The "Spirit of Jubilee" grows in San Diego, which declares itself to be a "Jubilee Diocese"

May 30, 2012
Pam Crooks

There was already a Spirit of Jubilee moving through our Diocese before we received the $1,000 Diocesan grant and started planning our Jubilee workshop.  Only it had another name--“Servant Ministry.”

The Diocese of San Diego recently went through an 18-month strategic planning process to develop a new Mission Plan and Goals for the next 3-5 years.  Out of that process evolved a number of specific goals for Outreach and Advocacy.  For example, under the heading of Outreach, the main goal reads, “As people who seek to meet Christ in the hearts and lives of our neighbors, every congregation will create a specific core servant ministry to the community beyond the church”; with one of the objectives being to, “Convene quarterly servant ministry summits to plan events, share progress and promote participation…”

Under the heading of Advocacy, the main goal reads, “(The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego) will be a community that promotes both peace, and a just society,” with the intent to “Establish an Advocacy Team (leadership team with the Bishop as principal spokesperson in the region)…to address important issues that have been identified by our Diocese, including poverty, international borders and the military…”

Our Diocese includes 49 churches spread across a wide geographic region, reaching from the seashore to the inland deserts of Southern California and even Arizona.  When we applied for a Diocesan Jubilee grant last fall, there were 11 Jubilee Ministry Centers in the Diocese.  We proposed hosting a local Jubilee workshop and luncheon, led by the Bishop and Jubilee representatives from the national office and local Centers.  We hoped to inspire more congregations to become Jubilee Centers. But we also wanted to encourage service ministry in all of our congregations.  We felt that by lifting up the importance of service ministry, we would be acting as though we are a “Jubilee Diocese,” so that is what we described in our grant application.

We were thrilled to receive notification that our proposal was accepted and the grant would be awarded. When the big day arrived on Wednesday, April 18th, almost 40 people gathered at our newest Jubilee Ministry Center, the Episcopal Church Center in Ocean Beach, for Eucharist and a special homily given by Bishop James R. Mathes.  That was followed by lunch and an interactive workshop, led by the Rev. Chris Johnson, Social and Economic Justice Officer of the Episcopal Church, head of Jubilee Ministry from the New York office.

At the very beginning of the workshop, Rev. Johnson called up the Rev. Simon Mainwaring and Mary Beth Hiller of St. Andrew’s, Pacific Beach, to present them with an official certificate designating their church as a Jubilee Center—now the 12th one in our Diocese.  It may have been the first time an electronic certificate has been presented; since the printer at the ECC wasn’t working, Chris just used his laptop and presented the certificate that way!  (A beautiful, framed certificate was later presented to their congregation by Pam Crooks, Diocesan Jubilee Officer at a regular church service.)

As the workshop part of the program began, Chris noted how closely our new Diocesan goals matched those of Jubilee Ministry. Later, representatives of several different San Diego Jubilee Centers offered reasons why they felt it was important to go through the process of applying and receiving the designation, why becoming recognized as a Jubilee Ministry Center matters.  Their answers varied, but were all heartfelt.  Simon, who along with his parishioners had just gone through the process, put it most succinctly when he explained to the attendees, “It helped us see ourselves more clearly.  It was almost a ‘sacramental’ act—seeing the Holy that is already there and recognizing the beloved gifts for service that we’ve been given.”

This event was a wonderful opportunity for existing Centers to share with others already doing servant ministry in our Diocese what Jubilee is all about.  But one unexpected benefit was the discovery of how closely aligned Jubilee Ministry is with so many of our new Diocesan goals, just approved at Convention this past February. 

“Jubilee Ministry really speaks to all the tenets of our new Mission Plan, which is based on the Baptismal Covenant.  The hope is to expand this work throughout our Diocese, to the point that we might even be thought of as a ‘Jubilee Diocese,’” explained Canon Howard Smith, Director of Development.

Bishop Mathes was especially pleased to have a representative from the national Church office to lead the workshop, “What a gift it was to have Chris Johnson here, educating the people of the Diocese on this important ministry!”

And the grant is already having an impact.  At this writing there are currently three more churches now in the process of applying to become Jubilee Ministries!

--Pam Crooks is the Diocesan Jubilee Officer for the Diocese of San Diego.

Tagged in: Jubilee Ministry