THE BEACON: CELEBRATING KNEELING IN THE SAME LOCATION FOR 150 YEARS
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary 2017
WOW!!! THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR'S CELEBRATION OF KNEELING IN THE SAME PLACE FOR 150 YEARS FAR, FAR EXCEEDED OUR EXPECTATIONS!!! -- For four hours, from 10:00 to 2:00, we experienced one exalting moment after another Sunday. First, there was the Procession proclaiming"Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation" accompanied by Brass Quartet, Timpani and Organ; the COS Banner held higher than normal, it seemed; the Configuration of the Chancel, with the Altar upfront and the Choir perched squarely in the center of the Altar area for all to see; the challenging and inspiring Sermon; the beautifully constructed 'Prayers Of The People'; the Anthem "Built On The Rock"; Rev. Peg's robust delivery of the Eucharist; the Sit Down Luncheon in Cleaver Hall served to a SRO crowd of 180; Jr. Warden Patrick Crandall's Tribute to Fr. Gary Bradley which elicited a sustained, standing ovation; Fr. Gary's Tribute to Canon Denis O'Pray which elicited a second, sustained standing ovation; Denis' presentation entitled "Remembering Our Future"; the generosity of Brent and Lucy Thompson's gift of the dessert from their world class restaurant Pez Cantina; and FINALLY THE MOST FABULOUS GIFT IMAGINABLE FROM THE ALTAR GUILD TO FR. GARY AND REV. PEG!!!!! We were in bed by 8:00, joyfully exhausted!
BUT FIRST....THE REV. GARY BRADLEY DELIVERED A COURAGEOUS MESSAGE ON SEPTEMBER 5 -- One of Fr. Gary's many great attributes is his honesty and transparency. So, most parishioners were aware that he might well retire before the mandatory age of 72 to care for his beloved Peg. On September 5 that almost inevitable announcement was forthcoming; but,for me, what was so remarkable was even more candor than ever before as he spoke Peg's diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's. I have told him before that the way he and Peg have been dealing with this has been incredible BECAUSE their public announcements help to educate, to inform. Silence helps no one; transparency informs others who may be facing this terrible disease that it is OK to discuss it. There is strength in numbers; we are not alone.
If ever the right person arrived on the scene at the right time, it was Fr. Gary Bradley when Bishop Jon Bruno called him from Immanuel El Monte. This man of Peace and practitioner of Forgiveness was perfect for the task at hand, and now he is starting on a new chapter in his life...
BACK TO THE CELEBRATION: THE PROCESSION -- The Tower Bell which was sent to us in the late 1860's by Mrs. Vinton called us to church, and at 10:00 the Hand Bell Choir led the way followed the Brass Quartet and the Timpani announcing the beginning of the Procession. It took my breath away; I cried! And as usual I was so moved by the entrance of THE Church of Our Saviour Banner. What a beautiful thing it is!!! Thank you again, Jean Johnson.
For this Service the Altar had been moved forward to the steps leading to the Chancel and the Choir was located where the Altar normally is. From that position their voices and the brass and the timpani resonated throughout the Sanctuary. Phil Gold acknowledged afterward that this configuration really worked for the Choir.
THE SERMON: "IF NOT US, WHO?!" -- The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray does not title his Sermons, but this is what I heard. Drawing on God's charge to the Prophet Ezekiel, Fr. Denis stated that he found marching orders from the scripture reading for "any congregation that wishes to be worthy one day of its 150th or 300th anniversary...The church has inherited the prophetic responsibility that once belonged to Ezekiel and the other prophets...That means that wherever we see sin, iniquity, unrighteousness, injustice, evil, any behavior that goes against God's will, our job is to speak up, to confront it, and warn of God's displeasure and the punishment that will follow."
"The church must enter the public dialogue about right and wrong...A church that wants to be worthy of another 150 years should encourage the preacher and all its leaders to engage forcefully the moral dilemmas of the day and to discern God's word, and speak it...The pulpit that remains silent when folks come to church agonizing about issues of the day is a pulpit that renders itself irrelevant and worse unfaithful to its prophetic mission . The church's silence becomes God's silence."
Thus endth the powerful lesson.
THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE: WHAT IMPRESSIVE NUMBERS -- I am told that Fr. Gary prepared the Prayers. Obviously, he gave considerable thought to this, and you had to marvel at just how many people COS has impacted and how much has happened during our 150 years.
Episcopal Leadership: 2 Bishops of California before the establishment of the Diocese of Los Angeles & 6 Bishops of Los Angeles
US Presidents: 32 (Andrew Johnson #17 to Donald Trump#45)
California Governors: 29 (Frederick Low # 9 to Jerry Brown #38)
Mayors: Second Mayor Los Angeles Don Benito Wilson to Juli Constanzo, Mayor of San Gabriel)
OFFERTORY ANTHEM: "BUILT ON THE ROCK" Music Commissioned for the 125th Anniversary of THE Church of Our Saviour (Chorus, Brass and Organ) -- Stunning! Uplifting! Fr. Denis paid special attention to the gifts of the COS Choir over the years when he noted in his Luncheon Presentation that no group of Lay people dedicated more time year in and year out in the Life of the parish than the members of the Choir. Amen! THANK YOU, CHOIR MEMBERS & CANON PHIL SMITH.
THE YOUTH CHOIR -- TAYLOR VAZQUEZ-REYES did it again! The Children's Choirs provided a wonderful contrast to the COS Choir & Guests Brass and Timpani; and as usual there was BRIAN DYER accompanying on the piano. What a blessing!
