The 43rd annual Diocesan Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego began with workshops, business and an outdoors barbecue with live music and dancing at St. Margaret’s, Palm Desert, and continued with a Eucharist and business session on Saturday.
Opportunities for learning kicked off the convention activities on Friday morning. The youth enjoyed two workshops tailored to them about serving others in and around their home parishes, and serving beyond diocesan bounds. The youth themselves led the third workshop about youth ministry throughout the diocese. Important hearings on the budget and resolution drew many participants. Health insurance changes, planned giving, and endowments were all covered by experts in their fields. One of the most popular workshop of the day was “Denominationalism: Hands-On Ecumenical Ministry and Worship,” which featured the Rev. Lane Hensley, rector of St. Margaret’s; the Rev. Derek Fossey, senior pastor of Hope Lutheran Church; and the Rev. Gerald Sharon, former senior pastor of Southwest Church. They discussed ways to build collaborative ecumenical relationships while serving the community. “Leading Change at the Congregational Level” enjoyed widespread participation as well. The Rev. David Marshall, priest-in-charge at St. John’s, Chula Vista, and the Rev. Mark McKone Sweet, rector of St. Bartholomew’s, Poway helped attendees understand the nature of change, obstacles, and possible solutions. “The North Park Project: Community Organizing in the Digital Age” was also well-attended. The Revs. Colin and Laurel Mathewson shared about their vision for growth through small groups and civic participation while Hannah Wilder, diocesan communications director, piped in with information about a budding diocesan evangelism initiative. RefugeeNet led a workshop about our refugee neighbors served by members of our congregations. Weekly food distribution points and after-school tutoring programs are just some of the ways the RefugeeNet partners with congregations to help our newly arrived brothers and sisters. The Rev. Babs Meairs, the Rev. Susan Astarita, Mr. Stan Bishop and Mr. John Will led the “Churches and Military, Veterans Support Panel.” They illuminated the fact that in San Diego we have one of the largest military presences in the country. The panel shared some of the existing resources and programs in congregations and honored veterans and their families for their sacrifices.
Picnic Under the Stars
New to convention was a relaxed, casual picnic under the stars on the campus of St. Margaret’s. Attendees feasted on grilled chicken, cole slaw, cornbread and apple pie while the Ted Plummer Trio entertained guests with live music. A hedgehog, owl, porcupine and snake from the Living Desert delighted children of all ages. The diocesan youth presence (which was composed of 26 youth from 14 congregations) honored our veterans by handing out pins as the Rev. Lane Hensley, rector of St. Margaret’s said a prayer. Dr. Equilla Luke, second vice president of executive council, and member of Good Samaritan, emceed the servant ministry awards. The St. Margaret’s Singers continued the entertainment with sounds from Broadway and The Great American Songbook. We are grateful to Eva Myers, soprano, Frank Haggard, baritone and Steven Smith, accompanist. Some even joined the music with dancing. Videos are online.
Sermon by the Rev. Andrew Green
“We are called to be a sending church proclaiming the good news to all.” The central theme from the Rev. Andrew Green was a call to be out in the world, and to send forth our best representatives. Father Green, rector of St. Paul in-the-Desert, Palm Springs, asked listeners at the Convention Eucharist to think about the idea that the Church of sitting back and waiting for people to show up is no more, and that Church “is not about making sure every pew is filled and every potluck is completely booked.” He painted a word picture about Charles Simeon, an 18th century English evangelical clergyman, and the saint whose feast day we celebrate on November 13. An ardent evangelical, Simeon reshaped the church’s understanding of missionaries and founded the Chruch Missionary Society in 1799. His urgings for church members to move out into the world with the good news are ones that we can benefit from today.
Father Green referenced Romans 10:14-15, which asks, “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?” He invited the congregation to wonder about what is needed today for people to hear the healing word of Jesus. How do we identify it and distinguish it from the noise of church, politics, and therapy so that the word that is near us and on our lips is Jesus?
Finally he admonished those gathered to remember that proclamations of good news will not occur unless we send someone, and that the people in that very room were a good place to start. Click the “play” button below to listen to this sermon.
