The Diocese of El Camino Real stretches from south of San Francisco to north of Santa Barbara. Until 1980 a part of the Diocese of California, the congregations of El Camino Real are found in the five counties of San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey. Although the youngest diocese in California, ECR's Trinity Cathedral, in San Jose, is the oldest cathedral structure in the State of California.
El Camino Real, named not for a city or state but after the Spanish colonial road from Mexico City to Oregon, is a diocese of approximately 46 congregations (including several missions), one upper school (York), two K-8 schools and several pre-schools. Campus ministries are found at California State University, San Jose; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; California State University, Monterey Bay; and the University of California at Santa Cruz. Clergy who are canonically resident and active in the Diocese include 100+ priests and 30+ deacons.
The diocese supports an Episcopal Charity - Santa Maria Urban Ministry in San Jose. We also support three prison ministries, the Church Periodical Club, Daughters of the King, the Episcopal Church Women, Integrity, and a Cursillo Servant Community.
We worship in several languages: English, Lakota, Spanish, and Tagalog. From the high-tech industry in the north, to the rich agricultural valleys to the south, to the beauty of the Pacific coastline to the west, the Diocese is one of the most diverse areas in the world. The opportunities to grow and make a difference are great.
As in other aspects of its personality, geographically the diocese is characterized by dramatic contrast and rapid change. Within the diocese are four geographical areas: High-tech Silicon Valley; the Coastal Communities; the Agricultural Center; and San Luis Obispo, each with differing demographics, economics and cultural influences. Most of our larger and more economically stable congregations are concentrated in Silicon Valley. Those 17 of our 47 congregations (including our cathedral) are in close proximity in Santa Clara County. Twenty-two congregations are more widely distributed through the agricultural communities of Monterey County and toward the coast. The seven congregations in San Luis Obispo County are the most southern and geographically isolated of our communities. All of the communities are experiencing the impact of increased immigration and rapid change, as well as economic growth.
With at least four different economic cultures in this diocese we are challenged to acknowledge and take advantage of these differences in our work to rationalize our diocesan structures.
High-tech Silicon Valley –
Santa Clara County, once called “the Valley of the Heart’s Delight” because of its rich agricultural heritage, is now referred to as Silicon Valley and is home to some of the best-known technology innovators in the world. Famous for its technology-related industrial wealth and productivity, this densely populated area is culturally and economically diverse. Stanford University, San Jose State University and Santa Clara University are the valley’s academic centers. Silicon Valley encompasses eighteen congregations located from Palo Alto to southern San Jose.
Coastal Communities –
Beginning at Santa Cruz and extending south to Carmel, this area is rich in agriculture, natural beauty and stellar vacation destinations. Congregations deal with a diversity in wealth, an aging population, and extensive weekend activities in the general culture. It is home to the University of California at Santa Cruz and California State University - Monterey Bay.
The Agricultural Center –
The agricultural center of El Camino Real is primarily the Salinas Valley, which is dotted with places out of John Steinbeck's novels. At present, however, Salinas Valley agriculture is a corporate affair and one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Also, cultural diversity is a wonderful part of the Valley's heritage. The dominant languages represented by this diversity are Spanish and English because a large number of the Valley's farm-workers come from Mexico and Central America.
San Luis Obispo –
First established by Spanish missionaries in 1772, San Luis Obispo County and its environs offer many diverse microclimates from the dry, desert like interior to the cool, moist ocean front communities. It is a desirable destination for retirement as evidenced by its recent, rapid growth. This Mediterranean-like climate is also perfect for the development of top notch vineyards and the area is home to many world class wineries. It is also the perfect environment for higher education as the area is graced with the highly regarded California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo.
Our area is one of incredible productivity, creativity, variety and beauty.