The Friday Reflection
August 14, 2020
The Rev. Gail Bernthal

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:19-20)
This scene from Matthew’s Gospel takes us to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. As Peter and Andrew cast their fishing net into the sea, Jesus walks by and invites them to follow. With these few words, Jesus beckons them to leave behind the security of the life they know and follow Him, body, mind and spirit, into the unknown. Peter and Andrew are faced with a decision. Will they accept Jesus’ invitation? They immediately leave their nets and follow Him. They have heard about Jesus from John the Baptist. Jesus is different from any leader ever known. Many will come to call Him rabbi, not so much because of what he does, but because of who He is; a teacher, a servant and because of his love, both for those who follow Him and those who do not. Peter and Andrew trust Him. They do not know where Jesus is going, but they are ready to follow and offer Him their hearts.
What do we learn from Jesus about choosing a guide or a mentor? What do we learn about who to trust to lead us into places we would never have gone on our own, to help us be more than we ever would have been?
Jesus invited the disciples not only to listen to His words, but to come and see how He lived His life. The disciples saw in Jesus a life that was rooted in prayer. He often went away by Himself to pray, and everything He did was a reflection of prayer. He continually had one eye on His Father, the other on His companions.
Jesus loved His companions. He loved each of them for who they were, unique individuals with gifts and talents given by God. Jesus reminded them how important they were and what a different their lives could make.
Jesus told the truth, even when it was a truth no one wanted to hear. He told the disciples He must die on the cross in order for there to be new life for the world. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). He told this truth over and over.
He was a servant to His disciples. He knelt down and washed their dirty, calloused feet because He loved them, and as an example of how He wanted them to live their lives, as servants of each other.
Jesus was not ambitious in a worldly way. His desire was to do the will of His Father, and to turn the hearts of his followers toward God so they would in turn, keep one eye God and the other on their companions, and do even greater works than He.
Jesus teaches us to trust those who are genuine, wise, and honest. He teaches us to choose guides who are loving, humble, and who never lose sight of God, who is goodness and love.

August 13, 2020
Dear Cathedral Congregation of St. James,
In the beautiful passage from Ecclesiastes (3:1-8), we are reminded “for everything there is a season.” During the pandemic, we have had to adapt to new ways of living. It feels each new day is a new season-some days a time to weep and mourn, and other days a time to laugh and dance. Both the COVID-19 pandemic and my health scare this winter have been stark reminders of the fragility of life and the importance of being surrounded by family. These reminders have evolved into valuable lessons for our family. Ultimately, they have led us to make some significant, life-changing decisions for our long-term future as a family, especially as Erin and I look to raise Lexie in a complex and ever-changing world.
After a great deal of prayer, reflection, and conversation, I have made the very difficult decision to request of the Bishop, and the Bishop has consented, to my resignation as the Dean of St. James Cathedral effective October 16, 2020.
Erin, Lexie, and I will be relocating this November to Orange County (Southern California) to be closer to family. More than ever, due to some very recent developments with our aging parents, we are feeling called to be present with our parents who will need continuing support and care. This transition to our hometown will also allow Lexie to grow up surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins-all who call Orange County home. This year’s events have made Erin and I aware that we deeply value Lexie being able to grow up in a “familial village.” Our move will be a significant leap of faith because neither Erin nor I have secured employment.
We leave with heavy hearts for the great work we have done together in two years and for the work left undone by our departure. St. James Cathedral and the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin have loved, cared for, and shaped our family and me in so many remarkable ways. We are forever grateful for the congregation’s goodness, generosity, and support.
During this COVID-19 period, it will be challenging to conclude our ministry and time together in the traditional manner. We are heartbroken that we will likely be unable to say our goodbyes within the Cathedral walls. However, as we have done so thoughtfully and creatively these past couple of months, we will develop an appropriate digital environment to conclude our time together and to say our goodbyes. Please know, we will carry our fond Cathedral memories with us wherever we go and in whatever we do.
“Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Faithfully in Christ,

Following up on his written announcement, Dean Ryan wanted to take a few moments to offer some additional and more personal words to the Cathedral Congregation. We invite you to view the video below.
Special Message from Dean Ryan
Special Message from Dean Ryan

“Those who live south of our border and who seek a better life in ‘the beautiful north’, those who patrol that same border, and those detained at the border are not stock players in a political drama. They aren’t one-dimensional characters in a newsreel, and while stereotyping and typecasting them may make it more comfortable or manageable for us to deal with the ‘problem’ as a whole, it distances us from their humanity, and consequently, I would argue, from our own.” – The Rev. Luis Rodriguez

The collection of artwork comes from the Tornillo Children’s Detention Camp where close to 3,000 unaccompanied minors from Central and South America were held. Art was a way to express their faith, the love of their family and friends, and pride in their homeland.
To learn more about the artwork, read this article from the New York Times

EDSJ Virtual Bible Study
No Longer Strangers: Exploring Immigration Issues
The study is scheduled for consecutive Tuesdays in August (11th, 18th, 25th) and Tuesday, September 1st from 6-7 pm via Zoom. No Longer Strangers was developed by Forward Movement in conultation with staff from Episcopal Migrations Ministries and the Office of Government Relations of The Episcopal Church. It examines the complex issue of immigration and offers a chance for discussion of this topic from a Biblical perspective.
Please share the flyer with your congregation and invite them to participate in a Bible-based study about this important and timely issue. Each meeting will be co-facilitated by an EDSJ clergy person.