AN UNUSUALLY GREAT THANKSGIVING -- Given Fr. Gary's announcement AND with the Altar up close and personal, it was extremely poignant and memorable to have The Rev. Peg Bradley celebrate the Eucharist. Thank you, Rev. Peg. You were great!!!
SALLY BALDWIN & FRIENDS SELL OUT CLEAVER HALL -- Befitting 150 years of history, Sally Baldwin, assisted by Linda Goluskin, Sharon Crandall and Anne Peplow, organized a fantastic sit-down luncheon for 180 people. Cleaver Hall could not have shown itself off more beautifully. We are so blessed to have a Parish Hall so spacious and accommodating, and Sally and Friends maximized its use. By the way, in the tradition established by Harry Baldwin's coach Red Sanders at UCLA, Sally played 'hurt' throughout the lead up to the Lunch. Congratulations and Thank You, Sally !
Complimenting the celebration was an eight page booklet entitled "Celebrating Our Past 150 Years and Igniting Our Future" prepared by Carrie Voris and Gabe Vazquez-Reyes. This contains a wonderful summary of Parish Life and our Outreach Ministries, AND on the back cover a Hymn written by Music Director Canon Phil Smith entitled "Come, We That Love The Lord". What makes this so special is that Phil "composed this hymn in celebration of the Church Our Saviour's 150th Anniversary during his sabbatical in Crestline, California" where, I believe, he was staying in the Bradley's retirement home. How appropriate!!!
Two Other Highlights: Bishop John Taylor delivered by video an insightful and knowledgeable statement of congratulations. The man clearly knows who we are and what we do, so his message resonated with sincerity and appreciation for the work of our Outreach Ministries. I have no doubts that he will be available as needed to help us move forward during our transition. By the way, the Cathedral Center was represented during the Service by Canon Bob Williams, Canon for Community Relations and Chris Tumilty, Digital Communications Specialist who were seen taking photos throughout the Service. FYI, Chris also is the Youth Ministries Officer for the Diocese; and under the auspices of Hands In Healing, he has led 7 Pilgrimages to the Holy Land for 13 to 17 year olds and 3 for young adults over the last ten years.
Secondly, as happens again and again at COS, parishioners stepped up to assist in making an event something special. Sunday it was Bret and Lucy Thompson, owners of Pez Cantina in downtown Los Angeles and parents of two children who attended A Child's Garden School. Their gift was the desserts served after lunch. Fr. Gary thanked them publicly and raved about the restaurant. We know it is of the highest quality because Canon Phil Smith, the parish's resident gourmet, posts glowing reviews on almost a weekly basis on Facebook.
15? 16? 17? FACILITIES INITIATED UNDER CANON DENIS O'PRAY'S 17 YEAR TENURE -- Other than his name on the plaque in the Sanctuary acknowledging him as the 16th Rector of COS AND a plaque in the Peace Circle given by St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the Galilee thanking him for his support, there is no other evidence Fr. Denis ever was on Campus. And yet, as Fr. Gary so eloquently noted in introducing him, Fr. Denis' influence is evident all over the Campus and beyond. Following the remodeling of the Rectory, there was the gift to fund the Kouletsis Retreat Center at the Cathedral Center, the acquisition of 4 homes on West Roses Road, the construction of the Cleaver Clinic, Cleaver Hall, Grace Chapel,the remodeling of Allan Hall, the assumption of ownership of 4 homes and 50 beds from Jubilee Homes, the Dorris Dann Youth Center, the planning for the Messler Columbarium, and the purchase of the property in the Galilee for the Episcopal Cultural Center of Shefa 'Amr. Depending how you count (there actually are two properties at El Nido House), how you account for the refurbishing of Allan Hall, and the purchase in the Holy Land, Fr. Denis' impact can be counted as 15, 16 or 17. THAT IS SOME BIG FOOTPRINT!!!
"REMEMBERING THE FUTURE" AS REMEMBERED BY THE REV. CANON DENIS O'PRAY -- Fr. Denis' seven page, single spaced presentation deserves much more attention than time and space permit in this edition of THE BEACON. In fact, I want to read it again several times before trying to summarize it for posterity. However, here for your reflection are the principles for future success which he believes universal and non-negotiable, no matter the seismic changes that are occurring in Christianity and the Episcopal expression of it.
Self-sacrifice inspired by the example of Jesus will always be required.
An Entrepreneurial Energy must be encouraged and turned loose by the leader not afraid to say, Yes.
Inspiration of Scripture and the Nourishment of the Spirit are required to make the body strong.
Making Sense to a hurting world will always position a congregation in high esteem.
And, pay attention to the foundations
Fiscal Responsibility is a must.
Beauty inspires beautiful action.
Personal Stewardship is essential.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: THE ALTAR GUILD HONORED THE REV. GARY & THE REV. PEG BRADLEY IN THE VERY BEST WAY IMAGINABLE!!! -- There are ways to say 'Thank You' and there are ways to say 'THANK YOU!!!!!!!' Debbie Andersen and the ALTAR GUILD presented the ultimate gift of 'THANK YOU'. Taking the framed 12th century inscription from the church in Boldre, England, which hangs inside the entry of our Sanctuary, LYNDA CANZONERI hand stitched this most beautiful statement most beautifully, and the Altar Guild framed and presented it to the Bradleys. THIS IS A GIFT THE BRADLEYS WILL HAVE WITH THEM FOREVER!