THE BEACON: CELEBRATING THIS FAITH BASED COMMUNITY'S COMMITMENT TO ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF ALL PEOPLE IN 2018 AND BEYOND
FR. GARY & REV. PEG BRADLEY AND MATTHEW 25 -- Most of you
Episcopalians know what you are charged to do if you have read Matthew 25: to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to take in the stranger, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and the prisoner. However, there is another little known 'charge' which has been omitted over time: TO VISIT THE RETIRED PRIESTS!
Having recently discovered this, we mentioned it to Deacon Bill Doulos and quickly decided to rectify this. So, on Saturday, September 22, the three of us headed east to Crestline to visit Fr. Gary and Rev. Peg. The drive was easy and even when we headed up the mountain, the road most of the way is two modern lanes each way. Since it was lunch time, the Bradleys met us at the Hortencias At The Cliffhang Mexican Restaurant on Highway 18 right at the top of the mountain. It was a wonderful afternoon of conversation which included a visit to the Bradley's new home.
The Bottom Line: The Bradleys welcome any and all visitors, IN SMALL NUMBERS, almost anytime. Although there are about 11,000 residents in and around where they live, it is NOT San Gabriel where they have so many friends. If you do plan to visit them. you can contact Fr.Gary at 1-909-907-9624 (best) OR 1-909-744-7999 (spotty in the mountains). Please, please , please follow Matthew 25's forgotten charge and GO VISIT A RETIRED PRIEST.
WHAT'S 'GROWING' ON AROUND HERE? -- I was struck by the wonderful feeling of Community which we experienced at the 10:00 Service on Our Saviour Sunday. In retrospect, what I remember most is the image of the gathering in the Chancel during the blessing of the backpacks. As you may remember, a great number of those folks were children from the Mandarin Congregation. Thinking about this, I realized how little I know about what this congregation is doing. So, I started asking questions and paying more attention, and this is what I have discovered, in no particular order of significance.
+As was well publicized, the wonderful lunch was prepared in the Cleaver Hall kitchen by the women and men of the Mandarin Congregation. Not only that, they were so organized that they were able to serve us all at our tables, so that we all began and finished our luncheons together. As Fr. Honeychurch noted during his 'thank yous', this was much preferable to our standard buffet arrangement where half the parishioners were finishing just as others were sitting down. What a gift!
+The format for the luncheon included an assigned individual at each table facilitating a series of three questions designed to allow us to better know whom we were sitting with. Sort of a "Sharing Our Story" exercise. Our table talk was very interesting but not nearly as interesting and moving as that experienced by Sr. Greta Ronningen. She was seated at table of women from the Mandarin Congregation, and she said she was overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of each of their stories. In her opinion, we should make every effort to develop a continuing way for our two congregations to hear each others' stories.
+Totally unrelated to this but in a similar vain, I received an unsolicited email from Roger Cairns-Berteau in which he reminded me that he and others have been involved in meeting informally with members of the Mandarin Congregation after the 10:00 Service to teach informal Spoken English. One of the 'tools' they use is handing out questions which their 'students' can respond to if they choose to.
What he received from David was so moving that he and his wife The Rev. Chitra Rao felt you all should be made aware of what he wrote, subject to his approval which he gave. Entitled "My Family", David expresses the joy he and his wife have because they have two sons, something their respective parents were never able to experience. Both were born in mainland China when the one child policy was introduced. Thus, David expresses deep regret that neither he nor his wife had a brother or sister. "In our life time this is a regretful thing. Now we have two kids in our family, every day. I want to thank my God as he gave us two babes. I can see my kids doing almost everything together. Eating together, playing together, going to school together and going to bed together. This is an amazing thing we cannot imagine."
Roger concluded by noting, as Sr. Greta had, that "there are countless amazing stories that these incredible people could share with us".
FYI, this 'Ministry' was originally organized by Russ Decker. Dan Banks was a regular participant until his passing, and those now involved include Gary Kinsley, David Coleman and Meredith Brucker.
+Deacon Bill Doulos commented the other day about how much he enjoys his opportunities to participate in the Mandarin 10:00 Service. He says Grace Chapel is almost filled, and Treasurer Will Dumain confirms that that this congregation now has approximately 70 members.
+Little publicized but impressive to me was a course offered this summer by Bloy House and co-sponsored by the Li Tim-Oi Center entitled "Biblical Studies: History, Geography and Culture" which The Rev. Thomas Ni taught, assisted by Kathy Feng. Ten women from the Mandarin community attended and graduated on August 25!!! Commitments like this speak volumes; and dare I say, almost border on Episcopalians evangelizing!
+Most of you are aware of Kathy Feng's contributions in many areas around the parish, in addition to currently being in the Ordination Process. However, others from the Mandarin Congregation also are playing important roles. Ivy Qi, Kenneth Quan and Wendy Dong serve on the Vestry, and Ivy also is a member of the Annual Giving Committee.
+Finally, it is my opinion that we all need to be more deeply introduced to The Rev. Thomas Ni. I have heard him talk about his life in China before emigrating, and it is amazing. This is a highly accomplished Episcopalian, and you need to know more about his Journey. It is truly inspiring!
RING THE BELL -- As many of you know, I subscribe to Parker Palmer's belief that each of is born with gifts and non-gifts. In church life, one of the best gifts is having an individual gifted in 'stewardship'. For years we were blessed by having Ben Harrington in our midst, followed by Vera Hoalim. In 2018 as we begin our second 150 years, we are truly blessed again, in spades, because SIX (6) parishioners who are not hesitant "to ask for the order" have stepped forward to do a job which most of us are disinclined to volunteer for.
