Remember how when you were a kid time seemed to pass so slowly? I remember growing up in Southern California that summer would never come and then in the middle of Summer Fall would never come then Christmas and so on. What happened to those days? In my middle years it seems like time is flying by.
As we gather together for Convention 2012 it seems like it was a month ago, not a year ago, that I was addressing the convention for the first time and waiting to be enthroned as your new bishop. Over this past year of transition people have referred to me as the “New Bishop” – - – so if I am the new bishop what does that mean for Bishop Schofield? I guess you are the “Old Bishop” my friend. Actually, I prefer the term Bishop Ordinary for my self and “Bishop Extra Ordinary” for Bishop Schofield. How very blessed I have been to have Bishop Schofield here as a source of wisdom and support for me. Thank you Bishop for your ministry to me and the Diocese!
I am also so very grateful to God for all who have assisted me and the diocese in this time of transition. The Rural Deans have been terrific and I am grateful for your service as well as the members of the Standing Committee and the Diocesan Council. I appreciate your kindness to me and all the hard work and love that you pour into the ministry.
As I stand before you now I am honored to serve as your bishop and over the past year that sense of honor has deepened as I’ve had the privilege to visit our congregations, baptize, confirm, receive and ordain brothers and sisters in the Lord. I can tell you that we are a vital, active and diverse diocese and blessed beyond compare!
This first year my plan was for no changes…I would just travel around the diocese and get to know the clergy and people. Well…try as I might not to have change in this first year change is inevitable because life happens! Over this past year:
We bid good bye and Godspeed to our brother, Archdeacon Bob Hilliard who so lovingly and faithfully served the diocese of San Joaquin and St. Nicholas Church, Atwater.
Fr. Tom Foster retired as Vicar of Jesus Our Savior, Modesto and Fr. Woodrow Gubuan came in as the new Vicar.
Fr. Charles Threewit retired as Vicar of St. Andrew’s, Lancaster.
We had several ordinations – Fr. Jonathan Kanary, Fr. Randy Messick, Fr. John Rim, Fr. John Roberts and Dcn. Kris Rudell.
We have welcomed Fr. Paul Gibbons who now serves as Associate at St. Paul’s, Visalia.
This first year I was so very blessed to have June Waltenberger as my administrative assistant. June was invaluable in helping me with the transition into the office. But alas after 21 years of ministry to the diocese June retired in August.
Last year as I addressed convention I cast a big vision… I believe that the Diocese of San Joaquin is called to be a diocese that plants dioceses, deaneries that plant deaneries and churches that plant churches. What’s happened in this past year with that vision and what lies before us?
CHURCH PLANTING & MISSION MINISTRIES
Looking toward the future of Church Plants and Missions Ministries the Mission Board was reconstituted and new direction was given. I am grateful for the patience of the Board as they waited for me as I needed some time in the diocese and to develop the vision I believe God is calling us to.
The newly constituted Mission Board will have three primary functions.
1. They will assist me with the administration of the Missions of the Diocese – helping to collect reports and to serve as advocates of the missions in the deanery that they represent.
2. They will help to analyze need and make recommendations for funding the mission with the Missions Budget in the Diocesan Budget.
3. They will assist me with new church plants – both long range vision casting and local vision implementation.
Soon the Missions Board will be an absolutely vital aspect of our common live and ministry as a diocese.
What a blessing it was this year to see the fruit of seeds that were planted under the direction of the Bishop Schofield.
By God’s Grace in the past year we saw the birth of:
1. Christ Church Cambria – launched under the direction of Fr. Don Cleave.
2. Disciples Church Orange County – launched under the direction of
Fr. Michael Jun and Fr. John Rim.
3. San Martin, Fresno – a Spanish Language congregation – - launched
under the direction of Mr. Edwin Peraza & Fr. Antonio Castaneda.
4. And just a few weeks ago we have the seeds of another launch in Madera
still unnamed also under the direction of Fr. Antonio Castaneda.
Ministry among Latinos in the Diocese
In August we were honored to host the Provincial Hispanic Ministries Conference known as Caminemos Juntos. St. James Cathedral and Our Lady of Guadalupe did an outstanding job in hosting over 200 participants who included our own Archbishop Duncan and Archbishop Zavala of the Province of the Southern Cone who came all the way from Chile to participate. In addition, bishops Morales of the diocese of Quincy and bishop Mott of the REC Diocese of the West participated. Caminemos Juntos was a timely conference for us as there literally is not one congregation in the diocese who couldn’t do missionary work among our Spanish speaking brothers and sisters.
Ministry in Laos
Last week I was honored to visit Fr. Martin Bunsy in Laos. Over the years the ministry has been blessed with the conversion of many people to Christianity and the birth of several congregations. I was pleased to meet with six house church leaders from the north of Laos – dedicated men and women who are pouring their hearts and souls into the ministry. I am proud to stand with our brothers and sisters in Laos and pray that we will increase our efforts in partnership with them. Not only in financial support, which they desperately need, but in training and education through distance learning and in short-term missions work.
An important part of my visit came in forging relationships with the Diocese of Singapore in the Anglican Province of South East Asia. Laos is a missionary district of the Diocese of Singapore and it is important that we work in concert with that diocese. So to help build those relationships Fr. Carlos Raines and I answered the invitation to attend the instillation of Bishop Rennis Ponniah, the new bishop of Singapore, and to meet with the Very Reverend Phillip Sinden who oversees the missionary efforts in Laos. I believe that these were important meetings that will soon bear much fruit.
