September 2022

Center for Lay Chaplaincy & Prism Present: ‘Building Spiritual Vitality’
October 8 fundraiser to benefit united ministries

By the Rev. Jana Milhon-Martin

Jana Milhon-Martin

PRISM Restorative Justice and The Center for Lay Chaplaincy (CFLC) are two Diocesan ministries who work to build spiritual vitality in seemingly hopeless contexts in and around Los Angeles. PRISM is well known for providing spiritual care for our incarcerated brothers and sisters. CFLC, a relatively new Diocesan ministry, works to train, place, and support chaplains who provide spiritual care in under-resourced contexts like food banks, service centers for the unhoused, shower programs, and public spaces. The work of both ministries run parallel to one another, and these two chaplaincy ministries have decided to join forces to create a larger, more comprehensive chaplaincy ministry within the LA Diocese. 

To celebrate and support this exciting transition, CFLC and PRISM are hosting a celebration fundraiser at the Bishop Residence on October 8th from 5pm-8pm. The celebration will be an opportunity to share the discoveries we have made over the past 18 months, engage some of the innovative resources we have developed, and share in our vision for the future of lay chaplaincy and spiritual care in the 21st century.
Sharon Crandall, Director of PRISM Restorative Justice explains, “Joining these two ministries provides endless possibilities to provide spiritual care to underserved populations within our communities. The combining of CFLC and PRISM will also create opportunities for individuals to experience chaplaincy in spaces that speak to their own particular call. The life-giving beauty of chaplaincy is a gift to the caregiver and the care seeker. As Father Greg Boyle says, ‘We keep going to the margins until the margins disappear.’ The work of CFLC providing ‘chaplaincy everywhere’ strives to meet more people where they are and to work toward erasing those margins.” 
Beginning in March 2020, CLFC has been adapting Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) for diverse contexts while developing innovative strategies for providing spiritual care for people outside of traditional church contexts. Chaplains training with CFLC have worked in food banks, shower programs, and the county jails. During Lent, CFLC hosted “Confessions for Humanity” at Blossom Market Hall in San Gabriel.
This interactive exhibit engaged visitors in the function of confession, and what might be learned about the human spirit from our collective human need for honesty about wrongdoing. Hundreds of visitors wrote confessions and talked to CFLC chaplains during the exhibit. The Confessions for Humanity installation will be onsite at the celebration and attendees will be invited to write confessions and engage with chaplains who worked at the installation in San Gabriel, who will be available to answer questions and share their experiences. 
In public locations around LA, CFLC installed a pop-up tea house and offered tea meditation to visitors who stopped by. Jessica Zheng, a doctoral student in Buddhist Chaplaincy at the University of West Los Angeles, is studying the application of tea meditation as a mechanism for spiritual care. Jessica will also be at the celebration with her tea house to offer tea meditation, answer questions about her research, and share her enthusiasm for tea as spiritual practice.  
In addition, CFLC is beta-testing an innovative curriculum for training lay chaplains and working alongside the Commission on Ministry to develop a process for licensing lay chaplains to work in parishes and throughout the Diocese. Come learn about this important work for the future of lay ministry in the Diocese of Los Angeles. 
Alongside this work, the PRISM ministry in LA County jails offers church services each weekend and PRISM chaplains make individual visits there during the week, providing much needed spiritual care and support to those who are incarcerated. This work is a critical ministry as the County of Los Angeles does not provide any sort of spiritual care for people who are incarcerated in County facilities, and volunteer chaplains from conservative Christian denominations who serve in the jails are often theologically motivated to convert or persuade. PRISM volunteers will also be available at the celebration to share about their work and their experiences providing spiritual care and companionship to our incarcerated friends. 
Make plans to join us and plan to be energized with new ideas and possibilities for your congregation in employing some of these resources in your own context, and to consider the possibilities of chaplain ministries within your own parish context. 
Blessings,
Jana+

July 2022

Fellowship, teaching, and healing 

By the Rev. Carlos Ruvalcaba

When I think about that radical guy who came to Galilee proclaiming the good news of God and utilizing a crazy but wonderful kind of love, I can’t stop thinking of three actions that captivate me and may enable millions of other people to follow and mirror him: fellowship, teaching, and healing.
When I first came to the Program Group on Hispanic Ministries back in 2011, I realized that most of our activities were focused on the Latinx community itself, which is okay; but the problem was that this very fact was isolating and repressing this community even more than it already was. In 2022, the Program Group continues to be the “meeting place” for members of the 30 congregations serving Spanish-speaking people. However, we have added the element of promoting unity among ourselves and other ethnic groups present in the Diocese of Los Angeles, one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse areas in the United States.
Can you imagine the value of our cultural, religious, spiritual, and linguistical diversity? “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house”(Mt 5). Or as Ellen Elmes, a Harvard Divinity School lecturer, would say in not-so-biblical language, “I think it makes God angry if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” The diversity present in this diocese is what makes it beautifully unique.
The elements of our diversity are the wonderful lamps needed to illuminate all the darkness in the world. This light emerges, unites, and is maintained through various factors, but mainly in our vast and creative relationships, in honest conversations, and in the firm desire to know more about the “other.” When we appreciate the gravity of our personal relationships and cultivate connections with those who share different backgrounds, we then can bridge cultural and religious divides.
A better understanding of what it means to be Hispanic/Latinx and what we can bring to the Episcopal Church requires us to be aware that the term Latinx includes people from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Some funny but real facts to exemplify this: not all Latinos live in impoverished communities, not all Latinos venerate the Virgin of Guadalupe, and not all Latinos speak Spanish. This larger picture conveys that all life is differently sacred regardless of any social construct and expands our networks to make meaningful changes in a constant changing world by nurturing, understanding, respecting, and caring for others.
Our world is not stationary, and it is constantly evolving as we all witnessed with this Covid pandemic, which changed our lives and livelihoods in ways both small and profound, affecting the familial realm, the societal realm, labor realm, and of course our churches. This has resulted, I believe, in an almost involuntary desire to think that everything must change, and that leaving everything behind and starting all over is the answer, even at the risk of losing our own identities, including our Christian-Anglican identity.
But the call could be to adapt to our current circumstances through a model of fellowship, teaching, and healing rooted in Jesus’ radical, crazy and beautiful kind of love, yet informed by contemporary times, economies, cultural norms, and technologies.
We adapt through fellowship, because when we give due importance and value to everyone and everything, friendships can cross lines. Recognizing our interdependency and putting our stories together we can give form to a community in which harmony and collaboration could be achieved. This is the main purpose of our program “El Gran Convivio” (The Great Banquet). Aiming at rediscovering harmony and collaboration between the elements of creation, especially among us humans, the program consists of experiential and formative events of cultural immersion.
Previous events were about the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe; grief within the Latinx community; and best practices for living during and beyond crisis in a foreign country. Upcoming events will be about celebrating the life and legacy of Cesar Chávez; living, working and worshiping in allyship with our neighbors; grieving loss and facing the future; and more.
We adapt through teaching, because now more than ever it is necessary to recognize the importance of our laity and the call to all the baptized to exercise our leadership and role in the church. The vision of our program Instituto de Liderazgo (Institute for Leadership) is to provide high-level training, deep spiritual exploration, and an appropriate academic/practical support to provide our clergy and lay leaders with the knowledge and tools to apply new and innovative approaches that are needed in today’s world and in the future. Formation is vital and necessary for people to flourish in our Latinx communities. We are preparing new generations of compassionate, reflective, and adaptive leaders and ministers in a world in constant change.
Over the past two years, our digital platforms have proven exceptionally effective in connecting us. We have learned that a technological approach towards these new ways of forming, educating, and serving is crucial. Therefore, the program itself has had to adapt to this new reality by offering a virtual and in-person model of formation. We have avant-garde equipment to support our work as we face this new facet of the formation of our leaders. Instituto de Liderazgo works in collaboration with Bloy House – The Episcopal School of Theology in Los Angeles.
Finally, we adapt through healing as an important element of our common life. We try to focus our attention on how we can contribute to healing the wounds we have inherited, and those we have caused. Through the values of radical love, empathy, and interdependence we explore pathways to conditions of healing and forgiveness. We are all in this together, and in our pursuit of healing we must remain in love, connected to one another, and heal from within to ensure that our transformed societies emerge from a foundation of crazy but beautiful love. As Bishop Curry states, “Love is the antidote, love is the cure, and love is the way.”

June 2022

Thirty years of hope and healing: celebrating our diocesan LGBTQ+ ministry

By the Rev. Canon Susan Russell
Canon for Engagement Across Difference

And just like that it’s June again. With the turn of the calendar page, we enter a month that celebrates graduations, ordinations and weddings; summer, fathers and LGBTQ Pride.
And here in the Diocese of Los Angeles, this year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of diocesan ministry with and to the LGBTQ community. Dr. Fredrica Harris Thompsett famously said that the reason we learn our history is to back up and get a running start on our future – so here’s a little history.
 
“I want to be very clear – this church of ours is open to all – there will be no outcasts – the convictions and hopes of all will be honored.” These words – spoken in September 1985 by Presiding Bishop Ed Browning in his acceptance speech after his election – are words that continue to call us to action on this present day.
They were words that inspired our own Bishop Diocesan Fred Borsch to call Mac Thigpen to convene the first gay and lesbian ministry team here in the Diocese of Los Angeles in 1992 – combining “… the authority of the diocese with the directive of the Bishop to organize diocesan ministry and local parish ministry as well to the gay and lesbian community in Los Angeles, to educate, encourage, and change hearts and minds within and outside the church; and reach out to the gay and lesbian community with God’s Good News of hope and healing.”
This commitment to live out God’s inclusive love paved the way for many, many more acts of inclusion throughout the years – all grounded in the radical theology that what needed healing was not homosexuals but homophobia … and that the church was called to live out Jesus’ values of love, justice and compassion – not echo the culture’s values of exclusion, judgment and condemnation.  
That work continues – thirty years later – and as we mark that anniversary, we mark not only the continuity of the ongoing work but the changes that have happened along the way. We mark the many resolutions adopted by the General Convention of our own Episcopal Church over those 30 years – many originating from the Diocese of Los Angeles — which have moved us closer to being a church where all the baptized are included in all the sacraments and have helped us to live more fully into our baptismal promise to truly respect the dignity of every human being.
 
