THE BEACON: "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works!" Matthew 5:16
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary 2017
150TH ANNUAL MEETING -- February 26th was a great, great day in the 150 years this great, great church, THE Church of Our Saviour, has occupied this plot of land! As Fr. Gary Bradley noted, our church was the first Protestant Church established in the West San Gabriel Valley, and we are still WORSHIPING in the same place. So, how does someone decide what to highlight? I can't so, I'm going to include those comments, facts or gestures which impacted me the most, in no particular order.
Rosary Beads: For me personally, the highlight of the day was to be one of six out going Vestry Members to receive Rosary Beads handmade from olive wood by The Rev. Peg Bradley. With them came a booklet entitled "Anglican Prayer Beads: Prayer For Joyful Journeys". What a gift, a gift I know was made with a deep love for each and every bead and the Cross. THANK YOU, PEG. The Beads now hang right next to my place of serenity at home, otherwise known as the La-Z-Boy Sanctuary.
The Garden of Gethsemane: Sue and I have been to the Garden of Gethsemane 15 times since we began our Cycle of Pilgrimages in 2004. Each time it was very emotional as we viewed the ancient olive trees next to the Church of All Nations. However, no visit ever elicited the emotion which we felt Sunday when we heard Fr. Gary make the following statement: "Most of you are aware of the Garden of Gethsemane through which Peg and I will walk in the years ahead. The Garden's name is Alzheimer's. To Mt. Tabor I walked alone. Through Gethsemane, I will not allow Peg to walk alone."
Sue and I grabbed hands and squeezed, and I think almost everyone in Cleaver Hall was equally impacted by Fr. Gary's candor, honesty, courage. What many may not fully appreciate is that the Bradley's had just presented us all with an enormous gift. The reality is that many, many more of us will live much longer than our parents, resulting in many, many more families being faced with the challenges which now face the Bradley's. Alzheimer's is not going to fade into the sunset until we all address its reality and push to fund research to reduce its growing impact.
As with fight to address breast cancer, the AIDS epidemic, alcoholism, and the many other illnesses which take lives, one of the first steps is to speak openly about the disease. This GARY AND PEG are doing, thus allowing those of us who can to help them. They have informed the congregation that its OK, even appropriate, to embrace the disease publicly so that we all know, God forbid, that we are not alone if we receive a similar diagnosis. THE JOURNEY IS SO MUCH MORE REWARDING, SO MUCH LESS FORBIDDING, IF WE TRAVEL IT TOGETHER. Thank you, Gary & Peg.
Hospitality: Speaking of the power of the villagers, Jane Fall certainly will testify to this. Of course, the villagers will say that it is she who brought them together, and this true. However, it takes a person with a special gifts to make this happen, and the Annual Meeting show cased just who this is in our Community. The food was plentiful, and the members of the Hospitality Committee were everywhere before and after the Meeting. Because these folks gave so much of themselves to make the Meeting so successful, I wouldn't even begin to thank each of them in this space for fear of missing people. Hopefully, their leader will list their names at some point in the near future. In the meantime, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for volunteering to make the 150th Annual Meeting one of the best since we have been attending.
Ministry Reports: 2016 -- "The Church is the only society that exists primarily for the benefit of those who are not its members." These words of Anglican Archbishop William Temple apply in spades to THE Church of Our Saviour. If you don't believe so, take a look at the 16 page Ministry Report provided in the packet of information handed out the Meeting.
A Great Balance Sheet But... Based on what I think I heard, Treasurer Will Dumain presented some good news AND some not so good news. On the plus side COS's Balance Sheet shows net assets of approximately $24.6 million, with the Building For Tomorrow and Transitional Housing liabilities being extinguished within the near future. Although not privy to the finances of other parishes, I read a lot about the challenges facing almost every church in every denomination; and the news is not positive. We are so blessed!!!
On the other hand, I did not hear any discussion of the results of the Stewardship Campaign, so we do not know how many Pledges were received or how much was pledged. We do know that the Budget was balanced because of energetic belt tightening, but minimal details were provided. In response to Harry Hathaway's question about seeing an Income Statement, Will stated that all of the financial details will be posted on the web site soon.
