Saturday, December 29, 2012

All Saints Church hosts community call-to-action on gun violence

On Sunday, December 30th, Pasadena and Altadena pastors, law enforcement officials, community leaders and members will stand together at All Saints Church in Pasadena with a united voice to issue a community call-to-action in response to gun violence in our streets.

"When something is wrong like the gun violence plaguing our citizens, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another,” said All Saints’ Rector Ed Bacon. “The Pasadena community is standing strong together for peace and security in our neighborhoods,” said Ricky Pickens, Director of Prevention and Intervention Services at the Flintridge Center.

The community call-to-action in Pasadena and Altadena will include communicating messages of peace and hope in our neighborhoods; calling for respect for and respect by law enforcement in our communities and helping those who want to escape the cycle of gang violence.

Participants will include:

The Reverend Ed Bacon, Rector of All Saints Church;
Mayor Bill Bogaard, Mayor of Pasadena
Captain John Benedict, Altadena Sheriff’s Station;
Pastor Jean Burch, Community Bible Church;
Pastor Kerwin Manning, Pasadena Church;
Ricky Pickens, Flintridge Center;
Chief Phillip Sanchez, Pasadena Police Department;
William Syms and Porfirio Frausto, community leaders.

Sunday, December 30 |  3:00 p.m.
132 North Euclid Avenue
Pasadena CA 91101

For further information contact:
The Reverend Susan Russell – Senior Associate for Communications | 714.356.5718 -- mobile

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Dear Mr. President ..."

Ed Bacon writes to urge President Obama to turn this national moment of mourning over the shootings in Newtown into a national movement for gun safety.

To add your name, email the Peace & Justice Department at All Saints Church.


President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. President

On behalf of this community of faith, I want to express my deep gratitude for your strong expression of support for urgent action in the face of yet another horrific mass shooting in our nation. Parishioners join me in letting you know that you have our full support as you provide leadership in enacting measures that will help prevent these kinds of mass shootings, as well as the tragic loss of lives of no less than 32 men, women and children in our country every day.

While we still grapple with identifying a comprehensive and holistic response to the Newtown tragedy and others like it, including the need for more effective mental health and wellness programs in our communities, there are some immediate and necessary steps that we need to take regarding gun safety.

I strongly support the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that Senator Feinstein has said that she will introduce at the beginning of the new session of Congress. I support as well legislation that would require background checks on every gun purchase, including those at gun shows, and limiting the size of ammunition clips. As part of our continued commitment to this issue we will be mobilizing our parishioners, who live in as many as twenty different Congressional districts, to contact their Representatives to urge them to support new gun control legislation.

Early in our faith history the assembled people hear God speaking these words through Moses: “I set before you life and death, blessing or curse. Choose life, that you and your descendents may live.” We and our elected officials have that same choice today and must act with courage and the resolute determination that this epidemic of gun violence requires. As we in our faith tradition await the celebration of the birth of Jesus where the angels sang of their vision of peace on earth, we commit this parish to the task of making this a peaceful, safe and secure world for every cherished child of God.

The Reverend J. Edwin Bacon, Jr.

cc: Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker John Boehner, Senator Dianne Feinstein

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

CHRISTMAS 2012 @All Saints Church

Christmas Eve at All Saints

3 p.m. Family Candlelight Service
The rector and friends tell the Christmas story; Our chilrdens' choirs, the Mastersingers and Troubadours, directed by Jenny Price, offer music of Donnelly, Strid & Schram.

5:30 p.m. Festive Eucharist
Our youth choir, the Trouvères offer music of Tierny and Wilhousky, with instrumental ensemble, directed by Jenny Price.
Abel Lopez preaches.
This service will be signed by an American Sign Language interpreter.

8 p.m. Festive Eucharist
Canterbury Choir with chamber orchestra, offer Messe de Minuit pour Noël, by Charpentier, and music of Holst, directed by James Walker.
Ed Bacon preaches.
(Spanish language translation available).

11 p.m. Festive Eucharist
Coventry Choir with chamber orchestra, offer Mass in D Major by Dvorák, and music of Howells and Mathias, directed by James Walker.
Ed Bacon preaches.

Early arrival helps ensure seating. All Christmas Eve services are well attended, plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early.
Parking for 3 p.m. Christmas Eve service will be in the North Lot or underground at the Westin Hotel (enter from Union Street). For the 5:30, 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. services, parking will be available at the Kaiser parking structure or underground at the Westin Hotel (enter from Union Street).
Child care will be provided for all services.

Christmas Day at All Saints

10:30 a.m. Eucharist Susan Russell preaches, and Coventry Choir soloists sing carols arranged by David Willcocks. Child care is provided.
(Spanish language translation available).

New Year’s Eve Service
Monday, Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. in the Church. Canterbury Choir soloists offer music. Ed Bacon preaches. This special service is a wonderful way to prepare for the new year. Child care provided.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

We Get Mail

The fact that All Saints Church has been on the receiving end of hate mail in response to our hosting the 12th Annual National Convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) has been ... to put it mildly ... in the news.

Although the event has been on the calendar for months -- and All Saints Church being actively involved in interfaith activities is hardly "news" -- last Friday, November 30 an article appeared on a conservative blogsite critiquing both All Saints and MPAC. Entitled "California Church to Become Site of Islamist Convention" the article was sponsored by the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD) and full of mischaracterizations about MPAC as an organization and our friends Dr. Maher Hathout and Salam Al-Marayati as individuals.

Immediately after the article was posted, we began receiving emails protesting All Saints' involvement in the MPAC Convention and containing -- as Ed Bacon aptly named it  -- "some of the most vile, mean-spirited email I’ve ever read in my life."

Because the polemic nature of the correspondence so perfectly made evident the need for exactly the witness MPAC and All Saints are making by having a Muslim convention at a Christian church, we made the considered decision to go public with the challenges we were receiving -- to turn toxic rhetoric into teachable moments.

Ed preached about it in his sermon on Sunday.
Susan blogged about it in the Huffington Post on Monday.
All Saints and MPAC sent out a joint press release about it on Tuesday.
KNBC ran a story about it on Wednesday.
And on Thursday, we held a joint press conference where dozens of faith leaders stood in solidarity while
All Saints and MPAC leaders spoke to a bank of cameras representing every local media outlet and a national live-streaming audience.

Video of the press conference will be available on the All Saints YouTube Channel, and a number of news outlets have already posted stories, including:

The Los Angeles Times
The Washington Post
The Associated Press

"So how bad were the emails, actually?" is a question we've gotten. Some of them were quite honestly so bad that they are not going to see the light of day. But in the interest of transparency, here are a few select quotes:
The subject lines in the emails ranged from: “Don’t be gullible suckers” to “Muslim Public Affairs Council Convention -- a grave mistake”

“Islam is satanic garbage, indistinguishable from Nazism. Do not welcome the muzziescum into your church. They're like Body Snatchers.”

“I am dismayed that you would allow your church facilities to be used for the annual convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. When Dr. Maher Hathout of MPAC spoke at your sister church, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles his address was filled with lies and misleading statements. Dr. Hathout cannot tell you the truth about Islam because you would be offended and revolted.”

