The Beacon

"We who are many are One Body, because we all share one bread and one cup."

MORE WORDS TO LIVE BY FROM PARKER PALMER -- "Here is a summertime truth: abundance is a communal act, the joint creation of an incredibly complex ecology in which each part functions on behalf of the whole and, in return, is sustained by the whole. Community not only creates abundance -- community is abundance. If we could learn that equation from the world of nature, the human world might be transformed."

    The above quote is from Parker Palmer's "Let Your Life Speak". He repeated this in his Facebook page and went on to say that the passage "speaks to an injustice that troubles me daily. Some of us live lives of abundance and have more than we need, while so many suffer from scarcity...As summer's abundance grows up around us on my patch of the planet, too many folks in my own community lack food to eat and places to live...Community is the only way I know to close that gap, a community rooted in the knowledge that we're all in this together."

TWO THINGS WE BELIEVE: "COMMUNITY IS THE ONLY WAY TO CLOSE THE GAP BETWEEN THE 'HAVES' AND 'HAVE-NOTS'" AND "COMMUNITY CREATES THE ABUNDANCE WHICH ALLOWS US TO CARE FOR THE LEAST AMONG US" -- Almost all our of responses to the Profile Parish Questionnaire were focused on the importance of the Parish Community AND our COS Outreach Ministries to our Spiritual Journey together. We believe this transition period provides our Community with the opportunity to Re-Vision where we will be going from here. We believe that all the parts are in place; and if we are smart enough to maximize each of them, they are worth are far more than the whole.

    In particular, we continue to use our Abundance to "care for the least among us" like no other parish in the Diocese of Los Angeles. If you want to read a marvelous statement justifying why this is so important, I urge you to google the San Marino Tribune's August 10 edition. The featured columnist on the Religion Page was Br. Dennis Gibbs, and his column was entitled "Prophetic Truth & Power". This is as concise a summary of the prophetic mission statement found in Mathew 25 that you will find anywhere. You can not read this column as a baptized Christian and not understand that one of your responsibilities is to "care for the least among us".

WHILE RECOGNIZING THE ABOVE TO BE A PRIMARY MISSION OF A CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY, GIVEN THE CHALLENGES ALMOST EVERYONE FACES IN 2018, WE WONDER IF JESUS MIGHT ADD ANOTHER GROUP TO FOCUS UPON TODAY: THAT VAST NUMBER OF PEOPLE EXISTING BETWEEN THE "LEAST AMONG US" AND THE "HAVES" -- As we witness the continuing decline in attendance in main-stream Christian denominations, it occurs to us that perhaps we all are so focused on "the least among us" that maybe we are overlooking the challenges facing all the rest of us. In last week's BEACON, I noted that our daughter, the therapist, characterized her profession as a "growth industry", and not in a good way. A Question: If people are beating down the doors to meet with therapists about issues impacting them and their families, why are we main-stream Christian denominations not addressing at least some of their needs?

    It is our belief that we can and must become more RELEVANT in the lives of our existing parishioners and our neighbors. This is not to say that we are suggesting that we cut back on our commitments to our Outreach Ministries, but I am reminded of my own business career where we sometimes spent more time and resources on focusing on people who were not our clients rather than those paying clients. I have no doubt that there are folks like my former paying clients sitting in the pews who would like as much attention paid to their needs as those outside the gates of West Roses Road. Hopefully, as COS discusses what course we will be following in future years, we will commit to developing extensive programs which will address the RELEVANT needs of our parishioners and our community in 2018.

AT THE CENTER OF COS'S CONCENTRIC CIRCLES: ONE GUILD AND MANY COMMITTEES -- As long time BEACON readers and friends who pay any attention to what I have to say know, I believe the Heart & Soul of COS is our Altar Guild. These ladies for the most part maintain low profiles and operate behind the scenes, day in and day out. Without them, the show does not go on. That said, if there ever was a group whose individuals deserve to be recognized by name, it is the Altar Guild. Therefore, in one of our answers to the Parish Profile Questionnaire, we recommended that the names of all Altar Guild members be included on the website and be updated quarterly. 

