Our theme this Pentecost Sunday was every human heart — every one — crying “Abba!”, fear and isolation seeking safety and community. The Rev. Stuart Swann hears the people of God in both his vocations: Vicar of Friends of St Columba’s Spirit of Peace Church, Big Bear Lake and full-time social worker, working with older low-desert dwellers who need resources to stay home with family rather than going into convalescent care.
Busy as he is, he also shepherded a consolidation of our Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles mission church, St. Columba’s, with nearby Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church, part of the Pacifica Synod ELCA. On top of all that, St. Columba’s recently finished an expansion, including accessible bathrooms and a beautiful new nave that freed up the old one to be a full-time parish hall for the congregation and neighborhood.
I was along this morning to preach about the Holy Spirit, celebrate Holy Eucharist, and stand with Stuart and Church Council president Jan Stoll for the rededication of the church and reaffirmation of baptismal vows. Russell Lewis assisted on the altar along with Brian Herendich, who doubled as crucifer and my chaplain.
Son of St. Columba’s stalwart Alan Herendich, who was minister of ceremonies, Brian has served at St. Columba’s one way or another since childhood. In 2015, they were on a father-son visit to Nepal, hiking to the Everest base camp, when they were caught in the devastating Gorkha earthquake. I can’t wait to make it back up the mountain to hear the rest of that story.
The choir was magnificent. No organist at the moment, but MC Alan cued up digital selections performed by a former organist and stored in memory. The system even stopped after the first two verses of “Come Down O Love Divine” to enable Stuart to read the gospel and then recommenced for the third verse.
After services, we sang Happy Birthday to the church (what one does on Pentecost Sunday) and enjoyed desserts, coffee, and conversation. What faithful, friendly people on the mountain. “We’re a mile and a half closer to God,” a couple of folks said. They’re conscious of growing food and housing insecurity in the community and do what they can to help.