Monday, December 20, 2010

It's the little things

It started out as a typical appointment. I went to see Bro. Antony Miller at St. Barnabas in Pasadena. I came into the very neat and organized church office to find two volunteers stuffing Christmas letters to go out that day. Bro. Antony gave me a tour of this beautiful church, and then we hopped in his car to go to lunch.

That's when it happened.

You know when you see homeless people standing on the side of the road with a sign saying, "please help" -- so many people pass them by. I know I do when I'm driving. If I'm walking, I'll give them the change in my pocket. If I'm driving, I never stop.

Antony stopped.

He knew the homeless person by name. He rolled down his window and gave him a dollar. The man said that someone stole his sleeping bag. I could see the wheels in Antony's brain moving -- that man was going to get a new sleeping bag pronto.

Antony is very involved in homeless ministry in Pasadena. Everything from a new feeding program once per week at the parish to helping out at another church's bible study and feeding program (pizza) in the park every week -- rain or shine. He shared stories with me over lunch about the people he has met. The more he spoke, the more his face shone with God-love. This is a powerful ministry this young man is doing to the glory of God in Pasadena. He is opening the parish one day per week to feed the homeless -- Thursdays. The parish is getting behind this ministry and, I believe, will be energized by it. You can't help but feel energized as Antony talks about this ministry.

I wonder what the Spirit will do next at St. Barnabas. I may have to wander over there one of these Thursdays to see.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Going "Home"

Yesterday was NOT going to be your run-of-the-mill-Bishop-visitations. Maybe I'll find as I continue to wander around the Diocese that there is no such thing as a typical visitation. However, yesterday I KNEW would be different. Why? Because I went "home" for the first time.

"Home" is the Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana. It was there that I was assigned as a Ministry Study Year student back in the early 1990's before I began seminary. The Rector, Brad Karelius, was a wonderful mentor for me. When I finished seminary, Brad hired me to be the Associate Rector. Two years later, I was called to be Rector at St. Clement's in San Clemente.

Going "home" felt WONDERFUL! There were so many people that are still there -- and so many new faces. I had the opportunity to speak with the vestry. As always, there is a LOT going on at Messiah. The parish is growing, even with the announcement of the Rector's retirement later in 2011. The parish is also involved in a great amount of outreach into the community, and is looking to do more. Mission and ministry is important there -- it has been for many years.
There were 44 confirmations/receptions -- including one of my favorite people from my time there. We looked at each other and started to cry -- all the years she had attended Messiah, she had never been received into this part of the Body of Christ. She decided it was time, and I laid my hands on her head.

As I stood behind the altar and started to pray the Eucharist, I was taken back in time to the FIRST Eucharist I ever said -- which was behind the same altar. I started to tear up as I thought about the privilege of serving there so many years ago, and of going back now as their Area Bishop. Wow.

Last but not least, the Mariachi were there, playing their hearts out. After the service, when I was finally done with picture taking (there were all those confirmands who wanted their picture taken with the bishop!), I went down to the parish hall where the Mariachi were playing. I asked Freddie Espinoza (the head Mariachi) if they had played Guadalajara yet. They were waiting for me. They started, and I got some of the women who knew me from years gone by to get up and dance -- we did, and it was great, great fun.

I wonder what it will be like for me the next time I go there -- well, after all, there's no place like home!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Date Night

Last Friday, my husband Steve and I had a "date day" -- going to see Harry Potter in the morning followed by lunch at True Food and a trip to Costco. I know, you may not consider Costco as a date destination, but I personally enjoy shopping there. It was a wonderful way to spend time together.

Yesterday I had the great privilege of meeting 4 young people who are interns at the Episcopal Urban Intern Program in Long Beach. You can see them in this picture with the Rev. Gary Commins.

What is the Episcopal Urban Intern Program? I'm glad you asked! I found this on the JUBILEE CONSORTIUM WEBSITE:

"The Episcopal Urban Internship Program (EUIP) is a year-long service learning project of the Jubilee Consortium. Each fall, EUIP gathers a new class of young adults from across the United States to live in Christian community and to work for change in some of Los Angeles County's most innovative and effective social service agencies. The mission of the EUIP is to raise up a new generation of change leaders for the church and the world who will spend their whole lives working to expand God's reign of peace and justice for all people. EUIP prepares young adults to become such leaders. EUIP is part of the Episcopal Service Corps (ESC), a network of young adult programs within the Episcopal Church that work for social change and personal transformation through service to others."

You may be wondering to yourself, "what does this have to do with date night?" I'm getting there, don't worry.

These four young people -- Sarah, Wesley, Andrew and Katie live in a house near St. Luke's in Long Beach. Each have their specific focus and work in different social service agencies. They are articulate, witty, and on fire about what they are doing. They have different work schedules and lead busy lives. As they live in community, they have a "date night" once per week, where they take turns preparing dinner and they talk about issues of faith. It's a "date night with Jesus!" How wonderful! Not only are these young people, and more like them in other locations in the diocese, on fire to give back to the world, but also selected to become part of a group that is intentionally religious.

I wonder what it would be like if within our own families we took time once per week to have a "date night with Jesus" -- hmmmm.

PS -- If you would like more information about the Jubilee Consortium of which the Episcopal Urban Intern Program is a part, or to make a donation -- please go to

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Other St. Clement's

I have heard about it for a long time, but never managed to get over there. I know the priest, Fr. Santos, having met him when I was the Associate Rector at the Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana and he was working at St. Michael's in Anaheim.

Having spent 10 years as Rector at St. Clement's by-the-Sea in San Clemente, I was pleased to now be the Area Bishop for the OTHER St. Clement's -- St. Clement's in Huntington Park. I met Fr. Santos there, and he showed me around the grounds.

Fr. Santos shared with me that St. Clement's in Huntington Park is in a neighborhood that is plagued by drugs and violence. As we walked on the street, people in cars honked, called his name and waved to him -- he is known and loved in this neighborhood. Each Sunday about 150 people gather to worship in Spanish. There are many images of the Virgin of Guadalupe both inside and outside the church.

