THE BEACON: CELEBRATING THIS REMARKABLE PARISH AS IT MOVES INTO ITS SECOND 150 YEARS
This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome. We COS Episcopalians PRAY WELL with Others!!!
JOHN HARVEY TAYLOR, OUR NEW BISHOP, HAS A VISION FOR THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN 2018 AND BEYOND: WILL THE CHURCH OF SAVIOUR BE OPEN TO EMBRACING HIS VISION? -- Last weekend was the 129th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, and it marked the beginning of a new era of transparency under Bishop Taylor's leadership. We personally are enormously grateful for all Bishop Jon Bruno did for us as we worked for Peace WITH Justice in the Holy Land over the last 18 years; BUT from our perspective, the Cathedral Center is in great hands going forward.
To hear the Bishop's Vision articulated in his own words, I urge you to listen to it on the diocesan Facebook page (or perhaps on the website www.diocesela.org). It is spectacularly uplifting BUT also thought provoking and challenging. Two of our own -- Br. Dennis Gibbs and Sr. Greta Ronningen -- are specifically acknowledged for their great ministry in the prisons and jails. In addition, substantial convention time was dedicated to discussing the challenges of homelessness and affordable housing, two areas which Jubilee Housing under the direction of Deacon Bill Doulos has been addressing daily over the years.
IN THE SPIRIT OF OUR BISHOP'S VISION, HERE IS HOW WE WOULD POST OUR ANNOUNCEMENT CALLING FOR APPLICATIONS TO BECOME OUR NEXT PRIEST:
"ATTENTION ALL PRIESTS CONSIDERING APPLYING TO BE THE
CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR'S NEXT RECTOR -- IF IMPLEMENTING AND EXPANDING ON MATTHEW 25 AND EMBRACING BISHOP JOHN TAYLOR'S VISION ARE YOUR PASSION, THERE IS NO BETTER PARISH TO DO SO IN THE DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES"
Hyberbole? Not based on what we have learned from postings by none other than Bishop Taylor on his Facebook page.
From the very moment that The Rev. Canon Taylor was elected the Seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles in December 2016, he has displayed an indefatigable energy to be visible within the Diocese AND an appreciation of the power of social media. As a 'friend' of his on Facebook (he has 1,146), we can testify that he appears to have never 'sat down' from the day he was assigned an office at the Cathedral Center. Every single day, seven days a week, he has visited not one but several parishes and/or outreach ministries from Santa Barbara to San Bernardino and South Orange County. How do we know this? Because the man lives by the 'selfie'!!! Every visit, every person he comes in contact with, is captured in a picture which he posts on Facebook. Check it out; his daily life as Bishop Coadjutor and now as Bishop are an 'open selfie'.
So, how do I conclude from the Bishop's 'selfies' that THE Church of Our Saviour is the most unique parish in the Diocese? Well, as he has traveled around the Diocese, he has reported on each Outreach Ministry he has encountered, and for the most part every parish has some Ministry dedicated to serving the community such as pre-schools, schools, food banks, youth programs or programs for the homeless. However, NONE has as many RELEVANT Outreach Ministries as COS does.
In particular, I know that none has
a Center which has a health clinic, a food bank and a free standing youth center addressing the needs of an under served area like El Monte;
a ministry which provides affordable housing for fifty individuals striving to pursue a Journey in Sobriety;
a ministry committed to be a presence in the jails and prisons caring for people in 'exile';
a relationship with an Palestinian Episcopal church in the Holy Land, the cradle of our faith;
a monastery housing resident monks living in parish owned homes and providing spiritual direction within the parish and beyond; or
a Li Tim-Oi Center charged with developing programs to provide assistance to Mandarin speaking immigrants from mainland China.
COS is pretty damn unique, but we can do much, much more. We are a classic example of the parts being worth so much more than the whole as we are now constituted. Hopefully, our next priest will energetically leverage who we are into what a 21ST FAITH BASED INSTITUTION CAN BE. Dare I say that I believe we can become one of the most RELEVANT institutions in the West San Gabriel Valley!!!
