Dear Friends in Christ,
I’m writing to ask for your prayers of comfort and support for Our Saviour, Oakland, whose church home was badly damaged in a fire this morning.
Rector Merry Chan Ong reports that the Oakland Fire Department called her around 3:25 a.m. to tell her the front of the church was on fire. Firefighters extinguished the fire, which burned the chapel door and surrounding pillars. Thankfully, there are no reports of injuries. However, Rev. Merry tells me the amount of damage is heartbreaking; along with the fire damage, there is water damage to the narthex and smoke damage throughout the building, including the church office and conference rooms.
Our Saviour has a long and proud history serving Oakland’s Chinese community. Their outreach has expanded even further in recent years, thanks to their partnership with True Sunshine, San Francisco to offer multi-lingual worship on Zoom. As Our Saviour’s bishop, I am committed to ensuring that their legacy continues. May the peace of Christ be with Rev. Merry, the lay leadership, and the entire congregation during this difficult time and help them move forward with a spirit of hope.
Almighty and everlasting God, we ask that you bless the people of Our Saviour, Oakland and the community they serve with your comfort, strength, and guidance in the wake of today’s devastating fire. We offer our thanks to Oakland Fire Department for their work to extinguish the fire. We ask for your grace as we gather resources for our work to reestablish Our Saviour to its longstanding place as a beacon of faith, love, and community. In your gracious name, we pray. Amen.
The following is message to the Diocese of California from the Rt Rev Marc Handley Andrus, PhD. The message is followed by quotes contributed by the leadership of the Union of Black Episcopalians – Vivian Traylor/Northern California Chapter, the Afro Anglican Commission of the Diocese of California, the diocesan Standing Committee, and the diocesan Executive Council.
April 20, 2023
Dear Friends in Christ,
On Tuesday evening, April 18, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Diocese of California, took a historic step by enabling the funding of a Canon position which I have called for, the Canon for Racial, Social and Environmental Justice.
The decision to fund the position was the coming together of several powerful strands of thought and commitment: there was an original task force to come up with job description for the Canon; an activist coalition convened by the local Union of Black Episcopalians and the Afro/Anglican Commission of the Diocese of California, a coalition that came together to present a resolution to me and the Executive Council, presenting the case for the urgency of creating this position, and the Council itself, which has doggedly worked on creating a workable path to fund the position.
I acknowledge that the challenges around racial, social, and environmental justice are vast — too vast to be carried by any one person. With this in mind, I invite us to see the Canon as one who helps all of us to connect, lift up, and stand with those in our community who are the inheritors of oppression, and who experience oppression and violence in their current lives. It is also my belief and hope that the new Canon will bring with them experience and training that will help us advance justice. Personally speaking, and as I told the Executive Council Tuesday evening, I expect that the new Canon will know more about each of these areas than I do. While I have been committed and worked for racial, social, and environmental justice for many years, I am sure that the new Canon will teach and lead me into new understandings and paths of action.
It is important for me to say a few words about the source of funding for the Canon position. Through the thoughtful work of our Finance Committee, we identified using a portion of money raised in our Expanding Horizons capital campaign. As with the Canon position, I initiated the Expanding Horizons campaign, but it was fulfilled – bringing close to $20 million dollars into new missional initiatives of the diocese, diocesan institutions and partner congregations – by a multitude of faithful people, with the expertise of our Canon for Development, Planned Giving and Stewardship, Mr. Davey Gerhard. The incredible generosity of major donors and some 1000 Episcopalians have made the new Canon for Racial, Social and Environmental Justice possible – I am deeply grateful to them all.
Thanks to the Executive Council’s decision, I am now building a task force to search for our first Canon for Racial, Social and Environmental Justice. The task force will post a job description and then conduct the search over the summer, with the hopes of filling the position by the fall of 2023. I ask for your prayers and blessings as we take our next steps toward becoming Christ’s Beloved Community.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
From the Union of Black Episcopalians – Vivian Traylor/Northern California Chapter:
“Our Union of Black Episcopalian members are thrilled to hear that the Canon for Racial, Social and Environmental Justice position is approved, and we eagerly anticipate the hiring of a great candidate.
It is our strong belief that in the Diocese of California, one of the most diverse racially, ethnically, culturally, gender and sexually-orientated dioceses in the nation, the work of this Canon poses an exceptional opportunity to grow and become more reflective of the Bay Area’s richly diverse demographics.
The Church’s work towards the realization of the Beloved Community is of the utmost importance, and we believe that the Canon for Racial, Social and Environmental Justice is an essential piece to achieving this goal.”
From the Rev Dr Mauricio Wilson, Rector of St. Paul’s in Oakland and Chair of the Afro Anglican Commission of the Diocese of California:
“The Diocese of California is committed to the ministries of advocacy for the most vulnerable among us, as well as breaking down the systems and barriers that contribute to divisions and discrimination. The calling of this Canon will help us remain faithful to this call.”
From Mr. Warren Wong , General Convention Deputy (Calif.) and member of the GC Task Force on Care of Creation & Environmental Racism; President of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of California
“The new Canon for Racial, Social, and Environmental Justice position reflects the Church’s commitment to three interconnected systems that impact our SF Bay Area communities.”
