THE BEACON: CELEBRATING OUR PAST 150 YEARS...IGNITING THE FUTURE
"The is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!"
"YOUTH TAKE ON SUNDAY" (AKA "YOUTHARIST SUNDAY") -- I have no idea what other parishes are offering their young people, but what Gabe and Taylor Vazquez-Reyes are doing with our young people is innovative and sending a message to them that they indeed are integral members of our parish. (FYI, I do not believe the SAGES could have performed up to the standard set by the young parishioners on Sunday, but that discussion is for another time,)
What makes "Youth Take On Sunday" so special is the enthusiasm and ownership of the Service of everyone who participated. Thank you, Brendan Kim (Celebrant & Gospeler), Nicholas Correnti (Preacher), David Case & Ava Slocum (Readers), Addison Voris (Intercessor), and Emma Voris, Audrey Sei & Aiden Correnti (Chalice). In addition, it doesn't get much better than the Greeting Hymn "Tunga Alafia" provided by members of the Gospel Cherubs, Star Chorus & Joyful Noise. Under Taylor's direction, this traditional Nigerian children's song was uplifting and infectious, in no small part because of Taylor's drum accompaniment.
With my mind I greet you,
with my words I greet you,
with my heart I greet you,
with my soul I greet you.
The tone for the Service was set.
Oh, by the way, there was a really handsome group of Acolytes: Cheryl Townsend, Janey Cutting, Eric Miller, Laurel Bullock, Patrick Crandall & Phil Gold who did OK, but none should give up his or her Sun'day' job. (For those who are unclear on what "Take Over Sunday" is, the adults assumed the Youth Responsiblities.)
LET'S HEAR IT FOR GABE VAZQUEZ-REYES -- During the Forum in which Fr. Gary discussed the programs and status of the Youth Ministry, he mentioned that Gabe had a new responsibility within the Diocese of Los Angeles. He now is the Chair Person of the Program Group on Youth Ministry (PGYM) for the entire Diocese. This is a big deal and represents a well deserved recognition of his commitment to the young people of the Diocese. 'Unfortunately', this represents a great opportunity to make a difference since The Episcopal Church nationally really does not have a formalized structure for children and young people. CONGRATULATIONS, GABE!!!
FYI, to no ones surprise, when Fr. Gary asked those in attendance at the Forum about where we all stood vis a vis "the priority of maintaining a youth group", the vote was unanimous in favor of "HIGH" versus "As budget allows" or "LOW".
A YEAR TO CROW ABOUT: TWO PERSPECTIVES BUT FIRST A WORD FROM YOUR LIGHT KEEPER -- As you will read below, my good friends David Coleman and Deacon Bill Doulos served me well in reporting on the festivities at the Chinese New Year Celebration Saturday night. However, I did hear a couple of bits of information away from them which I believe deserve emphasis. First of all, over the three years that Fr. Thomas Ni has been with us, his Mandarin speaking congregants have experienced the arrival of 12 babies, AND three more are expected soon!
Secondly, I believe a public recognition of parishioner Kim Sirean's unique contribution to bringing our two congregations closer together is warranted. She is yet another a wonderful example of a parishioner offering her special talent, in her case dance, to bridge a cultural gap, and I understand her Salsa Converts also made their own costumes. WELL DONE, KIM!!!
Perspective No. 1) By David Coleman -- The Chinese speaking congregation of COS hosted a celebration of the Chinese New Year (of the Rooster) Saturday, January 28, in Cleaver Hall. About 150 people gathered to form a standing-room event featuring delicious food, sparkling talent, warm fellowship, and beautifully festive fashions.
Eugene Moy from the Chinese Historical Society of Los Angeles presented a detailed accounting of Chinese immigration, emphasizing their effect upon our area and the special contributions made to industry, commerce and agriculture to start things off. Then, a flood of talent poured out for all to enjoy. There was a telepathic "magic" display, vocals were sung, piano, guitar and accordian instrumentals played, and a cross-cultural Chinese Salsa plus a traditional Chinese dance were performed. Next, the gifts of life and birth were honored by a dazzling parade of loving parents proudly displaying young children and new-borns arriving during the 3 years the Chinese and English-speaking congregations have celebrated together here at COS.
Now, filled with festivity, it was time for food, fellowship and fun. A delicious meal was served up, raffle tickets were distributed , silent auction items displayed, prizes won and chosen all in a loving fun-filled fellowship driven atmosphere. I would have to say everyone was a winner. See you next year.
