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Our History: Part Three

In this third and final installment of the Our History series about the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego (EDSD), we delve into the culmination of fifty years of faith, challenge, and transformation. This journey, marked by resilience and an unwavering commitment to inclusivity and service, sets the stage for EDSD’s ambitious future. As we reflect on the diocese’s rich history—from navigating internal conflicts and embracing technological advances during the COVID-19 pandemic to championing social justice and community outreach—we see a clear trajectory towards our mission. 

Fifty years from now, people will look back on this period of EDSD’s history as a shining example of Christian resilience and compassion in action. They will see it as a time when the church not only navigated significant challenges but also emerged as a beacon of courageous love, community service, and social justice. 

To ensure that future, Bishop Susan announced The Courageous Love Campaign, a transformative call to action, inviting you to be a part of a movement that empowers the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego to extend its reach of love, service, and community engagement. Your contribution to this campaign is more than a donation; it’s a gift toward a brighter future, fostering growth and strength within the Church and the wider community– leaving a lasting impact for generations to come.

Between 2006 and 2008, the diocese experienced upheaval as congregations and leadership split with The Episcopal Church over questions of human sexuality. Thanks to hard work by lay people, clergy, chancellors, and others, EDSD retained all its physical property. The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego continues to support and affirm LGBTQIA+ individuals’ right to live, lead, worship, and marry regardless of their sexual orientation or gender. In EDSD–Love is love. End of story. 

In 2014, we were excited to dedicate a new diocesan office, The Episcopal Church Center in Ocean Beach. The new church center was designed to offer a unique mixture of office space for the bishop and staff, spiritual education and experimentation, and local service ministries to the community of Ocean Beach. 

On Maundy Thursday, volunteers came from as far away as Carlsbad and Fallbrook to serve the homeless in Ocean Beach. They helped cook and serve food, washed and cut hair, gave medical and dental exams, offered job assistance and pet care, and handed out shoes. The guests they served represented our neighbors experiencing homelessness, working families with children, and a school teacher on disability. After a hot meal and a haircut, one of the guests sat on the curb, holding a new pair of shoes, and said, “I feel whole again.”

This is when our Church, the Episcopal Church, is at its finest–serving our neighbors.

Around that time, EDSD began the process of seeking out a new bishop. In 2019, Bishop Susan Brown Snook was consecrated as the 5th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. Throughout the diocese, people celebrated their first female diocesan bishop, who is bursting with energy to share the love of Christ with the world. Eight months into her episcopate, the world sheltered in place. 

As COVID-19 swept the world and killed millions, remote work began, businesses closed, and people stayed home.

Throughout 2020, the country was stretched by racial strife, a worldwide pandemic, extreme political division, and struggles with immigration issues. “It’s a very strange Easter this year,” said Bishop Susan that Easter Sunday, “Every other Easter I can remember has dawned with full churches and glad shouts and beautiful music and new clothes and glorious flowers. And while we do have glorious flowers today, this Easter is very different. Many of us are in isolation, and many of us are deeply worried about a disease and a situation that we never expected to see in the year 2020 in America.”

Within weeks, dozens of churches moved to online worship, phone call trees, zoom classes, wellness checks, digital vacation bible school, and more. At that moment, we were vividly reminded that our church is not a building but a caring community of believers who work to share the love of Jesus Christ with the world. 

In the summer of 2020, after 46-year-old George Floyd was murdered by a police officer while in custody, people took to the streets across the world. Protests against police brutality and systematic racism took center stage in the public eye. 

EDSD immediately began learning more about racism and its effects, with hundreds of people completing anti-racism training– Sacred Ground–a faith-centered space for dialogue that is difficult but respectful and transformative. 

Today, under the leadership of Bishop Susan, lay leaders Mae Chao and Thérèse Carmona have launched LARK (Local Anti-Racism Knowledge), a program that helps us understand our region’s history and how racism has played a significant part in EDSD’s local hurts.

Just over one year into the worldwide pandemic, in the Spring of 2021, people migrating from Central America found themselves pressed against the US and Mexican border, unable to enter the United States due to political and pandemic restrictions. “We are here because we were asked by the U.S. federal government to provide a temporary home for young people, unaccompanied minors who were at our US-Mexican border,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria at the time.

Days before Palm Sunday, the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego was contacted by South Bay Community Services to help provide spiritual care for thousands of unaccompanied children –mostly young girls– who were to be released from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol holding and housed at the San Diego Convention Center. Teams jumped into action. These children were not going to miss Good Friday and Easter on EDSD’s watch. 

Our diocesan team enlisted the support of Roman Catholic, ELCA Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian partners and got to work providing spiritual care. The Rev. Rebecca Hansen, who visited the children, said, “We’re here as followers of Jesus. This is part of the call, and when the call came, so many people said, ‘I’ll go. Send me.’”

Despite the upheaval of the pandemic, the Diocesan community continued to look to the Good News of Christ at work in our lives. Dozens of individuals continued to meet virtually to plan for a region-wide revival event featuring Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. In December of 2022, we hosted the Good News FestivalWelcoming thousands of people from throughout the region and the world to celebrate the good news of Jesus Christ in our lives together. “Love always!” said the Presiding Bishop, “Love yourself always, love your neighbor always, love your God always, because love made you, and love will set you free!”

Countless God moments were shared that weekend. 

As we celebrate 50 years as a diocese in 2023, the work continues. The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego is actively seeking new ways of sharing Christ’s love with the world, including planting new churches throughout the diocese, reaching out to our diverse communities, attracting new clergy leadership, energizing campus ministries, using church real estate to provide permanent affordable housing and other mission-oriented uses in our communities,  and showcasing the courageous love of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of San Diego.

These are just a few of the countless stories of the work of Jesus Christ in our little corner of creation that we call The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. And this is just the beginning.

To the God who has called us into being through love and has commissioned us to love. We thank you for guiding us through challenging times in our diocese and our world.

We thank you for the gift of healing. You bring healing from conflict from the pandemic. From division in the church. We ask you to give us the gift of love as we answer your call to share the love of Christ in our communities bless and guide us as we work to grow our church, strengthen our congregations, serve our neighbors, and help us to do all things in the power of the love you pour out on us.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.


You can join EDSD in its courageous work by pledging or giving today to the Courageous Love fund here.



Category: #Advocacy, #Communications, #Evangelism, #Military, #Outreach, #Service, #Stewardship, #Worship & Formation

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