THE BEACON: "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works!" Matthew 5:16
"This the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary Bradley 2017
A POST EASTER REFLECTION: STEWARDSHIP SHOULD NOT BE ONLY AN 'ONCE A YEAR' HAPPENING SINCE THE PARISH FACES UNEXPECTED FINANCIAL CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES 24/7, 365 DAYS A YEAR -- I'm still basking in the glow of an incredible Holy Week experience; but away from our beautiful parish I am also increasingly appalled at how this country, our society, is choosing to allocate its resources. This was brought home yet again during the week when I read another quote from President Dwight David Eisenhower on Facebook:
"Every gun, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world of arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not the way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron." CROSSES OF IRON!!! Tomahawk missiles and the MOABs come to mind, again.
Where's he going with this, you ask? Well, if how we allocate our resources basically says who we are, then we collectively are guilty of embracing a way of life which devalues life while we find ourselves unable or unwilling to allocate our own resources in greater amounts to a parish which cares foremost for its community and the least among us. How to rectify this? Think about the importance of THE Church of Our Saviour in your Journey and then write a check if you can for a little more than your current Pledge Commitment.
OR, consider an existing parish project which you would like to support or believe needs support to a greater degree. Stained glass windows? Church grounds? The Cleaver Hall Ice Machine? OSC? Jubilee Housing? the Music Programs, The Monks & PRISM? St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the Galilee. There are so many opportunities to make a positive difference within our immediate community! Let us individually commit to make Peace, NOT war, no more. Let us stand up and be counted; show the greater Community by example what a BEACON we are.
Two Examples of what I'm talking about:
Joanna & Gary Kinsley: Sunday morning the Kinsleys were back on the Telleen Family Courtyard with their wonderful self designed Outreach Ministry -- selling used books with the proceeds going exclusively to support Canon Phil Smith's Music For A Season. This is a real labor of love by both of them and a terrific example of what creative thinking, passionate parishioners can do to make a difference. I would also add that their presence added immeasurably to the ambiance and camaraderie of the post 10:00 Service gathering on the Courtyard.
Patrick & Verna Rooney: Neither of these folks ever attended COS, but they admired and supported Deacon Bill Doulos' for years, first when he was working to create Union Station and then when he formed Jubilee Housing. As a result, in 1998 they formed a Family Trust funded with $500,000 and named Union Station and Jubilee Homes as equal beneficiaries. Each year until 2020 these two charities receive
2.5% of the annual value (approximately $13,000 in 2017) and 50% of the remaining balance in 2020. What a great gift to those in recovery and to Deacon Bill, a recognized icon in the San Gabriel Recovery Community. If you know someone who is in need or is recovering, why not consider supporting Jubilee Housing financially, now or later like the Rooneys did?
TWO TREASURES OF SAN GABRIEL -- April's Monthly SAGES Meeting brought together two treasures we parishioners perhaps take for granted but definitely should not. One is the inspiring and beautiful set of Stained Glass Windows which are unique in Southern California; the other is Betty Duker whose knowledge of and passion for these windows is second to none. For the better part of an hour 25 of us were privileged to hear Betty explain the histories of some these windows; for me it was mesmerizing experience.
For starters, I really have never just sat down in our lovely Sanctuary and looked around. Particuarly in mid day there is a beauty which the sun the brings to the interior and multiplicity of colors provided by the windows. Aided by a wonderful sound system arranged by John Ballance, Betty had us all sit in the rear of the Church, in the original Sanctuary so she could discuss three of the five Patton Windows. Her background information on the Ruth Window (East) and George S. Patton, parents of General Patton, was fascinating and comprehensive in spite of the fact that the lower halves of each window were obscured by the floral arrangements from Easter. Undaunted, she persevered as any committed Episcopalian would. One thing she pointed out about George's window which we probably should not publicize too much is that in recording his background from Virginia, the artist included a Confederate Flag in the lower left hand corner. Of course, the penultimate Patton Family Window is General George's in the East Transept. Betty explained in great detail what is included in this window,and it's amazing how much of Patton's life before and during WWII is captured. Interestingly, the framed needle point hanging to the left of the window was done by the General's sister during the time he was dying and includes all of the information the family wanted depicted, although there is no similarity between the two.
From there Betty moved to the front of the Nave to discuss the two sets of four windows along the East and West sides of the Church. I have always admired these windows but primarily because of the beautiful colors they cast. Thanks to Betty, I now know the history each is depicting: The four on the east side generally trace the history of Christianity and the Anglican Communion while those on the west tell the histories of COS and The Episcopal Church in the U.S.. It occurs to me that Betty could make this into a very educational three or four session Forum. THANK YOU, BETTY DUKER.
COS HAS ITS OWN DIANE SALAD!!! -- As with many of SAGES' Lunches over the last three years, this one was prepared by our own Diane Rivera. I made two runs at the food line, and I defy anyone to tell difference between the salad served last Thursday at 535 West Rose Road and the one served at Green Street East. She was assisted by the always reliable David Coleman in preparation and clean up and Bill Ferry's three foot long baguettes.
