THE BEACON: CELEBRATING THE AMAZING PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR AND THEIR UNPARALLELED OUTREACH MINISTRIES
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!!!"
WORDS FROM PARKER PALMER TO GUIDE THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR AS WE MOVE FORWARD -- "In the human world, abundance does not happen automatically. It is created when we have the SENSE TO CHOOSE COMMUNITY, to come together to celebrate and share our common store. Whether the scarce resource is money or love or prayer or words, the true law of life is that we generate more of whatever is scarce by trusting its supply and passing it around. Authentic abundance does not lie in secured stockpiles of food or cash or influence or affection but in belonging to a community where we can give those goods to others who need them -- and receive them from others when we are in need."
THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR IN 2018: PARKER PALMER WOULD BE PROUD!!! -- Reading the above quote which appears near the end of Palmer's "Let Your Life Speak", I couldn't help but be impressed with how many COS parishioners are contributing to his definition of Community.
THE PARISH PROFILE COMMITTEE -- Having more than a passing interest in the process which parishes in the Diocese of Los Angeles follow when they come to call a new priest, I believe it is THE BEACON'S responsibility to communicate to you just how blessed we are that NINE of our friends in Community have stepped forward. Think about it. What they are called upon to accomplish is to draw together the relevant information which accurately portrays who and what this 150 year old institution is AND where we envision going from here. No easy task and extremely time consuming. THANK YOU, CHAIR PAUL KILIAN, JOSHUA ALVARENGA, MEREDITH BRUCKER, NANCY DULING, KATHERINE FENG, BEN HARRINGTON, ERIC MILLER, MAUREEN SPRUNGER AND CHARLOTTE VAN FLEET.
PARKER PALMER 'POSTER' COUPLES AT COS: THE DULINGS & THE CASES -- You see them here; you see them there. If you are paying attention, you see Dennis & Nancy Duling and Russ, Chris & David Case everywhere in the life of COS. It seems that Dennis, Nancy, Russ and Chris are ushering almost every Sunday. Chris serves as Acolyte Coordinator. David (and sometimes Chris) serves as an Acolyte. Chris works in the church office as Parish Secretary Tuesday through Thursday. Dennis serves as Chair of the Finance Committee. Dennis is Chair of the newly formed Annual Giving Committee. Nancy is a member of this Committee. Russ serves as Chair of the Our Saviour Center Advisory Board. Nancy is a member of the newly formed Profile Committee. Nancy is participating in the newly formed Laundry Love Ministry. Russ serves on the Endowment Committee, I think. I probably have missed some activities, but you get the point. These folks could serve as Palmer's Poster Couples!
MORE PALMER 'POSTER' PEOPLE: LAUNDRY LOVE -- Friday afternoon at 5:00 the temperatures were breaking records all over Southern California. Undaunted, Juli Kennedy, Henrietta Ma, Nancy Duling, Janey Cutting and Joanna Cory, wearing Carrie Voris' red aprons carrying COS's 150th Anniversary logo, bravely gathered in Eagle Rock in a non-airconditioned laundromat. Their Mission: to take over the business for the evening so less fortunate neighborhood residents (and some homeless folks) could wash their clothes for free. Working in conjunction with St. Marks Altadena, and thanks to the gift of quarters from parishioners who have emptied their pockets after recent services, these five ladies did over 80 loads, including seven for one woman! Three months ago this Outreach Ministry did not exist at COS. Today, I think it is fair to say that we can add this to our already incredible array of offerings to those in need.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES IT TAKE TO REPLACE BEN HARRINGTON (AND MORE RECENTLY VERA HOALIM)? SIX (6)!!! -- For the first time since we have been attending COS, a serious effort is being made to address Stewardship early and expand participation rather than relying on just one person. In fact, a group of six parishioners already have been meeting for several months; and among other things they have re-branded themselves as the Annual Giving Program. Dennis Duling chairs this group, and he is joined by Harry Hathaway, Maura Hooper, Ivy Qi, Carrie Voris and Nancy Duling. Dennis announced this Program Sunday and informed us that we would be seeing a new logo carrying the message "GIVE, GATHER, GROW". I thank these people for volunteering to be involved in giving because I know that one of my many non-gifts is the ability to ask for money, no matter how much I may support the cause. FYI, I learned to identify and accept the existence of my "non-gifts" from Parker Palmer's book!
