THE BEACON: STRETCHING AFTER KNEELING FOR 150 YEARS IN ANTICIPATION OF A FABULOUS CELEBRATION OF THE HISTORY OF THIS WONDERFUL PARISH ON SEPTEMBER 10, 2017

"IF NOT US, WHO?" The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray Sept. 2017

THE TRANSITION BEGINS -- SR. WARDEN JULI KENNEDY and JR. WARDEN PATRICK CRANDALL and the Vestry hosted a well attended Sunday Forum to discuss "where we go from here". In anticipation of the inevitable, but not the timing, the Vestry met in Retreat last spring with diocesan representatives The Rev. Canon Joanna Satorius, Canon for Formation & Deployment, and The Rev. Robert Honeychurch, Missioner for Congregational Vitality. More recently Rev. Joanna met with the Vestry to officially advise now that Fr. Gary has announced his final date as being January 14, 2018. 

The Episcopal Church being The Episcopal Church, Process is going to be extremely important. So, the first Order of Business will be to form a Profile Committee which will be headed up by Paul Kilian. It would appear that a Profile is very much like what various Strategic Planning Committees have developed periodically over the last ten years. That notwithstanding, Juli and Patrick said that the Committee would not begin work until after Fr. Gary's retirement. Then, they believe the entire Process from Profile creation to conducting the Search could take a minimum of two years. FYI, NO Search Committee will be formed until the Profile is complete!! If your schedule can accommodate this lengthy schedule, Juli and Patrick urge any interested parishioners to talk with Paul. 

Three Additional, Important Points:

1) Fr. Gary emphasized the IMPORTANCE of the above Processes because our FINAL DECISION is FINAL. Within The Episcopal Church, once a priest is called, he or she is TENURED FOR LIFE! The only way to remove a priest is for him or her to agree to a financial settlement, usually a very expensive solution. 

2) Fr. Gary and the Wardens also discussed at length three options which will be available to COS before we call a priest:

    a. Interim Priest -- This person's responsibilities are limited to serving as the celebrant and providing pastoral care. (The Rev. Canon Charles Saquety)

    b. Priest-In-Charge -- This person is in charge of the parish but is not the incumbent and can not be called.

    c. Priest-In-Charge Under Special Circumstances -- This is a person appointed by the Bishop who has all of the responsibilities of a "called priest" but must eventually be confirmed by the Vestry. (The Rev. Canon Michael Battle and The Rev. Gary Bradley)

3) The Wardens announced that they are beginning planning to honor Fr. Gary & Rev. Peg Bradley. They anticipate that this is going to be a very special event, and I believe they will be looking for volunteers.

AN OPTION OPEN TO ALL PARISHIONERS -- In the near future the Rector, three outgoing Vestry members and three lay members will gather to select 5 nominees for the 2018-2019 Vestry. The terms run for three years; and as an Episcopal parish's "CEO", this new Vestry will have tremendous responsibilities and influence. If you feel called to be a part of this historic moment at COS, you should submit your name for consideration to Fr. Gary.        

THE EPISCOPAL NEWS UPDATE: A weekly newsletter serving the Diocese of Los Angeles -- As noted in the last BEACON, the Diocese of Los Angeles was represented by Canon Bob Williams and Chris Tumilty. Both were seen taking pictures, and two of these wonderful photos were included with the article below which appeared in the weekly Episcopal News Update. One is a view from the back of the Sanctuary as the clergy processed out at the end of the Service, and the other is a truly memorable and beautiful picture of Rev. Peg Bradley celebrating, assisted by The Rev. Gary Bradley and The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray. DO YOURSELF A FAVOR. IF YOU DO NOT ALREADY RECEIVE THE EPISCOPAL NEWS UPDATE, GO TO THE DIOCESAN WEBSITE AND SIGN UP.  

"The Church of Our Savior, San Gabriel, on September 10 marked it 150th year of ministry by joining in a festival bilingual Eucharist and luncheon celebration. Former rector Denis O'Pray preached for the liturgy conducted in English and Mandarin. The Rev. Peg Bradley was the celebrant, assisted by the Rev. Gary Bradley and Canon O'Pray. The parish choir performed special music which included an original hymn composed by Canon Phil Smith, director of music. The Church of Our Saviour is the oldest continuing Protestant house of worship in the San Gabriel Valley and the diocese's third oldest congregation after St. Anthanasius in Echo Park and Trinity, Santa Barbara. The oldest portion of the San Gabriel church building is 147 years old, and parish land was given by Benjamin "Don Benito" Wilson, second mayor of Los Angeles after California statehood. Notable parishioners through the years included Gen, George Patton, Jr., also a member of the Wilson family. The parish's current vibrant ministries include the Our Saviour Center, a healthcare, youth and family services facility in El Monte. The church is located at 535 West Roses Road, and its website is www.churchofoursaviour.org."

FR. FUAD IS COMING! FR. FUAD IS COMING! FR. FUAD IS COMING! -- September 10 notwithstanding, the celebration of COS's 150th Anniversary still has legs. On Sunday, October 8, The Rev. Canon Fuad Dagher will be preaching at both Services. In addition, he will be assisted by The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray at the Forum where they will reminisce about their first meeting in 2004 and the evolution of the Sister Parish Relationship with St. Paul's in Shefa 'Amr and be prepared to discuss the challenges facing Christians living in the Holy Land.

In our perfect world, Fr. Fuad also will sing "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem" at some point during the day!