“You are Consorting with the Enemy that is Killing Christians Worldwide”

"It is not my purpose to call you names. It IS my purpose to recognize you for true stereotypes of the "useful idiot," first recognized and exploited by Lenin. The problem is that by providing cover and legitimacy to an organization dedicated to overthrowing the Constitution you endanger my country and my grandsons' future. And for that I cannot forgive you."

"You are contributing to the demise of all of Western (Christian based)civilization. You are making a grievous error."
As noted -- these are the printable ones. For more information on the MPAC Convention visit their website. And do keep our human race in your prayers. Clearly it has a ways to go until it becomes a human family.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tree Lighting & Carol Sing @All Saints Church, Pasadena

The annual All Saints Tree Lighting and Carol Sing is a wonderful opportunity to “ring in” the Christmas season.

Invite your friends, neighbors and family and join us for an informal 5:00 p.m. service upstairs in the Learning Center followed by carols, cocoa and a beautiful new tree to decorate and light together.

David Zink and Michelle Bloom will lead our music.

For more information contact Isabel Leus at 626.583.2733 or

Or RSVP to the Facebook event here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

“Lincoln, Leadership and the State of the Nation.”

Thursday, November 29 | 7:00 p.m.

All Saints Church in Pasadena will host a special evening of reflection on “Lincoln, Leadership and the State of the Nation.”

Inspired by the Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln,” Ed Bacon will lead a conversation about the film, about lessons on leadership and the workings of our democracy.

Ed will be joined by Jennifer Watts, Curator of Photographs at the Huntington Library and curator of the current exhibit “A Strange and Fearful Interest: Death, Mourning, and Memory in the American Civil War” [running through Jan. 14, 2013] Jennifer will speak about the exhibit and show photos from the collection.

Participants are encouraged to see the film and come prepared for an evening of information and inspiration.

The event will be live-streamed on the All Saints website
All Saints Church is located at 132 N. Euclid Avenue, Pasadena 91101
Parking and driving info here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Post-Election Day Message from Ed Bacon:

I am relieved that the arduous and polarizing 2012 presidential campaign has come to a decisive end with no challenge to the Electoral College victory and a notable margin in the popular-vote. Governor Romney delivered a dignified concession speech and President Obama offered a generous olive branch to his former opponent. I take hope from the president's words on Tuesday night, “We are not as divided as our politics suggest.” The electorate seems to be more unified in support of peace, public education, care and jobs for veterans, and health care in general, as well as equal rights for women, racial minorities, immigrants, and the LGBT community than many sensational media outlets would have us believe.

So this Sunday, November 11th,  I feel moved to preach about the relationship people of faith must have with the Oval Office, whoever sits there. I want to share some thoughts about our need to embody the transformed consciousness of universal compassion and justice to which Jesus calls us and how we might exercise our responsibility to do so.

I hope you will be present to join in a Eucharist of thanksgiving and challenge for this moment in our nation’s history. I will preach on People of Faith and Their President at the 7:30, 9:00 and 11:15 a.m. services.

For more information, visit the All Saints website.
To live-stream the 11:15 service, click here.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Episcopal Church Statement on Hurricane Sandy

Note particularly that this statement by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Gay Jennings contextualizes the disaster of Hurricane Sandy within our global family and incorporates the challenge of our call to be stewards of the planet. If you would like to donate to the good work of Episcopal Relief and Development you can do that online here or at the Action Table on the All Saints lawn on Sunday.

The storm called Sandy has wrought havoc northward hundreds of miles from its first Caribbean landfall, killing and injuring dozens of people in Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, the Bahamas, United States, and Canada. The destruction left in its path has deepened the misery of those still recovering from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti as well as hurricanes earlier this season. It is always the poorest who are most affected, although the news media have shown only a little of that reality. The impact in a principal metropolitan area of the United States has brought an unimagined level of destruction, and suffering that will long continue in the mid-Atlantic region. It has also brought home the reality of changing global weather and the kind of extreme climate events that are increasingly likely to confront us all. The effects of this storm are being felt far beyond the lands over which it has passed. May this remind of us of our shared community and tenancy on this fragile earth, our island home.

This is a time for reaching out to neighbors next door as well as farther abroad with solidarity and offers of basic human hospitality – food, water, electrical connections, showers and shelter – as well as money to assist the lengthy recovery that will be required everywhere this storm has moved. Episcopal Relief and Development began preparations with dioceses before the storm made landfall, and will continue to respond in the days and months ahead. Please be generous in prayer, and with funds and neighborly hospitality. Our Anglican neighbors gathered in New Zealand for the Anglican Consultative Council have been profligate with their prayers and expressions of concern. We know that God is with us in the midst of this suffering; you can help others to discover that reality through your own response. May the light of Christ shine through you, and may his light shatter the darkness.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President of the House of Deputies

Monday, October 29, 2012

All Saints Welcomes New Director of Peace & Justice

by Ed Bacon, Rector of All Saints Church

I am delighted to announce that Francisco Garcia is our new Director of Peace and Justice. After a national search to fill the position vacated by Carissa Baldwin-McGinnis, during which the search committee received more than 30 applications and conducted six interviews, Francisco was on the “short list” of those the search committee recommended to me. After further discernment, which included an interview with my staff colleagues and a homily preached at one of our noon-day eucharists, it became clear to me that Francisco was the perfect person to lead our varied peace and justice ministries at All Saints.

Francisco is no stranger to All Saints. He and his wife, Rebekah, found All Saints almost nine years ago through the internet. The Garcias immediately involved themselves in a variety of All Saints ministries reflecting their interests in Children, Youth & Families, Spiritual Growth, the 1 p.m. Sunday liturgy, as well as Peace & Justice. He and Rebekah have been married since 2001 and have two daughters.

In 2008, Francisco entered our discernment program for those interested in being ordained to the priesthood. His discernment committee enthusiastically recommended him to the Vestry and me. Francisco will be ordained to the diaconate this coming June and, God willing, to the priesthood in January, 2014.

Our search process explicitly focused on applicants who were bilingual, had a community organizing background and a pastoral presence, and who could communicate persuasively about peace and justice issues. The intention was that this individual would be a clergyperson, preferably an Episcopal priest. Francisco embodies all of our highest desires.

Born in the San Gabriel Valley to Mexican immigrant parents and raised in the working-class community of Baldwin Park, Francisco attended UCLA where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American Studies and Public Policy, and concurrent Masters degrees in Urban Planning and Latin American Studies. Since 2004 Francisco has worked with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as a labor organizer, negotiator and division director. He has over a dozen years experience in faith and community organizing, advocacy, and leadership development.

In his application letter, Francisco wrote:
“Early on at All Saints, I was struck by a quote by Frederick Buechner that I read in my Covenant I folder, and later heard throughout the church: ‘The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.’ I have been able to make full sense of this statement at All Saints. While my organizing and activism had always been spiritually motivated, I was able to find theological grounding and explore this feeling with greater intention. I found an expansive vocabulary and an affirmation of this work at All Saints.

This led me to explore a call to ordained ministry to continue this pursuit of God’s call to liberating love, justice and compassion for all people and all faiths. All Saints has fed my spirit as I continue to engage in activism and organizing work. I am excited at the prospect of continuing this work at All Saints in a staff leadership capacity.”
Francisco’s first Sunday will be November 4, All Saints Sunday. For his first few months with us, until he completes his course requirements for the Master of Divinity degree, he will be on campus on Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays. Upon graduation in June he will work full-time.

