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.

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