From Ms. Sherry Lund, Chair of the Executive Council of the Diocese of California:
“We look to this Canon to help us expand our vision and work toward overcoming injustice, and toward caring for the earth.”
Give rest, O Christ, to thy servant with thy saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.
Dear Beloved Community in the Diocese of California – The sad news of the death of former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold came as a surprise for me, and I’m sure many in our diocese. In addition to sharing Presiding Bishop Curry’s prayer and the Griswold family’s obituary for Bishop Frank, I’d like to also share a few of my memories with you.
Bishop Frank Griswold was the chief consecrator when I was ordained as a bishop on February 7, 2002. Before that time, he was a remote figure for me, but one of great interest and curiosity. I first heard Frank’s name when he emerged as a candidate for Presiding Bishop. At the time I was a priest in the Diocese of Virginia and had been formed at Virginia Seminary; in other words, a person raised up in a Low Church environment, which I naively took to be normative across the Episcopal Church. I said, upon hearing about Frank’s candidacy, “He can’t be elected, can he?” But with time, I learned much about the beauty and depth of high church liturgy and worship from Bishop Frank.
More meaningfully, I also heard about a House of Bishops’ gathering at the Kanuga Camp and Conference Center in North Carolina in the early years of Frank’s tenure as Presiding Bishop, at which Bishop Griswold invited all the bishops to dance together in a dance of the Trinity, of the Trinity’s energies of dispossession and possession, of giving and receiving. Prior to hearing a wisp of this story of a spiritual dance or practice, the very idea of the House of Bishops was at best vague to me. My imagination was activated about the House of Bishops, and Frank as the Presiding Bishop – the House of Bishops and its head now began to appear as spiritual leaders, followers of Jesus Christ, in addition to their undoubtedly important roles in administration.
The above being true, at that time I had not even an inkling of thought about being called to the ministry of a bishop. Then, with my election and consecration in early 2002, Frank became much more prominent in my life. He was not only the Presiding Bishop under whom I initially served, he was a kind, wise and generous mentor. I hope I assimilated his lessons to me, both those that he intentionally imparted and those I gleaned by observation.
As the whole Church, and within it the House of Bishops struggled over the recognition of the full rights of LGBTQ people, Frank led us with both great, steady courage and equipoise. Bishop Frank drew on the depth of his formation in Ignatian spirituality to help the House of Bishops discern its way forward, a path that led us to become more just, more in conformance with the dream of God, as Verna Dozier would have put it.
A last memory to share comes from a Diocese of California clergy retreat shortly before COVID, when I invited Bishop Frank to lead our clergy in a time of spiritual reflection. Bishop Frank’s teachings came from his life of deep prayer, which fueled his attention to the world. My time with him then was a gift. We talked on the long drive from San Francisco to Healdsburg and back, and during breaks at the clergy retreat, and while our time was marked by fun, it was also a time when Bishop Frank was attentive to our friendship and my ministry as a bishop.
Sheila and I are praying for Frank’s wife, Phoebe and their daughters. I will miss Frank Griswold, and always feel gratitude for his leadership of our Church through crucial times of change, and for the kindness and support he always offered to me and our family.
Statement from Sr. Warden of Holy Family, Half Moon Bay
Mass Shooting in Half Moon Bay
I’m sure all of you have heard the horrific news of the mass shooting here in Half Moon Bay. One of the locations was very close to the Church, maybe a quarter mile away. One of our first thoughts in a situation like this is concern for our preschool and the precious children who attend Holy Family Children’s Center. The preschool director and staff acted in an exemplary manner when faced with this situation. They immediately went into lockdown, keeping all of the children inside and away from the windows. They then contacted anxious parents, who came to the center to safely retrieve their children. If you happen to see Sue or one of our preschool teachers please tell them how grateful we are for their quick thinking and excellent care.
We’ve all just been through quite a shock. The Coastside is the last place where you would expect to see a mass shooting. This is not who we are. The Coastside is such a caring and unique community that cares about its neighbors, but we’ve lost some of our innocence today.
We all may know some of the victims and possibly even the shooter. Pre-pandemic, when we were doing our produce distribution, we often had Chinese farmworkers come to the event. Unfortunately, it’s very likely that some of those who came were impacted by this senseless tragedy.
I’m sure we will see some community gatherings in the next few days led by the local faith community. Already, Eric and I have been talking with Rabbi Moshe of CJC, Pastor Sue of Coastside Lutheran and Pastor Lisa of the Methodist Church. I know this circle of faith will grow as we come together to heal our community.
As many of you know I love the prayers written by the Iona community. I reach out to their books of prayers in times like this. At the end of this message, I’ve included two prayers that speak to me in this time of need.
This is a time to pray, to hug each other and be extra kind to the stranger. The Diocese has been reaching out to us since the news broke. Bishop Marc called me to express his concern and love for us as we process and deal with the trauma and grief. Bishop Marc wrote this message this evening to our community.