I could not be happier about this amazing human being stepping into this important position at All Saints. I am eager for you to get to know him.

Grace in Action: Proclaiming the Good News

Every time we renew our baptismal promises we hear the words “Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?” and we answer together, “I will, with God’s help.”

There are as many ways to proclaim the Good News of Christ as there are people to proclaim it. Saint Francis of Assisi famously said, “Preach the gospel at all times: use words when necessary.” At All Saints Church we proclaim the Good News by putting our faith into action through outreach, advocacy and activism – by spirituality, community and peace & justice. And through the marvels of “multiplatform communication” we now have even more ways to proclaim that Good News out into the world.

On Facebook, members of the All Saints Facebook Group stay up to date on with each other and with upcoming events – posting pictures, comments and links to articles of interest. On twitter, followers of #ASCpas get links to our latest sermons, forums and publications. Our YouTube channel is updated every week and provides an archive of Sunday sermons and Rector’s Forums -- and have been live-streaming the Rector's Forum on our website since 2010.

And beginning this fall we are now live-streaming the 11:15 service via “U-stream” – opening up a whole new way for those outside the physical walls of All Saints Church to be part of the Sunday morning experience that is so much a part of the All Saints we love: the prophetic preaching, powerful music and beauty of the liturgy is proclaiming – by word and example – the radical Good News of God’s inclusive love available to all.

The Good News that provides both comfort and challenge to those who fill the pews at 132 North Euclid Avenue every Sunday morning is now also comforting and challenging those who are experiencing for the very first time the power of the message “whoever you are and wherever you find yourself there is a place for you here” on their computer monitor, laptop or iPad. And never doubt for a minute that the power of that message can and does reach out and change lives. From an email received from an online viewer:
You make me want to believe in God. I think you have interpreted with love, kindness, and thoughtfulness the true doctrine of Christ. As a non-Christian for what it's worth, you make me wish I believed, so I could belong to a church like yours.
Your support of the work and witness of All Saints Church helps make transformational moments like these happen. Grace in Action – one Facebook post, Twitter feed, YouTube clip and live-stream view at a time!

Hurricane Sandy

Looking at all the status updates from east coast friends while watching the storm reports reminds both how connected and how fragile our lives are. Be safe. Be loving. Be aware.
O God, in you we find safety. As we prepare for the arrival of the storm, may we be gathered in the safety of your loving embrace. As we face the possibility of danger through lost power and damaged, keep us and our dear ones safe. May your love for us unite us -- and support us; and enable us to support those for whom danger breaches their hope. Amen.
[Mark Beckwith, Bishop of Newark]

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Reflections on All Hallows, All Saints and All Souls by Bishop Mary Glasspool

From the "Unofficial Letter from Bishop Suffragan Mary D. Glasspool, Volume II, Number 16 [10/19/2012]

In the Church's liturgical year, the word "triduum" refers to a series of three days recognized in connection with one another. The word usually refers to the three days immediately preceding Easter Sunday: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday - or Easter Eve, on which we celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter.

Many people are familiar with the "Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Eve" triduum. But there is another triduum in the Christian Liturgical Year - another set of three days - that we are not so familiar with - at least, not in its liturgical form. All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day form a fall "triduum" - three days connected to one another with a common theme. The theme is death; and the connection is the Communion of Saints - that same "Communion of Saints" that we confess our belief in every time we say the Creed.

Perhaps you are among the majority of people who do not think All Hallows Eve - or "Halloween" - is of any particular religious significance. Truly, Halloween has become a highly commercialized season of decorations, clever costumes, tricks, treats, parties, and laughter. But the name applied to the evening of October 31, is most definitely derived from the Christian Feast of All Saints, which is also known as "All Hallows". And the observances connected with Halloween, many of which originated among the ancient Druids and Celts, yet have something to do with the theme of death throughout these three days.

There is much laughter around Halloween. We watch, with great amusement, mostly younger people disguise themselves as more traditional ghosts, skeletons, witches, and then the more recent scary things: vampires, Avengers and (aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!) Angry Birds. They have parades and parties showing off their costumes, gathering candy, bobbing for apples, and maybe visiting a haunted house.

The ancient Druids believed that on that evening, Saman, the lord of the dead, called forth hosts of evil spirits. The ancient Celts believed that the spirits of the dead revisited their earthly homes on that evening. So the traditions that grew out of these beliefs were for the purposes of warding off the evil spirits, and disguising oneself against the dead.

We laugh, in healthy ways, at the cleverness and creativity of our costumed young people. Yet beneath the surface of this laughter, is the subtle, intuitive sense that we are facing death, and keeping death at bay, at least for the time being.

All Hallows; All Saints; All Souls. In a lighter vein, I call this triduum: "Spooks, Saints, and Souls". They are connected with the theme of death.

If we can step away from the increasing commercialization of All Hallows - Halloween - we might notice that in the carnival celebrations of our ancestors: the Druids, the Celts, and the Mexicans (Día de los Muertos); they used the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal to confront the power of death - the power of humor and ridicule.

The following day, in the commemoration of All Saints, we give witness to the victory of incarnate goodness embodied in the remarkable deeds of remarkable people, who, in their own lives, triumphed over the powers of evil and darkness. And in the commemoration of All Souls, we proclaim the hope of common mortality expressed in our aspirations and expectations of a shared eternity in God's nearer presence with all those we love.

It is hard to look death in the face, and say to death, "I know I'll see you again." But it is even harder to look into the eyes of someone who is dying and say, "I know I'll see you again." That is why we need these three, precious days.

We need them to be reminded about death. Death is a part of life. Maybe we need to be reminded that we're in it together. If our belief in the Communion of Saints is a big gamble; then at least we're taking that gamble with a whole host of others, both past and present.

But most of all, we need these three days to be reminded, when facing our own mortality, that it's God who took the biggest gamble. God bet the farm on one person; and that person, through his life, ministry, death, and Resurrection, showed us, as clearly as can be seen in this life, that death is a part of life; that God does overcome evil; and that love is more powerful than death. It's hard. But it's the truest thing I know.

God’s Peace, +Mary

Monday, October 22, 2012

Grace in Action: Overcoming Adversity With Support

Brenda had a disturbing premonition that her 10-month-old daughter was going to die.

She had given birth to twins Charlotte (Cha Cha) and Henry in January 2010, who were then baptized at the All Saints Easter Vigil. Throughout their first year the family attended a few All Saints services.

“It wasn’t until they were 15 months old that I finally put them in All Saints’ Sunday morning child care and attended church without them. It was incredibly difficult to leave them. That night I felt Cha Cha’s tumor.”

A pediatric physician assistant (PA) for 20 years, Brenda could feel that Cha Cha’s liver was enlarged. It turned out to be Stage 3 (of 4) hepatoblastoma – liver cancer. The tumor was inoperable. Cha Cha was given a 50 percent chance of surviving five years.

“The first night in the hospital I sobbed uncontrollably. But the next day I moved into acceptance and began our new life.”

Over the next six months Cha Cha underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and five surgeries. She and her mom spent 34 nights in the hospital, “away from Henry, away from home.”

There was a moment before Cha Cha’s first surgery, when Brenda was aware that something was happening. After spending a day and night absolutely terrified, Cha Cha was tranquil for 30 minutes, even as her mama kissed her goodbye and told her she loved her.