While the attendance at the church is wonderful, financial problems abound. This is a poor neighborhood, and sacrificial giving for the group that gathers is not enough to cover the expenses, even with a bare-bones budget. I noticed that the flowers at the altar were from the rose bushes in front of the church sign. They are making use of all the resources they can muster.

I wonder what it would be like if parishes around St. Clement's saw the needs here as part of their own outreach program? What if we could "expand the tent" and share out of the bounty we have received to those immediately around us? What if resources could be shared -- hmmm.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Day of Firsts

Yes, it was quite the day! I started out at St. Gabriel's in Monterey Park where I preached and celebrated for the first time solely in Mandarin. Thanks to the good work of both Fr. Peter Lo and Fr. Thomas Ni, I was able to have the service (which included confirmations) put into a bilingual booklet with "pinyin" and Chinese characters. I was able to read a good deal of the characters, but having the pinyin there helped me with the service. Comments included, "you speak so clearly", and "I understood everything you said." Whew! It was also Fr. Peter's birthday, so we were able to sing to him and share cake. The food at this event was amazing -- a delicious fish PLUS a whole roasted pig! Wow! The picture above is of the sanctuary before it burned early this summer. We met and celebrated in 1/2 of the parish hall, which actually years ago WAS the church.

Got home in time to put my feet up for about an hour then changed my clothes and went to the Sixth Day Service at St. Stephen's in Whittier. This is a truly innovative service which started with a group of people at the parish looking around to see who was around the church -- located in a residential area, lots of people walk their dogs outside the church. A "doggie water station" and "clean up bags" were installed outside the parish office. Then the brainstorm -- what about a service for people seeking God -- and their pets! Voila! Brilliant -- it is meeting the needs of people in the neighborhood. Two people, not members of the parish, have attended almost every service. There were over a dozen people and their dogs at this service, which started just a few weeks ago. My own Nigel Bruce (yes, really, that's his name) accompanied me. I was given the privilege of celebrating at this event, and Mary Trainor held Nigel for me. A light dinner followed -- people stayed for fellowship. We sang Happy Birthday to Chris Potter! It was truly a magical time. All the dogs got along very well -- Nigel included (you can see Nigel's picture from a few years ago above). Nigel is doing pretty well for 16!

I wonder how many people will start coming to the Sixth Day Service as word continues to get out about it in the neighborhood. I heard one of the women that has been attending this service with her two dogs say as she was leaving, "next week I'm bringing my neighbor -- she wanted to come today but had a prior commitment." THAT'S evangelism!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

For the past 24 hours I had the great joy of spending time in prayer and reflection with men and women in this diocese, lay (but on the ordination track) and ordained who have one thing in common: working in Chinese ministry here in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

We spent time together, not talking about work, not planning programs, not looking at calendars -- but praying, resting, and reflecting. We started out with evening prayer late yesterday afternoon followed by dinner. Then it was laps around the edge of Echo Park Lake. Compline, followed by the Vicar of Dibley was a nice end to our evening together. No no no no no no no no yes! -- if you are a fan of the Vicar of Dibley, you'll understand this reference!

This morning we prayed morning prayer together in the beautiful Lazarus Chapel here at the Cathedral Center in Los Angeles. Breakfast, another walk, and a time of rest rounded out the morning. Noonday prayer, lunch, and yet another few laps around the lake gave us time to talk and to be centered. We ended the day with Evening Prayer and warm goodbyes, including plans for next year's same 24 hour event. I will be repeating this offering with other groups I work with as Multicultural Minister in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

What I realized a long time ago, being an Anglo doing ministry in Spanish for 12 years, is that sometimes this ministry and work can overwhelm you -- the demands are great, and resources are scarce. While all clergy have challenges and work very hard, the work of ethnic clergy is even more stressful (I do not like that way of putting this (ethnic clergy), but I have yet to find a better description - if you can help me I'd appreciate suggestions!).

My goal is to spend time (24 hours) once per year with each group here at the Cathedral Center to do nothing but rest, reflect and pray. A number of those gathered for this 24 hour period spent the bulk of the time in their rooms at the Diocesan Retreat Center resting -- many taking long naps along with time for meditation and reflection. I, too, spent time in prayer -- although I was fielding some phone calls and writing a bit. Yet, just knowing that people were here resting and praying made my heart happy and my soul rejoice!

All I can say regarding this experience is that I can't wait for the next group (those working with ministry in Spanish here in the Diocese of Los Angeles), and for NEXT year with the Chinese clergy!

By the way, I was happily surprised to find that today is the feast day of Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky. I hadn't looked at lesser feasts and fasts when I picked the dates for this gathering -- but I think the Holy Spirit must have been moving fast and furious! (In case you didn't know, Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky was a convert to Christianity and became an Episcopalian, later a priest. He was sent by the the Episcopal Church to China, where he devoted himself from 1862 to 1875 to translating the Bible into Mandarin Chinese. In 1877 he was elected Bishop of Shanghai, where he founded St. John's University, and began his translation of the Bible into Wenli --classical Chinese.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

You know you've arrived when . . .

It is a funny thing. I was so excited when I ordered it -- I called Mary Gray-Reeves, the Bishop of El Camino Real to make sure she didn't want it. She told me she didn't -- and then I ordered it. I did! My own vanity license plate -- OBISPA. Yes, I know, that word doesn't exist yet in Spanish. Yet. I believe in changing the world one license plate at a time -- obispa is a feminine form of the word obispo which means BISHOP. Spanish speakers at the cathedral center at first shook their heads when they saw it. "La Obispo" is how they referred to me. Well, I think Obispa is much better, and checked it out with Bishop Carranza. He agreed. Actually, lately they have been calling me "obispa". Yes, I'm changing the language one license plate at a time.

Then the other day I realized I had "arrived" as our secretary Lilline would say. Yes, it happened -- I have my own parking space at the cathedral center. Never mind the fact that I'm only there only one day a week. Otherwise, as many of you are aware, I am "out and about" -- "wandering and wondering" around the diocese. There may have been part of me that truly looked forward to it. But, then again, there is part of me that is a little embarrassed by it.

