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The Courageous Love Dinner

Over the last three weeks, we’ve shared videos about our Diocesan history, originally shown at the 50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner on November 10. You can view the Our History trilogy here. Enjoy this final installment, where Bishop Susan outlines the Courageous Love Campaign. Bishop Susan underscores the importance of our collective effort and generosity in achieving our courageous goals.

The last 50 years lay a foundation for the next 50 years, 100 years and 150 years. It has taken many thousands of people and many thousands of prayers to bring the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego to where it is today.

We have had up times, and we have had down times. Doing the work of Jesus Christ in this world is never easy, but at its best, it is a good and joyful ministry that makes a soul-deep difference to others. Think of the priests and congregations who forgave and welcomed their arsonists. The priests who visited unaccompanied minor children in the convention center when they were housed here. The priests who preach the good news of Jesus Christ to veterans and refugees. Think of the thousands upon thousands of ordinary people who needed to know that God loves them. It has been good work, but our work is not done.

We have 50 years behind us, and we are just getting started. Unfortunately, the world around us is as troubled as ever. Our church is recovering from conflict and the pandemic. There are serious issues in our communities to be faced, like a shortage of affordable housing, and there are always too many people who don’t know the love of Christ and how Christ’s calling brings meaning and purpose to our lives. Which is why I say we are only just getting started here in EDSD. We have a lot of work to do, but it is not burdensome work because when you follow Jesus, the work that he gives you to do is joy because Christ’s work transforms lives. Christ’s work is a joyful mission. So tonight, I want to invite all of you to join that mission.

Our 50 years of history is only the beginning. It is up to us to lay the foundation for the next 50 years. And that’s what the diocesan strategic plan launched in 2020 is about. We did not let the pandemic dishearten us from the mission that Jesus gave us to do. We started working on that mission slowly, at first, as the pandemic allowed, and now we’re beginning to see some fruit being born. We have much more to do and to do it, we will need your help.

We have announced our Courageous Love campaign to support our strategic plan and the mission that God calls us to accomplish. The money won’t go to buildings or structures or a diocesan endowment. Instead, it will go to our Courageous Love mission: Growing the Church, Strengthening our Congregations, and Serving our Neighbors.

Growing the Church

We believe Christ’s love makes a difference in people’s lives, and Christ commands that we share that love. So we want to plant new churches in our densely populated area. We already have, as you’ve heard, two new churches beginning to take root in Oceanside and Ocean Beach.

And there are many more opportunities. We’d like to end the next five years with 3 to 5 new churches in areas currently underserved by the Episcopal Church, growing and thriving and reaching new people with the love of Christ. We want to support our existing congregations in growing and reaching their communities by continuing to teach evangelism and community engagement.

We want to support our congregations in starting new worship services to reach the amazing diversity of people in our region. We want to make disciples of the next generations, supporting your congregations and your leaders in their ministries with children and youth, and starting two campus ministries at UCSD and Cal State, San Marcos, adding to that begun at SDSU. Reaching new people of all ages and diversities with the love of Christ is a huge part of our courageous love mission.

Strengthening our Congregations

We know that the heart of the work of the gospel happens in congregate missions as they do the daily work of worshiping and teaching the faith and loving and serving their neighbors. But coming out of the pandemic, some congregations struggling, and some are stable, but could use a hand up for bold new visions. We need to develop new leaders of younger generations and wider multicultural diversity and to be able to support them through seminary or lay training programs so that they can do the things that God is calling them to do–to bring the gospel through the Episcopal Church to the many, many people in our communities. So we will start a fund to support lay and ordained leadership development.

We also want to be able to support congregations in their bold visions. We would like to establish a grant fund for evangelism and mission grants for congregations from $10,000 to $15000 each to try bold new projects, either to invite new people into worship. For instance, with bi-cultural, bilingual, all kinds of multicultural services, or to serve their neighbors in some way. All congregations would qualify for these grants without regard to the current division between parish and mission status.

We have a bold new mission real estate program. Many of our congregations are cash-poor and asset-rich. They have corners of unused land, and we live in an area where there is an acute crisis of affordable housing. We’ve already started working with congregations who are interested in using their excess real estate in new ways for mission. And we have as we do this work, we have three values in mind. First, we want to provide long-term financial sustainability for the congregation. We want to help our congregations address the serious community issues facing our area, such as the lack of affordable housing. And whatever we do on our property, we want it to be a mission opportunity for the congregation, allowing the church to interact with and offer ministry to the projects on our property. We note, also, that there is a clergy housing crisis for us as for many professions, teachers, health care workers, and so on, it is hard for our congregation fans to pay enough for our employees to live in this area.

