At St. Cross Episcopal Church in Hermosa Beach on Sunday, where I visited to celebrate and preach, attendance was about 200 at two services. The Holy Spirit came along with the morning fog and confirmed or received ten young people and adults. A tableful of young parents chatted in the parish hall while their kids attended Sunday school. The choir is back in the loft, where organist and choirmaster Sean Coburn O’Neal made the St. Cross organ sound like Canterbury Cathedral.
St. Cross people travel to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Long Beach to assist with the shower program for the unhoused. They are back at Laundry Love each month and are starting a new feeding program with a neighboring church. An “Art of the Possible” task force is studying the highest, best use of the parish’s substantial real estate holdings. When over the summer an errant line on a city zoning map made it look mistakenly like the whole property was about to be converted to luxury condos, PR-savvy St. Cross clergy deftly put the story to bed.
They also share their gifts generously with the whole Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. The Rev. Dr. Rachel Nyback, rector these 19 years, and St. Cross member Mary Pierson are both directors of the Corporation of the Diocese, supporting our initiative to build affordable housing on 25% of our mission and parish campuses. The congregation includes several members of the diocesan altar guild as well as Cameron Moorhead Johnson, co-chair of the Commission on Ministry, and Canon Patsy McMullin Brierley, who co-leads and supports too many ministries and organizations to name.
Upcoming speakers at St. Cross programs include the Hermosa Beach chief of police and a specialist in affordable housing for seniors and families. A St. Cross contingent is attending the the Rev. Dr. Mary Crist’s NPR-celebrated on-line course debunking the Doctrine of Discovery. The parish did its part liturgically by including a collect for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, including a land acknowledgement, in both services.
For the common denominator in all this good news, all this joyful gathering in and sending out in the name of Christ, look no further than Rev. Rachel, both innovator and traditionalist, renowned for mentoring recently ordained clergy. If Rachel were writing this post, she would be quick to deflect the praise to her associate rectors, the Rev. Stephen Smith and the Rev. Joshua Paget (in Detroit last week with the Better Cities Film Festival, which he co-founded and directs); the St. Cross deacon, the Rev. Patti Angelo (who served kindly as my chaplain); and her devoted wardens, Jack Tedford and Lizabeth Thompson. Of course that’s one of the leading signs of great servant leadership like Rachel’s: Empowering and lifting up one’s colleagues.