When I visited Grace Episcopal Church in Glendora two years ago, the Rev. Susan Scranton, rector since 1997 and a concert pianist, was playing keyboards for all the hymns and anthems while serving in the bell choir and doing everything else a rector does at a busy parish.

Every time I talked to Susan since, I asked if she’d gotten some help — and finally, she has. On the fifth Sunday in Lent and St. Patrick’s Day, when I was along to celebrate and preach, as the opening notes of “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” sounded, newly called organist Thomas Mellan was safely in the rear balcony with the splendid Grace choir, directed these 23 years by David Aldrete and including my St. Paul’s Commons, Echo Park colleague Canon Janet Reinecke Kawamoto.

Susan is still in the bell quartet, though, under the direction of her mother, Marilyn, turning 99 in April. They performed “A Mighty Fortress” as our gradual anthem. And if you’ll excuse a church nerd comment, during Holy Eucharist Susan programs a gorgeous musical setting for the Sanctus composed by Healey Willan that only really works with the words from the older version of the prayers, called Rite I. But she loves it, as I do, so she slips it and the old words into the service anyway. It’s the kind of liturgical move my friend and mentor the Rev. Canon Mark Shier used to make.

During my Sunday visits around the diocese, I always feel like I’m home — our missions and parishes are like that — but never more so than at Grace, a thriving suburban parish which tempts one to think that old school is exactly what these times need. Rev. Susan is deeply connected with her people and the community. They look after one another while providing food and hygiene kits to the housing insecure and supporting Hillsides. They’ve welcomed a Seventh Day Adventist church as tenant, which helps with expenses.

So does Grace’s generous, intergenerational congregation, which helped the church finish 2023 well in the black. Arriving early to meet our confirmation candidates, twins Morgan and Mitchell, my gracious volunteer chaplain Jared Anders took me to the parish hall, where 15 middle and high school-age kids awaited a conversation. Their convener is 30-year-old Jade Petteruto, also a member of the vestry, a stalwart of Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles youth ministry who says that the key to the program’s success is that the kids feel welcomed, accepted, and loved no matter what — more good old school for what our broken body politic needs.

After a delicious lunch and more conversation, I sat with the vestry in the same space where I’d met with the young people three hours earlier. Rev. Susan, Jade, and I were the constituents in common. Another vestry member, Heather Moore, is a high school teacher who has invited me to speak to her presidency classes about my old boss Richard Nixon. Our confirmands’ mother, Bobbi Patterson, is the great granddaughter of Wallace “Chief” Newman, an indigenous American who was Mr. Nixon’s Whittier College football coach. Bobbi and Steven’s older son, Garrett, confirmed during my visit two years ago, is now off at my alma mater, UC San Diego, and my Muir College to boot. The Grace bell choir and Susan have performed recitals at the Nixon library in a free Sunday concert series I launched as director in 1990. Small world — or all things working together for them who are in Christ Jesus, reminding us that we’re always at home, everywhere.