Six Philippine Independent Church bishops, including their newly elected obispo maximo, the Most Rev. Joel Porlares (second from left, front row), are visiting the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles this week to participate in the installation of the Diocese of the Western U.S., Canada, and the Pacific Islands’ new bishop, our own gracious colleague the Rt. Rev. Gerry Engnan (front row, far right).

Canon for Common Life Bob Williams and I hosted lunch for the delegation today in historic Filipinotown. As we went around the table, checking in and comparing notes, I was delighted to learn about the PIC’s innovative work in offering Sunday worship by thoroughly trained and educated lay leaders. In one diocese alone, 150 are licensed. Bloy House, The Episcopal Theological School at Los Angeles is exploring the same territory.

Bishop Gerry’s installation is this Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, also know as St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Van Nuys. All are welcome.

At Van Nuys, as in the larger church, the PIC and The Episcopal Church are in full communion under an historic 1961 concordat. Independent and Filipino-run, founded by former Roman Catholics in 1902, in the wake of the Philippine-American War, the denomination is respected and beloved for its revolutionary and post-colonial bona fides. The Episcopal Church also has a diocese in the Philippines. Our historic association with colonialism has at times caused tension, which is why the concordat was such a breakthrough.

Its fraternal values are at work locally at St. John’s Episcopal Church + Holy Child Philippine Independent Church in Wilmington, where PIC and TEC members worship side by side. Bishop Gerry is bishop in charge. Wise, warm, and profoundly pastoral, Gerry succeeds the Rt. Rev. Raul Tobias (back row, far right).

After lunch, the obispo maximo gave me a beautiful gold and blue Malong for Canon Kathy Hannigan O’Connor. I reciprocated with copies of my whimsical novel Jackson Place, about a fictional 37 who delays his resignation. Toasting Bishop Gerry and his colleagues, I said that we all labor for the gospel in a world made by politicians, for good or for ill, some heroes, other tyrants. Our risen Lord nevertheless nudges us toward fellowship, unity, and justice. They were surely in the air today.