I think that in my wanderings and wonderings I will be paying more attention to license plates I see on the road, and parking spaces reserved for clergy. In many places, these reserved spaces are necessary -- in other places, there isn't any need. What does each place look like? How do the clergy feel about having a parking space or not? What about those clergy (and I know they are out there -- I'm thinking specifically about the Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana) where there isn't ANY parking and, in fact, when they go to work they either have to park in a parking garage where they have to pay to park or they have to feed the meter.

If you're out there reading this blog and have a vanity license plate -- would you be willing to share with me what it is? If you have a reserved parking space, what does the reserved sign say and where is it?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Long Beach

What a busy few days I had a number of weeks ago. I visited St. Thomas of Canterbury, St. Luke's, and St. Gregory's -- all in Long Beach! What an incredibly diverse group of churches, yet each are doing mission and ministry in wonderful ways. They are meeting the needs of the communities surrounding them. It was fascinating and humbling to hear all the areas of mission and ministry they are participating in!

At. St. Gregory's, I met with Fr. Stephen and found out about a wonderful food pantry they have, where they provide food to local families on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. At St Luke's, among all the outreach they do in the community they have a homeless shower program -- and in the women's shower area, there's a washer and dryer. How Christ-like! At St. Thomas, they'll be hosting a health fair in the near future which will include everything from soup to nuts, including bone density testing and fall prevention.

One of my favorite "findings" at St. Luke's was the picture above -- about Jesus being really, really, really -- well you get the message -- COOL! What a profound statement of faith in a community that takes outreach seriously.

The three parishes in Long Beach are different, but they are all committed to mission and ministry -- such a blessing!!

Back on the Board

One of the pleasures in my ministry that I had to give up when I became Rector at St. Clement's was being a member of the Camp Stevens Board. I had loved being chaplain there during the summer, and serving with a wonderful group of people who dedicated themselves to making Camp Stevens a place of adventure for children, refreshment for adults, and a base from which to explore -- literally -- the world. As Bishop Suffragan in charge of the southern third of the diocese of Los Angeles, it felt natural to say "yes!" when asked to come back on the board.

I went a few weekends ago for a board meeting. Much has changed there -- not the least of which is all the building post-big-fire a few years ago. The buildings that have been erected since the fire are more highly-insulated and eco friendly, not to mention beautiful.

One of the great new surprises was the incredible gardens that are under the watchful eye of Ryan Wanamaker, a young man who was on staff and who I thought the world of working with him with groups of children. Ryan keeps a keen eye on the garden behind the kitchen as well as a larger garden down the road.

When I was there for the board meeting, I noticed the wonderful signs above in the kitchen, talking about what is ripe for the picking and where it is, along with some "scavanger hunt" items to draw people to the garden.

Okay, anyone who knows me well knows that I am not the world's best gardener. Although Steve does tell me that I do a bang up job pruning the azaleas every year! I was so struck with Ryan's work and creativity, I have come to a decision: next summer, when I am "bishop in residence" during one of the summer weeks (the week of July 18th, to be exact) I will volunteer to help in the garden any way I can. Weeds? No problem. Slimy things? -- maybe an issue, but I'll do my best.

As I'm wandering and wondering, I can't help but give thanks to God for people like Ryan and the staff at Camp Stevens who not only care about our children, but also the quality of the place they sleep and the food they eat.

With Glee

There is a wonderful young lady who acolytes at St. Stephen's in Whittier. Her name is Lauren Potter (and yes, I received her father's permission to print these pictures). You may recognize her. She is one of the many stars that we have here in the diocese of Los Angeles -- not only a star in the sense that she is a star acolyte (pictured above), she has also played a role as a cheerleader with down syndrome on the popular show GLEE. Her father told me she has her own SAG card! I found a wonderful Glee Fan Club article about Lauren that you can read if you'd like:

This very poised young lady waited patiently as her father -- Chris Potter, along with the Rev. Mary Trainor and other members of St. Stephen's spoke with me recently about a new service they want to start -- The Sixth Day. It will begin on Sunday, October 3rd at 5:00. The service itself will last about 1/2 an hour, with a dinner following. The service is for people seeking God -- and their pets, especially their dogs. This service even has its own page on facebook! The service will be offered every Sunday at 5:00.

It was with glee that I drove home from meeting Lauren and hearing about the great work she is doing as an actress AND an acolyte. It is with glee that I look forward to attending this new Sixth Day service at St. Stephen's!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dogmatics -- and The Sixth Day


Visiting with the Deanery 9 Clergy at their monthly clericus today, I met Montera. Montera is a guide dog specially trained as an Eagle Scout project for people who are hearing impaired. She was brought to the clericus meeting by the man she helps, Deacon Steven Sterry from Blessed Sacrament in Placentia.

The Rev. Lisa Golden mentioned to the group that a friend of hers has her dog dress in appropriate liturgical-colored scarves during the year. Steve, as a Deacon, mentioned that as he wears a dalmatic, he is hoping for someone to make a "dogmatic" for Montera. Well, a great deal of laughter ensued, as you can only imagine. Montera had been very attentive to the paten containing the communion wafers earlier in the Eucharist that I celebrated. Steve joked that she cannot receive communion because she had not been trained in the CATechism yet. Okay, that was a bad joke, but it was made. Actually, I thought it was pretty funny!

What IS serious -- and wonderful -- is a NEW service that has been developed by the people and clergy of St. Stephen's in Whittier. This new liturgy is -THE SIXTH DAY: FOOD FOR PETS, FOOD FOR THE SOUL. According to the Facebook group: Bring your pets to this inaugural service of Word, Table, Meal, in the Episcopal tradition. Gather at 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 3rd and on Sundays thereafter with other people who enjoy the presence of companion animals. Help support our mission of providing pet food and other life resources to help keep pets in their homes during this economic crunch.
The Sixth Day:The Beginning
Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 5:00pm
In The Back Room of St. Stephen's, 10925 Valley Home Ave., Whittier.