Bishop Mathes’ Opening Remarks
In his opening remarks, Bishop Mathes reflected on the recent election. He claimed “radical hospitality and love of neighbor” as the bedrock foundation for Christians. “In the course of this election, particular groups have been derided and made to feel excluded from our national community. This is anathema to both our Christian principles and our national creed of one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. In this brittle season, we, the Church, are called to be mindful of our role to be the conscience of the nation. We should do that regardless of who we voted for, regardless of our political leanings…we will stand with Jesus.” He concluded with these prayers for unity and peace:
O God, who charges all life with meaning and purpose both in holy places and in the affairs of daily life. We ask that we may see in the life and death of Jesus, the call to both personal piety and a vital rule in the public issues of these days, especially those who are most consequential to the poor, the forsaken and the marginalized.
Grant that we may bring to public discourse which strains the bounds of our mutual affection new energy to reorder our corporate life that it may reflect the graciousness of God to redeem what has been counted to be of no account, to enfranchise those who have been forgotten, to invite back those who feel unqualified or excluded.
May our desire for wholeness overrule the counsel of special interests and so may our need to save ourselves be overruled by our mission to take upon ourselves the risk of those who have no voice.
This we ask in the name of the one who enters into the messiness of human life and bring all things under the sway of his never-failing and unceasing love, Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
Bishop Mathes’ Address
Ever the Cubs fan, our bishop began his address by saying, “Try as we might, this convention and the coming year of our shared ministry will occur against the backdrop of this campaign, its ugliness and the emotions that it engendered and brought to the surface. But somehow because of my Chicago connections, I cannot separate this from my baseball life. I simply must begin today by stating clearly: I am a Cubs fan; I am a man of faith.” And he put his Cubs hat on. He carried this metaphor throughout the address saying, “It is my sense that the path for us begins with us returning to the fundamentals. And here I have to return slightly to baseball. Like any baseball team, focusing on hitting and pitching, and fielding, we get better. We, too, must focus on the core things.”
Bishop Mathes went on to say that as people of faith, God is sending us to bear good news, “that God loves the world, that God’s love in us can do more than we can ask for or imagine.” He emphasized that we “share in and show forth the transformative new life found in God’s love of us and our love of God and neighbor. He said, “That is a message that can change us.”
The bishop revealed important facts about our current diocese:
We have 44 congregations which each have their own clergy person, governing boards, vestries, bishop’s committees, accounting functions, bank accounts, etc. “What if we stopped doing it that way?” He asked. “What if we began to work in a deep way with each other and eliminated these redundancies? What if we freed up our most precious resource – you! Our human capital would be freed up so that we could do more of God’s mission in the world.”
He announced the shift work that our diocese committed to about two years ago to implement broad cultural change. He highlighted budget numbers that show $250,000 to fund this work, which shifts our mission “from being the church that is the receiving church to being the sending church.” These funds staff up the diocesan office for a short time to align ourselves differently and to “increase our diocesan efficiencies and retool for a different time of mission.” He noted that the new North Park Project is possible because of the shift work already accomplished.
He updated the convention on the new youth missioner, praising the work of Charlette Preslar, and he gave an update on the process to find a Hispanic missioner. While the search team has worked hard to locate and call the right candidate, they have not yet found that person. “To use the wisdom of Jesus, we are going to date a different shot at this. We are going to cast our nets on the other side of the boat,” said the bishop. He acknowledged that we already have a vibrant multi-cultural congregation in our diocese. “It is called Cursillo.”
He also explained the win-win situation resulting from the sale of St. Anne’s, Oceanside. “With $2.6 million in sales proceeds in hand, we were able to essentially eliminate our external debt by paying off the bank loans for St. Thomas, Temecula and St. Timothy’s, Rancho Peñasquitos. Here’s where the win part of it comes. Both congregations will now make loan payments at a lower rate to the diocese creating a flow of mission funds of $180,000.” Read the full address here or click the “play” button below to listen to it.
