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October 2020

Taking Care of Business … and Ourselves

By Bishop Suffragan Diane M. Jardine-Bruce

It’s surreal and it’s real at the same time. We have been MONTHS in this tunnel-time of pandemic, without a clear light at the end to tell us we are nearing the end of it. We have learned the great importance of staying connected with our congregants and mastered new technology. Our added challenge today is navigating the rocky waters of:

•   Keeping connected in the time of COVID19
•   Technology and technology boundaries
•   Racial injustice
•   Election season
•   Stewardship

 •   Prayer
 •   Self-care

If you’re a parent with a child or children attending school from home, you have a additional strain on your time and energy. 

In this article I have gathered together RESOURCES TO HELP YOU. As always, feel free to email me, Bishop Taylor or Canon McCarthy – we are here to listen, support and help you.

Keep connected
Among the most important things we can do right now for our congregations is to keep in touch with all our members. This involves phone calls, emails, newsletters – ways to keep everyone in your congregation “in the loop” and to know how people are doing. This is the most important work we can do right now as clergy.

 Keep coming to the Clergy Check-Ins, now occurring approximately every other Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.. These are great opportunities to hear from the Diocese and each other about resources and to ask questions about the pandemic and other issues. If you can’t make it to these meetings, make sure you review the recap email that you should be receiving after each meeting.

 Review the weekly Resource Roundup and the Update – they are great sources of information for you and your congregation. Speaking of your congregation – please share, as you are able, your congregation’s contact email list with Canon Janet Kawamoto (jkawamoto@ladiocese.org) to make sure members of your congregations are also staying connected with what’s happening at and in and around the Diocese.

Attend your deanery clericus meetings. I know not all of the deaneries meet regularly. If yours does, plan on attending!

Technology and technology boundaries
Almost all of you have mastered zoom/live streaming, and have created a pattern or rhythm to make that happen. Some of our greatest resources and assets have been the members of our churches who know this stuff cold. I know many of you have relied on them as well as tips from other clergy to “make it happen” – THANK YOU!

Zoom meetings have taken over our time and energy. Zoom fatigue is real. It is a very different energy from face-to-face meetings, and it takes up more of our psychic and mental capabilities. Don’t book back-to-back zoom meetings throughout the day. You need a break — even if it’s just 15 minutes (hopefully it’s more!) to get up, walk around, drink water and eat a healthy snack.

 Racial Injustice
The pandemic and the brutal murder of George Floyd have brought into sharp focus the need to address racial injustice in our society and in the church. On the diocesan website there are resources for you, including the work your New Community team (formerly known as multicultural ministry) put together. This includes an introductory video on three areas we will be exploring more deeply in the weeks and months to come: the Doctrine of Discovery, Racial Identity and Racial Capitalism. The introductory video and a listing of upcoming events can be found here. In addition, information is available in the One in the Spirit section here.

 Election Season
Adding to the stress of living in and through a pandemic and an early and devastating fire season, we have an election coming up. On September 10 at the Clergy Gathering we spoke about and shared our “best practices” of dealing with a difficult political climate. Notes from that meeting can be found here.

In addition, the Presiding Bishop’s sermon to the House of Bishops which met on September 16th as well as other resources for navigating these election season days can be found here.

Stewardship
The Program Group on Stewardship worked this summer and through September with TENS (The Episcopal Network on Stewardship) to develop campaign strategies, address online giving options, and offer ways to do online auctions, etc. for our congregations. The video recordings of these events along with the PowerPoint slide decks (in English and Spanish) can be found here.

Prayer
I don’t know about you, but I’m finding the need to pray more now than ever. This can be particularly difficult if you are offering virtual morning or evening prayer or compline every day. It can feel as though you’re doing more work just to set up the right equipment, etc. to pray. I’m finding praying as I take my daily walk is really helping keep me centered. You may have another way you can feel refreshed through prayer. Whatever that might be, please do take the time to engage in this important spiritual discipline.

 Self Care
You should all have a spiritual director. Now, more than ever, it’s important to have that relationship in place and connect regularly. Personally, I “meet” with my spiritual directly every 4-6 weeks over the phone. I’ve found him to be extremely helpful to me during this time of pandemic. If you don’t have a spiritual director, you can find one via Stillpoint or the Center for Spiritual Development.

 Try to block out ONE WHOLE DAY each week without a zoom meeting on your calendar. HONOR YOUR DAY OFF. It’s easy to get overloaded at this time. Remember — Jesus took time out to rest.

 Some clergy are helping their neighbors by taking a Sunday service via ZOOM or Facebook Live to enable their neighbor to have a day off. Others are coming together to do joint services – bringing two or more congregations together. It’s a small breather from the stress of offering weekly 100% digital or hybrid services.

Take advantage of Bishop Taylor’s great gift of that occasional Sunday “off” by pointing your congregation to Bishop Taylor’s services for the diocesan community. The next one scheduled is the Diocesan Convention Eucharist at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15.

Make sure, even in this time of COVID, you take your vacation. I had a “staycation” and truthfully, it was great! I would’ve enjoyed being able to go away, but sadly with Steve having had surgery, that wasn’t possible. Instead we took a little time each day to plan future “getaways” in 2021, 2022 and 2023 (yes, we plan that far out on the calendar). I also got a group of friends together and we did a “virtual tour” of the Jewish quarter in Paris with a guide leading the tour from Paris. It was a great “getaway” without leaving our home.

 Most of all, watch your stress level, get some exercise, try to eat well, get enough sleep, keep up with dental and doctor visits as appropriate, keep in touch with loved ones, and ask for help when you need it. We are here for you.

 +Diane

 

September 2020

Policing in America: Parishes, precincts invited to share local conversations Oct. 9-12

By Bob Williams, Canon for Common Life

A protégé of the late Coretta Scott King, Pastor Markel Hutchins of Atlanta is leading a strategic initiative that is sparking nationwide participation from various Episcopal dioceses among other mainline judicatories, evangelical churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples, together with police and sheriff’s federations across the country.

Helpful for bolstering the national will to end systemic racism and its manifestations in policing and other societal systems, the National Faith & Blue Weekend, Oct. 9-12, offers congregations practical, uncomplicated ways to share in dialogue and relationship-building in what has been called “the most consolidated police-community engagement project in recent history.” A video is here.

To use the weekend as a catalyst for initiating and strengthening local alliances, congregations are encouraged to host – ideally with other nearby houses of worship – a Zoom forum, coffee hour, or similar gathering to which the neighborhood’s senior lead police officer, local precinct captains, or area sheriff’s officers are invited to share in conversation with neighborhood clergy and parishioners.

As parish and mission clergy will attest, knowing and interacting regularly with a neighborhood’s senior lead officer is typically of ongoing benefit to the congregation, and especially helpful at times of emergency and crisis. Also key to Faith & Blue Weekend forums and wider conversations is the input of law enforcement professionals who are among parishioners of local congregations.

Suggested discussion topics and formats for weekend forums are clearly outlined – together with easily shareable graphics, flyers, and posters – on the National Faith & Blue website. Episcopal congregations and dioceses from California and Arizona to Atlanta and Missouri and beyond are using these materials to engage participation.

The initiative resonates with L.A. Bishop John Harvey Taylor’s call for diocesan work to “assess, articulate and advocate a Gospel-based approach to policing and community safety” by engaging a variety of voices and viewpoints in fair and balanced consultation. The Episcopal News will report on next steps in that effort as the process unfolds.

Meanwhile, within the diocese, interfaith efforts are underway to organize virtual Faith & Blue Weekend forums engaging houses of worship along the Wilshire Corridor, in Central L.A., Hollywood, and Orange County, with invitations pending in the Inland Empire and Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Specific details will follow in The News.

Congregations are encouraged to arrange their own local forums and register them directly through the National Faith & Blue website, thereby engaging more of the 113 law enforcement agencies– local police and sheriff’s departments together with the California Highway Patrol – that serve neighborhoods in which the diocese’s 135 church sites are found.

Kevin Smith, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, says the National Faith & Blue Weekend has the potential to “power a movement where law enforcement professionals and residents build connections that break down divides, decrease biases, increase familiarity and spur ongoing collaboration.”

Additional background resources for this work include:

  • Two view-on-demand virtual forums, “Policing and a Just Society,” convened in August by Washington National Cathedral;
  • Ongoing programs, including “Our Work to Do” and the diocesan “Trauma and (Un)Truths” series, details of which are here.

And, upcoming on October 4 is “Reimagine Justice,” a virtual fundraiser of PRISM, the diocesan restorative justice ministry led by clergy colleagues Dennis Gibbs and Greta Ronningen, featuring as keynoter the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary.

Thank you for considering these opportunities, and for all the ways in which your ministries strengthen civic engagement and common life.

August 2020

‘A marathon, not a sprint’

by Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Dear colleagues,

Happy August to all!

I hope you have found some time to rest and recreate this summer or that you have some time scheduled soon. I keep reminding myself that this unprecedented time in the world, in our nation, and in our church is a marathon and not a sprint. I cannot pace myself as if it were a sprint but rather as a marathon, with a steady pace, conserving energy, and finding those rest points along the way.

The metaphor of a marathon is a positive one which brings with it accomplishment as well as a clear beginning, middle, and end. While there is much for us to be proud of in terms of how we have responded to the multiple crises in our world, I don’t believe there is a clear beginning, middle, and end in what we are experiencing. In fact, part of the spiritual discipline for us to engage as leaders is in holding the tension between the dire nature of what we are experiencing and the new ways of being church in the world this unique situation is inspiring in us.

With centuries of abuse and murder of black and brown people by white Americans and the willful ignorance of the realities of racism and racial injustice in our nation as well as the pandemic that is ever increasing in numbers, there is much to disturb and disrupt our sense of what it means to be human beings, faithful followers of Christ, and leaders in the church. We have moved into a time when nearly every aspect of our lives is being called into question, examined, and, in some cases, regrded as no longer relevant, reasonable, or even reality based. The world has been on a course of significant change for some time now and, in 2020, the snowball effect has taken hold and accelerated the course of change.

I find myself wondering, mulling, praying, discussing, and listening for what this means for us as church. Church business as usual is no longer an option. We have focused so much on getting back to in person worship, as we should, since it is in our worshipping communities that we hear and discern God’s call to us and receive both the solace and the strength, the courage and renewal we need to be grounded in our faith in all that we do (BCP Eucharistic prayer C). We don’t worship just for ourselves and our own relationship with God. We don’t worship so that we can feel better in a chaotic world. That may be part of what we experience but worship is really about having a spiritual and communal home base from which open ourselves to God for God’s work of healing and restoration in the world. For too long we have been content to focus on worship as the means to an end as well as the end itself. We can no longer do this.

What can we do?

First, we pray.
We pray for God to show us the way forward and to give us the courage we need to act on what we discern.

Second, we listen.
Listen to the world. Listen to each other. Listen for where God’s love and grace, healing and restoration is needed.

Third, we educate ourselves.
One of the best ways to reduce anxiety is to stimulate resources and to learn.

Fourth, we preach and pray that every Sunday, every sermon becomes a miracle whereby the words we say are transformed into the words our people need to hear to inspire them to love God more and to be courageous.

Fifth, we advocate.
Advocate for People of Color, advocate for the sick, advocate for those in prison, advocate for those in danger of any kind, and advocate for those who have no one to advocate for them. Lastly, and perhaps foundationally, we care for ourselves. We remember this is a long haul we are in and not a passing moment. Remember we are in the process of creating a new normal and what that new normal is depends on what we do in our own families, communities, and in the church at large. As much as this is a time of crisis, it is also a time of amazing creative opportunities. In the tension of those two things – crisis and creativity – is the heart of our spiritual practice.

Along with reminding myself to keep a steady pace and to find rest points along the way, I also remind myself that the church has gone through so much over these 2000 years and, with God’s help, continues to grow, change, and transform. Our current circumstance is no different. The bottom line truth of our lives is that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever. We are loved by the God who created us exactly as we are. We are saved by the God who became human in Jesus so that we might know the way to God. We are knit together through the power of God in the Holy Spirit, who is alive in us, among us, and between us.

I am grateful for all of you and hold you in my prayers every day.

Take care, pace yourselves, and remember how loved you are.

Faithfully,
Melissa+

‘Pray, and do something’: resources offer help to respond systemic racism

By Bishop Suffragan Diane M. Jardine Bruce

God,
Grant me justice, so that I may treat others as they deserve.
Grant me mercy, so that I don’t treat others as they deserve.
Grant me a humble walk with you, so that I may understand the difference.

— The Rev. Dr. Patricia McCaughan and the Very Rev. Keith Yamamoto

 This prayer, written by two priests of this diocese, can be found on page 166 of the book Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams, Malcolm Boyd and Chester Talton, editors.

I used this book a number of times when I was a parish priest, but hadn’t looked at it in the last few years. The violence and murder perpetrated at the hands of law enforcement and vigilantes on our black community, especially the “caught on tape” murder of George Floyd, moved me to pull this book off my shelf, dust it off, and pray.

Maybe you are in that same place as well. I need to pray, but I also know I need to DO something. The first thing I want to do is to apologize to you, my siblings in Christ right here in the Diocese of Los Angeles who have been living under and with the systems of injustice and white supremacy for centuries, and who feel the weight of that oppression every day of your lives.

On June 7 the national Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) hosted Talk2Talk: Congregational and UBE Activism in the Face of Social Unrest. The panelists (bios at the end of this note) were the Rev. Dr. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, the Very Rev. Canon Martini Shaw and the Rev. Melanie Mullens. They said what I needed to hear: we cannot let this minute in our history fade away like dust in the wind. We are being called to voice our disdain for the actions taken against God’s people – especially those who have been marginalized and discriminated against for centuries. The YouTube video of the event can be found here

On June 21 UBE hosted a follow-up to the June 7 event: Talk2Talk: Moving from Protest to Marathon Systemic Response. The same panelists offered their wisdom as to how we can — no, we MUST — move past protest to effecting the kind of radical changes to dismantle systems of injustice and inequality that have existed in this country for centuries.

If we have had any part in building or sustaining any system that has oppressed another, we need to acknowledge that sin, and repent. We need to work to transform systems of oppression into systems of love and care – ensuring equal access to all at every level and area of our society.

If you, like me, have felt hopeless in wondering “what can I do,” when the video of this event becomes available that will be a great place to start. We will post a link to it on our diocesan website when it is available.

Building on the work of the UBE’s Talk2Talks, Canon Suzanne Edwards-Acton and I are excited to announce that the Rev. Dr. Gayle Fisher-Stewart has agreed to be our preacher at our annual celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in 2021. Working with a team from the diocese, we hope to put together an interactive program for that event. Given the uncertainty of the pandemic, we will be planning for both a digital and an in-person event.

In terms of resources locally and throughout the Episcopal Church to use sooner than the MLK weekend, the diocesan website has a section with resources for you and your congregation to begin this work. More will be added over time. That webpage can be found here. If you have found other resources we can add to this page, please send them to Canon Janet Kawamoto (jkawamoto@ladiocese.org).

My siblings in Christ: Please pray. Please study. Please teach. Please act. We cannot let this “blow over” and not address the underlying causes – including white supremacy – that keep us repeating the same acts of injustice on our siblings in Christ.

WWJD? We all know the answer to that.

God of all peoples of the earth: we pray for an end to racism in all forms, and for an end to the denial that perpetuates white privilege, and for your support for all of those who bear the struggle of internalized racism, and for wisdom to recognize and eradicate the institutional racism in the church, and for the strength to stand against the bigotry and suffering that inhabits the world; for these and all your blessings we pray, O God, Christ Jesus, Holy Spirit. Amen.

— Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams, pg. 50

Guest Panelists for Talk2Talk:

The Rev. Dr. Gayle Fisher-Stewart is interim rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, and is the president of the Crummell-Cooper DC Chapter, UBE. She comes to ordained ministry after retiring from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington with the rank of captain. She is the author of the forthcoming book (July 17, 2020), Preaching Black Lives (Matter) (Church Publishing).

The Very Rev. Canon Martini Shaw is rector of The Historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has led this community in boldly proclaiming the reconciling Gospel of Jesus Christ for 17 years. UBE’s former national second vice president, Father Shaw also serves on the advisory board for the Episcopal Church Office of Black Ministries and is chair of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council Committee for HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

The Rev. Melanie Mullens, director of Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care for The Episcopal Church, is charged with bringing the Jesus Movement to the concerns of the world. Prior to joining the presiding bishop’s staff, she was the downtown missioner at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, leading a historic southern congregation’s missional, civic and reconciliation ministries.

+Diane

 

Dios,
Concédeme justicia, para que pueda tratar a los demás como se merecen.
Concédeme misericordia, para que no trate a los demás como se merecen.
Concédeme un humilde paseo contigo, para que pueda entender la diferencia.

— La Rev. Dra. Patricia McCaughan y el Rev. Keith Yamamoto

Esta oración, que fué escrita por dos sacerdotes de esta diócesis, y se encuentra en la página 166 del libro, Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams, Malcolm Boyd y Chester Talton, editores. Utilicé este libro varias veces cuando estaba como sacerdote en una parroquia, pero no lo había vuelto a ver en los últimos años. La violencia y los asesinatos perpetrados por las fuerzas del orden y los vigilantes hacia nuestra comunidad Negra, especialmente el asesinato de George Floyd “grabado en un video”, me motivó a sacar este libro de mi librero, quitarle el polvo y rezar. Tal vez ustedes estén en este mismo lugar también. Necesito rezar, pero también sé que tengo que HACER algo. Lo primero que quiero hacer es disculparme con ustedes, mis hermanos y hermanas en Cristo aquí en la Diócesis de Los Ángeles que han estado viviendo con y bajo los sistemas de injusticia y supremacía blanca durante siglos, y que sienten el peso de esa opresión cada día de sus vidas.

El 7 de junio la Unión de Episcopales Negros (UBE por sus siglas en Inglés) organizó Talk2Talk: Activismo Congregacional y de UBE ante el malestar social. Los panelistas (biografías al final de esta nota) fueron la Rev. Dra. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, el Muy Rev. Canónigo Martini Shaw y la Rev. Melanie Mullens. Ellos dijeron lo que yo necesitaba oír: no podemos dejar que este minuto de nuestra historia se desvanezca como el polvo en el viento. Estamos llamados a expresar nuestro desdén por las acciones tomadas contra el pueblo de Dios – especialmente aquellos que han sido marginados y discriminados durante siglos. El video del evento puede ser encontrado aquí.

 

El 21 de Junio, UBE organizó un seguimiento del evento del 7 de Junio, Talk2Talk: Pasando de la protesta a la respuesta sistémica maratónica. Los mismos panelistas ofrecieron su sabiduría sobre cómo podemos — no, DEBEMOS — pasar de la protesta a efectuar el tipo de cambios radicales necesarios para desmantelar los sistemas de injusticia y desigualdad que han existido en este país durante siglos. Si hemos tenido alguna participación en la construcción o el mantenimiento de cualquier sistema que ha oprimido a otro, tenemos que reconocer ese pecado, y arrepentirnos. Necesitamos trabajar para transformar los sistemas de opresión en sistemas de amor y cuidado – asegurando el acceso igualitario a todos en los diferentes niveles y áreas de nuestra sociedad. Si ustedes, como yo, se ha sentido desesperanzados al preguntarse “qué puedo hacer yo”, el video de este evento será un gran lugar para comenzar. Pondremos un enlace en nuestro sitio web de la diócesis cuando esté disponible.

Basándonos en el trabajo de Talk2Talks de la UBE, la canóniga Suzanne Edwards-Acton y yo estamos encantadas de anunciar que la reverenda Dra. Gayle Fisher-Stewart ha aceptado ser nuestra predicadora en la celebración anual del Reverendo Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. durante el fin de semana de MLK en 2021. Trabajando con un equipo de la diócesis, esperamos crear un programa interactivo para ese evento. Dada la incertidumbre causada por la pandemia, planearemos un evento en formatos digital y en persona.

En términos de recursos locales y en toda la Iglesia Episcopal para usar antes del fin de semana de MLK, el sitio web diocesano tiene una sección con recursos para que usted y su congregación puedan comenzar con este trabajo. Se irán añadiendo más recursos eventualmente. Este sitio web se puede encontrar aquí. Si ustedes han encontrado otros recursos que pudiéramos añadir a esta página, por favor envíelos a la canóniga Janet Kawamoto (jkawamoto@ladiocese.org).

 Mis hermanos y hermanas en Cristo: Por favor oren. Por favor estudien. Por favor enseñen. Por favor actúen. No podemos dejar que esto “se desvanezca” y no abordar las causas subyacentes -incluyendo la supremacía blanca- que nos mantienen repitiendo los mismos actos de injusticia en nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Cristo. WWJD? (Siglas en Inglés para: Qué Haría Jesús?) Todos sabemos la respuesta a eso.

 

Dios de todos los pueblos de la tierra: oramos por el fin del racismo en todas sus formas, y por el fin de la abnegación que perpetúa el privilegio blanco, y por tu apoyo a todos aquellos que sufren del racismo internalizado, y por la sabiduría para reconocer y erradicar el racismo institucional en la iglesia, y por fuerza para oponernos a la intolerancia y al sufrimiento que habitan en el mundo; por estas y todas tus bendiciones oramos, oh Dios, Cristo Jesús, Espíritu Santo. Amén.
— Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams, pg. 50

Panelistas invitados para Talk2Talk:

La Rev. Dra. Gayle Fisher-Stewart es la Rectora Interina de la Iglesia Episcopal de San Lucas en Washington, DC, y es la presidenta del capítulo Crummell-Cooper DC de la Unión de Episcopales Negros. Llega al ministerio ordenado después de retirarse del Departamento de Policía Metropolitana, en Washington, con el rango de capitán. Es la autora del libro que saldrá próximamente a la venta (17 de julio de 2020), “Preaching Black Lives (Matter),” (Church Publishing).

El Muy Reverendo Canónigo Martini Shaw quien es el Rector de la histórica Iglesia Episcopal Africana de Santo Tomás, en Filadelfia, Pensilvania, donde ha dirigido a esta comunidad en la audaz proclamación del Evangelio reconciliador de Jesucristo durante 17 años. El Padre Shaw, ex vicepresidente nacional de la UBE, también forma parte de la Junta Asesora de la Oficina de Ministerios de los Negros de la Iglesia Episcopal y es el presidente del Comité del Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal para los HBCU (Siglas en Inglés para: Colegios y Universidades Históricamente Negros).

La Rev. Melanie Mullens, es la Directora de Reconciliación, Justicia y Cuidado de la Creación de la Iglesia Episcopal, está encargada de llevar el Movimiento de Jesús a las preocupaciones del mundo. Antes de unirse al personal del Obispo Presidente, fue la misionera en la Iglesia Episcopal de San Pablo en el centro de Richmond, dirigiendo los ministerios misioneros, cívicos y de reconciliación.

 

+Diane

June 2020

Amid dual pandemics, diocesan resources offer help

 

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy and I deeply appreciate and heartily applaud your faithful work as together we continue to address the simultaneous effects of two pandemics: one of sickening racism and deadly violence, and the COVID-19 crisis that has resulted in more than 400,000 deaths and untold economic adversity worldwide.
To assist your on-going response to these challenges, please know that practical and strategic resources of the diocese are readily available to serve congregations, schools, and affiliated agencies.
  • The New Community multicultural ministries of the diocese, including the Program Group on Black Ministries, are standing by to confer and consult with all congregations, also tapping the expertise of Episcopal Sacred Resistance, the Kaleidoscope Institute and the church-wide “Becoming Beloved Community” initiative. For consultation and direct referrals, please contact Bishop Bruce (dbruce@ladiocese.org).
  • Help in providing supplies – including masks and sanitizer – and hands-on training in live-streaming and digital discipleship is now available to clergy and lay leaders in keeping with recommendations of the Bishop’s Council of Advice on Our Safe Return to Physical Presence. The diocesan Program Group on Communications stands ready to assist with technical support. Please direct requests to Canon for Common Life Bob Williams (bobwilliams@ladiocese.org) or Canon Clare Zabala Bangao, coordinator of mission congregations, (clarezabala@ladiocese.org).
While congregations have my authorization to conduct in-church services as of June 20, observing statewide requirements and upon approval of a thorough checklist (see link below), the Council has specified that

[N]o parish or mission should feel pressured to open before it thinks best. No worship leader, lay or ordained, who is at heightened risk of infection should feel pressured to lead or attend in-person worship even if others in the community are eager to return. We encourage those most at risk to continue to be present digitally.”


As to logistics, the Council adds,
If possible, ensure that adequate cleaning and sanitation supplies are on hand and available, including, but not limited to: Masks or other face coverings, hand sanitizer, soap and running water, paper towels, tissues, touch-free trash receptacles, and EPA-approved cleaners and disinfectants. Additionally, gloves, gowns and face shields may be desired for the cleaning crew. Contact the diocese if financial assistance is needed.

As the Council further notes,
Returning to in-person worship safely depends on our live-streaming our services for the safety of those who wish to be present digitally, whether we’re using our church buildings or not. If you need support for live-streaming, please let the diocese know. We have guidance and other resources available for you.

Lastly, 
please consider linking to the diocesan-wide live-streamed bilingual (English and Spanish) service of Holy Eucharist with prayers for spiritual communion and homily which I will offer at 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 28 (specific details to be posted soon).
Besides giving me a chance to greet the whole diocese and reflect on these momentous months in our church and nation, the idea is to offer those in charge of congregations and worship a breather just for one weekend.

These have been emotionally and physically exhausting times for all. Our deacons and priests in congregations have not always been able to be attentive to the requirement and blessing of sabbath.

This is a chance for you to attend worship – or go for a long walk or a socially-distanced breakfast! – instead of organizing worship. Any church that wants to go forward with its Sunday worship by all means should please do so.

I close by underscoring the Council’s wisdom: “As the body of Christ, we understand that each travels their pilgrim journey at their own pace, even as we make our way to the same destination.” May God continue to strengthen and bless you as we move forward together. 
Links:

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

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June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

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May 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

May 2, 2019 – Feast of St. Athanasius

St. Paul’s Commons
is the new name for
our diocesan HQ in Echo Park

 

 My dear colleagues:

We all have something in common – the risen Christ, of course, and also the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park. I know most of you love it as much as I do. I remember my first visit, for a meeting during the early stages of my discernment for ordained ministry. I was surprised that it was in the heart of the city, not downtown but in a neighborhood, not built skyward but spread like open arms across a long block facing Echo Park Lake.

When I get to work and head up the stairs, I sometimes remember my excited, unsettled feeling that day. The building was just a few years old back then – and as a matter of fact, I was in my infancy as well, at least spiritually speaking.

 The Cathedral Center still feels just right to me. As my vocation matures, I’ve come to care for this building (and its devoted occupants, my beloved fellow ministers) more and more.