Soon after, when Wilma Jakobsen brought prayer shawls to the hospital, she told Brenda that many critically ill people have experienced a feeling of being carried, held or hugged.

“That was the moment of realization. I had undeniable faith that God was taking care of her.”

After the second round of chemotherapy, the tumor shrank and became operable.

“The day her tumor was removed I stopped feeling that she would die.”

When they weren’t in the hospital, they had 11 appointments a week – blood transfusions, outpatient chemotherapy, occupational therapy, and visits to the John Tracy Clinic to help with hearing loss from the chemotherapy.

“We lived in the car if we weren’t in the hospital.”

Children’s Minister Laura Thornton visited the family at their house and brought homemade potato leek soup. She encouraged Brenda to try the Thursday morning group, God, My Parents and Me.

“This group of mommies was so amazing. After Charlotte finished treatment, they helped me heal. They helped me feel like myself again – actually, a better version of myself.”

The group was so important that when Brenda returned to work after nine months away, she used vacation days to keep attending on Thursdays. Soon she joined the Parent Culture Group on Sundays, and today she is in the new member class.

“I started going back to church for Henry and Cha Cha. But now I realize I’m going for me.”

Cha Cha responded well to the treatments, and her chances of survival are now 90 – 100 percent. Her language skills and physical development are back on target. She and Henry laugh, shriek, vie for chocolate, run around the house and greet the mailman – just as you’d expect from energetic 2 ½-year-olds.

“These babies are the greatest joy I've ever known.”

Brenda is now on the executive board of Terrific Twosome Mothers of Multiples, in September she passed her board PA licensure test for California. She volunteers at All Saints’ Children, Youth & Families activities, practices yoga, has planted an organic garden and has started cooking again.

When asked why she pledges to All Saints, she explains:

“Families often identify themselves by their activities. I have met beach families, camping families and Dodger families. I’ve decided we are an All Saints family. I pledge because of gratitude. We have benefitted in countless ways from so much that All Saints offers. I want to make sure that in the future others have the same opportunities.”

# # #

Your pledges help support essential outreach and support programs like the Children, Youth & Families ministries.

Photo Caption: Cha Cha, Brenda and Henry with the trees they got at All Saints 3:00 p.m. Family Christmas Eve Service in 2010.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Grace in Action: Making A Joyful Noise!

"What brought you to All Saints Church?”
“The music.”
“What keeps you here?”
“The music! It takes me places. It’s the way I worship.”
The mission of the music ministry is to lead the All Saints community in liturgies that glorify God, move the heart and challenge the mind—all with great variety, color and reverence. Two adult choirs of 55 voices each and five children’s and youth choirs comprise the music program. These men, women and children give of their gifts to lead us all in worship, experiencing transformation themselves in the process. Enhancing our worship are the occasional instrumental ensembles throughout the year.

Gospel bands, jazz ensembles, brass quartets, chamber orchestras have all enriched our liturgical life—adding just that certain something to take our worship to an even higher level. Notes received following such Sunday experiences indicate ways in which this music touches those who receive it— “extraordinarily moving,” “thank you for stirring our souls,” so potent in its ability to heal,” “my grief was transformed by love,” tears were in my eyes because of such intense beauty.”

Our new director of Children’s Music was drawn to this program, in part, because it was clearly respected and valued by the entire parish. The many kids and parents involved with the program are deeply committed to this program that enriches the quality of our worship as it teaches young people leadership and musical skills.

Because of the financial crisis, we were forced to cut the Music budget in 2009 to enable us to balance the church budget. These budget cuts forced us to eliminate many of the musical offerings that have brought such joy and transformation to worshippers.

It is the aspiration of the Vestry and Staff that we would someday be able to bring the music budget back to 2008 levels which would enable us not only to provide instrumental accompaniment for special services but to provide scholarships for young people to fully participate in trips and special outings.

Your generous pledges and contributions provide for the music that inspires, teaches and transforms.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Marianne Williamson: "Politics from the Inside Out"

Marianne Williamson has a bold vision. Her goal is nothing less than the creation of a new conversation in American politics -- and she wants this conversation to lead to a new foundation for political involvement, based on principles of higher consciousness.

Inspired by this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. ...
Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”
... Williamson is convinced that people on a spiritual path are the very people who should be engaging the great social and political questions of today.

"There is nothing spiritual about complacency,” she says calling for an engaged spirituality rooted in the truth that "what we don't engage, we can't transform." Putting her energy where her concerns are, Williamson is mounting a major conference in Los Angeles this November to provide spiritual and political tools with which to re-envision our political possibilities.

Come be enlightened, informed, inspired and challenged by Marianne Williamson's bold vision as she makes her first visit to the All Saints Rector's Forum on Sunday, October 14 at 10:15am with a presentation entitled "Politics From the Inside Out: New Consciousness. New Politics."

For more information visit the All Saints website or call 626.796.1172
To live stream the Forum on Sunday morning click here.

The author of 10 books, four of which were #1 best sellers on the New York Times list, Williamson founded the meals-on-wheels program Project Angel Food, began a grass-roots campaign to establish a United States Department of Peace, and has been a popular guest on Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America and Charlie Rose.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Community Witnesses to Grace in Action

Members of the Community Speak Out for All Saints at City Council

As Ed Bacon reminds us, “The measure of a healthy church is that the people outside the church have better lives.”

Since its founding All Saints has developed, and continues to evolve, more than 200 ministries and has fostered some of the largest non-profit agencies in this city, thanks to you and to many who came before you.

At a City Council meeting last April, the public hearing on our Master Development Plan and the Final Environmental Impact Report for our building project concluded with nearly four hours of testimony from community members in support of our need for more space for our ministry.

In talking about All Saints, they were talking about you – each one of you who works passionately, generously and tirelessly to make God’s love tangible to people in our community. Here’s what some of them had to say about your work through the church:

Christy Zamani | Executive Director of Day One

“All Saints has been a great gift to our city. They’ve started so many great organizations, like Day One, Young & Healthy, AIDS Service Center, Union Station, and so many more. They know how to listen to the community.”

Salam Al-Marayati | President of Muslim Public Affairs Council

“All Saints Church represents religious diversity not just in word, but in spirit and in action. It’s a place where I can have conversations with Jews and Christians about peacemaking. In order to have homeland security, we have to have human security. All Saints Church provides human dignity that provides that human security.”

Gerda Govine | Co-founder of City Conversations

“I was one of the people who worked with Lorna Miller to start City Conversations about difficult topics and difficult issues. [All Saints] has its fingerprints all over Pasadena. It helps make Pasadena what Pasadena has become. I’ve never been a member, but that hasn’t stopped me from being involved, and it hasn’t stopped the church from reaching out.”

Paul Jan Zdunek | Chief Executive of the Pasadena Symphony Association

“All Saints and Pasadena Symphony Association have a great partnership. We provide outreach and educational events to this community together. And All Saints Church, as you’ve heard many times tonight, is less of a church building and more of a community center.”

Mary Donnelly-Crocker | Executive Director of Young & Healthy

“I love the fact that Young & Healthy was birthed and incubated by OCC [Office of Creative Connections] at All Saints. OCC was given as a gift to the city as a present to celebrate the 100th birthday of the church. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. Young & Healthy is just one of the many organizations that was created for this community – created to change lives. Young & Healthy alone has changed 23,000 little lives.”