It is truly an emergent service. It speaks to who is around the parish -- and in the parish. What a wonderful outreach opportunity!!!! And yes, I believe Montera will be present on October 3rd. On October 24th I will be there along with my dog Nigel Bruce (yes really, that's his name) -- our 16 year old corgie/shepherd mix.

I believe that the love of God in Christ is visible in many forms -- and today, laughing with Deacon Steve and Montera, I can't help but think that Jesus would say, Amen, Amen, Amen!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Colin my GPS.

"Please follow the highlighted route." That's what Colin, my GPS system says to me (in a British accent) as I finish plugging in where I'm going and hit the "done" button. Then, well, the fun starts.

I have lived in Southern California for over 20 years. Really. Yet, with Colin I've experienced more side roads and routes than I thought imaginable. For example: Did you know you can get to St. Mary's in Mariposa heading north on the 5 Freeway from Irvine by exiting at Garfield? Yes, you go through Vernon, the LA garment district, skirt down town (all on side streets) -- but you get to St. Mary's. Really. Honest.

When traffic looks heavy ahead, Colin will call out to me, "traffic heavy ahead -- diverting". If I decide NOT to divert with Colin, he calls out: "recalculating, recalculating, recalculating." I think sometimes I frustrate Colin. More often than not, I follow his directions. More often than not, I scratch my head as I am "diverted" into neighborhoods I've never been through, off the beaten path, into the unknown. "This can't be right" I often say to myself. Yet, Colin IS right -- he hasn't failed me yet!

I was wondering today as I was wandering from the 405 to the 5 (trying to get to the Cathedral Center from Newport Beach) when Colin "diverted" me up Studebaker over to Firestone then to Lakewood THEN to the 5 and up to the 101 -- isn't this a metaphor for our spiritual journey? The faith journey isn't a "straight shot" -- there are all SORTS of "diversions" that happen to us, taking us places we've never been and encountering areas that we SHOULD see. Our faith journey demands of us that we trust enough to follow a path that we may be unsure of -- and to know that we will make it to our next destination. And there WILL be a next destination, and a destination after that -- after all, it is a journey. It's not a once-and-forever event. We constantly change and grow, and our journey helps takes us to that next place we need to go to.

I trust Colin will get me to where I need to go. The first few times he sent me off the freeway or through areas I was unfamiliar with, I thought to myself, "what the heck?" -- I was tense. Now, I'm relaxed, knowing that I will eventually get to where I need to be. It's not always going to be a straight shot -- there will be twists and turns, but I'll get there. I just relax and listen to the current book in my cd player, and say prayers of thanksgiving as I go through new neighborhoods throughout Southern California.

Thank you, Colin! Thank you, Jesus!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Story in Stained Glass

I visited St. Mary's Mariposa the other day. I was struck by the beauty of the stained glass windows. On closer inspection, I began to notice stories from the parish history (or, rather, the people of the parish -- but that's the same thing, isn't it)....reflected in the windows.

The stained glass window that has what looks to be shields around the image of Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane intrigued me. I apologize for the lack of clarity in the photo -- but there are words in the shields, and images. Quoting the booklet on the windows that the people of St. Mary's produced: "(The shields) represent the Episcopal Church diocese in those states where people of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps -- an exodus experience:
Wyoming -- Heart Mountain
California -- Tule Lake and Manzanar
Arizona -- Gila River and Poston
Utah -- Topaz
Colorado -- Amache
Arkansas-- Rowher and Jerome
Idaho -- Minidoka

There is also the patch of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, whose slogan was 'Go for Broke'. This most decorated regiment of World War II consisted of Japanese American 'Nisei' from Hawaii and the mainland. Over 150 soldiers were from St. Mary's".

What an incredible witness to the history of the people of St. Mary's! I was also struck by the image of Snoopy of Peanuts fame in one of the windows -- it was given in remembrance of a young boy who died of a brain tumor who was visited by Fr. Yamazaki, the priest at the time at St. Mary's. The young boy had a stuffed Snoopy by his bedside all during his illness.

Talking with the clergy at St. Mary's (Richard Van Horn, Marilyn Omernick, Butch Gamarra), what became clear is that, as this congregation has been working toward calling its next rector, there is a "new" stained glass "pattern" that is developing. As the demographics around the neighborhood of this historically Japanese parish has changed, so has the mission and ministry focus of the parish. A Spanish speaking service has been started, as well as a community garden (picture of the garden top right). St. Mary's Mariposa, with its rich history, is moving to embrace who they have been and who God is calling them to be. While there is still work to do, a trip to this beautiful church is worth it -- not only does it have an interesting and unique history that is told in its windows, but it is moving out to create a new history for itself.

I wonder if we all took a look at who our neighbors are, and embraced them, what this diocese would look like? Hmmmm.....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back and in the swing of things

Hello there!

I thought I could spend some time writing while I was on vacation -- well, that was what I had hoped would happen, but it didn't. Instead, I spent a good amount of my afternoons making cards (the hand made ones using vintage postcards that I enjoying making) or playing scrabble with my daughter.

Many of you commented on Facebook that this hobby doesn't appear to be "relaxing" -- for many of you, it felt like "work". So, I decided my first post-vacation-post on this blog would be to "demystify" the card making process. First of all, I have attached a picture of the images I receive from the wonderful woman I have purchased these cards from for years -- she sends me a scan of the different images, and I decide if I need that kind or type of card. I purchase them through Ebay. I then purchase the appropriate card stock and envelopes from Kelly Paper, clear photo corners from Michael's, color and black and white ink cartridges for my printer (if I need them) -- and I get started! I determine the orientation (portrait or landscape) and the theme of each card (Easter, Christmas, birthday, etc.) then pull up the card settings that I had made years ago. I count the number of cards in each category and set the card stock in the printer.

