The Annual Synod took place on April 25-29, 2023 in Walnut Creek, CA. Here are Deacons Rick’s reflections on the experience and an update on his meeting with the Standing Committee.
4:15AM: Rise and Shine. Drove to work with my suitcase and backpack ready for the flight to Walnut Creek. Left my car at work and Robin H. took me to the airport.
My flight out of SeaTac was an hour late so I missed my connector in Portland. Once in Portland, I was quickly re-routed to a connector flight to Oakland. I had to run to the gate once I found out what gate it was!
On the connector flight I sat next to a gentleman who had many questions for me about the Bible and Our Lord. We also discussed homeopathic medicine and bees.
Once I made it to Oakland, I took the BART to the Embassy Suites in Walnut Creek. There were a couple of train changes. I got a little overwhelmed and worried that I was not going the correct route so I got off the train. I asked a guy on a skateboard how the system works. He said, Forget about the colors! (The directions are color- coded) Just follow the name of the stops. OK, now I get it. No further problems with the BART and my final stop let me off right across the street from the Embassy Suites.
Once I checked in, I took a walk around the block. Very nice evening and neighborhood. A Weiner Dog eyed me suspiciously from an apartment balcony.
All day at the Seminary. I got an early start and took the BART from Walnut Grove to Downtown Berkeley. Only one train change. Google told me the directions by foot to the Seminary. I stopped along the way at a Starbucks. It was a bigger store, but they had removed all the furniture in it. I got a coffee and resumed my walk to the Seminary. It was a beautiful morning.
There is an energy to a college town. Frat and Sorority houses. People going to school and work. A gentleman dressed in a suit and hat asked me if I had any liquid bread. I said I didn’t think so and went on my way. On my way to the Seminary, I admired many wonderful old buildings and churches. Great architecture. Walked by the famous Christian Science Church that is an historical landmark. Amazing.
At the Seminary I was welcomed by Christine Sunderland. She showed me around and I met some of the members of the Cal Berkeley Rowing team that live in the upper stories of one of the buildings of the Seminary.
Christine had set out photograph albums covering the history of the Seminary and the APCK. I could have stayed in that room all day. The history of our Province and the Seminary is a testament to the strength and grit our of Faith and Tradition. We also viewed one of the final addresses by Bishop Morse.
Once all the postulants, my brothers in Holy Orders, and other Synod attendees arrived, we had Morning Prayer and Mass. There was a wonderful organist and he shared with me that he is at the Seminary every Sunday and also travels to another one of our parishes after playing the Sunday Mass at the Seminary. It was a reminder to me that so many members of all our parishioners go above and beyond Sunday church attendance to truly do the Lord’s work that makes our parishes prosper.
After Morning Prayer and Mass, we had a wonderful presentation on the work of Bishop Morse and others who have given to us this legacy of faith and service. Never forget it.
Tuesday concluded with Evensong and Benediction. Plenty of incense and a profound time of prayer and worship.
Bishop Hansen, his wife, our Deaconess from St. Luke’s, Redding and I hopped into Bishop Hansen’s car and drove back to the Embassy Suites.
Morning Prayer and Mass. 11:45AM was my interview with the Standing Committee. This is serious stuff. I gave the best answers I could. The verdict: I will complete the one year Canonical Requirement for the Diaconate, then I must pass my Oral and Written Exams for the Priesthood before progress to Ordination. That evening was the opening social hour and I met many new people and loyal old friends as well. Everyone works hard to make this happen and our Bishops are an example of servant leadership and sacrificial duty. The social hour also provided an opportunity to bid on items donated by parishes and parishioners to raise funds.
Thursday and Friday
My first Clericus. A delicious Clergy and Wives dinner at a local restaurant. The Synod Business Meeting that included the conversation around combining (re-uniting) the Dioceses of the West and Southwest. Pontifical High Mass at St. Martin of Tours Parish in Concord. Again, I was blessed to meet so many hard- working and dedicated “laborers in vineyard”. Although our parishes are often far from one another, we are not alone and our APCK family is healthy, growing and diverse, united by our Faith and Tradition.
The Synod Banquet created a happy and relaxed time to enjoy good food and one another.
The final Mass of the Synod was Saturday morning. I had already checked out of my hotel room so after Mass and good-byes, it was a return to the Oakland Airport via BART. I finally got home around 9:30PM that night.
The fragrance of the orange trees near the Seminary and the sunshine reminded me of my former life as a native Californian. To borrow from Cole Porter and with a little adjustment to his lyrics: “Let the life that once was fire, remain an ember.”