Episcopal News Service March 29, 2008
San Joaquin Episcopalians place their future in context of healing
Presiding officers answer questions on implications of diocesan dispute
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
[Episcopal News Service, Stockton, California] The reorganization of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin officially began on the evening of March 28 in a church partially illuminated by the Paschal Candle.
Officiant Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, began the service at the Episcopal Church of St. Anne in Stockton, California, with the Easter acclamation: "Alleluia, Christ is risen." After the Prayer for Light and the rest of the candles were lit, she and the congregation recited the three Easter Lucernaria, or anthems.
The service was based The Book of Common Prayer's Order of Worship for the Evening.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori led the congregation of about 300 in the Litany for Healing, praying in part that God would "heal our wounds received at the hands of our friends, our fellow parishioners, and the clergy of this diocese, and help us to know the joy of your saving help."
The litany also included a prayer that God would "remove the darkness of our anxiety and despair over what has been done in our parishes and in our diocese, and let us see the glories of new possibilities, new friendships, and new ways of serving you." And the litany included the prayer that God would help the people of the diocese to know that God is always present "guiding us to Easter hope and resurrected life."
Following the litany, Jefferts Schori anointed Anderson and six priests with healing oil. They in turn anointed members of the congregation at stations throughout the church, praying over people for just more than 10 minutes.
The Presiding Bishop pronounced the Easter blessing and the service concluded with the Peace.
Jefferts Schori, Anderson and Bishop Jerry Lamb -- whom the Presiding Bishop has recommended to become San Joaquin's provisional bishop -- spent 45 minutes after the service answered questions from the congregation.
Asked how members of the diocese can go about the work of reconciliation, Lamb said there will need to be many more opportunities such as the March 28 gathering "to see each other on a very real face-to-face basis." He also said that he suspects there are many people in the diocese who are "feeling very much on the edge" and need to know that there will be safe and supportive places for them in the reorganized diocese.
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-- 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.