THE BEACON: CELEBRATING AN EPISCOPALIAN PRESENCE IN THE WEST SAN GABRIEL VALLEY SINCE 1867
FR. BOB SHOWED US THE FUTURE -- The most memorable memory of a most memorable Our Saviour Sunday occurred when Fr. Bob opened the Service with the Blessing of Backpacks, Planners, Books, Teachers and Redeemers. There must have been 40 people ranging from across the age spectrum gathered in the Chancel for Fr. Bob's blessing from the Book of Common Prayer. However, what was so telling to me was the diversity of the people standing up there. I thought to myself "This is Southern California! This is what the present is AND what the future will look like, only more so." Fr. Bob, in his effort to show us that changes in the status quo can be extremely uplifting and exciting, again showed us a different way to do things.
In fact, during the reading of The Gospel as I scanned the church, I was reminded yet again why I love Southern California. Few other places in the world are as diverse as this area is, AND what few people ever talk about is how well we work and exist together. Yes, we complain about the roads and the buckling sidewalks and the schools and the traffic and much. much more; but whether anyone is willing to recognize it or not, GREATER LOS ANGELES IS THE FUTURE!
That said, I believe THE Church of Our Saviour already is well along in determining what its future is. This was my response to the question "Where Do You See COS 20 Years From Now?" asked by Mark Goluskin, our Table Facilitator, at the parish brunch. Among other things, we already are involved with the Hispanic and Chinese communities in El Monte and are the home to the Li Tim-Oi Center and have access to the insights of The Rev. Thomas Ni on our staff and Katherine Feng in discernment.
THE SERMON -- It was SPECTACULAR!!! You need to find a copy and read it at least twice. It will soon appear on the website and on COS's Facebook page.
THE BRUNCH OF ALL BRUNCHES -- It there ever was an example of COMMUNITY, it was the wonderful cooperation between the Mandarin and English speaking congregations in preparing a fabulous luncheon. Congratulations and thank you to Janey Cutting for bringing all of this together. The entrees were the best ever, and the decision to serve the food family style was a stroke of genius. As Fr. Bob noted in explaining how the brunch would work, not only were we able to begin eating at the same time, but we also had a lot more time in conversation at our tables. What also worked was having a facilitator at each table. Even though we ended up knowing everyone at our table, the answers to Mark Goluskin's questions were interesting and sometimes insightful.
One other comment: As I looked around a full Cleaver Hall, I realized yet again how blessed we are to have a facility like this on our campus. Cleaver Hall and Grace Chapel are great testimonies to the wisdom of The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray and the Vestry who decided fifteen years ago to embark on the Building For Tomorrow Program to upgrade the campus. However, that was then, and now is now we now we are at another point in time when we need to review all of our facilities with regard to their suitabilities going forward. Hopefully, the Parish Profile will include some acknowledgement of our responsibilities to continue to upgrade the campus for future generations.
THE 2018-2019 ANNUAL GIVING CAMPAIGN HAS BEGUN: THIS YEAR MORE THAN EVER YOU ARE ASKED TO ATTEMPT TO QUANTIFY WHERE COS RANKS ON YOUR JOURNEY AS YOU ALLOCATE YOUR FINANCIAL RESOURCES -- Harry Hathaway, speaking for the dedicated parishioners who have volunteered for this year's Annual Giving Campaign, movingly explained how much COS had meant to the Hathaway family over the years. Sue and I share his sentiment completely. Next to our family, no community or organization is more important to us. So, Harry and we ask you this year to reflect on your own Journeys and how you allocate and perhaps you will realize as we did many years ago that COS was not receiving its fair share. In any event, as Harry stated during his presentation, it is important for every one to at least show some support no matter how small because every dollar counts as we begin the next 150 years.
While pledging is always important, the 2018 - 2019 Campaign has special significance. This is the time to improve our financial strength and especially our cash flow for a number of reasons:
1) We need to give our Vestry the financial flexibility to be competitive in putting together a package for the new priest. As I noted last week, I have no idea what such a package would look like, but I'm assuming we will want to be able to offer whatever is necessary to attract the person most suited to implementing our the Visions resulting from the Parish Profile.
2) For some time now the church office has been understaffed, and I suspect some salaries need to be adjusted. Whatever, a church committed to providing as many services both within and outside the gates fo 531 West Roses Road needs to be as financially responsible as possible.
3) While we are being ably served by our clergy, the reality is that retirement is rapidly approaching or has already arrived for many of them. Yes, Br. Dennis and Sr. Greta continue to serve us faithfully; but they have "day jobs", and I do not believe they are included in our budget. In any event, it would appear that some time soon after a priest is called, we may be looking for a full time Associate Priest. This is a very big job when you look at all of our outreaches as well as preaching, pastoral care, spiritual formation etc.