Going forward I believe the Vestry must work to provide maximum transparency not only concerning church operations but also every operating unit. These are challenging times for faith based institutions, BUT I believe churches like COS are the hope for this Community. Therefore, we must be in constant conversation with one another about how we can best leverage our blessings. Times, they are changing, and we can no longer adhere to the ways we used to operate. Creativity is the order of the day, but we must know what we are dealing with so we can maximize our effectiveness.
KNOCK, KNOCK. "WHO'S THERE?" -- I really wouldn't have much news to lay on you if everyone was on Facebook. Fortunately, the demographics of this place work in my favor so I can report as new stuff to you that isn't new at all. Did I hear "plagiarize" from someone? Too harsh but sometimes close enough. I digress. My point is that we have in The Rev. Canon John H. Taylor, Bishop Coadjutor Elect, a 63 year old who understands the 'reach' of social media almost as well as any Palestinian and certainly much better than most Episcopal bishops and clergy.
So, I know what he did last Friday, and most of you don't! At 11:00 he was knocking on the door of the Community of Divine Love and celebrating Holy Eucharist with Br. Dennis, Sr. Greta, Sr. MJ and Greta's mother who was visiting from Michigan. I know this because Canon John posted a selfie on his Facebook page of the five of them.
Then, he traveled to El Monte to knock on the door of the Dorris Dann Youth Center. There, he met with Rex Botengan, Diane Williams, Jose Vega, Jane Fall, Fr. Gary Bradley and Gabe Vazquez-Reyes and posted their pictures along with a number of others showing the Campus on his Facebook page. Visibility is a wonderful thing,and it is reassuring to know that our new Bishop is taking the time to learn about what THE Church of Our Saviour is doing.
More Visibility: Canon John has taken to posting a Prayer each morning on his facebook page. On February 27, his Prayer was for ALL who are involved in the Prison Community, whether as one of the incarcerated or those who are responsible for overseeing them. Three pictures accompanied the Prayer, each showing Br. Dennis, Sr. MJ and Sr. Greta praying for an inmate. Bless the PRISM Chaplains!
THANK YOU, JANE MAGWOOD -- Almost every week I am made aware of yet again of another parishioner making interesting contributions in the greater community. This week it was Jane Magwood's when a friend of Sue's complimented her on a wonderful article about San Gabriel's Church Of Our Saviour in the local 'The QUARTERLY' Magazine. Not knowing what her friend was referring to because we do not live in La Canada, South Pasadena, San Marino, Chapman Woods or Bradbury where the magazine is primarily distributed, her friend delivered her copy to us. What we read was an informative article beginning on page 14 which focused on COS as it "Celebrates Its 150th Anniversary". Never overlooking an opportunity to say "thank you", Sue called Jane and found out that she not only is a Contributing Writer but also the Proofreader for the magazine. Jane appreciated the 'thanks' but also wanted Sue to know that she herself appreciated the help she received from Chris Case who provided photos which accompanied the article. As members of the Communications Team headed up by Carrie Voris and Gabe Vazquez-Reyes. we really appreciate Jane's effort and look for others to contribute in any way possible to publicize this historic Protestant Church.
HAVEN'T SEEN 'HAMILTON' BUT WOULD LIKE TO HEAR A REVIEW: SEE EMMA & ADDIE VORIS
THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE?: OUR REPRESENTATIVES TO DIOCESAN CONVENTION LAST DECEMBER VOTED 'BY AN OVERWHELMINGLY LARGE MARGIN' TO HAVE THE DIOCESE BECOME A SANCTUARY DIOCESE -- Explaining this Resolution was the assignment Robin Kassabian was charged with at Sunday's Forum. She survived unscathed. primarily because our parishioners, representing all points along the spectrum, were articulate and civil in their comments during the Q & A. I did not speak. but this week a Higher Power directed us to an incredibly timely viewing of a documentary -- "Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America" -- which provided much needed background information, information which I believe we all should have BEFORE we discuss the subject of what to do about Sanctuaries.
"Harvest Of Empire takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation's cultural and economic landscape." Do YOU know the back stories of our involvements in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua? You must!
All Saints Pasadena is showing this documentary March 5, Sunday afternoon, beginning at 2:00 in the Forum. A panel discussion will follow. OR, you can find it on your computer at no cost.