TWO MORE 'GIVERS': LOVEY SHERMAN & TOM LENZO -- Saturday night the Maryland State Boychoir performed in the sanctuary. Who knew that temperatures in San Gabriel would exceed 100 degrees near the end of the week? Undaunted, Lovey Sherman yet again organized a reception to follow the performance. She truly qualifies as one the amazing COS parishioners. For some time now, she has brought together some like minded people (Henrietta Ma comes to mind) in support of Canon Phil Smith's Music For A Season Program, now in its 10th season.
Meanwhile, Tom Lenzo, our dedicated, volunteer Coordinator for Safety, prepared for the possibility that the heat wave might cause some unanticipated dehydration problems, particularly among some of us older folks. He sent out an instructive email to the ushers, CERT graduates and clergy Saturday alerting us to the potential dangers caused by the heat. Over and above this, he made sure water would be available Saturday night and Sunday. Although we were not among the more than 100 people who attended the Boychoir performance, we did hear that the air-conditioning malfunctioned! I'm sure Tom wasn't pleased that this happened, but it does point out how important it is to plan for as many contingencies as possible. Lovey and Tom, two other examples of COS's many 'Poster Parishioners'.
THE HANDBELLS WERE RINGING AND JULI KENNEDY AND KIM SIREAN WERE SINGING -- The music offerings which Canon Phil continues to put together, even during the summer, bring joy to our hearts! Sunday we were deeply moved by Guest Handbell Artist Linda Krantz. Playing what seemed to be 20 handbells, she performed the Prelude, the Offertory Solo "Be Still, My Soul" and "Amazing Grace" during Communion. Each rendition was so beautiful, and we couldn't agree more with Tom Shenk when he leaned back and said he could listen to Linda Krantz all day.
In addition to this, we were really moved by a beautiful duet during Communion when Juli Kennedy and Kim Sirean sang the Anthem "Panis Angelicus" (The Angelic Bread). Again, so much giving talent in this parish.
MEANWHILE, IN AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Beginning July 5th, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry called to order the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church (TEC). We attended the 76th Convention in 2009 when Bishop Bruno hosted it in Anaheim, and it was quite a celebration. So far, this edition seems to be generating more enthusiasm than most, in part because of the tone set by PB Curry in his opening Sermon. For our part, we are encouraged by the fact that this year a record 12 Resolutions addressing various aspects of the Israeli / Palestinian Conflict have been passed out of two House of Deputies committees. The most important one is D019, a Resolution directing TEC's Executive Council Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility "to develop a human rights social criteria INVESTMENT screen based on the social teachings of this Church and 70 years of Church policy on Israel / Palestine..." THIS RESOLUTION WAS PASSED BY A VOTE OF 619-214 VOTE, OR 74%. The next hurdle is the House of Bishops which historically has been disinclined to take a stand which might offend our Jewish sisters and brothers. Stay tuned.
FYI, COS is well represented with attendance by Gabe, Taylor and Harper Vazquez-Reyes, The Rev. Canon Ada Wong-Nagata and the Monks -- Br. Dennis Gibbs and Sr. Greta Ronningen.
THE VERY BEST THREE HOURS OF MY WEEK: SUNDAY, JULY 8 FROM 9:00 AM TO 12:00 NOON!!! -- As many of you regular readers know, I am inclined to sometimes to make hyperbolic statements BUT NOT THIS TIME. COS is at the center of our Spiritual Journey, and Sunday morning's experience just re-enforced why we care and derive so much from our participation in this Community.
The day began with the Forum hosted by Paul Kilian and the other eight members Parish Profile Committee. This was the first of FOUR (4) OPPORTUNITIES FOR PARISHIONERS TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE PROFILE WHICH WILL BE DISTRIBUTED TO CANDIDATES INTERESTED IN SERVING AS OUR NEXT PRIEST. The purpose of this meeting was to present the three page QUESTIONNAIRE which every parishioner will be receiving one way or another. I stated last week, and I state again that the Episcopal parish is a democracy and as such encourages EVERY member to speak up. Your voice counts in determining the future direction of this Community!!!
Aside from having access to the thought provoking Questionnaire, the Forum was special because we were seated with equally thought provoking and caring fellow parishioners -- Kit & Tom Shenk, Peggy & John Vandercook, Harry Hathaway, Will Dumain and Paul Kilian. Our take away: we may be a diminished parish size wise, but those who remain are deeply committed spiritual people!!!