 Built and completed during Fred Borsch’s episcopate, inspired and nurtured into bricks and mortar by its first provost, Jon Bruno, the church in the Cathedral Center stands for two historic institutions. One is St. Paul’s Cathedral downtown, which was damaged in a 1971 earthquake and eventually torn down. The other is St. Athanasius Church, founded in 1864, the oldest continually operating Protestant congregation in southern California, which provided the land in Echo Park. Not that Bishop Bruce and I sit in them much, but our cathedrae are there, signifying that it is a cathedral church, as during chrism masses and other diocesan services. The rest of the time, our lively, multicultural congregation of St. Athanasius calls the same space home.

Meanwhile, ten years ago, Bishop Bruno designated St. John’s as a pro-cathedral, which is a cathedral that begins its life as a parish. Research amply demonstrates that this is the case with many historic cathedrals. Accordingly, we removed the “Pro-“ – and bingo, we now had two cathedrals, one in Echo Park on the brink of its second quarter-century, the other on Adams Blvd. beginning its second decade.

 As you know, we’ve been in conversation and discernment about this ecclesiastical dichotomy for over a year. The upshot is that later this year, on a date still to be determined and announced, we will rename your Echo Park headquarters. The new logo will contain this information:

ST. PAUL’S COMMONS
Diocesan Center
Ministry Center
Retreat and Conference Center

The new name will preserve the building’s historic connection to the downtown cathedral. It will make clear that the bishops and all our colleagues are still at work there. It will highlight our continuing and new ministries to our Echo Park neighbors, especially those grappling with food and housing insecurity. And it will draw more attention to our beautiful, underutilized retreat center and all our public spaces, which are available to community organizations for lease (in the name of sustainability) and sometimes for free (as at the neighborhood-minded institutions you serve).

The change to St. Paul’s Commons will, we trust, further energize two other beloved institutions.

St. Athanasius Church will again have a space that is entirely its own. As we spruce up the whole complex with new carpet, paint, and signage, we plan a concerted effort to draw attention to the congregation’s presence so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy its abundant ministries.

St. John’s Cathedral also enters an exciting time of visioning about its role as a diocesan and civic institution in the heart of one of the greatest cities on earth. St. John’s’ neighborhood, which actually is our whole diocese, is a harbinger of Christ’s church’s multicultural, pluralistic, socially progressive destiny — if the church is to survive and thrive, that is. Though many of our neighbors are skeptical about faith institutions, their hearts are still hungry for purpose, meaning, justice, hope, mystery, and love. These challenges and opportunities engird our cathedral’s future. Its vision, as well as its more pressing needs such as a seismic retrofit, will be centerpieces of our diocesan capital campaign.

And while our offices, I stress again, won’t move to St. John’s, those cathedrae soon will.

With clergy conference coming up next week, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, Canon Williams (who has played a vital role in this transition), and I look forward to answering your questions about all that’s in store for St. Paul’s Commons. See you in Riverside.

Yours in Christ’s Eastertide love,

+John

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April 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce:

About Lambeth

Dear Friends in Christ:

In mid-March Bishop Taylor and I spent four long, intense days with our fellow Bishops at Kanuga in North Carolina. You have already seen the letter from us and our spouses regarding the controversy surrounding Lambeth 2020.

Leaving Bishop Mary Glasspool’s beloved Becki off the guest list was shocking and painful – especially for those of us who have experienced their powerful and loving ministry among us. The response of the House of Bishops (HOB) as well as your bishops here was undertaken prayerfully. Mary herself gave a moving account of what transpired in the weeks leading up to our gathering at the HOB.

The work of the HOB in this triennium is centered on The Way of Love. For those of you who haven’t reviewed the materials for The Way of Love a good place to begin is here.

We had the privilege of hearing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie (AME Bishop, Texas) as well as Bishop Ric Thorpe (Bishop of Islington) on Evangelism as it relates to the Way of Love.

Bishop McKenzie is the Bishop in charge of all the AME churches in the State of Texas. She talked about the fact that many people practice “CHURCHianity” rather than “CHRISTianity”.

She asked the question, “Is it possible that we are more in love with Church than we are with Jesus Christ?” It is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of Church that we forget the reason we are here and what we are called to do. While we need the institution, we also need to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Ric Thorpe has been Bishop of Islington, a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of London with special attention to the ministry of church planting, since September 2015. He is responsible for the London diocese’s goal of creating 100 New Worshipping Communities by 2020 and is also working nationally to support other dioceses to plant new churches and revitalize existing ones. Before being appointed to Islington, Bishop Ric was the Bishop of London’s adviser for Church Planting and the rector of St. Paul’s Shadwell.

Bishop Thorpe offered that the Way of Love re-centers us on what really matters. He shared that the decade of Evangelism in England didn’t produce much fruit in terms of the programs and projects that it did — EXCEPT for Alpha and for a renewed passion for the poor and the marginalized.

Reflecting on his work turning around St. Paul’s, he told us that St. Paul’s had 12 people left in it and was going to be closed. The Bishop of London asked Bishop Thorpe and a team to revitalize it — 95 people came with him to revitalize. The neighborhood is 45% Muslim, 45% secular young professionals, 10% aging cockney. The congregation grew! Check out their website here.

Bishop Thorpe draws his tradition from Gregory the Great — a vision for the re-visioning of a community and re-evangelizing of the nation. Augustine similarly worked with the powers that be to plant churches. Bishop Thorpe then looked to the Celtic saints and found Cuthbert who worked by coming alongside a community, developing a church outside the city limits and offering hospitality. The Celtic way is all about relationships.

Both Bishop McKenzie and Bishop Thorpe agreed that if we want to see the church revitalized and become a church that is full of the love of God in Christ and is following The Way of Love it starts with prayer. Here we are, back to where we started. The bishops spent time and prayed as we dealt with the harsh reality of Lambeth 2020. It all starts with prayer, and it all must end with prayer.

Please know I pray for you all daily. I pray for our Church. I pray for our nation. I pray for our world. May all we do be begin and end in prayer.

+Diane

March 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Summiting Together

Dear Friends:

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain peak in Wales and the highest peak in all of the United Kingdom outside of the Scottish Highlands. This 3,560-foot peak seems small for us here in California where snow falls generally occur at 4,500 feet and above. However, each mountain has its own personality, its own treachery, and Snowdon is no different.

I visited Wales in 2005 and, with my friend Isabella, decided to take a day to make the climb. I was barely 30 and still had that feeling of invincibility when we embarked that July morning. We decided to take the longest and busiest route to the top because we had been warned by so many locals to be careful of sudden weather changes and the danger such changes would bring us along the less traversed and more narrow paths. As I recall, it is a five-mile hike to the top so, after a good and fortifying breakfast, we started our ascent early that morning.

The hike up to the peak was beautiful. We encountered many fellow pilgrims, shook our figurative fists at those who zoomed past us on the train to the top, and enjoyed every moment of it. Almost. When we were about three-fourths of a mile from summiting the strangest thing happened. I got tired. Really tired. My legs felt heavy. Every step was a monumental effort. I kept pushing myself until finally I couldn’t do it any longer. I told Isabella what I was experiencing and she, being older and much wiser, said, “Oh, you are bonking,” which I inferred to mean some kind of crazy fatigue that she was aware of and I was not.

As it turns out “bonking” or “hitting the wall” is a real thing. It is the onset of sudden fatigue caused by a loss of glycogen. I sat down, she handed me a cliff bar, and I ate about half of it along with some long sips of water. A few minutes later I was fine. In fact, we ate that last three-fourths of a mile for a midmorning snack. The summit was as amazing as promised with cool winds and breathtaking views.

Being in ministry is a lot like summiting a peak. It’s a process and a journey. It’s something we sign up for and embark on with the best preparation we can have. It’s something that we do with others and, like my experience on Snowdon, it can wear us out. This is normal. Strength and energy comes and goes. We need periods of rest and quiet.

We need time to refuel and re-energize. As I was beginning to “bonk” I felt a sense of shame. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t just keep going. I looked at Isabella and she was fine. How come I wasn’t? I tried to push through and then I stopped. What Isabella did was normalize it for me, give me some fuel, and sit with me while I rested.

We can do the same for each other: normalize the fatigue, share the fuel for ministry that we have with each other, and be with each other in those periods of rest. Doing this for each other helps neutralize any shame we might be experiencing as well as any sense of competition with each other we may be indulging.

In the end, our vocational lives are most healthy and vibrant when we are in good relationship with each other, which necessarily means being able to share our vulnerabilities with each other and receive the support that is waiting to be offered.

These are my reflections on the eve of Lent, a time that is guaranteed to wear out anyone in active ministry. Be gentle with yourselves, reach out to one another (and to me!), and enjoy the journey with fellow pilgrims on the way.

A blessed Lent to all!

Melissa+
______________________________________________________________________________

February 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Taylor 

 Joining the List

 My siblings in Christ:
 Every month in “The Angelus,” we read these words from Canon Joanna Satorius: “Clergy  are encouraged to request that their name be placed on an interest list” for parish   congregations doing searches — as well as for mission congregations “or where an   appointment is otherwise applicable.”
That’s actually the Holy Spirit talking and offering opportunities for no end of discernment.
Putting one’s name on a list for a rector search is a big step. It probably means that we’re pretty sure it’s time to consider a new season in our vocation. Depending on how the search goes, we’ll be asked sooner rather than later why we want to leave our current post. We’ll have to ponder how soon to tell our current lay leaders what’s up. We’ll devote some of our best creative energy to actively envisioning ourselves in a new context and community.
The second part of Joanna’s message doesn’t get quite as much attention. We know this, because we don’t have as many names on the interest list as we would like. These are cures in which you express interest before knowing whether you’re actually interested – vicarships, of course, but also priest-in-charge positions.
Knowing what I know now – how quickly and unexpectedly these positions become available, and the wonderful diversity of mission and ministry they entail – if I were still a parish priest, no matter where I was serving, I would ask Joanna to put my name on the list. It wouldn’t be because I necessarily wanted to leave my current cure. I might even imagine retiring there. It would be because I had realized the Spirit can’t do her work in our lives and the lives of the people of God unless we cast ourselves continually to the whistling wind – unless, in other words, our names are always in the mix.
You can always say you’re not interested when we call. It’s that simple. But maybe it turns out that you are.These posts that the bishop fills are just like the ones you serve in now – unique, an outcome of a particular, precious local narrative. They might fit your gifts perfectly, but you and we can’t know for sure unless we are inspired to think about you when we reach for the List.
If you want to talk more about this, please don’t hesitate to speak with Canon Satorius, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, or me.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John

______________________________________________________________________________

October 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Expectations

Greetings, dear colleagues!

I sit down to write this note to you on the morning after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing testimony. I will confess that I am still reeling from watching the hearing and how it all played out. I am still reeling from the fact that a victim is being prosecuted. I am still reeling from the dehumanization she has experienced.

I am still reeling from the undeniable and incontrovertible evidence this testimony and the whole hearing has provided us of how far this country’s leadership has fallen and how openly, indeed publicly, sexual abuse of women has been given the rubber stamp of approval by our current president.

Meanwhile, while we are all focused on this hearing, ICE detained 150 good people in Southern California, which is yet another example of the horrific policies put into place by the current president.

Given everything that is happening in our world, how do we continue our vocational tasks of preaching, teaching, and living the good news?

How do we find the energy for it?

For me, it has come through reflection upon a question a colleague posed to me. A couple of Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to do a parish visit, sit with the vestry of the church, and talk about mission in ministry in their particular context. During this meeting, their rector asked me a question that caught me up short for a moment. It was a simple, articulate, and profound question. It was an articulation of something I have wondered during all my years of priesthood but have never been able to put words to, at least not this way. The rector asked what our bishops expect of us, the clergy.

I went back to Echo Park and told Bishop Taylor about this question, how it had struck me, and how I answered the question. Together, he and I put some more thinking behind what is expected of us, and by “us” I mean all of us, including the bishops.

Here’s what we came up with:

Curiosity
In a cultural context that dehumanizes and renders invisible those that it deems “other,” one of the most profoundly easy and highly impactful things we can do is to be curious about the people we meet. We can learn their stories, get to know them, and listen to what they have to teach us. Our curiosity and interest in others helps them to feel seen and heard, and it fosters a sense of safety in community’

Joy
An underrated charism in our church, joy is infectious. It is almost impossible not to feel it when you encounter someone who has this infectious joy. Joy for me has been an on again/off again experience, but more and more, in the light of what is happening in our world, I am doing my best to lean into it. Our lives are resurrection narratives and that is something we can be joyful about. We have Jesus and that is where our joy is found.

Talk less and listen more
We clergy are in the business of talking. We pray, we preach, we provide leadership for our people. We certainly value listening as an essential part of our vocation, but it’s easier said than done. Simply listening, without jumping in to share our own story or make a connection with an experience we have had, is one way we can really see the people with whom we minister. Listening to someone is receiving them.

Do the opposite
In a context and time in history which is increasingly polarized, binary, either/or, impatient, anxious, suspicious, and volatile, go and do the opposite.

We have the opportunity to bring in the gray areas, to see the both/and, to adopt radical calm, and to believe what people tell us. Whatever we can do that is the opposite of what is happening around us will be transformative. Of course, this goes back to our baptismal promise to seek justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Whatever we can do to live into this promise, one relationship at a time, will make a difference.

Love one another as God has loved us
Our collegial relationships are among the most important relationships we have beyond our families. Let us love each other as God has loved us. A safe community of holy love and grace is what God wants for us. Let us be that for one another.

Thank you, dear colleagues, for the ministries you do, for the love you share, and for saying yes to God’s call to bring hope to the world during this time. It is an honor to be doing ministry with you!

Blessings,

Melissa+

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July 2018

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

Where the spirit moves us

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write this article to you, I’m preparing to head to General Convention on Sunday, July 1.

I arrive early as I have responsibilities to attend to as Secretary to the House of Bishops. We will be talking about and voting on a wide variety of subjects – some of which many of you are passionate about.

It will be about two weeks of intensive work, which is designed to point us as a Church in the direction that the Spirit moves us.

I am never good at predicting the outcome of elections to offices or of the fate of various resolutions, yet one thing I do know: much work will be done, many conversations will be had (some heated) – and all this set in the context of prayer and the Eucharist.

In addition to preparing for General Convention I have been working on finance and stewardship work, and am most grateful to Lorenzo Lebrija for his help and work on the Stewardship event we held last weekend. Thanks also to Chris Tumilty, who used his expertise to allow us for the first time to go “live” to you – with the plenary and all workshops live-streamed.

We hope to do more of this, so that the diocese can meet YOU where YOU are — not just at Echo Park. Videos of the plenary and workshops will be available for your viewing here.

The work was designed to help congregations with planned giving, narrative budgeting, utilizing TENS (The Episcopal Network on Stewardship), utilizing Holy Currencies, etc.

Speaking of TENS, if you want to use the materials, the Diocese has purchased access for you. The login ID is: Mark; the password is: 10:21. The work we are doing in Finance and the work of the Stewardship Conference was and is to equip you and all of us for the work God is giving us to do.

While I am personally preoccupied at the moment with General Convention preparations, and in the midst of work in Finance and just through with our Stewardship Conference, I’m most grateful to our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor and the men and women, lay and ordained, who are working tirelessly to bring attention to and end the separation of children from their parents at the border.

From demonstrations to protests to phone calls to letter writing–something has to change. The evil – and I use the word evil — separation of children from their families is one of the most depraved acts we as a nation can commit against a human family. Families must be reunited again – now. I keep thinking about the Holy Family – fleeing to Egypt. What if Jesus had been separated from his parents at that border?

Friends in Christ, we need to band together as the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus movement to not only move in the way the Spirit is leading us through the work of our General Convention, and through the way we utilize our gifts of time, talent and treasure, but most importantly through the way we shed light into the darkness that sometimes overtakes our world.

We must continue to advocate for those who have no voice or whose voices are being silenced. That is Jesus-work for us all. May we continue to do so, speaking out, using our resources, advocating for, loving, caring and protecting ALL whom God brings to us.

Blessings,

+Diane

_____________________________________________________________________

June 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

The truth of our vocation

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you after a wonderful meeting with those who will be ordained on June 2 at St. John’s Cathedral. I came to my scheduled time with them with no agenda.

As we talked, a few questions began to emerge. Among the things they asked were the usual questions about when to wear or not wear their collars, when to call the bishop, and all the other things you may remember having questions about when you were newly ordained.

As the conversation continued, the questions moved from the practical to the personal and theological. One of the ordinands asked me something like this: “What lies do the newly ordained tell themselves and how can we stay true to the truth?”

I was struck by the honesty of this question and how important it is for us to stay true to the truth of our vocations. What are the lies we tell ourselves? What is the truth of our vocation that we need to keep in focus?

For each of us, the answers to these questions may be different but I imagine there is a similar theme. The lies we tell ourselves are most likely rooted in ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear. The truth of our vocation is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope. That part of the question is not so tricky to identify. Staying true to the truth is a more difficult task.

How do you avoid the lies of ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear, and stay rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope? What does that mean for you?

For me it has something to do with remembering what a privilege it is to be called into a vocation where our work is to love others as Christ has loved us as well as the fact that while we will always have lots of tasks, what matters most in our ordained ministry is who we are. Our presence is our primary strength as leaders. Everything else will take care of itself when our presence is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope.

Please pray for those being ordained on June 2, as well as for all of our colleagues in this sacred work into which we have been called.

Know that you are held in prayer by Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce, the whole diocesan staff, and me. My prayer for us all is that our work may be rooted in God’s love, humility, faithfulness, and hope!

Blessings,

Melissa+

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

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May 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

May 2, 2019 – Feast of St. Athanasius

St. Paul’s Commons
is the new name for
our diocesan HQ in Echo Park

 

 My dear colleagues:

We all have something in common – the risen Christ, of course, and also the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park. I know most of you love it as much as I do. I remember my first visit, for a meeting during the early stages of my discernment for ordained ministry. I was surprised that it was in the heart of the city, not downtown but in a neighborhood, not built skyward but spread like open arms across a long block facing Echo Park Lake.

When I get to work and head up the stairs, I sometimes remember my excited, unsettled feeling that day. The building was just a few years old back then – and as a matter of fact, I was in my infancy as well, at least spiritually speaking.

 The Cathedral Center still feels just right to me. As my vocation matures, I’ve come to care for this building (and its devoted occupants, my beloved fellow ministers) more and more.

 Built and completed during Fred Borsch’s episcopate, inspired and nurtured into bricks and mortar by its first provost, Jon Bruno, the church in the Cathedral Center stands for two historic institutions. One is St. Paul’s Cathedral downtown, which was damaged in a 1971 earthquake and eventually torn down. The other is St. Athanasius Church, founded in 1864, the oldest continually operating Protestant congregation in southern California, which provided the land in Echo Park. Not that Bishop Bruce and I sit in them much, but our cathedrae are there, signifying that it is a cathedral church, as during chrism masses and other diocesan services. The rest of the time, our lively, multicultural congregation of St. Athanasius calls the same space home.

Meanwhile, ten years ago, Bishop Bruno designated St. John’s as a pro-cathedral, which is a cathedral that begins its life as a parish. Research amply demonstrates that this is the case with many historic cathedrals. Accordingly, we removed the “Pro-“ – and bingo, we now had two cathedrals, one in Echo Park on the brink of its second quarter-century, the other on Adams Blvd. beginning its second decade.

 As you know, we’ve been in conversation and discernment about this ecclesiastical dichotomy for over a year. The upshot is that later this year, on a date still to be determined and announced, we will rename your Echo Park headquarters. The new logo will contain this information:

ST. PAUL’S COMMONS
Diocesan Center
Ministry Center
Retreat and Conference Center

The new name will preserve the building’s historic connection to the downtown cathedral. It will make clear that the bishops and all our colleagues are still at work there. It will highlight our continuing and new ministries to our Echo Park neighbors, especially those grappling with food and housing insecurity. And it will draw more attention to our beautiful, underutilized retreat center and all our public spaces, which are available to community organizations for lease (in the name of sustainability) and sometimes for free (as at the neighborhood-minded institutions you serve).

The change to St. Paul’s Commons will, we trust, further energize two other beloved institutions.

St. Athanasius Church will again have a space that is entirely its own. As we spruce up the whole complex with new carpet, paint, and signage, we plan a concerted effort to draw attention to the congregation’s presence so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy its abundant ministries.

St. John’s Cathedral also enters an exciting time of visioning about its role as a diocesan and civic institution in the heart of one of the greatest cities on earth. St. John’s’ neighborhood, which actually is our whole diocese, is a harbinger of Christ’s church’s multicultural, pluralistic, socially progressive destiny — if the church is to survive and thrive, that is. Though many of our neighbors are skeptical about faith institutions, their hearts are still hungry for purpose, meaning, justice, hope, mystery, and love. These challenges and opportunities engird our cathedral’s future. Its vision, as well as its more pressing needs such as a seismic retrofit, will be centerpieces of our diocesan capital campaign.

And while our offices, I stress again, won’t move to St. John’s, those cathedrae soon will.

With clergy conference coming up next week, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, Canon Williams (who has played a vital role in this transition), and I look forward to answering your questions about all that’s in store for St. Paul’s Commons. See you in Riverside.

Yours in Christ’s Eastertide love,

+John

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April 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce:

About Lambeth

Dear Friends in Christ:

In mid-March Bishop Taylor and I spent four long, intense days with our fellow Bishops at Kanuga in North Carolina. You have already seen the letter from us and our spouses regarding the controversy surrounding Lambeth 2020.

Leaving Bishop Mary Glasspool’s beloved Becki off the guest list was shocking and painful – especially for those of us who have experienced their powerful and loving ministry among us. The response of the House of Bishops (HOB) as well as your bishops here was undertaken prayerfully. Mary herself gave a moving account of what transpired in the weeks leading up to our gathering at the HOB.

The work of the HOB in this triennium is centered on The Way of Love. For those of you who haven’t reviewed the materials for The Way of Love a good place to begin is here.

We had the privilege of hearing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie (AME Bishop, Texas) as well as Bishop Ric Thorpe (Bishop of Islington) on Evangelism as it relates to the Way of Love.

Bishop McKenzie is the Bishop in charge of all the AME churches in the State of Texas. She talked about the fact that many people practice “CHURCHianity” rather than “CHRISTianity”.

She asked the question, “Is it possible that we are more in love with Church than we are with Jesus Christ?” It is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of Church that we forget the reason we are here and what we are called to do. While we need the institution, we also need to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Ric Thorpe has been Bishop of Islington, a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of London with special attention to the ministry of church planting, since September 2015. He is responsible for the London diocese’s goal of creating 100 New Worshipping Communities by 2020 and is also working nationally to support other dioceses to plant new churches and revitalize existing ones. Before being appointed to Islington, Bishop Ric was the Bishop of London’s adviser for Church Planting and the rector of St. Paul’s Shadwell.

Bishop Thorpe offered that the Way of Love re-centers us on what really matters. He shared that the decade of Evangelism in England didn’t produce much fruit in terms of the programs and projects that it did — EXCEPT for Alpha and for a renewed passion for the poor and the marginalized.

Reflecting on his work turning around St. Paul’s, he told us that St. Paul’s had 12 people left in it and was going to be closed. The Bishop of London asked Bishop Thorpe and a team to revitalize it — 95 people came with him to revitalize. The neighborhood is 45% Muslim, 45% secular young professionals, 10% aging cockney. The congregation grew! Check out their website here.

Bishop Thorpe draws his tradition from Gregory the Great — a vision for the re-visioning of a community and re-evangelizing of the nation. Augustine similarly worked with the powers that be to plant churches. Bishop Thorpe then looked to the Celtic saints and found Cuthbert who worked by coming alongside a community, developing a church outside the city limits and offering hospitality. The Celtic way is all about relationships.

Both Bishop McKenzie and Bishop Thorpe agreed that if we want to see the church revitalized and become a church that is full of the love of God in Christ and is following The Way of Love it starts with prayer. Here we are, back to where we started. The bishops spent time and prayed as we dealt with the harsh reality of Lambeth 2020. It all starts with prayer, and it all must end with prayer.

Please know I pray for you all daily. I pray for our Church. I pray for our nation. I pray for our world. May all we do be begin and end in prayer.

+Diane

March 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Summiting Together

Dear Friends:

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain peak in Wales and the highest peak in all of the United Kingdom outside of the Scottish Highlands. This 3,560-foot peak seems small for us here in California where snow falls generally occur at 4,500 feet and above. However, each mountain has its own personality, its own treachery, and Snowdon is no different.

I visited Wales in 2005 and, with my friend Isabella, decided to take a day to make the climb. I was barely 30 and still had that feeling of invincibility when we embarked that July morning. We decided to take the longest and busiest route to the top because we had been warned by so many locals to be careful of sudden weather changes and the danger such changes would bring us along the less traversed and more narrow paths. As I recall, it is a five-mile hike to the top so, after a good and fortifying breakfast, we started our ascent early that morning.

The hike up to the peak was beautiful. We encountered many fellow pilgrims, shook our figurative fists at those who zoomed past us on the train to the top, and enjoyed every moment of it. Almost. When we were about three-fourths of a mile from summiting the strangest thing happened. I got tired. Really tired. My legs felt heavy. Every step was a monumental effort. I kept pushing myself until finally I couldn’t do it any longer. I told Isabella what I was experiencing and she, being older and much wiser, said, “Oh, you are bonking,” which I inferred to mean some kind of crazy fatigue that she was aware of and I was not.

As it turns out “bonking” or “hitting the wall” is a real thing. It is the onset of sudden fatigue caused by a loss of glycogen. I sat down, she handed me a cliff bar, and I ate about half of it along with some long sips of water. A few minutes later I was fine. In fact, we ate that last three-fourths of a mile for a midmorning snack. The summit was as amazing as promised with cool winds and breathtaking views.

Being in ministry is a lot like summiting a peak. It’s a process and a journey. It’s something we sign up for and embark on with the best preparation we can have. It’s something that we do with others and, like my experience on Snowdon, it can wear us out. This is normal. Strength and energy comes and goes. We need periods of rest and quiet.

We need time to refuel and re-energize. As I was beginning to “bonk” I felt a sense of shame. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t just keep going. I looked at Isabella and she was fine. How come I wasn’t? I tried to push through and then I stopped. What Isabella did was normalize it for me, give me some fuel, and sit with me while I rested.

We can do the same for each other: normalize the fatigue, share the fuel for ministry that we have with each other, and be with each other in those periods of rest. Doing this for each other helps neutralize any shame we might be experiencing as well as any sense of competition with each other we may be indulging.

In the end, our vocational lives are most healthy and vibrant when we are in good relationship with each other, which necessarily means being able to share our vulnerabilities with each other and receive the support that is waiting to be offered.

These are my reflections on the eve of Lent, a time that is guaranteed to wear out anyone in active ministry. Be gentle with yourselves, reach out to one another (and to me!), and enjoy the journey with fellow pilgrims on the way.

A blessed Lent to all!