We mark the many changes that have happened in our communities and our nation — from the progress made around civil marriage equality and employment protections to greater awareness of diversity within the LGBTQ+ community (reflected in the additional letters in the evolving acronym) to the current backlash tragically impacting the community in general and transgender and non-binary youth in particular.
 
We mark our past and we recommit ourselves to be agents of change as we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. During the month of June, look for social media posts celebrating some of the landmark moments over the last thirty years and also some of the unsung heroes whose courageous leadership overcame so many obstacles.
On Sunday, June 26, members of the diocesan community are invited to come together for two special events. We will gather at St. John’s Cathedral at 10 a.m. for a festive Eucharist celebrating 30 years of work and witness to LGBTQ+ equality and giving us strength for the journey and work ahead. Canon Melissa McCarthy will be our preacher. And then at 2p.m. we are delighted to be returning to the Bishop’s Residence for the Annual LGBTQ Garden Party. More details to come, but do save the date!
Looking ahead, our diocesan LGBTQ+ ministry is going to be “rebooting” as we expand and explore new opportunities for ministry in the months and years ahead. Building on conversations that happened before the pandemic hit – as well as on feedback received at our recent clergy conference – ministry chair Christopher Montella and a leadership team is hard at work preparing us to step into the next 30 years.
And we will want to hear from you. No one knows the needs of our diocesan faith communities more that the clergy who serve them – and we want to hear from you what resources you need and what resources you can offer. What programs, projects and ministries you have in place and which ones you would like to have help creating. What events do you have on your church calendars that we can share with the whole diocese – and what events might be happening in adjacent parishes or online that members of your community would benefit from knowing about.
“To educate, encourage, and change hearts and minds within and outside the church; and to reach out to the LGBTQ+ community with God’s Good News of hope and healing.” This 30-year-old vision cast by +Fred Borsch in 1992 remains the core mission of the LGBTQ+ ministry of the Diocese of Los Angeles. And so we invite you to join us in celebrating both that history and that vision during this Pride Month 2022 … and to be partners in the work as we continue to journey forward together into God’s future.
Blessings,
Susan+

May 2022

Missional versus Institutional Thinking 

By the Very Rev. Gary Hall, 
Outgoing Interim Dean and President, Bloy House
Incoming Convener, Program Group on Mission Congregations 

Gary Hall has been appointed interim dean at Bloy House (ETSC). Photo: Cam Sanders


We who serve in the church’s ordained ministry often find our working lives governed by both sacred and secular institutional constraints. We are accountable to the scriptures, the prayer book, the canons, and our ecclesiastical superiors, colleagues and governance bodies. And, because the church communities we serve are real-world agencies, we’re also accountable to federal, state, and local law and to the vagaries of a market economy.
 
In challenging times, institutions tend to fall into their self-protective mode. In more comfortable times—when we don’t have to worry about “keeping the doors open”—the parishes, seminaries, schools, and dioceses we serve can devote ourselves more intentionally to our primary missional purposes. But when times get tough, our tendency is to circle the wagons and devote our working days and sleepless nights to simply staying in business.
 
We seem to be at an inflection point in the life of The Episcopal Church. By every possible measure, we are in a time of institutional challenge. Attendance at many congregations is down, as are church starts and overall membership statistics. To be sure, these downturns are the result of a decades-long historical process of secularization in America. But, as we all know, two plus years of struggling COVID has speeded things along.
 
In moments such as this, it is natural for all church communities to think first about institutional survival and only collaterally about what we are actually here to do. When we fall into this kind of institutional angst, it is important for us to return to the primary Christian theological idea of mission.
 
Words have associations. When I hear the word mission, I think, in no particular order, of the following possible meanings: mission can suggest Christian workers going overseas, a soup kitchen, a military endeavor, an institutional statement of purpose. The word mission connotes many different things to each of us. At its heart, though, mission is a theological word, and it primarily refers to the work and ministry of the church as an instrument of God’s work.
 
The word mission came into English from the Latin word missus which denotes an act of sending. In a sense, God is the primary missionary, having both created the world and sent Jesus into it with the task of reconciling the world and God. In his life and work, Jesus sent his companions and followers out empowered to teach, heal, and bless on his behalf. After the resurrection and Pentecost, the church understood itself as a missional body, gathered by God and sent into the world as a sign of God’s love and as a community called to embody Jesus’s mission of reconciliation in its ongoing life.
 
So the church is a missional community. Our prayer book’s Catechism [p. 855] declares that the mission of the church “is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” The church pursues its mission “as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.” Most importantly, the church “carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.” The church is not a building or a nonprofit organization. The church is a living community, sent by God into the world to help the world resemble and achieve God’s hopes for it.
 
I may not be as self-aware as I’d like to be, but I do know that when I am either tired or scared, I tend to fall back into self-protective, “institutional” thinking. When I do that, though, I also forget the primary purpose of what I was doing in the first place. Yes, the institutional form of our church communities is important—it keeps us accountable to each other and to the people and localities we are supposed to serve. But when we let fearful institutional thinking take the place of creative, risk-taking missional thinking, we are not fully doing justice to the call we answered when we said, “Here am I, send me.”
 
Mission is the defining principle of the church. In American culture, we tend to think of churches as institutions, as ends in themselves. Theologically, however, the church exists only so far as it serves to forward God’s work. The task of the church is to worship, to proclaim, and to act. We care for the sick, the poor, the dying, and the outcast because our primary call is to help draw all people toward God. Because of the culture of our nation and church, our mission is embedded in institutional forms. But we always need to keep ourselves open to the ways in which God’s mission can break through our self-imposed institutional constraints.
 
None of this is to say that our institutional concerns are unimportant. As the inheritors of an established church tradition, we Episcopalians are hard-wired to work within the systems we inhabit. But I’ve worked through enough existential crises in my professional life in the church to know that our fear can often get in the way of our participating in the new thing God is doing. The more we are able to see our institutions as the forms through which God’s mission is enacted and not to be confused with that mission themselves, the more we’ll be able to free ourselves to enact God’s mission through whatever evolving forms our church may take.
 
In this season of resurrection, let us commit ourselves to an Easter proclamation of service in advancing the healing, liberating, redemptive work that God is doing in and through us. As we do that, we shouldn’t be surprised to see that our institutions may well be revitalized in the process.
 ____________
The Very Rev. Gary Hall is celebrating the 45th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, and has served numerous congregations, in the Dioceses of Los Angeles, Michigan; and Washington, D.C. He has also served as Dean and President of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and as Dean of the Washington National Cathedral. Currently, he serves on the diocesan Standing Committee and the Board of Trustees of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary.

 

April 2022

AAPI Alive! Eastertide Devotional, Easter Living 

By the Rev. Peter Huang,
A Leader of The Gathering: a space for APA  Spirituality
Assisting Priest, St. Luke’s, Long Beach
We are still deeply immersed in our Lenten journey, yet as I write, I find myself already looking forward to Easter!
I’m feeling this anticipation because a group of us with The Gathering – a space for Asian Pacific American spirituality – have been diligently putting together an online devotional guide for Eastertide, featuring Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) voices through music, prose and poetry, visual art, and video. “AAPI Alive!” will start on Easter Sunday, take us through Asian Pacific Heritage month in May, and end on the Feast of Pentecost.
I hope you can join us on this amazing journey.
AAPI Alive! is particularly meaningful to me because the voices and presence of AAPIs have often been absent or even excluded in our churches. It’s not uncommon for me to hear stories about AAPIs loving the Episcopal Church and all that we stand for but also feeling invisible or needing to check our ethnicity at the door.
These shared experiences motivated several of us to start The Gathering in 2017 with the encouragement and support of then-Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce. These past few years, we have offered programs to gather together AAPIs in our Diocese (and beyond our Diocese especially during the pandemic) and have provided opportunities for our non-AAPI friends and allies (many of you!) to more deeply engage the diverse AAPI communities and cultures. For many AAPI Christians,
The Gathering has been a refreshing oasis where one can become more fully alive as a person of faith and a person of color.
Through panel conversations and worship services, we’ve explored topics such as
  • Love My Neighbor, Stand Against Hate: Bystander Intervention Training & Workshop
  • Remembering the 1871 Los Angeles Chinese Massacre: Presentation and Discussion
  • Celebrating Art & Spirituality as Asian Pacific Americans
  • Your Liberation Is Our Liberation: Why Black Lives Matter to AAPI Christians
  • Being Asian Pacific American in the Age of the Coronavirus
  • Pilgrimage to Manzanar National Monument
  • Beyond Inclusion: A Panel Conversation on Being Asian American, LGBTQx, and Christian
Our hope as a ministry has always been to provide deeper connection through storytelling in various forms, such as panel conversations and discussions, film screenings, and music offerings.
For AAPIs, storytelling has built a greater sense of solidarity through sharing experiences of joy and pain. Our stories have also engaged our friends and allies in meaningful ways beyond the usual avenues of food (although our in-person gatherings are known for having amazing yummy goodness!).
My greatest joy in this ministry has been to see my AAPI siblings becoming fully alive in a space where they can be unapologetically fully themselves, unimpeded by code-switching, and invited to lead with all of who they are – their gifts and talents, cultural sensibilities, sense of humor.
Isn’t this what Easter is all about?
In Easter and through his resurrection, Christ conquers death and breathes new life into us so we – all of us, the entire us – can become fully alive. Easter and resurrection often can be couched in lofty spiritual language that risks neglect of many facets of our human experience.
After all, Jesus, the Jew, died of a Roman execution, resurrected in bodily form, and appeared to his followers in ways that they recognized in their cultural contexts.
What parts of us reemerge and resurrect with Jesus on Easter? How might we locate resurrection hope in our cultural selves? What is the resurrection hope that the Church offers to our people and our communities? What different resurrection stories do we invite into our midst?
Recently, The Gathering was awarded a Becoming Beloved Community grant to help nurture stronger connections between the Episcopal Church and the AAPI communities. AAPI Alive! is one part of the grant program to amplify AAPI voices in our midst. We hope your faith community can join us on this Eastertide journey.
This Easter, I can’t wait to say, “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” “Christ is risen indeed, alleluia!” I also can’t wait to celebrate voices of my AAPI siblings through AAPI Alive! I hope you and your community can take the effort to join us and celebrate us.
The Gathering leadership team would very much like to help your faith community make stronger connections to the AAPI communities in your midst. Please reach out to us (thegatheringedla@gmail.com) if you’d like to partner with us. You can find out more about The Gathering and AAPI Alive! at www.thegatheringedla.org and bit.ly/TheGatheringYouTube.
Faithfully,
Peter
____________
Editor’s note: Code-switching occurs when people of color feel it necessary to adjust their style of speech, appearance, behavior, and expression in ways that will optimize the comfort of others in exchange for fair treatment, quality service, and employment opportunities.
____________
The Rev. Peter Huang was born in Taiwan to Taiwanese and Japanese parents and grew up in Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and the United States. He has a
co-vocational call as a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Pasadena, as well as a priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Nurturing the multiple aspects of one’s identity to reflect the image of God in oneself and others is at the heart of his vocations. He is a graduate of MIT, Fuller Seminary, and Bloy House. He enjoys cycling, watching Sumo, binge-watching Asian dramas, and traveling to Asia. He lives in Altadena with his partner and their son.