Sunday we witnessed another example of this commitment when Dennis Duling stepped to the podium to update the parish on the status of the Annual Giving Campaign. As with Harry Hathaway's presentation, Dennis was extremely informative and articulate. He concluded by recognizing Carrie Voris' most recent of many contributions to our church -- a banner showing our iconic bell tower as a thermometer showing our target Annual Giving number of $500,000. When we hit that number it will be interesting to see how they choose to RING THE BELL. Please pledge ANY AMOUNT SOON so we can find out what they have in mind.
OUR 'DESIGNING' PRIEST -- Fr. Honeychurch has invited all interested parishioners to meet with him on what he is calling the Worship Design Committee. Lest anyone fear that he is considering a complete re-doing of the Liturgy, he made it clear that this is not his intention. Rather, it is his view that "God never asked us to be perfect -- but be fruitful and present". It is his hope that out of these meetings modest changes will be forthcoming which enhance the Liturgy for all.
Sue attended the first meeting and urged me to join her last Sunday. I am so glad I did. I find it really stimulating to be able to meet with Fr. Honeychurch, anytime, anywhere. The man thinks differently about everything, and the focus of this Committee is no different. Meeting this Sunday were Debbie Andersen, the Goluskins, Canon Phil Smith, The Rev. Ellen Wekall, Jonathan Burke, Sharon Crandall and us, and we ended up discussing how to enhance the celebrations of the various forthcoming Saints Days AND Veterans Day. I was surprised at how creative we became in talking about St. Luke's Day (providing a flu shot Forum and promoting Cleaver Clinic), All Saints Sunday, St. Nicholas Day (introducing the 'real' Santa Claus who spent considerable time in and around Bethlehem), and additional ways to say 'thank you' on Veterans Day which falls on Sunday this year. The Bottom Line is that he believes our experience in church should not be spent pulling us away from the world but directed towards sharing our world. This certainly works for us, and we look forward to future meetings with Fr. Honeychuch. The next meeting, open to all, is October 28 from 11:30 to 1:00 in the side chapel.
ALREADY, ONE IMMEDIATE CHANGE (AND A CHALLENGE TO YOU ALL) -- The second performance in the ELEVENTH (11) YEAR of Canon Phil Smith's "Music for a Season 2018-2019" will be Maurice Durufle's "REQUIEM", with a string orchestra and more! This is a BIG, BIG DEAL, and Canon Phil and Fr. Honeychurch have decided to move the performance from the November 4 10:00 Service to THURSDAY NIGHT, NOVEMBER 1 @ 7:30. This is both ALL SAINTS DAY EVENING and ALL SOULS EVE, I think.
The CHALLENGE? You need to put NOVEMBER 1 @ 7:30 on your calendar NOW; and then, contrary to everything Episcopalian, you need to promote. to market, this event to EVERYONE you know. Not only will Canon Phil and his Choir and his musicians provide at least a modicum of comfort and serenity to you in these trying times, you might also provide the same to a friend. Let us commit to fill the sanctuary in support of our magnificent music program!!!
INCLUDE US, EMBRACE US -- I keep current on what's going on in the Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Diocese of Los Angeles by reading their respective e-news publications. Very informative if you care about what's going on in our church, and I do. However, this can be frustrating from time to time as, and I was reminded of this last week when TEC published a lengthy article entitled "Ex-inmates learn to share their stories as Episcopal Church expands prisoner re-entry ministries". I read for seven pages, impressed with what several churches are doing to assist recently released prisoners; but I also was looking for any quotes or references to the work of Br. Dennis Gibbs and Sr. Greta Ronningen and PRISM. I found none!
Closer to home, as Bishop Taylor re-envisions the missions of the Diocese, I also have noted recently articles addressing housing affordability, addiction and recovery, immigration, health care, food sustainability AND the inordinate number of people of color incarcerated in our jails and prisons. Guess what? THE Church of Our Saviour is involved in EVERY ONE of these areas; and yet, I have not seen COS referenced in any article except an occasional vague mention of the Li Tim-Oi Center. To quote Pogo, one of my favorite American philosophers, "We have discovered the enemy and it is us!" Not "us COS" but the entire Episcopal Church's inability or disinclination to publicize, to connect the dots, to brag about the great work our denomination does around the world!!!
THE BANNER & THE WINDOWS: VISUALS WHICH MOVED ME LAST SUNDAY -- My heart never ceases to beat faster than when Jean Johnson's Church Of Our Saviour banner is included in the Entrance Procession. It just makes me feel so proud to be a parishioner in this church "Established 1867". Then, there is my view of the sanctuary at The Gospel when I am able to turn and see our beautiful stain glass windows. I take them for granted most of the time, but it's pretty hard to ignore them on a Sunday morning with the sun accentuating all of their vivid details. What a sanctuary!
PLEASE SUPPORT THE SAN MARINO TRIBUNE -- People are inclined these days to criticize the media for failing to cover the 'good' stories. particularly those involving faith based communities. Well, we have an prominent exception here in the West San Gabriel Valley in The San Marion Tribune. In fact, the new owners of the newspaper have dedicated a full page to the area churches, including space for a quarter page column submitted by the neighborhood clergy. Since Fr. Gary's retirement, Br. Dennis Gibbs has been our designated contributor, and his columns have been excellent. This is one valuable way to publicize COS in our area, and we need to thank The Tribune by subscribing.