Message from Bishop Marc
Dear people of Holy Family, Half Moon Bay,
I write to you as your bishop, and as an American, heartbroken by the devastating news of a mass killing by gun violence in our own Half Moon Bay. I’m so grateful for the prompt response of the pre-school teachers and staff, thankful for the leadership of your Senior Warden, Ken, and for your long-term supply priest, the Rev. Eric Nefstead, a priest with extraordinary pastoral abilities.
For now, the best we can do is to be the Body of Christ for one another – and, as I know, “one another” for you means neighbors who are not part of your congregation. We must comfort one another, pray for those who mourn, allay fears where we can. But then, we must join with the many who continue to advocate for laws that will help limit such senseless acts of gun violence.
Please know you are in my prayers. I have been on the telephone with Ken, and he knows how to reach me as needed.
Peace and all good,
The Right Reverend Marc Handley Andrus, DD PhD
The Episcopal Diocese of California
We began our diocesan senior staff meeting this morning with a prayer for the victims of Saturday’s senseless mass shooting at a Chinese-owned ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, California. With a heavy heart, I share that prayer here:
O God of mercy and grace, You bring hope in the midst of senseless tragedy and light in the midst of deepest darkness: we confess our need for the Risen Christ as we face into the realities of gun violence in the United States. We are mindful especially of the innocent people who perished or were wounded as they celebrated the start of the Lunar New Year, normally an occasion for joy, hope, and peace, at a ballroom dance center in Monterey Park.
We grieve with those loved ones who lost their lives in this shooting, and for so many in other shootings across this nation. We lift to Your compassion, the injured, and pray for your healing grace. May You walk with them, dear Lord, in the valley of the shadow of death.
Deliver this nation, almighty God, from profound anxiety and anger. Help all of us to see Your hand at work in the world about us. We bring before you those who serve in the Senate and the House of Representatives and ask that You guide them with wisdom and fairness in dealing with the meaning of the Second Amendment. Convert our minds and hearts to give all citizens a proper perspective in the use of firearms.
Release your Holy Spirit, o God, to put our full faith and trust in you. Let Your peace which passes all understanding and direct us to be peacemakers in times of anguish and sorrow. Bless us and sustain us now, and in every time of challenge, through Jesus Christ, the King of peace. Amen.
*Adapted from “A Prayer for the Nation in the Midst of Gun Violence,” from the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer
Dear people of the Diocese of California,
I felt your prayers while I was representing the Episcopal Church at the UN Climate Summit in Egypt during November, and you were in my prayers throughout that intense time. In many communications since then, you’ve referenced following the conference and your hopes for the healing of the Creation. On my end, I was keeping up with pastoral concerns, congregational challenges in our beloved diocese, working with your clergy, lay leaders, and our diocesan staff.
The whole experience, of being so intimately connected while physically so far apart, has come to my mind as I’m re-reading the Christmas story in Luke’s Gospel. Though there was no known connection between a seemingly random group of shepherds and the Holy Family, the announcing angel and the heavenly host, seeing as God sees, discerned that not only were they connected, but that the shepherds had an important role to play.
God has marvelously woven us – friends, family, strangers, even those we may see as enemies – together in the Beloved Community. A beautiful Advent blessing says, “May the Sun of Righteousness rise and scatter all shadows from your path.” Mightn’t those shadows be the delusions that keep us from seeing our interconnectedness?
Let us pray in this holy season for the dawning of the Sun of Righteousness to illumine our path…to one another and all of life.
Sunrise over the Red Sea at Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
Bishop Marc took this photo during COP27.
Querido pueblo de la Diócesis de California,
Sentí sus oraciones cuando representé a la Iglesia Episcopal en la Conferencia de la ONU sobre el Cambio Climático en Egipto en noviembre, y ustedes estuvieron en mis oraciones durante ese tiempo intenso. En muchas comunicaciones desde entonces, he escuchado acerca de cómo ustedes siguieron la conferencia y sus esperanzas para la sanación de la Creación. Por mi parte, me mantuve al día con las preocupaciones pastorales y los desafíos congregacionales en nuestra querida diócesis, trabajando con su clero, líderes laicos y nuestro personal diocesano.
Toda la experiencia de estar tan íntimamente conectado mientras físicamente tan lejos, ha venido a mi mente mientras estoy releyendo la historia de Navidad en el Evangelio de Lucas. Aunque no había conexión conocida entre un grupo aparentemente aleatorio de pastores y la Sagrada Familia, el ángel anunciante y la hueste celestial, viendo como Dios ve, discernió que no solo estaban conectados, sino que los pastores tenían un papel importante que desempeñar.
Dios nos ha tejido maravillosamente – amigos, familia, extraños, incluso aquellos que podríamos pensar como enemigos – juntos en la Amada Comunidad. Una hermosa bendición de Adviento dice: “Que el Sol de la Justicia se levante y disperse todas las sombras de tu camino. ¿Es posible que esas sombras sean en realidad las ilusiones que nos impiden ver nuestra interconexión?
Oremos en este tiempo santo por el amanecer del Sol de Justicia para iluminar nuestro camino… el uno al otro y toda la vida.
Amanecer sobre el Mar Rojo en Sharm el Sheikh, Egipto.
El obispo Marc tomó esta foto durante la COP27.