THE BEACON: CELEBRATING THE PEOPLE AND MINISTRIES OF ONE OF THE OLDEST EPISCOPAL PARISHES IN THE DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES
THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR PROVIDED ONCE AGAIN EXAMPLES OF THE POWER OF MUSIC, THANKS TO SR. GRETA RONNINGEN, GLORIA & PAUL KILIAN, ALICE RUCKER, THE COS CHOIR & THE INCREDIBLE CANON PHIL SMITH -- Over the last ten years as COS experienced some challenging times as it moved towards its 150th Anniversary, the strength of our Music Ministry under the direction of Canon Phil Smith sustained many of us. This weekend we were reminded of the Power of Music in the life of our parish over a period of 30 joyful hours!
SATURDAY AFTERNOON SR. GRETA & FRIENDS WENT INTO THE JAILS TO SING -- It is fashionable these days to criticize Facebook, BUT our experience is that we find out things via this social platform that we would not be aware of otherwise. The most recent, dramatic example of this occurred Saturday night around 9:00 when a fantastic picture popped up on Facebook. There were Sr. Greta and eleven COS parishioners standing outside the Century Regional Detention Facility in Compton. Each was decked out in Christmas attire, and the picture was accompanied by Sr. Greta's glowing statement of what they had just experienced:
"Christmas caroling at the women's jail. Just wonderful. Everyone singing, laughing, some crying, and even dancing. I have wanted to do this for years. And it happened and it was beautiful. Gave out 100 candy canes, 100 glow in the dark rosaries and lots of joy."
As the COS Service Rota would have it, we were privileged to hear more about this because Sr. Greta was scheduled to preach Sunday. I don't know about anyone else, but I wiped away tears as I listened to her recount the joy she and her fellow carolers experienced. It was a classic case of the 'givers' receiving more than the 'receivers'.
As an aside, although Sr. Greta says the Sheriff now is receptive to this type of volunteer group appearance, the road to the position PRISM now holds within the Sheriff's Department needs to be appreciated. When Br. Dennis Gibbs first became involved in chaplaincy work in the jails fifteen years ago, there were only two Christian denominations authorized to go into the jails -- the Catholic Church and Evangelicals. Br. Dennis chose the former but committed to some day being able to have the Episcopal Church recognized separately. He and Sr. Greta achieved this status several years ago, and he says proudly that today PRISM has substantial visibility and credibility within the Sheriff's Department.
The bottom line is that because of the commitment of the Monks of the Community of Divine Love to follow Jesus' command to visit people in prison, on December 15, 2018 Sr. Greta and eleven parishioners were in singing Christmas carols to lonely women in jail. Amazing!!! Oh, by the way, this was only the beginning of the weekend for the Monks. Sr. Greta reported on Sunday night that she was "just leaving the women's jail after church services. Many tears today. The holidays are tough behind bars. But some deeply grateful for this time away to find God. O come Emmanuel - God with us." FYI, I saw Br. Dennis after the 10:00 Service; he was on his way to the Twin Towers with Sr. Greta to hold SEVEN (7) Services!!!
If you are as moved as we are by what PRISM is accomplishing in the jails and prisons in Los Angeles, Sr. Greta and Br. Dennis would appreciate any financial support you may able to provide.
SPEAKING OF EMMANUEL, PAUL & GLORIA KILIAN CERTAINLY DID SUNDAY MORNING IN GRACE CHAPEL -- Yet again we COS parishioners were blessed by Paul & Gloria Kilian and their family and friend in presenting what has become their traditional ADVENT CAROL FORUM. Given my complete lack of knowledge when it comes to music, I can not begin to do justice to the quality of the information Paul imparted. I am, however, smart enough to realize that his historical, musical and theological insights are well researched and provide unique perspectives seldom found in any other parish community.
This year the three hymns the Kilians selected were "Veni, Veni Emmanuel", "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" and "There's a Voice in the Wilderness Crying". As noted, each of Paul's analyses was fascinating, but the one which ended up really resonating at the end of the day was "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". Not only was it the featured Hymn during The Holy Communion, it also was featured prominently during The Lesson & Carols Festival later in the day. The Kilian's background information contributed significantly to our appreciation of the Hymn during both Services.
As I have stated many, many times in The BEACON, THE Church of Our Saviour is truly blessed to have an incredible number of parishioners who continue to do amazing things in and out of the church. Obviously, the Kilians are two of these people, and we thank them for sharing their time and talents with us again this Advent Season.
