The Friday Reflection – November 16, 2018

From The Rev. Canon Dr.
Anna Carmichael

O God,
You know us better than we know ourselves. Guide us throughout our time of transition. Empower each one of us to use our unique gifts to create a beautiful life, to share openly and honestly our thoughts, to respect the opinions of others, and to encourage humility, patience and joy. Instill in us a vision of the life you intended for us to lead. Guided by your Holy Spirit, we will be united in love and joyfully accomplish this mission, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. –7 Prayers for Those In Transition

Sisters and Brothers of San Joaquin,

With the season of Advent on the horizon, I am thinking of transition. I’m thinking of what it means to live in a time of anticipation. As my spiritual director is so keen to remind me, nothing is permanent. As much as I wrestle with that notion, I also embrace it. It gives me a sense of hope when things are difficult or challenging because it means those difficulties and challenges won’t last forever. But it can also make me nervous or anxious because when things are good, I want them to stay that way forever. Perhaps you can relate to these feelings.

I started the year sharing with you all that as a diocese, we would be experiencing several clergy transitions. Clergy transitions are one of the most wonderful and challenging transitions for a congregation. It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the things that we are proud of (our mission, our relationships, the ways we’ve grown), to dream big about how God is calling us to engage the world, to name the things that we are grieving (loss of friends, unmet expectations, unrealized goals), and then to think about what kind of clergy can walk with us into the next phase of our life. Having done this work with several congregations now, I am so excited about what the future holds for our diocese, and I have been honored to participate in these conversations.

On December 1, we will welcome The Rev. Ryan Newman and his family to St James Cathedral. This will be a historic event for our diocese because he will be the first dean of the cathedral since it’s return in October 2016.
In early January, we will welcome The Rev. Luis Rodriguez back to the diocese and St Paul’s Bakersfield. Luis is very excited to be returning to the diocese and to walk with the people of St Paul’s.

I am currently working with St John’s and St Anne’s in Stockton on what shared ministry might look like. We are exploring what it might look like to share a clergy person between the two congregations, what ministry projects we can do better together than separately, and how we can be a strong Episcopal presence in the city of Stockton.

Similarly, Church of the Saviour in Hanford is exploring shared ministry with the local Lutherans (ELCA). Again, this would be sharing a clergy person between the two congregations, exploring what ministry projects we can share, and how we can best minister to the community of Hanford.

The passionate and committed Episcopalians in Ridgecrest and Taft are continuing to do their feeding ministries and the bishop and I are having conversations with both bi-vocational and retired clergy who may feel called to serve these unique communities.

And here’s what I find so amazing about these transitions…despite the natural anxiety that exists, these folks are remaining faithful and continuing to look forward in their ministry. Change has not paralyzed them; rather the way they have worked with and through these changes serve as a testimony to their steadfastness to the Jesus Movement.
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