 

Sister Patricia Sarah TerryMarch 2022

An Invitation to Run the Race

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”         —Hebrews 12:1
I surprised myself when I said yes so quickly to Bishop Taylor’s invitation to be the chair of The Bishop’s Commission on Gospel Justice and Community Care.
Something deep within me completely overrode any resistance. I had been feeling angry about the circumstances of the death of George Floyd and complaining about it had only gotten me so far. I needed to be more engaged with the issues.
The Commission’s mission is “to bring the church’s attention to the places in our law enforcement and legal systems, particularly those involving issues of race and mental health, which are not in alignment with the Gospel message and to support activities that will bring the Gospel message to bear upon them.”
Bishop Taylor attends all of our meetings, never failing to offer wise counsel and his full support. We have two committees:
1) the Assessment and Articulation Committee, chaired by the Rev. Alene Campbell;
and
2) the Advocacy Committee, chaired by the Rev. Canon Jaime Edwards-Acton.
The Rev. Samuel Pillsbury also participates on the leadership team.
Our members come from all corners of the diocese, bringing with them a wealth of diverse experience. Other members serving on the Commission are: the Rev. Jamie Barnett, the Very Rev. Thomas Carey, Virginia Classick, the Very Rev. Bill Dunn, Canon Suzanne Edwards-Acton, the Hon. Andrew Guilford, Scott Hamre, Tim Helton, Casey Jones, the Rev. Canon Melissa McCarthy, Pasadena Police Chief John Perez, Frank Ramirez, the Rev. Mary Moreno Richardson, Lloyd Wilkey, and Canon Bob Williams.
While I wrote this article, the jury returned a guilty verdict in the trial of three former Minneapolis police officers accused of violating George Floyd’s civil rights. The jury rejected their arguments that inexperience, improper training, or the distraction of shouting bystanders excused them from failing to prevent Mr. Floyd’s death.
Two of the defendants are people of color. Tou Thao is Asian, and J. Alexander Kueng is Black. This case raises a number of questions. What caused the officers to go along with their supervisor even though his actions conflicted with their training? Why didn’t the officers give the medical aid they were trained to provide, and which common sense clearly indicated was needed? Why did the officers view the bystanders as a threat? Why didn’t it matter that two of the officers were people of color? What needs to change?
The Commission has been delving into these and other questions relating to policing and is seeking Gospel-based ways to address them. If you would like to learn more about these issues, we invite you to “like” our Facebook page. During Lent we will be offering daily posts consisting of reflection questions and resources related to our mission (e.g., films, books, legislation, websites, theology, articles, and reports). See https://www.facebook.com/GospelJusticeCommunityCare.
A specific issue we are working on is the use of force by the police in situations involving individuals with mental illness and disabilities. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, one in four fatal police encounters end the life of an individual with severe mental illness.
Those who are arrested are often charged with minor, nonviolent offenses, but as a result the jails and prisons are overcrowded with thousands of individuals who would be far better served by other community resources. There is a bill before the U.S. Congress, The Mental Health Justice Act of 2021 (HR 1368), that would create a grant program to pay for hiring, training, salary, benefits, and additional resources for mental health provider first responder units.
We hope that you, as well as members of your congregations, will consider filling out and forwarding this letter in support of HR 1368 to your local law enforcement officials. Congresspersons will be more likely to pass the bill if they know that public safety officers support it.
In closing, I heard this inspiring story while speaking to people around the diocese. About six or seven years ago, the Rev. Glenn Libby commissioned a group of parishioners at St. Philip the Evangelist to meet with their local police. He dubbed the group “the Gang of 5.”
There were concerns about young people using the alleys around the church as ‘’meeting places.” There were also problems with graffiti. Two members of the Gang of 5 were young black men; Chris James, now the junior warden at St. Philip’s, and Shawn Evelyn, now a priest.
They wanted to know how the police were trained to prevent persons from being shot who did not need to be shot. They also wanted the police to know about some of the people in the neighborhood who had mental health issues. By undertaking this collaboration their community was safer. This is proof that working in unity with others with the support of the great cloud of witnesses good things can happen.
____________
Sister Patricia Sarah Terry is a parishioner at St. Cross, Hermosa Beach, and a professed member of the Anamchara Fellowship. She practiced law for 28 years with the federal government, eight of them as a trial attorney at the Justice Department (DOJ). She has an M.A. in Spiritual and Pastoral Care and a certificate in spiritual direction and retreat leadership. While employed with DOJ, she was a victim of racial profiling at the University of Maryland. She is fortunate that the head of the SWAT team realized that she was not a threat and told the team to “stand down.”

 

February 2022

Launching the Bishop’s Commission on Climate Change
Clergy conference set for May 2-4

Dear colleagues,
I hope you are doing well in the midst of all that is happening in our world. I write today with exciting news about the launch of the Bishop’s Commission on Climate Change. We plan to hold our first meeting in March and will spend a period of time doing some education on climate change as well as discerning what ways we as a diocese can make a positive impact on this most critical issue.
Much of my enthusiasm for this work was honed and strengthened by the wonderful opportunity I had to serve as one of the Presiding Bishop’s delegates to COP26, the United Nations climate change conference. Unlike previous COPs, COP26 saw a largely virtual delegation, which for those of us on the west coast, often meant beginning our days at 1 or 2 a.m. I felt honored to be among those chosen to do this work and I am so looking forward to sharing what I learned with the commission and together doing work in our diocese to make a positive impact on climate change.
As we prepare for our first meeting, we are looking to staff the commission with clergy and lay members. If this is an area of interest to you or to someone in your congregation, please drop us a line at bishopsoffice@ladiocese.org with the name, email, and mobile number of the person interested. The strength of this commission will be in its broad and diverse representation and I invite your help in accomplishing this!
The second thing on my mind right now is clergy conference. Clergy conference is scheduled for May 2-4, 2022. This will be the first time we will gather in person for clergy conference since 2019. In 2020, we did an abbreviated virtual conference and in 2021 we skipped clergy conference altogether and encouraged a time of rest for all of us.
This year, given what the last couple of years have been like, we are planning something to help make sense and meaning of where we have been, where we are headed, and where we are now. While this is pandemic-related, it will not be pandemic-focused. We hope this time will be refreshing, encouraging, generative, and that it will give voice to our common experience as leaders of the church in these most unique times. More to come about the conference, but wanted you to know the dates, that it is definitely happening, and what we are aiming for.
Lastly, what’s on my mind today is what lies ahead for us in the next weeks and months. We are quickly approaching Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter and I imagine you are doing a lot of planning and preparation.
How do you plan when so much is changing in the world? The Omicron surge is waning but now there are warnings of an Omicron variant with conflicting reports about its virulency and impact. It seems it never stops.
In the best of times, the pastoral work of clergy is challenging. During a pandemic that seems unending, the pastoral work of clergy is seemingly impossible. I can imagine you are feeling this. I know I am feeling this. However, I keep reminding myself that this is God’s church, we have been through difficult times before, and we have managed to survive. We survive not because of what we do, but because of what God does through us.
There is such freedom in knowing that we don’t have to have all the answers; we don’t have to have it all figured out; we don’t have to be the best or perfect or just right. Our role is to be present, to show up for our people, to pay attention to what God is doing in our midst, and to set aside all that is driven by our ego and to open ourselves to being driven by God’s love.
Our work right now is to pray; pray for the church, pray for each other, pray for ourselves. There is always work to do and we will always do it. However, the real work is to be open, to be present, to pray, and to allow God to work through us. All the rest will take care of itself. I remind myself of this as much as I can and I hope this reminder may also encourage you.
You are an amazing group of people who have been called to this work during this particular time. You are in my prayers every day and I give thanks for the privilege of being in ministry with you.
Peace and grace,
Melissa+

 

January 2022

Archdeacon Laura Siriani delivers the sermon at the convention Eucharist. Photo: Janet Kawamoto


