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.
He had prepared breakfast for himself. Then he was discovered 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.
Kamai said Bishop Schofield's death comes as a surprise, "but it doesn't come as a shock."
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 he was named bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin 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, speaking at churches and praying for parishioners.
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 Rev. Carlos Raines, dean of St. James' Anglican Cathedral in Fresno, believed Bishop Schofield's passing in his favorite chair was "the way he would have wanted to go."
"He didn't like hospitals, and he didn't like being sick," Raines said. "But he has not been afraid of dying.
"Part of us is rejoicing" that the bishop is now with God, he said. "But we have this huge hole. Everybody is really stunned and grieving the loss of him."
He said Bishop Schofield enjoyed his connection in retirement with parishioners.
"He was a spiritual man," Raines said. "He loved to be giving spiritual direction with people and praying with people. He was meeting with a lot of people."
Sue Hague, a parishioner at St. James' Anglican Cathedral, called Bishop Schofield "my adopted dad."
Hague said he always prayed for her -- "even what people thought were the silliest things to pray for.
"He encouraged me," she said.
Hague also remembers Bishop Schofield as a wonderful dinner host who enjoyed having people in his home.
"I felt I was in the presence of a living saint," she said. "I hope at his eulogy that they ask for a show of hands for who sat at his dinner table. It wasn't just the food; it was his love."
Born: Oct. 6, 1938
Died: Oct. 29, 2013
Occupation: Retired Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin in Fresno
Services: Arrangements are pending.
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