"We are all Americans. Our most dangerous enemies are not each other but the great wall of ignorance!" Juan Gonzalez
ST. SAVIOUR'S CHURCH RE-DEDICATED IN THE HOLY LAND -- Given the continuing onslaught of bad news from the Middle East, I want to report what Sue and I find to be an extremely moving story from the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. First, here is the back story: In 1947 the Diocese dedicated St. Saviour's Church in Acre (Akko) on the coast just north of Haifa. "The church quickly thrived, and although a small building, the congregation was said to number 500." However, when the U.N. announced the Partition Plan in 1947, most of the families, worried about their safety, fled the city, with large numbers going to Lebanon. St. Saviour's fell into a state of disrepair.
On February 21, 2017, approximately 700 people from around the Galilee gathered to re-dedicate the church. The celebration was led by Archbishop Suhail Dawani, and he was joined by the Greek Patriarch, the Bishop of the Maronite Church, the Imam of Al-Jazzar Mosque and representatives from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities.
The Press Release from the Diocese is "must reading": "The re-opening of St. Saviour's points to one of the central missions of this Church in the Holy Land: to foster ecumenical and inter-faith relationships which are at the heart of the ministry of reconciliation and peace that the Diocese of Jerusalem works towards...Archbishop Suheil in his sermon noted that for Christian communities in the Holy Land 'there must be resurrection after death, light after darkness, and hope after sadness...If the church of today does not carry this message of the resurrection and hope, then our ministry is in vain. Our land needs the spirit of the resurrection...and any thinking that does not present hope for our people will not be a theology either for the present time or for the future."
Words To Live By, Even In the United States!!!
INTER-FAITH DIALOGUE NOT RESTRICTED TO HOLY LAND: THE REV. SARI ATEEK, ONE OF COS'S ORDINANDS, REACHES OUT TO MUSLIM COMMUNITY -- Sari and Tanory were with us while they were at Fuller, did some time at Virginia Theological Seminary and then Sari was ordained at St. John's Pro-Cathedral under the banner of THE Church of Our Saviour. The Ateeks are now at St. John's in Chevy Chase/Bethesda, Maryland in the Diocese of Washington DC where he is the Rector.
Several weeks ago, in response to the threats being leveled at various Muslim communities around the country, he asked his parishioners to write notes and cards in support of their Muslim sisters and brothers in the area which would be delivered to a local mosque. Here is the follow up report which was posted on Facebook: "Last Saturday, on behalf of St. John's, several members of our parish...visited the IMAAM Center in Silver Spring. They presented the Indonesian Muslim community with a large envelope containing messages of concern, solidarity and hope from St. John's parishioners as well from Sari and Bishop Budde. The members were particularly taken with the messages from the children. Our group was treated to an Indonesian lunch, and we spoke about our beliefs and differing ancestries and answered questions from the members. They appeared eager for further cross-cultural understanding and expressed hope that they could visit St. John's".
"Our messages of hope now cover a wall of the center's meeting room so that all Muslims present can see that we Christians stand beside with them."
WARNING: READING THIS SECTION MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY (AND PERHAPS OUR FRIENDSHIP) --I know there are many people in our pews who do not want any shade of politics to be introduced into their Spiritual Journey, particularly from the pulpit. This is why I have waited until this last Section to discuss what I perceive to be but one of the many disconcerting challenges facing Americans and our democracy in 2017.
However, before going forward, I want to make two points. First of all, The BEACON is intentionally arranged in Sections just so YOU can pick and choose -- read them all, read some of them OR READ NONE. And secondly, none of what I write about in any Section is necessarily endorsed or embraced by the management.
So, what's the point this time? The point is that Sue and I have been exposed over a very short period of time to the reality, again, that deep seated racism, both institutionally and individually, is alive and well, even in Blue State California. If you are interested in seeing what has impacted us so deeply, here is your assignment:
- View on Netflix "13th", the Oscar nominated documentary, which explores the intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration
- Go to a Laemmle Theater and see "I Am Not Your Negro", another Oscar nominated documentary which is an incredible reprise of the thoughts of a man who died 30 years ago, and yet his insights into race relations are as RELEVANT today as they were then.
- Read Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness". The author makes the case that our prison system and all of its manifestations has resulted in the re-birth of a caste system in which millions of people of color are locked behind bars and then relegated to second class status.
- Google and read "Letter From A Birmingham Jail", written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April, 1963
If you have been moved enough to complete this assignment, you might also want to rent "Selma". Consider doing this for Extra Credit
"May God bless us with anger at the injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom and peace.".