GABE VAZQUEZ-REYES PROMOTED BY BISHOP TAYLOR -- One of my gifts is the ability to identify talented young people whose careers I would love to have a "piece of" because it is so obvious they are going to succeed in their chosen careers. Gabe Vazquez-Reyes AND Taylor Vazquez-Reyes are two such individuals, and this was confirmed this week by Bishop John Taylor. The press release from the Diocesan Communications Department noted that Gabe is a postulant for holy orders and has served since 2013 as Youth and Family Minister at COS. The release quotes Bishop Taylor as follows: "Gabe has so many gifts, especially when it comes to youth and young adult ministry...We're delighted that Gabe will be putting his next-level ideas to work as a member of our staff..." Bob Williams, Canon for Communications and Public Affairs, added that "we're delighted that Gabe will be putting his ideas to work as a member of our staff..." His title will be Co-Chair of the Program Group on Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and his position is described as providing "part time staffing" to the program group. Congratulations, Gabe, but please don't forget where San Gabriel is. We need you, too!!!
WHEN IS A "BREAKOUT" A "BREAKDOWN"? -- I know of no better way to show how challenging Gabe's job is than to inform you that I was the only person to show up to hear about COS's Youth Programs after the brunch Sunday. For me, it was a blessing since I had Gabe all to my self. However, I find it ironic that I am sure EVERY Questionnaire returned to the Profile Committee will rank Ministering to Children and attracting younger families within our top five priorities. Where were you all? Gabe informs me that since about 1980 The Episcopal Church has placed a low priority on children and youth programs when allocating resources. He certainly has not chosen an easy career path; but he is a visionary, and I'll bet he makes the most of it.
CANON PHIL SMITH IS BACK!!! -- From start to finish the 10:00 Service lifted our hearts, but for us the tone was set by all of the music. We arrived early and were privileged to hear Chris Price playing "9 Pieces for Trumpet and Organ". Beautifully celebratory! Then, the Bell Choir consisting of Director Alice Rucker, Kim Sirean and Sara Dooley set the stage for the Processional. Then, the bell tower rang and In they came, Jean Johnson's COS banner leading the way and the full Choir singing Henry Francis Lyte's "Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven". (FYI, this was sung at the marriage of the future Queen Elizabeth II in 1947.) Also processing were the children who soon would be called up the the Chancel by Fr. Bob. It was a joyful, hymn filled beginning to a great day!
ONE MAN DID MAKE A DIFFERENCE: HARRY BALDWIN -- At a tIme when many are frustrated and believe government is ineffective, it's nice to be able to report a "feel good story", particularly when it involves one of our own. The following quote appropriately comes from Sally Baldwin's facebook page:
"Today (September 10), the San Gabriel Trench was formerly dedicated. What a wonderful event it was! The Trench is the name given to the lowering of the railroad through San Gabriel. This project was Harry's passion while he served 17 years on the City Council and as many speakers paused to give him recognition, my eyes filled with tears of gratitude. Harry's eyes filed too. Deep gratitude to Supervisor Kathryn Barger Leibrich, a long time treasured friend, for her words that touched our hearts and to Supervisor Hilda Solis who honored Harry's work on this project along with many others. You each have no idea how much this day meant to Harry. Love and gratitude to all." Congratulations, Harry. I, too, know how hard you have worked on this project over the years.
I LIE AWAKE AT NIGHT, A LOT, WONDERING HOW THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH CAN STAND FOR
the rights of immigrants,
the right of the homeless,
the rights of the LGBTQ community,
the rights of women,
the rights of people of color,
the rights of people in prison,
the rights of everyone to believe as they wish
and yet, The Episcopal Church is relatively quiet when the civil rights of Palestinian Israelis citizens are violated, when the Israeli Occupation Force systematically creates daily havoc in the West Bank and when 2 million Palestinians, half of them children, are incarcerated in the GHETTO called Gaza. I just don't understand why Episcopalians, why American Christians, are so indifferent! Please remember, we have an Episcopal Diocese in Jerusalem and churches, schools and medical facilities there.
However, I can offer one explanation which I think is supported by Fr. Bob's Sermon. In 2013 when Fr. Gary and Rev. Ada led 23 Pilgrims from COS to the Holy Land, one of the presenters we heard from was The Rev. Canon Naim Ateek, Co-Founder of the Sabeel Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. After his talk, I asked specifically why The Episcopal Church was did not speak out loudly in support of at least the Palestinian Christians.His response: THEY ARE AFRAID OF THE CROSS!!!