The Beacon

"This is theLord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary 2017

OUR COMMUNITY CONTINUES TO SHARE ITS STORIES -- Resurrected under the guidance of The Rev. Robin Kassabian, Sharing Our Story is apparently going to be the theme for each Sunday's Forum much of the time. As far as I am concerned, this is GREAT news; I continue to contend that this parish is full of people with inspiring stories which need to be heard by our greater Community. Last Sunday, we were privileged to hear Sharon and Patrick Crandall share their Journey together which included a moving testimony articulating the importance of The Episcopal Church and COS in their lives.

This week the featured 'sharer' was Deacon Bill Doulos who entitled his talk "My Spiritual Awakening". Sue and I had never met Bill until Jubilee Housing Ministry arrived at COS. In fact, in our prior incarnation, we would never have known of him; he was a communist and we were just this side of the John Birch Society. However, GOD and The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray had other plans, and we now count Deacon Bill Doulos among our closest friends. Opening one's eyes and ears lead to amazing things!

Given this relationship, I feel comfortable emphasizing parts of Bill's "Awakening" which he modestly hesitates to discuss in greater detail. First of all, we were privileged as members of his Discernment Committee to witness his perseverance in becoming a Deacon in The Episcopal Church. When The Rev. Michael Battle encouraged him to pursue this goal, we honestly thought Bill's dedication to the least among us throughout his adult life would guarantee a "battle field commission". This turned out not to be the case as the Diocese of Los Angeles simultaneously chose to tighten the requirements for becoming a Deacon. As a result, Bill spent several years more than we had expected in study and service before he became what we believe is the oldest person ever to be ordained in the ministry. The good news is that even though is now past the mandatory age of 72 for priests, Deacons can go on FOREVER!

Secondly, do you realize how far we have come in our society when a person, especially a member of the clergy, can stand before an audience and candidly discuss his recovery from addiction? This is huge advancement in our understanding of the disease which is alcoholism. When my mother passed away at 59 in 1970, we had no answers or constructive advice; we attributed her death to a lack of personal will power. We know differently now, and the willingness of people like Deacon Bill who is an icon in the Recovery Community in the West San Gabriel Valley to speak out is invaluable in advancing society's understanding. In addition, the fact that a person can change the trajectory of his Journey from addiction to sobriety at 60 is an example for all people and families facing this challenge. THE POWER OF SHARING!

"BUT WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?" -- As I listened to The Rev. Ellen Wekall's Sermon, I remembered Fr. Gary's numerous Sermon's in which he urged us to claim our Christianity. Rev. Ellen added another dimension when she requested that we ALSO wear name tags to assist everyone in knowing who we are, but the big question was not missed -- there is a great need now more than ever for all Christians to stand up and be counted. That said, I find The Episcopal Church's hesitancy to proclaim who we are appalling. Evangelism is not very apparent, almost to the point that we might as well have unlisted phone numbers.

Another thought which Rev. Ellen triggered is the stark difference between being a Christian in this country and being a Christian in the Middle East. In that region, most people identify themselves first by their ethnicity but then always add "Christian", "Muslim", "Jew", "Druze" etc. Of course, religion almost of necessity plays a most significant role in everyone's life, but our experience with the parishioners of our Sister Parish is that they come closer as a community to living out in their daily lives what Jesus had in mind.

149 YEARS AND 357 DAYS AND COUNTING -- By next Saturday when all of you who read THE BEACON will have read it, we will be 8 (eight) days away from a SUNDAY SERVICE CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF PROTESTANTS KNEELING IN THE SAME LOCATION. Phil Smith is pulling out all of the stops (no pun intended) for the 10:00 Service which will include a brass quartet, timpani, our choir and organ, and Fr. Gary Bradley has asked The Rev. Canon O'Pray Emeritus to preach. A sit down lunch under the leadership of Sally Baldwin and her Team is being served in Cleaver Hall afterward. As of this writing, tickets sales have reached 189 and NO MORE ARE BEING OFFERED!!! Those of you who have tickets will be privileged to hear a very special presentation by Canon Denis as he reflects on the past, the present and the future.             

