THE BEACON: WHAT IN GOD'S NAME ARE WE DOING?
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!"
THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR IS OFF AND RUNNING -- This year's Annual Meeting marked the beginning of our next 150 years, and it was a really good beginning. Concise statements were delivered by Fr. Honeychurch, Senior Warden Juli Kennedy, Strategic Planning Chair Paul Kilian, Junior Warden Patrick Crandall and Treasurer Will Dumain. We now have a good idea of where we are going from here and the reasons for adhering to the process, we know where our four major Outreach Ministries stand and we know where we stand financially with regard to each of these ministries and the deferred maintenance we face with regard our properties.
Our take-aways are four:
1) We are in good, strong hands with parishioner leadership anchored by a knowledgeable Interim Rector which will move the process along in an orderly fashion as we reenvison "What in God's name are we doing?"
2) Our Balance Sheet is strong and getting stronger as we retire the remaining debt on our Jubilee Homes. Assets total $26,580,343 versus Liabilities of only $1,343,303, $535,003 of which is related to Our Saviour Center. Our challenge going forward is on the cash flow side, particularly as we work to fulfill our commitment to maintain the integrity of the Endowment Fund.
a) COS is uniquely advantaged in this economy to have a large and gracious Rectory to provide housing for our next Rector and family. What an asset!!!
b) The 'good' news: COS has one of the most beautiful and functional campuses within the Diocese. The 'bad' news: With beauty and functionality come maintenance costs, and this is what is facing us in the immediate future. Patrick Crandall addressed this as it applies to structures, but we also are going to have to decide what exactly we want our campus to reflect. (See Below)
3) Simply put, our substantial internal and external ministries, big and small, together are worth far more than the whole. Our challenge going forward is to develop these into a cohesive, synergistic story which we can hold up for all to see. This is our 'product'!!!
SUCCESSFUL ANNUAL MEETINGS JUST DON'T HAPPEN -- We're sure we will miss someone, but 'thanks' are in order for a number of people. First of all, we would have had nothing to eat were it not for the generosity of many, many parishioners who responded to the call to contribute to our potluck offering. However, when push came to pull, the luncheon came together because of the our newly hired Hospitality Chair Janey Cutting. Talk about the having the right person in the right place at the right time! If you doubt this statement, you were not listening to her request to the multitude at end the Meeting when she asked for assistance in cleaning up Cleaver Hall AND warned everyone that she expected the kitchen to be as clean and orderly as it was at the beginning of the day. We just witnessed the beginning of a new era. Thank You, Janey!
Two other constituencies also deserve our 'Thanks'. The first is the folks who prepared and assembled all of the material distributed at the Meeting -- Chris Case, Yuhadhi Sundaramoorthy, Will Dumain and Fr. Honeychurch. Having spent a significant portion of a checkered business career making presentations to diverse groups, I know just how time consuming preparing for a Meeting like Sunday's was.
The second group is our always reliable Custodial Staff of Frank Chavez and Stephen Faux. They ARE THE BEST, always responsive to the needs of many ministries and groups which use our extensive facilities. Thank You, Frank and Stephen, for all of the work you did in setting up Cleaver Hall.
SAGES: ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE JOURNEY BEST TRAVELED IS IN COMMUNITY -- At his appearance at the March SAGES Luncheon, Fr. Honeychurch stated that he believed the Journey could be successfully traveled alone, BUT for him it is most rewarding traveled in community. For us this was reaffirmed in spades last Thursday as the senior members of COS came together for our monthly lunch and to hear a speaker. This is one of the largest lay driven Ministries in the parish, ably guided by Bev and Jerry Harris and Linda Goluskin. Lunches are always provided by parishioners, with someone usually providing the entree. This time Juli Kennedy delivered a massive amount of corned beef and cabbage, and everyone else provided salads, vegetables, snacks and drinks. As usual the community support was remarkable, with the presence of 40 parishioners testifying to how RELEVANT ministries attract interest and make important contributions to the collective Journey of the Community.
The March speaker was parishioner Ed Andersen, Director of the Arcadia Historical Society, and an authority on John Muir. He provided some wonderful background on the early history of COS, complete with numerous pictures. We thought we knew pretty much all there was to know about this period, but Ed added new material which filled out the time frame between 1867 and 1925.
FYI, although Ed did not conclude his presentation with a phrase such as "what goes 'round comes 'round", "the circle of life" or "history repeats itself", he did note that the early history of COS consists of several periods when the parish was on the verge of closing. As in the 21st century, the causes ranged from declining membership to differences of opinion between parishioners and the Rector. "Those who ignore history will surely repeat it."
