Thursday, September 13, 2018

Outreach Transition

A Message From David Tremaine

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

I have been at the cathedral now for almost two years functioning as the Director of Outreach and Formation.  In that capacity I work 25 hours per week acting as staff liaison for all of the amazing outreach ministry leaders as well as coordinating all of the various faith formation offerings for the community.   As we discern creative ways to make our ministries sustainable, I see an opportunity to continue to empower my fellow lay persons in the cathedral community.  I am also moving into a new season of life as a father, and as these two seasons emerge, one corporate and one personal, it is my hope to transition my leadership of Outreach to Jen Jow, our current outreach committee chair, who will continue to function as chair but in an expanded leadership role. Reducing my hours to 20 per week will allow me to both spend more time at home taking care of George, as well as work on an individual project I am hoping to complete this year. 

This transition will also mark an important transition at St. Paul’s, as outreach will become a completely non-staff led ministry area.  There will still be plenty of partnership and collaboration between outreach and staff for budget, communications and facilities purposes. But the outreach chair taking over leadership of the ministry area is an example of what can happen when we empower those around us to respond to the yearnings of the world and the community. Jen will be the liaison to the various outreach leaders and will convene the outreach committee each month.  With my 20 hours I will also be able to focus solely on all ages faith formation, including initiatives to develop the Children, Youth and Family ministry here at the cathedral. 

It has been a blessing to be part of the outreach team here at St. Paul’s these two years, and I have been humbled by the passionate pursuit of justice for and solidarity with those underserved and oppressed in our community by the members of the outreach team.  You all are faithful, compassionate, hardworking people, and it has been a joy to support the undertakings of St. Paul’s outreach with you.  I plan to support Jen and the whole outreach team in whatever ways I can as Director of Formation in the future and give thanks for the new life emerging both at St. Paul’s and at home.

Update from Showers of Blessings

Dear Beloved Showers Peeps,

Happy Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) to you all! And a prayerful remembrance of Sept 11, 2001.

Amid all the bad news in the world, there is actually good news to report: We had another showers day this last Saturday! Thank you all for making another awesome event. Here are our numbers:

  • Sign- Ins 102
  • Breakfasts 100+
  • Clothing 82 customers served
  • Showers taken 37
  • Haircuts 20
  • Volunteers 20

Bob Oslie was on campus early and opened the doors for us. Our trusty guest crew, Randy, Leon, and Uriah, who always show up early were on hand to help with all the tables and chairs. We got all set up earlier than usual 6:30a.

Once again Devon and Lindsey were with us, as was their little dog, Dublin, who is now so used to the chaos at showers she is not afraid anymore and doesn’t hide under the truck. Walks around like she owns the place which she kinda does. Also Michelle Jampolsky was back from working as a nurse on “Operation Smile” in Abu Dhabi. And once again she brought her dog “Jersey.” Showers has become very dog and cat friendly.

Sidney Hudig brought delicious home made brownies to hand out to our guests. Pat Kreder brought over a cat carrier for one of our guests, and Jeff Bates was back with us with some dandy ideas about how we might automate our sign in procedure and records keeping.

Jack Hayman was manning the clothing table after working on Set-up Friday and helping to load in the sets for Godspell the night before. Sharon Semple and Donna Purdue and Michelle were also there, and thanks to some really nice clothing donations they had some great things to outfit our guests with. Made it feel like working in a swanky store and our guests appreciate the individual attention. We also had some very much needed rolling suitcases to offer this time. Still, we are always short of men’s socks and underwear. But as usually happens on a showers day, passers-by came and dropped off some clothing.

And last, but certainly not least: one of our original volunteers, Kristen Maher, was back with us. She had been gone all summer doing research in South Africa for a book on Township life and politics. She was able to cut hair for a couple of hours and then our guest haircutter Manny Zazueta, who also has been away, came by and stepped in to do the honors. And after he left Devon moved over from cleaning showers to our hair salon and finished up. We are so lucky to have multi-talented and highly energetic volunteers devoted to showers.

Thank you all so very much for your hard work. You really are a blessing to the people you serve, to each other, and to ME!

Claudia Dixon

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Homecoming: A summary of our "Rooted in Love, Growing in God" exercise

This past Sunday, we celebrated Homecoming, reflecting on our upcoming 150th anniversary, the upcoming construction of our new building that we hope will start next year, and the loss of our current administration building, Park Chateau, and temporary loss of our parking and 6th avenue courtyard while the construction is in process.

We asked you to look back and reflect on what you will miss about the old buildings, and to look forward to what you look forward to being able to do as a community in the new one.  Below is a compilation of what you said.