While the card stock is printing, I putter around the house or in the garden. This usually occurs in the morning. When all are printed, I have them separated into piles, I put in the movie I want to see in the DVD player, sit at the kitchen table and get busy. I assemble the cards using the photo corners and postcards, fold them, slip them into an envelope and then into the appropriate boxes that will store them for the year. When I say busy, what I want you to understand is that I so enjoy making these cards -- it relaxes me. This year, when I finished my card making, I had made over 1,000 -- some of which I donated to the Cathedral Center Bookstore to sell (to benefit the bookstore). The rest I kept to send throughout the year.

While this might not seem relaxing to you, I can tell you that every time I send one of these cards (and I send many each week), it's like greeting an old friend. I often remember the card -- and sometimes even the writing on the back, if it was written on. I find the messages so amusing -- I often wonder what happened to the people who wrote the card or who received the card. Sometimes, depending on the message, I say a prayer of thanksgiving -- or a prayer of remembrance.

Whatever hobby you may have I pray that you find the end of this vacation time to be relaxing for you. I pray that you take time to rest, reflect and pray -- however that happens for you, and whatever form your way to relax and recharge takes. For me -- give me cards and a good movie. Throw in some scrabble for fun too!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hot time, summer in the City

I wandered over to St. Paul's in Pomona yesterday for the last of the Diocesan Budget discussions. People were placed into small groups and asked to talk about their dreams for the diocese -- and their priorities for the budget. It was a wonderful gathering -- more than 50 people were there, and this is July! LOTS of great ideas and thoughts were shared. Most gratifying was the fact that in this and the other 2 gatherings, so many of the priorities that we bishops heard were ones that had been identified -- and many of them we're working on already! It's nice to be " in sync!"

I couldn't help but fall in love with the sign outside St. Paul's front door -- which I am sharing with you in this blog.

We ARE a cool church -- not cool in the sense of the people are cold, or the temperature inside is cool due to air conditioning (although that's always nice!). We're cool because we have a wonderful story to tell -- it's the story of the love Christ has for us all, and in turn the love we spread in the communities around us and throughout the world. The Episcopal Church IS a cool place -- and I'm proud to be part of it in the Diocese of Los Angeles!

I'll be posting more in the next few days -- it's been a busy few weeks for me, and I'm playing catchup on my writing and my blogging. I have lots of stories to share, so get ready!
Blessings and love to all...and remember, we're cool!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Celebrating Diversity

When you drive up to St. Anselm's of Canterbury in Garden Grove, you notice that there is something different on the Church sign(s). One church, many languages -- indeed, celebrating diversity is the theme!

The parish created a visioning team to interview members of the parish (the English speaking part of the congregation) to discern where the Spirit is moving among them. Why the English speaking part of the congregation? This group has been the core of the congregation since the inception of this church. The Spanish speaking part of the congregation is overseen by the Rector as well, but the Vietnamese and Korean speaking congregations have different Pastors and indeed different names.

Questions were asked of the congregation: What do we love about St. Anselm's? What are our strengths? What are our challenges? What can be improved? The team interviewed every member of the English speaking service, and the results and recommendations were presented tonight. Frank, open discussion ensued. Members of this parish are not afraid to speak the truth in love. Love, love is the key. The Rector, Fr. Wilfredo Benitez listened with an open heart and an open mind -- and a heart full of love.

Diversity works when we can speak the truth to each other in love, and when we can listen to each other with open hearts and minds. If we don't love one another, diversity cannot exist.

I wish my schedule permitted me to be with the people of St. Anselm's this Sunday as the results of the visioning process are unveiled (I won't spoil the surprise here). Needless to say I was very impressed with the visioning team, Fr. Wilfredo, and their commitment to this Parish!

I wonder how hearts will be stirred on Sunday....and how diversity will continued to be celebrated in this place commited to celebrating diversity.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Perpetually early

It is my habit to arrive early -- no matter where I go. If it is to someones home for dinner, I'll sit outside until it's time. You see, I can't stand to be late. When I AM late (which happens on occasion due to traffic, etc.), I can feel the anxiety rise in my body. So this morning, knowing I had to drive to the parish of St. Andrew and St. Charles in Granada Hills (65 miles north of where I live) and not knowing what the freeways were going to be like, I left at 7:15 for a 10:00 meeting. Yes, it was overkill, I know.

I was happy to pull in right behind the Rector, Greg Frost. It gave me time to spend with Greg, to tour the church, and to hear about some of the ministries that go on there.

The photo I took is of the relatively new stained glass window in the sanctuary. You may be thinking to yourself, "with two saints in the name of the church (the two churches were combined years ago), why not put their pictures in the stained glass?" There was no other stained glass (at least that I could see) in the Sanctuary. Lots of clear glass -- but no other stained glass. You see, the congregation had this beautiful window created by a local artist -- it has the form of a rose window, with the trinity in the center -- and at the bottom it reminded me of Eucharist Prayer C -- the planets in their courses. The congregation is sensitive to the fact that they for years have rented out and share the sanctuary to a Reform Jewish Temple. The large crucifix in the Sanctuary is easily removable, and this wonderful, warm space becomes a Jewish Temple! The Temple has an office on the parish grounds, and shares the large refrigerator in the kitchen. Another group started at this church is a Charter School. Another wonderful way to use beautiful parish grounds to create something for the community around them.

The Regional Meeting was informative. Although fewer people than I would have hoped for turned out, what we lacked in numbers we made up for with enthusiasm and good ideas. People were put into groups and asked to suggest budget priorities and express their hopes and expectations for the ministry of the diocese in 2011...and beyond. I won't share what ideas were floated, but we 3 bishops all took notes, as did Ted Forbath. There are two more opportunities to share your ideas: July 17th at St. Cross in Hermosa Beach, and July 24th at St. Paul's in Pomona. The meetings start at 10:00 and will end by noon. It's an opportunity to talk about what YOU would like to see the diocese focus on in the year(s) to come!

The time came for me to start heading home. I was wisely advised by members of the congregation not to go back the way I came (down the 5). Instead, they directed me to take the 210 to the 57. I had forgotten how beautiful parts of those roadways are, and so enjoyed the ride home.

