Sisters and Brothers of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
Over the last 5 1/2 years, I have employed different language to describe all things San Joaquin. As you know, we have talked about ourselves as a people Called to be…. This has become known as our vision prompter, that is, the ways in which we see ourselves and continue to discern who and how we are called. And as you know the … (dot, dot, dot) is the reminder that the ongoing questioning, namely, discernment continues. Another typical way in which I’ve described us is that we are an Emerging Diocese. And I particularly like that language as it identifies the extraordinary ways God continues to create anew before us and in our midst. There have been many emergences from the time I was Bishop Provisional to living into my life as Diocesan Bishop. Fortunately, there are too many emergences to recount, however, I do wish to highlight a few.
+The initiation and continued distribution of our yellow bags throughout the diocese was one of our first emergences. This simple albeit substantial ministry has and continues to remind us of the growing number of marginalized people who live on our streets. Moreover, we are reminded of the many ways in which we continue to be called to respond to the voices and lives of the increasing number of those who live on our streets.
+The other emergence which quickly comes to mind was our Tour Against Trafficking. The tour from its educational/formational beginnings to the actual cycling throughout the diocese was and continues to be a reminder that those who are most at risk in our context are those who are typically least visible. And so we continue to learn that in order to see them and offer help, we must know something about that for which we look.
+And of course as are talking about emergences, our Revival quickly comes to mind. It was absolutely wonderful to have our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry with us as we focused on, again, seeing the faces and hearing the stories of some of the most marginalized people in the place in which we live, that is, immigrants and refugees. And to name and rename, we must provide “Safe Places for all of God’s People.”
+And most recently and most definitely a poignant emergence, was our Pilgrimage of Hope. This pilgrimage did and continues to identify that God is speaking to us from our larger context and speaking to us through the stories, the yearnings, and the dreams of those who are most impacted by systems which must be challenged and addressed. And so we walked as a diocese, we engaged with legislators as a diocese, and along the way we heard the voices of those who need to be heard, as a diocese.
And so, thanks to God, we have been emergent rich over the last 5 1/2 years. One of the emergences I didn’t mention was a response earlier this year to the Care of Creation Pledge. This pledge, as you know, was an invitation for us, individually and collectively, to consider the ways in which we offer care to the world around us, and perhaps more specifically, the ways in which we can reduce our footprint in our world. I highlight this particular emergence because of the extraordinary response from you. As you may or may not be aware, of all the Dioceses in The Episcopal Church, we were third on the list of those who have made the pledge. This response on our part was most definitely recognized and celebrated by our Presiding Bishop and his office as as an important example of an “emerging diocese.” As an aside, I have pointed out in different conversations since then that our Creation Care Pledge wasn’t simply an initiative or “competitive exercise” for a season (The Creation Care Task Force of which I am a participant wanted 1000 pledges by Earth Day, April 22). This was and is an invitation to be moved by the Holy Spirit to actually change the world in which we live and be faithful to the Gospel-Life to which we are called. Hence, I pray we all are living out the pledge we made and more will make their own pledge in the days before us.
As far as our Creation Care Pledge is concerned, San Joaquin wishes to make our own pledge by exploring and discerning possible solar power for our faith communities. Diocesan Staff, Diocesan Council and Standing Committee are committed to this pledge and I hasten to insert, this continued emergence for this diocese. We believe that solar energy would save substantial economic costs, moreover, as I have suggested, it would speak volumes regarding our care of creation, more specifically, our commitment to what God has gifted to us. In other words, Sisters and Brothers, I believe this solar project is a way to live out our baptismal faith and to honor God’s creation. We do not know if this solar project will work in every community which is why we need your assistance. In the next few days, you will receive a questionnaire which will help in that very analysis, that is to say, helping to determine the feasibility of solar in different locations. I ask that you respond to the questionnaire as quickly as possible.
As I have indicated, this project has the full support of Diocese Staff, Diocesan Council and Standing Committee. We are so confident that this is where God is leading us that the cost for solar will be covered by the diocese. In other words, this will be of no cost to our local communities and we believe that the potential savings will far outweigh any initial costs. Equally, this provides another opportunity to identify and celebrate who we are becoming and how we are emerging as a Diocese in The Episcopal Church.
You remain in my prayers.