Every year at Convention, Bishop Mathes asks the clergy of the diocese to select one person from their congregation to receive a servant ministry award. These individuals represent the impetus to move beyond church walls and provide service in the world. They are also the unsung heroes of the congregation, quiet ministers to all. This year’s servant ministry award winners are: Diana Barrows, St. John’s, Fallbrook; Betty Baxter, St. Margaret’s, Palm Desert; Rachel Brown, St. Timothy’s, Rancho Peñasquitos; Nellie Escamilla, St. John’s, Indio; Jean Gillette, Holy Cross, Carlsbad; Leslie Hernandez, St. Andrew’s, Encinitas; Stan Hirsch, St. Margaret’s, Palm Desert; Mark & Gretchen Jordan, St. John’s, Chula Vista; Kathy Kilmer, St. Paul, Palm Springs; Pat Kreder, St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego; Carroll Levien, St. Dunstan’s, San Diego; Caroline Mahon-Hurd, St. Alban’s, El Cajon; Rosaura Medina-Amor, St. Philip’s, Lemon Grove; Cathy Salmon, St. Andrew’s, La Mesa; and Lynn Ten Eyck, St. David’s, San Diego. Congratulations to all servant ministry award winners, and thank you for your faithful service.
The Bishop’s Cross
Helen Astleford, diocesan executive council member, and vestry member at St. John’s, Indio received the prestigious Bishop’s Cross award. The Bishop’s Cross is presented annually to an individual for extraordinary service to the diocese. Astleford and her now deceased husband, Nate, nurtured Christ the King, Alpine through a divisive time in their history, helping the congregation to greater health. When they moved to the desert, she joined St. John’s, Indio and has been a member of the vestry ever since. Her “patient, calm, thoughtful, hardworking and faithful” nature have blessed this congregation, and her ability to speak Spanish in their multicultural setting is a definite plus. Bishop Mathes also noted that “since St. John’s previous rector left a little over a year ago, Helen has been steadfast in her leadership, insuring the congregation continues not only in its pastoral ministry but its outreach and work with the local food bank. It is clear Helen has a servant’s heart.” Congratulations!
One resolution cleaned up the language around the process for designating a parish as a mission action parish. Another mandated disaster preparedness work in each congregation with support from the diocesan committee. A resolution about guidelines for clergy compensation generated some conversation during the Saturday business session, but ultimately the a body voted to study other models of clergy compensation not tied to the Average Sunday Attendance (ASA). The fourth and final resolution officially established a companion diocese relationship with the Western Diocese of the Anglican Church of Mexico, the diocese that borders ours. Read the full text of the resolutions as passed here.
Delegates approved the 2017 operating budget of $2,103,366. The balanced budget reflects lower than budgeted operating expenses by $33,700. The diocese sold the St. Anne’s, Oceanside property in September resulting in $2,613,000, which was used to pay off the mortgages for St. Thomas, Temecula and St. Timothy’s, Rancho Peñasquitos. These two congregations will pay the diocese back at lower than market interest rates. As funds are repaid, they will fund the mission shift work approved by last year’s executive council subsequent to convention. The budget of $179,000 includes funding for the chief of staff, congregational coach, property missioner and administrative support. Click here for the complete budget.
Secretary of Convention: Mr. Darryl Peralta to serve until 2017
Historiographer: Mr. John J. Will to serve until 2017
The Rev. Monica Mainwaring to serve until 2019
The Rev. Jason Samuel to serve until 2019
Ms. Marion Gaston to serve until 2019
Diocesan Executive Council:
The Rev. Pamela Rieger to serve until 2020
Ms. Judy Brown to serve until 2020
Ms. Pat Carson to serve until 2020
Ms. Verdery D. Kassebaum to serve until 2019
The Rev. Laura Sheridan-Campbell to serve until 2020
Mr. Jose “Joe” Gamboa to serve until 2020
Deputies to General Convention and Provincial Synod:
The Rev. Colin Mathewson
The Rev. Penny Bridges
The Rev. Martha Anderson
The Rev. Andrew Green
1st Alternate: The Rev. Gwynn Lynch
2nd Alternate: The Rev. Brenda Sol
3rd Alternate: The Rev. Mark McKone-Sweet
4th Alternate: The Rev. Doran Stambaugh
Ms. Judy Brown
Ms. Pauline Getz
Mr. Louis W. Glosson
Ms. Hanh Tran
1st Alternate: Mr. Gerald B. Blanton
2nd Alternate: Mr. Charles “Craig” Noble
Cathedral Chapter Member: Mr. Dexter Semple to serve until 2017
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