The hospitality of the Rector and the people of St. Andrew and St. Charles was wonderful. The Senior Warden purchased red and black plates for the snacks provided along with clear cups (the red and black being the colors that can exist on a treasurer's report, the clear cup representing transparency).

I went online a few days ago to look up St. Andrew and St. Charles' parish website. I loved the web address of this parish: As I was driving home that web address came to my mind as I was giving thanks in prayer for those who gathered today, and for the parish of St. Andrew and St. Charles. I started to wonder -- 2 saints -- 2 congregations came together years ago, 2 congregations exist now (Christian and Jewish), a Charter School, many ministries -- kind, generous people. Truly many saints past and present have made this parish what it is and who it is for the community.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Car

I've been on the job one month, and have managed to put over 2,000 miles on my car. How did this happen? Well, I've been on the road a LOT! It's been a great joy to travel around the diocese and visit congregations. I look forward to continuing this in the months and years ahead.

Today I got the bug to actually clean out my trunk. Carrying my vestments and crozier in the back seat isn't always feasible (especially if people want to sit back there!), and, well, looking at the contents of my trunk didn't instill confidence that anything I put back there wouldn't come out filthy. So, there I was, climbing into the trunk (it's big!), and getting all the junk out.

What did I find? Over 15 reusable grocery bags from: Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Vons, Pavillions, GOT MILK, and the General Convention. I didn't find the expensive cloth bag I bought at the farmer's market last year -- that one is still MIA. I also found various "carry" bags, including ones from the ECW, Royal Carribean Cruise Line (where did I get that???), and Old North Church in Boston. In addition, all my ceramics bins were back there, full of dry clay and dust. A bag with tupperware, cards, books and mugs from about 6 months ago was in the cargo pouch. My yoga mat and towel took up one corner. Jimmy Hoffa -- that was a relief.

When I tried to vacuum out the trunk with the hand held Oreck vacuum -- it was slow going. I didn't find the attachment I really needed to do the job, and then it happened -- I broke the hose (how did that happen??? I still don't know). So, being the resourceful person I am, I went into the house and got the big upright Oreck, plugged it in, stood up in the trunk, and vacuumed it out as though it were the living room rug. Yep, you guessed it -- clean as a whistle!

So, I offer the before and after pictures above. I also offer this word of caution -- when you start a project such as this, be prepared that you'll move on to other projects that have been bugging you for quite a while. Be prepared -- it's going to take most of your morning (if you start it then). My office closet hasn't looked this good in a while either. Steve promised he'd take my car to the car wash this afternoon -- after he gets done washing the upstairs windows.

Now -- off to cook some ragu alla bolognese with my daughter -- it's a cool, overcast day here. Just right for cooking large batches of pasta sauce that will take most of the afternoon to simmer!

Tonight? Dining in the back yard al fresco -- enjoying our sauce and each other.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Giving myself away this Summer-- emergent church experience

It started out as an idea: Why not give myself away this summer!

After all, as a Parish Priest, I was used to working, taking off only for vacation. As there are no formal visitations scheduled for we Bishops in the Diocese of Los Angeles during the summer, I decided to schedule myself -- by giving myself away.

As many of you know, I have an interest in the emergent church and alternative liturgies. As this is a part of the Doctor of Ministry thesis, I wanted to give the clergy and leadership of congregations in my geographical area of responsibility the ability to go and experience the emergent church -- and I'd take their Sunday Services. I'd bring my own chaplain (so no one had to worry about the miter and crozier), and would preach the SAME sermon in each location (imagine that!) -- on what the emergent church is and isn't, and about my research for my thesis.

I feel strongly that clergy should not "study" during their vacation time, nor should they necessarily stick around the greater LA area for their continuing education. Therefore, I set up this program to give them the ability to try something new without costing them or the congregation anything. What do I want in return? At the end of the summer, I want to have the clergy and key lay leaders who went out and explored emergent church come to my home for brunch on a Saturday and talk about their impressions, thoughts, ideas, etc.

Today was my first visitation "on me" -- St. Mary's Laguna Beach. It was wonderful to be with this community of faith this morning! I was warmly received, and was handed a cup of Peet's coffee from the Holy Groundz hospitality cart right outside the front door of the church! Cafe tables were set up outside to invite people walking down the street over to try the coffee!

The congregation gave me the prayer shawl I'm wearing in the photo above -- Marian blue! Last Sunday members of the congregation each took turns tying on the fringe and praying -- it made me start to cry, I was so touched!
So, today at St. Mary's was my first -- the other congregations who took me up on my offer are:
7/11-- St. Michael's, El Segundo
7/25 -- St. John's, Costa Mesa
August 15 -- St. John's, Corona
August 22 -- Trinity, Orange
August 29 -- Christ Church, Redondo Beach
September 5 -- St. Andrew's, Irvine.
(I'm at St. John's ProCathedral on 7/18, and am out of town 8/1 and 8/8.)

It is my intention to do something similar every summer, and will change the focus of the study or opportunity for the clergy and their congregations.

My mind wondered as I wandered to Laguna Beach this morning -- what will I learn from this experience at the end of the summer? How will the Spirit move in me and through me in each of these congregations? How will the Spirit move through the clergy and leaders who took me up on my offer? Hmmm...

Happy Fourth of July all!
PS The picture above on the right was taken from St. Mary's website to show you a bit of the cart!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Websites and Gatherings

On two different days this week I encountered mission and ministry in very different ways.

I had the good fortune of spending time with the Rev. Canon Elizabeth Habecker at St. Mark's in Downey. When I drove up to the Church and School, I saw Liz and Glenda Roberts, the principal of the school, attaching a temporary sign over the church sign announcing the summer schedule for Sunday worship. The two women were working together to put the sign in place with zip ties.