Away from his appearance on the 8th at COS, we have set up an interesting schedule for Fr. Fuad. He will be speaking at the weekly meeting of the Interfaith Community United for Justice and Peace, a highly respected interfaith group dedicated since 9/11 to stopping the "blessing of war and violence". He and we will be attending a Farewell Celebration on October 7 in Riverside for Bishop & Mary Bruno, and then Fr. Denis and we will meet to hear a speech given by The Rev. Naim Ateek at a Sabeel Conference in Claremont. Also on the schedule is a luncheon with Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor, interviews with Gabe Vazquez-Reyes AND The Rev. Canon Pat McCaughan for the Episcopal News, and the Rev. Pat OReilly & Troy Elder, Co-Chairs of the diocese's Program Group for Global Partnership. There are a few opportunities still available if anyone has a thought.    

A PILGRIMAGE TO THE LAND OF THE HOLY LAND --  Another thing Fr. Denis will be discussing at the Forum is the Pilgrimage he will be leading in January. This probably will be the last time he makes Pilgrimage, and actually he is organizing this one in response to requests from friends in Minneapolis and Southern California. Iyad Qumri, his and our Palestinian Episcopalian Israeli friend, will be his guide. The Pilgrimage is scheduled for JANUARY 10 TO 22. If you are interested in obtaining additional information, you can contact Fr. Denis at denisopray@gmail.com.

FOUR PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS WHICH WILL MAKE YOU BETTER INFORMED AND PERHAPS EVEN A BETTER CHRISTIAN -- In the spirit of "If Not Us, Who?", here are four things Sue and I recommend wholeheartedly for your consideration. Each is very moving, and the first two ought to be mandatory viewing for all Southern Californians. 

1) LA RAZA: This Exhibition just opened at The Autry Museum and showcases photographic images from the influential bilingual newspaper LA Raza from 1967 to 1977. The Exhibition "captures the definitive moments, key players, and signs and symbols of Chicano activism." We were made aware of this by our friend Canon Lydia Lopez who is featured in some of the pictures and has been a prominent Latina leader in the Chicano Movement over the last 50 years.  

2) THE SALINAS PROJECT: We happened on this documentary on KCET which was first shown in 2014. Given the controversy surrounding DACA and the Dreamers, we found this most timely and informative. It focuses on four children from the east side of Salinas in a neighborhood known as Alisal which traces its beginnings back to the 1940's and the Bracero Program. All are children of immigrant farm workers, growing up in an area characterized as one of the most densely occupied areas in the country. The stories are heart moving and sometimes tear producing, but in each case the young person is surviving the challenges and thriving. Must See TV!     

3) THE VIETNAM WAR: Just from the first two segments of Ken Burns' "Vietnam War" on PBS, we have learned so much history which we did not know much about. It is tough, exhausting viewing, but every American should view this 10 part series. One would think we would have learned from this tragic war but apparently not!!!  

4) THISTLE FARMS: THE WELCOME PROJECT: The other day the above mentioned Lydia Lopez showed us a door mat she had purchased at All Saints Pasadena. She said that it was made by refugee women in the town of Ritsona, Greece, who with their children traded "an unsafe home for unknown waters with almost nothing but a life vest." These women have come together with Thistle Farms to weave welcome mats and table runners that include fabric from vests worn by refugees on their journey to Greece.They call it The Welcome Project, and it is committed to helping women find their path forward. Proceeds from sales offer them safe harbor and help to navigate their new life. If you visit their website at www.thistlefarms.org/pages/the-welcome-project, you will cry and find details on how to make a purchase.    

LYNN SNOWDEN: ANOTHER AMAZING PARISHIONER -- It's almost October, AGAIN, and you have another opportunity to purchase a great story book about Halloween for your children or grand children. Lynn has authored a true story about a long time friend of hers who lives in Chapman Woods. Her name is Maezie and the title of the book is "Maezie's Pumpkin Patch". This wonderful story sells for $17.95 and more details are on www.maeziespumplinpatch.com

TIME & PROCESS: TWO INTERESTING CONCEPTS WHICH WILL BE PRESENT IN OUR PARISH LIFE FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE -- During and after the Forum, I have been thinking a lot about TIME & PROCESS.

Time. Time means different things to different people. Time may fly. Time may stand still. Time heals all. Give it time to develop. Time is money. In the fullness of time. For Palestinians time "on time" means whether you made your appointment sometime in the am or the pm. Fr. Fuad's 10:00 Service usually begins between 10:45 and 11:00. As for me, I'm still concerned about Y2K, AND I am not sure that time is a friend of THE Church of Our Saviour.

Process. As I noted above, The Episcopal Church places great importance on Process, almost to the exclusion of everything else. And yet, sometimes "Episcopalian Process" has been trumped by other over riding considerations. For example, neither the election of Bishop Bruno nor Bishop Coadjutor Taylor was the result of following the prescribed Process. Both nominated themselves from the floor.

Another albeit less significant example of flexibility: While visiting our Sister Parish in the Holy Land in 2013, Fr. Fuad invited all four priests (Fr. Gary, Canon Ada, Rev. Peg and Rev. Nancy) to celebrate. Three of the four had brought collars with them; Fr. Gary had not. A less creative quartet would have decided that "process" called for a celebrating priest wearing a collar, and Fr. Gary would have had to join us in the pews. This was not to be because Canon Ada would not hear of it. Protocol was ignored as Ada prepared a collar for Fr. Gary from a pizza box. This is the kind of flexibility I'm hoping COS's leadership will be amenable to as we move forward.

I REPEAT: HOW YOU ALLOCATE YOUR RESOURCES SPEAKS VOLUMES -- As Sue and I watch Ken Burns' "Vietnam War" on PBS, we just keep looking at each other and saying "what a waste!. Will we ever learn?" The answer is clearly "NO"! Robert Reich just noted that although Trump asked for a $48 billion increase in military spending, the Senate trumped him by increasing the amount to $80 billion. FYI, this means we spend more on our military than our next 10 rivals combined while our leaders under fund our deteriorating infra-structure, failing education system and health care!

Comment