by | Sep 17, 2018

One generation shall laud your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.

 – Psalm 145:4

What a joyous Presbytery meeting we had this last Saturday!  We welcomed seven new members, and as they shared their statements of faith and answered questions, we could tell how they will be gifts to us as a Presbytery family.  Blessings to ordinands Deidra Goulding, Stephanie Kang, and Steve Wiebe, and transferring members Tod Bolsinger, Brian Gaeta-Symonds, Ralph Su, and Jessica Vaughan Lower as they and their families make their new homes here.  And congratulations and blessings to Shepherd of the Valley, PIH Health Whittier, Pasadena Presbyterian, Fuller Seminary, Claremont Presbyterian, Good Shepherd, and San Marino Community as they partner with these faithful servants of Christ.

This fall will be a season of ordinations and installations!  Please come to as many as you can.

Ordinations and Installations

  • 30, 3 pm, First Presbyterian Altadena:  Stephanie Kang’s ordination
  • 6, 4 pm, Claremont:  Brian Gaeta-Symonds’ installation
  • 7, 3 pm, Shepherd of the Valley:  Deidra Goulding’s installation
  • 28, 9 am, San Marino Community:  Jessica Vaughan Lower’s installation
  • 4, 2:30 pm, Pasadena Presbyterian:  Steve Wiebe’s ordination and installation.

We also welcomed Rev. Elizabeth Gibbs-Zehnder of LAC+USC Chaplaincy and Rev. Megan Katerjian of Door of Hope, and heard inspiring stories of people whose lives have been touched in profound ways through these ministries.

I expect that more incredible stories will be shared when International Peacemakers Fabienne Jean and Cindy Corell visit us from Haiti this coming week.  Please make every effort to hear them at the following events:

International Peacemakers from Haiti

  • Sept. 23, 9 am, Claremont:  Adult Education and Worship (with Fabienne Jean)
  • Sept. 23, 10:30 am, Westminster Temple City:  Worship (with Cindy Corell)
  • Sept. 23, 5 pm, Calvary South Pasadena:  Potluck dinner and program
  • Sept. 26, 10:30 am, Westminster Gardens Duarte:  Bible study and lunch
  • Sept. 26, 3 pm, Marwick Place, Monte Vista Grove:  Presentation

During the Presbytery meeting, some of our new friends commented on what they see in San Gabriel.  Of course they mention the cultural diversity.  In fact, I was reminded of First Presbyterian Church Altadena’s Fall Festival this Saturday, Sept. 22, 4-8 pm.  I grew up at these events.  Back then we called them church bazaars, but my theory is that their roots are in the Japanese matsuri, especially the fall rice harvest festivals.  The theme for 2018 is otomodachi, or “friends building relationships,” with taiko drumming, arts and crafts, food, a raffle, and music.  My sister comes down from Spokane every year just to see her old friends there.

But in addition to the cultural diversity, one seasoned pastor commented on the blessing of many young, gifted leaders in our Presbytery.  I also heard from one of those young, gifted leaders how the Presbytery is a blessing for them, by inviting them into leadership.  When I first came to San Gabriel, I noticed the presence of several young pastors, and it’s a joy to see them and even newer pastors blossom as creative and enthusiastic leaders for their churches and this presbytery.

As life happens, later that night my uncle Calvin passed away, at Monte Vista Grove in fact—boy are we Presbyterian or what.  At 94, Uncle Cal was the last living sibling of either of my parents (though I still have three aunts by marriage who are amazingly vital, one at the age of 101).  I think everyone would agree that Calvin’s best legacy is his children, who work for justice and love of family with every breath they take.

At church Sunday morning, the impact of Calvin’s death hadn’t sunk in until we started singing “The God of Abraham Praise,” which happens to be one of those hymns I grew up on.  Rev. Ralph Hamburger, who passed away on September 2nd, whose memorial will be at Monte Vista Grove on Friday, October 26 at 3:00 pm and was Calvin’s roommate at the Health Center, once shared with me memories of my uncle Don Toriumi, who was also my pastor in my formative years.  Uncle Don regularly included “The God of Abraham Praise” in worship; the others I remember best are “Be Thou My Vision” and “Once to Every Man and Nation.”  Yes, music is a powerful part of our formation and our spiritual life.

Back to Sunday morning—in the back of the sanctuary, a little girl was waving a white Kleenex.  Just a week ago, Shepherd of the Valley held a wonderful farewell for Pastor Nancy Moore as she returns to retirement.  Nancy gave each person a white Kleenex, and told a story she heard (from Gary Demarest, I believe) about a congregation in Africa who would remember the cloud of witnesses that surrounds them by waving white handkerchiefs over their heads.  So Sunday, as this little girl waved her white Kleenex, I could remember the Tajima collective welcoming home their youngest brother, and I can only imagine the huge cloud of witnesses that have brought our new friends into faith, into ministry, and into this Presbytery.

My heart is overflowing with gratitude as we witness the good news of the mighty acts of God, the life-giving, grace-bearing love of Jesus Christ, and the eternal connecting power of the Holy Spirit that blessed our ancestors, bless us now, and call us to bless those who are being raised in our midst.  Thanks be to God.

Blessings and thanks,