Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Steering Committee Formed in San Joaquin

From Episcopal Life:

A steering committee has been appointed to begin to reconstitute the Fresno-based Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, while a second priest has been appointed as "interim pastoral presence" in the Central California Valley diocese.
"The steering committee has been formed and there are about 20 people involved," said the Rev. Canon Robert Moore, appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as an interim pastoral presence late last year.

"It is important for people both inside and outside California to understand that this committee represents a broad spectrum of theological positions," Moore said. "We are really trying to stay away from designations like liberal and conservative, because it is very important to the Presiding Bishop that it be a representative group of people."

Moore confirmed that the Rev. Canon Brian Cox, 16-year rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara in the Diocese of Los Angeles, also has been appointed as an interim pastoral presence in San Joaquin...

...Cox has conducted faith-based reconciliation training and seminars in the Middle East, the Sudan, Kashmir, Burundi and Korea. In October 2007 he led a reconciliation seminar in Cyprus, "bringing together Syrian and Jordanian Muslims with American evangelical Christians. And what we were trying to do is create a religious framework for peacemaking to augment the official peace negotiations," he said.

He also has worked with Christian and Muslim Palestinians in the Bethlehem region and will lead a national training event May 19-21 in Los Angeles, focusing on the Episcopal Church's role in the Middle East, he said...

...Michael Glass, a San Rafael, California attorney who is representing some of the continuing Episcopalians, confirmed the steering committee's organization and its role in helping to organize the special convention.

The steering committee includes a cleric and a layperson from each of continuing Episcopal congregations, as well as others. During the next few weeks, it will organize by subcommittee, Moore said.

A steering committee roster has not yet been announced.

The steering committee has been formed to assist the Presiding Bishop "in this interim period as the people organizing the diocese to go forward," Moore said. "We're in this unusual position of having no bishop and no ecclesiastical authority"...
It appears the process of rebuilding the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is moving right along. There's now a "Steering Committee," consisting of 20 representatives from the "continuing congregations," and a second appointment to the role of "interim pastoral presence"; Brian Cox.

To learn more about Brian, other than the above impressive list of reconciliation projects, one need only take a quick look at Christ the King, Santa Barbara's website:

...We blend the traditional Episcopalian love of the historic liturgy and sacraments with the charismatic joy in spontaneous praise and the ministry of the Holy Spirit...
The parish is "gently Charismatic" (Pentecostal), and...

...Christ the King is part of the network of biblically orthodox congregations in the Episcopal Church that is served by the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network...
...it's a Network parish.

But hold on. Look at the resolution his vestry passed when they joined the Network:

Be it resolved that Christ the King Parish, Santa Barbara, California join the Anglican Communion Network while at the same time affirming our commitment to the Bishop and Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

Be it further resolved, that we undertake this action in a reconciling spirit within our own congregation to demonstrate care and concern for those members of our congregation whose consciences have been violated by the actions of General Convention 2003.

Be it further resolved, that we will seek to be a voice for reconciliation both within the Anglican Communion Network and the Episcopal Church USA, striving therefore to uphold the unity of the faith...

...We recognize that there is a vast diversity of opinion at Christ the King ranging from enthusiastic proponents to passionate opponents with many members not feeling strongly one way or another. By taking the step of planting our feet both firmly in ECUSA and the ACN we are asking all our members to be willing to live with the uncomfortable messiness inherent in being a largely conservative congregation in an overwhelmingly liberal diocese.
This is a rather unique position that this parish has taken. It is not one that I could sign, but if it has been adopted with sincerity, it is certainly one that I could respect.

Keep in mind that due to Bp. Schofield being the Bishop of San Joaquin for the last decade, the majority of the clergy now in San Joaquin are quite conservative. We also need to remember that "conservative" and "schismatic" are not necessarily synonymous terms.

Also keep in mind that Brian Cox is an addition to the team; he is not replacing Bob Moore. And finally, it is worth noting that both of these priests are in San Joaquin as representatives of the Presiding Bishop.

Brian will be able to meet the majority of the San Joaquin clergy where they are, if they be Network, Charismatic, Anglo-Catholic, or any variation inbetween. He most likely shares their beliefs, their piety and their language. But, from the EL article's description of his past experience, and a cursory look around his parish's website, one key word pops up over and over and over again; reconciliation. I think Brian is a good addition to the team.

Is there some risk involved for the "continuing Episcopalians" in trusting a Network priest? Sure. There are risks involved in most things worth doing. But I think, in this case, that the degree of risk is minimal. My suggestion is that Brian receive our prayers and support as he joins the effort to rebuild the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Oh, and one last heads up for those in San Joaquin; did you note this in the description of the duties of this new Steering Committee?

...its role in helping to organize the special convention...
I'd say all the pieces should be in place near the time of the House of Bishop's meeting next month, at which Bp.Schofield will be deposed. So, hold on a little longer, folks, and stay faithful while in the midst of this Lenten wilderness. Easter is coming.


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