At festive grand opening ceremonies on Monday for the Santa Angelina Apartments in Placentia, 64 units of affordable and permanent supportive housing for seniors, my heart was full thinking about all our partners but especially the risk-taking, love-spreading people of the Episcopal Church of the Blessed Sacrament.

Because while church people are famously averse to change, Blessed Sacrament’s congregation, under the leadership of their rector, the Rev. Barrett Van Buren, and a succession of wardens and vestry members, including the current senior warden, Ned Bergert, knowingly put themselves through nearly two years of controlled construction chaos leading to the complete transformation of their gracious campus. Parents of preschoolers can also be anxious, and yet the families of the parish’s renowned Blessed Sacrament Children’s Learning Center were also troopers. Director Tracie Donaldson’s calm, encouraging leadership played no small part.

As for the student body themselves, they played a starring role in the dedication ceremonies, singing “God Bless America” plus a sturdy praise song for good measure. After Ned and the Rev. Dominique Nicolette Piper prayed us in, and Michael Beaver from the parish’s American Legion chapter led us in the pledge, two county supervisors, the Hons. Doug Chaffee and Katrina Foley, headlined some 18 speakers, of whom I was blessed to be one. Our rolls included Gov. Newsom’s energetic senior advisor on homelessness, Hafsa Kaka, who promised to come see me at St. Paul’s Commons, Echo Park. Our diocesan and Episcopal Communities & Services housing director, the Rev. Michael S. Bell, was a standout with a deeply moving talk inspired by the blessing of his late father’s access to dignified, affordable housing.

Fresh from a trip back east, the hardest working volunteer diocesan treasurer in Christendom, Canon Andy Tomat, was able to be present, as was Placentian Kathy Frazee, retired Cal State Fullerton librarian and the widow of my beloved friend and church history at Bloy House, Charles Frazee. ECS’s brass, Cathy May, James Rothrock, and Sharon Pewtress, and builder National Community Renaissance’s Mike Ruane and Alexa Washburn were distinguished guests — all of them heroes of housing justice and colleagues for whom I give thanks daily. We want 30 more dedication ceremonies just like this one as we build affordable housing on 25% of our 133 church campuses. Indeed representatives from two more churches that have taken the plunge, St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church, Buena Park and St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Claremont, were in the audience.

Afterward we enjoyed a delicious lunch in the brand new parish hall, a joint use area shared with Santa Angelina. Then we got tours of the cozy, light filled apartments. Oh, the joy of walking these new halls with their new apartment building smell. May they echo with conversation and laughter for years to come. The 21 units of permanent affordable housing even come with some furniture and kitchenware. Some apartments look out over the churchyard and preschool, where everyone is ready for the neighbors we just haven’t met yet — a breathtaking modern-day miracle of hope, belonging, and safety because a congregation that is pledged to the glory of God and the care of God’s people said yes.