‘Reflections from the Archdeacon’
by Diocesan Archdeacon
Laura Siriani

“Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need” – Frederick Buechner
Last February, when Bishop Taylor invited me to serve as the Archdeacon of our diocese, I took some time to discern whether the spirit was calling me to a new ministry and if so, what it might look like. I did not expect to fall in love again with the whole idea of vocation and its impact on the world around us.   
Months later, I find that one of my greatest joys is serving alongside these remarkable vocational deacons. 
First, I have had an opportunity to get to know the twenty-nine deacons who serve parishes from Santa Barbara to Rancho Santa Margarita and east to San Bernardino. Their parish and individual ministries reach and advocate for people on the margins and in the social gaps: immigrants, refugees, those who are homeless, those who are incarcerated, in hospitals and recovery homes; each ministry touching not only the lives of the people they serve, but also the congregations that minister along with them.   
While engaging the community, deacons hear the stories and aspirations of the poor, the unseen, the sick, and the lonely. And though that may seem like a joyless way to live, I believe that every deacon will tell you that joy for them is in the relationship with those they serve, and in that moment when that person realizes that they are holy, loved people of God. The greatest lessons of our life, come from those very places and people.
They are people like Harlan whose picture I keep in my office. He lived and died on the street, addicted to alcohol. It was from Harlan that I learned about my own vocation, to accept him as God did, and to love him as God loves. Tangible things did not matter to him and so love was the only gift we could give him. Remembering that remains a gift for me.  In my visits with deacons, I’ve heard many versions of stories like Harlan’s.
Our deacons are from diverse backgrounds. Many of them work full or part time as lawyers, nurses, marketing executives, teachers, administrators, and counselors. Their days are spent juggling their profession in the world with the ministry that calls them. Evenings are spent developing parish ministry, making rounds at the hospital, supervising kitchens that feed people, or advocating for those they serve. If this sounds like a lot, it is. Yet, deacons will tell you that they are energized by their specific call to that “in between place” that links the church and the world.
Finally, each Sunday, deacons can be seen proclaiming the gospel, bidding the prayers for the world, setting the table at the Eucharist, and dismissing the congregation into the world. Our place in the liturgy reflects our ministry and our preaching can ask challenging questions: Who is not at the table? How does God ask us to care for others? Where is God calling us today?
After almost a year, I now know that EDLA deacons are by nature humble, courageous, tenacious, and curious. They also like to get together to talk about their ministry, to share ideas and resources, always eager to learn more about the needs of the community.  I can think of no better vocation than serving alongside them, supporting them in their work and reaching out to those who may be experiencing a call to the diaconate.
We are eager to tell our story and some of us will be hitting the road to visit parishes throughout the diocese to do just that. If would like to have a deacon visit your parish, please contact me: laura@stpauls.org. We would love to meet you and tell you about who we are and the work we are called to do.
In peace and gratitude,

Laura Siriani

 

December 2021

‘The Advent Waiting Game’
By Diocesan Canon for Engagement Across Difference
Susan Russell

With the lighting of yet another candle on yet another Advent wreath a new church year is launched, and we enter once more the season of waiting as we prepare to claim again the Christmas Truth greater than any of the traditions it inspires: the mystical longing of the creature for the creator – the finite for the infinite – the human for the divine.
It is a longing that transcends culture, religion, language and custom – a longing that is represented for us as Christians in the baby in the manger – the sudden, amazing, and incomprehensible gift of grace: a God who loved us enough to become one of us. Yes, we manifest the wonder of Christmas in the gifts given, the meals shared, the gathering of family and loved ones. But the greater wonder is that the God who is love incarnate came down at Christmas to be among us as one of us: to show us how to share that love with a world in desperate need of it – to a world yearning for the “peace on earth, good will among all people” the angels proclaimed.
And so we wait.
And as we wait, I’m remembering many, many Advents ago our colleague Liz Habecker describing how “waiting” during Advent is different than any of the other kinds of “waiting” we do — waiting for a bus, for example. Waiting for a bus is both boring and anxiety-producing. Will it be on time? Will I make my connection? Am I even waiting at the right bus stop? What if I looked at the schedule wrong? Where is that bus, anyway? That’s waiting in anxiety.
Advent waiting is more like being in the concert hall or theater, waiting for the curtain to rise. We know something wonderful is about to happen and everyone else is waiting with the same expectation. We know what we’re waiting for — we’ve bought the tickets and looked over the program — but the experience is yet to happen: and so we wait — expectantly. We wait in the tension of both knowing and NOT knowing — open to the experience about to unfold that is somehow different every time. We wait in anticipation rather than anxiety.
And so another Advent begins. We light that first candle, and we wait. We wait in both trust and tension as we pray the familiar prayers, read the familiar lessons, and sing the familiar hymns. And yet for all the comfort of the familiarity of those beloved prayers, hymns, and lessons there can be no escaping the reality that this year … this moment that Canon Melissa described in her recent Angelus article as the “current normal” … is different.
We cannot ignore that we wait in the shadow of a pandemic that may be loosening its grip but still holds us and those we love in a kind of ongoing limbo of vulnerability. We cannot hide from the fact that our nation is increasingly polarized, our democracy is inarguably under threat, that liberty and justice for all remains a pledge we make rather than a reality we live — and that over it all looms the existential challenge of the climate crisis that threatens this fragile Earth, our island home.
And so this Advent I take great comfort in these words from our friend, author Diana Butler Bass, who writes:
Advent recognizes
a profound spiritual truth:
that we need not fear the dark.
Instead, wait there.
Under that blue cope of heaven,
alert for the signs of dawn.
Watch.
For you cannot rush the night.
But you can light some candles.
Sing some songs.
Recite poetry.
Say prayers.
We cannot rush the night. But we can light some candles – and this year we can light those candles in person, rather than on Zoom. We can sing some songs – and this year we may have to sing them into our masks, but at least we get to sing them together. And we can recite poetry and say our prayers – sharing and offering words of inspiration and aspiration as we wait expectantly for the coming of the one who loved us enough to become one of us in order to show us how to love one another.
And so my prayer for all of us in this time of holy waiting is that we will be given the grace to wait in expectation rather than anxiety – and that our work and our worship will be outward and visible signs of hope, peace, joy, and love to our beautiful and broken world … the Advent and always.
Blessings,
Susan+

 

November 2021

‘Being Safe and Welcoming for Christmas’
By Bishop Diocesan
John Harvey Taylor 

My fellow bishops, deacons, and priests in the Diocese of Los Angeles:
I just can’t wait to be with you Saturday at convention, however we’re together, digitally or in person. Over the last few months, we’ve seen one another during visitations, weekday meetings, and around St. Paul’s Commons as well as in clergy Zooms, Clericus Zooms, and capital campaign Zooms. Being all together at the same time, if not yet in one place, will be an amazing blessing.
Because you are amazing Episcopalians, and we have so much amazing ministry ahead of us, glorifying God and caring for God’s people, being the church that our spiritually famished times so desperately need.
Among many things, our chock-full, one-day “Truth and Love” convention will be an emotional au revoir for Bishop Bruce as she follows the Holy Spirit’s invitation to West Missouri, so whether you’re in Riverside or at home, have the Kleenex close at hand.
Soon after convention come Advent and the Christ Child. Parochial clergy have told Diane, Melissa, and me of their anxiety about our first in-person COVID-era Christmas. As I write, infections are edging up in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, raising new fears of an autumn and winter surge. Residents of the City of Los Angeles are learning about the public places where proof of vaccination is now required for entry, with enforcement beginning on Nov. 29. While they don’t include churches, they do include comparable venues such as theaters and museums. Both in and around Los Angeles, our COVID leadership teams will naturally wonder if they should follow suit, especially as we get ready for larger-than-usual Christmas Eve congregations.
At least we hope they’ll be large – and joyful, and ready to sing and celebrate. We have some Christmas catch-up to do, after all. We can celebrate without worry as long we continue as we have since March 2020. By lifting up truth and love on Saturday, we will resolve that even in these polarized times, we can agree on the truth of the justice and plurality of Jesus Christ while remaining in relationship with those we love who may see the world differently. Our Christmastide watchwords are also easily reconcilable: Safety and welcome.
First, based on the guidance of my Council of Advice, I recommend in the strongest possible terms that all our institutions require vaccinations and, when available, boosters for all staff and volunteers.
If you feel or any member of your ministry team feels uncomfortable about getting vaccinated for any reason, please write and tell me at jtaylor@ladiocese.org. I want to hear what’s on your hearts. What’s on mine is that when people visit our missions and parishes, they have the right to assume that they are visiting safe places. By that measure, our Christmas visitors, old friends and newcomers, are entitled to assume that anyone wearing vestments, distributing bulletins, teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir, and conducting other ministries is safe. In this pandemic day and age, that means they’re vaccinated and, as soon as they can be, boosted.
Second, continue to pay close attention to county regulations, especially regarding masks.
In our state and diocese, we have by and large been blessed by governments that take the pandemic seriously. Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties require masks in all indoor public places, including churches. While I ask leadership teams to consider mask mandates in church in Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, trusting in science and the discernment of our public health officials means trusting that you are being welcoming and safe as long as you honor the letter and spirit of your local guidelines.
Third, with your leadership teams, follow the news about “proof of vaccine” requirements.
Even in the City of Los Angeles, those who visit churches and other worship spaces won’t have to show their vaccine cards and ID to come inside. A few of our churches, including St. John’s Cathedral, nevertheless already have proof-of-vaccine requirements. Others who wish to follow suit have my blessing.
Do I think it’s a necessary step, if we are to be safe and welcoming for those Christmas Eve throngs? Not unless your local health authorities say so. But the LA rules may be the harbinger of a gathering consensus that each member of the public deserves to know that all those they encounter in relatively confined spaces have taken the common-sense steps of vaccinations and boosters. So watch this space – but for the time being, when the time comes, deck the halls!
See you either in or from Riverside.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John
P.S.: A reminder that on advice from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, we continue to ask churches to offer Holy Communion in one kind only. As soon as we have any news about plans for recommencing administration of the chalice, we will let you know.

 

January 2021

‘Media Gifts & Skills’
By Canon for Common Life
Bob Williams 

“Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11
 
We never imagined last Epiphany-tide that more than 95 percent of the diocese’s 133 congregations would, within the coming year, find themselves worshiping online, with many reaching new heights in digital education, evangelism, and fundraising, all to make God’s unfailing love known amid the deadly grip of a global pandemic.  
 
At various levels, we’re discovering how to do and be church in new ways, helping one another by sharing best practices including those emphasized by Diocesan Convention’s outstanding new online learning series, “Servants of the Spirit: Gifts for Ministry.”
These classes resume Wednesday, Jan. 13, with a 7 p.m. one-hour webinar on “Digital Media Strategy for Congregations,” followed Saturday, Jan. 16, by a 9 a.m. “Workshop for Wardens.”
 
