During check-in with five girls ages 7-14 from Iglesia Episcopal de La Magdalena in Glendale, who visited me Saturday at St. Paul’s Commons, Echo Park along with their parish leaders, including vicar the Rev. Canon Roberto Martinez, my opening question was if they liked Taylor Swift. The vote was 3-1 with one abstention. The three ayes were all in with the new album. The nay, 11, was also able to tell me where the world’s two worst wars are currently occurring and said that she wants to be an immigration justice lawyer. She said she liked classical music instead.

Our day together was the brilliant idea of Julio Hernandez, who works with this lively mission church’s young people. He volunteered as my chaplain during my February visitation and said after my meeting with the Bishop’s Committee that he would like the the kids to learn more about the vast diocesan (133 churches in six counties) and Episcopal Church-wide (17 countries) community of which they are a part. So I invited them to pick a Saturday. They also asked me lots of questions about how to become a deacon, priest, and bishop and evinced deep pride that they are members of one of the few denominations that don’t exclude people from some of the sacraments, and especially ordination, on the basis of gender and poor exegesis.

Before the party enjoyed a pizza lunch and finished their day by walking across the street to experience Earth Day Echo Park Lake-style, Canon for Common Life Bob Williams took them on a guided tour of the commons. We sent them away with information on the Philadelphia 11 and creation care, my official pen (come see me and see), and other gifts.

My day included two more rich conversations. The Rev. Christina Muller Rees, a Church of England priest, serves as chair of the Li Tim-Oi Foundation, which empowers women throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion. She preached and lectured today at The Church of Our Saviour in San Gabriel. Mario Fedelin was a 2019 Obama Foundation fellow and is founder and CEO of Changeist, which empowers youth 11-26 to drive social change in their communities.

A 50-member Changeist cohort met at St. Paul’s on Saturday, and more exciting collaborations with the diocese are in the works. Mario and his colleagues spend a lot of time working in public schools. I asked him to pretend I was a skeptical middle school principal concerned they were being asked to fling the schoolhouse doors open to a bunch of those community organizers they’ve heard about on TV. How would he describe his organization? “A little league for civic involvement,” he said. Okay, best elevator speech ever. Read more here.