The Beacon


 "This is the Lord's table and ALL are welcome!"

"WHOM DO YOU FOLLOW? WHO DRAWS YOU FORWARD? WHO ARE YOUR ANGELS, YOUR SAINTS?" -- The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray was in town last weekend to celebrate the life of long time COS parishioner Richard Grantham. GOD, noting that Richard's life exemplified the messages from HIM to Elijah and from Jesus to his disciples, inspired Fr. Denis to ask each of us think about who has and is impacting us in this Journey we are on. In this time of turmoil, each of us still is blessed that "GOD has raised up men, women, and children who get it right, who live effectively, doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. Our task is to follow those leads which will help us to be our best selves until in turn we become the kind of person others can follow."

In my 79th year I have thought a lot about who has impacted me on my Journey. In fact, I have decided to attempt to write a Living Obituary in which I recognize and thank all of those people who have contributed so much to my life. For the record, The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray will be featured prominently AND so will most of the parishioners of COS. As Sally Baldwin and I reflected while sitting together after church, our respective Journeys have been so greatly enhanced by the Community we both chose to join over 20 years ago. 

59: MORE THAN JUST A NUMBER -- The 24 hours from noon Saturday to noon Sunday were emotional ones for Sue and me. As noted, Denis celebrated Richard Grantham's Memorial Service Saturday and delivered a wonderfully moving Homily. First of all, we have asked him to do our Services, and now we're a little distressed since he used all the great words for Richard!

Then, there also is the point he made at the beginning of the Homily which we AND you all ought to think about. In 1927 when Grantham was born, the life expectancy of a white, male in California was 59 years! Sunday at the Forum the two presenters -- The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray and Deacon Bill Doulos -- were 75 and 73! The odds are that neither would have been available Sunday if born in 1927. More importantly, not only were they available, they showed us what two friends of 33 years, with JOURNEYS Of PURPOSE can continue to accomplish, even in their 70's. I want to do their friendship and accomplishments "justice" so I'm going to work on summarizing what I know this week and dedicate more space to Jubilee Homes next week. Stand by.       

48 YEARS OLD AND THE EXCELLENCE CONTINUES -- In 1968 THE Church of Our Saviour established A CHILD'S GARDEN SCHOOL (ACGS), and it has offered quality Pre-K education in San Gabriel ever since.

All Episcopal schools in the Diocese of Los Angeles are supervised and certified from the Cathedral Center by the Commission on Schools. As a result, each school is visited regularly as part of a periodic audit to determine how the School is functioning. However, because of recent personnel changes, the ACGS Staff was not aware that this meeting was scheduled; and yet, based on the Letter of Recertification from the Commission, the Staff responded in such a superb way that the Commission granted ACGS a Four Year Term of Recertification. This is an incredible accomplishment, and the Commission made it very clear how appreciative the members were of the work of Interim Director Evie Escatiola, the Rev. Gary Bradley, the teachers and the families. In particular, the Visiting Committee commended ACGS for 13 different actions, some of which are as follows and very gratifying:

    + The Interim Director for her calm and capable leadership

    + The Rector and the Interim Director for their unified vision for the school and for their commitment to fostering the Episcopal nature of the school

    + The Interim Director and the teachers for providing an excellent program for children that is age appropriate, enriching and creative

    + The teachers for their years of service, their creativity, and their obvious love of the children they teach

    + The Interim Director, teachers and staff for creating outdoor spaces and experiences which are truly an extension of the classroom, particularly the gardening area.

Since the Commission stated that it would not be returning until 2019/2020, it would appear that ACGS is in great hands!!! Congratulations to Miss Evie AND the ACGS teachers.

A NEW LABYRINTH IN TOWN -- There are lots of reasons for COS parishioners to feel blessed to have the Community of Divine Love contributing to the quality of each of our Spiritual Journeys. Now, the Monks are adding another wonderful dimension; Sr. Greta Ronningen and Sr. MJ Johnston began constructing a Labyrinth last Saturday morning. I knew this was in the planning stages, but concrete evidence that in fact the Labyrinth was to become a reality was confirmed by a picture on the CDL facebook page of two stacks of river rocks which had been delivered to the Monastery. I have no idea where the Labyrinth will be located; but knowing the perseverance exhibited by the Monks, I have no doubt people will be walking the Labyrinth on West Roses Road SOON!  

JEFF SEYMOUR: INSTITUTIONS HAVE SAINTS AND ANGELS, TOO? --  As I thought about people in my life who have made an enormous difference in my Journey, I was also thinking about folks involved in the greater COS Community who were impacting and influencing our various Ministries. One  of those Saints/Angels whom many of you will not know is Jeff Seymour. Jeff has been involved in education in El Monte, first as a teacher and ultimately the Superintendent for over 40 years. He is currently Superintendent Emeritus, but more importantly he has served on the Board of Our Saviour Center for many years and is one of the non-parish members working to address the future of the Cleaver Clinic. Jeff has dedicated his life to the children of El Monte and in recognition of his service, the City School District recently opened the Jeff Seymour Family Center just north of the Clinic on Santa Anita Ave. Institutions need Saints and Angels, too, and OSC really has one in Jeff.    

