A New Beginning!

ST 08202017

SOURCE: Cathy Hager

It was Welcome Home, Sunday at St. Timothy’s Danville, the beginning of the program year and of the ministry of The Rev. Todd Bryant as our rector. The sanctuary was filled to capacity with 287 people, by one count, and excitement was obvious.

Feast days like these have traditionally been the times when all three Sunday services are combined into one.  We look forward to feast day events to ‘be in community’ with each other.  Yes, we know how to party!

Often Feast Day services are followed by a BBQ or other celebration and today was no different. That feeling of being in community together demonstrates to us once again a powerful, visible display of our faith and in our sure knowledge that God loves us that He fills us with His Holy Spirit not just on these feast days but every day that we are doing His work in the vineyard we call home.

A Ministry Faire was held on the patio as part of an extended coffee hour opportunity for the new rector to meet many parish members for the first time and for the congregation to ‘feel the buzz’ of excitement at the first Sunday for the “new guy”!

The Ministry Faire also gives every member of the congregation an update on the many ministry programs going on at St. Timothy’s as you stroll from table to table on the patio.  Find something new to do this year is the familiar call of members recruiting other members to join us.

Welcoming newcomers is part of the St. Timothy’s tradition—but get someone involved in a ministry program, even once, and you realize the ‘secret sauce’ to incorporation and real membership.  In God’s vineyard we are always looking for more hands and happy hearts.

Todd will be glad to know that the report card on his first Sunday was all Thumbs-Up!   He was warm and personable balancing being new with being in charge. We could tell the congregation was happy as search committee and vestry members were told over and over and over—we REALLY like this guy!  Home Run!  God must REALLY love us!

Houston, we have lift off!

So as Rev Bryant and his family say goodbye to Texas and unpack the boxes to call Danville home, St. Timothy’s celebrates a new beginning for this ministry, an end to our time in the wilderness, and a thanksgiving for a search process that achieved its most important goals of renewing our baptismal vows in calling a new rector and learning once again how good it feels to be in community together again.  We did it together!

Thank you Todd Bryant—-Welcome Home!

It Started with a Cough

Five years ago I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis which ‘scars’ my lungs and reduces the oxygen to my blood stream. The cause of this progressive lung disease is unknown and there is no cure. The normal course is 3-5 years with <50% surviving three years. Thanks to good medical care and God’s grace here I STILL am short-listed for lung transplant at UCLA five years later.

It started as a cough. I thought it was just my seasonal allergies acting up. So I increased my typical allergy meds but it didn’t go away. After griping at home for more than a month, I went to the doctor expecting him to prescribe something new for those annoying allergy symptoms. Instead he sent me for a chest X-ray that revealed what was really causing my cough.

Fast forward five years. As I write this, I just receive my “official notice” from UCLA of placement on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) national waiting list for a single lung transplant.

The expected waiting time for transplant varies depending upon blood type, medical status, your height and weight, and the availability and location of suitable organ donors. As a result UCLA must be able to reach me by phone 24/7 and when that call happens I have about five years to get to Ronald Reagan UCLA Hospital for the surgery prep.

The choreography of all of this is a marvel of science, technology and logistics that UCLA has honed from performing 170 transplants during the last 12-month period: 103 adult lung transplants, 58 adult heart transplants and nine pediatric heart transplants, according to UNOS. More than every other major medical center.


After my listing for transplant was approved that I decided I would tell this story and share my experience. As I wait for that call I talk more about what has lead us from that cough to this point of waiting for the call.

I decided after the freak out stage of my diagnosis that the only thing I could really control about this hand dealt for me is how much control over each of my tomorrows I would give it. So I put it in God’s hands and by giving away the worry and fear I live each day fully.

Our God is a wonderful God. He gave Carolyn and I a precious gift in the birth of our first grandson. Talk about life changing events! I have many blessings in my life.

Perhaps, part of God’s unfinished plan for me was also the work done in St. Timothy’s search process for a new Rector which I co-chaired. We assembled a great search team and our appreciative inquiry ‘breathed new life’ in a congregation eager for a fresh start. We finished our task in an astonishingly short 9 months with God’s help.

It may be just coincidence that UCLA just approved my lung transplant listing on July 26, 2017 just as the new Rector starts his family’s move from Houston to the Bay Area. It may be just good medical care that gives me this opportunity for ‘new life’ more than two years past my ‘expiration date’.

I am at peace about whatever God plans for me. Stay tuned. You can follow my journey here as I reflect on preparing for this life altering event.