Then, there was the Service. I have already commented on the music, but the highlight for me was the timeliness of the Gospel and the Sermon preached by The Very Rev. Dr. Sylvia Sweeney. The former was a reading from Mark 6:1-13 chronicling Jesus's return to Nazareth which leads him to observe "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown". Rev. Sweeney, introducing herself as the Dean of Bloy House, the Episcopal Seminary in Clarmont, compared the reception Jesus received to the position Bloy House occupies in the Diocese of Los Angeles -- well recognized within The Episcopal Church but less so within the Southern California Episcopal Community. (We were offered the opportunity to meet with her and learn more after the Service, and I will amplify below.) Implicit in her message, I think, also was an acknowledgement that THE Church of Our Saviour is similarly positioned in the greater San Gabriel Valley. Whether I heard her correctly or not, this is how I filtered her message; and in my own mind I equated this with the Mission of THE BEACON. We do so much, we have so much to offer and YET...
FYI # 1 -- What I also heard during the Sermon and was not subject to interpretation is the fact that Bloy House will be moving out of Claremont within the next two years. Here's an idea. Why not invite the Bloy House Board and Bishop Taylor to consider the next home of the Seminary to be located at 535 West Roses Road? We have a beautiful, centrally located campus within the Diocese, under-utilized space, ample parking and a set of Outreach Ministries which would be synergistically powerful. Just sayin'.
FYI # 2 -- it was only during Announcements that Fr. Honeychurch further amplified on who Rev. Sweeney is. In addition to being a Dean, she also is his boss because he teaches at Bloy House, AND she is his wife. Quite a couple!
THE FINAL HIGHLIGHT -- As noted above, Fr. Honeychurch invited anyone who would like to to sit down with Dean Sweeney after the Service. Fortunately for us, only three other people accepted the invitation so we had the better part of an hour to hear about the challenges facing all seminaries, the status of Bloy House and her visions for the expansion of Bloy's offerings in addition to finding a new home. For starters, Dean Sweeney noted that it is no secret that mainstream protestant denominations continue to experience declines in attendance. As a result, there are fewer jobs available to graduates from seminary even in the face of rising tuitions, and seminaries generally have trouble raising endowments and maintaining their properties. This accounts for the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge merging with Union Theological in New York, the challenges facing General Seminary in New York, the merger of Seabury Western in Chicago with Bexley Hall in Columbus, OH, Claremont School of Theology's decision to move to lower cost Oregon and Fuller's move to Claremont.
Given this environment, Dean Sweeney and her Board are re-envisioning what a seminary in 2018 and beyond might look like. For starters, they are positioning Bloy House to be a "Center For Learning" where individuals can pursue a Master of Divinity Degree, an Anglican Studies Certificate, a Diaconal Certificate or a Spiritual Formation Certificate. In addition, for those who do not want to fully commit to a degree or certificate program, Bloy has created its Education for Episcopal Leadership (EEL). To date, there are seven different opportunities: Taking Individual Classes, Fresh Start for Lay Leaders, Instituto de Liderazgo, Li Tim-Oi Center, Workshops, Retreat and Pilgrimages. Going a step farther, while most of these course and classes are held at the Claremont School of Theology on Friday evenings and Saturdays, beginning in the fall some offerings will be off campus around the Diocese. She will teaching a Lay Preaching Workshop at St. Mark's Altadena, Fr. Honeychurch will be teaching Church Leadership right here at COS. FYI, our own Dr. Jonathan Burke is on the faculty and teaches Greek.
All in all, those three hours spent at COS on Sunday, the 7th, were incredibly uplifting and reaffirming spiritually while being enormously informative. All we can say is "THANK YOU, COS, FOR BEING IN OUR LIVES!!!"
A RECOMMENDATION FOR YOUR SUMMER VIEWING -- Our daughter Molly is a family and restorative practice therapist who deals daily with challenging situations which can blunt the spirit. So, she always to looking for uplifting stories to rejuvenate her. Here is her latest discovery: "Won't You Be My Neighbor?". This is a documentary chronicling the life of Mr. Rogers, the famous and much loved host of the long running program for children. Molly, her husband Rob and her two daughters Emma and Caroline who are 20 and 18 saw the movie at the Laemmle and everyone cried, over and over again with joy. What a great, caring, giving man!!! You can read a moving review by googling David Brooks' column entitled "Fred Rogers And The Loveliness Of The Little Good".