Liz and I spent some time together in her office, talking about multicultural ministry, St. Mark's, life in general. We then went to lunch with Glenda. What I found most interesting and heart warming is that the relationship between these two leaders is reflected in the way in which the website is setup. If you go to St. Mark's website, the church and the school share the home page of the website equally -- with scroll bars down the middle and edge of the page. As we talked over lunch, it became apparent that the success of both the Church and the School lies in the relationship the two leaders have, and the way they so effectively communicate with each other. There is a clear vision, and it is shared by the Church and the School. I look forward to returning in the fall and seeing the children in their classes!

My other great joy this week was to be the celebrant at the national Girls Friendly Society (GFS) gathering at Chapman University in Orange. The young ladies gathered and their leaders from the diocese of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Western Massachusetts and Pennsylvania along with our own Diocese of Los Angeles were present. It's interesting, there are no GFS chapters between the coasts!

I didn't have to worry that people wouldn't understand my accent, as most of those gathered were from around the area I was born. It was a beautiful celebration, with the installation of new officers and the celebration of the Eucharist together. The Rev. Dr. Barbara Stewart is a whiz at liturgy, and once again turned out a spirit filled, joyful celebration! It was fun for me to talk to the young ladies and leaders about leadership and the power of how they are being formed through GFS. The GFS motto is "Bear ye one another's burdens, and fulfil the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2).

During the week, they were able to have some fun (yes, Disneyland!) and do some profound work -- volunteering in an Alzheimer's unit, making bags for military children (with cameras, paper and pens, etc. to communicate to their parents overseas), quilts/blankets, t-shirts for Kenya, scarves for the Seaman's Institute, working in a thrift shop and also participating in an ecological cleanup in Carbon Canyon and the wetlands.

St. Mark's Downey Church and School and GFS both have a clear understanding of their mission and ministry in this world. It was a pleasure and honor for me to be at both and witness this good work this week.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

That's Yoke, not Yolk -- but then again ...

I did not mention in my blogging last week about the most interesting conversation I've had so far in my travels. Mary Trainor is the pastor for two congregations: St. Stephen's, Whittier (where she has been for a number of years), and St. Joseph's in Buena Park. While yoking congregations is nothing new in many parts of this church, it was the first opportunity I had to sit down and talk with someone who is actually doing this work.

I met Mary at St. Stephen's last Tuesday, and she gave me a tour of the church and grounds. I was happy to see that St. Stephen's has a community garden -- this has become one of my favorite "new additions" to congregational life. This past Saturday, St. Joseph's hosted the Deanery 9 Leadership Barbecue (which was well attended and FABULOUS!). It was wonderful to be back there after 10 years (I used to be in that deanery when I served as Associate Rector at the Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana). The changes to the physical plant, especially the kitchen and parish hall, were amazing. Most of all, the hospitality was warm and inviting. The Deanery 9 gathering was truly a celebration of the parishes in Inland Orange County and the work they are doing to the glory of God.

In our conversation over lunch last Tuesday, Mary shared that the congregations are different. The challenges and opportunities each face are not the same. Her eyes sparkled as she spoke with me -- I listened to the wit and wisdom she brought to each situation and congregation. Beautiful! The challenge -- part time in two places equals more than full time work. It is always a balancing act between the two, and Mary seems to be balancing both very well.

I wondered about the definitions of yoke and yolk as I drove away from the Deanery 9 barbecue last Saturday night, after talking with members of both St. Stephen's and St. Joseph's. While yoke and yolk are pronounced the same, they are different. Yoke refers to binding things together. Among the definitions of yolk is the essential part, the inner core. We can bind (yoke) two different congregations together because at their inner core (yolk) they are doing the same work -- they are following Christ and making Christ known in the world. Hmmmm...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Asian Ministry or how my language skills are getting a workout.

Last Sunday I celebrated at a trilingual service at Hacienda Heights -- English, Cantonese and Mandarin. As I have been speaking Spanish and English for the past 12 years in my ministry, my Chinese has become rusty, but is coming back quickly, especially Mandarin, though Cantonese isn't too far behind.

This past week I had the privilege of sitting with various Chinese clergy and talking with them about their ministries, and the challenges they face. The conversations took me back to my days at Berkeley studying Cantonese and Mandarin, and being immersed in Chinese culture. What to do about 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Chinese youth?

This past Saturday I spent the day leading a workshop for the Episcopal Asian Ministry/LA group at Holy Trinity and St. Benedict in Alhambra. I wondered as I was speaking with them about my vision for EAM/LA in the Diocese of Los Angeles -- where IS the spirit moving here? Then it happened -- a wonderful young woman stood up and spoke about her recent trip to Sewanee for a Youth Leadership workshop. She talked about the challenges the youth face. Then it happened -- a priest stood up and told her she would open her parish to this young woman's youth group for a retreat -- plenty of room to meet there. Then the tent grew wider, and each parish gathered offered to send their youth to this retreat -- and Voila! -- a Episcopal Asian YOUTH retreat was born -- having my blackberry with me, I promised to be there as I blocked the date out in my calendar.

And then, another movement of the Spirit -- an Episcopal Asian ADULT retreat was formed. It will occur after the youth retreat. Then, the most AMAZING moment -- without prompting from me, the young woman who started the ball rolling stood up and said, "one of the things we will discuss on the youth retreat is how to communicate more effectively about our wants and needs as Asian Americans with our parents who were not born here." An incredible connection from the discussion among the Chinese clergy to this group. Holy Spirit moment? You bet. By the way, I've blocked off my calendar for the Adult retreat as well.

On a sad note, on my way to the EAM/LA workshop this past Saturday I received a call from the Rev. Peter Lo, Rector of St. Gabriel's in Monterey Park. He told me that the day before (Friday) a fire broke out in the Church -- more than likely in the Sacristy, which moved into the Sanctuary. The Sacristy, altar and 2 organs (one pipe, one digital) were destroyed. All the plastic in all the lights in the Sanctuary melted. Another Holy Spirit moment -- yesterday was the ONLY Sunday I am not committed to be somewhere all summer. I asked if he would like me to be there -- Peter enthusiastically said yes!