    Over and above this, we strongly urged that the same recognition be given to the many Committees which serve this parish so well. This is important for two reasons. First of all, most parishioners have no idea that these important Committees even exist, and they should because they have huge responsibilities for running the church. Here are the ones we know of: Finance, Endowment, Property, Our Saviour Center Advisory Board, Jubilee Housing Advisory, Communications,  A Child's Garden School and Stewardship. Secondly, it seems to us that we ought to be recognizing and thanking these folks for their contributions. And finally, perhaps if you were aware of ways to serve the parish by volunteering for a Committee, you would step forward.

THE INEVITABILITY OF CHANGE: DO YOU REALLY APPRECIATE HOW INCREDIBLE IT IS THAT WE HAVE BEEN KNEELING IN THE SAME LOCATION FOR OVER 150 YEARS? -- Reminiscing last week about my time with Sherm Telleen at Scudder, Stevens & Clark, I got to thinking about how much things had CHANGED during my career. I was blessed to work for two of the great firms in the securities industry from 1965 to 1998 -- Scudder founded in 1919 and Salomon Brothers founded in 1910. In their days they were recognized leaders in the investment management industry on the one hand and the bond trading business on the other. And yet, when Y2K came around, neither was left standing as an independent firm. 

    Other examples of change I have witnessed:

    # 1: When Dorothy Chandler was was raising money to fund the Music Pavilion, she formed an Advisory Board. This was in 1965, and every member was a white male CEO of one of the many highly recognized corporations located in Los Angeles. If you were able to find a prospectus issued to potential season ticket holders at that time, you would find that hardly any of those corporations is still in L.A..

    # 2: In the 1970's one of the dominant strategies widely followed for investing in the stock market was "Buy the Nifty 50". These were 50 U.S. based growth companies which the "market" had identified as "can't miss" investments because of their perceived dominance in their respective businesses. "Buy them and hold them, forever!" If you google "nifty 50" today, you will discover that well over a third of these "can't miss" companies no longer exist, mostly because they could not or would not adapt to the rapidly changing environment of the last 30 years of the twentieth century.

    MEANWHILE, inside the gates of 535 West Roses Road, THE Church of Our Saviour, established in 1867, is still going strong and contemplating what the future holds for the next 150 years.

SOMETIMES CHANGE IS NOT INEVITABLE -- While Salomon and Scudder were going out of business, the corporate and banking industries downsizing and the Nifty 50 becoming much smaller in number, Harry and Sally Baldwin and Bill and Anne Peplow were continuing their Journeys as married couples. Sunday the Baldwins and Peplows celebrated 58 years "in business together". There may no longer be absolutes on Wall Street or in much of corporate America, but there still are in marriages like these two couples have!

FIRST LEVI, THEN LUKE!!! -- The last two Sundays the Youth Readers were Levi and Luke Thompson, sons of Bret and Lucy. I find this really remarkable, especially since I was unable to stand in front of an audience and speak until I was in my 30's! Congratulations to these two guys; we appreciate your willingness to participate in our Services. By the way, the Thompsons are the owners of Canon Phil Smith's favorite restaurant Pez Cantina.

BACK TO SCHOOL IS NOT JUST FOR THE YOUNG -- Sunday we also learned that two of our adult members are going back to school:

    Laura Voisin George: Laura went up for a blessing during the 10:00 Service, announcing that she is leaving for UC Santa Barbara to pursue a PhD. in History. Interestingly, her subject will be California during the Civil War, the same time frame in which THE Church of our Saviour was established. Who knows, maybe she will uncover some additional material about this parish during her research. She says she will be returning from time to time, but we wish her the best as she embarks on this new Journey.

    Sr. Greta Ronningen: I don't know how we got on Instagram, but I'm glad we are. Otherwise, I would not be able to tell you that Sr. Greta also is going back to school. My first clue was her posting on Instagram showing a stack of books and course schedules, with the accompanying comment -- "back to seminary...3 courses, 20 books". It turns out she will be returning to Bloy House to pursue the Ordination process. This is great news for the Diocese of Los Angeles AND for COS since she will studying locally, not at some out of town seminary.