Melissa+
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February 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Taylor 

 Joining the List

 My siblings in Christ:
 Every month in “The Angelus,” we read these words from Canon Joanna Satorius: “Clergy  are encouraged to request that their name be placed on an interest list” for parish   congregations doing searches — as well as for mission congregations “or where an   appointment is otherwise applicable.”
That’s actually the Holy Spirit talking and offering opportunities for no end of discernment.
Putting one’s name on a list for a rector search is a big step. It probably means that we’re pretty sure it’s time to consider a new season in our vocation. Depending on how the search goes, we’ll be asked sooner rather than later why we want to leave our current post. We’ll have to ponder how soon to tell our current lay leaders what’s up. We’ll devote some of our best creative energy to actively envisioning ourselves in a new context and community.
The second part of Joanna’s message doesn’t get quite as much attention. We know this, because we don’t have as many names on the interest list as we would like. These are cures in which you express interest before knowing whether you’re actually interested – vicarships, of course, but also priest-in-charge positions.
Knowing what I know now – how quickly and unexpectedly these positions become available, and the wonderful diversity of mission and ministry they entail – if I were still a parish priest, no matter where I was serving, I would ask Joanna to put my name on the list. It wouldn’t be because I necessarily wanted to leave my current cure. I might even imagine retiring there. It would be because I had realized the Spirit can’t do her work in our lives and the lives of the people of God unless we cast ourselves continually to the whistling wind – unless, in other words, our names are always in the mix.
You can always say you’re not interested when we call. It’s that simple. But maybe it turns out that you are.These posts that the bishop fills are just like the ones you serve in now – unique, an outcome of a particular, precious local narrative. They might fit your gifts perfectly, but you and we can’t know for sure unless we are inspired to think about you when we reach for the List.
If you want to talk more about this, please don’t hesitate to speak with Canon Satorius, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, or me.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John

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October 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Expectations

Greetings, dear colleagues!

I sit down to write this note to you on the morning after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing testimony. I will confess that I am still reeling from watching the hearing and how it all played out. I am still reeling from the fact that a victim is being prosecuted. I am still reeling from the dehumanization she has experienced.

I am still reeling from the undeniable and incontrovertible evidence this testimony and the whole hearing has provided us of how far this country’s leadership has fallen and how openly, indeed publicly, sexual abuse of women has been given the rubber stamp of approval by our current president.

Meanwhile, while we are all focused on this hearing, ICE detained 150 good people in Southern California, which is yet another example of the horrific policies put into place by the current president.

Given everything that is happening in our world, how do we continue our vocational tasks of preaching, teaching, and living the good news?

How do we find the energy for it?

For me, it has come through reflection upon a question a colleague posed to me. A couple of Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to do a parish visit, sit with the vestry of the church, and talk about mission in ministry in their particular context. During this meeting, their rector asked me a question that caught me up short for a moment. It was a simple, articulate, and profound question. It was an articulation of something I have wondered during all my years of priesthood but have never been able to put words to, at least not this way. The rector asked what our bishops expect of us, the clergy.

I went back to Echo Park and told Bishop Taylor about this question, how it had struck me, and how I answered the question. Together, he and I put some more thinking behind what is expected of us, and by “us” I mean all of us, including the bishops.

Here’s what we came up with:

Curiosity
In a cultural context that dehumanizes and renders invisible those that it deems “other,” one of the most profoundly easy and highly impactful things we can do is to be curious about the people we meet. We can learn their stories, get to know them, and listen to what they have to teach us. Our curiosity and interest in others helps them to feel seen and heard, and it fosters a sense of safety in community’

Joy
An underrated charism in our church, joy is infectious. It is almost impossible not to feel it when you encounter someone who has this infectious joy. Joy for me has been an on again/off again experience, but more and more, in the light of what is happening in our world, I am doing my best to lean into it. Our lives are resurrection narratives and that is something we can be joyful about. We have Jesus and that is where our joy is found.

Talk less and listen more
We clergy are in the business of talking. We pray, we preach, we provide leadership for our people. We certainly value listening as an essential part of our vocation, but it’s easier said than done. Simply listening, without jumping in to share our own story or make a connection with an experience we have had, is one way we can really see the people with whom we minister. Listening to someone is receiving them.

Do the opposite
In a context and time in history which is increasingly polarized, binary, either/or, impatient, anxious, suspicious, and volatile, go and do the opposite.

We have the opportunity to bring in the gray areas, to see the both/and, to adopt radical calm, and to believe what people tell us. Whatever we can do that is the opposite of what is happening around us will be transformative. Of course, this goes back to our baptismal promise to seek justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Whatever we can do to live into this promise, one relationship at a time, will make a difference.

Love one another as God has loved us
Our collegial relationships are among the most important relationships we have beyond our families. Let us love each other as God has loved us. A safe community of holy love and grace is what God wants for us. Let us be that for one another.

Thank you, dear colleagues, for the ministries you do, for the love you share, and for saying yes to God’s call to bring hope to the world during this time. It is an honor to be doing ministry with you!

Blessings,

Melissa+

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July 2018

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

Where the spirit moves us

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write this article to you, I’m preparing to head to General Convention on Sunday, July 1.

I arrive early as I have responsibilities to attend to as Secretary to the House of Bishops. We will be talking about and voting on a wide variety of subjects – some of which many of you are passionate about.

It will be about two weeks of intensive work, which is designed to point us as a Church in the direction that the Spirit moves us.

I am never good at predicting the outcome of elections to offices or of the fate of various resolutions, yet one thing I do know: much work will be done, many conversations will be had (some heated) – and all this set in the context of prayer and the Eucharist.

In addition to preparing for General Convention I have been working on finance and stewardship work, and am most grateful to Lorenzo Lebrija for his help and work on the Stewardship event we held last weekend. Thanks also to Chris Tumilty, who used his expertise to allow us for the first time to go “live” to you – with the plenary and all workshops live-streamed.

We hope to do more of this, so that the diocese can meet YOU where YOU are — not just at Echo Park. Videos of the plenary and workshops will be available for your viewing here.

The work was designed to help congregations with planned giving, narrative budgeting, utilizing TENS (The Episcopal Network on Stewardship), utilizing Holy Currencies, etc.

Speaking of TENS, if you want to use the materials, the Diocese has purchased access for you. The login ID is: Mark; the password is: 10:21. The work we are doing in Finance and the work of the Stewardship Conference was and is to equip you and all of us for the work God is giving us to do.

While I am personally preoccupied at the moment with General Convention preparations, and in the midst of work in Finance and just through with our Stewardship Conference, I’m most grateful to our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor and the men and women, lay and ordained, who are working tirelessly to bring attention to and end the separation of children from their parents at the border.

From demonstrations to protests to phone calls to letter writing–something has to change. The evil – and I use the word evil — separation of children from their families is one of the most depraved acts we as a nation can commit against a human family. Families must be reunited again – now. I keep thinking about the Holy Family – fleeing to Egypt. What if Jesus had been separated from his parents at that border?

Friends in Christ, we need to band together as the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus movement to not only move in the way the Spirit is leading us through the work of our General Convention, and through the way we utilize our gifts of time, talent and treasure, but most importantly through the way we shed light into the darkness that sometimes overtakes our world.

We must continue to advocate for those who have no voice or whose voices are being silenced. That is Jesus-work for us all. May we continue to do so, speaking out, using our resources, advocating for, loving, caring and protecting ALL whom God brings to us.

Blessings,

+Diane

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June 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

The truth of our vocation

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you after a wonderful meeting with those who will be ordained on June 2 at St. John’s Cathedral. I came to my scheduled time with them with no agenda.

As we talked, a few questions began to emerge. Among the things they asked were the usual questions about when to wear or not wear their collars, when to call the bishop, and all the other things you may remember having questions about when you were newly ordained.

As the conversation continued, the questions moved from the practical to the personal and theological. One of the ordinands asked me something like this: “What lies do the newly ordained tell themselves and how can we stay true to the truth?”

I was struck by the honesty of this question and how important it is for us to stay true to the truth of our vocations. What are the lies we tell ourselves? What is the truth of our vocation that we need to keep in focus?

For each of us, the answers to these questions may be different but I imagine there is a similar theme. The lies we tell ourselves are most likely rooted in ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear. The truth of our vocation is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope. That part of the question is not so tricky to identify. Staying true to the truth is a more difficult task.

How do you avoid the lies of ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear, and stay rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope? What does that mean for you?

For me it has something to do with remembering what a privilege it is to be called into a vocation where our work is to love others as Christ has loved us as well as the fact that while we will always have lots of tasks, what matters most in our ordained ministry is who we are. Our presence is our primary strength as leaders. Everything else will take care of itself when our presence is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope.

Please pray for those being ordained on June 2, as well as for all of our colleagues in this sacred work into which we have been called.

Know that you are held in prayer by Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce, the whole diocesan staff, and me. My prayer for us all is that our work may be rooted in God’s love, humility, faithfulness, and hope!

Blessings,

Melissa+

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

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June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

______________________________________________________________________________

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

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May 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

May 2, 2019 – Feast of St. Athanasius

St. Paul’s Commons
is the new name for
our diocesan HQ in Echo Park

 

 My dear colleagues:

We all have something in common – the risen Christ, of course, and also the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park. I know most of you love it as much as I do. I remember my first visit, for a meeting during the early stages of my discernment for ordained ministry. I was surprised that it was in the heart of the city, not downtown but in a neighborhood, not built skyward but spread like open arms across a long block facing Echo Park Lake.

When I get to work and head up the stairs, I sometimes remember my excited, unsettled feeling that day. The building was just a few years old back then – and as a matter of fact, I was in my infancy as well, at least spiritually speaking.

 The Cathedral Center still feels just right to me. As my vocation matures, I’ve come to care for this building (and its devoted occupants, my beloved fellow ministers) more and more.

 Built and completed during Fred Borsch’s episcopate, inspired and nurtured into bricks and mortar by its first provost, Jon Bruno, the church in the Cathedral Center stands for two historic institutions. One is St. Paul’s Cathedral downtown, which was damaged in a 1971 earthquake and eventually torn down. The other is St. Athanasius Church, founded in 1864, the oldest continually operating Protestant congregation in southern California, which provided the land in Echo Park. Not that Bishop Bruce and I sit in them much, but our cathedrae are there, signifying that it is a cathedral church, as during chrism masses and other diocesan services. The rest of the time, our lively, multicultural congregation of St. Athanasius calls the same space home.

Meanwhile, ten years ago, Bishop Bruno designated St. John’s as a pro-cathedral, which is a cathedral that begins its life as a parish. Research amply demonstrates that this is the case with many historic cathedrals. Accordingly, we removed the “Pro-“ – and bingo, we now had two cathedrals, one in Echo Park on the brink of its second quarter-century, the other on Adams Blvd. beginning its second decade.

 As you know, we’ve been in conversation and discernment about this ecclesiastical dichotomy for over a year. The upshot is that later this year, on a date still to be determined and announced, we will rename your Echo Park headquarters. The new logo will contain this information:

ST. PAUL’S COMMONS
Diocesan Center
Ministry Center
Retreat and Conference Center

The new name will preserve the building’s historic connection to the downtown cathedral. It will make clear that the bishops and all our colleagues are still at work there. It will highlight our continuing and new ministries to our Echo Park neighbors, especially those grappling with food and housing insecurity. And it will draw more attention to our beautiful, underutilized retreat center and all our public spaces, which are available to community organizations for lease (in the name of sustainability) and sometimes for free (as at the neighborhood-minded institutions you serve).

The change to St. Paul’s Commons will, we trust, further energize two other beloved institutions.

St. Athanasius Church will again have a space that is entirely its own. As we spruce up the whole complex with new carpet, paint, and signage, we plan a concerted effort to draw attention to the congregation’s presence so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy its abundant ministries.

St. John’s Cathedral also enters an exciting time of visioning about its role as a diocesan and civic institution in the heart of one of the greatest cities on earth. St. John’s’ neighborhood, which actually is our whole diocese, is a harbinger of Christ’s church’s multicultural, pluralistic, socially progressive destiny — if the church is to survive and thrive, that is. Though many of our neighbors are skeptical about faith institutions, their hearts are still hungry for purpose, meaning, justice, hope, mystery, and love. These challenges and opportunities engird our cathedral’s future. Its vision, as well as its more pressing needs such as a seismic retrofit, will be centerpieces of our diocesan capital campaign.

And while our offices, I stress again, won’t move to St. John’s, those cathedrae soon will.

With clergy conference coming up next week, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, Canon Williams (who has played a vital role in this transition), and I look forward to answering your questions about all that’s in store for St. Paul’s Commons. See you in Riverside.

Yours in Christ’s Eastertide love,

+John

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April 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce:

About Lambeth

Dear Friends in Christ:

In mid-March Bishop Taylor and I spent four long, intense days with our fellow Bishops at Kanuga in North Carolina. You have already seen the letter from us and our spouses regarding the controversy surrounding Lambeth 2020.

Leaving Bishop Mary Glasspool’s beloved Becki off the guest list was shocking and painful – especially for those of us who have experienced their powerful and loving ministry among us. The response of the House of Bishops (HOB) as well as your bishops here was undertaken prayerfully. Mary herself gave a moving account of what transpired in the weeks leading up to our gathering at the HOB.

The work of the HOB in this triennium is centered on The Way of Love. For those of you who haven’t reviewed the materials for The Way of Love a good place to begin is here.

We had the privilege of hearing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie (AME Bishop, Texas) as well as Bishop Ric Thorpe (Bishop of Islington) on Evangelism as it relates to the Way of Love.

Bishop McKenzie is the Bishop in charge of all the AME churches in the State of Texas. She talked about the fact that many people practice “CHURCHianity” rather than “CHRISTianity”.

She asked the question, “Is it possible that we are more in love with Church than we are with Jesus Christ?” It is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of Church that we forget the reason we are here and what we are called to do. While we need the institution, we also need to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Ric Thorpe has been Bishop of Islington, a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of London with special attention to the ministry of church planting, since September 2015. He is responsible for the London diocese’s goal of creating 100 New Worshipping Communities by 2020 and is also working nationally to support other dioceses to plant new churches and revitalize existing ones. Before being appointed to Islington, Bishop Ric was the Bishop of London’s adviser for Church Planting and the rector of St. Paul’s Shadwell.

Bishop Thorpe offered that the Way of Love re-centers us on what really matters. He shared that the decade of Evangelism in England didn’t produce much fruit in terms of the programs and projects that it did — EXCEPT for Alpha and for a renewed passion for the poor and the marginalized.

Reflecting on his work turning around St. Paul’s, he told us that St. Paul’s had 12 people left in it and was going to be closed. The Bishop of London asked Bishop Thorpe and a team to revitalize it — 95 people came with him to revitalize. The neighborhood is 45% Muslim, 45% secular young professionals, 10% aging cockney. The congregation grew! Check out their website here.

Bishop Thorpe draws his tradition from Gregory the Great — a vision for the re-visioning of a community and re-evangelizing of the nation. Augustine similarly worked with the powers that be to plant churches. Bishop Thorpe then looked to the Celtic saints and found Cuthbert who worked by coming alongside a community, developing a church outside the city limits and offering hospitality. The Celtic way is all about relationships.

Both Bishop McKenzie and Bishop Thorpe agreed that if we want to see the church revitalized and become a church that is full of the love of God in Christ and is following The Way of Love it starts with prayer. Here we are, back to where we started. The bishops spent time and prayed as we dealt with the harsh reality of Lambeth 2020. It all starts with prayer, and it all must end with prayer.

Please know I pray for you all daily. I pray for our Church. I pray for our nation. I pray for our world. May all we do be begin and end in prayer.

+Diane

March 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Summiting Together

Dear Friends:

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain peak in Wales and the highest peak in all of the United Kingdom outside of the Scottish Highlands. This 3,560-foot peak seems small for us here in California where snow falls generally occur at 4,500 feet and above. However, each mountain has its own personality, its own treachery, and Snowdon is no different.

I visited Wales in 2005 and, with my friend Isabella, decided to take a day to make the climb. I was barely 30 and still had that feeling of invincibility when we embarked that July morning. We decided to take the longest and busiest route to the top because we had been warned by so many locals to be careful of sudden weather changes and the danger such changes would bring us along the less traversed and more narrow paths. As I recall, it is a five-mile hike to the top so, after a good and fortifying breakfast, we started our ascent early that morning.

The hike up to the peak was beautiful. We encountered many fellow pilgrims, shook our figurative fists at those who zoomed past us on the train to the top, and enjoyed every moment of it. Almost. When we were about three-fourths of a mile from summiting the strangest thing happened. I got tired. Really tired. My legs felt heavy. Every step was a monumental effort. I kept pushing myself until finally I couldn’t do it any longer. I told Isabella what I was experiencing and she, being older and much wiser, said, “Oh, you are bonking,” which I inferred to mean some kind of crazy fatigue that she was aware of and I was not.

As it turns out “bonking” or “hitting the wall” is a real thing. It is the onset of sudden fatigue caused by a loss of glycogen. I sat down, she handed me a cliff bar, and I ate about half of it along with some long sips of water. A few minutes later I was fine. In fact, we ate that last three-fourths of a mile for a midmorning snack. The summit was as amazing as promised with cool winds and breathtaking views.

Being in ministry is a lot like summiting a peak. It’s a process and a journey. It’s something we sign up for and embark on with the best preparation we can have. It’s something that we do with others and, like my experience on Snowdon, it can wear us out. This is normal. Strength and energy comes and goes. We need periods of rest and quiet.

We need time to refuel and re-energize. As I was beginning to “bonk” I felt a sense of shame. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t just keep going. I looked at Isabella and she was fine. How come I wasn’t? I tried to push through and then I stopped. What Isabella did was normalize it for me, give me some fuel, and sit with me while I rested.

We can do the same for each other: normalize the fatigue, share the fuel for ministry that we have with each other, and be with each other in those periods of rest. Doing this for each other helps neutralize any shame we might be experiencing as well as any sense of competition with each other we may be indulging.

In the end, our vocational lives are most healthy and vibrant when we are in good relationship with each other, which necessarily means being able to share our vulnerabilities with each other and receive the support that is waiting to be offered.

These are my reflections on the eve of Lent, a time that is guaranteed to wear out anyone in active ministry. Be gentle with yourselves, reach out to one another (and to me!), and enjoy the journey with fellow pilgrims on the way.

A blessed Lent to all!

Melissa+
______________________________________________________________________________

February 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Taylor 

 Joining the List

 My siblings in Christ:
 Every month in “The Angelus,” we read these words from Canon Joanna Satorius: “Clergy  are encouraged to request that their name be placed on an interest list” for parish   congregations doing searches — as well as for mission congregations “or where an   appointment is otherwise applicable.”
That’s actually the Holy Spirit talking and offering opportunities for no end of discernment.
Putting one’s name on a list for a rector search is a big step. It probably means that we’re pretty sure it’s time to consider a new season in our vocation. Depending on how the search goes, we’ll be asked sooner rather than later why we want to leave our current post. We’ll have to ponder how soon to tell our current lay leaders what’s up. We’ll devote some of our best creative energy to actively envisioning ourselves in a new context and community.
The second part of Joanna’s message doesn’t get quite as much attention. We know this, because we don’t have as many names on the interest list as we would like. These are cures in which you express interest before knowing whether you’re actually interested – vicarships, of course, but also priest-in-charge positions.
Knowing what I know now – how quickly and unexpectedly these positions become available, and the wonderful diversity of mission and ministry they entail – if I were still a parish priest, no matter where I was serving, I would ask Joanna to put my name on the list. It wouldn’t be because I necessarily wanted to leave my current cure. I might even imagine retiring there. It would be because I had realized the Spirit can’t do her work in our lives and the lives of the people of God unless we cast ourselves continually to the whistling wind – unless, in other words, our names are always in the mix.
You can always say you’re not interested when we call. It’s that simple. But maybe it turns out that you are.These posts that the bishop fills are just like the ones you serve in now – unique, an outcome of a particular, precious local narrative. They might fit your gifts perfectly, but you and we can’t know for sure unless we are inspired to think about you when we reach for the List.
If you want to talk more about this, please don’t hesitate to speak with Canon Satorius, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, or me.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John

______________________________________________________________________________

October 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Expectations

Greetings, dear colleagues!

I sit down to write this note to you on the morning after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing testimony. I will confess that I am still reeling from watching the hearing and how it all played out. I am still reeling from the fact that a victim is being prosecuted. I am still reeling from the dehumanization she has experienced.

I am still reeling from the undeniable and incontrovertible evidence this testimony and the whole hearing has provided us of how far this country’s leadership has fallen and how openly, indeed publicly, sexual abuse of women has been given the rubber stamp of approval by our current president.

Meanwhile, while we are all focused on this hearing, ICE detained 150 good people in Southern California, which is yet another example of the horrific policies put into place by the current president.

Given everything that is happening in our world, how do we continue our vocational tasks of preaching, teaching, and living the good news?

How do we find the energy for it?

For me, it has come through reflection upon a question a colleague posed to me. A couple of Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to do a parish visit, sit with the vestry of the church, and talk about mission in ministry in their particular context. During this meeting, their rector asked me a question that caught me up short for a moment. It was a simple, articulate, and profound question. It was an articulation of something I have wondered during all my years of priesthood but have never been able to put words to, at least not this way. The rector asked what our bishops expect of us, the clergy.

I went back to Echo Park and told Bishop Taylor about this question, how it had struck me, and how I answered the question. Together, he and I put some more thinking behind what is expected of us, and by “us” I mean all of us, including the bishops.

Here’s what we came up with:

Curiosity
In a cultural context that dehumanizes and renders invisible those that it deems “other,” one of the most profoundly easy and highly impactful things we can do is to be curious about the people we meet. We can learn their stories, get to know them, and listen to what they have to teach us. Our curiosity and interest in others helps them to feel seen and heard, and it fosters a sense of safety in community’

Joy
An underrated charism in our church, joy is infectious. It is almost impossible not to feel it when you encounter someone who has this infectious joy. Joy for me has been an on again/off again experience, but more and more, in the light of what is happening in our world, I am doing my best to lean into it. Our lives are resurrection narratives and that is something we can be joyful about. We have Jesus and that is where our joy is found.

Talk less and listen more
We clergy are in the business of talking. We pray, we preach, we provide leadership for our people. We certainly value listening as an essential part of our vocation, but it’s easier said than done. Simply listening, without jumping in to share our own story or make a connection with an experience we have had, is one way we can really see the people with whom we minister. Listening to someone is receiving them.

Do the opposite
In a context and time in history which is increasingly polarized, binary, either/or, impatient, anxious, suspicious, and volatile, go and do the opposite.

We have the opportunity to bring in the gray areas, to see the both/and, to adopt radical calm, and to believe what people tell us. Whatever we can do that is the opposite of what is happening around us will be transformative. Of course, this goes back to our baptismal promise to seek justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Whatever we can do to live into this promise, one relationship at a time, will make a difference.

Love one another as God has loved us
Our collegial relationships are among the most important relationships we have beyond our families. Let us love each other as God has loved us. A safe community of holy love and grace is what God wants for us. Let us be that for one another.

Thank you, dear colleagues, for the ministries you do, for the love you share, and for saying yes to God’s call to bring hope to the world during this time. It is an honor to be doing ministry with you!

Blessings,

Melissa+

______________________________________________________________________________

July 2018

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

Where the spirit moves us

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write this article to you, I’m preparing to head to General Convention on Sunday, July 1.

I arrive early as I have responsibilities to attend to as Secretary to the House of Bishops. We will be talking about and voting on a wide variety of subjects – some of which many of you are passionate about.

It will be about two weeks of intensive work, which is designed to point us as a Church in the direction that the Spirit moves us.

I am never good at predicting the outcome of elections to offices or of the fate of various resolutions, yet one thing I do know: much work will be done, many conversations will be had (some heated) – and all this set in the context of prayer and the Eucharist.

In addition to preparing for General Convention I have been working on finance and stewardship work, and am most grateful to Lorenzo Lebrija for his help and work on the Stewardship event we held last weekend. Thanks also to Chris Tumilty, who used his expertise to allow us for the first time to go “live” to you – with the plenary and all workshops live-streamed.

We hope to do more of this, so that the diocese can meet YOU where YOU are — not just at Echo Park. Videos of the plenary and workshops will be available for your viewing here.

The work was designed to help congregations with planned giving, narrative budgeting, utilizing TENS (The Episcopal Network on Stewardship), utilizing Holy Currencies, etc.

Speaking of TENS, if you want to use the materials, the Diocese has purchased access for you. The login ID is: Mark; the password is: 10:21. The work we are doing in Finance and the work of the Stewardship Conference was and is to equip you and all of us for the work God is giving us to do.

While I am personally preoccupied at the moment with General Convention preparations, and in the midst of work in Finance and just through with our Stewardship Conference, I’m most grateful to our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor and the men and women, lay and ordained, who are working tirelessly to bring attention to and end the separation of children from their parents at the border.

From demonstrations to protests to phone calls to letter writing–something has to change. The evil – and I use the word evil — separation of children from their families is one of the most depraved acts we as a nation can commit against a human family. Families must be reunited again – now. I keep thinking about the Holy Family – fleeing to Egypt. What if Jesus had been separated from his parents at that border?

Friends in Christ, we need to band together as the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus movement to not only move in the way the Spirit is leading us through the work of our General Convention, and through the way we utilize our gifts of time, talent and treasure, but most importantly through the way we shed light into the darkness that sometimes overtakes our world.

We must continue to advocate for those who have no voice or whose voices are being silenced. That is Jesus-work for us all. May we continue to do so, speaking out, using our resources, advocating for, loving, caring and protecting ALL whom God brings to us.

Blessings,

+Diane

_____________________________________________________________________

June 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

The truth of our vocation

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you after a wonderful meeting with those who will be ordained on June 2 at St. John’s Cathedral. I came to my scheduled time with them with no agenda.

As we talked, a few questions began to emerge. Among the things they asked were the usual questions about when to wear or not wear their collars, when to call the bishop, and all the other things you may remember having questions about when you were newly ordained.

As the conversation continued, the questions moved from the practical to the personal and theological. One of the ordinands asked me something like this: “What lies do the newly ordained tell themselves and how can we stay true to the truth?”

I was struck by the honesty of this question and how important it is for us to stay true to the truth of our vocations. What are the lies we tell ourselves? What is the truth of our vocation that we need to keep in focus?

For each of us, the answers to these questions may be different but I imagine there is a similar theme. The lies we tell ourselves are most likely rooted in ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear. The truth of our vocation is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope. That part of the question is not so tricky to identify. Staying true to the truth is a more difficult task.

How do you avoid the lies of ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear, and stay rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope? What does that mean for you?

For me it has something to do with remembering what a privilege it is to be called into a vocation where our work is to love others as Christ has loved us as well as the fact that while we will always have lots of tasks, what matters most in our ordained ministry is who we are. Our presence is our primary strength as leaders. Everything else will take care of itself when our presence is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope.