When I arrived at St. Gabriel's yesterday, I was very warmly received. My heart broke as I walked through the Sanctuary. I celebrated the Eucharist at a bilingual Cantonese/Mandarin service (again, my language skills are getting a workout). When I opened my mouth and spoke in Mandarin, there was a gasp from the Mandarin speakers in the congregation and lots of smiles -- and the same thing happened when I switched to Cantonese. I promised them the next time my Chinese would be even stronger, as I seem to be speaking it more and more these weeks.

After the service at St. Gabriel's, close to 40 of us went out for dim sum (Chinese tea lunch). YUM! One of my favorite things to do! Everyone wanted to know how often I've visited China (never). Where I learned Chinese (as a child (Cantonese) and at UC Berkeley). Will I come back and visit them again soon (yes!).

That evening, my husband Steve and I were at St. Thomas in Hacienda Heights for a dinner. It was a wonderful gathering, with people you can tell enjoy being together. Asians and Caucasians mixed easily -- and again my language skills got a workout. Live music caused those gathered to get up and dance -- me among them. They discovered quickly that what I lack in dance skills I make up with enthusiasm! We line danced (well, they did, I kept messing up). It was a wonderful time!

As I continue to wander, I never cease to wonder where the Spirit is going to move next -- and I am so grateful to the people of this Diocese for their willingness to let the Spirit soar!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Out and About

I have been out wandering all this week -- Irvine, Fullerton, Whittier, Riverside, Hacienda Heights -- Wow! An incredible amount of mission and ministry going on!

I was so impressed with the Community Demonstration Garden project at Emmanuel Fullerton that I purchased a "plot" of land -- Although I cannot be out there to work the plot, a group from the parish will do that for me. (I hope they plant spinach -- I LOVE spinach!) This is opening up the parish to the community in such a unique way -- surrounding community members are also purchasing plots -- this is awesome! The garden is being planted in specially designed raised beds. There will be a few "tall" beds for those who find it difficult to bend down. The garden is open to the community, and will be open for tours. This newly re-designed piece of the Emmanuel, Fullerton property also includes a labyrinth and will include an arbor where grapes will be grown. If you are thinking of creating such a garden, contact Rob and Lyn. Rob and Lyn and the people of Emmanuel, thank you!!

Speaking about thank yous, THANK YOU St. Matthias Whittier for the wonderful feeding program that happens there and for whom more than 100 people line up every day. Wow! Pictures above....and gratefully so to the Junior Warden of the Parish. I loved handing out cake to those who came to eat. Rumor has it that a local cooking school prepares the meals every Thursday and Friday -- and they are delicious (not that the food the other days isn't wonderful -- you know what I mean!).

The more I wandered, the more I realized that so much of what I am doing right now is listening and connecting. When I stood in line handing out cake at St. Matthias, I noticed people from the office came out to see if the rumor was true -- "Is the Bishop really out there working in the food line?" Yes, I was -- and I loved it! It was my birthday, and I felt as though I received the best present -- being able to serve.

I'm looking forward to "return trips" -- hopefully quarterly -- to all the congregations I'm visiting.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

EfM Graduation

Yesterday I wandered up to the Cathedral Center to do a number of things. I was video taped for a new installment of the Just Action videos that are published each week on the Diocesan email blast. I also had a meeting set with a member of the clergy. In between these two appointments, I had the great honor of presiding at the Eucharist for the EfM graduates.

For those of you who don't know what EfM is, it stands for Education for Ministry. It is a program designed to provide theological study and reflection rooted in the Scriptures and traditions of the Church. It is a 4 year program -- and from the enthusiasm of the graduates, I'd say it works! Pictured with me is Jan Jones, who is the diocesan coordinator of the program.

Jan told me before the liturgy began, "each graduate's name will be called, they come up and you lay hands on them." I thought to myself, "what do I say?" I was wondering what it would be like not to have a "script" -- we Bishops have scripts when we lay hands on a confirmand or an ordinand, for example. For a moment, I started to panic. "I need a script" was all I kept thinking. Then, the most wonderful thing happened -- I relaxed. I felt the Spirit begin to move as the procession started, and the Spirit moved throughout the service. As each person came up, I laid hands on them and blessed them and prayed for them. It was powerful! I could feel not only my giving them something, but each of them giving me something. It was almost as though the blessing was mutual -- and that was amazing. When it came time for me to say a few kind words after I laid hands on all the graduates, I mentioned this sense of mutual blessing to them -- they all smiled and nodded their heads. This is one group that was definitely filled with the Spirit!

Script? Who needs a script at moments such as these. What is needed is to be open to the Spirit, and to relax into each moment. I've known this for so long now, but as a new Bishop I was reminded of this yesterday in a new way. WOW!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lunch with "The Great Eight"

Yesterday I wandered to Redondo Beach and enjoyed the Deanery 8 Clericus meeting -- otherwise known as "the Great Eight" as their Dean, Bob Cornner likes to refer to them. We ate lunch at the Blue Water Grill, and had a chance to talk between bites.

It was great to see so many from this deanery at lunch! More than that, there was a wonderful feeling of the Spirit moving among us. Appointments were made, thoughts and ideas were shared--including an idea for a new ministry in a parish.

I think Jesus understood the power of sharing a meal. I know I felt that power yesterday with the "Great Eight"-- or as Liz Habecker rightly quipped -- "The Great Ate!" I wonder what would happen if we all started sharing meals together with people we work with, or with those we may not particularly get along with. Hmmm...


PS -- Thank you Bob Cornner for the great picture -- of course Bob, the Dean of Deanery 8 is taking the picture so you can't see him, but he was there!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

On the road again . . .

As my new role as a Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles begins to unfold, there is one thing I have learned -- I need my GPS!

I will be travelling around my geographical and ministerial areas of responsibility in the Diocese of Los Angeles, which means lots of time in my car. As I begin to wander, I started to wonder. It's funny what your mind does to you as you pray and drive up, down and all around the freeways and toll roads.

This blog is just about that -- wandering and wondering. I invite you to join me in the days/weeks/months/years ahead. Join me on the road -- and let's wander and wonder together about and at the good work God is doing in the Diocese of Los Angeles.