The Rev. John Cager, pastor of Ward AME Church these eight years, was also the dynamic leader of a broad-gauge, loosely structured interfaith and ecumenical collective, the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders. We worked on voter empowerment, conditions in the county jails, the LA sheriff’s election, and immigration reform. Breakfast meetings downtown gave way to pandemic-era Zooms. Getting us all onto the same page took patience and grace. John had plenty of both.

He was bound to be promoted. Late last year the AME named him presiding elder of 22 churches in the Midwest. Our able new council president is Rabbi Sarah Hronsky of Temple Beth Hillel. The other good news is that Pastor Cager and his spouse still live in our area, enabling Canon for Common Life Bob Williams (who supports the council as a volunteer) and me to continue our periodic lunches at Nick’s in Pasadena. You name it, we talked about it on Monday — politics, the church, family, life, even the letter he wrote President Nixon in 1972. Join us next time!