Robert Floe | Pasadena Entrepreneur

“I’m a 25-year resident, 25-year business owner. I give 10-20 percent to the non-profits of Pasadena. I’m not a member of All Saints. I was approached to donate to the [building] project. And the only reason I’m doing it – and I’m doing it significantly – is because they’re going to build a building that’s going to create new non-profits that we’ve never heard of. I really urge you… let’s get this on.”
We are so grateful to the members of the community for their support and to each of you for your dedication to the work of All Saints. Through your generous donations of your time, your talents and your financial resources, we’re able to put God’s love and grace into action in our city.

We appreciate all you give!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Religious Patriot and the Presidential Election

Voting is a sacred act. As members of a faith community, we look at candidates and propositions through a particular lens: How are the values of justice, compassion and inclusion expressed in an election? How should followers of Jesus (and Moses, Buddha and Mohammed) live out their values in their votes? And where is the line between voting our values and partisan politics?

At All Saints Church we have a long history of actively engaging in the political process while strongly opposing partisanship in the pulpit. This Sunday, October 7th, has been named “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” by certain clergy, an ill-conceived movement confusing pulpit freedom with partisan politics. As Ed Bacon said in 2005, in response to an IRS challenge to All Saints for preaching peace in a time of war, "Faith in action is called politics. Spirituality without action is fruitless and social action without spirituality is heartless. Having a partisan-free place to stand liberates the religious patriot to see clearly, speak courageously, and act daringly.”

At the 10:15 a.m. Rector’s Forum this Sunday, in “The Religious Patriot and the Presidential Election,” we will explore what we’ve learned since 2005 and why our commitment to the “both/and” of political engagement and partisan-free advocacy remains a bedrock of All Saints prophetic ministry. After a values-based critique of both party platforms, there will be an opportunity for questions and comments. Come to be informed and inspired!

For more information call 626-296-1172
To live-stream the Rector's Forum from the All Saints website click here

Monday, October 1, 2012

All Saints Hosts Presidential Debate Viewing Forum

Wednesday October 3, 5:30 - 8:00pm
All Saints Church Forum
132 North Euclid Avenue, Pasadena 91101

Followed by community dialogue. Bring snacks and beverages of your choice!

How do the candidates' platforms measure up theologically? Why do their political philosophies matter? As followers of Christ, do we have a moral obligation to participate in the political process?

Sponsored by All Saints Civic Engagement which seeks to be a catalyst in bringing God's Kingdom down to earth through civic engagement.
  • We seek to restore a sense of community outside the immediate church grounds through creative, strategic, persistent and local concrete action.
  • We seek to normalize and attract greater citizen participation in the body politic through justice and peace focused activities, engaging multiple All Saints ministries in ways that bind the ASC community more closely to our calling to be God's hands and feet in the world.
For more information, contact Civic Engagement co-leaders Patrick Briggs and Maddie Gavel-Briggs at (626) 296-1607.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Grace in Action: Commitment to Peace & Justice

“‘Director of Peace and Justice’! Wow! Never knew a church that was that serious about social justice.” These were the first words in a letter from a man in long-term solitary confinement at Pelican Bay Prison, one of many letters of gratitude our parish received in response to the notes that parishioners wrote at our Action Table this past year.

Our holy history begins with the story of God creating human-kind in God’s image, endowing every person with worth and dignity. This provides the foundation for placing peacemaking and social justice at the center of this parish—in preaching, prayer, public witness, enduring interfaith relationships, and bold action in confronting systems and structures of oppression and destruction. Parishioners respond to the call of the Hebrew prophets for economic and distributive justice when organizing in support of fair benefits for grocery workers, marching in support of warehouse workers and immigration reform, participating in delegations to offices of elected officials, demonstrating in support of immigration reform and many other actions of public witness and civic engagement.
Jesus’ teaching and ministry call us to commitment to the well-being of the whole person, especially those of us at the margins of society. Followers of Jesus at All Saints are actively engaged with people in our communities in a wide range of ways. Some of these many involvements include tutoring and mentoring young people, providing dinner at the Bad Weather Shelter, offering hospitality to homeless women at The Women’s Room, or participating in worship and visitation at Men’s Central Jail.

St. Paul spoke to the early Christian church about the importance of equipping the saints for the work of ministry. This past year, our offerings for equipping the saints in our parish included a series on the theory and strategy of non-violent social change led by civil rights giant, the Rev. James Lawson. Biblical scholar Ched Meyers inspired parishioners to make commitments to personal practices more aligned with God’s vision for justice and sustainability. The Rev. Alexia Salvatierra provided training for faith-based organizing. The monthly Conscientious Projector series continues to bring a broad world-view and voices of the voiceless into our community through film and discussion.

The month of October provides an opportunity to reflect on our stewardship of the tremendous potential of this large and diverse parish to fulfill our Baptismal covenant to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” The size and geographic range of our parish provides the capacity for significant impact on public policy.

Our Action Table letters typically reach as many as 17 Congressional or state legislative districts. Just one example of this advocacy potential is that of the Foster Care Project’s mobilization of letters in support of a state bill to provide expanded services for foster care youth. The Office for Creative Connections Director Juliana Serrano was invited to the Governor’s signing ceremony in recognition of the key role that the Foster Care Project/Action Table letters played in the decision of Governor Schwarzenegger to sign this bill into law.

Yes, this is a parish that is serious about social justice and peacemaking, and every pledging or contributing member of this parish is engaged in this mission. Your pledge supports a full-time Director of Peace and Justice, our OCC administrative staff, and more than a dozen Peace and Justice Ministries.

“Send us now into the world” is our prayer at the end of every Sunday liturgy, as this assembled community of faith disperses into the community to bring about a more just, peaceful, compassionate and sustainable world for every person, each a precious child of God.

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Your pledges support our Peace & Justice ministries!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

From Our Archives: Interfaith Peace Service

In 2007 over 600 Muslims, Christians and Jews gathered together to pray for peace and to celebrate the common heritage of their shared Abrahmic faiths. This video is offered today in the ongoing hope that the prayers for peace will overcome the calls for violence and we will one day become the human family we were created to be.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Response to Libyan Attack by All Saints Rector Ed Bacon


The tragic deaths in Libya are a reminder that we must be careful of the “gangs” we belong to. We must not let our religious faith lead us to behave in violent and divisive ways.

The responsibility of every global citizen today is to refuse to be led by irresponsible extremism posing as one of the Abrahamic religions. When Christian extremism fuels the fires of faith-based violence, it is our responsibility to stand up and to speak out as Christians in defense of authentic Christian values: love, justice, and compassion.

Make no mistake about it: the so-called Christian pastor who stirred this act of bigotry against Islam has hijacked Christianity.”

The truth is that all the world religions advocate living out of the House of Love, not the House of Fear – and one of our most deeply held convictions is that to be religious in the 21st century is to be interreligious. We can not stand by while fear is leveraged into demonization and polarization against any other beloved child of God. We must encourage all people of good will -- religious or not -- to overcome hatred and fear with love by seeking to understand Islam as a religion of peace.

As a priest and pastor, my Christian faith has been strengthened by sharing the Ramadan journey with my Muslim brothers and sisters and by celebrating the High Holy Days with my Jewish colleagues. We are called as followers of Jesus to love our neighbors as ourselves – all our neighbors. And bigotry against any class of people or religion is not only antithetical to the core values of our Christian faith, it plays into the hands of fear mongers and of those who profiteer from war.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself ...