INSTITUTIONAL MEMORY: ED ANDERSEN PROVED YET AGAIN ITS VALUE WHEN HE REVIEWED THE HISTORY OF COS AT A RECENT SUNDAY FORUM -- Over the years we have read many renderings of the history of COS, but we never have seen it laid out as coherently as it was by Ed in a recent Forum. Loving history as he does, he has explored avenues of information which few if any other parishioners have. The result is a highly organized Timeline complete with entertaining and informative anecdotes. What he has created is an informative addition to the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of THE Church of Our Saviour. Were I considering applying to be the next priest at COS, I would be truly excited at the prospect of leading such a magnificent parish into its next 150 years. Yet again, we have an example of a uniquely talented parishioner volunteering his time to enhance the quality of the COS Journey. Thank you, Ed.
ONE TAKE AWAY FROM ED'S PRESENTATION: FROM OUR VERY BEGINNING IN 1867 TO DATE, MAINTAINING THE STATUS QUO AT ANY POINT IN TIME HAS NEVER BEEN POSSIBLE NOR NECESSARILY 'GOOD THING'. 'CHANGE' IS THE STATUS QUO AND NEEDS TO BE RECOGNIZED AS SUCH AND EMBRACED.
WHAT A SECULAR, RELEVANT INSTITUTION EMBODYING PORTIONS OF BISHOP TAYLOR'S VISION LOOKS LIKE IN 2018 -- Jeff Seymour is Superintendent Emeritus of the El Monte Unified School District and has devoted his entire adult life to working for the betterment of the children and families of that city. In recognition of this service and inspired by his continued commitment to the community, the School District has converted a former grammar school just north of Our Saviour Center on Santa Anita Ave. into the JEFF SEYMOUR FAMILY CENTER. The entire campus is dedicated to providing children and their parents with services which are RELEVANT to their needs, and what was recently a group of vacant buildings is now overflowing with energy.
And what does SECULAR RELEVANT look like in 2018? Among the many offerings of the Jeff Seymour Family Center are the following Workshops:
Yoga, Dance Fitness, Family Art Time, Nutrition For Life, Walking Challenge, Mental Health First Aid Training, Self-Care For Parents & Caregivers, Self-Care Is Quality Care, Symptoms And Treatment Of Depression, Creating Secure Attachment, Drugs & Safety, Helping Children Build Resiliency AND Childhood Disorders (Spanish Only).
There is not one of these Workshops that a FAITH BASED community with UNDERUTILIZED CAPACITY COULD NOT ALSO OFFER. Just sayin'.
THE FOLLOWING WAS POSTED BY THE VERY REV. TROY MENDEZ, DEAN OF TRINITY EPISCOPAL CATHEDRAL IN PHOENIX (AND A FORMER ASSOCIATE PRIEST AT COS), ON HIS FACEBOOK PAGE -- "This is from my friend Casey Shobe, but it applies to clergy everywhere. Please read."
"Hi, everyone, I'm pretty sure you're keeping track of the news these days. Worst fires in the history of California, wiping out whole towns and killing at least 100. Latest report on climate change just came out and it is astoundingly dire. And then today, the 'land of the free and the home of the brave' fired chemical weapons on a crowd of desperate people, including mothers pushing strollers and carrying infants.
If you're the type to pray, I hope you're praying hard. For all these suffering people in all these astoundingly awful circumstances...For the moral imaginations of our leaders to grow like Grinch's heart. For our nation to realize that it can't ever be 'great again' if it forgets how to be good.
I want to ask you to add something else to your prayers, and I ask it with all humility. WILL YOU PLEASE PRAY FOR YOUR PRIESTS AND PASTORS, TOO?
