When Episcopalians began worshiping at St. Mark’s Mission in the San Fernando Valley a hundred years ago, Warren G. Harding was president, Stalin took power in the Soviet Union, and hyperinflation got the better of the government of Weimar Germany.
It’s a small miracle, when you think about it, that amid such change, so many of our places of worship have persisted and even thrived. Now on Sherman Way, Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church Van Nuys, CA begins its second century with three distinct worshiping communities: A Sunday morning congregation worshiping in English and Spanish, a Philippine Independent Church community, and the Ugandan Community Church.
Everyone was together tonight at a gala centenary celebration, presided over by the innovative St. Mark’s rector, the Rev. Robin Wolf Kassabian. Robin and the Rev. Gerry Engnan and the Rev. Oneasmus Tayebwa gave rousing talks. I enjoyed reconnecting with St. Mark’s’ associate rector Brainerd Dharmaraj and Esther Dharmara, my friend from Nixon Library and church days both, William Hawkins, and CLUE: Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice’s relentlessly energetic Guillermo Torres (at least three projects emerged from our conversation).
We enjoyed dancers and tapped our toes to the Valley Aires, a barbershop choir that practices Mondays at St. Mark’s. Drop by, they said, if you want to learn to sing a cappella. I was along for opening remarks and a prayer inviting our God in Christ to renew and inspire St. Mark’s for our shared work of keeping it strong for the sake of the saints who will inherit it.