Stefani Schatz


My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
To our diocesan family,

Our dear friend, my sister in Christ, Stefani Schatz, the Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of California, died peacefully on Wednesday, July 12 at her mother’s home in Santa Barbara. Her husband, Joe Duggan, and her mother, Iva, were with her, and she had been in the compassionate care of hospice. I will be sharing the information about Stefani’s funeral at Grace Cathedral when this has been decided by Joe, Iva, and her sister.

Stefani was the first woman to be Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of California. She was a tremendous advocate for women in the Church, having founded the Glass Ceiling Facebook group for women clergy, as a prominent example.

Stefani was warm and attentive to all, at all times. The selfies and the Easter rabbit ears were fun expressions of a loving spirit that was felt throughout our diocese.

Stefani revised Fresh Start and made it Fresher Start, taking a curriculum for clergy in transition and made it responsive to current needs.

The vicars, the priests who serve our diocesan missions, received special care from Stefani. She gathered them monthly, forming a vibrant and mutually supportive community.

Ministries at all levels were encouraged by Stefani. She deepened the prayer life of the working group heads of the diocesan staff, who meet each Monday morning. Because of Stefani, we have been praying for all sorts of needs in the diocese each week — celebrations, people who suffer, congregations in transition.

Stefani encouraged and developed my ministry too. It is fair to say that the Episcopal Church would not be represented through the Presiding Bishop at the United Nations climate change summits if it were not for her. About nine months before the Paris Agreement meeting Stefani said, “Marc, I think you need to be at the Paris summit.” That statement set me in motion, and now we have formal status at the annual meetings and will be, for the third year, taking an active role on behalf of Presiding Bishop Curry.

Stefani’s accomplishments in our diocese in four years were tremendous. Personally, I loved working with Stefani. We worked very hard together and we enjoyed the work. I am so grateful that she and Joe answered the call to come and serve with us in the Diocese of California. The whole staff of the diocese, a wonderful team of dedicated people who work as well together as any staff I’ve experienced, is grieving over this great loss.

Sheila and I have been honored to walk closely with Stefani, Joe, and Iva over this last year since her hospitalization in Scotland. I want to thank her medical team in San Francisco, and I especially want to thank and honor Dr. Karen Khoo, my own physician. I connected Dr. Khoo and Stefani because Dr. Khoo saved my life when I had cancer eight years ago. While she could not cure Stefani, she showed great kindness as well as expertise in her constant care.

I also want to honor and thank Bishop Barry Beisner and the people of Joe’s parish who have supported Joe and Stefani immeasurably. Joe and Iva have become, with Stefani, so courageous and steadfast with one another, meeting each challenge with grace and unconditional love. Finally, I want to thank the clergy and people of the Diocese of California. You have held Stefani in the most luminous web of prayer possible, illuminating the gathering shadows with your love.

Our Mobile Canon is now deep in the heart of God, in God’s unshakeable peace.


O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of your servant Stefani, and grant her an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

St. Timothy’s New Beginnings Strategy


This note is to think out loud about ways we can help our new Rector Rev. Todd Bryant get introduced, incorporated and feel supported in our new beginning together.  It is also a great way to channel the enthusiasm we feel at Todd’s arrival to encourage more parish participation in doing God’s work.

REMEMBER OUR PARISH PRIORITIES. The 15 parish engagement workshops used to produce the parish profile gathered views about parish priorities. This insight is both an introduction to the parish for our new rector and a guide for Vestry commissions as inputs into an integrated road-map around living into our parish aspirations:

  • Be a People Person, a dynamic, collaborative leader, wise steward and manager
  • Make pastoral care a priority and empower lay involvement in pastoral care
  • Celebrate our faith in new and familiar ways with engaging sermons and liturgy
  • Be one of us, know our names, look us in the eye, accept us as we are
  • Support a welcoming inclusive tradition and be in community across the DioCal.

CELEBRATE OUR NEW RECTOR’S ARRIVAL AND INSTALLATION.  Yes, there will be partying and celebration! We welcome the Rector and his family as they become part of our parish community family. Welcome Home Sunday feast day this year is symbolically important for us as we mark this new beginning. We also look forward to a visit by Bishop Marc being planned for the installation ceremony as another parish feast day event for giving thanks to God for all the blessings in our community life. And if we need other excuses to celebrate September is St. Timothy’s 64th birthday month.

BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT OUR MUTUAL MINISTRY GOALS for 2018.  We committed to Bishop Marc that the Vestry and new Rector would take part in a mutual ministry review one year after the rector’s arrival. Turning these Mutual Ministry Goals into a 2018 visioning and appreciative inquiry process for developing consensus on our way forward around our four mutual ministry goals:

  • Pastoral Care and Caring for our Community
  • Children & Youth Formation
  • Outreach
  • Enriching our Variety of Worship Styles

EMPOWER LAY LEADERSHIP AND PARTICIPATION.  The Rector’s warden traditionally chairs Vestry meetings, manages its agenda and is the elected lay leader voice of the congregation.  The junior warden or People’s Warden as we called that role traditionally serves as the voice from the pews articulating community concerns. Now is the time for the Vestry to return to ‘regular order’.  No slight is meant to the ‘new guy’ but this tradition of visible lay leadership reminds us how important it is for many hands to do God’s work in the vineyard.  We want the new Rector’s arrival to be a call to action for the parish community to get involved in doing God’s work.

I recommend a New Beginnings Strategy something like this as the Vestry and Rector settle into a new normal for our parish.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence

orange sunday

St. Timothy’s honors Orange Sunday on the first Sunday in June again this year with our clergy wearing orange stoles to raise awareness about gun violence which needs and demands our fervent prayers and actions.
Orange Sunday is a new observance for the Episcopal Church and it is an outgrowth of the ministry of the group “Bishops United Against Gun Violence”.  Started by bishops in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Bishops United Against Gun Violence is a working group of 60+ bishops from across the country.  This group came together to speak out against gun violence and the loss of innocent life.
At St. Timothy’s this is also recognition that gun violence can happen anywhere in our own community and nationally. Two St. Timothy’s families have been directly affected by gun violence and their family members are buried in our Columbarium.
This Memorial Day weekend we will again remember in our prayers those affected by gun violence with orange vestments, orange remembrance ribbons, and a procession to our Columbarium after each service where we will pray for victims and perpetrators.
Here are some resources for you to pray with and ponder as we consider our duty, as Christians, to engage in this most critical issue.

The Holy Spirit @ Work for a New Rector


The search process for calling a Rector at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Danville, California is in the final stages. The Search Committee has completed the assessment of all applicants and the top three candidates have been submitted to the Vestry for their interviews. Below are the key activities of our process since last year:

  • Search Committee charged to bring three finalists to the Vestry by Pentecost. Fifteen town hall meetings were held to discern our parish priorities. The Search Committee met regularly with the Vestry to report progress, used an online parish survey and social media to gather input from our youth
  • On May 13, 2017, the Search Committee recommended three finalists for Vestry consideration. The discernment included praying for all the candidates and listening to the Holy Spirit in reviewing results of field visits with six semi-finalists.
  • During June 2017, the Vestry will interview each of the finalists and listen for God’s call of the shepherd best suited to lead the congregation forward.
  • Thank you Denise Obando! Throughout the process, we collaborated and received very useful guidance and help from the Diocesan Office of Transition Ministry.

For more information, please read the Executive Summary of our Parish Profile. It contains Quick Links to detailed information about our parish.

The Vestry will make a final decision that keeps faith with parish expectations and the long term best interests of the parish to find a new shepherd who knows our name and we want to follow for the journey ahead.  The Search process helped Vestry prepare to interview the three finalists summarizing our search results and materials for each.

  1. The Search Committee gave the Vestry three equally well qualified choices in a new rector.  The three finalists keep faith with parish priorities and values.
  2. The Search Committee sent teams of two or three to visit the six semi-finalists. Reporting back the teams avoided being advocates for candidate visited and instead helped the Search Committee find the ‘best three finalists’ by consensus and prayer.
  3. Our Search used a simple but powerful YES, NO, MAYBE process to assess each applicant’s strengths and fit to build a consensus.  This helped us put aside personal biases, talk about differences and discern how the best interest of the parish was served by each candidate.
  4. Our final three were a clear consensus informed by the Holy Spirit assuring the Vestry that we lived into the parish profile priorities and charge to bring them the three best finalists after praying over twenty three candidates over nine months.


PARISH VALUES @ WORK. Our rector search reminded us what the congregation said about parish values in our 15 town meetings as a way to ground our assessment of each finalist.  How do we see each finalist living into these parish values?

