The Beacon


"ROOTED, NOT STUCK"!!! -- What a remarkable 10:00 Sunday Service! Grace Chapel, a full house providing a wonderful and much needed intimacy, robust voices led by the Choir and a gentle breeze flowing through the open doors. And then, there was THE SERMON! Preacher Br. Dennis Gibbs creatively linked the Pharisees of the Holy Gospel of Mark (7:1-8, 14-15 and 21-23) and James Taylor in making the point that tradition should never trump the commandments of the heart.

    Br. Dennis reduced this to a three word phrase -- "Rooted, Not Stuck", and he made quite a point of recognizing Fr. Bob Honeychurch's leadership since his arrival at COS in introducing changes which expand our appreciation of the flexibility of Tradition. Sitting in Grace Chapel Sunday was proof of that point. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been in Grace Chapel since its dedication, and most of those were for the Kilian's Christmas Programs. This Service and the first one earlier in summer were very different, and my take-away is that those in attendance at both Sunday Services would embrace having more Services there.

    That said, you may be asking where James Taylor fits in all of this? In what was to me a very moving portion of the Sermon, Br. Dennis related his most recent experience at the Twin Towers Jail last Sunday. He stated that he spends a lot of time on the 9000 floor where the gay and 'trans' populations are housed. For that Communion Service Br. Dennis, with apologies to Canon Phil Smith, noted that rather than traditional hymns, he played two James Taylor songs on his iPhone. The opening song was "You Gotta A Friend", and he closed the Service with "Fire And Rain". Br. Dennis reported that there was an abundance of tears from the prisoners as the words of both songs resonated deeply with many of them. He obviously was very proud of the impact his change in the traditional Communion Service had had, and he characterized his decision as a great example of adhering to our roots while deviating somewhat from tradition. (Check out the lyrics to both songs; I did and was deeply moved.)

    Going forward in this period of transition, we can think of no better words to describe how THE Church of Our Saviour should be viewing its future -- ROOTS, NOT TRADITION!!!

"WILL THEY STILL NEED US, WILL THEY STILL HEED US, WHEN WE'RE 154?": REVISITED -- "Rooted, Not Stuck" was not a phrase familiar to us last week when we suggested that parishioners view COS in a linear fashion -- FROM THE ALTAR TO THE HOLY LAND. However, no phrase better describes how we hope COS will approach its future; rooted in 150 years of tradition but not stuck in the status quo. To reiterate, we believe we are presented with a fantastic opportunity to become a truly RELEVANT FAITH BASED INSTITUTION IN THE 21ST CENTURY!

    With this in mind, were we pitching COS to a priest interested in becoming our next Rector, here's what we would say.

    There is no greater opportunity in the Diocese of Los Angeles for a person of VISION. Yes, there 10 other parishes looking for priests right now, but THE Church of Our Saviour can offer everything every one of these churches can PLUS SO MUCH MORE. COS's parishioners have a broad array of interests and expertise, and they are ready, willing and able to work together with the new priest to re-establish COS as a Cardinal Parish in the Diocese.     

OUR SAVIOUR SUNDAY: CELEBRATING OUR ROOTS UNTRADITIONALLY -- Sunday, September 9 at 10:00 all of our congregations will worship together as we begin the NEW CHURCH YEAR. A lunch will be provided afterwards, with the entree provided by the Mandarin members and the desserts by the Anglo members. Afterwards, rather than having every ministry display its wares on campus which we can attest to being unproductive, EIGHT MINISTRIES invite us to visit them in their "natural habitats". These BREAK OUTS will include

  1. Hymns and Singing in the Choir Room with Canon Phil Smith

  2. A Stained Glass Tour in the Church with Betty Duker (FYI, we have been informed by Chris Tumilty at the Cathedral Center that our windows will be featured in the new Diocesan website.)

