17 January Pastoral Letter

A Pastoral Letter to be read on Sunday 17 January in the congregations of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin,

I trust you are aware of the decision by the Primates who have gathered in Canterbury, England.

Personally, I wish to say, as I indicated in my words for The Friday Reflection, the level of my sadness in response to The Episcopal Church’s “suspension” in particular from Ecumenical and Interfaith Dialogues, is immeasurable.

However, I also wish to say, I hope and I pray the decision of the Primates will increase our resolve concerning the ways we continue to work at being an inclusive church. I hope and I pray that our diocese and our continued discernment regarding who we are Called to be… will always lead us to be welcoming and encouraging to not only our LGBT Sisters and Brothers but all people who have been placed on the margins for whatever reason.

This morning, let us pray for our Anglican Communion.

Let us pray for the Episcopal Church, of which we are a part.

And let us pray for one another in this place.

And so, we pray that the ways we live and have our being will reflect Jesus.




  1. Dear Bishop Rice:

    Please be advised that I am exceedingly saddened by the recent events regarding the position of the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. As an African American man, I am sure you can understand why. In my case it is so reminiscent of the story of my life in the United States where I have been so peremptorily excluded from things dear to me.

    My life has been a quiet struggle on behalf of Christian social justice against whatever foe I perceive standing in the way. Personally, I feel that once again there is something standing in the way of full Christian social justice in the world.

    I understand the background of the recent events. True, the Colonists, circa 1776, decided to go along with the rest of the country and joined with the movement of grave separation from things British. I’m sure that was a difficult pill for the British. Since that time we, the United States, have steadfastly stood with our British cousins through many perilous times. To be embarrassingly abandoned now is quite much for the normal American to bear. We are like the naughty child ordered to proceed to the back corner of the classroom and repent for three years while the unforgiving Anglican Communion decides our theological fate.

    This is such a scary world that this is not the time to fall apart on doctrinal issues as we appear to be doing at breakneck speed. What are we to do? We need an enormous injection of pure Christian love. Imagine and focus on the real the dangers to our world: racial, ethnic, cultural, and economic. We must use every opportunity to rise up to the theological bigots and not give an inch to our dedication to brotherly love and our intolerance to hatred and bigotry in whatever forms it shows itself to us. I do not think that God will penalize us for the principles that he has patiently taught us to live by. I apologize for the tone of my voice. I am saddened but appreciate your support and leadership.

    Very Truly Yours

    Andrew J. Bell III
    The Red Church, Sonora CA

Leave a Reply