A full schedule of upcoming sessions, all free of charge and archived for subsequent viewing, is here. While not required, advance registration is appreciated. You won’t want to miss these great opportunities. (Please also note that the media webinar has been moved ahead to Jan. 13 from the Jan. 6 date previously publicized.)
 
Presented by Diocesan Council’s Program Group on Communications and Public Affairs, the media strategy webinar will be led by: Marisol Barrios Perez, principal partner of Mission Driven PR and Program Group chair; Dr. Rose Hayden-Smith, digital media engagement specialist and senior warden of St. Paul’s Church in Ventura; and Payton Hoegh, communications director of the Jubilee Consortium and Seeds of Hope. Three 15-minute modules will focus on comprehensive planning, maximizing messaging across platforms, and website & social media pro tips.
 
The Program Group also plans the following initiatives in this new year.
  • Because many congregations are contemplating how best to plan for retaining digital programming once it is deemed safe to resume in-person worship inside church buildings per state and diocesan guidelines, the Program Group will, in the months ahead, share examples of how parishes and missions – of all sizes, from small to large – plan to achieve this new balance with its benefits of attracting and allowing participation locally, regionally, and globally.

     

  • The Program Group also is resuming its practice of convening 10 deanery-based consultative groups open to all clergy and laity involved in communications ministry. Watch for organizing messages from Program Group members in the weeks ahead. Because each of the diocese’s 10 geographic deaneries dovetails a regional media market, attention will be given to shared outreach to bring the Episcopal Church’s good news to local readers and viewers via local news and social media outlets.
  • Diocesan Council members will join the Program Group in continuing to strengthen the Episcopal News email list by adding address lists of parishioners in local congregations. This effort is in keeping with Council’s request that all congregations provide email lists for the sole purpose of sending the weekly Episcopal News Update and occasional messages from the Bishops’ Office. The list is never shared for any other use, per policy dating back to prior decades in which 100% of diocesan congregations provided parishioners’ postal addresses for mailing The News before its publications became completely digital. Your cooperation in strengthening the email list is greatly appreciated.
Please do not hesitate to send any questions or requests for assistance to our diocesan communications staff team via email to media@ladiocese.org.
 
In keeping with this week’s Feast of the Epiphany, it is fitting to give thanks for “modern Magi” everywhere who are bringing congregations great aid by opening their treasure chests to share gold-standard technology, to inspire worship with the digital equivalent of frankincense, and to engage the symbolism of myrrh as a balm for the death and loss in these dreadful pandemic days.
 
May God’s peace and healing strength continue to bless and sustain you and your congregation in this new year and always.  
Bob Williams
Canon for Common Life
Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

 

December 2020

‘New Life, New Hope’

By Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy 

What’s the good word for us this year, during these seasons of Advent and Christmas? Our lives have been so eclipsed by this pandemic and the necessary limitations it places on us for the sake of health.
It is so easy to get focused on what we are unable to do during this holy time of year. It is also challenging for us as clergy to celebrate the season in meaningful ways without trying to convince our people that everything is alright. Things really aren’t okay on many different fronts.
However, this year, perhaps more than any other in our lifetime, resembles the world into which Jesus was born. Jesus was born into chaos. He was born into an occupied Israel with a violent dictator at the helm. It was a terrifying time. I imagine the people of Israel were hard-pressed to find hope. Yet, somewhere near Bethlehem, a baby was born, beneath a sky made brilliant with stars, among smelly farm animals. And even in the midst of all the terror and chaos with that new life, came a new sense of hope.
Where is the new life and sense of hope for you and your congregations?
A colleague recently sent me a photo of her daughter and her daughter’s friend, smiling and joyous on a rocky bluff above the ocean. This is new life and hope. In spite of the pandemic and all its limitations, we continue to experience new life, and to live with joy. It is not denial or delusion. It is faithfulness. It is remembering that this faith of ours is meant to carry us through the most difficult times as well as the most glorious.
I first came to the Episcopal Church during a time in my life where I could see no options, no possibilities, only crisis and loss. I met with the priest at the church I was attending and she told me about Moses and about choosing life. She told me that God is always choosing life and that that was an option for me, too. This truth is so central to our faith: life born in a manger near Bethlehem, under that brilliant sky; life resurrected on Easter Sunday; life breathed into us by the Holy Spirit at our baptism, and life eternal waiting for us as our earthly pilgrimage comes to an end.
Over the years of my life in the Episcopal Church, I have learned that Episcopalians are really good at choosing life. From the way we pray, to the way we see the world, to the ways we relate with one another and all those we encounter, life is at the center of what we do. This Christmas is going to be different, but because of who we are, because of who God is, because of love, I know that our celebration will be full of new life and joy. It’s in our DNA!
Blessings to you this season. You are in my prayers as you bring the good word to your people this Christmastide. May the God of hope fill us all with joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope.
The Rev. Melissa McCarthy
Canon to the Ordinary
Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

 

November 2020

‘I Hear America Singing’

By Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

Homily during A Service of Prayer for Our Nation, Oct. 29, 2020

One day on Facebook, I provoked a little controversy by writing this: Jesus Christ died so we could vote. For some of my friends, the idea associated our savior with the sordidness and crudeness of politics. Church values are theoretically the exact opposite.
You’re probably familiar with these words from our liturgy for evening prayer – the congregation addressing our God in Christ: “You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices.”

Such a contrast with our angry political voices. In one of our most beloved prayers, we pray for the peace that the world cannot give. For some, this is the solution to the seemingly irresolvable dissonance between the timbres of our worship and world. What we do here is of God; what they do out there is not.

Alas, I don’t think the gospel give us that easy an out. We heard the story from chapter four of Luke on a Sunday morning not long ago. In the synagogue in Nazareth, after he had read from Isaiah, Jesus said that, among other things, he had come to bring good news to the poor, release the captives, and let the oppressed go free.

But his saying it then hasn’t made it happen today. Jesus doesn’t operate an economy, prisons and detention centers, or oppressive governments. Jesus doesn’t go to war or crush the life out of a Black man in police custody in the streets of Minneapolis.

Jesus doesn’t close the border to the stranger and asylee. We do those things, or rather, our fellow denizens of humanity do them. For good or ill, whatever power does, it does in our name, with our sufferance and our taxes.

So Jesus’s proclamation of a kingdom of justice and peace requires more of us than thoughts and prayers. More even that outreach and advocacy. It requires us to lean into our freedom – our freedom as people of faith and our hard-won freedom as citizens.

These two freedoms are cut from the same cloth. Both are gifts from a Creator who yearns to set the people free. Which brings me back to Jesus and voting. My faith in the birth, teachings, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ has as much to do with my freedom as my salvation.

Whatever the circumstance or sadness, the limitation or loss, my faith makes me free. In every situation, there’s always something I can do for the glory of God and the sake of God’s people. And yet the world is apt to try to make me forget my freedom. We just heard Jesus’s promise to set parents and children against one another.

This may resonate with anyone who’s experienced political discord in their families in recent years. It may also resonate with those who experience our national politics as an unending pitting of people against one another for the sake of getting and keeping power.

I hear Jesus describing a struggle that is always underway, and always will be, between entrenched power and interest and his values of self-sacrifice and love. Whether amid the brutal tyranny enforced by the Roman empire in our Lord’s time or, in my own lifetime, by state governments in the Deep South until 1965, freedom in Christ has always been a sword and shield for people suffering oppression.

Abrahamic values – an insistence on the dignity of every human being – have spurred humanity’s agonizingly slow recognition of the political value which holds that every human being has the right to petition, question, and constrain the state. And yet some still insist that voting is a privilege. It’s the opposite of a privilege.

It’s a hard-won, inalienable human right. Everyone is a well-informed voter, because everyone is an expert in the life they’re leading. Everyone has the government coming down on them one way or another. Whether our streets are clean and safe. Whether the police treat us and our neighbors fairly. Whether our taxes and our wars are just.

That’s why I don’t think Jesus’s expectations about voting could possibly be clearer. It’s inherent in the whole gospel. Everyone – and especially the poor, the captives, and the oppressed, the ones he came to set free — should be free to express their hopes and fears to those in power.

And yet in our system, like all systems, politics privileges the already privileged. If you own property, you’re more likely to vote than if you don’t. The older we are, the more likely to vote. On average white people vote at higher rates than people of color.
The experts tell us why all this is true. We vote when we think we’re being heard, when we think it will make a difference, when we think we have a stake in the outcome. Because turnout is usually so low and uneven – because we make voting so cumbersome – government has gotten away with under-serving people of color, the housing insecure, the hungry, the formerly incarcerated, the young, and the unpropertied.

Some in power do their best, or worst, to resist the inevitable pluralizing of our country by engaging in the sin of voter suppression. Voter suppression grieves the heart of God and desecrates the grave of every patriot who ever fought for freedom. And yet the complexity of registering and voting itself is a form of suppression.

A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting in a parking lot in Orange County while my spouse, Kathy, shopped at Goodwill. Thrifting is her greatest recreational joy. I used the time to sit in the car and order my new computer on my telephone. It took six minutes. All I had to do was push the Apple Pay button. The cloud has all my financial information.

People who care about money made sure the transaction was secure. If the government really cared about everyone voting, it would make voting that easy. A political, poetic irony of this time that an unanticipated symptom of COVID-19 is that millions of new voters have caught the political bug.

Because we have gazed into the abyss. A global pandemic. Systemic racism and endemic anti-Blackness thrown into sharp relief. The highest death rates among older Americans living in isolation in nursing homes. Essential workers and people of color, those with the least political influence, suffering disproportionately. Government’s historic failures to protect the safety and security of the American people.

