THE BEACON: CELEBRATING OUR FIRST 150 YEARS...IGNITNG THE FUTURE
"This is the Lord's Table, it's closer now and ALL are Welcome!"
"WE BELIEVE STRONGLY THAT YOUTH ARE NOT JUST THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH, BUT THEY ARE OUR PRESENT" -- This sentence concluded the second paragraph of a handout entitled "Welcome To Youth Take - ON Sunday!". Prepared by Gabe (Youth Minister & Communication Coordinator) and Taylor (Director, Children's & Youth Music) Vazquez-Reyes, the handout also included the following introductory paragraph: "Youth Take Take-ON Sunday is a wonderful service that gives our students an opportunity to serve the community in a new and powerful way. Our students learn about the liturgy by being a part of it and learn what it is to serve the community in worship. Thank you for joining us this very special Sunday!"
"SPECIAL" doesn't even begin to describe what we witnessed and experienced Sunday morning! So many people and so many constituencies worked so hard to make this day memorable. It really did take a 'village' effort and delivered a clear message as far as I'm concerned -- "If you offer a RELEVANT Program, they will come." This is particularly true if that Program is built around children.
Although conceived and organized by Gabe and Taylor, I can not fail to mention COS's Resident Whirling Dervish Carrie Voris. She seemed to be everywhere all morning long. I first saw her rushing through Cleaver Hall during the wonderful breakfast offered by the parents of the Youth & Children's Music Choirs. THANK YOU! Also not to be ignored was the incredible work being done during breakfast by other parents who were seen herding what appeared to be clusters of white robed humming birds buzzing all over around the Telleen Family Courtyard. Then, I experienced what can be best described a "processional sigalert" as I tried to make my way through the many adults, young people and children gathered to enter the church. I have to say my heart was filled joy!
However, that was just the beginning of a Service which produced one emotional high after another. Almost all of the roles were reversed for the Service, and the results were spectacular. Fr. Gary stood by to cover those few places where Canon Law required an ordained priest, but otherwise the Youth served in every capacity normally filled by an adult. As Gabe and Taylor explained in the above mentioned hand out, and as he reiterated during his brief Sermon, this was not a Take Over; it was a Take ON.
Besides the Readers and the Intercessors and the Preacher (Brendan Kim - Age 14), what was amazing was the assemblage of at least 30 young people representing the Choirs of Taylor Vazquez-Reyes. They were everywhere, with several even assisting Taylor in her conducting. Everyone who believes music is not an integral component of the Christian Celebration was not paying attention Sunday. Not only do the children admire and respect Taylor (and Gabe), so do their parents. We observed that first hand from where we sit. Offer a RELEVANT Program, and they will come!!! Two other thoughts in this regard. I heard from Gabe that two Choir mothers and one Choir father assisted in the Communion Service. I was impressed, but Harry Hathaway who was with me when I was talking with Gabe also was. I mention this because I want you younger parishioners to know that two of your geezer members fully embrace what Gabe and Taylor are doing. It's good thing that we do; Gabe says there will be 6 of these Services during the year. This elicited a response in unison from Harry and me which translates loosely into "Be there or be square!"
I can think of no better way to end this Section than to reproduce a portion of an e-mail I received from Carrie Voris Monday which she had sent to the legion of parents who made the whole morning possible: "And finally - Ms. Taylor (and Gabe). You are AMAZING. I was in tears every time the kids opened their mouths yesterday. It is an incredible gift to be able to corral and teach such a diverse group of kids. Both you and Gabe do it with such love and patience, I feel so blessed that you are in our lives and such positive influences on our children." To which, the people said AMEN!!!
NO OTHER PLACE LIKE US (COS) -- Nobody asked me, but...I consider praying in and serving the Community from the same location for 150 years to be a really, really big deal. (FYI, do you realize that St. George's Cathedral in Jerusalem was only established in 1898?) So, were I in charge, I would be celebrating EVERY SINGLE COS EVENT this year as AN example of just exactly why THE Church of Our Saviour has been so RELEVANT for so long.
This said, I would be very busy this fall promoting Who We Are.
Take a look at this line up of offerings which COS has or will provide from Oct. 23 through Nov. 13, a period of just 22 days.
Oct. 23 -- Silent Saturday offered by the Contemplative Life Ministry staffed by the Monks of the Commuinty of Divine Love
Oct. 24 -- Youth Take - ON Sunday (See Above)
Oct. 24 -- A Child's Garden School Pumpkin Patch opened for business at 11:30 and attracted a large crowd of children and parents. The admission charge for this fund raiser was $15 per child for early birds and $20 on the 24th. Parents were free, and fun was had by all in the bounce house, the petting zoo, and in participating in numerous games. Congratulations to Evie Escatiola, Rose Sevgiyan, their staff and all of the parents who assisted in making this event a success.
Oct. 30 -- Stewardship Sunday: Pledging has always been a critically important cornerstone in sustaining this parish. However, with every aspect of society around us, both macro and micro, evolving rapidly, "pledging as usual" is no longer sufficiently reliable. This year provides some examples. I understand that we are experiencing a budget short fall which appears to be attributable to at least two changes -- an older parish population which is experiencing the passing of long time, larger pledgers AND a disclination on the part of young people to be married in churches. Obviously, there are other factors at work, and we are not alone in facing financial challenges which are systemic within main stream Christianity, but for the time being I suggest now is the time for us to review where COS ranks in each of our Journeys and try to increase our giving accordingly.