Please pray for those being ordained on June 2, as well as for all of our colleagues in this sacred work into which we have been called.

Know that you are held in prayer by Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce, the whole diocesan staff, and me. My prayer for us all is that our work may be rooted in God’s love, humility, faithfulness, and hope!

Blessings,

Melissa+

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

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June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

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May 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

May 2, 2019 – Feast of St. Athanasius

St. Paul’s Commons
is the new name for
our diocesan HQ in Echo Park

 

 My dear colleagues:

We all have something in common – the risen Christ, of course, and also the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park. I know most of you love it as much as I do. I remember my first visit, for a meeting during the early stages of my discernment for ordained ministry. I was surprised that it was in the heart of the city, not downtown but in a neighborhood, not built skyward but spread like open arms across a long block facing Echo Park Lake.

When I get to work and head up the stairs, I sometimes remember my excited, unsettled feeling that day. The building was just a few years old back then – and as a matter of fact, I was in my infancy as well, at least spiritually speaking.

 The Cathedral Center still feels just right to me. As my vocation matures, I’ve come to care for this building (and its devoted occupants, my beloved fellow ministers) more and more.

 Built and completed during Fred Borsch’s episcopate, inspired and nurtured into bricks and mortar by its first provost, Jon Bruno, the church in the Cathedral Center stands for two historic institutions. One is St. Paul’s Cathedral downtown, which was damaged in a 1971 earthquake and eventually torn down. The other is St. Athanasius Church, founded in 1864, the oldest continually operating Protestant congregation in southern California, which provided the land in Echo Park. Not that Bishop Bruce and I sit in them much, but our cathedrae are there, signifying that it is a cathedral church, as during chrism masses and other diocesan services. The rest of the time, our lively, multicultural congregation of St. Athanasius calls the same space home.

Meanwhile, ten years ago, Bishop Bruno designated St. John’s as a pro-cathedral, which is a cathedral that begins its life as a parish. Research amply demonstrates that this is the case with many historic cathedrals. Accordingly, we removed the “Pro-“ – and bingo, we now had two cathedrals, one in Echo Park on the brink of its second quarter-century, the other on Adams Blvd. beginning its second decade.

 As you know, we’ve been in conversation and discernment about this ecclesiastical dichotomy for over a year. The upshot is that later this year, on a date still to be determined and announced, we will rename your Echo Park headquarters. The new logo will contain this information:

ST. PAUL’S COMMONS
Diocesan Center
Ministry Center
Retreat and Conference Center

The new name will preserve the building’s historic connection to the downtown cathedral. It will make clear that the bishops and all our colleagues are still at work there. It will highlight our continuing and new ministries to our Echo Park neighbors, especially those grappling with food and housing insecurity. And it will draw more attention to our beautiful, underutilized retreat center and all our public spaces, which are available to community organizations for lease (in the name of sustainability) and sometimes for free (as at the neighborhood-minded institutions you serve).

The change to St. Paul’s Commons will, we trust, further energize two other beloved institutions.

St. Athanasius Church will again have a space that is entirely its own. As we spruce up the whole complex with new carpet, paint, and signage, we plan a concerted effort to draw attention to the congregation’s presence so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy its abundant ministries.

St. John’s Cathedral also enters an exciting time of visioning about its role as a diocesan and civic institution in the heart of one of the greatest cities on earth. St. John’s’ neighborhood, which actually is our whole diocese, is a harbinger of Christ’s church’s multicultural, pluralistic, socially progressive destiny — if the church is to survive and thrive, that is. Though many of our neighbors are skeptical about faith institutions, their hearts are still hungry for purpose, meaning, justice, hope, mystery, and love. These challenges and opportunities engird our cathedral’s future. Its vision, as well as its more pressing needs such as a seismic retrofit, will be centerpieces of our diocesan capital campaign.

And while our offices, I stress again, won’t move to St. John’s, those cathedrae soon will.

With clergy conference coming up next week, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, Canon Williams (who has played a vital role in this transition), and I look forward to answering your questions about all that’s in store for St. Paul’s Commons. See you in Riverside.

Yours in Christ’s Eastertide love,

+John

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April 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce:

About Lambeth

Dear Friends in Christ:

In mid-March Bishop Taylor and I spent four long, intense days with our fellow Bishops at Kanuga in North Carolina. You have already seen the letter from us and our spouses regarding the controversy surrounding Lambeth 2020.

Leaving Bishop Mary Glasspool’s beloved Becki off the guest list was shocking and painful – especially for those of us who have experienced their powerful and loving ministry among us. The response of the House of Bishops (HOB) as well as your bishops here was undertaken prayerfully. Mary herself gave a moving account of what transpired in the weeks leading up to our gathering at the HOB.

The work of the HOB in this triennium is centered on The Way of Love. For those of you who haven’t reviewed the materials for The Way of Love a good place to begin is here.

We had the privilege of hearing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie (AME Bishop, Texas) as well as Bishop Ric Thorpe (Bishop of Islington) on Evangelism as it relates to the Way of Love.

Bishop McKenzie is the Bishop in charge of all the AME churches in the State of Texas. She talked about the fact that many people practice “CHURCHianity” rather than “CHRISTianity”.

She asked the question, “Is it possible that we are more in love with Church than we are with Jesus Christ?” It is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of Church that we forget the reason we are here and what we are called to do. While we need the institution, we also need to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Ric Thorpe has been Bishop of Islington, a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of London with special attention to the ministry of church planting, since September 2015. He is responsible for the London diocese’s goal of creating 100 New Worshipping Communities by 2020 and is also working nationally to support other dioceses to plant new churches and revitalize existing ones. Before being appointed to Islington, Bishop Ric was the Bishop of London’s adviser for Church Planting and the rector of St. Paul’s Shadwell.

Bishop Thorpe offered that the Way of Love re-centers us on what really matters. He shared that the decade of Evangelism in England didn’t produce much fruit in terms of the programs and projects that it did — EXCEPT for Alpha and for a renewed passion for the poor and the marginalized.

Reflecting on his work turning around St. Paul’s, he told us that St. Paul’s had 12 people left in it and was going to be closed. The Bishop of London asked Bishop Thorpe and a team to revitalize it — 95 people came with him to revitalize. The neighborhood is 45% Muslim, 45% secular young professionals, 10% aging cockney. The congregation grew! Check out their website here.

Bishop Thorpe draws his tradition from Gregory the Great — a vision for the re-visioning of a community and re-evangelizing of the nation. Augustine similarly worked with the powers that be to plant churches. Bishop Thorpe then looked to the Celtic saints and found Cuthbert who worked by coming alongside a community, developing a church outside the city limits and offering hospitality. The Celtic way is all about relationships.

Both Bishop McKenzie and Bishop Thorpe agreed that if we want to see the church revitalized and become a church that is full of the love of God in Christ and is following The Way of Love it starts with prayer. Here we are, back to where we started. The bishops spent time and prayed as we dealt with the harsh reality of Lambeth 2020. It all starts with prayer, and it all must end with prayer.

Please know I pray for you all daily. I pray for our Church. I pray for our nation. I pray for our world. May all we do be begin and end in prayer.

+Diane

March 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Summiting Together

Dear Friends:

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain peak in Wales and the highest peak in all of the United Kingdom outside of the Scottish Highlands. This 3,560-foot peak seems small for us here in California where snow falls generally occur at 4,500 feet and above. However, each mountain has its own personality, its own treachery, and Snowdon is no different.

I visited Wales in 2005 and, with my friend Isabella, decided to take a day to make the climb. I was barely 30 and still had that feeling of invincibility when we embarked that July morning. We decided to take the longest and busiest route to the top because we had been warned by so many locals to be careful of sudden weather changes and the danger such changes would bring us along the less traversed and more narrow paths. As I recall, it is a five-mile hike to the top so, after a good and fortifying breakfast, we started our ascent early that morning.

The hike up to the peak was beautiful. We encountered many fellow pilgrims, shook our figurative fists at those who zoomed past us on the train to the top, and enjoyed every moment of it. Almost. When we were about three-fourths of a mile from summiting the strangest thing happened. I got tired. Really tired. My legs felt heavy. Every step was a monumental effort. I kept pushing myself until finally I couldn’t do it any longer. I told Isabella what I was experiencing and she, being older and much wiser, said, “Oh, you are bonking,” which I inferred to mean some kind of crazy fatigue that she was aware of and I was not.

As it turns out “bonking” or “hitting the wall” is a real thing. It is the onset of sudden fatigue caused by a loss of glycogen. I sat down, she handed me a cliff bar, and I ate about half of it along with some long sips of water. A few minutes later I was fine. In fact, we ate that last three-fourths of a mile for a midmorning snack. The summit was as amazing as promised with cool winds and breathtaking views.

Being in ministry is a lot like summiting a peak. It’s a process and a journey. It’s something we sign up for and embark on with the best preparation we can have. It’s something that we do with others and, like my experience on Snowdon, it can wear us out. This is normal. Strength and energy comes and goes. We need periods of rest and quiet.

We need time to refuel and re-energize. As I was beginning to “bonk” I felt a sense of shame. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t just keep going. I looked at Isabella and she was fine. How come I wasn’t? I tried to push through and then I stopped. What Isabella did was normalize it for me, give me some fuel, and sit with me while I rested.

We can do the same for each other: normalize the fatigue, share the fuel for ministry that we have with each other, and be with each other in those periods of rest. Doing this for each other helps neutralize any shame we might be experiencing as well as any sense of competition with each other we may be indulging.

In the end, our vocational lives are most healthy and vibrant when we are in good relationship with each other, which necessarily means being able to share our vulnerabilities with each other and receive the support that is waiting to be offered.

These are my reflections on the eve of Lent, a time that is guaranteed to wear out anyone in active ministry. Be gentle with yourselves, reach out to one another (and to me!), and enjoy the journey with fellow pilgrims on the way.

A blessed Lent to all!

Melissa+
______________________________________________________________________________

February 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Taylor 

 Joining the List

 My siblings in Christ:
 Every month in “The Angelus,” we read these words from Canon Joanna Satorius: “Clergy  are encouraged to request that their name be placed on an interest list” for parish   congregations doing searches — as well as for mission congregations “or where an   appointment is otherwise applicable.”
That’s actually the Holy Spirit talking and offering opportunities for no end of discernment.
Putting one’s name on a list for a rector search is a big step. It probably means that we’re pretty sure it’s time to consider a new season in our vocation. Depending on how the search goes, we’ll be asked sooner rather than later why we want to leave our current post. We’ll have to ponder how soon to tell our current lay leaders what’s up. We’ll devote some of our best creative energy to actively envisioning ourselves in a new context and community.
The second part of Joanna’s message doesn’t get quite as much attention. We know this, because we don’t have as many names on the interest list as we would like. These are cures in which you express interest before knowing whether you’re actually interested – vicarships, of course, but also priest-in-charge positions.
Knowing what I know now – how quickly and unexpectedly these positions become available, and the wonderful diversity of mission and ministry they entail – if I were still a parish priest, no matter where I was serving, I would ask Joanna to put my name on the list. It wouldn’t be because I necessarily wanted to leave my current cure. I might even imagine retiring there. It would be because I had realized the Spirit can’t do her work in our lives and the lives of the people of God unless we cast ourselves continually to the whistling wind – unless, in other words, our names are always in the mix.
You can always say you’re not interested when we call. It’s that simple. But maybe it turns out that you are.These posts that the bishop fills are just like the ones you serve in now – unique, an outcome of a particular, precious local narrative. They might fit your gifts perfectly, but you and we can’t know for sure unless we are inspired to think about you when we reach for the List.
If you want to talk more about this, please don’t hesitate to speak with Canon Satorius, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, or me.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John

______________________________________________________________________________

October 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Expectations

Greetings, dear colleagues!

I sit down to write this note to you on the morning after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing testimony. I will confess that I am still reeling from watching the hearing and how it all played out. I am still reeling from the fact that a victim is being prosecuted. I am still reeling from the dehumanization she has experienced.

I am still reeling from the undeniable and incontrovertible evidence this testimony and the whole hearing has provided us of how far this country’s leadership has fallen and how openly, indeed publicly, sexual abuse of women has been given the rubber stamp of approval by our current president.

Meanwhile, while we are all focused on this hearing, ICE detained 150 good people in Southern California, which is yet another example of the horrific policies put into place by the current president.

Given everything that is happening in our world, how do we continue our vocational tasks of preaching, teaching, and living the good news?

How do we find the energy for it?

For me, it has come through reflection upon a question a colleague posed to me. A couple of Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to do a parish visit, sit with the vestry of the church, and talk about mission in ministry in their particular context. During this meeting, their rector asked me a question that caught me up short for a moment. It was a simple, articulate, and profound question. It was an articulation of something I have wondered during all my years of priesthood but have never been able to put words to, at least not this way. The rector asked what our bishops expect of us, the clergy.

I went back to Echo Park and told Bishop Taylor about this question, how it had struck me, and how I answered the question. Together, he and I put some more thinking behind what is expected of us, and by “us” I mean all of us, including the bishops.

Here’s what we came up with:

Curiosity
In a cultural context that dehumanizes and renders invisible those that it deems “other,” one of the most profoundly easy and highly impactful things we can do is to be curious about the people we meet. We can learn their stories, get to know them, and listen to what they have to teach us. Our curiosity and interest in others helps them to feel seen and heard, and it fosters a sense of safety in community’

Joy
An underrated charism in our church, joy is infectious. It is almost impossible not to feel it when you encounter someone who has this infectious joy. Joy for me has been an on again/off again experience, but more and more, in the light of what is happening in our world, I am doing my best to lean into it. Our lives are resurrection narratives and that is something we can be joyful about. We have Jesus and that is where our joy is found.

Talk less and listen more
We clergy are in the business of talking. We pray, we preach, we provide leadership for our people. We certainly value listening as an essential part of our vocation, but it’s easier said than done. Simply listening, without jumping in to share our own story or make a connection with an experience we have had, is one way we can really see the people with whom we minister. Listening to someone is receiving them.

Do the opposite
In a context and time in history which is increasingly polarized, binary, either/or, impatient, anxious, suspicious, and volatile, go and do the opposite.

We have the opportunity to bring in the gray areas, to see the both/and, to adopt radical calm, and to believe what people tell us. Whatever we can do that is the opposite of what is happening around us will be transformative. Of course, this goes back to our baptismal promise to seek justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Whatever we can do to live into this promise, one relationship at a time, will make a difference.

Love one another as God has loved us
Our collegial relationships are among the most important relationships we have beyond our families. Let us love each other as God has loved us. A safe community of holy love and grace is what God wants for us. Let us be that for one another.

Thank you, dear colleagues, for the ministries you do, for the love you share, and for saying yes to God’s call to bring hope to the world during this time. It is an honor to be doing ministry with you!

Blessings,

Melissa+

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July 2018

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

Where the spirit moves us

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write this article to you, I’m preparing to head to General Convention on Sunday, July 1.

I arrive early as I have responsibilities to attend to as Secretary to the House of Bishops. We will be talking about and voting on a wide variety of subjects – some of which many of you are passionate about.

It will be about two weeks of intensive work, which is designed to point us as a Church in the direction that the Spirit moves us.

I am never good at predicting the outcome of elections to offices or of the fate of various resolutions, yet one thing I do know: much work will be done, many conversations will be had (some heated) – and all this set in the context of prayer and the Eucharist.

In addition to preparing for General Convention I have been working on finance and stewardship work, and am most grateful to Lorenzo Lebrija for his help and work on the Stewardship event we held last weekend. Thanks also to Chris Tumilty, who used his expertise to allow us for the first time to go “live” to you – with the plenary and all workshops live-streamed.

We hope to do more of this, so that the diocese can meet YOU where YOU are — not just at Echo Park. Videos of the plenary and workshops will be available for your viewing here.

The work was designed to help congregations with planned giving, narrative budgeting, utilizing TENS (The Episcopal Network on Stewardship), utilizing Holy Currencies, etc.

Speaking of TENS, if you want to use the materials, the Diocese has purchased access for you. The login ID is: Mark; the password is: 10:21. The work we are doing in Finance and the work of the Stewardship Conference was and is to equip you and all of us for the work God is giving us to do.

While I am personally preoccupied at the moment with General Convention preparations, and in the midst of work in Finance and just through with our Stewardship Conference, I’m most grateful to our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor and the men and women, lay and ordained, who are working tirelessly to bring attention to and end the separation of children from their parents at the border.

From demonstrations to protests to phone calls to letter writing–something has to change. The evil – and I use the word evil — separation of children from their families is one of the most depraved acts we as a nation can commit against a human family. Families must be reunited again – now. I keep thinking about the Holy Family – fleeing to Egypt. What if Jesus had been separated from his parents at that border?

Friends in Christ, we need to band together as the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus movement to not only move in the way the Spirit is leading us through the work of our General Convention, and through the way we utilize our gifts of time, talent and treasure, but most importantly through the way we shed light into the darkness that sometimes overtakes our world.

We must continue to advocate for those who have no voice or whose voices are being silenced. That is Jesus-work for us all. May we continue to do so, speaking out, using our resources, advocating for, loving, caring and protecting ALL whom God brings to us.

Blessings,

+Diane

_____________________________________________________________________

June 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

The truth of our vocation

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you after a wonderful meeting with those who will be ordained on June 2 at St. John’s Cathedral. I came to my scheduled time with them with no agenda.

As we talked, a few questions began to emerge. Among the things they asked were the usual questions about when to wear or not wear their collars, when to call the bishop, and all the other things you may remember having questions about when you were newly ordained.

As the conversation continued, the questions moved from the practical to the personal and theological. One of the ordinands asked me something like this: “What lies do the newly ordained tell themselves and how can we stay true to the truth?”

I was struck by the honesty of this question and how important it is for us to stay true to the truth of our vocations. What are the lies we tell ourselves? What is the truth of our vocation that we need to keep in focus?

For each of us, the answers to these questions may be different but I imagine there is a similar theme. The lies we tell ourselves are most likely rooted in ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear. The truth of our vocation is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope. That part of the question is not so tricky to identify. Staying true to the truth is a more difficult task.

How do you avoid the lies of ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear, and stay rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope? What does that mean for you?

For me it has something to do with remembering what a privilege it is to be called into a vocation where our work is to love others as Christ has loved us as well as the fact that while we will always have lots of tasks, what matters most in our ordained ministry is who we are. Our presence is our primary strength as leaders. Everything else will take care of itself when our presence is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope.

Please pray for those being ordained on June 2, as well as for all of our colleagues in this sacred work into which we have been called.

Know that you are held in prayer by Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce, the whole diocesan staff, and me. My prayer for us all is that our work may be rooted in God’s love, humility, faithfulness, and hope!

Blessings,

Melissa+

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

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June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

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May 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

May 2, 2019 – Feast of St. Athanasius

St. Paul’s Commons
is the new name for
our diocesan HQ in Echo Park

 

 My dear colleagues:

We all have something in common – the risen Christ, of course, and also the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park. I know most of you love it as much as I do. I remember my first visit, for a meeting during the early stages of my discernment for ordained ministry. I was surprised that it was in the heart of the city, not downtown but in a neighborhood, not built skyward but spread like open arms across a long block facing Echo Park Lake.

When I get to work and head up the stairs, I sometimes remember my excited, unsettled feeling that day. The building was just a few years old back then – and as a matter of fact, I was in my infancy as well, at least spiritually speaking.

 The Cathedral Center still feels just right to me. As my vocation matures, I’ve come to care for this building (and its devoted occupants, my beloved fellow ministers) more and more.

 Built and completed during Fred Borsch’s episcopate, inspired and nurtured into bricks and mortar by its first provost, Jon Bruno, the church in the Cathedral Center stands for two historic institutions. One is St. Paul’s Cathedral downtown, which was damaged in a 1971 earthquake and eventually torn down. The other is St. Athanasius Church, founded in 1864, the oldest continually operating Protestant congregation in southern California, which provided the land in Echo Park. Not that Bishop Bruce and I sit in them much, but our cathedrae are there, signifying that it is a cathedral church, as during chrism masses and other diocesan services. The rest of the time, our lively, multicultural congregation of St. Athanasius calls the same space home.

Meanwhile, ten years ago, Bishop Bruno designated St. John’s as a pro-cathedral, which is a cathedral that begins its life as a parish. Research amply demonstrates that this is the case with many historic cathedrals. Accordingly, we removed the “Pro-“ – and bingo, we now had two cathedrals, one in Echo Park on the brink of its second quarter-century, the other on Adams Blvd. beginning its second decade.

 As you know, we’ve been in conversation and discernment about this ecclesiastical dichotomy for over a year. The upshot is that later this year, on a date still to be determined and announced, we will rename your Echo Park headquarters. The new logo will contain this information:

ST. PAUL’S COMMONS
Diocesan Center
Ministry Center
Retreat and Conference Center

The new name will preserve the building’s historic connection to the downtown cathedral. It will make clear that the bishops and all our colleagues are still at work there. It will highlight our continuing and new ministries to our Echo Park neighbors, especially those grappling with food and housing insecurity. And it will draw more attention to our beautiful, underutilized retreat center and all our public spaces, which are available to community organizations for lease (in the name of sustainability) and sometimes for free (as at the neighborhood-minded institutions you serve).

The change to St. Paul’s Commons will, we trust, further energize two other beloved institutions.

St. Athanasius Church will again have a space that is entirely its own. As we spruce up the whole complex with new carpet, paint, and signage, we plan a concerted effort to draw attention to the congregation’s presence so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy its abundant ministries.

St. John’s Cathedral also enters an exciting time of visioning about its role as a diocesan and civic institution in the heart of one of the greatest cities on earth. St. John’s’ neighborhood, which actually is our whole diocese, is a harbinger of Christ’s church’s multicultural, pluralistic, socially progressive destiny — if the church is to survive and thrive, that is. Though many of our neighbors are skeptical about faith institutions, their hearts are still hungry for purpose, meaning, justice, hope, mystery, and love. These challenges and opportunities engird our cathedral’s future. Its vision, as well as its more pressing needs such as a seismic retrofit, will be centerpieces of our diocesan capital campaign.

And while our offices, I stress again, won’t move to St. John’s, those cathedrae soon will.

With clergy conference coming up next week, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, Canon Williams (who has played a vital role in this transition), and I look forward to answering your questions about all that’s in store for St. Paul’s Commons. See you in Riverside.

Yours in Christ’s Eastertide love,

+John

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April 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce:

About Lambeth

Dear Friends in Christ:

In mid-March Bishop Taylor and I spent four long, intense days with our fellow Bishops at Kanuga in North Carolina. You have already seen the letter from us and our spouses regarding the controversy surrounding Lambeth 2020.

Leaving Bishop Mary Glasspool’s beloved Becki off the guest list was shocking and painful – especially for those of us who have experienced their powerful and loving ministry among us. The response of the House of Bishops (HOB) as well as your bishops here was undertaken prayerfully. Mary herself gave a moving account of what transpired in the weeks leading up to our gathering at the HOB.

The work of the HOB in this triennium is centered on The Way of Love. For those of you who haven’t reviewed the materials for The Way of Love a good place to begin is here.

We had the privilege of hearing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie (AME Bishop, Texas) as well as Bishop Ric Thorpe (Bishop of Islington) on Evangelism as it relates to the Way of Love.

Bishop McKenzie is the Bishop in charge of all the AME churches in the State of Texas. She talked about the fact that many people practice “CHURCHianity” rather than “CHRISTianity”.

She asked the question, “Is it possible that we are more in love with Church than we are with Jesus Christ?” It is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of Church that we forget the reason we are here and what we are called to do. While we need the institution, we also need to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Ric Thorpe has been Bishop of Islington, a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of London with special attention to the ministry of church planting, since September 2015. He is responsible for the London diocese’s goal of creating 100 New Worshipping Communities by 2020 and is also working nationally to support other dioceses to plant new churches and revitalize existing ones. Before being appointed to Islington, Bishop Ric was the Bishop of London’s adviser for Church Planting and the rector of St. Paul’s Shadwell.

Bishop Thorpe offered that the Way of Love re-centers us on what really matters. He shared that the decade of Evangelism in England didn’t produce much fruit in terms of the programs and projects that it did — EXCEPT for Alpha and for a renewed passion for the poor and the marginalized.

Reflecting on his work turning around St. Paul’s, he told us that St. Paul’s had 12 people left in it and was going to be closed. The Bishop of London asked Bishop Thorpe and a team to revitalize it — 95 people came with him to revitalize. The neighborhood is 45% Muslim, 45% secular young professionals, 10% aging cockney. The congregation grew! Check out their website here.

Bishop Thorpe draws his tradition from Gregory the Great — a vision for the re-visioning of a community and re-evangelizing of the nation. Augustine similarly worked with the powers that be to plant churches. Bishop Thorpe then looked to the Celtic saints and found Cuthbert who worked by coming alongside a community, developing a church outside the city limits and offering hospitality. The Celtic way is all about relationships.

Both Bishop McKenzie and Bishop Thorpe agreed that if we want to see the church revitalized and become a church that is full of the love of God in Christ and is following The Way of Love it starts with prayer. Here we are, back to where we started. The bishops spent time and prayed as we dealt with the harsh reality of Lambeth 2020. It all starts with prayer, and it all must end with prayer.

Please know I pray for you all daily. I pray for our Church. I pray for our nation. I pray for our world. May all we do be begin and end in prayer.

+Diane

March 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Summiting Together

Dear Friends:

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain peak in Wales and the highest peak in all of the United Kingdom outside of the Scottish Highlands. This 3,560-foot peak seems small for us here in California where snow falls generally occur at 4,500 feet and above. However, each mountain has its own personality, its own treachery, and Snowdon is no different.

I visited Wales in 2005 and, with my friend Isabella, decided to take a day to make the climb. I was barely 30 and still had that feeling of invincibility when we embarked that July morning. We decided to take the longest and busiest route to the top because we had been warned by so many locals to be careful of sudden weather changes and the danger such changes would bring us along the less traversed and more narrow paths. As I recall, it is a five-mile hike to the top so, after a good and fortifying breakfast, we started our ascent early that morning.

The hike up to the peak was beautiful. We encountered many fellow pilgrims, shook our figurative fists at those who zoomed past us on the train to the top, and enjoyed every moment of it. Almost. When we were about three-fourths of a mile from summiting the strangest thing happened. I got tired. Really tired. My legs felt heavy. Every step was a monumental effort. I kept pushing myself until finally I couldn’t do it any longer. I told Isabella what I was experiencing and she, being older and much wiser, said, “Oh, you are bonking,” which I inferred to mean some kind of crazy fatigue that she was aware of and I was not.

As it turns out “bonking” or “hitting the wall” is a real thing. It is the onset of sudden fatigue caused by a loss of glycogen. I sat down, she handed me a cliff bar, and I ate about half of it along with some long sips of water. A few minutes later I was fine. In fact, we ate that last three-fourths of a mile for a midmorning snack. The summit was as amazing as promised with cool winds and breathtaking views.