You allow us the privilege of speaking to you week after week, and we recognize the trust you put in us. But we are struggling to consistently find holy words to match these unholy times. We know some of you are so angry right now that you want to hear us preach like the prophet Amos. And we know others of you are so exhausted by it all that you crave comfort and consolidation.
Well, we feel that tension, too, and given the nature of the news cycle these days, it's a tension we feel every single week. Because next week, there will inevitably be another round of awfulness stalking our world, another spasm of sin that necessitates some form of faithful resistance.
So, will you please remember your priests and pastors in your prayers, even as you pray for this whole hurting world? It would be great to know that you have our back, that you're asking the Spirit to give us words when we have run out of things to say, and grace to know how to lead when so often the path lies in shadow.
We crave your prayers, my friends, now more than ever."
REMEMBER THE RETIRED PRIESTS, TOO -- Do not forget our former clergy now living in Crestline, Huntington Beach and Minneapolis. Given their chosen profession, each obviously believes in the power of prayer, BUT an e-mail, telephone call, personal note OR a visit is really important to Gary (Happy Birthday on December 4), Peg, Charles and Denis. FYI, we had lunch with Fr. Charles Sacquety last week, and he is doing well at 86. He extends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to those of you who remember his wonderful but brief time with us as our Interim. At the end of the visit, we told him that it's really amazing that only four years separate us chronologically; but when it comes to wisdom and insight, he's at least three decades older than us.
THE SUN NEVER SETS ON COS'S OUTREACH MINISTRIES -- On Saturday, December 8, two of our great Outreach Ministries will be doing their things. Our Saviour Center will be hosting its Annual Christmas Giving Party from 10:00 to 12:00 at the main campus. Fifty parishioners and friends have wrapped 700 gifts, and these and other goodies will be handed out to the appreciative children who will have lined up on Santa Anita Ave and around the corner waiting to enter the Immanuel Church Campus.
Saturday night at 6:00 in Cleaver Hall the Jubilee Transitional Housing Board will hold its Annual Christmas Party for the residents of our four homes and their families. This is always a joyful event as Santa makes appearance for the children and the dinner is prepared by one of the houses. There also will be a program in which some of the residents will speak about their Journeys in Recovery. All will thank Deacon Bill and COS for providing a safe place for them move forward in recovery, and most always will list the affordability of the housing as an important component in their sobriety. "Without Jubilee, I would be living under a bridge or along a freeway."
ADVENT FORUMS AT COS -- Last Sunday's Forum introduced a new approach to the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Fr. Honeychurch introduced a large gathering of parishioners from both Services to the first of a series of programs which he believes will generate a strong feeling of community during the Season of Advent. Assisted by Debbie Andersen, he explained how we were to construct Advent Wreaths which will be placed in Grace Chapel and in the areas below the stained glass windows in the Sanctuary. The creativity displayed and quantity produced were amazing, and you can see the results in a group picture taken in front of Grace Chapel which is on the COS Facebook page. Future Forums will include the making of tree ornaments, the Kilian's Annual introduction to the history of several traditional Christmas hymns and the making of luminary bags with candles for our campus paths on Christmas Eve.
THE CHOIR & THE HAND BELL ENSEMBLE -- Canon Phil Smith's selection of music and how the COS Choir performs it during the 10:00 Service every Sunday is breathtaking. For us the Sanctuary literally comes alive, and this feeling is occasionally enhanced by the participation of the Hand Bell Ensemble consisting of Debbie Andersen, Kim Sirean, Sara Dooley, Kathy Macauley and Patti Teele and directed by Alice Rucker. We so admire the commitment of all of these people to making the COS Music Ministry what it is, and we count this as one of the great assets of this parish. Last Sunday, I arrived a little early in the Sanctuary after watching enthusiastic fellow parishioners make Advent Wreaths during the Forum and just sat in my favorite pew with the pillar at my back listening to Canon Phil's beautiful Prelude. Peace, Serenity, Comfort -- it doesn't get much better than that during my week!