The word “cathedral” comes from the Latin word cathedra, which is a chair that belongs to a bishop. The chair is the symbol of the bishop’s teaching and spiritual authority, and the focus for his ministry. The church that houses the cathedra is the cathedral church. A cathedral may be either grand or humble, modern or ancient, small or large. As the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin’s cathedral EAC serves as the mother church, and spiritual home, of the diocese’s twenty-nine churches.
The Office of the Bishop
Eric Menees was consecrated as the Vth Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin on September 24, 2011. He follows in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, a late 1st Century bishop who clearly articulated the already well-established ecclesial structure of the early Church. With Saint Clement of Rome and Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, Saint Ignatius is one of three bishops and two additional authors, known as the “Apostolic Fathers” because they were contemporary with some of the Twelve Apostles. Saint Ignatius wrote a series of letters while traveling to Rome for his execution, giving instructions to churches in other cities regarding the nature of ecclesial structure and magisterial authority, all of which are centered in the bishops.
The bishop has the special role of representing the Christians of his diocese. “Wherever the bishop appears,” explained Saint Ignatius, “there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” In this earliest known use of the term “Catholic” to describe the Church, Saint Ignatius reflects the Church’s developed understanding that the bishop is Christ’s representative, and the head of the local Church.
The Church’s ministry, rightly understood, is conducted by the bishop, or one who the bishop appoints in his stead. “Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop,” exhorted Saint Ignatius. “Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it.”
What does a Cathedral do?
In the early days of Christianity there was one church in a city whose members, clergy and lay, were gathered around the bishop who was successor to the Apostles. Together, under the bishop’s leadership and care, they lived the life of Christian discipleship. As non-Christians were baptized the Church grew beyond the cathedral church to other parts of the city and out into the countryside. Not having clergy of their own, these gatherings of Christains were provided for by the ministry of the bishop and his cathedral. Specifically, the Eucharist was carried out by the cathedral clergy to all the other places in the region where Christians were gathered for Sunday worship. While the faithful were not all gathered in the cathedral for worship, they were spiritually gathered together in union with their bishop when they received the one Eucharist in their various locations. As Christianity continued to grow the bishop permanently assigned cathedral priests to the local gatherings of Christians. These gatherings grew into parish churches led by priests who represented the bishop in those locations. Priests would return to the cathedral to meet with the bishop, be further encouraged and equipped for ministry in their local parish churches, and would then return to their home parish church. The bishop would also make regular pastoral visits to the parish churches of the diocese to provide spiritual and administrative oversight, pastoral care, the sacraments, and then return to his cathedral.
The cathedral today continues to be the chief symbol of Christian unity as seen in the relationship between the local parish church and the bishop. EAC, therefore, is the place where the clergy and laity of the ADSJ gathers for important events like diocesan convention, clergy and lay conferences, and diocesan liturgical observances. EAC also hosts visiting diocesan clergy who preach and teach at EAC. The diocesan administrative offices are housed on the cathedral campus.
EAC as the cathedral for the ADSJ also plays a role in the life of the City and County of Fresno by providing sacred space to observe times of significant celebration or sadness. EAC works diligently to promote healthy civic and ecumenical relationships throughout the city and county.
While EAC is a cathedral she is also a parish church. In the Anglican tradition, this means that EAC maintains the centuries-old pattern of daily worship calling the community to observe the feasts and fasts of the Church, provides for the catechetical and pastoral needs of cathedral members, and seeks to love and serve the people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods. EAC does this by inviting all people to abide in Jesus who transforms, equips, and sends us to serve Him. EAC lives into this mission by our shared participation in Scripture, Sacrament, and Spirit.
The Very Rev. Noah Lawson serves EAC and the ADSJ as Cathedral Dean and Rector. Dean Lawson leads EAC with the delegated authority of Bishop Menees and is supported by four Cathedral Canons: the Rev. Cn. Anthony Velez (Canon for Formation), the Rev. Cn. Carlos Raines (Canon for Spiritual Direction), Cn. Elizabeth Conkle (Lay Canon for Catechetical Formation & Director of the Anglican Catechist Training School), and Cn. David Francis (Lay Canon for Stewardship & Finance). Additionally, EAC is served by two deacons: the Rev. Dcn. Anna Hearn (Deacon for Pastoral Care) and the Rev. Dcn. Edward Thurber (Deacon for Evangelism) as well as several faithful and talented lay ministry leaders.
Bishop Menees & EAC
Bishop Menees visits each of the dioceses' parishes at least once a year for an official Sunday visit. At these visitations Bishop Menees baptizes, confirms, preaches, teaches, and presides over the Holy Eucharist. Bishop Menees also travels nationally and internationally on behalf of the Anglican Church in North America. Even in the midst of his very busy schedule Bishop Menees maintains a close working relationship with his cathedral:
Major Festivals of the Church: Bishop Menees presides and preaches at EAC on Christmas, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Easter, and Pentecost.
Weekday Eucharists: EAC has a daily Eucharist Monday-Friday at 8 a.m. in addition to Sunday services. Bishop Menees presides and preaches once a week based on his schedule.
Bible Study & Bagels with the Bishop: Everyone is invited to join a monthly study led by Bishop Menees in the Emmanuel Community Center at 9 a.m. following the morning Eucharist based on his schedule.