Perspective No. 2) By Deacon Bill Doulos -- Over 100 congregants from COS attended the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration to usher in the Year of the Rooster at Cleaver Hall on Saturday...A Chinese feast was preceded by presentations of the history ot COS by Senior Warden Juli Kennedy and Fr. Thomas Ni, and the history of Chinese immigration to American presented by Eugene Moy of the Chinese American Museum.
It was heartening to see the intermingling of parishioners and the presence of so many young Chinese couples with children everywhere you looked in the Hall. All of the children received a wrapped present, and many adults went home with raffle or silent auction items. Dancers from the Chinese congregation treated us to the Salsa, as taught to them over many weeks by our own dancer extraordinaire, Kim Sirean. The talent show included singers, a small band, a mentalist, a pianist and an accordion player.
Did you know that the Chinese first came to the North American continent in the mid-1500's when trading routes were established with Mexico? Then in 1784 the first Chinese immigrants came to the United States, entering the harbor in Baltimore on the ship Pallas. Chinese first came to the west coast in the late 1700's, but the Gold Rush brought Chinese in greater numbers beginning in 1848. Then Chinese immigration flourished when the railroads were built, and many also found work as shopkeepers, house servants, contract laborers and agricultural workers. In 1864 Don Benito Wilson hired 11 workers to harvest grapes and citrus for $1.20 a day.
In the 1880's there was a white backlash against the presence of Chinese in certain areas of Los Angeles County. A small Chinatown settlement near the corner of Colorado and Fair Oaks in Pasadena was forced to relocate outside the city limits by the Pasadena City Council. Chinese Exclusion Acts were passed by Congress and upheld by the courts, until the mid-Twentieth Century.
So immigration turmoil is nothing new, and perhaps we can learn some lessons from our history that are relevant today.
PROUD TO BE A SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AMERICANS -- Sue and I are so blessed to have made it into the 21st Century. We are even more blessed to live in Southern California, one of the leading examples of what communities around the world should aspire to as diversity becomes the norm, not the exception. A secular example of this can be found by visiting ANY Costco Store. A spiritual example was found last Thursday night at 1301 E. Las Tunas Blvd. at the Masjid Gabrael Mosque. Somewhere between 200 and 300 people from across the faith based communities filled the Mosque to support our Muslim brothers and sisters. As I have noted in previous Beacons, we are privileged to know many of the leaders of the Muslim Community, and we know how gratified each and every one of them is to have had so many people show up to support their right to practice their faith. This, my friends, is what makes Southern California such a unique and exciting place to live.
AS A CHRISTIAN, AS AN EPISCOPALIAN, HOW DO YOU THINK JESUS WOULD HAVE RESPONDED TO POLARIZATION SUCH AS WE HAVE ARE SEEING TODAY? -- Fr. Gary addressed this in last Sunday's Sermon when he asked "How do you suppose the tradesmen and fishermen and tax collector and zealot and Galileans and Judean (his disciples) got along?"
"Jesus didn't seem to worry about any of it. When he said, "Follow me", he apparently wasn't concerned that these followers might not turn out to be model disciples in perfect harmony and agreement all the time. Indeed, they were often dense and hard to teach, and on the rare occasions when they did understand him they would usually try to talk him out of his ideas. They squabbled about who was greatest. One of them betrayed him."
Near the end of his Sermon, he asked the $64 question:
"...can a nation of Christians and Jews,
Muslims and Druze,
believers and those never in pews
find a way to become tolerant of views
while listening to the nightly news?"
HIS CONCLUSION: "I think it is possible, but only if we follow the mission of the church as defined by the catechism of our church on page 855 of the BCP. What is the mission of the church? The mission of the church is to RESTORE ALL PEOPLE TO UNITY WITH GOD. THAT is your primary task. How will we go about it? How will you do it?"
IMPORTANT COS EVENTS TO PUT ON YOUR CALENDAR --
1) PRISM Restorative Justice, following up on its showing of "The 13TH", begins a SIX WEEK BOOK READNG & DISCUSSION of "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander on Thursday night, February 2 from 6:30 to 8:15. This is "a stunning account of the return of a caste-like system...that has resulted in millions of African Americans being locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status -- denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement."
2) Jubilee Homes will be hosting its Annual Super Bowl Party on Sunday afternoon in Allan Hall. This always is a wonderful gathering and a terrific example of the fact that you can indeed watch a football game and enjoy yourself WITHOUT drinking!!! Who knew?