The Beacon


HIATUS, SMIATUS -- I was intending to take some time off from writing the BEACON, but circumstances have altered this intention. THE Church of Our Saviour continues to provide one experience after another which I feel compelled to highlight.

PRISM RESTORATIVE JUSTICE FUNDRAISER -- Saturday night we attended the PRISM Annual Fundraiser silent auction and dinner presentation. What an experience we had; we are so proud to be involved in a community which embraces a ministry which provides the opportunity to focus on one aspect of Matthew 25. Here are the four most moving moments of the evening:

GOD WAS PRESENT -- While waiting for the Silent Auction to close, we were sitting in the Telleen Family Courtyard when two men came up and asked if we were members of the church. When we said "Yes", they began to thank us profusely for the support we have given to PRISM and to praise Br. Dennis Gibbs. It turned out that Alan was from Wisconsin and his brother John was from Palo Alto, and they were in L.A. to pick up Alan's son who was to be released from prison that night. We're not quite clear on how Alan had made contact with Br. Dennis -- somehow he received his name while speaking at a hematology conference in Cincinnati. In any event, Br. Dennis had become Alan's son Daniel's chaplain in prison, and it appears that he had helped Alan find a way to raise a substantial amount of money sufficient to assuring Daniel's release after 15 years.

At about this time Bishop Taylor arrived, and we were the first people he ran into. We introduced him to Alan and John, and they repeated how much they appreciated the assistance provided by Br. Dennis. If there ever was a need for a moving testimony validating the work of the Episcopal chaplains in the jails, Alan and John provided it!!! It was an extremely moving moment, and we were privileged to be witnesses.

TOMMY -- Prior to the formal Agenda beginning, Br. Dennis went to the microphone and told an emotional story of his meeting and subsequent friendship with Tommy. Tommy was one of the prisoners who took advantage of every opportunity to meet the Episcopalian chaplains. Eventually, he became so committed that he had Br. Dennis baptize him at one of PRISM's Prayer Meetings. Then, to everyone's surprise, he introduced Tommy who was seated at the head table and said there was some unfinished business. Br. Dennis is a Deacon and can not seal the Baptism so he asked Bishop Taylor and Tommy to come to the podium. Right then and there Bishop John completed the process. A standing ovation followed and then Tommy spoke. Again, we witnessed another powerful testimony about how much of an impact the PRISM chaplains are making in the jails.

BISHOP COADJUTOR JOHN TAYLOR, A PROPHETIC VOICE IN OUR MIDST -- All we can say is that if you have not heard Bishop Taylor speak yet, you are missing something very, very special. It is our opinion that we Episcopalians are in for some very exciting times moving forward. This man speaks with an almost evangelical enthusiasm and with a PROPHETIC vision which we believe is so necessary in these trying times. In fact, we are so bold as to proclaim that Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor is NOT AFRAID OF THE CROSS!

This is a phrase we first heard in 2013 when 25 COS Pilgrims heard it spoken by The Rev. Canon Naim Ateek. In this case, he was referring to the silence of western Christian leadership in general and the Episcopal leadership in particular in criticizing the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. Naim's view was, and is, that we Christians are fearful of the consequences (the Cross) we might face if we speak the truth. A similar Prophetic criticism was expressed in April 1963 from Birmingham Jail.

STORIES FROM THE HEART: voices on the edge -- As many of you know, Sister Greta Ronningen has written a book titled "Free on the Inside: Finding God Behind Bars". Saturday night, thanks to an adaptation of this book by Ann Noble, three professional actors read statements from incarcerated women and men impacted by her book AND by the presence of Sr. Greta, Sr. MJ and Br. Dennis in their Journeys behind bars. Yet again, you have to be impressed by the fact that a handful of people can make a difference in the lives of people, even those convicted of crimes against and others. "I was a prisoner and you visited me". Matthew 25:37 Then, all of the lay people who volunteer to join the chaplains in the jails were recognized, and Sharon Crandall in particular was recognized to a standing ovation. Sr. Greta also acknowledged the role Sharon played in organizing the entire evening.


THANK YOU, VERA HOALIM -- Perhaps the most difficult and thankless of all parish volunteer opportunities is that of Stewardship Chairman. For the second year Vera Hoalim stepped forward to lead the 2017 effort; and for that, each and every one of us should take the time to thank her. Then, as if this was not enough, she also took responsibility to host the Post Offertory Service. So much work and so well organized!!! Congratulations and Thank You, Vera.

THANK YOU, LINDA GOLUSKIN: The Potato NEVER Had It So Good!!! -- Had Linda Goluskin been in charge of caring for the potato crop in Ireland, the famine and the massive emigration in the mid 1800's might not have taken place. In any event, the potato on Sunday in Cleaver Hall was surrounded by ALL THE FIXIN'S, and all of us parishioners were blessed with a wonderful luncheon. Thank You, Linda. Your commitment to continuing to feed us is second to none!!!

THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR SAVES LIVES: PART II -- As moving as Saturday night was, the previous Saturday evening at Cleaver Hall was equally so. This was the Jubilee Housing Annual Gratitude Dinner. There were many highlights, but for us the testimonies of the four House Managers were spectacular. I always have been aware of the role played in the recovery process by these folks, but each added a new perspective to just how important the manager is to the functioning of their respective houses. Thank You, Fabian Gonzalez (El Nido), Dixie Colas (Washington), Brian Woodruff (Fair Oaks) and John Barrios (Raymond) who is now retiring to be with his family. He will be much missed.