These are the raw comments from the community, so let's keep that conversation going! Feel free to add to the lists in the comments!

Administration Building

Goodbye Administration Building, Parc Chateau, 6th Avenue Courtyard, and Olive Street Parking Lot

Where do we line up now for our outdoor parades? (St. George’s Day and Palm Sunday, etc)
Space and utility connections for Showers of Blessings
Goodbye guild room: Forums, many hours of filming, what is an Episcopalian, Integrity potlucks
Fond farewell to St Paul’s parishioner who lives in the apartments
Goodbye to the old youth group over where I grew up in the church
I accidentally parked in the lot and when I came out of 12:00 serivce my car was blocked with volunteer activity. The people were really nice about it. They helped me back up and it was no big deal
When the dust has settled and we think about landscaping I would love to see a rose garden planted with lilies and other bulbs planted in succession. To sit in a garden and meditate on the glories of God, to breathe in the perfumed air, watch the birds and insects on their busy ways, is tantamount to heaven. A few benches, a water feature, would surely be perfection.
Jeff’s office and Penny’s office – my first welcome into SPC
Parking concerns
I will miss our Spanish style architecture block of the church campus
Space in the guild room for interfaith shelter guests.
Personalized youth group art in youth room on walls
Chris Harris’ wedding reception in the Courtyard!
I had many spiritual direction appointments in the room next to the dean’s office.
Saying goodbye to homelessness memories – learning to cook and grocery shop all over again. Senior low income housing major life change – my life back in control.
Sad to see the end of the guild room.
Parking lot – meeting spot for hikes, pride, walkers, carpooling
Gardens in all locations, all the perennials, hopefully they’ll be boarded with caring folks
Stable spaces, known chairs
The stinky carpeting in the Guild room
Miss the parking lot during construction
Miss the South Parking lot for Showers of Blessings?
6th street plaza, the pride picnics
Classes in the guild room and dinner
Chris and Joe’s wedding reception in the courtyards and clergy parking lot.  So much love and fun.
A Park Chateau we had a wonderful party for Harold Potter
Goodbye Sixth Ave Courtyard: Chris and Joe’s wedding reception
My confirmation class in the Guild Room in Spring 2016
Remember the Cathedral Bookstore run by Kathrun
Peace (no (illegible))
Loading and unloading props etc for drama events
Mehans wedding. Courtyard and changing room
Special assigned spots in parking lot
Goodbye longs (illegible) to Cathedral (no parking) to more parking
Forums in Guild Room as well as various arts programs
Meeting the youth group in 2015 as a teen
In the children’s room, 1980s my children painted the disciples on the walls. They were there for years.
Farewell to the admin bathrooms! Yay!
Courtyard for performances. Gatherings for social and common space.
In the early 1990s, Guild room became a “safe zone” for a series of Forums for our LGBT members and their families to come out in trust and acceptance
Utility Room became the work space for pouring over 100 years of Vestry minutes to establish the history of the organ
5th st – Highland dancing. 2 Babies.
Heather’s wedding. Courtyard and changing room.
Sharing our spiritual journeys in the Fireside Room. People shared and connected in deep ways.
The first time I walked into Sunday services I felt so at home. Many pleasant times in the courtyard.
20s and 30s Fireside room – fellowship
Boys playing football during choir break in the courtyard
Seeing David’s new office that looks out on Balboa park
“The Invitation” each Sunday at worship touches me deeply each week
Processing up the aisle of the national cathedral as a presenter in the farewell to John Chane as he was made bishop
In the guildroom I filmed over 100 hours of forums
Chapter meetings in the guild room.  Spiritual autobiography.
There is a narrow sidewalk leading from the 6th ave courtyard towards the NE parking lot. That walkway used to lead to a house on the property where that lot is. The house was the northern of two houses that the church purchased later. One for church offices and the other was used for lodging I think. Both came down in 1968 when the new admin building was constructed. That little walkway is the only thing left of that house.
St. George’s day
Memories of Park Chateau as home for sextons (Dick Anderson, Jim and Jane Minchinton, older congregants) and source of budget balancing income.
North Parking Lot previously a home for the assistant priest and his family in the 50s was Fr Predergrasts home and garden (look carefully and you can see remains of the walkways)
Human sized outdoor parking with shade trees!
Choir boy parties
Our first luncheon was so welcoming!
Getting Bible donations for Sunday School
Lining up in the parking lot for St Georges Day
Administration building, memories of walking with noon mass celebrants, esp Fr. John Thomas and Canons Lee Teed and Alden Franklin
Chateau – being a lunch/tea guest of Fr John Thomas after noon mass one time
Many sacred moments In 6th ave courtyard – showers of blessings
Will miss the olive st parking lot for all the choir rehearsals; kids and adults since 1986
I remember watching the walls of the admin building being poured flat and tiled up into place

