Monday, March 17, 2014

Hi! Have You Heard This One?

  Is It Me? Again??

I am a w(h)ine drinker and so I think it is time to share some "sour grapes" and let the readers decide for themselves what is or has transpired in the diocese of San Joaquin.  I hold no special knowledge in any real sense.  I see what I see nowadays from the way way back pew and compare it to the promise resurrected in March of 2008. Then and at St. John's Lodi we came together and we came alive.
This is the second time I have risen as if a phoenix from the ashes.  That is, by far and away, the best  analogy for what has transpired over the last 6 years in the Diocese of San Joaquin.  Has Bishop Lamb and Bishop Talton done what they came to do?  Yes, they have.  What have they done?  Well they have fulfilled the dictates of the National Church fairly nicely.  The two bishops managed to keep all the doors (depending on who was where and at what time) open.  The two bishops were healers and did a lot of that also.  But the fact is that it has been 6 years and not only is all the legal work not been completed but no one has yet to figure out what it is we, the Episcopalians, are going to do with old buildings that we have not yet been able to fill.  If there is a strategic plan for rebuilding the Diocese of San Joaquin no one has yet shared it with the diocese of San Joaquin.  Is there a strategic plan to rebuild the parishes - some where, any where? It appears that what we did is ask the National Church to help us and after letting our diocese dangle for weeks it finally came up with the plan of taking back every single piece of property the other side had stolen. We were wildly excited.  We jumped in with both feet.  Six years later we are still in with both feet but some how are shoes have turned into concrete supplied by the National Church.  
See if you readers remember this one:  The Standing Committee begins looking for a provisional bishop.  No surveys, no questionnaire, no visitations to the local parishes.  Everything is very quiet for sometime.  Suddenly the Standing Committee announces they have found a qualified candidate in New Zealand.  The candidate does not visit as Jerry Lamb did, the Standing Committee does not vet the search process.  The "new" bishop appears one day, is approved to be an assistant bishop to Bishop Talton ("approved by a convention") and now a special convention is set up to "formally accept" the new bishop on March 29, 2014.  The presiding Bishop has her calendar set up to provide the necessary vows to the Episcopal Church. Years ago, the train left the station without many of us on board but it did eventually return in that glorious year of 2008.  Once again, the train has left the station and many of us are still on the platform wondering why there were two trains and no one seems to want us along for the ride.  How does a bishop in New Zealand get the presiding Bishop to set a calendar for her to come and administer the vows of the Episcopal Church when no one has yet voted on it?  Lets take a straw poll - who is not in favor of voting for the bishop who has moved his family, his household to the United States from New Zealand and has been the diocesan assistant bishop for four months?  That is what I thought.  I keep missing the train.
Transparency?  No, there is not detailed listing on the diocesan website of who is on the standing committee.  There is no detailed listing of who is on the Diocesan Council.  Who is on the Discernment Committee??  Who is who?  Well, the diocese of San Joaquin is on the cutting edge of recovery of the property that was "stolen" from us over 6 years ago.  Our diocese has been sufficiently distracted from what we are supposed to do and been caught up in wins and losses.  And, as far as I can see, the main interest is in how many wins can we rack up over the years.  What is the toll?  Attend a service at any of the Episcopal Churches in and around this neck of the woods and look into the parishioners eyes and if you cannot see it then look at the finances and that will tell you the plain hard facts.  Most of us in the Diocese of San Joaquin will be buried out of some Episcopal church that has just been recovered from the non-Anglican almost Anglican Anglicans.  There is just not one thing better to attract families to the Episcopal Church than this long, protracted war. 
I will be very honest with my readers, I have no idea how to get out of this predicament we find ourselves in.  And yes, it is to a large degree our responsibility for where we are.  But as with the most recent anointed bishop, we as laity had no real input into the process of recovery; not just ourselves and our spirituality but our property, our hearts, and our parishes, and our belief that this is the way to go.
This is some of what I see.  Those who went with the various John Davids of our church went thinking that it was for spiritual reasons.  No, it was not, it was so clergy who thought they ought to be higher ranking in the church than they were now got to be ordained, promoted, canonized, acclaimed in all sorts of diocese such as Kenya and Nigeria and Uganda.  But what wasn't quite so clear at that time is this was a mere changing of the guard.  We have fallen back into our old ways except we have new faces that are ecstatic about their rising stock.  All got some and some got all.
I will close with this (which may very well infuriate a bunch or folks) old saw - The road to hell is paved with good intentions and while we are really not yet in hell, we sure can see it from here.

And, before I get all sorts of nasty e-grams most of us in our  diocese will forever be in debt to all those in the laity and clergy in other dioceses who supported us spiritually and practically.  That is forever etched in our minds.


Leonardo Ricardo said...

FRED! There you are! I knew you were there but I had to wait for my REAL ANGLICAN on the feed to tell me what's what and what ain't what!

I see the dilemma. I see the heavy hand (the checkwriting one) making decisions for those who they may believe are not organized enough to have a group conscience. Happens it seems. The PB knows best, or maybe not? Anyway there will be changes at TEC as she is not running for reelection (it seems) and fresh air will come our way...loaded with fresh spirit and NEW beginings...exactly what you may need. I have never known any group to ¨take over¨ successfully for much time. I do know that several of your former pewsitters turned Anglican will remain in their seats when the property is returned (they remained in their seats instead of playing musical chairs..they weren't so much a part of the property grab, I understand, as just comfortable. Change IS coming. Voices will be heard after the rest of the sheep get rescued from the box canyons and when fresh water runs clear/cool as your stream WILL runneth over. My only suggestion (outside of all the above guesswork) is that the POWER OF ATTRACTION you and yours have always radiated from the diocese of San Jaoquin is STILL present. Just look, I am haning on your every word and I betcha lots of others are too...we care about you, we love you all and look forward to a livelier future for all of you at San Joaquin...our lontime friends at the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion (the REAL one, as you say). Un gran abrazo, Len/Leonardo/Guatemala

Brian R said...

USA. He is a great loss to NZ. While dean of Dunedin, he was a major factor in my moving from Australia to Dunedin only to find he had been appointed Bishop in Waiapu. He has been a great mover for acceptance of GLBT folk in the Anglican church of Aotearoa/New Zealand.
My blog when I heard the news

Brian R said...

Somehow the beginning of my post was lost.
I am sorry to hear David Rice is not welcome in San Joaquin. He is an American and apparently wanted to return to be nearer his family.

Beryl said...

It needs to be made clear that Bishop David is very welcome in San Joaquin. Hundreds came for his ceremony of acceptance into the Episcopal Church. Many than I speak to have been very impressed by David Rice and find him to be warm and personable. More importantly, he has a vision for mission, so important to us in these times.

We really need to move forward in a positive direction as Episcopalians. We have had enough of schism, conflict and disunity and it is time to bind the wounds and move on.

Beryl Simkins

Fred Schwartz said...

Brian, I apologize for making it sound like he is not welcome here in San Joaquin. Beryl is correct, he is most welcome. I have not a single issue with Bishop David. What I am pointing at (and I will elaborate in the next couple of days) is the great disappointment I have with our own diocese. Again, please stay tuned and I am sorry I conveyed that message.