  1. We want St. Timothy’s to feel like home—the first time and every time.  We value our strong, inclusive sense of community and we want a Rector who embraces those values and loves us for who we are.
  2. We value joyful worship and music experiences. Variety is the spice of life and it separates St. Timothy’s from other parishes with a one size fits all approach to worship and liturgy.  We value diverse inter generational worship experiences and want a rector who respects and celebrates our vibrant, progressive experiences and traditional ones.
  3. St. Timothy’s is passionate about outreach and service to others in need.  With Fruits of the Harvest outreach celebrations and active parish involvement in the causes we support we are living into our baptismal covenant to be the Body of Christ in our community.  We want a rector who empowers this passion of ours.
  4. ST. Cares!  As our parish demographics change we recognize the need to expand lay participation in addressing the pastoral care needs of our families and friends in their times of need.  We value a caring community that looks out for each other and we want every person to feel embraced and held up.
  5. We celebrate the blessings in our lives with inter generational fellowship.  It binds the community together as the Body of Christ, makes everyone feel welcome and at home, and it keeps us connected so we know when others need to be held up in their times of need.


RECTOR PRIORITIES. In reviewing applicant credentials, the parish told us to look for the following characteristics:

  1. A People Person.  Enthusiastic, progressive person to inspire our faith journey, celebrate our inclusive diversity, loves us for who we are, makes us feel like family and helps us live into our Episcopal faith traditions.
  2. Dynamic, collaborative leader, wise steward and manager with well-rounded experience.
  3. Confident shepherd who empowers our lay passions for pastoral care and outreach to serve others.
  4. Engaging worship and liturgy experiences to celebrate our faith in new and familiar ways and keep us engaged in the broader work of the church through the Diocese of California and the interfaith work of the parish.
  5. Be in Community with Us! Be one of us, be present among us, have compassion for us, look us in the eye, know our names, accept us for who we are and help us live into our faith journey.
  6. Give our Kids a faith foundation to guide their lives.  We want a rector who help us grow ourselves and impart a faith foundation to guide our kids future.  Make this a place we want to hangout!  Where we feel we belong.

I feel the Holy Spirit at work among us!  It’s Glorious!


ST.Cares: Empower Lay Pastoral Care


St. Timothy’s Cares—welcome home the Light of Christ is always on here. Have you noticed that when you ask someone at St. Timothy why they belong to this faith community there is a common theme often spoken emotionally and from the heart. This theme is simple yet profoundly important to who we are and how we live into our faith.

We strive to make all feel as welcome as the prodigal son who was lost and then found by a father who never stopped loving him. Being the Body of Christ at work at St. Timothy’s drives every ministry program. This is our strategy to live into our faith lesson to respond to the pastoral care needs of our parish family.

Our commitment to being a welcoming parish open to all meant to us just that—all means all.  Through it all we felt the Holy Spirit was guiding us and protecting us with His simple message ‘love others as I have loved you’ and so we did—and so we are one congregation with open arms to all who love God and seek Christ in their lives and we gather around one table where we all find renewal, sustenance and hope.

Powerfully Validating Act of Asking for Help.  Once someone decides to make St. Timothy’s their faith home our challenge is to help them discover the many mission and ministry ways that they can serve God.  The single most powerful thing we can do to speed a family’s incorporation into the fabric of the parish is to ask them to help in God’s work.  One person put it this way and his words are more eloquent than anything I could write:

“My wife and I were “floaters” for several years early in our tenure with St. Timothy’s.  It wasn’t until we were invited to a social gathering by other families with young children that we felt a strong bond with the church and it began to feel like the extended family we view it as today.”

The church connects families balancing the many demands on kids’ schedules with a consistent faith tradition that celebrates the living body of Christ in serving others creating a powerful faith tradition to guide their lives. The church helps others find Christ in their lives, fill a void, renew their spirit or find meaning in their service to others.

Growing the Living Body of Christ

Being in Community. We celebrate the ritual and traditions of our faith, the feast days and celebrations of the church seasons and the spiritual power of our corporate worship when we gather around the table as one family becoming the Body of Christ.  The church must also be responsive the needs of the people in the pews, or not in the pews anymore!  We don’t have to give up on church, but we do have to keep it relevant in our lives and those of our kids in a world of constant distractions.

Church was the center of community life in villages as cities grew.  The church was also the center of family life for a long time.  But in our mobile lives today it is no longer the church buildings that center us.  Instead we need ways to stay connected to each other, stay involved in the ministries causes we care about and our life together as the Body of Christ even though we are not physically in the pews. That is what social networks are doing in our business and personal lives. These social networks like Facebook and Twitter shrink our world by connecting us in person-to-person ways we could scarcely imagine only a few years ago.  The church needs to make more effective use of these tools for being in community as a powerful force for good to arrest the decline in church participation by getting people involved and empowered doing God’s work.