All contributing to a mighty chorus that has been swelling from pianissimo to fortissimo. By this morning, over 75 million have voted already, over half the 2016 turnout. 6 Can’t you hear the music? Next Tuesday, as always happens on Election Day, but as perhaps never before in our country, some of our leaders are going to face the music.
Before the Civil War, in a poem celebrating the American worker, Walt Whitman wrote these words:
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear…
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else…
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Everyone brings their unique temperament and experience to their vote, what belongs to them and none else. As Christians, we celebrate the amazing diverse complexity which is the unity of the body of our Christ.

As citizens, it should be our priority to ensure that every voice in our diverse national family is heard, every narrative included, in our shared national canon. If we’re all in this together, then we must leave no one behind.

The more people vote, the more a civic spirit blows across the land that is akin to the Holy Spirit in its counseling, advocating, life-giving wisdom. So let’s vote. Let’s urge others to vote. And in the name of Christ, this year and in the years to come, let’s petition our government at last to honor its covenant with the people, be a light to the nations, and do whatever it takes to streamline, simplify, and encourage voting for all.

I hear America singing – in millions and millions of angry voices, loving voices, pleading voices. A freedom song, a justice song, a redemption song, a godly song. A song of hope that is loud enough and true enough to silence fear and set captive hearts free at last. May our God in Christ be with you, your families and friends, your neighbors and neighborhoods, and with our country and all its people this Election Day and in all the days to come.

My fellow pilgrims in the COVID wilderness, stay healthy and hopeful.
The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor
VII Bishop of Los Angeles

 

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

______________________________________________________________________________

November 2021

‘Being Safe and Welcoming for Christmas’
By Bishop Diocesan
John Harvey Taylor 

My fellow bishops, deacons, and priests in the Diocese of Los Angeles:
I just can’t wait to be with you Saturday at convention, however we’re together, digitally or in person. Over the last few months, we’ve seen one another during visitations, weekday meetings, and around St. Paul’s Commons as well as in clergy Zooms, Clericus Zooms, and capital campaign Zooms. Being all together at the same time, if not yet in one place, will be an amazing blessing.
Because you are amazing Episcopalians, and we have so much amazing ministry ahead of us, glorifying God and caring for God’s people, being the church that our spiritually famished times so desperately need.
Among many things, our chock-full, one-day “Truth and Love” convention will be an emotional au revoir for Bishop Bruce as she follows the Holy Spirit’s invitation to West Missouri, so whether you’re in Riverside or at home, have the Kleenex close at hand.
Soon after convention come Advent and the Christ Child. Parochial clergy have told Diane, Melissa, and me of their anxiety about our first in-person COVID-era Christmas. As I write, infections are edging up in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, raising new fears of an autumn and winter surge. Residents of the City of Los Angeles are learning about the public places where proof of vaccination is now required for entry, with enforcement beginning on Nov. 29. While they don’t include churches, they do include comparable venues such as theaters and museums. Both in and around Los Angeles, our COVID leadership teams will naturally wonder if they should follow suit, especially as we get ready for larger-than-usual Christmas Eve congregations.
At least we hope they’ll be large – and joyful, and ready to sing and celebrate. We have some Christmas catch-up to do, after all. We can celebrate without worry as long we continue as we have since March 2020. By lifting up truth and love on Saturday, we will resolve that even in these polarized times, we can agree on the truth of the justice and plurality of Jesus Christ while remaining in relationship with those we love who may see the world differently. Our Christmastide watchwords are also easily reconcilable: Safety and welcome.
First, based on the guidance of my Council of Advice, I recommend in the strongest possible terms that all our institutions require vaccinations and, when available, boosters for all staff and volunteers.
If you feel or any member of your ministry team feels uncomfortable about getting vaccinated for any reason, please write and tell me at jtaylor@ladiocese.org. I want to hear what’s on your hearts. What’s on mine is that when people visit our missions and parishes, they have the right to assume that they are visiting safe places. By that measure, our Christmas visitors, old friends and newcomers, are entitled to assume that anyone wearing vestments, distributing bulletins, teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir, and conducting other ministries is safe. In this pandemic day and age, that means they’re vaccinated and, as soon as they can be, boosted.
Second, continue to pay close attention to county regulations, especially regarding masks.
In our state and diocese, we have by and large been blessed by governments that take the pandemic seriously. Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties require masks in all indoor public places, including churches. While I ask leadership teams to consider mask mandates in church in Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, trusting in science and the discernment of our public health officials means trusting that you are being welcoming and safe as long as you honor the letter and spirit of your local guidelines.
Third, with your leadership teams, follow the news about “proof of vaccine” requirements.
Even in the City of Los Angeles, those who visit churches and other worship spaces won’t have to show their vaccine cards and ID to come inside. A few of our churches, including St. John’s Cathedral, nevertheless already have proof-of-vaccine requirements. Others who wish to follow suit have my blessing.
Do I think it’s a necessary step, if we are to be safe and welcoming for those Christmas Eve throngs? Not unless your local health authorities say so. But the LA rules may be the harbinger of a gathering consensus that each member of the public deserves to know that all those they encounter in relatively confined spaces have taken the common-sense steps of vaccinations and boosters. So watch this space – but for the time being, when the time comes, deck the halls!
See you either in or from Riverside.
Yours in Christ’s love,
+John
P.S.: A reminder that on advice from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, we continue to ask churches to offer Holy Communion in one kind only. As soon as we have any news about plans for recommencing administration of the chalice, we will let you know.

 

January 2021

‘Media Gifts & Skills’
By Canon for Common Life
Bob Williams 

“Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11
 
We never imagined last Epiphany-tide that more than 95 percent of the diocese’s 133 congregations would, within the coming year, find themselves worshiping online, with many reaching new heights in digital education, evangelism, and fundraising, all to make God’s unfailing love known amid the deadly grip of a global pandemic.  
 
At various levels, we’re discovering how to do and be church in new ways, helping one another by sharing best practices including those emphasized by Diocesan Convention’s outstanding new online learning series, “Servants of the Spirit: Gifts for Ministry.”
These classes resume Wednesday, Jan. 13, with a 7 p.m. one-hour webinar on “Digital Media Strategy for Congregations,” followed Saturday, Jan. 16, by a 9 a.m. “Workshop for Wardens.”
 
A full schedule of upcoming sessions, all free of charge and archived for subsequent viewing, is here. While not required, advance registration is appreciated. You won’t want to miss these great opportunities. (Please also note that the media webinar has been moved ahead to Jan. 13 from the Jan. 6 date previously publicized.)
 
Presented by Diocesan Council’s Program Group on Communications and Public Affairs, the media strategy webinar will be led by: Marisol Barrios Perez, principal partner of Mission Driven PR and Program Group chair; Dr. Rose Hayden-Smith, digital media engagement specialist and senior warden of St. Paul’s Church in Ventura; and Payton Hoegh, communications director of the Jubilee Consortium and Seeds of Hope. Three 15-minute modules will focus on comprehensive planning, maximizing messaging across platforms, and website & social media pro tips.
 
The Program Group also plans the following initiatives in this new year.
  • Because many congregations are contemplating how best to plan for retaining digital programming once it is deemed safe to resume in-person worship inside church buildings per state and diocesan guidelines, the Program Group will, in the months ahead, share examples of how parishes and missions – of all sizes, from small to large – plan to achieve this new balance with its benefits of attracting and allowing participation locally, regionally, and globally.

     

  • The Program Group also is resuming its practice of convening 10 deanery-based consultative groups open to all clergy and laity involved in communications ministry. Watch for organizing messages from Program Group members in the weeks ahead. Because each of the diocese’s 10 geographic deaneries dovetails a regional media market, attention will be given to shared outreach to bring the Episcopal Church’s good news to local readers and viewers via local news and social media outlets.
  • Diocesan Council members will join the Program Group in continuing to strengthen the Episcopal News email list by adding address lists of parishioners in local congregations. This effort is in keeping with Council’s request that all congregations provide email lists for the sole purpose of sending the weekly Episcopal News Update and occasional messages from the Bishops’ Office. The list is never shared for any other use, per policy dating back to prior decades in which 100% of diocesan congregations provided parishioners’ postal addresses for mailing The News before its publications became completely digital. Your cooperation in strengthening the email list is greatly appreciated.
Please do not hesitate to send any questions or requests for assistance to our diocesan communications staff team via email to media@ladiocese.org.
 
In keeping with this week’s Feast of the Epiphany, it is fitting to give thanks for “modern Magi” everywhere who are bringing congregations great aid by opening their treasure chests to share gold-standard technology, to inspire worship with the digital equivalent of frankincense, and to engage the symbolism of myrrh as a balm for the death and loss in these dreadful pandemic days.
 
May God’s peace and healing strength continue to bless and sustain you and your congregation in this new year and always.  
Bob Williams
Canon for Common Life
Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

 

December 2020

‘New Life, New Hope’

By Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy 

What’s the good word for us this year, during these seasons of Advent and Christmas? Our lives have been so eclipsed by this pandemic and the necessary limitations it places on us for the sake of health.
It is so easy to get focused on what we are unable to do during this holy time of year. It is also challenging for us as clergy to celebrate the season in meaningful ways without trying to convince our people that everything is alright. Things really aren’t okay on many different fronts.
However, this year, perhaps more than any other in our lifetime, resembles the world into which Jesus was born. Jesus was born into chaos. He was born into an occupied Israel with a violent dictator at the helm. It was a terrifying time. I imagine the people of Israel were hard-pressed to find hope. Yet, somewhere near Bethlehem, a baby was born, beneath a sky made brilliant with stars, among smelly farm animals. And even in the midst of all the terror and chaos with that new life, came a new sense of hope.
Where is the new life and sense of hope for you and your congregations?
A colleague recently sent me a photo of her daughter and her daughter’s friend, smiling and joyous on a rocky bluff above the ocean. This is new life and hope. In spite of the pandemic and all its limitations, we continue to experience new life, and to live with joy. It is not denial or delusion. It is faithfulness. It is remembering that this faith of ours is meant to carry us through the most difficult times as well as the most glorious.
I first came to the Episcopal Church during a time in my life where I could see no options, no possibilities, only crisis and loss. I met with the priest at the church I was attending and she told me about Moses and about choosing life. She told me that God is always choosing life and that that was an option for me, too. This truth is so central to our faith: life born in a manger near Bethlehem, under that brilliant sky; life resurrected on Easter Sunday; life breathed into us by the Holy Spirit at our baptism, and life eternal waiting for us as our earthly pilgrimage comes to an end.
Over the years of my life in the Episcopal Church, I have learned that Episcopalians are really good at choosing life. From the way we pray, to the way we see the world, to the ways we relate with one another and all those we encounter, life is at the center of what we do. This Christmas is going to be different, but because of who we are, because of who God is, because of love, I know that our celebration will be full of new life and joy. It’s in our DNA!
Blessings to you this season. You are in my prayers as you bring the good word to your people this Christmastide. May the God of hope fill us all with joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope.
The Rev. Melissa McCarthy
Canon to the Ordinary
Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

 

November 2020

‘I Hear America Singing’

By Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

Homily during A Service of Prayer for Our Nation, Oct. 29, 2020

One day on Facebook, I provoked a little controversy by writing this: Jesus Christ died so we could vote. For some of my friends, the idea associated our savior with the sordidness and crudeness of politics. Church values are theoretically the exact opposite.
You’re probably familiar with these words from our liturgy for evening prayer – the congregation addressing our God in Christ: “You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices.”

