The Rev. Canon Jaime Edwards-Acton, justice-driven founder of the Jubilee Consortium and Episcopal Enterprises, and the Rev. Carlos Ruvalcaba merged the faithful bands from St. Stephen’s Hollywood and St. Barnabas Eagle Rock on Sunday for a gala confirmation and baptism service at St. Stephen’s, where I was blessed to preach and preside.

The congregations worshiped together, of course, with the confirmation and reception candidates evenly divided between them. But I’m also taking about the musicians. Rector Jaime fronted a combined 8.5-piece (pianist Michael also played trumpet) show band that filled the nave with glorious bilingual music. The postlude was Todd Agnew’s stirring “Grace Like Rain,” where “Amazing Grace” meets Peter Gabriel. Jaime invited me to bring my guitar and sit in. I wasn’t plugged in, so it was okay.

Sixty were present for the bilingual service. Jaime baptized 14-year-old Jesus, godson of Payton Walker Høegh, now a postulant for holy orders. I mediated the Holy Spirit’s work in confirming or receiving Talia, Krisztina, Amanda, Anna, Christopher, Emily, Edgar, and Tara. A social worker, two professors, the granddaughter of a Greek Orthodox priest, a filmmaker — I did my best to talk them all out of taking the foolish step of giving themselves up for Christ and their neighbor in a secularizing, selfish time, but they insisted. And the church and world will be better for it.

With the pandemic and all, I hadn’t been to St. Stephen’s of a Sunday for four years. Oh, how the years go by, sang Amy Grant. Its fine arts pre-school and kindergarten is thriving, the food bank hasn’t missed a week, and all are still joyously welcomed at a trailblazing 21st century church that was once on the Sunday morning call sheet for Hollywood’s elite.

Since just before the pandemic, Jaime and his team have applied the same model of community welcome, service, and entrepreneurship in Eagle Rock. Check out these churches if you want to head into your week with a full heart and a lighter step along the way of love and justice: and