The Beacon

THE BEACON: CELEBRATING KNEELING IN THE SAME LOCATION FOR 150 YEARS
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary 2017

WORDS & MUSIC TO LIVE BY, IN CHARLOTTESVILLE & SAN GABRIEL --

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have faith you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won't let show

YOU JUST CALL ON ME BROTHER, WHEN YOU NEED A FRIEND
WE ALL NEED SOMEBODY TO LEAN ON
I JUST MIGHT HAVE A PROBLEM THAT YOU'LL UNDERSTAND
WE ALL NEED SOMEONE TO LEAN ON

This song was sung over and over again by mourners the evening of the Memorial Service for Heather Heyer as they retraced the route of torch bearers during the Friday protest march at the University of Virginia. They gathered to celebrate her life -- holding candles, NOT torches!

"WE ALL NEED SOMEONE TO LEAN ON!!!": TWO INCREDIBLE EXAMPLES RIGHT HERE IN SAN GABRIEL -- For two hours on Sunday morning Sue and I were privileged to listen to two strong women talk about personal Journeys in which "leaning", both personal and institutional, played important roles.

1) Sharon Crandall Shared Her Story in Forum: Talk about being relevant to what many of us are experiencing today! Her grandfather immigrated from Japan via South America and Mexico, illegally, settling in the Imperial Valley. Having established the family there during the 1930's in farming, everything changed in 1941 when all people of Japanese descent on the West coast were rounded up and incarcerated by the U.S. government. Sharon chronicled how her family survived and eventually re-integrated into Southern California. However, this has not been smooth and seamless, and Sharon has had to cope with many challenges during most of her Journey., not the least of which being discrimination. Fortunately, she met Patrick Crandall while she was still in high school, and they have leaned on each other ever since. In addition, the Episcopal Church has also been an anchor in their relationship throughout their Journey together. Most recently, Sharon has become deeply committed to the PRISM RESTORATIVE JUSTICE MINISTRY of the Diocese of Los Angeles; and given her Journey, I can not think of a person better suited to advocate on behalf of and/or be a spiritual presence for the enormous number of our brothers and sisters behind bars.

2) Sister Greta Ronningen + Community of Divine Love + PRISM = Dominique Evans In Our Midst: Given the polarization we have witnessed in Charlottesville, only a Higher Power could have more perfectly placed the right person in the pulpit last Sunday. Were there ever more qualified persons than Sr. Greta Ronningen AND DOMINIQUE EVANS to speak about HEALING, LOVE, FORGIVENESS, RECONCILIATION? For four years Sr. Greta has provided Dominique with a shoulder to lean on as she awaited trial for a crime she did not commit, BUT it also was clearly evident that Dominique affirmed daily Sr. Greta's chosen Journey. What a joyful celebration when she (and her husband) were acquired and will anyone ever forget Dominique's beautiful voice as she sang her prayer of thanks?! FYI, you can see a wonderful picture of Dominique and Sr. Greta on the latter's Facebook page.              

LITERALLY: A ONCE IN A LIFE TIME OPPORTUNITY -- Here'e the thing. No matter how long you live, you NEVER are going to be able to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of anything in which you are directly and intimately involved -- NOT your birthday, NOT your wedding anniversary, NOT your great great grandchildren' births. NEVER! However, in less than a month, right here in San Gabriel, you will be able to witness and participate in the CELEBRATION OF THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE OLDEST PROTESTANT CHURCH IN THE WEST SAN GABRIEL VALLEY. NO WHERE ELSE IN OUR AREA HAVE SO MANY PROTESTANTS KNELT IN EXACTLY THE SAME PLACE FOR SO LONG.

This is an historic event, and you should be there, if for no other reason than so you can recall the day 25 years from now for the next generation. To help make the day even more memorable, we are bringing back The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray, the person who knows more about the history of this parish's last 25 years than anyone else. Moreover, as the former Chair of the Board of Trustees of General Theological Seminary in New York, he may be willing to share some opinions about the future of The Episcopal Church and main stream Christianity. I personally would love to hear him articulate what he thinks the resume of an Episcopal priest in 2017 should look like. 

YOU REALLY NEED TO BE IN CLEAVER HALL ON SEPTEMBER 10! Tickets are $10.00 OR whatever more you would like to contribute to the luncheon. That said, no one will be turned way, but you will need a ticket because only 170 will be issued. These can be obtained from Sharon Crandall, Linda Goluskin, Sally Baldwin or Sue Smock. Since this qualifies as an "oldie but goodie" event in my book, I feel comfortable in quoting Art Laboe, or was it Dick Hugg "Huggy Boy", who used to say, "Be there or be square!" 

REFLECTIONS FROM THE BANK OF FISHTAIL CREEK IN SOUTH CENTRAL MONTANA -- During the first two weeks of August, Sue and I woke up every morning listening the water rush out of the Beartooth Mountains and past our front door. Along with our daughter Katie Lacy and her family, we own a place near the Tri-Cities of Nye, Fishtail and Roscoe in the Stillwater Valley. From the front porch we look out over Fishtail Creek and at a landscape which has not changed since the beginning of time 6,000 years, and maybe even longer. The only thing missing every morning was Louie Armstrong singing "What a Wonderful World"! 