Such a contrast with our angry political voices. In one of our most beloved prayers, we pray for the peace that the world cannot give. For some, this is the solution to the seemingly irresolvable dissonance between the timbres of our worship and world. What we do here is of God; what they do out there is not.

Alas, I don’t think the gospel give us that easy an out. We heard the story from chapter four of Luke on a Sunday morning not long ago. In the synagogue in Nazareth, after he had read from Isaiah, Jesus said that, among other things, he had come to bring good news to the poor, release the captives, and let the oppressed go free.

But his saying it then hasn’t made it happen today. Jesus doesn’t operate an economy, prisons and detention centers, or oppressive governments. Jesus doesn’t go to war or crush the life out of a Black man in police custody in the streets of Minneapolis.

Jesus doesn’t close the border to the stranger and asylee. We do those things, or rather, our fellow denizens of humanity do them. For good or ill, whatever power does, it does in our name, with our sufferance and our taxes.

So Jesus’s proclamation of a kingdom of justice and peace requires more of us than thoughts and prayers. More even that outreach and advocacy. It requires us to lean into our freedom – our freedom as people of faith and our hard-won freedom as citizens.

These two freedoms are cut from the same cloth. Both are gifts from a Creator who yearns to set the people free. Which brings me back to Jesus and voting. My faith in the birth, teachings, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ has as much to do with my freedom as my salvation.

Whatever the circumstance or sadness, the limitation or loss, my faith makes me free. In every situation, there’s always something I can do for the glory of God and the sake of God’s people. And yet the world is apt to try to make me forget my freedom. We just heard Jesus’s promise to set parents and children against one another.

This may resonate with anyone who’s experienced political discord in their families in recent years. It may also resonate with those who experience our national politics as an unending pitting of people against one another for the sake of getting and keeping power.

I hear Jesus describing a struggle that is always underway, and always will be, between entrenched power and interest and his values of self-sacrifice and love. Whether amid the brutal tyranny enforced by the Roman empire in our Lord’s time or, in my own lifetime, by state governments in the Deep South until 1965, freedom in Christ has always been a sword and shield for people suffering oppression.

Abrahamic values – an insistence on the dignity of every human being – have spurred humanity’s agonizingly slow recognition of the political value which holds that every human being has the right to petition, question, and constrain the state. And yet some still insist that voting is a privilege. It’s the opposite of a privilege.

It’s a hard-won, inalienable human right. Everyone is a well-informed voter, because everyone is an expert in the life they’re leading. Everyone has the government coming down on them one way or another. Whether our streets are clean and safe. Whether the police treat us and our neighbors fairly. Whether our taxes and our wars are just.

That’s why I don’t think Jesus’s expectations about voting could possibly be clearer. It’s inherent in the whole gospel. Everyone – and especially the poor, the captives, and the oppressed, the ones he came to set free — should be free to express their hopes and fears to those in power.

And yet in our system, like all systems, politics privileges the already privileged. If you own property, you’re more likely to vote than if you don’t. The older we are, the more likely to vote. On average white people vote at higher rates than people of color.
The experts tell us why all this is true. We vote when we think we’re being heard, when we think it will make a difference, when we think we have a stake in the outcome. Because turnout is usually so low and uneven – because we make voting so cumbersome – government has gotten away with under-serving people of color, the housing insecure, the hungry, the formerly incarcerated, the young, and the unpropertied.

Some in power do their best, or worst, to resist the inevitable pluralizing of our country by engaging in the sin of voter suppression. Voter suppression grieves the heart of God and desecrates the grave of every patriot who ever fought for freedom. And yet the complexity of registering and voting itself is a form of suppression.

A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting in a parking lot in Orange County while my spouse, Kathy, shopped at Goodwill. Thrifting is her greatest recreational joy. I used the time to sit in the car and order my new computer on my telephone. It took six minutes. All I had to do was push the Apple Pay button. The cloud has all my financial information.

People who care about money made sure the transaction was secure. If the government really cared about everyone voting, it would make voting that easy. A political, poetic irony of this time that an unanticipated symptom of COVID-19 is that millions of new voters have caught the political bug.

Because we have gazed into the abyss. A global pandemic. Systemic racism and endemic anti-Blackness thrown into sharp relief. The highest death rates among older Americans living in isolation in nursing homes. Essential workers and people of color, those with the least political influence, suffering disproportionately. Government’s historic failures to protect the safety and security of the American people.

All contributing to a mighty chorus that has been swelling from pianissimo to fortissimo. By this morning, over 75 million have voted already, over half the 2016 turnout. 6 Can’t you hear the music? Next Tuesday, as always happens on Election Day, but as perhaps never before in our country, some of our leaders are going to face the music.
Before the Civil War, in a poem celebrating the American worker, Walt Whitman wrote these words:
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear…
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else…
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Everyone brings their unique temperament and experience to their vote, what belongs to them and none else. As Christians, we celebrate the amazing diverse complexity which is the unity of the body of our Christ.

As citizens, it should be our priority to ensure that every voice in our diverse national family is heard, every narrative included, in our shared national canon. If we’re all in this together, then we must leave no one behind.

The more people vote, the more a civic spirit blows across the land that is akin to the Holy Spirit in its counseling, advocating, life-giving wisdom. So let’s vote. Let’s urge others to vote. And in the name of Christ, this year and in the years to come, let’s petition our government at last to honor its covenant with the people, be a light to the nations, and do whatever it takes to streamline, simplify, and encourage voting for all.

I hear America singing – in millions and millions of angry voices, loving voices, pleading voices. A freedom song, a justice song, a redemption song, a godly song. A song of hope that is loud enough and true enough to silence fear and set captive hearts free at last. May our God in Christ be with you, your families and friends, your neighbors and neighborhoods, and with our country and all its people this Election Day and in all the days to come.

My fellow pilgrims in the COVID wilderness, stay healthy and hopeful.
The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor
VII Bishop of Los Angeles

 

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

_______________________________________________________________________________________

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

______________________________________________________________________________

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

______________________________________________________________________________

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+

November 2020

‘I Hear America Singing’

By Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

Homily during A Service of Prayer for Our Nation, Oct. 29, 2020

One day on Facebook, I provoked a little controversy by writing this: Jesus Christ died so we could vote. For some of my friends, the idea associated our savior with the sordidness and crudeness of politics. Church values are theoretically the exact opposite.
You’re probably familiar with these words from our liturgy for evening prayer – the congregation addressing our God in Christ: “You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices.”

Such a contrast with our angry political voices. In one of our most beloved prayers, we pray for the peace that the world cannot give. For some, this is the solution to the seemingly irresolvable dissonance between the timbres of our worship and world. What we do here is of God; what they do out there is not.

Alas, I don’t think the gospel give us that easy an out. We heard the story from chapter four of Luke on a Sunday morning not long ago. In the synagogue in Nazareth, after he had read from Isaiah, Jesus said that, among other things, he had come to bring good news to the poor, release the captives, and let the oppressed go free.

But his saying it then hasn’t made it happen today. Jesus doesn’t operate an economy, prisons and detention centers, or oppressive governments. Jesus doesn’t go to war or crush the life out of a Black man in police custody in the streets of Minneapolis.

Jesus doesn’t close the border to the stranger and asylee. We do those things, or rather, our fellow denizens of humanity do them. For good or ill, whatever power does, it does in our name, with our sufferance and our taxes.

So Jesus’s proclamation of a kingdom of justice and peace requires more of us than thoughts and prayers. More even that outreach and advocacy. It requires us to lean into our freedom – our freedom as people of faith and our hard-won freedom as citizens.

These two freedoms are cut from the same cloth. Both are gifts from a Creator who yearns to set the people free. Which brings me back to Jesus and voting. My faith in the birth, teachings, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ has as much to do with my freedom as my salvation.

Whatever the circumstance or sadness, the limitation or loss, my faith makes me free. In every situation, there’s always something I can do for the glory of God and the sake of God’s people. And yet the world is apt to try to make me forget my freedom. We just heard Jesus’s promise to set parents and children against one another.

This may resonate with anyone who’s experienced political discord in their families in recent years. It may also resonate with those who experience our national politics as an unending pitting of people against one another for the sake of getting and keeping power.

I hear Jesus describing a struggle that is always underway, and always will be, between entrenched power and interest and his values of self-sacrifice and love. Whether amid the brutal tyranny enforced by the Roman empire in our Lord’s time or, in my own lifetime, by state governments in the Deep South until 1965, freedom in Christ has always been a sword and shield for people suffering oppression.

Abrahamic values – an insistence on the dignity of every human being – have spurred humanity’s agonizingly slow recognition of the political value which holds that every human being has the right to petition, question, and constrain the state. And yet some still insist that voting is a privilege. It’s the opposite of a privilege.

It’s a hard-won, inalienable human right. Everyone is a well-informed voter, because everyone is an expert in the life they’re leading. Everyone has the government coming down on them one way or another. Whether our streets are clean and safe. Whether the police treat us and our neighbors fairly. Whether our taxes and our wars are just.

That’s why I don’t think Jesus’s expectations about voting could possibly be clearer. It’s inherent in the whole gospel. Everyone – and especially the poor, the captives, and the oppressed, the ones he came to set free — should be free to express their hopes and fears to those in power.

And yet in our system, like all systems, politics privileges the already privileged. If you own property, you’re more likely to vote than if you don’t. The older we are, the more likely to vote. On average white people vote at higher rates than people of color.
The experts tell us why all this is true. We vote when we think we’re being heard, when we think it will make a difference, when we think we have a stake in the outcome. Because turnout is usually so low and uneven – because we make voting so cumbersome – government has gotten away with under-serving people of color, the housing insecure, the hungry, the formerly incarcerated, the young, and the unpropertied.

Some in power do their best, or worst, to resist the inevitable pluralizing of our country by engaging in the sin of voter suppression. Voter suppression grieves the heart of God and desecrates the grave of every patriot who ever fought for freedom. And yet the complexity of registering and voting itself is a form of suppression.

A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting in a parking lot in Orange County while my spouse, Kathy, shopped at Goodwill. Thrifting is her greatest recreational joy. I used the time to sit in the car and order my new computer on my telephone. It took six minutes. All I had to do was push the Apple Pay button. The cloud has all my financial information.

People who care about money made sure the transaction was secure. If the government really cared about everyone voting, it would make voting that easy. A political, poetic irony of this time that an unanticipated symptom of COVID-19 is that millions of new voters have caught the political bug.

Because we have gazed into the abyss. A global pandemic. Systemic racism and endemic anti-Blackness thrown into sharp relief. The highest death rates among older Americans living in isolation in nursing homes. Essential workers and people of color, those with the least political influence, suffering disproportionately. Government’s historic failures to protect the safety and security of the American people.

All contributing to a mighty chorus that has been swelling from pianissimo to fortissimo. By this morning, over 75 million have voted already, over half the 2016 turnout. 6 Can’t you hear the music? Next Tuesday, as always happens on Election Day, but as perhaps never before in our country, some of our leaders are going to face the music.
Before the Civil War, in a poem celebrating the American worker, Walt Whitman wrote these words:
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear…
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else…
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Everyone brings their unique temperament and experience to their vote, what belongs to them and none else. As Christians, we celebrate the amazing diverse complexity which is the unity of the body of our Christ.

As citizens, it should be our priority to ensure that every voice in our diverse national family is heard, every narrative included, in our shared national canon. If we’re all in this together, then we must leave no one behind.

The more people vote, the more a civic spirit blows across the land that is akin to the Holy Spirit in its counseling, advocating, life-giving wisdom. So let’s vote. Let’s urge others to vote. And in the name of Christ, this year and in the years to come, let’s petition our government at last to honor its covenant with the people, be a light to the nations, and do whatever it takes to streamline, simplify, and encourage voting for all.

I hear America singing – in millions and millions of angry voices, loving voices, pleading voices. A freedom song, a justice song, a redemption song, a godly song. A song of hope that is loud enough and true enough to silence fear and set captive hearts free at last. May our God in Christ be with you, your families and friends, your neighbors and neighborhoods, and with our country and all its people this Election Day and in all the days to come.

My fellow pilgrims in the COVID wilderness, stay healthy and hopeful.
The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor
VII Bishop of Los Angeles

 

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

_______________________________________________________________________________________

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

______________________________________________________________________________

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

______________________________________________________________________________

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+

November 2020

‘I Hear America Singing’

By Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor

Homily during A Service of Prayer for Our Nation, Oct. 29, 2020

One day on Facebook, I provoked a little controversy by writing this: Jesus Christ died so we could vote. For some of my friends, the idea associated our savior with the sordidness and crudeness of politics. Church values are theoretically the exact opposite.
You’re probably familiar with these words from our liturgy for evening prayer – the congregation addressing our God in Christ: “You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices.”

Such a contrast with our angry political voices. In one of our most beloved prayers, we pray for the peace that the world cannot give. For some, this is the solution to the seemingly irresolvable dissonance between the timbres of our worship and world. What we do here is of God; what they do out there is not.

Alas, I don’t think the gospel give us that easy an out. We heard the story from chapter four of Luke on a Sunday morning not long ago. In the synagogue in Nazareth, after he had read from Isaiah, Jesus said that, among other things, he had come to bring good news to the poor, release the captives, and let the oppressed go free.

But his saying it then hasn’t made it happen today. Jesus doesn’t operate an economy, prisons and detention centers, or oppressive governments. Jesus doesn’t go to war or crush the life out of a Black man in police custody in the streets of Minneapolis.

Jesus doesn’t close the border to the stranger and asylee. We do those things, or rather, our fellow denizens of humanity do them. For good or ill, whatever power does, it does in our name, with our sufferance and our taxes.

So Jesus’s proclamation of a kingdom of justice and peace requires more of us than thoughts and prayers. More even that outreach and advocacy. It requires us to lean into our freedom – our freedom as people of faith and our hard-won freedom as citizens.

These two freedoms are cut from the same cloth. Both are gifts from a Creator who yearns to set the people free. Which brings me back to Jesus and voting. My faith in the birth, teachings, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ has as much to do with my freedom as my salvation.

Whatever the circumstance or sadness, the limitation or loss, my faith makes me free. In every situation, there’s always something I can do for the glory of God and the sake of God’s people. And yet the world is apt to try to make me forget my freedom. We just heard Jesus’s promise to set parents and children against one another.

This may resonate with anyone who’s experienced political discord in their families in recent years. It may also resonate with those who experience our national politics as an unending pitting of people against one another for the sake of getting and keeping power.

I hear Jesus describing a struggle that is always underway, and always will be, between entrenched power and interest and his values of self-sacrifice and love. Whether amid the brutal tyranny enforced by the Roman empire in our Lord’s time or, in my own lifetime, by state governments in the Deep South until 1965, freedom in Christ has always been a sword and shield for people suffering oppression.

Abrahamic values – an insistence on the dignity of every human being – have spurred humanity’s agonizingly slow recognition of the political value which holds that every human being has the right to petition, question, and constrain the state. And yet some still insist that voting is a privilege. It’s the opposite of a privilege.

It’s a hard-won, inalienable human right. Everyone is a well-informed voter, because everyone is an expert in the life they’re leading. Everyone has the government coming down on them one way or another. Whether our streets are clean and safe. Whether the police treat us and our neighbors fairly. Whether our taxes and our wars are just.

That’s why I don’t think Jesus’s expectations about voting could possibly be clearer. It’s inherent in the whole gospel. Everyone – and especially the poor, the captives, and the oppressed, the ones he came to set free — should be free to express their hopes and fears to those in power.

And yet in our system, like all systems, politics privileges the already privileged. If you own property, you’re more likely to vote than if you don’t. The older we are, the more likely to vote. On average white people vote at higher rates than people of color.
The experts tell us why all this is true. We vote when we think we’re being heard, when we think it will make a difference, when we think we have a stake in the outcome. Because turnout is usually so low and uneven – because we make voting so cumbersome – government has gotten away with under-serving people of color, the housing insecure, the hungry, the formerly incarcerated, the young, and the unpropertied.

Some in power do their best, or worst, to resist the inevitable pluralizing of our country by engaging in the sin of voter suppression. Voter suppression grieves the heart of God and desecrates the grave of every patriot who ever fought for freedom. And yet the complexity of registering and voting itself is a form of suppression.

A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting in a parking lot in Orange County while my spouse, Kathy, shopped at Goodwill. Thrifting is her greatest recreational joy. I used the time to sit in the car and order my new computer on my telephone. It took six minutes. All I had to do was push the Apple Pay button. The cloud has all my financial information.

People who care about money made sure the transaction was secure. If the government really cared about everyone voting, it would make voting that easy. A political, poetic irony of this time that an unanticipated symptom of COVID-19 is that millions of new voters have caught the political bug.

Because we have gazed into the abyss. A global pandemic. Systemic racism and endemic anti-Blackness thrown into sharp relief. The highest death rates among older Americans living in isolation in nursing homes. Essential workers and people of color, those with the least political influence, suffering disproportionately. Government’s historic failures to protect the safety and security of the American people.

All contributing to a mighty chorus that has been swelling from pianissimo to fortissimo. By this morning, over 75 million have voted already, over half the 2016 turnout. 6 Can’t you hear the music? Next Tuesday, as always happens on Election Day, but as perhaps never before in our country, some of our leaders are going to face the music.
Before the Civil War, in a poem celebrating the American worker, Walt Whitman wrote these words:
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear…
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else…
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Everyone brings their unique temperament and experience to their vote, what belongs to them and none else. As Christians, we celebrate the amazing diverse complexity which is the unity of the body of our Christ.

As citizens, it should be our priority to ensure that every voice in our diverse national family is heard, every narrative included, in our shared national canon. If we’re all in this together, then we must leave no one behind.

The more people vote, the more a civic spirit blows across the land that is akin to the Holy Spirit in its counseling, advocating, life-giving wisdom. So let’s vote. Let’s urge others to vote. And in the name of Christ, this year and in the years to come, let’s petition our government at last to honor its covenant with the people, be a light to the nations, and do whatever it takes to streamline, simplify, and encourage voting for all.

I hear America singing – in millions and millions of angry voices, loving voices, pleading voices. A freedom song, a justice song, a redemption song, a godly song. A song of hope that is loud enough and true enough to silence fear and set captive hearts free at last. May our God in Christ be with you, your families and friends, your neighbors and neighborhoods, and with our country and all its people this Election Day and in all the days to come.

My fellow pilgrims in the COVID wilderness, stay healthy and hopeful.
The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor
VII Bishop of Los Angeles

 

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

_______________________________________________________________________________________

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

______________________________________________________________________________

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+

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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

______________________________________________________________________________

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+

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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+

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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 Ka