Sunday, March 30, 2008

San Joaquin Episcopalians celebrate new beginning

Jerry Lamb invested as provisional bishop during festive Eucharist

[Episcopal News Service – Lodi, California] A jubilant celebration of Holy Eucharist concluded the March 29 special convention in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and made official Bishop Jerry Lamb's role as provisional bishop.

"What you have been about and what I have been about these last months, weeks, days, even hours is not really about building a new diocesan structure," Lamb said during his sermon. "As I understand it, what we are about is the proclamation of the Good News that Jesus is the Christ and that we do this from within the base of our Episcopal and Anglican tradition because that's who we are: members of the Episcopal Church and members of the Anglican church."

Most of the more than 400 people who attended the convention remained for the Eucharist. Individuals from the Episcopal dioceses of Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, El Camino Real, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Nevada, Northern California, Rio Grande, San Diego and Olympia also attended.

Half of the offertory was assigned to Lamb's discretionary fund and the other half, Lamb told the congregation to loud and sustained applause, would be given to the Diocese of Louisiana, which continues to rebuild after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori led Lamb and the congregation through his formal seating as provisional bishop. That part of the service included recognition that Lamb had been duly chosen and accepted by the members of the diocese.

The choice of Lamb came in consultation with the Presiding Bishop, who had recommended him earlier, in accordance with Canon III.13.1. That canon states in part that "a Diocese without a Bishop may, by an act of its Convention, and in consultation with the Presiding Bishop, be placed under the provisional charge and authority of a Bishop of another Diocese or of a resigned Bishop."

Lamb, 67, retired as bishop of the Sacramento-based Diocese of Northern California in 2007 and most recently served as interim bishop in the Diocese of Nevada. Lamb and his wife, Jane, will live in Stockton, the seat of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

Lamb will make his first official diocesan visit March 30 to St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Stockton. Jefferts Schori will participate in Eucharist the same day at St. John's in Lodi. Later in the day she will officiate at Evensong at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in San Andreas.

Lamb also renewed his episcopal ordination vows before he was formally invested and seated at the provisional bishop.

Earlier, during his sermon, Lamb had told the congregation that the work in which they were engaged is "not about who your bishop is."

"It is about how you and I will rebuild this Episcopal diocese so that at its core it will proclaim and live the Gospel or Jesus Christ," he said. "The diocese must have its roots firmly in Christ Jesus and live out the baptismal promises we all have renewed in one way or another this past week."

Lamb acknowledged that "there is no getting around the point that this is a very, very unique situation in the life of the Episcopal Church and in the life of this diocese."

"These past years and months have left hurt and confusion. We came together both last night and today to heal and seek God's will for our next steps in the journey to wholeness in the body of Christ and to answer our call to proclaim the Good News."

Everyone involved heeds "God's presence and grace," Lamb said.

"We also need each other and we also need those who are not here for one reason or another," he added. "Whether they are hurt or confused or fearful, I believe our first obligation is to reach out to others in this diocese and to invite them to come home. And when they do come home, brothers and sisters, they must be welcomed with the love of Christ and into the open arms of the community. And it will not be easy. There is much re-structuring -- re-building -- to be done. We will begin in an attitude of reconciliation."

Lamb urged all the diocese's congregations to build their missionary efforts, looking at evangelism, stewardship, Christian education and seeking out programs from the wider church. to strengthen their efforts. He also praised San Joaquin Episcopalians for their work in worship, pastoral care and outreach, adding "Brothers and sisters, I know these can be strengthened."

Lamb told the congregation that "God will not leave us adrift, but we can turn away from God. We can let hurt, anger, confusion, misunderstandings turn us inward and away from God and the proclamation of the Good News."

Instead, Lamb told the congregation that he believed that God will give "wonderful growth" to "the seeds you and I together plant."

"There will be growth," he said.

The bishop concluded his sermon by suggesting that "A Prayer attributed to St. Francis" (page 833 in The Book of Common Prayer) ought to become "a core prayer for us together" and led the congregation in reciting its call to reconciliation and becoming instruments of God's peace.

Photos courtesy of Episcopal News Service, Mary Frances Schjonberg

-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is Episcopal Life Media correspondent for Episcopal Church governance, structure, and trends, as well as news of the dioceses of Province II. She is based in Neptune, New Jersey, and New York City.

American West Heating Nearly Twice as Fast as Rest of World, New Analysis Shows

Groups Say Western Senators Have Opportunity to Protect Region from Growing Economic Toll

SAN FRANCISCO - March 27 - The American West is heating up more rapidly than the rest of the world, according to a new analysis of the most recent federal government temperature figures. The news is especially bad for some of the nation’s fastest growing cities, which receive water from the drought-stricken Colorado River. The average temperature rise in the Southwest’s largest river basin was more than double the average global increase, likely spelling even more parched conditions.

“Global warming is hitting the West hard,” said Theo Spencer of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “It is already taking an economic toll on the region’s tourism, recreation, skiing, hunting and fishing activities. The speed of warming and mounting economic damage make clear the urgent need to limit global warming pollution.”

For the report, the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) analyzed new temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for 11 western states. For the five-year period 2003-2007 the average temperature in the Colorado River Basin, which stretches from Wyoming to Mexico, was 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the historical average for the 20th Century. The temperature rise was more than twice the global average increase of 1.0 degree during the same period. The average temperature increased 1.7 degrees in the entire 11-state western region.

“We are seeing signs of the economic impacts throughout the West,” said study author Stephen Saunders of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. “Since 2000 we have seen $2.7 billion in crop loss claims due to drought. Global warming is harming valuable commercial salmon fisheries, reducing hunting activity and revenues, and threatening shorter and less profitable seasons for ski resorts.”

The Colorado River Basin is in the throes of a record drought, shrinking water supplies for upwards of 30 million people in fast-growing Denver, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Diego. Most of the Colorado River’s flow comes from melting snow in the mountains of Wyoming, Utah and Wyoming. Climate scientists predict even more and drier droughts in the future as hotter temperatures reduce the snowpack and increase evaporation.

To date, the governors of Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington have signed the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), an agreement to reduce global warming pollution through a market-based system, such as cap-and-trade. The WCI calls for states to reduce their global warming emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Conservationists say the states should commit to meeting these targets, and that there should also be a firm target of an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

A growing chorus of leaders across the political and economic spectrum says more aggressive action is needed at the national level. Supporters say the Lieberman-Warner bill, “America’s Climate Security Act” (S. 2191), is the strongest global warming bill moving through Congress. The bipartisan bill is the first climate legislation ever to be passed out of a Senate committee. The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill by summer, by which time supporters are optimistic about strengthening the bill even further.

“We need strong leadership from western senators to pass America’s Climate Security Act,” said Spencer. “The longer we wait to put a concrete cap on global warming pollution, the greater the threat to all Americans.”

The NRDC-RMCO report, “Warming in the West,” analyzed temperature data from Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The report is available online at