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: www.2saints.org. 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.