THE MUSLIM RESPONSE TO ORLANDO -- We were in Montana when the tragedy in Orlando occurred. As you who read The Beacon know, we have been involved with the leadership of the Muslim Community in So Cal since we first became involved in working for Peace WITH Justice in the Holy Land in 1999. As a result, we count Salam Al-Marayati, President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Shakeel Syed, Executive Director of the Shura Council of Southern California as FRIENDS.

So what, some of you are probably saying. Well, the VERY FIRST E-MAILS condemning the loss of 49 lives we received in Fishtail, MT early Saturday morning were from MPAC, CAIR and the Shura Council!!! This has been the case since well before 9/11; and yet, many of our friends continue to question why the so-called pro-peace, pro-inter-faith Muslim leaders are silent. They are not! Unfortunately, the media only thinks of them as worthy of coverage when reporters think there might there be a negative story to be had.

A BEACON IN THE GALILEE -- Fr. Fuad Dagher, Rector of St. Paul's, our Sister Parish in the Galilee, not only is a prominent leader in ecumenical and inter-faith relations in the Holy Land, he also is an incredible leader of his parish and its 120 parishioners. Since 2004 when we first met him, we have witnessed manifestations of his work everywhere, not the least of which was his leadership in building the Episcopal Cultural Center of Shefa 'Amr which COS was instrumental in funding.

Most recently, he has raised funds to restore the church inside and out, emphasizing in particular the native stone walls, the tile flooring and updated lighting. The project is about complete, and the pictures he has posted on facebook are stunning, stunning, stunning!!! Note especially the chandeliers. These were gifted to St. Paul's by the Rev. Canon Denis & Lyn O'Pray in memory of Sami Naoum, patriarch of the largest family in the parish. Yet again, we urge you to check out his page to see what he has accomplished.      

EDUCATION FOR MINISTRY (EFM) -- While vacationing near the Tri-Cities of Dean, Nye and Fishtail in Montana, I still was able to access the Inter-Net and thus received the E-News and facebook coverage. One of the events which I missed but which Rev. Ada did a great job of covering was the recognition of FRED GARSIDE, ALAN KREDITOR, JEFFREY MA and PHIL GOLD as they received their certifications for completing the Education For Ministry Program. Having attended the Forum recently in which the dimensions of this four year course were explained in detail, I was really impressed that these four guys had assumed this responsibility.

Rev. Ada did a terrific job of chronicling Fred Garside's Journey in a recent E-News, but I also am deeply moved by the others' as well. Jeffrey and Henietta Ma's Journey from Hong Kong is inspirational, and their commitments to COS and our Outreach Ministries is second to none. And yet, Jeffrey found the time to add this 36 week a year course to his many responsibilities and interests. In Phil Gold's case, he continued to keep up his duties as a husband and father of two wonderful daughters while maintaining a rigorous travel schedule in the entertainment business.

And then, there is Alan Kreditor. In May he completed 50 YEARS OF SERVICE WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!!! Do you realize how remarkable, how incredible, Alan's Journey with USC is?! The University certainly did as they recognized Alan and Marcia several different times in the spring. Moreover, they retired Alan as Professor, Senior Vice President Emeritus, USC Price School of Public Policy. You can read much more about Alan's storied career by googling his name, but I would note one accomplishment which speaks volumes about him. "Alan Kreditor spearheaded the most ambitious fundraising effort in USC's history, the Building on Excellence campaign, raising $2.9 billion -- the most successful campaign in higher education at the time. During his 16 year tenure as senior vice president, USC raised more than $5.5 billion."          

COS EST. 150 YEARS AGO: 90 YEARS LATER A SENIOR WARDEN WAS BORN -- As Fr. Gary has announced, the structure of the Celebration of COS's 150th Anniversary is evolving but with no Chair or Committee. Rather, individual parishioners have been encouraged to step forward to develop an event about which they are passionate. To date, about ten Programs have been proposed, and planning for most of them is well under way. However, we have plenty of room for many others; all we need is your dedication and enthusiasm.

What, you might ask, would work? I give you Juli Johnson Kennedy, Senior Warden and about ready to enter her seventh decade. Her loving husband Scott, wanting to honor her, offered her trips to exotic places and God only knows what else. Instead, she chose to book the Sanctuary for September 25th at which time she planned to give us aconcert in honor of her Birthday. Well, word gets around, and choir members, past and present, came forward and wanted to be involved. One of these folks is Jim Person, COS's former Choir Director, who has been invited to direct the assembled multitude. And, and... since the date is near to one of Phil Smith's Music of the Season Performances, Phil has volunteered to structure this performance around Juli's Birthday. To quote yet again Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith from the A-Team: "I love it when a plan comes together!"        


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