However, this was only one aspect of what was an incredibly reaffirming testimony of how blessed we are in 2017. We also had the opportunity while there to meet some remarkable people who are dedicated to caring for the least among us and for the planet. There were individuals working on funding an orphanage and school in Ethiopia (www.tomorrowcome.org), gathering funds for the purchase of medicine and food for the people living on the Haitian island of La Gonave (www.lagonavehaitpartners.org) and studying the impact of climate change on the Ecuadorian rain forest.

The conversations with these folks were inspiring, but what turned out to be the most rewarding aspect of these talks was hearing how much interest each person showed in what THE Church of Our Saviour was accomplishing in our Outreach Ministries. In spite of what they were doing, they were almost envious about how our parish is assisting the least among us. AND YOU KNOW WHAT? I WAS STRUCK BY THE FACT THAT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF OUR OUTREACH MINISTRIES, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF OUR SISTER PARISH, IS BEING SERVED WITHOUT EVER HAVING TO GO TO LAX!

The Bottom Line: It seems that we Americans, the most generous in the world, are fascinated with helping people in other countries, even in the face of the massive needs of people right in our own communities. COS is an exception to this. 

"OVER HERE!": JUST LAST WEEK -- Last weekend I will bet that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of faith based folks journeyed to Baja California to build or paint houses in small towns south of the border. At the same time 8 COS parishioners under the auspices of The Mens' Guild drove to 1609 Navarro Ave. in Pasadena to join together to give Harambee Ministries a fresh coat of paint and some sprucing up before the start of the new school year. John Ballance built a new bathroom vanity; Paul Kilian prepared walls for painting; Manuel Cabreas painted; Linda Goluskin provided some yummy treats for the workers; Charlotte Van Fleet donated toward paints and supply costs; Michael Watkins, Karen Streeter and David Coleman prepped and then painted walls, etc. Harambee Ministries, a Northwest Pasadena private Christian school, was extremely grateful. David Coleman says "the painting could be compared to a Picasso ... open to interpretation".

By the way, the theme Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor has chosen for his episcopacy is FEEDING HUNGRY HEARTS: Let Us Keep The Feast, and we have among us a parishioner who is literally living out this command. He is the above mentioned Michael Watkins who drives the Our Saviour Center truck to the Los Angeles County Food Center every week to pick up and deliver the food which OSC distributes each week to the people of El Monte. As Michael shows, THERE ARE LOTS OF WAYS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!             

THE CHALLENGE: FOR THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH (TEC) AND THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR -- I spend a lot of time in my office (many say it looks very much like a La-Z-Boy chair) reading about what going on in the country and the world. Although tilting strongly to the left, I do read much from the "other" side, particularly when it relates to The Episcopal Church. One of the most critical AND sometimes informative commentators is a man named David Virtue who maintains a web-site which he calls Virtuosity.com. Given his homophobic and anti-women positions, I find his choice of the name for his site appalling; BUT as I said, sometimes he goes where most other reporters will not. 

His most recent column focused on the demographics of The Episcopal Chruch's clergy population, and the numbers he reports portray a challenging environment for the greater church and possibly for COS. Drawing on data presented by TEC's Church Pension Group in its 2015 "Church Compensation Report", he suggests that TEC runs the risk of running out of a sufficient number of clergy to fill the demand going forward. Here are the numbers which lead him to this conclusion:

  •     Full Time Parochial & Non-Parochial Clergy -- 5,009
  •     Male -- 3,163 (63.1%)
  •     Female -- 1,850 (36.9%)
  •     55 Years and Older -- 55.4%
  •     45 Years and Older -- Almost 80.0%
  •     Younger than 45 -- 20.0%
  •     Age Distribution Details --
                55--64 2,023
                45--54 1,180
                35--44    768
                18--34    287
  •     40% will retire in the next 6 to 10 years
  •     20% (1,180) more in 10 to 15 years

David Virtue's conclusion: "No discernable clergy to fill the empty pulpits".

THE BEACON'S conclusion: "The bench is not as deep as it used to be for parishes looking to call a priest in the future."    

TORCHES?! WE DON'T NEED NO ..... TORCHES!!! -- During our 20 year Journey from misguided contentment to informed angst under the mentoring of Canon Denis O'Pray, Bishop Jon Bruno, Canon Charles Sacquety and Fr. Gary Bradley, we marched once in support of some cause at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Boyle Heights. The "light" provider of choice was the candle, and I remember the experience being very dignified and civil. After witnessing the display of tiki torches in Charlottesville, I called our penultimate protester friend Canon Lydia Lopez and asked if she had ever seen anything like that. "Yes, in news clips from the 1930's in Germany!" She has never participated in any protest which required anything more than a candle to shine light on the truth!

OUR LANTANA ARE FLOURISHING: GENERAL PATTON IS WAITING -- If you are fortunate enough to secure a parking space in the lot near the Youth Center on any given Sunday, you do not need to continue past General George Patton to the back lot. Perhaps it is only because the,people who read THE BEACON park up front that I have heard nothing about the appalling condition of the space just south of the General. I checked the space again last Sunday, and it still is a bleak patch of land which must puzzle visitors who drive onto our otherwise beautiful Campus. Fortunately, the General can not turn his head so he looks in perpetuity at the west wall of the sanctuary which is reasonably well maintained. Meanwhile, our lantana plants at home are flourishing and with little care other than periodic water. Again, where are Joan Biersch and the Lay Weeders when we need them?    

LOOKING FORWARD TO HELL: IT WILL BE WARMER THAN THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR SANCTUARY ON SUNDAYS!!!