THE 10:00 SERVICE: A WONDERFUL BRIDGE BETWEEN THE KILIANS AND LESSONS & CAROLS -- For the Smocks the glue of the 10:00 Service has always been the music. It ties everything together for us, and this Sunday was no exception. We were particularly moved by Canticle 9 and the refrain from "The First Song of Isaiah" which we close this BEACON with. In addition, we have already mentioned the singing of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" during Communion, but the highlight for us was the presence and music of the Hand Bell Ensemble, directed by Alice Rucker and including Sara Dooley, Patti Teele, Kim Sirean, Debbie Andersen and Kathy Mccauley. They were terrific at this Service, and Alice, Sara, Patti and Kim also contributed substantially during Lessons & Carols.
"A FESTIVAL OF NINE LESSONS & CAROLS" PRESENTED BY FRIENDS OF MUSIC: CONCERT SERIES 2018 - 2019 -- I can think of no better person than Canon Phil Smith himself to report to you on this amazing Service. These are his comments about the afternoon on Facebook:
"Monday morning, recovery day! What a wonderful afternoon of music making yesterday, with the choir and our guests! Advent Lessons and Carols was another highlight for me in this year. Thanks go to every person involved in the production of this service, a few in particular, The Rev. Dr. Bob Honeychurch, our guest organist Dr.Tom Mueller, the readers, the volunteers who have done fabulous work on the interior decorating of the church, the Altar Guild, the church staff, the Hand Bell Ensemble directed by Alice Rucker, and most wonderfully, the members of Our Saviour Choir and our guest singers and our oboist Catherine Del Russo. And, a thank you to the wonderful congregation assembled for this annual service. Blessings as we continue in this season of Advent, moving ever so steadily towards Christmas!"
I would add my own two observations. First of all, it was obvious to everyone in attendance that an enormous amount of time and effort went into the preparation of this Service, and we too admire the commitment of Our Choir. This is the hardest working group of parishioners in our midst, and we personally thank you for your enormous contributions to our Spiritual Journey. Secondly, this Service was presented by Canon Phil's Friends of Music -- Concert Series 2018 - 2019. Fr. Bob beautifully explained the importance of this self sustaining Ministry during his brief comments preceding The Offertory. A number of parishioners and friends already support this Series, but Canon Phil can always need more support so we urge you to please consider a year end gift to Friends of Music.
DO YOU WANT TO SEE WHAT 180 FEET OF GARLANDS LOOK LIKE? JUST LOOK UP AT THE PILLARS NEXT SUNDAY -- If you are like me, when you enter the Sanctuary, you walk with your head down straight to your "assigned" pew. Last Sunday I deviated from this routine because I was told that twelve parishioners and Fr. Bob had spent Saturday morning stringing together magnolia branches into two continuous Garlands. So, when I began my walk down the eastern aisle, I did look up; and I was astonished to witness what the 12 + 1 Crew had accomplished.
Beginning at the first pillars on either side of the Sanctuary in front of the Altar steps, the Crew hung the Garlands from pillar to pillar the entire length of the main Sanctuary, 90 feet on each side by my count! These magnolia branches clearly are very heavy so it took many hands to lift them up and secure them in place. That in and of it self is remarkable; I didn't know there were so many strong Episcopalians in our midst. However, what is equally remarkable, as pointed out by Tom Shenk, is how evenly the Garlands are hung. Thank you ALL; you have added a new dimension to the decoration of the Sanctuary for Christmas, and I'm sure the Altar Guild is deeply appreciative of the assistance they are receiving this year.
Several wonderful pictures of the construction and placement of the Garlands are available on COS's Facebook page.
THEIR WORK IS DONE: THANK YOU! -- Under the leadership of our very own renaissance man Paul Kilian, seven parishioners worked diligently throughout the spring and summer to prepare COS's Parish Profile Report. It is now completed and being reviewed by the Diocese before being made available to us. To mark the conclusion of this portion of the Transition Process, Fr. Bob called up each of the Committee members during Announcements at both Services to thank them for their contributions. You can thank them, too, when you see them. In addition to Paul, they are Charlotte Van Fleet, Kathy Feng, Eric Miller, Nancy Duling, Meredith Brucker, Joshua Alverenga and Maureen Sprunger.
"THEY'VE GOT THE WHOLE PARISH IN THEIR HANDS" -- Fr. Bob Honeychurch also introduced the SEARCH COMMITTEE selected by the Vestry. They are six in number and will be chaired by Dennis Duling. The other five are Kit Shenk, Eric Miller, Kathy Feng, Kari Stewart and Sharon Crandall.
WORDS TO LIVE BY IN 2019 FROM CANTICLE 9 "THE FIRST SONG OF ISAIAH" --
Surely, it is God who saves me;
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my strong-hold and my sure defense,
and he will be my Savior.
MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR