[The Episcopal News] The Rev. Aidan Koh described vibrant and vital outreach ministries to Koreans and Korean Americans in Los Angeles and Orange County during a ministry report to the April 21, 2022, regular meeting of Diocesan Council.
Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor described his recent visit to medical clinics and a homeless shelter in Orange County operated by Korean Community Services. With roots in the diocese, KCS serves the county’s 150,000 Korean and Korean American residents and other neighbors as well. Plans are underway to locate some KCS services, including mental health care, at St. Anselm of Canterbury Episcopal Church in Garden Grove.
Koh said St. Anselm’s computer, yoga, meditation, singing and dancing classes which, pre-pandemic, served about 200 community members weekly, drew the attention of local city officials and led to the partnership. Those classes are expected to resume next month.
“We hope the KCS can also join parish ministry. We expect a very positive synergy and, hopefully, creation of new community programs together,” Koh said of the partnership. The KCS was established by the Rev. Canon Matthew Ahn, the diocese’s first Korean American priest, at St. Stephen’s Church in Hollywood. Ahn, 86, is now retired and attends St. Anselm’s, Koh said.
The Rev. Thomas Moon Lee, St. Anselm’s vicar, told The Episcopal News that the congregation of about 180 worships in four languages – Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese and English – and that on April 24 Taylor paid them “a very fun” pastoral visit. “We do the best we can to try and understand each other and support each other,” he said.
St. James in the City Church, Los Angeles, also offers worship in Korean, according to Koh, who has served there for 32 years, the last 15 as chaplain to preschool through 6th grade students at St. James’ School.
Under the direction of the Rev. John Kim, St. James’ part-time associate rector, the church ministers to homeless Koreans, and Korean Americans, primarily seniors, without family or support systems, through a shelter housing about 20 residents. Koh said demand far outweighs available space; the shelter relies on support from interfaith agencies and community groups.
“Especially, the Buddhist temple helps a lot. It is a huge challenge to respond properly to the high demand with limited space. Our dream is to have another, similar house,” Koh said. “Most of the clients are over 75 years old,” he added. Some shelter residents participate in church services and assist at the weekly parish food pantry and soup kitchen.
Kim also oversees St. James’ Korean-speaking congregation, which has about 150 members and an average Sunday attendance of about 65, he said.
Taylor said both Koh and Ahn are “legendary figures in Korean ministry, both locally and in the whole Episcopal Church.”
Diocesan treasurer Canon Andy Tomat’s consolidated final report indicated mission share fund pledges “are getting back on track,” but remain about $51,000 under budget, compared to January figures of $164,000 below budget.
He also noted that Corporation of the Diocese income was $127,000 under budget, “primarily because they have not yet allocated funds to cover the expenses of running the capital campaign.”
Outside grant income was up by $171,000, he said, because of higher-than-budgeted grants received by IRIS, the Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Service, a ministry of the diocese, due to the increase in refugees arriving from many war-torn areas. The increase was offset, however, because Seeds of Hope, the diocese’s food justice ministry, had received $33,000 less than expected in grant funds.
Capital campaign expenses are less than budgeted because of a delay in adding fundraising staff. Administrative costs, such as human resources, and finance, were also running under budget because some staff costs are allocated elsewhere, he said.
Diocesan Investment Trust reporting delays continue due to staffing issues at NRS, the DIT’s fund administrator. As a fallback, Tomat said, “the Finance Department staff worked through Easter Weekend to prepare and mail January and February reports to all participants, with a note apologizing for reporting delays and assurances that the funds are secure.”
Program Group on Mission Congregations
The Very Rev. Gary Hall reported that the Program Group on Mission Congregations will begin revising the Theology of Mission manual for mission congregations in May. An aim will be “to suggest different pathways for congregational formation, in addition to the kind of standard five-acres-of-property-and-full-time-priest model that was generated in the 1960s and is still technically the official way to become a mission congregation.”
An application for parish status by St. James’ Church in Newport Beach is under review, he said.
Additionally, Taylor is organizing meetings in June and July, respectively, with the Rev. Anthony Guillen, The Episcopal Church Missioner for Hispanic and Latino Ministries, and with diocesan Chinese clergy to discuss mission opportunities and congregational and community formation.
“In August, we’re going to begin our yearly review of the Mission Development Fund grant requests for 2023,” Hall said.
Hall also reported that the Standing Committee had approved five candidates for June 11 ordination to the transitional diaconate: Stacey Forte-Dupree; Timothy Hartley; Ryan Macias; Susanne Wright-Nava and Brian Tucker.
The committee also consented to the election of Springfield, Illinois, Bishop-elect Bob Burgess after he provided “satisfactory answers” to questions about the diocese’s stance on the ordination of women, LGBTQ+ clergy, and same-gender marriage.
Convention notes, bishop’s report
Los Angeles General Convention Deputy Thomas Diaz reported he will attend a May 6 – 8 Deputies of Color gathering in Baltimore, in anticipation of the 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, to be held July 7 – 14.
Samantha Wylie, diocesan convention coordinator, reminded council that parochial reports must be filed by May 1 in order to be verified by the diocesan convention office.
The annual convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles, themed “Back to the Holy City: Hope of Christ in Our Time,” will be held Nov. 11 – 12 at the Riverside Convention Center, Wylie said.
Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy, who serves as chair of the Los Angeles General Convention deputation, reported that she met in early April with leaders of New Community Ministries and is planning a daylong retreat with them as well. She said she will again be a chaplain this year at Camp Stevens’ Counselor Training session (June 12 – 21).
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has asked Bishop Taylor to serve as vice chair of the General Convention Committee on Social Justice and International Policy, which has been meeting online to prepare for the July 7 – 14 gathering in Baltimore, Taylor reported.
“What convention has done, to cut down on evening hearings, is to get some work done on legislation beforehand,” he said. “Coming before this committee is very emotionally and politically charged legislation,” such as whether the church wants to associate apartheid with the policies of the state of Israel, and other matters.
Taylor said he is grateful that Jerusalem’s Anglican Archbishop Hosam Naoum, who will address the Nov. 11 – 12 diocesan convention, “will bring an incarnated sense of these issues from his perspective.”
Taylor also noted that increasingly congregations are grappling with how to use their real estate to sustain their churches and empower mission and ministry. “There are six to eight places around the diocese grappling daily with this challenge and opportunity. We need to make provision on our staff for somebody who’s a specialist in these areas … so if somebody wants to do a housing program, there’s somebody to call.”
He added: “There are 133 missions and parishes and we own every inch of the land. Property’s valuable in our diocese. We can use it to take care of people and to sustain churches. We need to do some institutionalizing there. We have to find the money; it will be a bit of a challenge.”
Taylor also mentioned that Brother Ambrose Cristobal SSF and Brother Antonio SSF, Franciscan monks who have been resident sextons at St. Paul’s Commons in Echo Park for several years, will relocate to their order’s San Damiano Friary in the Mission district of San Francisco in the first week of May. The move is a result of the order’s desire to be together post-pandemic, he said.
“Both have been a reassuring presence here at St. Paul’s Commons,” he said, noting that Cristobal has served as receptionist at the front desk, among other things. “His is the first face I see when I arrive every morning and the last one I see when I leave. Reach out and let them know how much you love them.” (An Episcopal News story about the brothers’ relocation is here.)
Taylor also reported that Guatemalan Bishop Silvestre Romero will be hosted May 9 – 15 by the diocesan Border Ministries Group that traveled in January to Mexico and Guatemala. During his visit, Romero will meet with members of the Mexican and Central American diaspora, visit La Iglesia Magdalena in Glendale, preach and preside at two services on May 15 at Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana, attend the May 12 gathering of Diocesan Council, and participate in the Riverside food distribution service launched by All Saints’ Church and St. Michael’s Ministry Center during the pandemic.
Neighborhood Youth Association
Canon for Common Life Bob Williams, who also serves as president of the board of the Neighborhood Youth Association, an institution of the diocese since 1906, reported that the agency has 65 students enrolled in the first through 12th grades, all working toward college acceptance.
“This is the time of year that the students have been accepted to colleges,” he said. “Six of the students are seniors graduating and all six have been accepted to universities around the country. They have been accepted to six to eight universities each.”
One student, Esperanza, for example, has been accepted to UCLA, UC-San Diego, UC-Santa Cruz, the University of Connecticut, Fordham University in the Bronx, New York; Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California; and Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. Another student has received a full scholarship to Williams College, a liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
The agency’s scholarship endowment is higher than it has ever been, at $700,000, he added. A scholarship benefit, which has raised an additional $110,000 in direct aid to students, is planned for May 14 at St. Matthew’s Church, Pacific Palisades, he said.
The next meeting of Diocesan Council will be held online at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 12.