One of the great blessings of being the rector of All Saints Church has been the opportunity to participate in the raising up of inspiring new religious leaders. Likewise, one of the great challenges of being the rector of All Saints Church continues to be the moment we are called to send them off into ministries elsewhere as beacons of God’s love, justice and compassion.
I have received with both regret and thanksgiving a letter of resignation from our Director of Peace & Justice, Francisco Garcia. Francisco has accepted the call by the Vestry at Holy Faith Episcopal Church in Inglewood to serve as their Priest in Charge. Francisco and his family have been members of All Saints for almost 12 years. It was here that he discerned his vocation to the priesthood and later we called him to his current work with us overseeing both the Peace & Justice ministries and the Spanish-speaking worship community. My regret in the loss of a deeply valued colleague is balanced by my thanksgiving for the blessing I know he will be to one of our great partner parishes here in this diocese.
Francisco wrote in his resignation letter, “Early on in my discernment to the priesthood, I was moved by the words of pastor and writer Frederick Buechner on vocation: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I first heard these words at All Saints, and they have forever changed me. This powerful statement and expression of faith is what guided my final decision to make myself open to the prospects of leaving my beloved home parish community, to enter into unknown territory for ministry and leadership in the wider Church.”
Francisco’s last Sunday at with us will be July 5th and plans for a celebration and send off are underway. We will respond to Francisco’s departure with three personnel changes.
I have appointed Antonio Gallardo to become the new pastor for the Spanish-speaking worship community. A postulant for holy orders who went through his discernment process here at All Saints, Antonio is a very active member of the All Saints community, a long-time member of the Spanish-speaking community at All Saints, and has been serving as chair of the Latino/Hispanic Ministry. A native of Venezuela, Antonio holds a Ph.D. in Business and Economics runs his own management consulting business and teaches management at the UCLA Extension. For the past 20 years Antonio has remained committed to support those most in need (children, youth, adults and families) through his work as an non-profit and foundation executive addressing matters of economic sustainability, health, and education. I will directly supervise him as he leads the varied ministries for the vibrant 1 pm congregation.
Juliana Serrano has agreed to step into a new position, Senior Associate for Peace & Justice and the Office of Creative Connections. This will combine the direction of both P&J and OCC into one office. Juliana will be working directly with me in continuing to strengthen the P&J/OCC ministries at All Saints. I am also appointing her to join Christina Honchell, Zelda Kennedy, and me as part of our Executive Staff team. Four years ago Juliana and then P&J Director, Carissa Baldwin-McGinnis, strengthened the offices of P&J and OCC by joining their efforts. Now Juliana continues that evolution by coordinating all of those ministries. Juliana has in her 5 years on our staff established herself in the Pasadena and All Saints communities as a stellar strategic, organizational and relational representative of All Saints’ values and mission. I am confident that the critically important work of our P&J prophetic ministries will become even more fruitful under her leadership.
To help lighten Juliana’s load we are expanding the scope of work of Isaac Ruelas. Isaac has been an effective minister in our Children, Youth, and Families ministries, particularly with our Youth ministries. He has also proven to be an inspiring leader in our Multicultural ministries as well. Now he will become a full time member of our staff, maintaining his work in Youth Ministry as well as becoming the Coordinator of Multiculturalism. He will work directly under Juliana’s supervision to strengthen our work in Multicultural ministries as we participate in the challenge of changing our narrative about race in the United States.
All Saints is a river not a pond. Life is a river not a pond. I have used these words as mantras during all the changes and transitions we have experienced since I’ve been your rector. Those words spring back to mind as I write this report to you. I have every confidence that these staff changes will enrich our life together. I am excited about what Francisco will do at Holy Faith Church, Inglewood. And I am thrilled as I anticipate the great changes Juliana, Antonio, and Isaac will bring to the ministries they will now be leading. I know you will join me in congratulating them all.