“When awareness of shared connections begins to dawn, and when it’s translated into outward action, it becomes sacramental – an outward and visible sign of the grace we know in God’s love,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the congregation of over 400 worshippers gathered at St. Paul’s Cathedral for the Convention Eucharist on February 22, 2014. “That’s what Isaiah is talking about – if you’re thirsty, poor, or hungry, turn in here and join the banquet that includes and transforms the whole world.”
Bishop Jefferts Schori was present throughout the 40th Annual Diocesan Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, beginning with the dedication of the Episcopal Church Center in Ocean Beach. The Center, which provides many services for people in need, is the future home of the diocesan offices. It currently houses the School for Ministry, a grassroots Saturday school for all adults that trains people in church leadership.
The Rt. Rev. Jon. J. Bruno, bishop diocesan of Los Angeles, was also present for the dedication, as was the Rt. Rev. Gregory Rickel, bishop of the Diocese of Olympia, and the Rt. Rev. John Chane, retired bishop of Washington D.C. and former dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego. Assemblymember Toni Atkins participated in the dedication as did a representative from Congressman Scott Peters’ office.
Although the Center was in the midst of a remodel, its floors shone and fresh paint crisped the walls. Visitors toured the campus, taking note of the redesigned floor layout.
“We wanted to accommodate our food pantry, medical clinic and hot meal programs,” said Canon for Mission Enterprise Nancy Holland. “So we designed things with the end goal of ease, multi-use and accessibility in mind.” For example, roll-up, garage-style doors now grace the alley-side of Wolterstorff Hall, making it easy for large trucks to unload food. Green construction materials were used wherever possible and native plants serve as the new landscaping.
Prayer flags from congregations throughout the diocese flew in the breeze during the dedication. Over 1,000 of these colorful flags gave visual voice to people’s prayers and hopes for the diocese, the center, the next forty years of ministry, and other impulses.
The St. Mary’s bell-ringers played in Wolterstoff Hall, and the Rev. Doran Stambaugh, rector of St. Michael’s, Carlsbad, strummed the guitar from the balcony. He led the people in a Taize chant during the dedication: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
“Forty is a significant Biblical number,” noted Donald Romanik, president of Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF). “After 40 years, we emerge transformed with more clarity and inspiration.” He said that the Diocese is a pilot site for ECF’s planned giving resources to help every congregation to set up an endowment fund.
Bishop Bruno reminded the convention of the many ties between the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of San Diego. He said that he considered the family of the Very Rev. James E. Carroll, dean emeritus of St. Paul’s Cathedral, his very own; they took him under their wing and guided him in his early ministry. “We in LA want to be supportive of this diocese and everything it does. It has great and creative ideas, not the least of which is the Episcopal Church Center.”
Bishop Rickel from the Diocese of Olympia in Washington warmed up the convention body saying, “I bring you greetings from your partner bookend diocese, where we don’t tan, we rust and our state flower is mildew.” On a more serious note, he opined about our interconnectedness and emphasized that we are all one body. He also said that he is “very often the beneficiary of Bishop Mathes’ wisdom and care.”
The executive director of Forward Movement, the Rev. Scott Gunn, stated that the purpose of his organization “is to reinvigorate the life of the church . . . If we want the Episcopal Church to be strong, we have to have strong congregations, which means that we have churches that are filled with disciples and not just habitual Christians.” Forward Movement produces the daily devotionals, Forward Day by Day. This year, icons written by the Rev. Paige Blair, rector of St. Peter’s, Del Mar, grace the covers. Another point of connection between the Diocese and Forward Movement is provided by the Rev. David Marshall, rector of St. John’s, Chula Vista, who writes for pamphlets and other materials. “We exist to support your spiritual growth,” Gunn concluded. “Please tell us what you need. We’re here to support you in your journey as a disciple.”
Bishop Mathes presented the servant ministry awards, which highlight “the quiet, unrecognized ministry of many individuals.” Nominated by the clergy of their congregations, this year’s recipients were: John and Grace Bacher of Good Shepherd, Hemet; Christ Church Thrift Shop Managers of Christ Church, Coronado; Suzanne Foucault, St. Peter’s, Del Mar; Dick and Beth Goodlake of St. John’s, Fallbrook; Eileen Hoppen, St. Michael’s, Carlsbad; Maureen Hopson of Holy Cross, Carlsbad; Myrtle and Eric Livingstone of All Souls’, Point Loma; Peter Mandery and Chris Junger of St. Thomas, Temecula; Horace Meday of St. Anthony’s, Desert Hot Springs; David Priest of St. David’s, San Diego; and Zsaie Shircliffe, St. Timothy’s, Rancho Penasquitos.
Over 530 people enjoyed the generosity of a campaign donor during the Friday evening gala dinner. The diocesan capital campaign, Build the Serving Church, launched with a keynote address by the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. The campaign “is designed to help this diocese move into the next chapter of its life – to bring the gospel to life for new populations, and to help everyone be more effective servants of God’s good news. . . Your part in this campaign is essential. You can help to ensure that the ministry of Jesus continues in this part of California for generations and populations yet to come.”
The convention passed a resolution to study mission share pledges, which reads in part: “This exercise is overdue. We have let available funds define the size and scope of our diocesan work, instead of defining the work and then funding it. The current broad range of suggested Mission Share pledge (10-20%) offers insufficient guidance for how congregational and diocesan ministry goals are to be balanced.”
A second resolution amended Title 1, Canon 2 on clergy quorums for convention. Instead of 50 clergy needed to form a quorum, a majority is now required.
“We are relentless in claiming our true Episcopal and Anglican heritage as a people who are creedal and inclusive,” said Bishop Mathes as he reflected on the past nine years of his episcopate. “We take seriously our church traditions and our Bible. And we are a thinking people who have actively wondered how God is changing us and the church to be Christ’s body in this fascinating age of mission.”
The Build the Serving Church capital campaign will fund the renovation of the Episcopal Church Center, and create the two endowments: one for mentoring new clergy and other to provide loans to congregations as well as support modest entrepreneurial grants to congregations for new ministry initiatives. Bishop Mathes said that the campaign has already received commitments of $2 million with a goal of raising $2.5 million.
He mentioned potential benefits to congregations as a result of the diocesan capital campaign: “You will know more about yourselves and your capabilities because of this. Questions about planned gifts, bequests and major gifts may spark conversations that will directly impact individual congregations. I would not be surprised if the result of this effort is heightened giving and future capital efforts for congregations.”
The impetus for creating this school was three-fold: reinvigorating diaconal ministry for our serving church, training those called to priestly ordination but not able to go to a residential seminary to be formed, and offering courses to all people of the diocese to deepen their faith and strengthen their ministry.
The Convention Eucharist offering raised $3,800, all of which was donated to the mobile showers unit, Showers of Blessings.
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