by Ed Bacon, Rector of All Saints Church
I’ve been thinking a great deal about both the essence of All Saints Church and the spiritual needs Hope and I will want to replicate when we move to Birmingham, Alabama in May. As I prepare to hand over the position of Rector to my successor and then join the All Saints Church Diaspora, my endings and plans for new beginnings have been genuinely helped by the gorgeous blue graphic design of our latest Annual Report to the Parish.
Designed by the brilliant member volunteer Chris Vanderhorst and staff member Keith Holeman, the report depicts the molecular structure and double helix of All Saints’ DNA.
This is an apt metaphor since the frontiers of the All Saints of 2016 wonderfully resonate with our beginnings in 1883 when pioneering individuals founded the first Episcopal church in Pasadena. Pulsing at the center of our DNA is both the journey inward and the journey outward: our worship calling us to prayer and praise, as well as empowerment for our journey of turning the human race into the human family.
In 2004 we put our vision into words:
Following our prophetic call, we seek to embody the inclusive love of God in Christ through Spirituality, Community, and Peace & Justice. I illustrated this statement with our Jerusalem cross at the center of a rotating and energizing circle comprised by the words Spirituality, Community, Peace & Justice.
The tradition of strong, prophetic preaching—with the Bible in one hand and today’s news in the other—permeates our genetic code. Excellent music offered by two 55-voice adult choirs and six children’s choirs lead our weekly worship. The Latino/Hispanic 1:00 p.m. service is growing. Mindfulness meditations begin the services during the Lenten season. Additional evening services—Jazz Vespers, Taize, and Contemplative Eucharists—complement the morning worship and draw individuals from beyond our parish.
Our pastoral connections are strengthened by a continuing series of small groups—some ongoing, others for a season. Many an individual recovering from a life trauma has been comforted by the warm beauty of a Prayer Shawl. Lay counseling; Parent Culture for parents of young people and teenagers; “God, My Parents and Me” for parents of infants; and our Youth Ministry are powerful delivery systems for care which individuals in the parish provide for one another.
Learning and growth are at the center of our corporate life. Every Sunday the Rector’s Forum and three other Adult Offerings provide substantial food for thought and action across a wide spectrum of topics. Pick up a copy of the Adult Road Map to see the many ways in which learning can occur in the space of a year. Opportunities to understand the world are expanded by weekend events with renowned speakers like Richard Rohr, Elaine Pagels, Dan Siegel, Ilia Delio, Dan Horan, Bryan Stevenson, and Tim Wise. Small Groups — seasonal and ongoing — provide opportunities to learn and to build community. Training in the Cooperative Communications process, as well as ways to lead a small group or a committee, enable us to build skills which translate into other areas of our lives.
Our personal journeys of faith are informed by and made accountable to the world’s deep needs. God calls us to courageous and risk-filled work for peace and justice. The challenges of climate change, racism, economic injustice, and dislocated refugees are daunting. And, in the words of one of our recent Rector’ Forum speakers, Bryan Stevenson,
“We won’t have justice until
1) we have proximity with those who are broken and oppressed;
2) develop a new narrative;
3) are willing to become uncomfortable, and;
4) persist with hope.”
We have made strides in Gender Equality, LGBTQ Equality, making the campus more accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities and special needs, and we remain Prayerfully Pro-Choice and opposed to bigotry and war in any form.
We are always looking for ways to share the good news of this maturing, relevant, action-oriented faith. Individuals in 50 states and 90 countries stream our Sunday services. Programs and opportunities for engagement are delivered through our Sunday Tables on the Lawn and via Twitter, Face Book and Email blasts. Your continued generosity makes our work possible, and our Giving and Development Ministries facilitate your contributions.
All of these strides have become part of our essence and will live on, no matter who the Rector is. The durable strength of the All Saints brand is comforting to Hope and me, and we will be resourced by your prayers and your actions, challenging us to make love tangible in our new home. Thank you for making All Saints Church the place Hope and I have loved for the past two decades and with which we will be tethered for decades to come!