... there is a place for you here!

This video was just "launched" for use in our newcomer/welcome ministry -- and we thought it WAY too fabulous not to share. (See also: Matthew 5:16)

ENJOY ... and then remember: next Sunday (September 16th) is Homecoming Sunday ... Join Us -- and bring a friend!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Looking Ahead: Upcoming Speakers @ASC in the 2012-2013 Program Year


January 28, 2013: John Philip Newell | March 17/18, 2013: Marcus Borg

Fasten your seatbelts for a truly extraordinary year of opportunities to be inspired by a compelling slate of speakers, teachers, authors and activists during the 2012-2013 program year at All Saints Church. On the Rector's Forum (Sunday mornings at 10:15 a/m/) schedule so far:

We are delighted to welcome back Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite to kick off this year’s Rector’s Forum series. She will be joined by Najeeba Syeed-Miller, a Muslim contributor to the book  Interfaith Just Peacemaking to explore the idea of “Just Peace” theory as an alternative to “Just War.” Book will be available to order.

Magna-cum-laude Harvard grad, tenured professor, in-demand preacher, and author of popular as well as academic books and blogs Monica Coleman opens up her life in her book Not Alone — offering the hard-won wisdom that she’s obtained as she’s wrestled with God and with depression. Books will be on sale in the Forum.

November 25 | PAUL ZAK
What is our nature as human beings? How is it that we can engage in heroic acts of compassion and also perpetrate heinous acts of violence? Dr. Paul Zak explores this dichotomy in his book The Moral Molecule, which takes us on a journey he made from the laboratories to the jungles in search of what it means to be human. Books will be on sale in the Forum

December 16 | BRIAN McLAREN Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? is the compelling title of Brian McLaren’s latest book—proposing a new faith alternative, one built on "benevolence and solidarity rather than rivalry and hostility." McLaren will offer tools to move beyond mere tolerance to vigorous hospitality toward, interest in, and collaboration with the other. Books will be on sale in the Forum.

For more information visit the All Saints website or call 626.796.1172

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Preaching non-violence in violent times

At All Saints Church the senseless tragedy of the recent gun violence in Aurora, Colorado has called us to recommitment to being non-violent agents of change in our ongoing work of turning the human race into the human family.

On Sunday, July 29th we will be gifted with the presence of the Reverend Dr. James Lawson in the All Saints Church pulpit. Dr. Lawson is a true giant of justice – a hero of the Civil Rights movement, a powerful advocate and architect of the principles of non-violent direct social action and a dynamic and prophetic preacher.

In response to the Aurora tragedy the church will also be providing a tool-kit for non-violence to members at the Action table on the lawn. This toolkit will include information about online petitions to President Obama and Mitt Romney, plus resources for writing to Senate and House Leadership expressing support for several gun control measures.

Dr. Lawson will preach at both the 9:00 and 11:15am services.
More info on visiting All Saints Church here

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Reach for the Stars: The Legacy of Sally Ride

by Susan Russell ...  cross-posted on The Huffington Post

The news of the passing of Sally Ride -- a bona fide American hero and our first woman astronaut -- struck home here at All Saints Church in Pasadena as not just a public loss but as a personal grief. Sally's mother and sister are much-loved members of our parish community, and so her death after a valiant fight against pancreatic cancer took not only an iconic figure in our collective history but a member of our extended family.

The day after her loss, Sally's sister Bear shared some thoughts about her sister's life and death with us -- and I offer those here with her blessing:
Sally Ride was the first American woman to go into space and she was my big sister. Sally died peacefully on July 23 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. I was at her side. We grew up in Encino, Calif. Our parents, Joyce and Dale Ride encouraged us to study hard, to do our best and to be anything we wanted to be. In 1983, Newsweek quoted our father as saying, "We might have encouraged, but mostly we just let them explore."

Our parents encouraged us to be curious, to keep our minds and hearts open and to respect all persons as children of God. Our parents taught us to explore and we did. Sally studied science and I went to seminary. She became an astronaut and I was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. Sally lived her life to the fullest with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless. Sally died the same way she lived: without fear.

Sally's signature statement was "Reach for the Stars." Surely she did this and she blazed a trail for all the rest of us. My sister was a very private person. Sally had a very fundamental sense of privacy. It was just her nature -- maybe because we're Norwegians, through and through. People did not know she had pancreatic cancer and so this is bound to be a huge shock. For 17 months, nobody knew -- and now everyone knows. Her memorial fund is going to be in support of pancreatic cancer.

Most people did not know that Sally had a wonderfully loving relationship with Tam O'Shaughnessy for 27 years. Sally never hid her relationship with Tam. They were partners, business partners in Sally Ride Science; they wrote books together and Sally's very close friends, of course, knew of their love for each other. We consider Tam a member of our family. I hope the pancreatic cancer community is going to be absolutely thrilled that there's now this advocate that they didn't know about.

And, I hope the LGBT community feels the same. I hope it makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them.
I hope so, too. I hope that this great American hero -- the woman who inspired a generation of girls to reach for the stars in math and science -- will also inspire a generation of LGBT youth to reach for the stars in their lives and relationships.
I hope her example of 27 years of faithful commitment to the love-of-her life will demonstrate that it is indeed possible to balance career and family -- to make a difference and to make a home.

And finally, I hope that her legacy will contribute not only to curing pancreatic cancer but to healing homophobia. The greatest tribute we can pay to the work and witness of Sally Ride is to follow her example in living our lives with as much energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love as we can muster -- and to be curious, keep our minds and hearts open and to respect all persons as children of God -- because we don't have to be astronauts to reach for the stars.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Fence Between Fear and Possibility

Sermon for the 7:30 a.m. service @ All Saints Church in Pasadena -- Susan Russell

Sunday, July 22, 2012

As most of you know, I am just back from the Episcopal Church’s General Convention -- our every three year conglomeration of liturgy, legislation and shopping – held this year in Indianapolis. This was my eighth General Convention and my first as a deputy -- and I was honored to represent the Diocese of Los Angeles in the legislative process which is one of the “councils of the church.”

And it was quite a process. We studied up on, prayed about, debated over and voted on a wide range of issues -- from a church-wide response to bullying to committing to work for a just peace in the Middle East to making our non-discrimination canons transgender inclusive to adopting prayers for the loss of beloved animals. Just to name a few. We passed a budget focused on mission, created a task force to intentionally plan for major organizational restructure and committed to a three year study of the history and theology of marriage.

And we also worshiped, prayed, sang and heard from some very fine preachers … including our Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. It was her Sunday morning sermon that gave me the title for this reflection this morning – “the fence between fear and possibility” -- and what it was going to be was an opportunity to “unpack” the events at General Convention – including a couple of amusing, anecdotal stories of who did what when -- and concluding with why I think what we did in Indianapolis matters to All Saints Church in Pasadena.

And then Aurora Colorado happened. And it was clear this sermon wasn’t going to go where I thought it was.