Proposed new building and campus

Hopes, Dreams, and Hello to the new building, parking, and courtyard

Re-thinking how we use the old remaining space like ministry center
I hope to perform my one woman vocal show in the new space
State of the art theater space for community performance and meetings
Theater for performance and lectures and movies
Looking forward to new gardens and green space
Affordable housing
Secured underground parking spaces
Parking for choristors and family
St paul’s can host more community and cultural events because we can offer enough parking
Partnership with other ministries, ie uptown ecs rent space to them
Tours to European cathedrals
A small /charter school
Welcome more space for ministries, especially showers. Welcome more convenient layout to make working here easier and more efficient
Not talking about the new building anymore
A larger and more accessible library
Wondering how much fun ahead for all who come here can have and enjoy
I imagine more space that will attract more people to st pauls
Non profit café operator
The general availability of space/rooms, + security
Anything that gives congregants and neighbors a chance to have a voice in the new building usage
Chorister parking
Showers for homeless!
Dedicated storage for banners and such so they will suffer damage
Community gatherings with food
Pleasant new neighbors who will want to join us (and enjoy us!)
Labyrinth outside – store/grass paths
Have a coffee bar + bookstore Christian? Place to hang out!
Church income
Anticipate new counseling space – pastoral care
Blackbox/forum space in new building + underground parking
Raising a family in a welcoming and supportive church community
Unsure don’t know plan
Pews? Or Chairs?
Dedicated room for young people and café w/ consistent  coffee staffed by parishioners w/o homes
Looking forward to the debt of “seven simple songs (in the key of Beethoven)” in this Great Hall
Hope to see a space with acoustics that allow for dramatic presentations and lectures
Good work and storage space for outreach ministries supplies and work surfaces
Storage for overflow of vestments, silver, altar supplies
A good entry system that is not subjected to a “million” keys, insecure codes, etc.
Dedicated reserved parking for the altar guild – not combined with other servers and volunteers
Art studios
Art space – painting, coffee
Peace and Justice
Space for community workshops, ie art classes cooking classes tai chi, yoga, meditation
A dedicated choir room!
Adequate parking (as I think the residential aspect will further impact the already limited street parking)
An endowment which will supply our growing needs for the future
Growing relationships in this faith community
Music practice resort - Revisit the future of the music space along the vision that Pacem put in ministry some 20 years ago
Choir rehearsal space with a/c along the line of FUMC in the valley
Neighborhood coffee/bookstore tea / reading room
Meditation teaching and meditation garden (could be indoors) 
AA mmetings for women and men
Laundry facilities for homeless (schedule w/ showers)
We must continue to host showers of blessings – hopefully on our campus!
So many souls have been enlightened by the services and contributions SPC has provided. May these continue
Welcome Millenials. Coffee, table for children
Café – hot coffee in the cold months (illegible) inside? With sides

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Sunday Sermon: Homecoming: Listen with the Heart

Listen. What do you hear? The breathing of the person next to you. The traffic outside. A voice. The shuffling of paper. The beating of your own heart. There is no background music, no mechanical buzz. This is a quiet place, a sacred space, a refuge from the chaos and noise of the world. In this place we can truly listen, listen to the whisper of the Spirit. Listen to our own pain. Listen to the loving, liberating, life-giving voice of God.

To listen is to trust. To listen for God’s voice within us is to trust that what we hear will be a voice of love and healing. We all long to be able to trust like that, because these days it feels like nobody and nothing is to be trusted. And when we come here, it is with the hope that what we hear is trustworthy. “Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy.”

In our Gospel story today we find Jesus on the road. He has just been debating with the authorities about what is clean or unclean, making the point that outward practices of ritual purity are worthless if people continue to live lives of corruption, greed, and violence. The message Jesus brings is one of opening our hearts to the fullness of God’s love, of allowing grace to outweigh law, of seeking purity of heart. Now, in the verses we just heard, Jesus is outside his comfort zone. As a Jewish rabbi, walking through Gentile neighborhoods - you could almost place this story in modern Israel and imagine the orthodox rabbi daring to enter a Palestinian enclave. This woman confronts him, breaking any number of purity laws - An unaccompanied woman accosting a Jewish stranger in public - and she begs him to listen to her story. Her child is desperately sick.