Spend Time Outside This Week

Take some time to appreciate the outdoors this week. Go for a walk, play with your kids, play sports, or go to the park. Find ways to enjoy challenging weather such as snow, rain, and heat. Enjoy God’s beautiful creation.

 Friday Reflection
All articles and special news can be submitted to the Diocesan Office at:
All submissions are due MONDAY for the following Friday Reflection.
Submission requirements:
pictures -JPEG format
articles- word document
document to link- PDF
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Events Warranting Your
Participation and Prayers

   Diocesan Events
Diocesan/Cathedral Worship
SJRAISE – Virtual Bible Study

August 18 | 6:00 PM
Creation Care Commission Animators/Advocates Gathering
August 18 | 7:00 PM
Bishop and Canon Visitation
August 19 | 7:00 PM
Ridgecrest – ZOOM
COVID Clergy Conversations
August 20 | 12:30 PM
Deacon’s Gathering with Bishop David
August 22 | 10 AM
Diocesan/Cathedral Worship
SJRAISE – Virtual Bible Study

August 25 | 6:00 PM
Bishop and Canon Visitation
August 26 | 7:00 PM
St. John’s, Stockton – ZOOM
COVID Clergy Conversations
August 27 | 12:30 PM
DC/SC Joint Meeting
August 29 | 10 AM
Diocesan/Cathedral Worship

 the Church in all seasons
Call to Convention
Today is the day! Call to Convention will go out today!
Convention will be held November 13th and 14th on the EDSJ Convention Platform! Look for all the materials later today, and in the upcoming Friday Reflections.

A Day of Discernment Coming:
Saturday, September 5, 2020
The Commission on Ministry for the Diocese of San Joaquin invites you to a Day of Discernment on Saturday, September 5 from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. via Zoom. The day is designed to examine the four types of ministries in the Episcopal Church, to see how these
groups work together, and to find out where we are “Called to be…” in response to our baptismal vows. The day will include a Bible Study based on the Kaleidoscope Method, an exploration of how we are called to use our gifts and talents to further God’s kingdom, and a question and answer period about the ordination process, whether it is for the diaconate or the priesthood.
There is no cost for this event. There will be an opportunity for further study if you desire to learn more about ordination.
For more information, please contact Rev. Angela Lerena, Diocesan Administrator:

St. James Sunday School launches digitally on Sunday, September 13th. During the digital church period, St. James Sunday School is open to all school-aged children in the Diocese. Registration is required to participate! The kick-off session will begin with student check-in at 9:00AM and the lesson will begin at 9:15AM. The first day of Sunday School is designed for the whole family to join-in. The morning will include the blessing of the teachers and the students. We invite you to check out the St. James Children’s Ministry web page for more about our ministry with children and our curriculum Weaving God’s Promises.
Teacher recruitment period is now! If you feel called to the ministry of the spiritual formation of children, please send an email to Teachers can be members of any Episcopal congregation in the Diocese.
Prior to the first session, Dean Ryan and the Sunday School Committee will host via ZOOM an Orientation and Training session for all interested teachers. No prior teaching or Sunday School experience is required-all that is required is a willing and committed heart to educating the next generation of the Church. In addition to the Orientation and Training session, teachers will be required to take an online training module called Safeguarding God’s Children–an in-depth educational and training program for preventing and responding to child sexual abuse in everyday life and in ministry.
Classes are Sundays at 9:15AM on ZOOM. Registration for Sunday School opens August 1st. Please visit St. James website for link to registration. The first session is Sunday, September 13th and the whole family is invited to participate.
Weaving God’s Promises is a comprehensive, three-year Christian education curriculum for children developed and written exclusively for the Episcopal Church. Weaving God’s Promises’ 30-minute lesson plans are accessed online. There will be a “take-home” paper, Threads, that will be emailed to every family after each lesson. Threads allows families to continue the conversation and theme throughout the week.
  1. Gathering and Greeting
  2. Sunday School Prayer
  3. Sunday School Song
  4. About the Scripture Story
  5. Telling the Story
  6. Activity Related to the Story
  7. Weaving Our Faith: Conversation about the story
  8. Closing Prayer
(Developed by Sunday School Committee)
With God’s Help I Covenant 
To practice the spiritual disciplines of scripture reading and prayer.
  • Worship on Sundays and be an active member of the St. James community or other church in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
  • Be prepared: Read the curriculum and plan my lessons.
  • Grow in my faith and understanding of my work through educational opportunities as offered.
  • Practice inclusive hospitality as Jesus teaches us the love of God is the love of neighbor.

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, 4147 E Dakota AVE, Fresno, CA 93726
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