  3. Tour of the Community of Divine Love Monastery / Labyrinth with Br. Dennis and Sr. Greta.

  4. Youth Center Tour and Conversation about Youth Ministry with Gabe & Harper Vazquez-Reyes.

  5. Introduction to Basic Chinese Language Phrases with Members of the Mandarin Congregation.

  6. Cemetery Tour with Yuhadhi Sundaramoorthy.

  7. A Child's Garden School Tour with Evie Escatiola, Executive Director.

  8. Secrets of the Sacristy with Members of the Altar Guild.

ANGLICAN ROSARIES -- Sunday after Sunday a parishioner or staff person comes forward to share his or her interest, passion, knowledge or talent. The last two weeks it was Jonathan Burke discussing the Old and New Testaments and the Book of Common Prayer. This week it was Joanna Cory who shared the history of the Anglican Rosary, its components and how to pray with it. We were aware of the existence of Anglican Rosaries because The Rev. Canon Fuad Dagher, the Rector of our Sister Parish in Galilee, has gifted Pilgrims who visit St. Paul's with a Rosary. However, we never were fully aware of all of the nuances and possibilities associated with praying with the beads. Joanna filled in many of those gaps. If you would like to learn more yourself, log onto  

FANTASTIC "MESSENGER" -- We are blessed with an outstanding staff at COS, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the contributions made by Chris Case and Gabe Vazquez-Reyes in the production and distribution of the "Messenger" each week. This is an extremely important component of the church's ability to communicate, and now more than ever it is serving to keeping us current in this time of transition. In particular, last week's edition was comprehensive and informative as more and more ministries are submitting articles. Well done, Chris and Gabe, and thank you Carrie Voris for your role in heading up COS's Communications Committee with Gabe.

IN THE TRADITION OF SHERM TELLEEN AND JOAN BIERSCH AND BRENDAN KIM -- There are many ways to make a contribution at THE Church of Our Saviour. One of our first memories when we drove through the gates at 531 West Roses Road in 1992 was seeing Sherm Telleen up on a ladder pruning the lemon trees which he did for many years until his doctor said "No more". Then, there was Joan Biersch who formed the Lay Weeders to help maintain our beautiful grounds. She really loved this ministry, and she benefited many times from advice provided by parishioner Dr. Jim Folsom, the Marge and Sherm Telleen Director of Botanical Gardens at the Huntington Library. Most recently, you heard from Jane Fall, Executive Directive of Our Saviour Center, about the Eagle Scout project Brendan Kim completed at the Center. Along with friends and family, he re-landscaped the garden area outside the Food Bank and adjacent to the Clinic. As you come and go, why don't you consider picking a project which would make you feel good AND add to the beauty or better functioning of the church?          

HOW MUCH DOES A PRIEST COST TODAY? -- Based on the last financial statements we have seen (and that was some time ago), I think it is fair to characterize our financial condition as "substantially better than the average parish" in the Diocese. However, we have no idea whether or not our "cash flow" -- pledges, plate offerings and Endowment Draws -- are sufficient to meet the requirements of a highly qualified priest in 2018. At some point in the Parish Profile Process, I think it would be helpful to know what the "going rate" is, and how we are going to pay it.

"MAEZIE'S PUMPKIN PATCH": A SPECIAL HALLOWEEN GIFT IDEA FROM PARISHIONER LYNN MARTIN SNOWDEN -- Lynn, a long time teacher in Alhambra, co-authored this wonderful story with Kyle Sydney Powell, Maezie's granddaughter. This is a true story of a woman who took to growing a variety of pumpkins in her front yard in Chapman Woods. The pumpkins were noteworthy because some grew to enormous size which eventually drew the attention of vandals one year. Most were destroyed, and Maezie was devastated; but she began all over again, and this is that story. If you looking for a Halloween gift for a child or grandchild, this is the perfect gift for the season.

NETANYAHU IS NO MOSES: "A Reading From The Book Of Deuteronomy (4:12, 6-9) --

    "Moses said: So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors,is giving you....

    "You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!' For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is whenever we call to him? AND WHAT GREAT NATION HAS STATUTES AND ORDINANCES AS JUST AS THIS ENTIRE LAW THAT I AM SETTING BEFORE YOU TODAY?

    "But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as to neither forget the things that your eyes have seen nor let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children's children."