ADMINISTRATION & COMMUNICATION
Some of the changes that came this year were administrative and developed in an attempt to tighten up our administration and finances.
1. In May the Diocesan Council directed a change in the administration of pay roll requiring congregations to send in the funds for payment before rather than after the payroll period. This was done to stabilize our cash flow in the diocese.
2. In the Office of the Bishop some changes are coming:
a. I am very grateful for the faithful ministry of Fr. Van McCalister who has served as my Canon to the Ordinary. Along with June Waltenberger Fr. Van provided much needed assistance and the necessary corporate memory. Unfortunately, Fr. Van’s position with me ends at the end of December.
b. I will not be replacing the Canon to the Ordinary or the Administrative Assistant in place of these positions I have put out the call for a ministry position of Diocesan Administrator.
c. This will be a full-time ministry position in my office and assisting me with all aspects of administration of the diocese.
3. Communication may be the area of greatest change in this past year.
a. Thanks to Ted Yumoto, Fr. Karl Dietz and his team at St. Paul’s, Bakersfield for putting out our monthly electronic newsletter – the San Joaquin Anglican. The mission of this newsletter is to communicate the mission and ministry of the diocese. We do this by emphasizing the wonderful ministries that occur everyday throughout the diocese!
b. As the principle theologian of the diocese I have begun a weekly electronic teaching to the diocese entitled The Bishop’s Note. This is sent out to all of our priests and deacons, each congregation and to those who have asked to have their names on the distribution list.
c. As a way of communicating internally and externally we have updated our website by placing the Diocesan Calendar, the Bishop’s Notes, the San Joaquin Anglican and audio files of my weekly sermons and teachings.
d. In a way of improving my communications with the clergy I am utilizing both the DioNet (our internal website) and traditional email to send out important information and prayer requests.
e. I also post weekly to the DioNet the Bishop’s Log. This is a log of my activities for the previous week and my appointments for the coming week – I do this to be accountable to the clergy for my time and keep them informed but also to bid their prayers for the appointments and tasks that I have coming up.
LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE
After a year of touring the diocese and examining the ministries I sense that we have a common desire to spread the gospel but not a common practice in doing so. This is not to say that there is just one way to share the Good News, there are as many ways to share the Good News as there are people – but each of our congregations needs a systematic approach to empowering and equipping the People of God to share the Good News of God. To that end I will be placing special emphasis on three areas of ministry throughout the diocese: these are Youth, Clergy Development & Congregational Development.
I am forming a Youth Ministries Team made up of lay and clergy leaders. The threefold goal for this coming year will be to:
1. Form the Youth Ministries Team using clergy and young adult leaders.
2. Run three leadership retreats for Middle School, High School and College Aged Students designed to have them return to the parish as ministry leaders.
3. Making some initial explorations into college campus ministry.
The reasoning for concentration may be obvious but research shows that the majority of Christians come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ before age 18. (Barna Group: “Evangelism Is Most Effective Among Kids” – September 2004)
Growing in the Lord and developing in ministry is a priority for all clergy. As bishop I am the chief pastor and teacher of the diocese and I take that responsibility very seriously. Over this year my goals for clergy development are:
1. To continue meeting regularly with the clergy through the monthly clericus meetings. In these meetings we will focus on one aspect of ministry.
2. I will be working closely with the Mission Vicar’s in my role as Rector of the Mission and mentor for the clergy.
3. I will continue to plan and execute the annual Clergy Retreat and Conference.
4. Working with Archdeacon Francie Levy we will hold regular Deacon’s Days where we concentrate on the ministry and needs of deacons.
Scripture tells us that every baptized Christian receives the anointing of the Holy Spirit and is empowered for ministry. In the coming year I look toward providing opportunities for empowerment of Lay Ministry through:
1. Vestry Development retreats.
2. Promotion of and licensing of lay ministries in the congregations.
3. Promotion of Anglican Fourth Day ministries.
4. Promotion of KAIROS prison ministries.
I have to say after a year as your bishop I am even more honored and excited to serve in the Diocese of San Joaquin. The Lord has blessed us well and will continue to bless us as we seek to worship and serve him by sharing his love with those who have never known the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.
As we look to the year ahead for ministry in the Diocese of San Joaquin we are not without our challenges. Not least of which – the law suits that are filed against us. Court cases have begun in Kern County in October and will continue throughout the year. I urge the people of the diocese to action in the following ways:
1. Dedicate herself to prayer and fasting that the judges in the cases will weigh heavily the matters before them and judge the cases on the basis of the Neutral Principles of Law that govern the corporate laws of the State of California.
2. That people will pray about giving financially to the Legal Defense fund of the diocese or of the individual incorporated parishes. We have a sacred responsibility to defend the properties given to us by God through the hard work and sacrifices of our brothers and sisters who have come before us.
3. To support your clergy in prayer, words of encouragement and acts of ministry. The clergy face serious challenges of leadership in difficult times and need all the support that they can get.
Ultimately, though, I pray that we will remember day in and day out that the outcome of the lawsuits will not dictate the ultimate welfare of the Diocese of San Joaquin. God is Sovereign His Will be done and we will be triumphant in the End. And to that I say AMEN!