And yet, when I turned back to quote from the Presiding Bishop I found that her words were just as relevant to our post-Aurora world as they were before the gunman armed with an arsenal of assault weapons opened fire in that crowded movie theater:
Until we can see the chasm between what is and what ought to be, we don’t have any hope of changing. Indeed it is the act of crossing that boundary between what is and what ought to be that is so characteristic of prophets. When Jesus is called a prophet, it has to do with erasing the boundary between God and human flesh. Prophetic words of comfort or challenge urge a kind of frontier work – getting across the fence between fear and possibility, reconciling division, transforming injustice, urging the lost onto the road home.
Bishop Jefferts Schori preached those words to us in the context of a General Convention wrestling with the challenges of re-imagining and restructuring our church to meet the challenges of mission and ministry in the 21st century. She was preaching to a congregation of people who love their church and strive to live out the Gospel while not always agreeing with each other about how to do both of those things. And she was challenging us – and, I suspect, challenging herself (because we know all the best sermons are actually the preacher preaching to the preacher) – to suck it up and get over that fence between fear and possibility in order to bridge the gap between what is and what ought to be in our church and in our world.

This morning what “is” is that the arsenal of weapons the gunman used to kill twelve and injure nearly sixty others were obtained legally. And what “ought to be” are reasonable gun control laws making the kind of carnage we saw in Aurora Colorado not only unimaginable but impossible. In the words of satirist Andy Borowitz – via twitter this morning: "Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I wish mental health care were as easy to get as, say, a gun."

And that, my brothers and sisters, is a tweet that deserves and “Amen.”

It not only deserves an “amen” but it deserves our best energies committed to getting over whatever fences stand between what “is” – a world where fear dominates our discourse, pollutes our politics and feed violence – and what “ought to be” – what Jesus called “the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

I have often quoted Verna Dozier from this pulpit and I’m going to do it again. Dr. Dozier famously said, “Don’t tell me what you believe. Tell me what difference it makes that you believe.” And this morning in the All Saints Church chapel we gather to be fed by word and sacrament not just because we believe – but because we believe we are called to make a difference. Called to climb the fence between fear and possibility. Called to refuse to settle for what “is” but to work together with God to create what “ought to be.”

And that brings me back to some of the good news out of the just completed General Convention of the Episcopal Church. We’ve gotten some press out of the gathering – mostly around the movement forward on the fuller inclusion of LGBT people in the work and witness of the church. And by telling what we believe – by putting our faith into action through the legislation passed in Indianapolis – here are a few examples of the difference we are making in comments received on some of the online stories, blogs and news sites:

Here’s one from the Huffington Post: “In response to this story I immediately went on Google and found a local Episcopal Church to attend on Sunday (they even have a female priest), I am very excited...”

And here’s another: “It's amazing that some churches can go out of their way to make sure everyone feels welcome. Someday I may walk into your church just to see what it’s about. KristineE.”

And finally this moving email from “Melissa” -- “You make me want to believe in God. I think you have interpreted with love, kindness, and thoughtfulness the true doctrine of Christ. For what it's worth, you make me wish I believed, so I could belong to a group with you as such a member. I think the Episcopal Church just may save the soul of Christianity with its open and affirming love, which is truly Christ-like in my opinion.”

Having climbed over the fence between the fear of who would leave if we included everybody at the table, the Episcopal Church is now – finally – moving forward into the possibilities open to us as we sing a new church into being … one of faith and love and praise … committed to love, justice and compassion. Stepping out of the “house of fear” we are building “the house of love” – and, as the witness of those comments I just shared illustrate – if we build it, they will come.
One more Dr. Dozier quote to leave you with: “Doubt is not the opposite of faith. Fear is. Fear will not risk that even if I am wrong I will trust that if I move by the light that is given me, knowing that it is only finite and partial I will know more and different things tomorrow than I know today, and I can be open to the new possibility I cannot even imagine today.

Together let us climb that fence. Together let us claim the future. Together let us make the impossible possible as we work to reconcile division, to transform injustice and to urge the lost onto the road home. Amen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jim White Reports from General Convention

Canon Jim White is a long time diocesan and national church leader, as well as several-times-vestry member here at All Saints Church. A founding member of Beyond Inclusion and Claiming the Blessing, Jim also serves as the co-chair of our Diocesan Commission on Minstry. An Alternate Deputy to the 77th General Convention, he monitored the Committee on Structure and reports here on its important work.

#GC77 Addresses Structural Reform by Jim White

While same-sex blessings and expanding the rights of transgender persons within the church grabbed the headlines from General Convention, probably the more significant action was the creation of a Task Force “whose purpose shall be to present the 78th General Convention [2015] with a plan for reforming the Church’s structures, governance, and administration.” The enabling resolution, C095, whose first paragraph explains that “…this General Convention believes the Holy Spirit is urging The Episcopal Church to reimagine itself…” was passed unanimously by the Legislative Committee on Structure, the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.

The House of Deputies was so shocked when there were no “No” votes that an audible gasp filled the hall. Chair of the Committee on Structure (and newly elected President of the House of Deputies), the Rev. Gay Jennings, then asked permission for the house to stand and sing “Sing a New Church Into Being,” as the committee had done when they passed the Resolution. As an Alternate Deputy, I had the freedom to monitor whatever I wanted and I chose the Committee on Structure to watch all of this go through the sausage-making factory of that committee.

This effort to examine the current structures of the church began with a presentation to the House of Bishops from the Chief Operating Office, Bishop Stacy Sauls, at their meeting last fall. Since then there has been much conflagration and tongue-wagging about the “Bishops trying to take over the governance of the church” and “eliminating the voices of lay people in our polity.” But what it all really boils down to is the sense that the church is top-heavy with administrative staff at the Episcopal Church Center in New York and with overlapping responsibilities between the Committees of Executive Council and the Standing Commissions of General Convention – all of which comprise the ongoing work of governance during the triennium when General Convention is not meeting. Not to mention the huge expense – both to the Church Center who has to put the thing on and the Dioceses who have to pay for travel and lodging expenses of a minimum of eight deputies and a bishop – of gathering the largest legislative body in the world every three years (General Convention) to attempt to wrangle through hundreds of pieces of legislation in eight days. All of that is on the table for this Task Force.

The resolution proposes that the Task Force (which is un-named, expecting the Task Force to name itself as part of its work – a symbol of the expansive freedom given it to look at anything and everything) be composed of “as many as 24 members,” appointed by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies and should “reflect the diversity of the Church, and shall include some persons with critical distance from the Church’s institutional leadership.” In other words, it ought not to be filled with the “usual suspects.”

It also requires that the Task Force “convene a special gathering to receive responses to the proposed recommendations to be brought forward to the 78th General convention, and shall invite to this gathering from each diocese at least a bishop, a lay deputy, a clerical deputy, and one person under the age of 35. It may also include representatives of institutions and communities (e.g., religious orders, seminaries, intentional communities).” And it requires that “the Task Force shall report to the whole Church frequently,” which is taken to mean that it will use all forms of digital media to keep the whole church updated on what it is doing as it goes along.

It’s going to be an interesting three years – and a really interesting 78th General Convention.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church meets every three years ... and the just completed 77th General Convention met from July 5-12 in Indianapolis.

It was an extraordinarily successful gathering as the deputies and bishops from around the 110 dioceses that make up the Episcopal Church gathered for worship, legislation, collaboration and communication. Some of the links below will take you to news reports on the actions of convention and others to reflections on the tone and timbre of the debates and decisions.

