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.