GOD BLESS THE MONKS: SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVOCACY IS ALIVE AND WELL ON WEST ROSES ROAD -- Br. Dennis, Sr. Greta and Sr. MJ are sponsoring an important Six Week Book Study Program which began last Thursday. They are discussing Bryan Stevenson's "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption". Stevenson is an African American who has dedicated his life to challenging bias against poor people of color in the criminal justice system, especially children. That he is a unique individual (some would call him a hero) is evidenced by the fact that after receiving a full scholarship to Harvard Law AND also receiving a Master's in Public Policy from the JFK School of Government, he did not head to a prestigious law firm but to Montgomery, AL. There, he founded the Equal Justice Initiative to work behalf on the poor. This study series is part of the Diocesan reading program in response TEC's General Convention Resolution to educate, raise awareness and stand against mass incarceration.
This Program continues for another five Thursdays, and I urge anyone who is looking for a place to discuss issues of social justice, with a focus on Mass Incarceration in our country, to attend. Allan Hall on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:00.
COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE -- The main reason I write this column is because I believe The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Los Angeles, and THE Church of Our Saviour have so much to offer the country, Southern California and the West San Gabriel Valley. That's the 'good news'; the continuing 'bad news' is that our collective inabilities to communicate this 'good news' defy description. Do you realize that the Diocese of Los Angeles, one of the most influential in the U.S. Church with 70,000 members, has only 3,100 readers of its Weekly News Letter? Fr. Fuad Dagher, the Rector of our Sister Parish and its 120 parishioners in Shefa 'Amr (Where in the world is Shefa 'Amr?) has 4,212 friends on Facebook, for goodness sake!!!
What to do? Well, fortunately for COS, we have in our midst two extremely talented and hard working COMMUNICATORS -- Carrie Voris and Gabe Vazquez-Reyes. Heading up the Communications Committee this year, they have been working on all sorts of ways to elevate the visibility of our parish both internally and externally. As a matter of interest, Carrie and Gabe face the challenge of addressing two different audiences -- those who take in all their info via social media and us older Episcopalians who still read newspapers and such. Given the demographic make up of the parish, Georgie Erskine, practicing what I have advocated above, has generously directed some funds to advertising in the Star News, the Outlook and the San Marino Tribune.
Meanwhile, Gabe continues to develop the COS web site and the Facebook page, both of which can be monitored for visits. Carrie also designed door hangers as a way of informing the neighborhood of the activities available during Holy Week, and various constituencies in the parish distributed them to the Community. A major work in progress is a photo book of every parish family or member. To date 100 pictures have been taken. Meanwhile, Carrie, Gabe and Lizze Slocum continue to work on a 150th Anniversary Booklet. To this end, they would welcome photos and/or commentaries which fill in the last 25 years.
CIRCLES IS MORE THAN AN OCCASIONAL GATHERING OF PARISHIONERS FOR DINNER: CHURCH IN A CIRCLE IS COMMUNITY BUILDING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: "Where two or more gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20. For centuries, people have been meeting in a circle not only to eat but to build community and solve problems.
For a number of years our daughter Molly Smock Lihani, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker & Restorative Practice Coach and Consultant, has conducted a Program for the Arcadia School System called Green Circles. Essentially, this is a secular version of the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto to you", and she is invited into classrooms by teachers who are experiencing "classroom (community) dysfunction". She originally focused on K - 5, but more recently upper grade teachers are calling upon her.
This Program is not limited just to groups of children, and Molly has tailored a Green Circles Programs for us SAGES which she says is designed to accomplish the following: "Experience the power of the circle as a spiritual building practice -- a place where God's people are empowered to connect, learn and grow together. Circles will transform us from consumers to active participants. Circles will change the way we see each other and learn about God's presence in our community."
The New Testament provides many "one another" instructions: Encourage one another, Build up one another, Accept one another, Serve one another humbly in love, Have fellowship with one another, Love one another. Circles is a powerful way of practicing "one-anothering"!!! THURSDAY, MAY 18 @ 12:30.
WE MISS HIM BUT HIS IMPACT LIVES ON -- Before Spring leaves us entirely, I want to remember Canon Alan Weirick. He passed away in late 2013, but we are reminded of him every spring when the poppies bloom. The man had many passions, including working for the last 16 years of his life for Peace WITH Justice in the Israeli / Palestinian Conflict. However, nothing, absolutely nothing, trumped his love of poppies, as witnessed by the fact that an inventory of his Jeep Wagoneer after his passing revealed a cargo bay filled with sacks and sacks of poppy seeds and planting tools. Rumor has it that when San Antonio Gardens told him he could not plant the seeds in the retirement community's gardens, he cut holes in the shorts he ordered from the Johnny Appleseed Catalog and wandered through the gardens shaking his legs periodically. He also was arrested once by the CHP because he had stopped on the shoulder of the 210 and was spreading seeds on the freeway bank during rush hour. FYI, Alan was named an Honorary Canon of the Diocese of Los Angeles posthumously for his work in raising the visibility of the plight of the Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land.