My scrapbook from the festive two-hour-plus Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles service Sunday afternoon and evening commemorating the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Christ The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in historic Leimert Park. Over 100 were in attendance.
Our preacher, the Rev. Canon Ronald Byrd, rose magnificently to the challenge posed by planners at the Program Group on Black Ministry and the Union of Black Episcopalians H. Belfield Hannibal Chapter in addressing their theme “Be A Drum Major for Justice and Peace.” A former corporate leader and entrepreneur, Ron is Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry’s missioner for ministry to people of African descent. Ron said the PB is home and feeling better after his brain surgery and promised to convey our prayers and love back to him.
“White supremacy has drum majors,” he said. “We need them, too … Drum majors for Christ, struggling against rulers, sovereignties, and powers, as Paul teaches … People ask if we believe in the devil in The Episcopal Church. The devil is in the air. If he’s whispering in one ear, who’s going to whisper in the other?”
I was along to preside as well as introduce Ron, an optimistic, prophetic leader in the church who has his eye on helping form our next generation of leadership. Under the direction of Canon Chas Cheatham, the mighty Episcopal Chorale was spectacular. During anthems, mezzo soprano Linda Broadous-Miles and, with his tenor sax, Rodney Taylor touched the face of God.
Before church, folks had a chance to check in with Naomi Welikala and her colleagues from IRIS Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Service, Los Angeles about our Black Migration Assistance Project, which she heads. Co-hosts the Rev. Guy Leemhuis and Canon Suzanne Edwards-Acton offered eloquent opening remarks, as did the priest in charge at Christ the Good Shepherd, the Rev. Judith Baldwin (who said that she, like our preacher, used to own a restaurant).
Our worship co-leaders included a trio of amazing deacons; the Rev. Canon Jamesetta Hammons, the Rev. Margaret Hudley McCauley and the Rev. Dominique Nicolette Piper. Thirteen-year-old Oliver Mackenzie, son of Standing Committee president the Rev. Lester V. Mackenzie, read out a collect for peace composed by the Very Rev. Kay Sylvester. After church the parish hall was packed for a feast and fellowship.