HERE'S AN IDEA...FOR THE PROFILE COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER -- As we noted in last week's BEACON, Fr. Honeychurch stated that The Episcopal Church of today is NOT the church he was raised in 50 years ago. Then, in Sunday's Sermon he concluded that the old ways of welcoming visitors and newcomers -- here's a Pledge Card, here's a parishioner profile questionaire, what committee would like to join? -- no longer are relevant. It is not about how you can help us BUT how we can help you. We need to reverse the process and be sensitive to discovering what would induce a spiritual but unchurched person to want to join our community.
Anyone who has read the BEACON knows that our favorite word is RELEVANT, which is exactly what we believe Fr. Honeychurch is talking about. This being the case, we got to thinking about our two daughters, their husbands and our four grandchildren. I would characterize each as a spiritual individual who is living a life focused on "doing unto others... and caring for the least among us". However, none of them goes to church, and honestly we would not encourage them to, given the daily demands of their Journeys and how little main stream denominations have to offer them in 2018.
So, Sunday afternoon we called Molly and Katie and asked them to discuss with their families in the fullness of time what it would take for any one of them to consider church to be integral part of the Journey. We told them there is no pressure whatsoever. We have never had a discussion like this with any of them, but they know how much COS means to us. Therefore, we expect some informative responses from them, and we encourage you to engage your family and/or friends to have the same discussion. Obviously, the old model we are following is not working, but this does not mean we can't change course and develop really RELEVANT ministries for Gen Z and beyond.
CONSIDER THIS CONTEMPORARY MODEL OF HOW A PARISH RELATES TO ITS SURROUNDING COMMUNITY -- Many of you will remember The Rev. Peter Rood, an Associate Priest at COS in the 1990's. Today, he is Rector of Holy Nativity Westchester near LAX, and he is recognized nationally within the church for his concern about food insecurity and his commitment to sustainable planting and community gardens. What gained him this reputation was his Vestry's decision, at his urging, some time ago to convert 1,100 sq. ft. of street frontage planted in juniper bushes and lawn into a community garden.
"With the help of people from churches and mosques and synagogues, community volunteers, and Holy Nativity parishioners, the ground was soon converted to a vegetable garden. Today serving as both an educational resource for local organic gardening practices and a gathering spot for locals who want to work with the soil. Our garden is harvested weekly and the bounty is delivered to the Food Pantry LAX for distribution to needy members of the wider community."
This is a wonderful example of what COS might consider going forward, given the size of our unique Campus. However, the Holy Nativity / Community Relationship Story does not stop there. Recently a young Westchester couple with a new baby realized that there was no 'pocket park' to take their child to. Walking the neighborhood, they came across one of the few open spaces in the area -- the remaining lawn which Holy Nativity had not converted to its community garden. So, they knocked on the door, asked Fr. Rood if he would consider allowing them to establish a playground on the lawn if they were able to raise the funds. Fr. Rood's response was immediate, and there now is a 'pocket park' at the corner of 6700 St. and Dunbarton Ave. This is how a parish makes itself RELEVANT in its neighborhood.
A PARISH CHOCK FULL OF TALENT: TOM LENZO -- Except for Ascension Sierra Madre where The Canon Rev. Michael Bamberger formerly was a Battalion Captain in the Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire Department, we'll bet that no other parish in the Diocese has its own fully qualified Safety Officer. For most of our life times, it would never had occurred to us to even think about 'safety' as it applies to our church, UNTIL...Then, since the turn of the century, Mother Nature and even some human brothers and sisters have made us realize that preparedness is the order of the day. Fortunately, up steps Tom Lenzo, and we are blessed to have him reminding us at every opportunity to think about our individual and collective safety. Make his day; the next time you see him, tell him how many fire extinguishers there are and where they are located in the sanctuary.
A GREAT OMEN! -- You may or may not be aware of how blessed THE Church of Our Saviour is to have The Rev. Bob Honeychurch as our Interim Rector. Shortly after Senior Warden Juli Kennedy announced that Fr. Bob was going to join us, The Rev. Canon George Woodward informed St. Edmund's Vestry that he was going to leave them and become the Rector of St. Paul's in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. As a result they too have embarked on a Rector Search along with at least FIVE other parishes that we know of in the Diocese. Timing is everything, and given Fr. Bob's reputation, he probably would not have been available at a later date. As noted, a Great Omen!