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.