For services and my visitation on Sunday at St. George’s Episcopal Church in La Cañada, my fellow Detroiter the Rev. Amy Pringle, rector these 19 years, prepared a chart showing all four gospels’ accounts of Jesus’s post-Resurrection appearances and invited me to dig in and lead the conversation in lieu of the usual sermon.

Bible study on Sunday morning? For someone such as I, who hasn’t done it much since he was in parish ministry, it was like manna from heaven. Like dessert before dinner.

And dinner is the whole point, since, as Amy pointed out, all the accounts make clear that Jesus became known in the breaking of the bread. The question becomes what makes eating so special. I reflected on Jesus our great astrophysicist, invoking the permanence and interconnectedness of matter and energy when he says, “This is my body that is for you” – the wheat, the grapes, you, me, my Father, my mother, one, indestructible, “stardust,” making every meal an echo of God’s first generative act. And even when people are in conflict, once the groceries come out, the dukes tend to go down. Fellowship deepens. Food heals: “Let me make you something to eat.” Instantly knowing that someone who has been sick is preparing to cross the frontier when we hear, “She stopped eating.”

During church (the St. George’s choir, under Christie Lynn Lawrence’s direction, is superb) and at coffee hour, we talked about the generative process at St. George’s. Consulting with experts, Amy has developed a neurodiversity ministry. Her Nourishing Spirits Center is a placeholder for the parish’s curiosity about the 72% of its neighbors who, Amy says, are spiritual but not religious. Revenue comes in from the parish’s commercial real estate. A Korean church has begun nesting at St. George’s. Amy, the pastor, and I talked about cooperating on some new signage so passersby will know of this latest example of practical ecumenism.

All in all, it’s a parish in transition, like approximately 100% of religious institutions that are paying attention. But it felt buoyed by the Holy Spirit on Sunday. And small yet hearty, it embodies the only values that can save the world. Flanking the church door are banners Amy designed that she calls Jesus’s top ten and which she distilled from the gospel. Love God. Love your neighbor. Give away money and possessions. Forgive. Heal others. Pray. Feed people. Include everyone. Cause justice. Risk everything to do the right thing.


Read more about St. George’s here.