All Saints was well represented in the work and witness of the Episcopal Church at its national level ... and you'll see many familiar faces in the slide show below. And in the fall, Susan Russell will lead an adult education offering on "The Episcopal Church 101: Forward into the Future" -- where we'll look at the decisions made in Indianapolis and what they have to do with our work and witness here at All Saints Church.


New York Times
Landmark Decision for Transgender Inclusion -- Huffington Post
Episcopalians Say Yes to Bless -- Huffington Post
Susan on CNN: a follow up interview about what was accomplished in Indianapolis
Religion News Service
Associated Press
Episcopal News Service


Mel Soriano's "Let All Who Are Thirsty Come" -- "Breathe" I told myself. It's the Episcopal Church's triennial General Convention, you'll be surrounded by other faithful people, and you've worked at high tech conferences and convention halls for 25 years. But this was different. I was volunteering to be the social media dude at Integrity USA.

Jim White "Reports from General Convention" -- While same-sex blessings and expanding the rights of transgender persons within the church grabbed the headlines from General Convention, probably the more significant action was the creation of a Task Force “whose purpose shall be to present the 78th General Convention [2015] with a plan for reforming the Church’s structures, governance, and administration.” The enabling resolution, C095, whose first paragraph explains that “…this General Convention believes the Holy Spirit is urging The Episcopal Church to reimagine itself…” was passed unanimously by the Legislative Committee on Structure, the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ed Bacon Writes A Book

From the July issue of Saints Alive -- Ed Bacon invites us into the birth of his upcoming book: 8 Habits of Love.

Somewhat to my surprise, I have written a book. The title is 8 Habits of Love, and in one way or another, you are all in it. Although the material for this book has come from many experiences on my life’s journey, I know that the final product would not have its scope and depth without my having spent more than 17 years at All Saints Church, living, working and growing with all of you.

It started in the fall of 2008 when Oprah Winfrey needed to interview a person “of the cloth.” She had hosted Eckhart Tolle for a teaching series from his book A New Earth on her radio show, “Oprah’s Soul Series.” A number of people had challenged her that the material was too New Age and somehow un-Christian. I accepted an invitation from her office to talk this through with her in Chicago on a radio show.

Later in the year as I participated on a three-person panel on her national television program, Ms. Winfrey pointed out that I was the only one of the three who hadn’t written a book. In a matter of months I had engaged a literary agent and a book coach and had a book contract.

The All Saints community has been the crucible in which the concept for this book has evolved. Long interested in the dynamics of love and fear, I have noted that the most frequent injunction in scripture is, “Do not fear” and that Jesus said, “Perfect love casts out fear.” My sermons on living in the House of Love versus the House of Fear have generated the most response over the course of my preaching. I know the impact of love and fear on one’s brain, body, relationships, and systems. I know that all of us have our fears but when we become our fears life becomes distorted, we are less than who God created us to be, and we cannot become our authentic selves.

So I’ve written a book about eight habits we can practice to keep fear from taking over the driver’s seat of our lives. On many levels, 8 Habits of Love is a description of the kind of life that invigorates our worship, work, affection, and play at All Saints. Exploring the eight habits of love takes us on an adventure of self-discovery.

Writing about them has also been quite an adventure. With expert help from my agent and later my book coach I wrote the proposal for the book and then the book itself over the course of two years, including the sabbatical All Saints gave me last summer. Upon returning to All Saints last Homecoming Sunday, I turned the book over to a very gifted editor who gave the book its final shape.

I have experienced these necessary ingredients for fruitful writing —a passionately held idea; a team of people who, with commitment and care, work and pray for a compelling product; time and solitude to plumb important depths of one’s own soul and relationships; editors, editors, and more editors, doing more and more editing; and, for me, a sympathetic life partner who both believes in the project and suffers no bull.

The most potent ingredient in the recipe has been all the people who worship, support, and cheer the adventure called All Saints, Pasadena. Appropriately we will launch the book at All Saints on Sunday, September 9, prior to the publication in New York on September 11. Between now and then I will be on summer break, reading and preparing sermons for next year and having a family vacation. I will return a week early from my time away to preach that Sunday and to thank you all for making possible this wonderful adventure of producing a book, using all that I’ve learned from all of you and our journey together.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

All Saints Church @ Diocesan Dodger Night!

It was a beautiful night for a ball game ... and All Saints Church was out in force to cheer on the Dodgers to a 7-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox AND our Bishop Mary Glasspool as she threw out the ceremonial "first pitch. Photo above is Bishop Mary with partner Becki Sander.

And here's a look at the fun everybody else was having. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Violence and Racism Make Us All Sick

Do you know that living in certain zip codes can be hazardous to your health? Do you know what could be done to change that reality?

Dr. Eric Walsh is a student of issues relating to social justice. As he has sought to understand what social structures influence health and well being, he has come to see racism and structural violence as killers. Since becoming Pasadena’s Director of Public Health in 2010, Walsh has put his energy toward public health practices and policies which increase individuals’ health and wellness in order that all people are able to thrive. In a multi-media presentation, he will invite us into the challenges in Pasadena.

Walsh has served under the current and previous White House administrations on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. He is the past President of the California Academy of Preventive Medicine and has served on committees with the Center for Disease Control, collaborating with many grass roots organizations in Southern California to improve the health of at-risk populations. He is on the staff of Loma Linda University School of Medicine and the University of California Irvine as an adjunct professor.

On Sunday, June 17 we welcome Dr. Eric Walsh to the Rector’s Forum at 10:15 a.m -- and see where All Saints might become more involved with his efforts. (Or tune in via u-stream if you can't we with us on campus!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"New Skies:" Choral Anthem Premiere at All Saints Church | Sunday, May 20

Time flies when you're having fun and so it's hard to believe that here we are pushing the end of May again already and gearing up for the Spring Concert for our Children and Youth Choirs at All Saints Church. If you're in the neighborhood, of course you should drop by. 5pm in the Church. And even if you're NOT in the neighborhood you should know about anthem premiering in the concert this evening.

The title is “New Skies” and it was commissioned by us from Karen P. Thomas, artistic director of Seattle Pro Musica. There are 3 texts that are used through the song. The first is the pledge from the “It Gets Better” website.
Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are.
I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors.
I’ll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it,
At school and at work.
I’ll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi and trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that
“It Gets Better!”
The next text was an anonymous poem that was found on that same website (sung by Trouveres):
Look up!
Let us search for clear sky.
Rain flows in rivers where we stand.
Wind pushes, we sway, but stand still, but stay strong.
There are new skies to come.
Do not say that we are less than,
We are as ever,
Hearts flying wild,
Hope beating heavy and sense turning mad,
Excitement growing,
Hands in hands,
And as ever, and as always,
You want only, simply, to be loved
And come home.
The last poem is Emily Dickinson (sung by Mastersingers and Troubadours and Chamber Choir):
If I can stop one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help on fainting robin
Unto his next again,
I shall not live in vain.

They say that those who sing pray twice ... and so these words ... prayed twice as they are sung this evening by the young voices here at All Saints Church ... will be offered "like incense" into a world in desperate need of the love, hope and healing they represent. Songs of healing. Songs of hope. Songs of new skies and a new commitment to be the agents of change that will rid the world of the hatred, intolerance and homophobia that keeps it from being the "kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" we pray for.
And let the people say, "AMEN."