Nov. 04 -- Taize Service at 7:30 offered by the Spiritual Formation Ministry under the guidance of the Community of Divine Love.
Nov. 05 -- Fund raiser celebration of PRISM Restorative Justice's 10th Anniversary, featuring Fr. Greg Boyle, The Rt. Rev. Chester Talton and artist John August Swanson.
Nov. 06 -- Forum: Parishioner Betty Duker will be providing her expert analysis of the histories of our wonderful Stained Glass Windows. A booklet produced by her some years ago is available in limited quanitities around the Campus. As part of the Celebration of our 150 years, Betty has agreed to guide some pre-arranged tours of the windows.
Nov. 06 -- Music For A Season comes to the 10:00 Service. Supported by of a gift from the family of Faith Sand and others, the Our Saviour Choir, Soprano Soloist Rebecca Rasmussen, an Instrumental Ensemble and Organist Canon Phil Smith will present a Requiem Mass by English composer John Rutter.
Nov. 13 -- Maurice Saldebar and Tom Lenzo have volunteered to provide a special Veteran's Day Service honoring every one who has served this country. Tom is working with Canon Phil Smith to develop an appropriate liturgy. According to Maurice's facebook page, there will be a lunch afterward at 11:30 featuring guest speaker Benjamin Patton, a grandson of General George Patton. He will appear via Skype discussing his documentary project "I Was There" which he hopes will assist veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq suffering from PTSD. Also presenting will be guests from the Veterans Resource Center at Pasadena City College.
The Bottom Line: What a exciting 22 days we are in the midst of. Each and every one of them would be an event to mark the celebration of 150 years, but here we have 9! What a PARISH!!!
THE SOUND OF MUSIC + WONDERFUL CONVERSATION = ANOTHER HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL SAGES LUNCHEON -- Yet again we members of Sages were so blessed to be blessed by another program organized by one of our members. This time it was the presence of Tracy Van Fleet, daughter of parishioner Charlotte Van Fleet and former long time member of COS. Tracy had grown up singing in our various Youth Choirs and then was a soloist in the Adult Choir for years. During this time frame this mezzo soprano earned a Master and Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from USC, graduating with honors. This set the stage for a career singing with the Los Angeles Music Center Opera Company and finally as a soloist with the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
For purposes of promoting her presentation, she asked Sue to entitle it "Sing, Sing, Sing....A Singer's Story!", BUT the real title was "You Know More Opera Than You Think You Do". She said her experience is that most potential audiences are "turned off" by the thought of hearing Opera. In any event, whatever the 40 people who showed thought they were going to hear, they were mesmerized by Tracy's presentation. She not only sang beautifully, but she also introduced us to the challenges she has faced making a living singing and the richness that is Opera. I will say it again -- "How blessed this Community is to have access to folks likes Tracy Van Fleet to enhance our Journey". THANK YOU, TRACY, AND CHARLOTTE.
Speaking of "thank you's", SAGES is successful only because of the support of our fellow parishioners. This time it was the contribution of Bev Harris who provided a delicious casserole the size of a football field AND the home made desserts (and table settings) provided by Linda Goluskin. In addition, those that could "put something in the pot" so that this unfunded Ministry continues to function on a break even basis. Finally, there is the contribution of many attendees after every Luncheon in helping in clean up. THANK YOU, you always bring the afternoon to a wonderfully satisfactory conclusion!!!
ALL OF THIS AND TWO AUTHORS IN OUR MIDST:
"FREE ON THE INSIDE: FINDING GOD BEHIND BARS", A NEW BOOK BY SISTER GRETA RONNINGEN -- Published by the Cathedral Center Press, Sr. Greta has written a book for a truly unusual audience -- those in prison. What an incredible idea, and it is her hope that each of us will purchase a copy for donation to the inmates whom she, Br. Dennis Gibbs, Sr. MJ Johnson and their volunteers visit in our county jails. Here are two excerpts from reviews of her work:
"The book describes how a prison cell can become a monastic cell, how imprisonment can be a time of of spiritual rehabilitation, and how those who are incarcerated have a sacred lineage with prisoners in the Bible who found God within their captivity." Frank Rodgers, author of 'Compassion in Practice: The Way of Jesus'.
"Sr. Greta has written a spiritual gem of great clarity and tenderness. Those imprisoned, who walk with this book, will find it an elixir...a revelation of our spacious God and a passageway to freedom." Fr. Gregory Boyle, author of 'Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion' and founder of Homeboy Industries.
"MAEZIE'S PUMPKIN PATCH" Based on a True Story WRITTEN BY LYNN MARTIN SNOWDEN -- Maezie lives in Chapman Woods, and the story is based on her passion for planting and growing large, large pumpkins in her front yard. Parishioner Lynn Snowden is her friend, and she and Maezie's grand daughter Kyle Powell created this marvelous telling of a tragic event which became a joyful story. Here is one review which I liked very much:
"This is an amazing story, beautifully written and illustrated, and full of the life lessons of persistence, commitment, compassion, empathy, pride, and neighborliness across generations. Don't miss the last five pages which are full of educational, factual information." Sue Smock, co-founder and former book partner, San Marino Toy & Book Store.