Putting social media to work for the church.  Perhaps the single most powerful thing the Diocese of California could do for church vitality today would be create and nurture growth a social network to empower and connect its members. If we get congregations connected together and then connect many congregations together with our missions and ministries, programs and the institutions of the church we could create an online virtual version of the parish hall.  A virtual combination of an Episcopal Facebook of members combined with an Episcopal Linked-In for the mission and ministry work of the church.

In our virtual parish hall we can hang out, and ‘be at home together’.  We can share ideas, collaborate and participate to do our mission and ministry work, offer our time and talent with those who need them, do Bible study or be part of support groups tailored to our needs.

Imagining the church as a social network of the body of Christ does not diminish the role or purpose of the church. We are merely adapting the technology of our lives to do the work of the church.  Our lives today are full of disruptive technology, mobility, going off to college, moving for a new job, joining the military, getting transferred, retiring, losing a loved one, feeling alone.  Each life event or change modifies the rhythms of our lives and at each life stage we need the love and support of the church and the entire body of Christ to live into God’s plan for us.

We’re learning from our experience that social networks do not isolate us or diminish our personal relationships—quite the opposite—they enrich them, intensify them and share them in ways we scarcely thought possible.  Making the church accessible, empowering and a place to be part of something exciting in the lives of people we care about and those far distant we can help.

I have God with me everywhere—why can’t I take church along too?  Because the church grew from the congregations up, it is tough for us to transfer our communities and familial ties to the greater church as a top down organization.  It follows then that as the congregations and parishes of the church struggle, age, decline and fail so does the larger church. The church as the social place we use to connect to others has been superseded by social media, tweets, TXTs and real-time communications.

Here are real examples of the enabling power of social networking in our mission and ministry:

  • Making Youth Ministry Cool Again. Is your congregation struggling to keep youth ministry exciting enough to attract the kids you want to serve?  Most parishes face this reality.  Traditional approaches to youth ministry have trouble getting a critical mass of kids at each age grouping to have a youth ministry programs that is active, exciting and cool enough to compete with the other options our kids have today.  It does not mean we should quit trying, but it does mean we should try different ways to meet the need.  But many DioCal congregations lack the critical mass of kids and can’t afford the resources to hire a full time youth minister.
  • Episcopal Impact Fund. We learned from experience with action network grants for ministries in the six deaneries of the Diocese that many congregations are supporting the same causes while others go wanting.  We learned that the needs are wider than the squeaky wheel of causes that have vocal advocates.  We learned that the process was too cumbersome, too long and didn’t focus enough on recruiting the faithful to get involved.  Life does not work that way.  There is room at God’s table for many hands, many hearts a fire, and many mouths that need to be fed.  EIF Action network is a good strategy we should perfect to be the online Jobs Board of the Episcopal Church recruiting the faith to good causes and supporting their efforts.
  • Dougherty Valley Mission Collaboration. As part of our 50th anniversary celebration St Timothy’s committed to maintain its unbroken chain of faith begun when God called St Paul’s Walnut Creek through the Bishop to plant a mission congregation down the road in the San Ramon Valley.  We worked collaboratively with St. Clare’s and St. Bartholomew’s Livermore to identify mission and ministry needs of a fast emerging new community in the 25,000 homes being developed in the Dougherty Valley area of SE Contra Costa and Southern Alameda Deaneries.  Changes in the priests at each church put on hold this collaboration, but the need remains among the multi-generational households in this part of DioCal. If we had a social network it would make it easier to spread the word to congregations and the DioCal community and introduce ourselves to the people of the Dougherty Valley.

At Pentecost we will hear the Good News in many voices, many tongue and today we’re are trying to make every day Pentecost for someone seeking Christ in their lives and connect to a faith community that can help them along that journey. We need an Episcopal Social Network that helps us bring out the best in us, that connects us of new ways to serve and empowers us to action rather than telling us to sit down and be quiet.  By putting us to work doing the work of the church, the church is helping us ‘be in community’ doing more to enliven our spiritual lives than all the marketing on Madison Avenue.

We are the Episcopal Church but we need new tools and new ways to discover each other anew and to be connected as the Body of Christ.  The church will grow when joy in the hearts of the faithful grows from one simple act of kindness, faith and renewal multiplied like loaves and fishes thousands of times in the hearts of those we touch in God’s name