Being in ministry is a lot like summiting a peak. It’s a process and a journey. It’s something we sign up for and embark on with the best preparation we can have. It’s something that we do with others and, like my experience on Snowdon, it can wear us out. This is normal. Strength and energy comes and goes. We need periods of rest and quiet.

We need time to refuel and re-energize. As I was beginning to “bonk” I felt a sense of shame. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t just keep going. I looked at Isabella and she was fine. How come I wasn’t? I tried to push through and then I stopped. What Isabella did was normalize it for me, give me some fuel, and sit with me while I rested.

We can do the same for each other: normalize the fatigue, share the fuel for ministry that we have with each other, and be with each other in those periods of rest. Doing this for each other helps neutralize any shame we might be experiencing as well as any sense of competition with each other we may be indulging.

In the end, our vocational lives are most healthy and vibrant when we are in good relationship with each other, which necessarily means being able to share our vulnerabilities with each other and receive the support that is waiting to be offered.

These are my reflections on the eve of Lent, a time that is guaranteed to wear out anyone in active ministry. Be gentle with yourselves, reach out to one another (and to me!), and enjoy the journey with fellow pilgrims on the way.

A blessed Lent to all!

Melissa+
______________________________________________________________________________

February 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Taylor 

 Joining the List

 My siblings in Christ:
 Every month in “The Angelus,” we read these words from Canon Joanna Satorius: “Clergy  are encouraged to request that their name be placed on an interest list” for parish   congregations doing searches — as well as for mission congregations “or where an   appointment is otherwise applicable.”
That’s actually the Holy Spirit talking and offering opportunities for no end of discernment.
Putting one’s name on a list for a rector search is a big step. It probably means that we’re pretty sure it’s time to consider a new season in our vocation. Depending on how the search goes, we’ll be asked sooner rather than later why we want to leave our current post. We’ll have to ponder how soon to tell our current lay leaders what’s up. We’ll devote some of our best creative energy to actively envisioning ourselves in a new context and community.
The second part of Joanna’s message doesn’t get quite as much attention. We know this, because we don’t have as many names on the interest list as we would like. These are cures in which you express interest before knowing whether you’re actually interested – vicarships, of course, but also priest-in-charge positions.
Knowing what I know now – how quickly and unexpectedly these positions become available, and the wonderful diversity of mission and ministry they entail – if I were still a parish priest, no matter where I was serving, I would ask Joanna to put my name on the list. It wouldn’t be because I necessarily wanted to leave my current cure. I might even imagine retiring there. It would be because I had realized the Spirit can’t do her work in our lives and the lives of the people of God unless we cast ourselves continually to the whistling wind – unless, in other words, our names are always in the mix.
You can always say you’re not interested when we call. It’s that simple. But maybe it turns out that you are.These posts that the bishop fills are just like the ones you serve in now – unique, an outcome of a particular, precious local narrative. They might fit your gifts perfectly, but you and we can’t know for sure unless we are inspired to think about you when we reach for the List.
If you want to talk more about this, please don’t hesitate to speak with Canon Satorius, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, or me.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John

______________________________________________________________________________

October 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Expectations

Greetings, dear colleagues!

I sit down to write this note to you on the morning after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing testimony. I will confess that I am still reeling from watching the hearing and how it all played out. I am still reeling from the fact that a victim is being prosecuted. I am still reeling from the dehumanization she has experienced.

I am still reeling from the undeniable and incontrovertible evidence this testimony and the whole hearing has provided us of how far this country’s leadership has fallen and how openly, indeed publicly, sexual abuse of women has been given the rubber stamp of approval by our current president.

Meanwhile, while we are all focused on this hearing, ICE detained 150 good people in Southern California, which is yet another example of the horrific policies put into place by the current president.

Given everything that is happening in our world, how do we continue our vocational tasks of preaching, teaching, and living the good news?

How do we find the energy for it?

For me, it has come through reflection upon a question a colleague posed to me. A couple of Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to do a parish visit, sit with the vestry of the church, and talk about mission in ministry in their particular context. During this meeting, their rector asked me a question that caught me up short for a moment. It was a simple, articulate, and profound question. It was an articulation of something I have wondered during all my years of priesthood but have never been able to put words to, at least not this way. The rector asked what our bishops expect of us, the clergy.

I went back to Echo Park and told Bishop Taylor about this question, how it had struck me, and how I answered the question. Together, he and I put some more thinking behind what is expected of us, and by “us” I mean all of us, including the bishops.

Here’s what we came up with:

Curiosity
In a cultural context that dehumanizes and renders invisible those that it deems “other,” one of the most profoundly easy and highly impactful things we can do is to be curious about the people we meet. We can learn their stories, get to know them, and listen to what they have to teach us. Our curiosity and interest in others helps them to feel seen and heard, and it fosters a sense of safety in community’

Joy
An underrated charism in our church, joy is infectious. It is almost impossible not to feel it when you encounter someone who has this infectious joy. Joy for me has been an on again/off again experience, but more and more, in the light of what is happening in our world, I am doing my best to lean into it. Our lives are resurrection narratives and that is something we can be joyful about. We have Jesus and that is where our joy is found.

Talk less and listen more
We clergy are in the business of talking. We pray, we preach, we provide leadership for our people. We certainly value listening as an essential part of our vocation, but it’s easier said than done. Simply listening, without jumping in to share our own story or make a connection with an experience we have had, is one way we can really see the people with whom we minister. Listening to someone is receiving them.

Do the opposite
In a context and time in history which is increasingly polarized, binary, either/or, impatient, anxious, suspicious, and volatile, go and do the opposite.

We have the opportunity to bring in the gray areas, to see the both/and, to adopt radical calm, and to believe what people tell us. Whatever we can do that is the opposite of what is happening around us will be transformative. Of course, this goes back to our baptismal promise to seek justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Whatever we can do to live into this promise, one relationship at a time, will make a difference.

Love one another as God has loved us
Our collegial relationships are among the most important relationships we have beyond our families. Let us love each other as God has loved us. A safe community of holy love and grace is what God wants for us. Let us be that for one another.

Thank you, dear colleagues, for the ministries you do, for the love you share, and for saying yes to God’s call to bring hope to the world during this time. It is an honor to be doing ministry with you!

Blessings,

Melissa+

______________________________________________________________________________

July 2018

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

Where the spirit moves us

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write this article to you, I’m preparing to head to General Convention on Sunday, July 1.

I arrive early as I have responsibilities to attend to as Secretary to the House of Bishops. We will be talking about and voting on a wide variety of subjects – some of which many of you are passionate about.

It will be about two weeks of intensive work, which is designed to point us as a Church in the direction that the Spirit moves us.

I am never good at predicting the outcome of elections to offices or of the fate of various resolutions, yet one thing I do know: much work will be done, many conversations will be had (some heated) – and all this set in the context of prayer and the Eucharist.

In addition to preparing for General Convention I have been working on finance and stewardship work, and am most grateful to Lorenzo Lebrija for his help and work on the Stewardship event we held last weekend. Thanks also to Chris Tumilty, who used his expertise to allow us for the first time to go “live” to you – with the plenary and all workshops live-streamed.

We hope to do more of this, so that the diocese can meet YOU where YOU are — not just at Echo Park. Videos of the plenary and workshops will be available for your viewing here.

The work was designed to help congregations with planned giving, narrative budgeting, utilizing TENS (The Episcopal Network on Stewardship), utilizing Holy Currencies, etc.

Speaking of TENS, if you want to use the materials, the Diocese has purchased access for you. The login ID is: Mark; the password is: 10:21. The work we are doing in Finance and the work of the Stewardship Conference was and is to equip you and all of us for the work God is giving us to do.

While I am personally preoccupied at the moment with General Convention preparations, and in the midst of work in Finance and just through with our Stewardship Conference, I’m most grateful to our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor and the men and women, lay and ordained, who are working tirelessly to bring attention to and end the separation of children from their parents at the border.

From demonstrations to protests to phone calls to letter writing–something has to change. The evil – and I use the word evil — separation of children from their families is one of the most depraved acts we as a nation can commit against a human family. Families must be reunited again – now. I keep thinking about the Holy Family – fleeing to Egypt. What if Jesus had been separated from his parents at that border?

Friends in Christ, we need to band together as the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus movement to not only move in the way the Spirit is leading us through the work of our General Convention, and through the way we utilize our gifts of time, talent and treasure, but most importantly through the way we shed light into the darkness that sometimes overtakes our world.

We must continue to advocate for those who have no voice or whose voices are being silenced. That is Jesus-work for us all. May we continue to do so, speaking out, using our resources, advocating for, loving, caring and protecting ALL whom God brings to us.

Blessings,

+Diane

_____________________________________________________________________

June 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

The truth of our vocation

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you after a wonderful meeting with those who will be ordained on June 2 at St. John’s Cathedral. I came to my scheduled time with them with no agenda.

As we talked, a few questions began to emerge. Among the things they asked were the usual questions about when to wear or not wear their collars, when to call the bishop, and all the other things you may remember having questions about when you were newly ordained.

As the conversation continued, the questions moved from the practical to the personal and theological. One of the ordinands asked me something like this: “What lies do the newly ordained tell themselves and how can we stay true to the truth?”

I was struck by the honesty of this question and how important it is for us to stay true to the truth of our vocations. What are the lies we tell ourselves? What is the truth of our vocation that we need to keep in focus?

For each of us, the answers to these questions may be different but I imagine there is a similar theme. The lies we tell ourselves are most likely rooted in ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear. The truth of our vocation is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope. That part of the question is not so tricky to identify. Staying true to the truth is a more difficult task.

How do you avoid the lies of ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear, and stay rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope? What does that mean for you?

For me it has something to do with remembering what a privilege it is to be called into a vocation where our work is to love others as Christ has loved us as well as the fact that while we will always have lots of tasks, what matters most in our ordained ministry is who we are. Our presence is our primary strength as leaders. Everything else will take care of itself when our presence is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope.

Please pray for those being ordained on June 2, as well as for all of our colleagues in this sacred work into which we have been called.

Know that you are held in prayer by Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce, the whole diocesan staff, and me. My prayer for us all is that our work may be rooted in God’s love, humility, faithfulness, and hope!

Blessings,

Melissa+

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

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June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

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May 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

May 2, 2019 – Feast of St. Athanasius

St. Paul’s Commons
is the new name for
our diocesan HQ in Echo Park

 

 My dear colleagues:

We all have something in common – the risen Christ, of course, and also the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park. I know most of you love it as much as I do. I remember my first visit, for a meeting during the early stages of my discernment for ordained ministry. I was surprised that it was in the heart of the city, not downtown but in a neighborhood, not built skyward but spread like open arms across a long block facing Echo Park Lake.

When I get to work and head up the stairs, I sometimes remember my excited, unsettled feeling that day. The building was just a few years old back then – and as a matter of fact, I was in my infancy as well, at least spiritually speaking.

 The Cathedral Center still feels just right to me. As my vocation matures, I’ve come to care for this building (and its devoted occupants, my beloved fellow ministers) more and more.

 Built and completed during Fred Borsch’s episcopate, inspired and nurtured into bricks and mortar by its first provost, Jon Bruno, the church in the Cathedral Center stands for two historic institutions. One is St. Paul’s Cathedral downtown, which was damaged in a 1971 earthquake and eventually torn down. The other is St. Athanasius Church, founded in 1864, the oldest continually operating Protestant congregation in southern California, which provided the land in Echo Park. Not that Bishop Bruce and I sit in them much, but our cathedrae are there, signifying that it is a cathedral church, as during chrism masses and other diocesan services. The rest of the time, our lively, multicultural congregation of St. Athanasius calls the same space home.

Meanwhile, ten years ago, Bishop Bruno designated St. John’s as a pro-cathedral, which is a cathedral that begins its life as a parish. Research amply demonstrates that this is the case with many historic cathedrals. Accordingly, we removed the “Pro-“ – and bingo, we now had two cathedrals, one in Echo Park on the brink of its second quarter-century, the other on Adams Blvd. beginning its second decade.

 As you know, we’ve been in conversation and discernment about this ecclesiastical dichotomy for over a year. The upshot is that later this year, on a date still to be determined and announced, we will rename your Echo Park headquarters. The new logo will contain this information:

ST. PAUL’S COMMONS
Diocesan Center
Ministry Center
Retreat and Conference Center

The new name will preserve the building’s historic connection to the downtown cathedral. It will make clear that the bishops and all our colleagues are still at work there. It will highlight our continuing and new ministries to our Echo Park neighbors, especially those grappling with food and housing insecurity. And it will draw more attention to our beautiful, underutilized retreat center and all our public spaces, which are available to community organizations for lease (in the name of sustainability) and sometimes for free (as at the neighborhood-minded institutions you serve).

The change to St. Paul’s Commons will, we trust, further energize two other beloved institutions.

St. Athanasius Church will again have a space that is entirely its own. As we spruce up the whole complex with new carpet, paint, and signage, we plan a concerted effort to draw attention to the congregation’s presence so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy its abundant ministries.

St. John’s Cathedral also enters an exciting time of visioning about its role as a diocesan and civic institution in the heart of one of the greatest cities on earth. St. John’s’ neighborhood, which actually is our whole diocese, is a harbinger of Christ’s church’s multicultural, pluralistic, socially progressive destiny — if the church is to survive and thrive, that is. Though many of our neighbors are skeptical about faith institutions, their hearts are still hungry for purpose, meaning, justice, hope, mystery, and love. These challenges and opportunities engird our cathedral’s future. Its vision, as well as its more pressing needs such as a seismic retrofit, will be centerpieces of our diocesan capital campaign.

And while our offices, I stress again, won’t move to St. John’s, those cathedrae soon will.

With clergy conference coming up next week, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, Canon Williams (who has played a vital role in this transition), and I look forward to answering your questions about all that’s in store for St. Paul’s Commons. See you in Riverside.

Yours in Christ’s Eastertide love,

+John

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April 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce:

About Lambeth

Dear Friends in Christ:

In mid-March Bishop Taylor and I spent four long, intense days with our fellow Bishops at Kanuga in North Carolina. You have already seen the letter from us and our spouses regarding the controversy surrounding Lambeth 2020.

Leaving Bishop Mary Glasspool’s beloved Becki off the guest list was shocking and painful – especially for those of us who have experienced their powerful and loving ministry among us. The response of the House of Bishops (HOB) as well as your bishops here was undertaken prayerfully. Mary herself gave a moving account of what transpired in the weeks leading up to our gathering at the HOB.

The work of the HOB in this triennium is centered on The Way of Love. For those of you who haven’t reviewed the materials for The Way of Love a good place to begin is here.

We had the privilege of hearing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie (AME Bishop, Texas) as well as Bishop Ric Thorpe (Bishop of Islington) on Evangelism as it relates to the Way of Love.

Bishop McKenzie is the Bishop in charge of all the AME churches in the State of Texas. She talked about the fact that many people practice “CHURCHianity” rather than “CHRISTianity”.

She asked the question, “Is it possible that we are more in love with Church than we are with Jesus Christ?” It is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of Church that we forget the reason we are here and what we are called to do. While we need the institution, we also need to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Ric Thorpe has been Bishop of Islington, a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of London with special attention to the ministry of church planting, since September 2015. He is responsible for the London diocese’s goal of creating 100 New Worshipping Communities by 2020 and is also working nationally to support other dioceses to plant new churches and revitalize existing ones. Before being appointed to Islington, Bishop Ric was the Bishop of London’s adviser for Church Planting and the rector of St. Paul’s Shadwell.

Bishop Thorpe offered that the Way of Love re-centers us on what really matters. He shared that the decade of Evangelism in England didn’t produce much fruit in terms of the programs and projects that it did — EXCEPT for Alpha and for a renewed passion for the poor and the marginalized.

Reflecting on his work turning around St. Paul’s, he told us that St. Paul’s had 12 people left in it and was going to be closed. The Bishop of London asked Bishop Thorpe and a team to revitalize it — 95 people came with him to revitalize. The neighborhood is 45% Muslim, 45% secular young professionals, 10% aging cockney. The congregation grew! Check out their website here.

Bishop Thorpe draws his tradition from Gregory the Great — a vision for the re-visioning of a community and re-evangelizing of the nation. Augustine similarly worked with the powers that be to plant churches. Bishop Thorpe then looked to the Celtic saints and found Cuthbert who worked by coming alongside a community, developing a church outside the city limits and offering hospitality. The Celtic way is all about relationships.

Both Bishop McKenzie and Bishop Thorpe agreed that if we want to see the church revitalized and become a church that is full of the love of God in Christ and is following The Way of Love it starts with prayer. Here we are, back to where we started. The bishops spent time and prayed as we dealt with the harsh reality of Lambeth 2020. It all starts with prayer, and it all must end with prayer.

Please know I pray for you all daily. I pray for our Church. I pray for our nation. I pray for our world. May all we do be begin and end in prayer.

+Diane

March 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Summiting Together

Dear Friends:

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain peak in Wales and the highest peak in all of the United Kingdom outside of the Scottish Highlands. This 3,560-foot peak seems small for us here in California where snow falls generally occur at 4,500 feet and above. However, each mountain has its own personality, its own treachery, and Snowdon is no different.

I visited Wales in 2005 and, with my friend Isabella, decided to take a day to make the climb. I was barely 30 and still had that feeling of invincibility when we embarked that July morning. We decided to take the longest and busiest route to the top because we had been warned by so many locals to be careful of sudden weather changes and the danger such changes would bring us along the less traversed and more narrow paths. As I recall, it is a five-mile hike to the top so, after a good and fortifying breakfast, we started our ascent early that morning.

The hike up to the peak was beautiful. We encountered many fellow pilgrims, shook our figurative fists at those who zoomed past us on the train to the top, and enjoyed every moment of it. Almost. When we were about three-fourths of a mile from summiting the strangest thing happened. I got tired. Really tired. My legs felt heavy. Every step was a monumental effort. I kept pushing myself until finally I couldn’t do it any longer. I told Isabella what I was experiencing and she, being older and much wiser, said, “Oh, you are bonking,” which I inferred to mean some kind of crazy fatigue that she was aware of and I was not.

As it turns out “bonking” or “hitting the wall” is a real thing. It is the onset of sudden fatigue caused by a loss of glycogen. I sat down, she handed me a cliff bar, and I ate about half of it along with some long sips of water. A few minutes later I was fine. In fact, we ate that last three-fourths of a mile for a midmorning snack. The summit was as amazing as promised with cool winds and breathtaking views.

Being in ministry is a lot like summiting a peak. It’s a process and a journey. It’s something we sign up for and embark on with the best preparation we can have. It’s something that we do with others and, like my experience on Snowdon, it can wear us out. This is normal. Strength and energy comes and goes. We need periods of rest and quiet.

We need time to refuel and re-energize. As I was beginning to “bonk” I felt a sense of shame. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t just keep going. I looked at Isabella and she was fine. How come I wasn’t? I tried to push through and then I stopped. What Isabella did was normalize it for me, give me some fuel, and sit with me while I rested.

We can do the same for each other: normalize the fatigue, share the fuel for ministry that we have with each other, and be with each other in those periods of rest. Doing this for each other helps neutralize any shame we might be experiencing as well as any sense of competition with each other we may be indulging.

In the end, our vocational lives are most healthy and vibrant when we are in good relationship with each other, which necessarily means being able to share our vulnerabilities with each other and receive the support that is waiting to be offered.

These are my reflections on the eve of Lent, a time that is guaranteed to wear out anyone in active ministry. Be gentle with yourselves, reach out to one another (and to me!), and enjoy the journey with fellow pilgrims on the way.

A blessed Lent to all!

Melissa+
______________________________________________________________________________

February 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Taylor 

 Joining the List

 My siblings in Christ:
 Every month in “The Angelus,” we read these words from Canon Joanna Satorius: “Clergy  are encouraged to request that their name be placed on an interest list” for parish   congregations doing searches — as well as for mission congregations “or where an   appointment is otherwise applicable.”
That’s actually the Holy Spirit talking and offering opportunities for no end of discernment.
Putting one’s name on a list for a rector search is a big step. It probably means that we’re pretty sure it’s time to consider a new season in our vocation. Depending on how the search goes, we’ll be asked sooner rather than later why we want to leave our current post. We’ll have to ponder how soon to tell our current lay leaders what’s up. We’ll devote some of our best creative energy to actively envisioning ourselves in a new context and community.
The second part of Joanna’s message doesn’t get quite as much attention. We know this, because we don’t have as many names on the interest list as we would like. These are cures in which you express interest before knowing whether you’re actually interested – vicarships, of course, but also priest-in-charge positions.
Knowing what I know now – how quickly and unexpectedly these positions become available, and the wonderful diversity of mission and ministry they entail – if I were still a parish priest, no matter where I was serving, I would ask Joanna to put my name on the list. It wouldn’t be because I necessarily wanted to leave my current cure. I might even imagine retiring there. It would be because I had realized the Spirit can’t do her work in our lives and the lives of the people of God unless we cast ourselves continually to the whistling wind – unless, in other words, our names are always in the mix.
You can always say you’re not interested when we call. It’s that simple. But maybe it turns out that you are.These posts that the bishop fills are just like the ones you serve in now – unique, an outcome of a particular, precious local narrative. They might fit your gifts perfectly, but you and we can’t know for sure unless we are inspired to think about you when we reach for the List.
If you want to talk more about this, please don’t hesitate to speak with Canon Satorius, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, or me.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John

______________________________________________________________________________

October 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Expectations

Greetings, dear colleagues!

I sit down to write this note to you on the morning after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing testimony. I will confess that I am still reeling from watching the hearing and how it all played out. I am still reeling from the fact that a victim is being prosecuted. I am still reeling from the dehumanization she has experienced.

I am still reeling from the undeniable and incontrovertible evidence this testimony and the whole hearing has provided us of how far this country’s leadership has fallen and how openly, indeed publicly, sexual abuse of women has been given the rubber stamp of approval by our current president.

Meanwhile, while we are all focused on this hearing, ICE detained 150 good people in Southern California, which is yet another example of the horrific policies put into place by the current president.

Given everything that is happening in our world, how do we continue our vocational tasks of preaching, teaching, and living the good news?

How do we find the energy for it?

For me, it has come through reflection upon a question a colleague posed to me. A couple of Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to do a parish visit, sit with the vestry of the church, and talk about mission in ministry in their particular context. During this meeting, their rector asked me a question that caught me up short for a moment. It was a simple, articulate, and profound question. It was an articulation of something I have wondered during all my years of priesthood but have never been able to put words to, at least not this way. The rector asked what our bishops expect of us, the clergy.

I went back to Echo Park and told Bishop Taylor about this question, how it had struck me, and how I answered the question. Together, he and I put some more thinking behind what is expected of us, and by “us” I mean all of us, including the bishops.

Here’s what we came up with:

Curiosity
In a cultural context that dehumanizes and renders invisible those that it deems “other,” one of the most profoundly easy and highly impactful things we can do is to be curious about the people we meet. We can learn their stories, get to know them, and listen to what they have to teach us. Our curiosity and interest in others helps them to feel seen and heard, and it fosters a sense of safety in community’

Joy
An underrated charism in our church, joy is infectious. It is almost impossible not to feel it when you encounter someone who has this infectious joy. Joy for me has been an on again/off again experience, but more and more, in the light of what is happening in our world, I am doing my best to lean into it. Our lives are resurrection narratives and that is something we can be joyful about. We have Jesus and that is where our joy is found.

Talk less and listen more
We clergy are in the business of talking. We pray, we preach, we provide leadership for our people. We certainly value listening as an essential part of our vocation, but it’s easier said than done. Simply listening, without jumping in to share our own story or make a connection with an experience we have had, is one way we can really see the people with whom we minister. Listening to someone is receiving them.

Do the opposite
In a context and time in history which is increasingly polarized, binary, either/or, impatient, anxious, suspicious, and volatile, go and do the opposite.

We have the opportunity to bring in the gray areas, to see the both/and, to adopt radical calm, and to believe what people tell us. Whatever we can do that is the opposite of what is happening around us will be transformative. Of course, this goes back to our baptismal promise to seek justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Whatever we can do to live into this promise, one relationship at a time, will make a difference.

Love one another as God has loved us
Our collegial relationships are among the most important relationships we have beyond our families. Let us love each other as God has loved us. A safe community of holy love and grace is what God wants for us. Let us be that for one another.

Thank you, dear colleagues, for the ministries you do, for the love you share, and for saying yes to God’s call to bring hope to the world during this time. It is an honor to be doing ministry with you!

Blessings,

Melissa+

______________________________________________________________________________

July 2018

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

Where the spirit moves us

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write this article to you, I’m preparing to head to General Convention on Sunday, July 1.

I arrive early as I have responsibilities to attend to as Secretary to the House of Bishops. We will be talking about and voting on a wide variety of subjects – some of which many of you are passionate about.

It will be about two weeks of intensive work, which is designed to point us as a Church in the direction that the Spirit moves us.

I am never good at predicting the outcome of elections to offices or of the fate of various resolutions, yet one thing I do know: much work will be done, many conversations will be had (some heated) – and all this set in the context of prayer and the Eucharist.

In addition to preparing for General Convention I have been working on finance and stewardship work, and am most grateful to Lorenzo Lebrija for his help and work on the Stewardship event we held last weekend. Thanks also to Chris Tumilty, who used his expertise to allow us for the first time to go “live” to you – with the plenary and all workshops live-streamed.

We hope to do more of this, so that the diocese can meet YOU where YOU are — not just at Echo Park. Videos of the plenary and workshops will be available for your viewing here.

The work was designed to help congregations with planned giving, narrative budgeting, utilizing TENS (The Episcopal Network on Stewardship), utilizing Holy Currencies, etc.

Speaking of TENS, if you want to use the materials, the Diocese has purchased access for you. The login ID is: Mark; the password is: 10:21. The work we are doing in Finance and the work of the Stewardship Conference was and is to equip you and all of us for the work God is giving us to do.

While I am personally preoccupied at the moment with General Convention preparations, and in the midst of work in Finance and just through with our Stewardship Conference, I’m most grateful to our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor and the men and women, lay and ordained, who are working tirelessly to bring attention to and end the separation of children from their parents at the border.

From demonstrations to protests to phone calls to letter writing–something has to change. The evil – and I use the word evil — separation of children from their families is one of the most depraved acts we as a nation can commit against a human family. Families must be reunited again – now. I keep thinking about the Holy Family – fleeing to Egypt. What if Jesus had been separated from his parents at that border?

Friends in Christ, we need to band together as the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus movement to not only move in the way the Spirit is leading us through the work of our General Convention, and through the way we utilize our gifts of time, talent and treasure, but most importantly through the way we shed light into the darkness that sometimes overtakes our world.

We must continue to advocate for those who have no voice or whose voices are being silenced. That is Jesus-work for us all. May we continue to do so, speaking out, using our resources, advocating for, loving, caring and protecting ALL whom God brings to us.

