Members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin are gathering in Stockton, California, March 28 to take two major steps in reorganizing the diocese.Representatives from 37 congregations, out of a total of 47, will be present at this Convention. Thanks be to God!
The first step will be a "service for healing and forgiveness" at the Episcopal Church of St. Anne in Stockton, the temporary home of the diocese. House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson will preside at the service and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will lead the litany for healing. The Presiding Bishop and a number of other clergy will be available to anoint people during the service.
Prior to the service, St. Anne's will host a reception for Jefferts Schori and Anderson. After the service, the Presiding Bishop will engage members of the diocese in a question-and-answer session at the church.
The Rev. Mark Hall, St. Anne's rector and acting diocesan administrator, told ENS that interest in the healing service is keen. Based on registrations, he estimates about 350 people will attend -- a number that will stretch the seating capacity of St. Anne's.
"We have people we haven't heard from in years calling and saying they want to be part of it," he said.
Hall said that while there is a "lot of joy" in the diocese at the moment and some people may be feeling "somewhat vindicated," the healing service is important.
"This is not about being triumphant," he said. "This is about being the church and taking care of people...
...The second reorganizing step will come the following day, March 29, at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Lodi when the diocese gathers for a special one-day convention.
“As the faithful people of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin gather this weekend, it marks a sign of hope for the future," the Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop, told ENS. "As specified in Canon III.13.1, the Presiding Bishop will be present to consult with the Convention about a provisional bishop.
"However, her presence and that of the President of the House of Deputies is also a reminder of the larger Church which stands with, prays for, and supports the people of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin as they move forward in mission and ministry."
Canon III.13.1 states in part that "a Diocese without a Bishop may, by an act of its Convention, and in consultation with the Presiding Bishop, be placed under the provisional charge and authority of a Bishop of another Diocese or of a resigned Bishop"...
...The March 29 convention will welcome clergy who had not been allowed to serve in the diocese. Three new congregations: Grace, Bakersfield; Holy Trinity, Madera; and St. Mary's in-the-Mountains, Sonora; will be also welcomed. Delegates will also be asked to elect a standing committee and deputies to General Convention 2009 in Anaheim, California; and to approve a $445,243 budget, which is funded with money provided by the Episcopal Church's Executive Council from the wider church's budget.
Hall told ENS that 17 congregations will officially participate in the convention. Another estimated 20 congregations will have members present, he said. Such participation would represent a larger portion of the diocese than he and others anticipated would choose to remain in the Episcopal Church, Hall said...
I am hoping that some of the faithful Episcopalians from San Joaquin who visit here will keep us updated throughout the weekend.
Please keep this Convention in your prayers.