Last week, Schofield’s Diocese of San Joaquin voted by 173-22 to accept an invitation to join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, based in South America.

Explaining the move, Schofield blamed the Episcopal Church’s “failure to heed the repeated calls for repentance issued by the Primates of the Anglican Communion and for the cessation of false teaching and sacramental actions explicitly contrary to Scripture.” The phrase “sacramental actions” alludes to the controversial ordination of Gene Robinson, the Anglican Communion’s first openly gay bishop.

Presiding US Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori says dissidents can leave, but insists the San Joaquin diocese will remain part of the Episcopal Church.

Update: Even conservative Episcopalian commentator David Virtue says as recently as yesterday that the Bishop was a practicing homosexual:

What happens is this. When a homosexual or lesbian renounces the lifestyle they get accused of being “self-loathing” and “homophobic”, much like the Bishop of San Joaquin, John-David Schofield who renounced the lifestyle many years ago.

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