"It doesn’t have to be this way"
Andre Henry – Artist, writer and speaker contending for the world that ought to be.
IN THE NAME OF LOVE
How does one influential Episcopal Church inspire members to act on their baptismal covenant? When it comes to what All Saint’s in Pasadena, CA, does, it’s a challenge to catalogue all the ways, particularly when you’ve only had one weekend — and a significant weekend at that — to experience it. So, I’m just going to toss out a few things I learned that all churches, whether they are our peace partner parishes or not, or whether they are resource churches or small town congregations, can learn from All Saint’s and readily implement:
All Saint’s sponsored an all day "Let Freedom Ring" event where the speeches, sermons and letters of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were read aloud in the church from 9 am until 5 pm on Martin Luther King Day. One could listen or sign up to read. Inspiring, and easy to arrange and pull off.
Weekly Action Table: All Saint’s has a table in its courtyard where parishioners and visitors can sign letters or petitions on issues of social justice. This week’s issue was restoring voting rights for California’s parolees. Last week’s issue was a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency for getting the lead out of water service lines in CA communities. A simple, yet effective way to invite meaningful participation in our democracy and make a difference.
Take steps to prevent gun violence: All Saint’s is home parish to Virginia Classick, a member of EPF’s Gun Violence Action Group (she’s always on the monthly calls, so tune in to speak with her directly). Virginia is the author of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles’ Gun Violence Prevention Tool Kit. Find this little gem here and use it to inform and activate your congregation and community to end the scourge of gun violence in our country. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel — Virginia has done that work for you.
Show up and show out. Members of All Saint’s take to the streets with like-minded activists to "make a scene" to create awareness about important issues like the occupation of Gaza. (See below)
Produce and publish something like "Sow the Seeds of Peace and Justice" catalog that All Saint’s makes available to its newcomers and oldtimers, which is a compilation of many of the ways people can partner with community efforts to bring justice and peace. I’m thinking of small parish churches that might not have the people power to do a lot, but by connecting with other churches and organizations in their neighborhood, can make a difference. A simple resource likes this helps us create critical mass to address issues of concern. (I’ll note here that this booklet is also the handiwork of EPF member Virginia Classick.)
Breakfast on the lawn. All Saint’s has made what most of us think of as a coffee hour into a chance to share abundance and feed the hungry. You’ll see choir members, Sunday school teachers, clergy and Pasadena’s homeless and hungry neighbors enjoying coffee, breakfast foods, and fruit on Sunday mornings in their courtyard. Meet a need and make new friends!
To be sure, All Saint’s is an influential resource church, and a benefit of that is that they can invite preachers like Andre Henry ("Artist, writer, and speaker contending for the world that ought to be" and — I might be so bold as to add — prophet) to take the pulpit on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend and give us a sermon that lifts us up and out of our seats and imprints itself onto our hearts. If you get nothing else out of this "Peace Out," I encourage you to give yourself the gift of listening to Andre’s sermon here. Once you’re all fired up, make a mental note that obedience sustains the status quo, realize that, like me, you are probably past due to make a spectacular intervention about something important that will change the course of this fractured world, and then act!
On Saturday, we EPF members joined with local Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) to make a scene at the corner of Lake and Del Mar in downtown Pasadena. We held up our signs protesting the occupation of Gaza and leafleting to educate passersby about the ongoing Great March of Return and the current unlivable conditions in Palestine. Learn more by following EPF’s Palestine Israel Network on our website or on EPF PIN’s Facebook Page or by subscribing to FOSNA’s newsletter.
EPF members Rev. Ann Coburn, Randy and Doni Heyn-Lamb, and Rick Kidd were among the protestors in Pasadena advocating for the liberation of Gaza.
NEW LEADERSHIP! Earlier this month we announced the election of four new EPF National Executive Council members. Below, we profile new NEC member Rev. Mike Wallens of the Big Bend region of west Texas:
Originally from Chicago, I was raised in the Jewish tradition. I took a detour along the way and have been an Episcopal priest since 1978. I have served in seven Episcopal schools in four states. In addition, I served as chaplain at Kennedy Airport, worked with youth in juvenile detention and in specialty camps for children who suffer from various diseases and mental challenges. I have served as spiritual director, and provide mentoring for those who feel called to ordained ministry.
I currently serve in the Diocese of the Rio Grande and as co-chair of the Rio Grande Borderland Ministries. We do a lot of work at our Southern border with people seeking asylum, as well as work in small villages and towns around our border. I am Vicar at St. Paul’s Episcopal church in Marfa, Texas, and I ride the circuit to provide the Eucharist and pastoral care to four other congregations in Far West Texas.
I met my wife Susan in college and we have been married for over 47 years. We have two grown sons who currently live in Austin, and have two dogs named Waffles and Obadiah to fill our empty nest. I enjoy serving our Lord, praying, cooking, hiking, laughing and dreaming.
It’s not too soon to be thinking about General Convention, which will take place June 30-July 9, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland! Are you or your parish interested in helping EPF plan for our time in Baltimore? If you are in or near Maryland and wish to serve on our ad hoc committee to plan and make arrangements for our time at GC, please let Melanie Atha know. epfactnow. We’d love to have your energy, vision and connections to help our leadership have an effective and inspiring presence next year!
Our upcoming schedule:
Jan. 23 St. Barnabas, Borrego Springs, CA
Jan. 26 St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego, CA
Feb. 1 Christ Church, Coronado, CA
Feb. 2 St. Ambrose, Claremont, CA
Feb. 8 Diocese of Los Angeles (Cathedral of St. John)
Feb. 9 Cathedral of St. John, Los Angeles, CA
April 17-19 Detroit, EPF NEC meeting
Are you near any of our planned stops and want to visit? Just shout! Steven and I are planning to spend the rest of winter in California and then move into Oregon and Washington. We will come back east in time for our NEC meeting in Detroit in April, 2020. To schedule a visit, please contact me at epfactnow.