Blessings,

+Diane

_____________________________________________________________________

June 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

The truth of our vocation

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you after a wonderful meeting with those who will be ordained on June 2 at St. John’s Cathedral. I came to my scheduled time with them with no agenda.

As we talked, a few questions began to emerge. Among the things they asked were the usual questions about when to wear or not wear their collars, when to call the bishop, and all the other things you may remember having questions about when you were newly ordained.

As the conversation continued, the questions moved from the practical to the personal and theological. One of the ordinands asked me something like this: “What lies do the newly ordained tell themselves and how can we stay true to the truth?”

I was struck by the honesty of this question and how important it is for us to stay true to the truth of our vocations. What are the lies we tell ourselves? What is the truth of our vocation that we need to keep in focus?

For each of us, the answers to these questions may be different but I imagine there is a similar theme. The lies we tell ourselves are most likely rooted in ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear. The truth of our vocation is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope. That part of the question is not so tricky to identify. Staying true to the truth is a more difficult task.

How do you avoid the lies of ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear, and stay rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope? What does that mean for you?

For me it has something to do with remembering what a privilege it is to be called into a vocation where our work is to love others as Christ has loved us as well as the fact that while we will always have lots of tasks, what matters most in our ordained ministry is who we are. Our presence is our primary strength as leaders. Everything else will take care of itself when our presence is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope.

Please pray for those being ordained on June 2, as well as for all of our colleagues in this sacred work into which we have been called.

Know that you are held in prayer by Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce, the whole diocesan staff, and me. My prayer for us all is that our work may be rooted in God’s love, humility, faithfulness, and hope!

Blessings,

Melissa+

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

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June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

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May 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

May 2, 2019 – Feast of St. Athanasius

St. Paul’s Commons
is the new name for
our diocesan HQ in Echo Park

 

 My dear colleagues:

We all have something in common – the risen Christ, of course, and also the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park. I know most of you love it as much as I do. I remember my first visit, for a meeting during the early stages of my discernment for ordained ministry. I was surprised that it was in the heart of the city, not downtown but in a neighborhood, not built skyward but spread like open arms across a long block facing Echo Park Lake.

When I get to work and head up the stairs, I sometimes remember my excited, unsettled feeling that day. The building was just a few years old back then – and as a matter of fact, I was in my infancy as well, at least spiritually speaking.

 The Cathedral Center still feels just right to me. As my vocation matures, I’ve come to care for this building (and its devoted occupants, my beloved fellow ministers) more and more.

 Built and completed during Fred Borsch’s episcopate, inspired and nurtured into bricks and mortar by its first provost, Jon Bruno, the church in the Cathedral Center stands for two historic institutions. One is St. Paul’s Cathedral downtown, which was damaged in a 1971 earthquake and eventually torn down. The other is St. Athanasius Church, founded in 1864, the oldest continually operating Protestant congregation in southern California, which provided the land in Echo Park. Not that Bishop Bruce and I sit in them much, but our cathedrae are there, signifying that it is a cathedral church, as during chrism masses and other diocesan services. The rest of the time, our lively, multicultural congregation of St. Athanasius calls the same space home.

Meanwhile, ten years ago, Bishop Bruno designated St. John’s as a pro-cathedral, which is a cathedral that begins its life as a parish. Research amply demonstrates that this is the case with many historic cathedrals. Accordingly, we removed the “Pro-“ – and bingo, we now had two cathedrals, one in Echo Park on the brink of its second quarter-century, the other on Adams Blvd. beginning its second decade.

 As you know, we’ve been in conversation and discernment about this ecclesiastical dichotomy for over a year. The upshot is that later this year, on a date still to be determined and announced, we will rename your Echo Park headquarters. The new logo will contain this information:

ST. PAUL’S COMMONS
Diocesan Center
Ministry Center
Retreat and Conference Center

The new name will preserve the building’s historic connection to the downtown cathedral. It will make clear that the bishops and all our colleagues are still at work there. It will highlight our continuing and new ministries to our Echo Park neighbors, especially those grappling with food and housing insecurity. And it will draw more attention to our beautiful, underutilized retreat center and all our public spaces, which are available to community organizations for lease (in the name of sustainability) and sometimes for free (as at the neighborhood-minded institutions you serve).

The change to St. Paul’s Commons will, we trust, further energize two other beloved institutions.

St. Athanasius Church will again have a space that is entirely its own. As we spruce up the whole complex with new carpet, paint, and signage, we plan a concerted effort to draw attention to the congregation’s presence so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy its abundant ministries.

St. John’s Cathedral also enters an exciting time of visioning about its role as a diocesan and civic institution in the heart of one of the greatest cities on earth. St. John’s’ neighborhood, which actually is our whole diocese, is a harbinger of Christ’s church’s multicultural, pluralistic, socially progressive destiny — if the church is to survive and thrive, that is. Though many of our neighbors are skeptical about faith institutions, their hearts are still hungry for purpose, meaning, justice, hope, mystery, and love. These challenges and opportunities engird our cathedral’s future. Its vision, as well as its more pressing needs such as a seismic retrofit, will be centerpieces of our diocesan capital campaign.

And while our offices, I stress again, won’t move to St. John’s, those cathedrae soon will.

With clergy conference coming up next week, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, Canon Williams (who has played a vital role in this transition), and I look forward to answering your questions about all that’s in store for St. Paul’s Commons. See you in Riverside.

Yours in Christ’s Eastertide love,

+John

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April 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce:

About Lambeth

Dear Friends in Christ:

In mid-March Bishop Taylor and I spent four long, intense days with our fellow Bishops at Kanuga in North Carolina. You have already seen the letter from us and our spouses regarding the controversy surrounding Lambeth 2020.

Leaving Bishop Mary Glasspool’s beloved Becki off the guest list was shocking and painful – especially for those of us who have experienced their powerful and loving ministry among us. The response of the House of Bishops (HOB) as well as your bishops here was undertaken prayerfully. Mary herself gave a moving account of what transpired in the weeks leading up to our gathering at the HOB.

The work of the HOB in this triennium is centered on The Way of Love. For those of you who haven’t reviewed the materials for The Way of Love a good place to begin is here.

We had the privilege of hearing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie (AME Bishop, Texas) as well as Bishop Ric Thorpe (Bishop of Islington) on Evangelism as it relates to the Way of Love.

Bishop McKenzie is the Bishop in charge of all the AME churches in the State of Texas. She talked about the fact that many people practice “CHURCHianity” rather than “CHRISTianity”.

She asked the question, “Is it possible that we are more in love with Church than we are with Jesus Christ?” It is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of Church that we forget the reason we are here and what we are called to do. While we need the institution, we also need to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Ric Thorpe has been Bishop of Islington, a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of London with special attention to the ministry of church planting, since September 2015. He is responsible for the London diocese’s goal of creating 100 New Worshipping Communities by 2020 and is also working nationally to support other dioceses to plant new churches and revitalize existing ones. Before being appointed to Islington, Bishop Ric was the Bishop of London’s adviser for Church Planting and the rector of St. Paul’s Shadwell.

Bishop Thorpe offered that the Way of Love re-centers us on what really matters. He shared that the decade of Evangelism in England didn’t produce much fruit in terms of the programs and projects that it did — EXCEPT for Alpha and for a renewed passion for the poor and the marginalized.

Reflecting on his work turning around St. Paul’s, he told us that St. Paul’s had 12 people left in it and was going to be closed. The Bishop of London asked Bishop Thorpe and a team to revitalize it — 95 people came with him to revitalize. The neighborhood is 45% Muslim, 45% secular young professionals, 10% aging cockney. The congregation grew! Check out their website here.

Bishop Thorpe draws his tradition from Gregory the Great — a vision for the re-visioning of a community and re-evangelizing of the nation. Augustine similarly worked with the powers that be to plant churches. Bishop Thorpe then looked to the Celtic saints and found Cuthbert who worked by coming alongside a community, developing a church outside the city limits and offering hospitality. The Celtic way is all about relationships.

Both Bishop McKenzie and Bishop Thorpe agreed that if we want to see the church revitalized and become a church that is full of the love of God in Christ and is following The Way of Love it starts with prayer. Here we are, back to where we started. The bishops spent time and prayed as we dealt with the harsh reality of Lambeth 2020. It all starts with prayer, and it all must end with prayer.

Please know I pray for you all daily. I pray for our Church. I pray for our nation. I pray for our world. May all we do be begin and end in prayer.

+Diane

March 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Summiting Together

Dear Friends:

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain peak in Wales and the highest peak in all of the United Kingdom outside of the Scottish Highlands. This 3,560-foot peak seems small for us here in California where snow falls generally occur at 4,500 feet and above. However, each mountain has its own personality, its own treachery, and Snowdon is no different.

I visited Wales in 2005 and, with my friend Isabella, decided to take a day to make the climb. I was barely 30 and still had that feeling of invincibility when we embarked that July morning. We decided to take the longest and busiest route to the top because we had been warned by so many locals to be careful of sudden weather changes and the danger such changes would bring us along the less traversed and more narrow paths. As I recall, it is a five-mile hike to the top so, after a good and fortifying breakfast, we started our ascent early that morning.

The hike up to the peak was beautiful. We encountered many fellow pilgrims, shook our figurative fists at those who zoomed past us on the train to the top, and enjoyed every moment of it. Almost. When we were about three-fourths of a mile from summiting the strangest thing happened. I got tired. Really tired. My legs felt heavy. Every step was a monumental effort. I kept pushing myself until finally I couldn’t do it any longer. I told Isabella what I was experiencing and she, being older and much wiser, said, “Oh, you are bonking,” which I inferred to mean some kind of crazy fatigue that she was aware of and I was not.

As it turns out “bonking” or “hitting the wall” is a real thing. It is the onset of sudden fatigue caused by a loss of glycogen. I sat down, she handed me a cliff bar, and I ate about half of it along with some long sips of water. A few minutes later I was fine. In fact, we ate that last three-fourths of a mile for a midmorning snack. The summit was as amazing as promised with cool winds and breathtaking views.

Being in ministry is a lot like summiting a peak. It’s a process and a journey. It’s something we sign up for and embark on with the best preparation we can have. It’s something that we do with others and, like my experience on Snowdon, it can wear us out. This is normal. Strength and energy comes and goes. We need periods of rest and quiet.

We need time to refuel and re-energize. As I was beginning to “bonk” I felt a sense of shame. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t just keep going. I looked at Isabella and she was fine. How come I wasn’t? I tried to push through and then I stopped. What Isabella did was normalize it for me, give me some fuel, and sit with me while I rested.

We can do the same for each other: normalize the fatigue, share the fuel for ministry that we have with each other, and be with each other in those periods of rest. Doing this for each other helps neutralize any shame we might be experiencing as well as any sense of competition with each other we may be indulging.

In the end, our vocational lives are most healthy and vibrant when we are in good relationship with each other, which necessarily means being able to share our vulnerabilities with each other and receive the support that is waiting to be offered.

These are my reflections on the eve of Lent, a time that is guaranteed to wear out anyone in active ministry. Be gentle with yourselves, reach out to one another (and to me!), and enjoy the journey with fellow pilgrims on the way.

A blessed Lent to all!

Melissa+
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February 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Taylor 

 Joining the List

 My siblings in Christ:
 Every month in “The Angelus,” we read these words from Canon Joanna Satorius: “Clergy  are encouraged to request that their name be placed on an interest list” for parish   congregations doing searches — as well as for mission congregations “or where an   appointment is otherwise applicable.”
That’s actually the Holy Spirit talking and offering opportunities for no end of discernment.
Putting one’s name on a list for a rector search is a big step. It probably means that we’re pretty sure it’s time to consider a new season in our vocation. Depending on how the search goes, we’ll be asked sooner rather than later why we want to leave our current post. We’ll have to ponder how soon to tell our current lay leaders what’s up. We’ll devote some of our best creative energy to actively envisioning ourselves in a new context and community.
The second part of Joanna’s message doesn’t get quite as much attention. We know this, because we don’t have as many names on the interest list as we would like. These are cures in which you express interest before knowing whether you’re actually interested – vicarships, of course, but also priest-in-charge positions.
Knowing what I know now – how quickly and unexpectedly these positions become available, and the wonderful diversity of mission and ministry they entail – if I were still a parish priest, no matter where I was serving, I would ask Joanna to put my name on the list. It wouldn’t be because I necessarily wanted to leave my current cure. I might even imagine retiring there. It would be because I had realized the Spirit can’t do her work in our lives and the lives of the people of God unless we cast ourselves continually to the whistling wind – unless, in other words, our names are always in the mix.
You can always say you’re not interested when we call. It’s that simple. But maybe it turns out that you are.These posts that the bishop fills are just like the ones you serve in now – unique, an outcome of a particular, precious local narrative. They might fit your gifts perfectly, but you and we can’t know for sure unless we are inspired to think about you when we reach for the List.
If you want to talk more about this, please don’t hesitate to speak with Canon Satorius, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, or me.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John

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October 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Expectations

Greetings, dear colleagues!

I sit down to write this note to you on the morning after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing testimony. I will confess that I am still reeling from watching the hearing and how it all played out. I am still reeling from the fact that a victim is being prosecuted. I am still reeling from the dehumanization she has experienced.

I am still reeling from the undeniable and incontrovertible evidence this testimony and the whole hearing has provided us of how far this country’s leadership has fallen and how openly, indeed publicly, sexual abuse of women has been given the rubber stamp of approval by our current president.

Meanwhile, while we are all focused on this hearing, ICE detained 150 good people in Southern California, which is yet another example of the horrific policies put into place by the current president.

Given everything that is happening in our world, how do we continue our vocational tasks of preaching, teaching, and living the good news?

How do we find the energy for it?

For me, it has come through reflection upon a question a colleague posed to me. A couple of Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to do a parish visit, sit with the vestry of the church, and talk about mission in ministry in their particular context. During this meeting, their rector asked me a question that caught me up short for a moment. It was a simple, articulate, and profound question. It was an articulation of something I have wondered during all my years of priesthood but have never been able to put words to, at least not this way. The rector asked what our bishops expect of us, the clergy.

I went back to Echo Park and told Bishop Taylor about this question, how it had struck me, and how I answered the question. Together, he and I put some more thinking behind what is expected of us, and by “us” I mean all of us, including the bishops.

Here’s what we came up with:

Curiosity
In a cultural context that dehumanizes and renders invisible those that it deems “other,” one of the most profoundly easy and highly impactful things we can do is to be curious about the people we meet. We can learn their stories, get to know them, and listen to what they have to teach us. Our curiosity and interest in others helps them to feel seen and heard, and it fosters a sense of safety in community’

Joy
An underrated charism in our church, joy is infectious. It is almost impossible not to feel it when you encounter someone who has this infectious joy. Joy for me has been an on again/off again experience, but more and more, in the light of what is happening in our world, I am doing my best to lean into it. Our lives are resurrection narratives and that is something we can be joyful about. We have Jesus and that is where our joy is found.

Talk less and listen more
We clergy are in the business of talking. We pray, we preach, we provide leadership for our people. We certainly value listening as an essential part of our vocation, but it’s easier said than done. Simply listening, without jumping in to share our own story or make a connection with an experience we have had, is one way we can really see the people with whom we minister. Listening to someone is receiving them.

Do the opposite
In a context and time in history which is increasingly polarized, binary, either/or, impatient, anxious, suspicious, and volatile, go and do the opposite.

We have the opportunity to bring in the gray areas, to see the both/and, to adopt radical calm, and to believe what people tell us. Whatever we can do that is the opposite of what is happening around us will be transformative. Of course, this goes back to our baptismal promise to seek justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Whatever we can do to live into this promise, one relationship at a time, will make a difference.

Love one another as God has loved us
Our collegial relationships are among the most important relationships we have beyond our families. Let us love each other as God has loved us. A safe community of holy love and grace is what God wants for us. Let us be that for one another.

Thank you, dear colleagues, for the ministries you do, for the love you share, and for saying yes to God’s call to bring hope to the world during this time. It is an honor to be doing ministry with you!

Blessings,

Melissa+

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July 2018

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

Where the spirit moves us

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write this article to you, I’m preparing to head to General Convention on Sunday, July 1.

I arrive early as I have responsibilities to attend to as Secretary to the House of Bishops. We will be talking about and voting on a wide variety of subjects – some of which many of you are passionate about.

It will be about two weeks of intensive work, which is designed to point us as a Church in the direction that the Spirit moves us.

I am never good at predicting the outcome of elections to offices or of the fate of various resolutions, yet one thing I do know: much work will be done, many conversations will be had (some heated) – and all this set in the context of prayer and the Eucharist.

In addition to preparing for General Convention I have been working on finance and stewardship work, and am most grateful to Lorenzo Lebrija for his help and work on the Stewardship event we held last weekend. Thanks also to Chris Tumilty, who used his expertise to allow us for the first time to go “live” to you – with the plenary and all workshops live-streamed.

We hope to do more of this, so that the diocese can meet YOU where YOU are — not just at Echo Park. Videos of the plenary and workshops will be available for your viewing here.

The work was designed to help congregations with planned giving, narrative budgeting, utilizing TENS (The Episcopal Network on Stewardship), utilizing Holy Currencies, etc.

Speaking of TENS, if you want to use the materials, the Diocese has purchased access for you. The login ID is: Mark; the password is: 10:21. The work we are doing in Finance and the work of the Stewardship Conference was and is to equip you and all of us for the work God is giving us to do.

While I am personally preoccupied at the moment with General Convention preparations, and in the midst of work in Finance and just through with our Stewardship Conference, I’m most grateful to our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor and the men and women, lay and ordained, who are working tirelessly to bring attention to and end the separation of children from their parents at the border.

From demonstrations to protests to phone calls to letter writing–something has to change. The evil – and I use the word evil — separation of children from their families is one of the most depraved acts we as a nation can commit against a human family. Families must be reunited again – now. I keep thinking about the Holy Family – fleeing to Egypt. What if Jesus had been separated from his parents at that border?

Friends in Christ, we need to band together as the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus movement to not only move in the way the Spirit is leading us through the work of our General Convention, and through the way we utilize our gifts of time, talent and treasure, but most importantly through the way we shed light into the darkness that sometimes overtakes our world.

We must continue to advocate for those who have no voice or whose voices are being silenced. That is Jesus-work for us all. May we continue to do so, speaking out, using our resources, advocating for, loving, caring and protecting ALL whom God brings to us.

Blessings,

+Diane

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June 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

The truth of our vocation

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you after a wonderful meeting with those who will be ordained on June 2 at St. John’s Cathedral. I came to my scheduled time with them with no agenda.

As we talked, a few questions began to emerge. Among the things they asked were the usual questions about when to wear or not wear their collars, when to call the bishop, and all the other things you may remember having questions about when you were newly ordained.

As the conversation continued, the questions moved from the practical to the personal and theological. One of the ordinands asked me something like this: “What lies do the newly ordained tell themselves and how can we stay true to the truth?”

I was struck by the honesty of this question and how important it is for us to stay true to the truth of our vocations. What are the lies we tell ourselves? What is the truth of our vocation that we need to keep in focus?

For each of us, the answers to these questions may be different but I imagine there is a similar theme. The lies we tell ourselves are most likely rooted in ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear. The truth of our vocation is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope. That part of the question is not so tricky to identify. Staying true to the truth is a more difficult task.

How do you avoid the lies of ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear, and stay rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope? What does that mean for you?

For me it has something to do with remembering what a privilege it is to be called into a vocation where our work is to love others as Christ has loved us as well as the fact that while we will always have lots of tasks, what matters most in our ordained ministry is who we are. Our presence is our primary strength as leaders. Everything else will take care of itself when our presence is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope.

Please pray for those being ordained on June 2, as well as for all of our colleagues in this sacred work into which we have been called.

Know that you are held in prayer by Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce, the whole diocesan staff, and me. My prayer for us all is that our work may be rooted in God’s love, humility, faithfulness, and hope!

Blessings,

Melissa+

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

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June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

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May 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

May 2, 2019 – Feast of St. Athanasius

St. Paul’s Commons
is the new name for
our diocesan HQ in Echo Park

 

 My dear colleagues:

We all have something in common – the risen Christ, of course, and also the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park. I know most of you love it as much as I do. I remember my first visit, for a meeting during the early stages of my discernment for ordained ministry. I was surprised that it was in the heart of the city, not downtown but in a neighborhood, not built skyward but spread like open arms across a long block facing Echo Park Lake.

When I get to work and head up the stairs, I sometimes remember my excited, unsettled feeling that day. The building was just a few years old back then – and as a matter of fact, I was in my infancy as well, at least spiritually speaking.

 The Cathedral Center still feels just right to me. As my vocation matures, I’ve come to care for this building (and its devoted occupants, my beloved fellow ministers) more and more.

 Built and completed during Fred Borsch’s episcopate, inspired and nurtured into bricks and mortar by its first provost, Jon Bruno, the church in the Cathedral Center stands for two historic institutions. One is St. Paul’s Cathedral downtown, which was damaged in a 1971 earthquake and eventually torn down. The other is St. Athanasius Church, founded in 1864, the oldest continually operating Protestant congregation in southern California, which provided the land in Echo Park. Not that Bishop Bruce and I sit in them much, but our cathedrae are there, signifying that it is a cathedral church, as during chrism masses and other diocesan services. The rest of the time, our lively, multicultural congregation of St. Athanasius calls the same space home.

Meanwhile, ten years ago, Bishop Bruno designated St. John’s as a pro-cathedral, which is a cathedral that begins its life as a parish. Research amply demonstrates that this is the case with many historic cathedrals. Accordingly, we removed the “Pro-“ – and bingo, we now had two cathedrals, one in Echo Park on the brink of its second quarter-century, the other on Adams Blvd. beginning its second decade.

 As you know, we’ve been in conversation and discernment about this ecclesiastical dichotomy for over a year. The upshot is that later this year, on a date still to be determined and announced, we will rename your Echo Park headquarters. The new logo will contain this information:

ST. PAUL’S COMMONS
Diocesan Center
Ministry Center
Retreat and Conference Center

The new name will preserve the building’s historic connection to the downtown cathedral. It will make clear that the bishops and all our colleagues are still at work there. It will highlight our continuing and new ministries to our Echo Park neighbors, especially those grappling with food and housing insecurity. And it will draw more attention to our beautiful, underutilized retreat center and all our public spaces, which are available to community organizations for lease (in the name of sustainability) and sometimes for free (as at the neighborhood-minded institutions you serve).

The change to St. Paul’s Commons will, we trust, further energize two other beloved institutions.

St. Athanasius Church will again have a space that is entirely its own. As we spruce up the whole complex with new carpet, paint, and signage, we plan a concerted effort to draw attention to the congregation’s presence so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy its abundant ministries.

St. John’s Cathedral also enters an exciting time of visioning about its role as a diocesan and civic institution in the heart of one of the greatest cities on earth. St. John’s’ neighborhood, which actually is our whole diocese, is a harbinger of Christ’s church’s multicultural, pluralistic, socially progressive destiny — if the church is to survive and thrive, that is. Though many of our neighbors are skeptical about faith institutions, their hearts are still hungry for purpose, meaning, justice, hope, mystery, and love. These challenges and opportunities engird our cathedral’s future. Its vision, as well as its more pressing needs such as a seismic retrofit, will be centerpieces of our diocesan capital campaign.

And while our offices, I stress again, won’t move to St. John’s, those cathedrae soon will.

With clergy conference coming up next week, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, Canon Williams (who has played a vital role in this transition), and I look forward to answering your questions about all that’s in store for St. Paul’s Commons. See you in Riverside.

Yours in Christ’s Eastertide love,

+John

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April 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce:

About Lambeth

Dear Friends in Christ:

In mid-March Bishop Taylor and I spent four long, intense days with our fellow Bishops at Kanuga in North Carolina. You have already seen the letter from us and our spouses regarding the controversy surrounding Lambeth 2020.

Leaving Bishop Mary Glasspool’s beloved Becki off the guest list was shocking and painful – especially for those of us who have experienced their powerful and loving ministry among us. The response of the House of Bishops (HOB) as well as your bishops here was undertaken prayerfully. Mary herself gave a moving account of what transpired in the weeks leading up to our gathering at the HOB.

The work of the HOB in this triennium is centered on The Way of Love. For those of you who haven’t reviewed the materials for The Way of Love a good place to begin is here.

We had the privilege of hearing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie (AME Bishop, Texas) as well as Bishop Ric Thorpe (Bishop of Islington) on Evangelism as it relates to the Way of Love.

Bishop McKenzie is the Bishop in charge of all the AME churches in the State of Texas. She talked about the fact that many people practice “CHURCHianity” rather than “CHRISTianity”.

She asked the question, “Is it possible that we are more in love with Church than we are with Jesus Christ?” It is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of Church that we forget the reason we are here and what we are called to do. While we need the institution, we also need to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Ric Thorpe has been Bishop of Islington, a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of London with special attention to the ministry of church planting, since September 2015. He is responsible for the London diocese’s goal of creating 100 New Worshipping Communities by 2020 and is also working nationally to support other dioceses to plant new churches and revitalize existing ones. Before being appointed to Islington, Bishop Ric was the Bishop of London’s adviser for Church Planting and the rector of St. Paul’s Shadwell.

Bishop Thorpe offered that the Way of Love re-centers us on what really matters. He shared that the decade of Evangelism in England didn’t produce much fruit in terms of the programs and projects that it did — EXCEPT for Alpha and for a renewed passion for the poor and the marginalized.

Reflecting on his work turning around St. Paul’s, he told us that St. Paul’s had 12 people left in it and was going to be closed. The Bishop of London asked Bishop Thorpe and a team to revitalize it — 95 people came with him to revitalize. The neighborhood is 45% Muslim, 45% secular young professionals, 10% aging cockney. The congregation grew! Check out their website here.

Bishop Thorpe draws his tradition from Gregory the Great — a vision for the re-visioning of a community and re-evangelizing of the nation. Augustine similarly worked with the powers that be to plant churches. Bishop Thorpe then looked to the Celtic saints and found Cuthbert who worked by coming alongside a community, developing a church outside the city limits and offering hospitality. The Celtic way is all about relationships.

Both Bishop McKenzie and Bishop Thorpe agreed that if we want to see the church revitalized and become a church that is full of the love of God in Christ and is following The Way of Love it starts with prayer. Here we are, back to where we started. The bishops spent time and prayed as we dealt with the harsh reality of Lambeth 2020. It all starts with prayer, and it all must end with prayer.

Please know I pray for you all daily. I pray for our Church. I pray for our nation. I pray for our world. May all we do be begin and end in prayer.

+Diane

March 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Summiting Together

Dear Friends:

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain peak in Wales and the highest peak in all of the United Kingdom outside of the Scottish Highlands. This 3,560-foot peak seems small for us here in California where snow falls generally occur at 4,500 feet and above. However, each mountain has its own personality, its own treachery, and Snowdon is no different.