STATUS REPORT FROM THE ASIAN AMERICA MINISTRY -- As noted last week, I read stuff; and I all too frequently come across information which is great and should be widely distributed. Such was the case with the publication of The Episcopal News Late Summer Magazine which was distributed electronically last week. On page 19 (of 20) there was a picture of 22 of 25 delegates from the Diocese of Los Angeles who attended the 3rd New Community Conference. This gathering is sponsored by The Episcopal Church and includes representatives from around the country representing the leaderships of the Asian American, African American, Indigenous peoples, and Latino / Hispanic Ministries. I think this was a big deal, as witnessed by the fact that a total 125 people were in attendance, but what really impressed me was the fact that THE Church of Our Saviour was well represented -- The Rev. Canon Ada Wong-Nagata, Ronnie Nagata, Kathy Feng and The Rev. Thomas Ni. I think what I'm trying to say is that here is yet another ministry where members of COS are highly visible and relevant. It's sort of amazing that this relatively medium sized parish continues to make important contributions to the greater community in so many areas! That's the good news; the bad news is that you have to go to the 19th page of a limited distribution publication to find out about what is going on in the Chinese Ministry.      

WHAT A YOUTH CENTER! -- We had reason to meet with Gabe Vazquez-Reyes and Carrie Voris, Co-Chairs of the Communication Committee, at the Youth Center located at the southern end of the front parking lot. What a wonderful facility!!! Sue met there last winter, and she noted how much Gabe and Taylor Vazquez-Reyes had improved the space. The walls have been painted with Biblical references, and Gabe commented about how challenging it was to get rid of all of the furniture which was jammed into the rooms. "Used sofas always seem to find their final resting places in Youth Centers, probably because they are very difficult to dispose of otherwise." In any event, you should try to visit this updated facility. It is yet another great asset we have on our Campus.   

ONE DOWN, THREE TO GO -- Time REALLY flies! It was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2002 when Deacon Bill Doulos knocked on the kitchen door of the Rectory and asked his long time friends The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray and Lyn if COS would be interested in becoming involved in his Jubilee Housing Transitional Housing Ministry. The answer obviously was "Yes", and Parish Administrator Kelly Andrews and Treasurer John Quinn went to work rationalizing what Bill has characterized as a tangled financial mess. The end result was Bill gifting COS with four homes containing 50 beds, aided to no small degree by four 15 year, 60% loan to value mortgages. Unbelievably, the first of those loans, on the Fair Oaks House, was paid in full in July! Two more will be paid off next summer and the final one in 2019. Time does fly. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL INVOLVED.

JUBILEE LUNCH -- The versatility of our Campus was on display yet again a week ago when the Jubilee Housing Board hosted its Annual BBQ Lunch for Transitional Housing Residents and their families. Following up on the hugely successful Mass on the Grass set up in the pepper tree grove on the east side of Cleaver Hall, Deacon Bill's crew plus Frank Chavez created the perfect setting for the picnic tables and grill. Shade was abundant, and the Jubilee Residents and their families could not have asked for a more inviting environment.   

DO YOU KNOW WHO WILLIAM MAHONE WAS? -- He was a Major General and a divisional commander in the Army of Northern Virginia who was with Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. After the war Lee recalled that when contemplating a successor, he thought that Mahone "had developed the highest qualities for organization and command". However, as one monument after another is removed from the public arena, you will hear names like Lee, Jackson, Longstreet, JEB and Mosby but NO MAHONE. Why? Because the "traditionalists" who built monuments to Confederate generals bent history to their purpose, and Brigadier General Mahone's post war behavior was contrary to this purpose.

What exactly was he guilty of? He organized and led one of the most successful interracial political alliances in the post-emancipation South. His Readjuster Party, an independent coalition of black and white Republicans and white Democrats governed Virginia from 1879 to 1883. During that period they elected the governor, the two U.S. senators and six of the state's 10 members of the House of Representatives. The Readjusters lost power in 1883 through a Democratic campaign of violence, electoral fraud, and appeals to white solidarity. 

"How we remember our past directly influences the possibilities for our future. This is why white Democrats erased as much as they could of the history of interracial democracy in the South, after they destroyed it." So, no monument for Brigadier General Mahone.

"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary 2017

"The roads are flooded...We are closed," Joel Osteen Aug. 28, 2017 -- What a contrast! Here is a quote from the HUFFPOST -- "It's easier to pass through the eye of a needle than it is to get inside Joel Osteen's megachurch (capacity 16,500) for shelter from Hurricane Harvey ... After a vicious response online, Pastor Osteen's Christian Spirit was born again and the doors were finally opened." I think Joel needs a Tom Lenzo kind of guy on his staff.