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.