I visited Wales in 2005 and, with my friend Isabella, decided to take a day to make the climb. I was barely 30 and still had that feeling of invincibility when we embarked that July morning. We decided to take the longest and busiest route to the top because we had been warned by so many locals to be careful of sudden weather changes and the danger such changes would bring us along the less traversed and more narrow paths. As I recall, it is a five-mile hike to the top so, after a good and fortifying breakfast, we started our ascent early that morning.

The hike up to the peak was beautiful. We encountered many fellow pilgrims, shook our figurative fists at those who zoomed past us on the train to the top, and enjoyed every moment of it. Almost. When we were about three-fourths of a mile from summiting the strangest thing happened. I got tired. Really tired. My legs felt heavy. Every step was a monumental effort. I kept pushing myself until finally I couldn’t do it any longer. I told Isabella what I was experiencing and she, being older and much wiser, said, “Oh, you are bonking,” which I inferred to mean some kind of crazy fatigue that she was aware of and I was not.

As it turns out “bonking” or “hitting the wall” is a real thing. It is the onset of sudden fatigue caused by a loss of glycogen. I sat down, she handed me a cliff bar, and I ate about half of it along with some long sips of water. A few minutes later I was fine. In fact, we ate that last three-fourths of a mile for a midmorning snack. The summit was as amazing as promised with cool winds and breathtaking views.

Being in ministry is a lot like summiting a peak. It’s a process and a journey. It’s something we sign up for and embark on with the best preparation we can have. It’s something that we do with others and, like my experience on Snowdon, it can wear us out. This is normal. Strength and energy comes and goes. We need periods of rest and quiet.

We need time to refuel and re-energize. As I was beginning to “bonk” I felt a sense of shame. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t just keep going. I looked at Isabella and she was fine. How come I wasn’t? I tried to push through and then I stopped. What Isabella did was normalize it for me, give me some fuel, and sit with me while I rested.

We can do the same for each other: normalize the fatigue, share the fuel for ministry that we have with each other, and be with each other in those periods of rest. Doing this for each other helps neutralize any shame we might be experiencing as well as any sense of competition with each other we may be indulging.

In the end, our vocational lives are most healthy and vibrant when we are in good relationship with each other, which necessarily means being able to share our vulnerabilities with each other and receive the support that is waiting to be offered.

These are my reflections on the eve of Lent, a time that is guaranteed to wear out anyone in active ministry. Be gentle with yourselves, reach out to one another (and to me!), and enjoy the journey with fellow pilgrims on the way.

A blessed Lent to all!

Melissa+
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February 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Taylor 

 Joining the List

 My siblings in Christ:
 Every month in “The Angelus,” we read these words from Canon Joanna Satorius: “Clergy  are encouraged to request that their name be placed on an interest list” for parish   congregations doing searches — as well as for mission congregations “or where an   appointment is otherwise applicable.”
That’s actually the Holy Spirit talking and offering opportunities for no end of discernment.
Putting one’s name on a list for a rector search is a big step. It probably means that we’re pretty sure it’s time to consider a new season in our vocation. Depending on how the search goes, we’ll be asked sooner rather than later why we want to leave our current post. We’ll have to ponder how soon to tell our current lay leaders what’s up. We’ll devote some of our best creative energy to actively envisioning ourselves in a new context and community.
The second part of Joanna’s message doesn’t get quite as much attention. We know this, because we don’t have as many names on the interest list as we would like. These are cures in which you express interest before knowing whether you’re actually interested – vicarships, of course, but also priest-in-charge positions.
Knowing what I know now – how quickly and unexpectedly these positions become available, and the wonderful diversity of mission and ministry they entail – if I were still a parish priest, no matter where I was serving, I would ask Joanna to put my name on the list. It wouldn’t be because I necessarily wanted to leave my current cure. I might even imagine retiring there. It would be because I had realized the Spirit can’t do her work in our lives and the lives of the people of God unless we cast ourselves continually to the whistling wind – unless, in other words, our names are always in the mix.
You can always say you’re not interested when we call. It’s that simple. But maybe it turns out that you are.These posts that the bishop fills are just like the ones you serve in now – unique, an outcome of a particular, precious local narrative. They might fit your gifts perfectly, but you and we can’t know for sure unless we are inspired to think about you when we reach for the List.
If you want to talk more about this, please don’t hesitate to speak with Canon Satorius, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, or me.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John

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October 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Expectations

Greetings, dear colleagues!

I sit down to write this note to you on the morning after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing testimony. I will confess that I am still reeling from watching the hearing and how it all played out. I am still reeling from the fact that a victim is being prosecuted. I am still reeling from the dehumanization she has experienced.

I am still reeling from the undeniable and incontrovertible evidence this testimony and the whole hearing has provided us of how far this country’s leadership has fallen and how openly, indeed publicly, sexual abuse of women has been given the rubber stamp of approval by our current president.

Meanwhile, while we are all focused on this hearing, ICE detained 150 good people in Southern California, which is yet another example of the horrific policies put into place by the current president.

Given everything that is happening in our world, how do we continue our vocational tasks of preaching, teaching, and living the good news?

How do we find the energy for it?

For me, it has come through reflection upon a question a colleague posed to me. A couple of Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to do a parish visit, sit with the vestry of the church, and talk about mission in ministry in their particular context. During this meeting, their rector asked me a question that caught me up short for a moment. It was a simple, articulate, and profound question. It was an articulation of something I have wondered during all my years of priesthood but have never been able to put words to, at least not this way. The rector asked what our bishops expect of us, the clergy.

I went back to Echo Park and told Bishop Taylor about this question, how it had struck me, and how I answered the question. Together, he and I put some more thinking behind what is expected of us, and by “us” I mean all of us, including the bishops.

Here’s what we came up with:

Curiosity
In a cultural context that dehumanizes and renders invisible those that it deems “other,” one of the most profoundly easy and highly impactful things we can do is to be curious about the people we meet. We can learn their stories, get to know them, and listen to what they have to teach us. Our curiosity and interest in others helps them to feel seen and heard, and it fosters a sense of safety in community’

Joy
An underrated charism in our church, joy is infectious. It is almost impossible not to feel it when you encounter someone who has this infectious joy. Joy for me has been an on again/off again experience, but more and more, in the light of what is happening in our world, I am doing my best to lean into it. Our lives are resurrection narratives and that is something we can be joyful about. We have Jesus and that is where our joy is found.

Talk less and listen more
We clergy are in the business of talking. We pray, we preach, we provide leadership for our people. We certainly value listening as an essential part of our vocation, but it’s easier said than done. Simply listening, without jumping in to share our own story or make a connection with an experience we have had, is one way we can really see the people with whom we minister. Listening to someone is receiving them.

Do the opposite
In a context and time in history which is increasingly polarized, binary, either/or, impatient, anxious, suspicious, and volatile, go and do the opposite.

We have the opportunity to bring in the gray areas, to see the both/and, to adopt radical calm, and to believe what people tell us. Whatever we can do that is the opposite of what is happening around us will be transformative. Of course, this goes back to our baptismal promise to seek justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Whatever we can do to live into this promise, one relationship at a time, will make a difference.

Love one another as God has loved us
Our collegial relationships are among the most important relationships we have beyond our families. Let us love each other as God has loved us. A safe community of holy love and grace is what God wants for us. Let us be that for one another.

Thank you, dear colleagues, for the ministries you do, for the love you share, and for saying yes to God’s call to bring hope to the world during this time. It is an honor to be doing ministry with you!

Blessings,

Melissa+

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July 2018

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

Where the spirit moves us

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write this article to you, I’m preparing to head to General Convention on Sunday, July 1.

I arrive early as I have responsibilities to attend to as Secretary to the House of Bishops. We will be talking about and voting on a wide variety of subjects – some of which many of you are passionate about.

It will be about two weeks of intensive work, which is designed to point us as a Church in the direction that the Spirit moves us.

I am never good at predicting the outcome of elections to offices or of the fate of various resolutions, yet one thing I do know: much work will be done, many conversations will be had (some heated) – and all this set in the context of prayer and the Eucharist.

In addition to preparing for General Convention I have been working on finance and stewardship work, and am most grateful to Lorenzo Lebrija for his help and work on the Stewardship event we held last weekend. Thanks also to Chris Tumilty, who used his expertise to allow us for the first time to go “live” to you – with the plenary and all workshops live-streamed.

We hope to do more of this, so that the diocese can meet YOU where YOU are — not just at Echo Park. Videos of the plenary and workshops will be available for your viewing here.

The work was designed to help congregations with planned giving, narrative budgeting, utilizing TENS (The Episcopal Network on Stewardship), utilizing Holy Currencies, etc.

Speaking of TENS, if you want to use the materials, the Diocese has purchased access for you. The login ID is: Mark; the password is: 10:21. The work we are doing in Finance and the work of the Stewardship Conference was and is to equip you and all of us for the work God is giving us to do.

While I am personally preoccupied at the moment with General Convention preparations, and in the midst of work in Finance and just through with our Stewardship Conference, I’m most grateful to our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor and the men and women, lay and ordained, who are working tirelessly to bring attention to and end the separation of children from their parents at the border.

From demonstrations to protests to phone calls to letter writing–something has to change. The evil – and I use the word evil — separation of children from their families is one of the most depraved acts we as a nation can commit against a human family. Families must be reunited again – now. I keep thinking about the Holy Family – fleeing to Egypt. What if Jesus had been separated from his parents at that border?

Friends in Christ, we need to band together as the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus movement to not only move in the way the Spirit is leading us through the work of our General Convention, and through the way we utilize our gifts of time, talent and treasure, but most importantly through the way we shed light into the darkness that sometimes overtakes our world.

We must continue to advocate for those who have no voice or whose voices are being silenced. That is Jesus-work for us all. May we continue to do so, speaking out, using our resources, advocating for, loving, caring and protecting ALL whom God brings to us.

Blessings,

+Diane

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June 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

The truth of our vocation

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you after a wonderful meeting with those who will be ordained on June 2 at St. John’s Cathedral. I came to my scheduled time with them with no agenda.

As we talked, a few questions began to emerge. Among the things they asked were the usual questions about when to wear or not wear their collars, when to call the bishop, and all the other things you may remember having questions about when you were newly ordained.

As the conversation continued, the questions moved from the practical to the personal and theological. One of the ordinands asked me something like this: “What lies do the newly ordained tell themselves and how can we stay true to the truth?”

I was struck by the honesty of this question and how important it is for us to stay true to the truth of our vocations. What are the lies we tell ourselves? What is the truth of our vocation that we need to keep in focus?

For each of us, the answers to these questions may be different but I imagine there is a similar theme. The lies we tell ourselves are most likely rooted in ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear. The truth of our vocation is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope. That part of the question is not so tricky to identify. Staying true to the truth is a more difficult task.

How do you avoid the lies of ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear, and stay rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope? What does that mean for you?

For me it has something to do with remembering what a privilege it is to be called into a vocation where our work is to love others as Christ has loved us as well as the fact that while we will always have lots of tasks, what matters most in our ordained ministry is who we are. Our presence is our primary strength as leaders. Everything else will take care of itself when our presence is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope.

Please pray for those being ordained on June 2, as well as for all of our colleagues in this sacred work into which we have been called.

Know that you are held in prayer by Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce, the whole diocesan staff, and me. My prayer for us all is that our work may be rooted in God’s love, humility, faithfulness, and hope!

Blessings,

Melissa+

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

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June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

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May 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

May 2, 2019 – Feast of St. Athanasius

St. Paul’s Commons
is the new name for
our diocesan HQ in Echo Park

 

 My dear colleagues:

We all have something in common – the risen Christ, of course, and also the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park. I know most of you love it as much as I do. I remember my first visit, for a meeting during the early stages of my discernment for ordained ministry. I was surprised that it was in the heart of the city, not downtown but in a neighborhood, not built skyward but spread like open arms across a long block facing Echo Park Lake.

When I get to work and head up the stairs, I sometimes remember my excited, unsettled feeling that day. The building was just a few years old back then – and as a matter of fact, I was in my infancy as well, at least spiritually speaking.

 The Cathedral Center still feels just right to me. As my vocation matures, I’ve come to care for this building (and its devoted occupants, my beloved fellow ministers) more and more.

 Built and completed during Fred Borsch’s episcopate, inspired and nurtured into bricks and mortar by its first provost, Jon Bruno, the church in the Cathedral Center stands for two historic institutions. One is St. Paul’s Cathedral downtown, which was damaged in a 1971 earthquake and eventually torn down. The other is St. Athanasius Church, founded in 1864, the oldest continually operating Protestant congregation in southern California, which provided the land in Echo Park. Not that Bishop Bruce and I sit in them much, but our cathedrae are there, signifying that it is a cathedral church, as during chrism masses and other diocesan services. The rest of the time, our lively, multicultural congregation of St. Athanasius calls the same space home.

Meanwhile, ten years ago, Bishop Bruno designated St. John’s as a pro-cathedral, which is a cathedral that begins its life as a parish. Research amply demonstrates that this is the case with many historic cathedrals. Accordingly, we removed the “Pro-“ – and bingo, we now had two cathedrals, one in Echo Park on the brink of its second quarter-century, the other on Adams Blvd. beginning its second decade.

 As you know, we’ve been in conversation and discernment about this ecclesiastical dichotomy for over a year. The upshot is that later this year, on a date still to be determined and announced, we will rename your Echo Park headquarters. The new logo will contain this information:

ST. PAUL’S COMMONS
Diocesan Center
Ministry Center
Retreat and Conference Center

The new name will preserve the building’s historic connection to the downtown cathedral. It will make clear that the bishops and all our colleagues are still at work there. It will highlight our continuing and new ministries to our Echo Park neighbors, especially those grappling with food and housing insecurity. And it will draw more attention to our beautiful, underutilized retreat center and all our public spaces, which are available to community organizations for lease (in the name of sustainability) and sometimes for free (as at the neighborhood-minded institutions you serve).

The change to St. Paul’s Commons will, we trust, further energize two other beloved institutions.

St. Athanasius Church will again have a space that is entirely its own. As we spruce up the whole complex with new carpet, paint, and signage, we plan a concerted effort to draw attention to the congregation’s presence so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy its abundant ministries.

St. John’s Cathedral also enters an exciting time of visioning about its role as a diocesan and civic institution in the heart of one of the greatest cities on earth. St. John’s’ neighborhood, which actually is our whole diocese, is a harbinger of Christ’s church’s multicultural, pluralistic, socially progressive destiny — if the church is to survive and thrive, that is. Though many of our neighbors are skeptical about faith institutions, their hearts are still hungry for purpose, meaning, justice, hope, mystery, and love. These challenges and opportunities engird our cathedral’s future. Its vision, as well as its more pressing needs such as a seismic retrofit, will be centerpieces of our diocesan capital campaign.

And while our offices, I stress again, won’t move to St. John’s, those cathedrae soon will.

With clergy conference coming up next week, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, Canon Williams (who has played a vital role in this transition), and I look forward to answering your questions about all that’s in store for St. Paul’s Commons. See you in Riverside.

Yours in Christ’s Eastertide love,

+John

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April 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce:

About Lambeth

Dear Friends in Christ:

In mid-March Bishop Taylor and I spent four long, intense days with our fellow Bishops at Kanuga in North Carolina. You have already seen the letter from us and our spouses regarding the controversy surrounding Lambeth 2020.

Leaving Bishop Mary Glasspool’s beloved Becki off the guest list was shocking and painful – especially for those of us who have experienced their powerful and loving ministry among us. The response of the House of Bishops (HOB) as well as your bishops here was undertaken prayerfully. Mary herself gave a moving account of what transpired in the weeks leading up to our gathering at the HOB.

The work of the HOB in this triennium is centered on The Way of Love. For those of you who haven’t reviewed the materials for The Way of Love a good place to begin is here.

We had the privilege of hearing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie (AME Bishop, Texas) as well as Bishop Ric Thorpe (Bishop of Islington) on Evangelism as it relates to the Way of Love.

Bishop McKenzie is the Bishop in charge of all the AME churches in the State of Texas. She talked about the fact that many people practice “CHURCHianity” rather than “CHRISTianity”.

She asked the question, “Is it possible that we are more in love with Church than we are with Jesus Christ?” It is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of Church that we forget the reason we are here and what we are called to do. While we need the institution, we also need to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Ric Thorpe has been Bishop of Islington, a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of London with special attention to the ministry of church planting, since September 2015. He is responsible for the London diocese’s goal of creating 100 New Worshipping Communities by 2020 and is also working nationally to support other dioceses to plant new churches and revitalize existing ones. Before being appointed to Islington, Bishop Ric was the Bishop of London’s adviser for Church Planting and the rector of St. Paul’s Shadwell.

Bishop Thorpe offered that the Way of Love re-centers us on what really matters. He shared that the decade of Evangelism in England didn’t produce much fruit in terms of the programs and projects that it did — EXCEPT for Alpha and for a renewed passion for the poor and the marginalized.

Reflecting on his work turning around St. Paul’s, he told us that St. Paul’s had 12 people left in it and was going to be closed. The Bishop of London asked Bishop Thorpe and a team to revitalize it — 95 people came with him to revitalize. The neighborhood is 45% Muslim, 45% secular young professionals, 10% aging cockney. The congregation grew! Check out their website here.

Bishop Thorpe draws his tradition from Gregory the Great — a vision for the re-visioning of a community and re-evangelizing of the nation. Augustine similarly worked with the powers that be to plant churches. Bishop Thorpe then looked to the Celtic saints and found Cuthbert who worked by coming alongside a community, developing a church outside the city limits and offering hospitality. The Celtic way is all about relationships.

Both Bishop McKenzie and Bishop Thorpe agreed that if we want to see the church revitalized and become a church that is full of the love of God in Christ and is following The Way of Love it starts with prayer. Here we are, back to where we started. The bishops spent time and prayed as we dealt with the harsh reality of Lambeth 2020. It all starts with prayer, and it all must end with prayer.

Please know I pray for you all daily. I pray for our Church. I pray for our nation. I pray for our world. May all we do be begin and end in prayer.

+Diane

March 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Summiting Together

Dear Friends:

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain peak in Wales and the highest peak in all of the United Kingdom outside of the Scottish Highlands. This 3,560-foot peak seems small for us here in California where snow falls generally occur at 4,500 feet and above. However, each mountain has its own personality, its own treachery, and Snowdon is no different.

I visited Wales in 2005 and, with my friend Isabella, decided to take a day to make the climb. I was barely 30 and still had that feeling of invincibility when we embarked that July morning. We decided to take the longest and busiest route to the top because we had been warned by so many locals to be careful of sudden weather changes and the danger such changes would bring us along the less traversed and more narrow paths. As I recall, it is a five-mile hike to the top so, after a good and fortifying breakfast, we started our ascent early that morning.

The hike up to the peak was beautiful. We encountered many fellow pilgrims, shook our figurative fists at those who zoomed past us on the train to the top, and enjoyed every moment of it. Almost. When we were about three-fourths of a mile from summiting the strangest thing happened. I got tired. Really tired. My legs felt heavy. Every step was a monumental effort. I kept pushing myself until finally I couldn’t do it any longer. I told Isabella what I was experiencing and she, being older and much wiser, said, “Oh, you are bonking,” which I inferred to mean some kind of crazy fatigue that she was aware of and I was not.

As it turns out “bonking” or “hitting the wall” is a real thing. It is the onset of sudden fatigue caused by a loss of glycogen. I sat down, she handed me a cliff bar, and I ate about half of it along with some long sips of water. A few minutes later I was fine. In fact, we ate that last three-fourths of a mile for a midmorning snack. The summit was as amazing as promised with cool winds and breathtaking views.

Being in ministry is a lot like summiting a peak. It’s a process and a journey. It’s something we sign up for and embark on with the best preparation we can have. It’s something that we do with others and, like my experience on Snowdon, it can wear us out. This is normal. Strength and energy comes and goes. We need periods of rest and quiet.

We need time to refuel and re-energize. As I was beginning to “bonk” I felt a sense of shame. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t just keep going. I looked at Isabella and she was fine. How come I wasn’t? I tried to push through and then I stopped. What Isabella did was normalize it for me, give me some fuel, and sit with me while I rested.

We can do the same for each other: normalize the fatigue, share the fuel for ministry that we have with each other, and be with each other in those periods of rest. Doing this for each other helps neutralize any shame we might be experiencing as well as any sense of competition with each other we may be indulging.

In the end, our vocational lives are most healthy and vibrant when we are in good relationship with each other, which necessarily means being able to share our vulnerabilities with each other and receive the support that is waiting to be offered.

These are my reflections on the eve of Lent, a time that is guaranteed to wear out anyone in active ministry. Be gentle with yourselves, reach out to one another (and to me!), and enjoy the journey with fellow pilgrims on the way.

A blessed Lent to all!

Melissa+
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February 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Taylor 

 Joining the List

 My siblings in Christ:
 Every month in “The Angelus,” we read these words from Canon Joanna Satorius: “Clergy  are encouraged to request that their name be placed on an interest list” for parish   congregations doing searches — as well as for mission congregations “or where an   appointment is otherwise applicable.”
That’s actually the Holy Spirit talking and offering opportunities for no end of discernment.
Putting one’s name on a list for a rector search is a big step. It probably means that we’re pretty sure it’s time to consider a new season in our vocation. Depending on how the search goes, we’ll be asked sooner rather than later why we want to leave our current post. We’ll have to ponder how soon to tell our current lay leaders what’s up. We’ll devote some of our best creative energy to actively envisioning ourselves in a new context and community.
The second part of Joanna’s message doesn’t get quite as much attention. We know this, because we don’t have as many names on the interest list as we would like. These are cures in which you express interest before knowing whether you’re actually interested – vicarships, of course, but also priest-in-charge positions.
Knowing what I know now – how quickly and unexpectedly these positions become available, and the wonderful diversity of mission and ministry they entail – if I were still a parish priest, no matter where I was serving, I would ask Joanna to put my name on the list. It wouldn’t be because I necessarily wanted to leave my current cure. I might even imagine retiring there. It would be because I had realized the Spirit can’t do her work in our lives and the lives of the people of God unless we cast ourselves continually to the whistling wind – unless, in other words, our names are always in the mix.
You can always say you’re not interested when we call. It’s that simple. But maybe it turns out that you are.These posts that the bishop fills are just like the ones you serve in now – unique, an outcome of a particular, precious local narrative. They might fit your gifts perfectly, but you and we can’t know for sure unless we are inspired to think about you when we reach for the List.
If you want to talk more about this, please don’t hesitate to speak with Canon Satorius, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, or me.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John

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October 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Expectations

Greetings, dear colleagues!

I sit down to write this note to you on the morning after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing testimony. I will confess that I am still reeling from watching the hearing and how it all played out. I am still reeling from the fact that a victim is being prosecuted. I am still reeling from the dehumanization she has experienced.

I am still reeling from the undeniable and incontrovertible evidence this testimony and the whole hearing has provided us of how far this country’s leadership has fallen and how openly, indeed publicly, sexual abuse of women has been given the rubber stamp of approval by our current president.

Meanwhile, while we are all focused on this hearing, ICE detained 150 good people in Southern California, which is yet another example of the horrific policies put into place by the current president.

Given everything that is happening in our world, how do we continue our vocational tasks of preaching, teaching, and living the good news?

How do we find the energy for it?

For me, it has come through reflection upon a question a colleague posed to me. A couple of Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to do a parish visit, sit with the vestry of the church, and talk about mission in ministry in their particular context. During this meeting, their rector asked me a question that caught me up short for a moment. It was a simple, articulate, and profound question. It was an articulation of something I have wondered during all my years of priesthood but have never been able to put words to, at least not this way. The rector asked what our bishops expect of us, the clergy.

I went back to Echo Park and told Bishop Taylor about this question, how it had struck me, and how I answered the question. Together, he and I put some more thinking behind what is expected of us, and by “us” I mean all of us, including the bishops.

Here’s what we came up with:

Curiosity
In a cultural context that dehumanizes and renders invisible those that it deems “other,” one of the most profoundly easy and highly impactful things we can do is to be curious about the people we meet. We can learn their stories, get to know them, and listen to what they have to teach us. Our curiosity and interest in others helps them to feel seen and heard, and it fosters a sense of safety in community’

Joy
An underrated charism in our church, joy is infectious. It is almost impossible not to feel it when you encounter someone who has this infectious joy. Joy for me has been an on again/off again experience, but more and more, in the light of what is happening in our world, I am doing my best to lean into it. Our lives are resurrection narratives and that is something we can be joyful about. We have Jesus and that is where our joy is found.

Talk less and listen more
We clergy are in the business of talking. We pray, we preach, we provide leadership for our people. We certainly value listening as an essential part of our vocation, but it’s easier said than done. Simply listening, without jumping in to share our own story or make a connection with an experience we have had, is one way we can really see the people with whom we minister. Listening to someone is receiving them.

Do the opposite
In a context and time in history which is increasingly polarized, binary, either/or, impatient, anxious, suspicious, and volatile, go and do the opposite.

We have the opportunity to bring in the gray areas, to see the both/and, to adopt radical calm, and to believe what people tell us. Whatever we can do that is the opposite of what is happening around us will be transformative. Of course, this goes back to our baptismal promise to seek justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Whatever we can do to live into this promise, one relationship at a time, will make a difference.

Love one another as God has loved us
Our collegial relationships are among the most important relationships we have beyond our families. Let us love each other as God has loved us. A safe community of holy love and grace is what God wants for us. Let us be that for one another.

Thank you, dear colleagues, for the ministries you do, for the love you share, and for saying yes to God’s call to bring hope to the world during this time. It is an honor to be doing ministry with you!

Blessings,

Melissa+

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July 2018

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

Where the spirit moves us

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write this article to you, I’m preparing to head to General Convention on Sunday, July 1.

I arrive early as I have responsibilities to attend to as Secretary to the House of Bishops. We will be talking about and voting on a wide variety of subjects – some of which many of you are passionate about.

It will be about two weeks of intensive work, which is designed to point us as a Church in the direction that the Spirit moves us.

I am never good at predicting the outcome of elections to offices or of the fate of various resolutions, yet one thing I do know: much work will be done, many conversations will be had (some heated) – and all this set in the context of prayer and the Eucharist.

In addition to preparing for General Convention I have been working on finance and stewardship work, and am most grateful to Lorenzo Lebrija for his help and work on the Stewardship event we held last weekend. Thanks also to Chris Tumilty, who used his expertise to allow us for the first time to go “live” to you – with the plenary and all workshops live-streamed.

We hope to do more of this, so that the diocese can meet YOU where YOU are — not just at Echo Park. Videos of the plenary and workshops will be available for your viewing here.

The work was designed to help congregations with planned giving, narrative budgeting, utilizing TENS (The Episcopal Network on Stewardship), utilizing Holy Currencies, etc.