Up to this point in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has been focused on his mission to reform the Jewish people. But now he is in unfamiliar territory. It’s probably not an accident that immediately after he has lectured the Pharisees on spiritual rigidity, he is forced to interact with someone who lives entirely outside that purity culture. Here is an opportunity to demonstrate just how far God’s love and power extends, but Jesus apparently doesn’t get that right away. It takes him a minute, and some careful listening, before he almost visibly shifts and, to our relief, broadens his own horizon to embrace this woman and her daughter. The humanity of Jesus is on full display here, and I can relate, thinking of my own journey as God continues to open my ears and heart to those who are different or scary.

And what comes next, immediately after Jesus’s ears have been opened to a new dimension of ministry? An encounter with a man whose ears are stopped up.

Now, think about this for a minute. This was an oral culture. No books or newspapers or written signs to speak of, and a low level of literacy. Stories, news, teachings, all were conveyed orally. To be deaf in that time was to be cut off from communications and from community. Today we honor the deaf culture and the importance of the various sign languages. I love it when our altar servers who are fluent express their faith with sign language up here in the chancel. It’s a beautiful thing to see. One of my dreams is to have an inset on the screen of our live stream with someone interpreting the service in ASL. But in Jesus’ time, deafness carried a stigma, a suggestion that someone was being punished by God. When Jesus opened this man’s ears he not only bestowed physical healing, but he restored the man’s social and spiritual health as well. He gave him back his life.

The outsider is cared for. Distress and disease are banished. The teacher grows through listening. Ears are opened. Life and community are restored without judgment, without conditions, and the love of God is shared. This is what the Reign of God looks like, in Scripture and in our own world, already accessible to us, if not yet universally embraced.

And this is what we strive for here at St Paul’s. It starts with listening. When we share our stories with each other, listening carefully, allowing Jesus to open our ears, we find new abundance of life.

Earlier this summer a small group of trusted parishioners had focused conversations with some of their friends in the cathedral. They learned of a number of concerns and griefs which were affecting the quality of our corporate life. They brought those concerns to me and Jeff, and we listened carefully, just as they had listened carefully to others. One of my weekly letters this month will say more, but for now, I just want to acknowledge how important those listening exercises were. When we listen closely to one another, when we feel truly heard, trust has a chance to grow. If we can build a community where we trust each other to tell the truth in love, we will have something rare and precious in this world. I think we can do it.

So let’s practice. Take a moment now to tell your neighbor or someone sitting near you about one true thing - a joy, a learning, a healing - that happened over the summer. One minute each and then swap....

Now that we have reconnected, let’s continue our Homecoming celebration by lifting up the ministries we share. As you may know, we have some 80 different ministries here, engaging hundreds of people. Thank you, each of you, for your leadership, your passion, and your commitment to sharing God’s love in your own unique way.

[Recommissioning of lay ministers follows].

The Very Rev. Penny Bridges

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Summer Wrap up

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

This week we celebrate Homecoming, a regathering after the summer and a rededication to mission and ministry. But we haven’t been idle: here are some facts and figures about our cathedral summer.

  • Martin Green held two weeks of choir camps, attended by 19 children in all, several of them new recruits. We will hear them at Sunday Evensong services throughout the year.
  • Showers of Blessings continued to grow, with over 100 guests signing in at the August Showers plus dozens of volunteers from St. Paul’s, First United Methodist Church, and the neighborhood.
  • Some 500 people attended Light Up the Cathedral for Pride, which was well covered by local news media, and about 100 enjoyed the Imperial Court art show the same evening. Our parade contingent had about 120 people from around the diocese and 30 volunteers offered hospitality to parade-goers.
  • Our Tuesday organ recitals continued with an average attendance of about 40.
  • The concert by the Maryland State Boychoir brought 97 people to the cathedral.
  • Over 250 people attended the 16 Summer Socials at parishioners’ homes.
  • Our chamber music concerts raising funds for rebuilding the Steinway piano drew between 25 and 60 people to each.
  • Over 200 attended the Profession of Vows service for Sister Karla Maria.
  • About 400 attended one of our four Sunday services each week, and the weekday services attract 6-12 people each day. Volunteers, both lay and clergy, are crucial to the smooth operation of all our worship services. 35-40 volunteers help to lead our four Sunday services.
  • Our live streaming engaged an average of 23 people on Sunday mornings and 16 for Evensong.
  • We welcomed about 450 visitors on weekdays while our volunteer docents were on duty.
  • Our Tai Chi and Yoga classes attracted about 16 people altogether. Yoga will continue in the Great Hall.
  • 32 people of all ages attended the outdoor movie at the end of August.