One of our goals is to find a way to solve our clergy crisis. One of the things that we believe our diocese can truly support congregations in is providing some of the technical expertise and development, and financing that most congregations don’t have and connecting them with the right people to discern what God is calling them to do and to and help them get the projects done. But expertise like that is expensive, too. Too much for any congregation to afford on its own, which is why we want to support them. Our diocese received a $350,000 grant from Trinity Wall Street. They are partnering with us to help us with this mission’s real estate project to fund part of this, to provide technical expertise on land development and financing to our congregations. The Courageous Love fund will contribute to this work, to support our congregations in this work, particularly with the clergy housing issue.

Serving our Neighbors

The third priority, which interrelates with the other two, is to serve our neighbors. The Mission Real Estate Project will serve our neighbors as we work with other faith and government leaders to solve the housing crisis and other crises of affordability in our region. Evangelism and Mission grants will also serve our neighbors, as we anticipate that many congregations will have big visions for congregational-level service ministries that we can help to fund. Third, we have diocesan-level projects that we would like to support that will serve our neighbors in addition to existing diocesan service ministries that happen through our homeless services at the Episcopal Church Center and others that happen through some of our affiliated institutions like Episcopal Community Services, Refugee Net and Vida Joven.

We have opportunities before us to serve our neighbors. One such opportunity and vision that we have is to start a migrant shelter in Tijuana. We have a generous, service-oriented Episcopalian from our diocese who owns a building there, and has offered to us for this use. And because the building already houses an orphanage, its Mexican licensing would allow a migrant shelter there for women and children.

Our vision is to create a shelter for migrant women and children who have gotten as far as Tijuana and probably won’t get any further, but who can’t go home because they can’t go back to whatever it was they were fleeing in their home, their home communities. And so they need a safe place to stay, and they need job training so that they and their children can make a new life in Tijuana.

We believe that we can make a vital difference in the lives of migrants who live difficult lives, who suffer difficult lives. Just 30 minutes south of here are truly our neighbors in our backyard. These are some of the neighbors that Jesus calls us to love. We’re glad to be working jointly with our companion diocese of Western Mexico and Obispo Ricardo Gomez, on this project, along with the generous owner of the building and two other nonprofits, including our own Episcopal-affiliated Vida Joven.

This group of partners would all be supporters and participants in this work. We are applying for some grant funding for this project, and we hope also to have some diocesan funding to share with this mission of Mercy and Hope, which we are calling the Community of Light. We will be a beacon of light for our migrant neighbors.

These are our priorities for this Courageous Love Campaign. It is a bold vision. It is a vision that will take all the courage and love that we have. It is a vision of courageous love. And we invite you to share in this vision.

The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego has been through a lot of ups and downs in the last 50 years, and coming out of a pandemic has felt like a downtime. It’s certainly been a challenging time, but we believe that God is not finished with us yet. God has a vital, essential ministry that He wants us to do, and it is time now for us to lay a foundation for the next 50 years to reach out with hope and joy and love and care for our neighbors. To answer Christ’s call to mission in confidence that whatever God calls us to do, God will make it possible. To pray without ceasing, worship without ceasing, love without ceasing, and to give so that that mission and vision can become a reality.

My husband, Tom, and I have committed sacrificially to this campaign, and I’m inviting you now to consider it as well. Our total goal is $2.5 million. And we believe with your vision and support, we can do the things God calls us to do. We can become the diocese that God envisions us becoming. We can live with courageous love. So, please join me in answering God’s call.

By your grace, you have called the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego to be a joyful, dedicated, visionary fellowship of faith. We thank you for the 50 years we have shared in ministry, and we ask for your blessing in the years and decades to come. May the vision of courageous love prosper through the vision and courage of the people of this diocese, grant success to this campaign and to the vision and mission it will support.

Bless the memories of our former bishops, Robert, Brinkley and Gethen, and bless all the clergy and people of our diocese. Grant that in the Diocese of San Diego, your word may be truly preached and truly heard, your sacraments faithfully administered and faithfully received by your Spirit. Fashion our lives according to the example of your son and grant that we may show the power of your love to all among whom we live through Jesus Christ our Lord.


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



Category: #Bishop's Blog, #Stewardship

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