Speaking of TENS, if you want to use the materials, the Diocese has purchased access for you. The login ID is: Mark; the password is: 10:21. The work we are doing in Finance and the work of the Stewardship Conference was and is to equip you and all of us for the work God is giving us to do.

While I am personally preoccupied at the moment with General Convention preparations, and in the midst of work in Finance and just through with our Stewardship Conference, I’m most grateful to our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor and the men and women, lay and ordained, who are working tirelessly to bring attention to and end the separation of children from their parents at the border.

From demonstrations to protests to phone calls to letter writing–something has to change. The evil – and I use the word evil — separation of children from their families is one of the most depraved acts we as a nation can commit against a human family. Families must be reunited again – now. I keep thinking about the Holy Family – fleeing to Egypt. What if Jesus had been separated from his parents at that border?

Friends in Christ, we need to band together as the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus movement to not only move in the way the Spirit is leading us through the work of our General Convention, and through the way we utilize our gifts of time, talent and treasure, but most importantly through the way we shed light into the darkness that sometimes overtakes our world.

We must continue to advocate for those who have no voice or whose voices are being silenced. That is Jesus-work for us all. May we continue to do so, speaking out, using our resources, advocating for, loving, caring and protecting ALL whom God brings to us.

Blessings,

+Diane

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June 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

The truth of our vocation

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you after a wonderful meeting with those who will be ordained on June 2 at St. John’s Cathedral. I came to my scheduled time with them with no agenda.

As we talked, a few questions began to emerge. Among the things they asked were the usual questions about when to wear or not wear their collars, when to call the bishop, and all the other things you may remember having questions about when you were newly ordained.

As the conversation continued, the questions moved from the practical to the personal and theological. One of the ordinands asked me something like this: “What lies do the newly ordained tell themselves and how can we stay true to the truth?”

I was struck by the honesty of this question and how important it is for us to stay true to the truth of our vocations. What are the lies we tell ourselves? What is the truth of our vocation that we need to keep in focus?

For each of us, the answers to these questions may be different but I imagine there is a similar theme. The lies we tell ourselves are most likely rooted in ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear. The truth of our vocation is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope. That part of the question is not so tricky to identify. Staying true to the truth is a more difficult task.

How do you avoid the lies of ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear, and stay rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope? What does that mean for you?

For me it has something to do with remembering what a privilege it is to be called into a vocation where our work is to love others as Christ has loved us as well as the fact that while we will always have lots of tasks, what matters most in our ordained ministry is who we are. Our presence is our primary strength as leaders. Everything else will take care of itself when our presence is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope.

Please pray for those being ordained on June 2, as well as for all of our colleagues in this sacred work into which we have been called.

Know that you are held in prayer by Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce, the whole diocesan staff, and me. My prayer for us all is that our work may be rooted in God’s love, humility, faithfulness, and hope!

Blessings,

Melissa+

March 2020

From Bishop John Harvey Taylor

My colleagues in Christ:

More than a year ago, Bishop Bruce invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak at our annual Bishop’s Dinner this November. As you know, it’s a fundraiser, with proceeds set aside for our missions and ministry centers. As in 2019, we’ll use the money this year to enable as many missions as possible to participate in Jaime Edwards-Acton and Betsy Densmore’s Social Enterprise Academy, learning how to leverage their resources for the sake of God’s people and the sustainability of the church.

Just think about it. The greatest preacher of our time, in Los Angeles, just a few days after the presidential election, offering the inspiration of Christ’s way of love.

Then Canon McCarthy had an idea. Why don’t we ask Bishop Curry to offer his sure-to-be-stirring address twice, at each end of the diocese? I pitched it to him in a few weeks ago in Detroit, at Bishop Bonnie Perry’s ordination and consecration, and he graciously assented.

So my colleagues, this is a “save the date” notice to keep in mind as you plan your own 2020-21 schedules. The Bishop’s Dinner del norte will be on Friday, November 6, 2020 at California Lutheran University. La cena del sur will be on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in the White House East Room replica of the Nixon library in Yorba Linda.

Please mark your calendars, and spread the word. More details to come, including about additional special guests. My spouse Canon Kathy O’Connor, again serving as volunteer dinner coordinator, is looking for dinner sponsors as well as volunteers for organizing committees for both dinners. Please write her at koconnor@ladiocese.org. We promise to keep the tickets as affordable as possible. Thank you for understanding the vital importance of raising these funds for our institutions on the front lines of mission and ministry.

Yours in Christ’s love,

+John

July 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

July – a way of rest

July is always that month when I can kinda-sorta-breathe. Is it that way for you too?

Starting with Easter I feel as though I’m on a dead run to July. June is always the worst — it’s a whirlwind for me; graduations, ordinations, consecrations, birthdays. Maybe June was and is a whirlwind for you too.

Now it’s July — June gloom is behind us (hopefully) and we look forward to sunny days and a more reasonable pace of work. Maybe you’ve scheduled all or part of your vacation for July. Many clergy do.

We as clergy tend to over-function. We do so at times out of necessity, especially when we are the only clergy person caring for a congregation. We do so out of our own insecurity, as if people might think we are slacking off if we actually take time apart to rest, reflect and pray.

We do so because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, someone to be visited, something to fix, more meetings to schedule. God knows I eat over-functioning for breakfast! Yet I know I’m not called to stay in that place. It is not healthy for my body, mind or spirit, and it is not healthy for you either.

I want to invite you to continue to walk with me on the Way of Love. During the month of July — and heck, let’s throw August in there as well — I invite you to move into a bit of REST. It doesn’t mean we completely stop working (unless, of course, you are on vacation!). It does mean taking some time to think about, pray about, work on that aspect of the Way of Love which our Presiding Bishop calls rest.

From https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/way_of_love_introduction.pdf:

REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

Blessed are you, O Lord … giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent.  – Book of Common Prayer, 113

From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.

For Reflection and Discernment

  • What practices restore your body, mind, and soul?
  • How will you observe rest and renewal on a regular basis?
  • With whom will you commit to create and maintain a regular practice of rest?

Use this quieter time we live in right now to honor your body, mind and spirit — and drink in God’s love and grace.

Blessings and love to you all,
+Diane

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June 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Knowing Your Rest Points

“Know your rest points,” was the sage advice I received from a choreographer I worked with about 20 years ago when I was dancing to make a living. We were learning a particularly challenging piece and she told us to pace ourselves; to look at the piece as a whole and find those moments when we could rest. Even though we were still moving, there were less intense moments that, with intention and focus, could provide us with enough respite to restore us for what was ahead.

This idea of rest points stuck with me through my discernment, seminary, and into my priestly vocation. Vacation is a great time for rest, of course, as are our days off. There are times and seasons of rest as well as moments of rest in each day. The key to finding this rest is to be intentional about it. We can take a look at the pacing of each day, or week, or month, or year, and find those moments when we can take a break and a breath, reconnecting to ourselves and to God.

It’s always seemed a bit of a puzzle to me why clergy, myself included, work hard and so often resist taking the rest we need. Is it the infamous “fear of missing out”? Or is it because somewhere inside of us we still feel like we need to earn our salvation? Is it because we fear Jesus (or our people) will loves us less if we take some time to rest? I have never come up with a good answer for this in myself. Maybe you have and can share it with me!

What I do know is that Jesus will not love us less if we take time to rest. Jesus will not love us less if we spend some time doing whatever provides our hearts and souls with the respite that will restore us for the work we are called to do in the more intense times in our day, week, month, or year. In the end, aren’t we all going for the long game, which is a life of meaningful work and deep connection with God and those whom God loves? The way I know how to do this is by pacing myself, knowing when I can rest, knowing when I need to push through, and remembering that everything we do is for the sake of God’s love.

Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I, along with Canon Satorius and the Formations and Transitions team, have been thinking of ways that we can offer moments of rest for the clergy community as well. We began with clergy conference, which was a different kind of clergy conference than we have had in previous years. Rather than listening to a speaker, which can feel exhausting in the Easter season after a full year, we opted for a conference that felt more like a retreat. It was our first draft, so to speak, and next year we will fine-tune it.

Additionally, we are experimenting with two other points during the year where rest, restoration, and learning can be offered. The first will be on November 1, when the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will offer a retreat day for clergy held at St. Paul’s Commons (the Cathedral Center). More details on this event will come soon, but in the meantime please check out Dean Douglas’ biography. I also encourage you to check out some of her writing, including her groundbreaking book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.

Second, in the spring, we will offer a retreat day prior to Lent in collaboration with Stillpoint. What that day looks like has yet to be planned but we will have information out as soon as we are able.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed and restorative summer! If we can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Melissa

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May 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

May 2, 2019 – Feast of St. Athanasius

St. Paul’s Commons
is the new name for
our diocesan HQ in Echo Park

 

 My dear colleagues:

We all have something in common – the risen Christ, of course, and also the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park. I know most of you love it as much as I do. I remember my first visit, for a meeting during the early stages of my discernment for ordained ministry. I was surprised that it was in the heart of the city, not downtown but in a neighborhood, not built skyward but spread like open arms across a long block facing Echo Park Lake.

When I get to work and head up the stairs, I sometimes remember my excited, unsettled feeling that day. The building was just a few years old back then – and as a matter of fact, I was in my infancy as well, at least spiritually speaking.

 The Cathedral Center still feels just right to me. As my vocation matures, I’ve come to care for this building (and its devoted occupants, my beloved fellow ministers) more and more.

 Built and completed during Fred Borsch’s episcopate, inspired and nurtured into bricks and mortar by its first provost, Jon Bruno, the church in the Cathedral Center stands for two historic institutions. One is St. Paul’s Cathedral downtown, which was damaged in a 1971 earthquake and eventually torn down. The other is St. Athanasius Church, founded in 1864, the oldest continually operating Protestant congregation in southern California, which provided the land in Echo Park. Not that Bishop Bruce and I sit in them much, but our cathedrae are there, signifying that it is a cathedral church, as during chrism masses and other diocesan services. The rest of the time, our lively, multicultural congregation of St. Athanasius calls the same space home.

Meanwhile, ten years ago, Bishop Bruno designated St. John’s as a pro-cathedral, which is a cathedral that begins its life as a parish. Research amply demonstrates that this is the case with many historic cathedrals. Accordingly, we removed the “Pro-“ – and bingo, we now had two cathedrals, one in Echo Park on the brink of its second quarter-century, the other on Adams Blvd. beginning its second decade.

 As you know, we’ve been in conversation and discernment about this ecclesiastical dichotomy for over a year. The upshot is that later this year, on a date still to be determined and announced, we will rename your Echo Park headquarters. The new logo will contain this information:

ST. PAUL’S COMMONS
Diocesan Center
Ministry Center
Retreat and Conference Center

The new name will preserve the building’s historic connection to the downtown cathedral. It will make clear that the bishops and all our colleagues are still at work there. It will highlight our continuing and new ministries to our Echo Park neighbors, especially those grappling with food and housing insecurity. And it will draw more attention to our beautiful, underutilized retreat center and all our public spaces, which are available to community organizations for lease (in the name of sustainability) and sometimes for free (as at the neighborhood-minded institutions you serve).

The change to St. Paul’s Commons will, we trust, further energize two other beloved institutions.

St. Athanasius Church will again have a space that is entirely its own. As we spruce up the whole complex with new carpet, paint, and signage, we plan a concerted effort to draw attention to the congregation’s presence so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy its abundant ministries.

St. John’s Cathedral also enters an exciting time of visioning about its role as a diocesan and civic institution in the heart of one of the greatest cities on earth. St. John’s’ neighborhood, which actually is our whole diocese, is a harbinger of Christ’s church’s multicultural, pluralistic, socially progressive destiny — if the church is to survive and thrive, that is. Though many of our neighbors are skeptical about faith institutions, their hearts are still hungry for purpose, meaning, justice, hope, mystery, and love. These challenges and opportunities engird our cathedral’s future. Its vision, as well as its more pressing needs such as a seismic retrofit, will be centerpieces of our diocesan capital campaign.

And while our offices, I stress again, won’t move to St. John’s, those cathedrae soon will.

With clergy conference coming up next week, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, Canon Williams (who has played a vital role in this transition), and I look forward to answering your questions about all that’s in store for St. Paul’s Commons. See you in Riverside.

Yours in Christ’s Eastertide love,

+John

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April 2019

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce:

About Lambeth

Dear Friends in Christ:

In mid-March Bishop Taylor and I spent four long, intense days with our fellow Bishops at Kanuga in North Carolina. You have already seen the letter from us and our spouses regarding the controversy surrounding Lambeth 2020.

Leaving Bishop Mary Glasspool’s beloved Becki off the guest list was shocking and painful – especially for those of us who have experienced their powerful and loving ministry among us. The response of the House of Bishops (HOB) as well as your bishops here was undertaken prayerfully. Mary herself gave a moving account of what transpired in the weeks leading up to our gathering at the HOB.

The work of the HOB in this triennium is centered on The Way of Love. For those of you who haven’t reviewed the materials for The Way of Love a good place to begin is here.

We had the privilege of hearing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie (AME Bishop, Texas) as well as Bishop Ric Thorpe (Bishop of Islington) on Evangelism as it relates to the Way of Love.

Bishop McKenzie is the Bishop in charge of all the AME churches in the State of Texas. She talked about the fact that many people practice “CHURCHianity” rather than “CHRISTianity”.

She asked the question, “Is it possible that we are more in love with Church than we are with Jesus Christ?” It is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of Church that we forget the reason we are here and what we are called to do. While we need the institution, we also need to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Ric Thorpe has been Bishop of Islington, a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of London with special attention to the ministry of church planting, since September 2015. He is responsible for the London diocese’s goal of creating 100 New Worshipping Communities by 2020 and is also working nationally to support other dioceses to plant new churches and revitalize existing ones. Before being appointed to Islington, Bishop Ric was the Bishop of London’s adviser for Church Planting and the rector of St. Paul’s Shadwell.

Bishop Thorpe offered that the Way of Love re-centers us on what really matters. He shared that the decade of Evangelism in England didn’t produce much fruit in terms of the programs and projects that it did — EXCEPT for Alpha and for a renewed passion for the poor and the marginalized.

Reflecting on his work turning around St. Paul’s, he told us that St. Paul’s had 12 people left in it and was going to be closed. The Bishop of London asked Bishop Thorpe and a team to revitalize it — 95 people came with him to revitalize. The neighborhood is 45% Muslim, 45% secular young professionals, 10% aging cockney. The congregation grew! Check out their website here.

Bishop Thorpe draws his tradition from Gregory the Great — a vision for the re-visioning of a community and re-evangelizing of the nation. Augustine similarly worked with the powers that be to plant churches. Bishop Thorpe then looked to the Celtic saints and found Cuthbert who worked by coming alongside a community, developing a church outside the city limits and offering hospitality. The Celtic way is all about relationships.

Both Bishop McKenzie and Bishop Thorpe agreed that if we want to see the church revitalized and become a church that is full of the love of God in Christ and is following The Way of Love it starts with prayer. Here we are, back to where we started. The bishops spent time and prayed as we dealt with the harsh reality of Lambeth 2020. It all starts with prayer, and it all must end with prayer.

Please know I pray for you all daily. I pray for our Church. I pray for our nation. I pray for our world. May all we do be begin and end in prayer.

+Diane

March 2019

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Summiting Together

Dear Friends:

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain peak in Wales and the highest peak in all of the United Kingdom outside of the Scottish Highlands. This 3,560-foot peak seems small for us here in California where snow falls generally occur at 4,500 feet and above. However, each mountain has its own personality, its own treachery, and Snowdon is no different.

I visited Wales in 2005 and, with my friend Isabella, decided to take a day to make the climb. I was barely 30 and still had that feeling of invincibility when we embarked that July morning. We decided to take the longest and busiest route to the top because we had been warned by so many locals to be careful of sudden weather changes and the danger such changes would bring us along the less traversed and more narrow paths. As I recall, it is a five-mile hike to the top so, after a good and fortifying breakfast, we started our ascent early that morning.

The hike up to the peak was beautiful. We encountered many fellow pilgrims, shook our figurative fists at those who zoomed past us on the train to the top, and enjoyed every moment of it. Almost. When we were about three-fourths of a mile from summiting the strangest thing happened. I got tired. Really tired. My legs felt heavy. Every step was a monumental effort. I kept pushing myself until finally I couldn’t do it any longer. I told Isabella what I was experiencing and she, being older and much wiser, said, “Oh, you are bonking,” which I inferred to mean some kind of crazy fatigue that she was aware of and I was not.

As it turns out “bonking” or “hitting the wall” is a real thing. It is the onset of sudden fatigue caused by a loss of glycogen. I sat down, she handed me a cliff bar, and I ate about half of it along with some long sips of water. A few minutes later I was fine. In fact, we ate that last three-fourths of a mile for a midmorning snack. The summit was as amazing as promised with cool winds and breathtaking views.

Being in ministry is a lot like summiting a peak. It’s a process and a journey. It’s something we sign up for and embark on with the best preparation we can have. It’s something that we do with others and, like my experience on Snowdon, it can wear us out. This is normal. Strength and energy comes and goes. We need periods of rest and quiet.

We need time to refuel and re-energize. As I was beginning to “bonk” I felt a sense of shame. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t just keep going. I looked at Isabella and she was fine. How come I wasn’t? I tried to push through and then I stopped. What Isabella did was normalize it for me, give me some fuel, and sit with me while I rested.

We can do the same for each other: normalize the fatigue, share the fuel for ministry that we have with each other, and be with each other in those periods of rest. Doing this for each other helps neutralize any shame we might be experiencing as well as any sense of competition with each other we may be indulging.

In the end, our vocational lives are most healthy and vibrant when we are in good relationship with each other, which necessarily means being able to share our vulnerabilities with each other and receive the support that is waiting to be offered.

These are my reflections on the eve of Lent, a time that is guaranteed to wear out anyone in active ministry. Be gentle with yourselves, reach out to one another (and to me!), and enjoy the journey with fellow pilgrims on the way.

A blessed Lent to all!

Melissa+
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February 2019

From Bishop Diocesan John Taylor 

 Joining the List

 My siblings in Christ:
 Every month in “The Angelus,” we read these words from Canon Joanna Satorius: “Clergy  are encouraged to request that their name be placed on an interest list” for parish   congregations doing searches — as well as for mission congregations “or where an   appointment is otherwise applicable.”
That’s actually the Holy Spirit talking and offering opportunities for no end of discernment.
Putting one’s name on a list for a rector search is a big step. It probably means that we’re pretty sure it’s time to consider a new season in our vocation. Depending on how the search goes, we’ll be asked sooner rather than later why we want to leave our current post. We’ll have to ponder how soon to tell our current lay leaders what’s up. We’ll devote some of our best creative energy to actively envisioning ourselves in a new context and community.
The second part of Joanna’s message doesn’t get quite as much attention. We know this, because we don’t have as many names on the interest list as we would like. These are cures in which you express interest before knowing whether you’re actually interested – vicarships, of course, but also priest-in-charge positions.
Knowing what I know now – how quickly and unexpectedly these positions become available, and the wonderful diversity of mission and ministry they entail – if I were still a parish priest, no matter where I was serving, I would ask Joanna to put my name on the list. It wouldn’t be because I necessarily wanted to leave my current cure. I might even imagine retiring there. It would be because I had realized the Spirit can’t do her work in our lives and the lives of the people of God unless we cast ourselves continually to the whistling wind – unless, in other words, our names are always in the mix.
You can always say you’re not interested when we call. It’s that simple. But maybe it turns out that you are.These posts that the bishop fills are just like the ones you serve in now – unique, an outcome of a particular, precious local narrative. They might fit your gifts perfectly, but you and we can’t know for sure unless we are inspired to think about you when we reach for the List.
If you want to talk more about this, please don’t hesitate to speak with Canon Satorius, Bishop Bruce, Canon McCarthy, or me.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John

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October 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

Expectations

Greetings, dear colleagues!

I sit down to write this note to you on the morning after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing testimony. I will confess that I am still reeling from watching the hearing and how it all played out. I am still reeling from the fact that a victim is being prosecuted. I am still reeling from the dehumanization she has experienced.

I am still reeling from the undeniable and incontrovertible evidence this testimony and the whole hearing has provided us of how far this country’s leadership has fallen and how openly, indeed publicly, sexual abuse of women has been given the rubber stamp of approval by our current president.

Meanwhile, while we are all focused on this hearing, ICE detained 150 good people in Southern California, which is yet another example of the horrific policies put into place by the current president.

Given everything that is happening in our world, how do we continue our vocational tasks of preaching, teaching, and living the good news?

How do we find the energy for it?

For me, it has come through reflection upon a question a colleague posed to me. A couple of Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to do a parish visit, sit with the vestry of the church, and talk about mission in ministry in their particular context. During this meeting, their rector asked me a question that caught me up short for a moment. It was a simple, articulate, and profound question. It was an articulation of something I have wondered during all my years of priesthood but have never been able to put words to, at least not this way. The rector asked what our bishops expect of us, the clergy.

I went back to Echo Park and told Bishop Taylor about this question, how it had struck me, and how I answered the question. Together, he and I put some more thinking behind what is expected of us, and by “us” I mean all of us, including the bishops.

Here’s what we came up with:

Curiosity
In a cultural context that dehumanizes and renders invisible those that it deems “other,” one of the most profoundly easy and highly impactful things we can do is to be curious about the people we meet. We can learn their stories, get to know them, and listen to what they have to teach us. Our curiosity and interest in others helps them to feel seen and heard, and it fosters a sense of safety in community’

Joy
An underrated charism in our church, joy is infectious. It is almost impossible not to feel it when you encounter someone who has this infectious joy. Joy for me has been an on again/off again experience, but more and more, in the light of what is happening in our world, I am doing my best to lean into it. Our lives are resurrection narratives and that is something we can be joyful about. We have Jesus and that is where our joy is found.

Talk less and listen more
We clergy are in the business of talking. We pray, we preach, we provide leadership for our people. We certainly value listening as an essential part of our vocation, but it’s easier said than done. Simply listening, without jumping in to share our own story or make a connection with an experience we have had, is one way we can really see the people with whom we minister. Listening to someone is receiving them.

Do the opposite
In a context and time in history which is increasingly polarized, binary, either/or, impatient, anxious, suspicious, and volatile, go and do the opposite.

We have the opportunity to bring in the gray areas, to see the both/and, to adopt radical calm, and to believe what people tell us. Whatever we can do that is the opposite of what is happening around us will be transformative. Of course, this goes back to our baptismal promise to seek justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Whatever we can do to live into this promise, one relationship at a time, will make a difference.

Love one another as God has loved us
Our collegial relationships are among the most important relationships we have beyond our families. Let us love each other as God has loved us. A safe community of holy love and grace is what God wants for us. Let us be that for one another.

Thank you, dear colleagues, for the ministries you do, for the love you share, and for saying yes to God’s call to bring hope to the world during this time. It is an honor to be doing ministry with you!

Blessings,

Melissa+

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July 2018

From Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce

Where the spirit moves us

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write this article to you, I’m preparing to head to General Convention on Sunday, July 1.

I arrive early as I have responsibilities to attend to as Secretary to the House of Bishops. We will be talking about and voting on a wide variety of subjects – some of which many of you are passionate about.

It will be about two weeks of intensive work, which is designed to point us as a Church in the direction that the Spirit moves us.

I am never good at predicting the outcome of elections to offices or of the fate of various resolutions, yet one thing I do know: much work will be done, many conversations will be had (some heated) – and all this set in the context of prayer and the Eucharist.

In addition to preparing for General Convention I have been working on finance and stewardship work, and am most grateful to Lorenzo Lebrija for his help and work on the Stewardship event we held last weekend. Thanks also to Chris Tumilty, who used his expertise to allow us for the first time to go “live” to you – with the plenary and all workshops live-streamed.

We hope to do more of this, so that the diocese can meet YOU where YOU are — not just at Echo Park. Videos of the plenary and workshops will be available for your viewing here.

The work was designed to help congregations with planned giving, narrative budgeting, utilizing TENS (The Episcopal Network on Stewardship), utilizing Holy Currencies, etc.

Speaking of TENS, if you want to use the materials, the Diocese has purchased access for you. The login ID is: Mark; the password is: 10:21. The work we are doing in Finance and the work of the Stewardship Conference was and is to equip you and all of us for the work God is giving us to do.

While I am personally preoccupied at the moment with General Convention preparations, and in the midst of work in Finance and just through with our Stewardship Conference, I’m most grateful to our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor and the men and women, lay and ordained, who are working tirelessly to bring attention to and end the separation of children from their parents at the border.

From demonstrations to protests to phone calls to letter writing–something has to change. The evil – and I use the word evil — separation of children from their families is one of the most depraved acts we as a nation can commit against a human family. Families must be reunited again – now. I keep thinking about the Holy Family – fleeing to Egypt. What if Jesus had been separated from his parents at that border?

Friends in Christ, we need to band together as the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus movement to not only move in the way the Spirit is leading us through the work of our General Convention, and through the way we utilize our gifts of time, talent and treasure, but most importantly through the way we shed light into the darkness that sometimes overtakes our world.

We must continue to advocate for those who have no voice or whose voices are being silenced. That is Jesus-work for us all. May we continue to do so, speaking out, using our resources, advocating for, loving, caring and protecting ALL whom God brings to us.

Blessings,

+Diane

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June 2018

From Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy

The truth of our vocation

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you after a wonderful meeting with those who will be ordained on June 2 at St. John’s Cathedral. I came to my scheduled time with them with no agenda.

As we talked, a few questions began to emerge. Among the things they asked were the usual questions about when to wear or not wear their collars, when to call the bishop, and all the other things you may remember having questions about when you were newly ordained.

As the conversation continued, the questions moved from the practical to the personal and theological. One of the ordinands asked me something like this: “What lies do the newly ordained tell themselves and how can we stay true to the truth?”

I was struck by the honesty of this question and how important it is for us to stay true to the truth of our vocations. What are the lies we tell ourselves? What is the truth of our vocation that we need to keep in focus?

For each of us, the answers to these questions may be different but I imagine there is a similar theme. The lies we tell ourselves are most likely rooted in ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear. The truth of our vocation is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope. That part of the question is not so tricky to identify. Staying true to the truth is a more difficult task.

How do you avoid the lies of ego and insecurity, arrogance and fear, and stay rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope? What does that mean for you?

For me it has something to do with remembering what a privilege it is to be called into a vocation where our work is to love others as Christ has loved us as well as the fact that while we will always have lots of tasks, what matters most in our ordained ministry is who we are. Our presence is our primary strength as leaders. Everything else will take care of itself when our presence is rooted in love, humility, faithfulness, and hope.

Please pray for those being ordained on June 2, as well as for all of our colleagues in this sacred work into which we have been called.

Know that you are held in prayer by Bishop Taylor, Bishop Bruce, the whole diocesan staff, and me. My prayer for us all is that our work may be rooted in God’s love, humility, faithfulness, and hope!

Blessings,

Melissa+