All in all, we touched and engaged a whole lot of people during what most of us regard as a “slow season” in the church. Add to that our media coverage, including social media engagement, and you can see that we are making a real difference! Thank you to everyone who helps make all this happen.

As we move into the fall season, there are plenty more opportunities to make a difference and get involved. At Homecoming there will be information about all our ministries. The midweek fall formation series starts next week and we will have another season of social gatherings in October and November. Plans for the Sesquicentennial year are gearing up and our Community Space Task Force has begun its discernment about our future service to the community. The Chapter nominating committee is also beginning the annual task of inviting parishioners to consider serving on our governing board.
What might God be calling you to in the season ahead?

Your sister in Christ,

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Words of our Worship: "Where am I?"

Do you know the name of the place where we gather for worship? Of course, the overall name of our church is The Cathedral Church of St. Paul, but each part of the church space has its own particular name, in the peculiar tradition of the Church that demands specialized words for every aspect of our worship (or liturgy). If you are sitting in a Pew (or bench) as you read this, you are in the Nave of the cathedral. This is the portion of the building that extends from the baptismal font to the altar rail. The Sanctuaryis the part of the church from the altar rail to the front (east) wall behind the altar. We also refer to that space as the Chancel. The area in the very back of the nave between the baptismal font and the doors is the Narthex.

Up against the back wall to the west is a structure of marble panels. This is our Columbarium, a word derived from the Latin for a dovecote, and it’s a place to house the ashes of the deceased. Each panel conceals a niche which holds up to four urns. Niches are available for advance purchase.

Behind the Altar (the table where we bless bread and wine) is a side table, where the elements for Communion are laid out for the service. This table is called the Credence.

Behind the organ console on the south side there is a bumped-out area known as the South Transept. The original plans for the Cathedral included a matching North Transept, creating a cross-shaped Chancel, but there is a long tradition of cathedrals never being finished! We plan to build an extension of the Columbarium in the South Transept.

The suite of rooms dedicated to the storage and preparation of vestments and apparatus for worship is called the Sacristy.

On the south wall of the Chapel of the Holy Family is a small cupboard. This is an Aumbry, a cupboard specially blessed and set aside to house the Reserved Sacrament, the blessed bread (and sometimes wine) of Holy Communion, saved for pastoral visits. If this cupboard were physically attached to the altar it would be called a Tabernacle. Indicating the presence of the Reserved Sacrament is the Sanctuary Lamp above the Aumbry. This light is extinguished on Maundy Thursday when the Aumbry is emptied and relit at the Easter Vigil when we consecrate and reserve the new Sacrament. The Chapel also houses a small Columbarium, for the ashes of the members of the Society of St. Paul, a religious order whose two remaining brothers are beloved members of our congregation.
I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the Cathedral!

Your sister in Christ,


An Update on Stewardship Formation

A few weeks ago, I wrote to you about the Stewardship Committee’s decision to offer a financial literacy course: Financial Peace University.  The selection of that curriculum raised many questions and concerns!  Please rest assured that it is the intent of the Stewardship Committee to provide unity in our journey together as stewards, not division.

Our goal for the course was to provide theologically based financial literacy education for those in the community that might benefit from it.  We realized that many in our community have strong financial management skills.  This offering was geared towards members of our community that have asked for help with financial skills.  It was not in any way associated with our November pledge campaign.

The Stewardship Committee had its own reservations about this course, and we had decided to offer it with a sense of experimentation:  will this work?  Will it be a fit?  There are a variety of approaches to managing household finances, and we knew that we would have to lean into the Anglican via media with any offering. With different financial situations and beliefs likely present in the group, any presenter would only be a launching board for discussion.  However, with so many questions and concerns lingering in the congregation, the results of this experiment seem clear, and this is not the right time for Financial Peace University at St. Paul’s.

In consultation with the Dean and Stewardship Chair Pat Kreder, we have cancelled Financial Peace University this fall.  I apologize to those who had already signed up for the course.  The Stewardship Committee will continue to look for a replacement financial literacy course that does not have the same challenges to the congregation that this one does and offer it in a future year.

For this fall, I hope you will join me, Dean Penny, and Pat Kreder for a different offering:  a course entitled “The Wisdom Path: Money, Spirit, and Life.”  This is not a financial literacy class, but an exploration of attitudes and experiences with money.  The series of 8 classes is broken into three sections: 1) Exploring our own relationship with money; 2) Exploring how money connects us with others (including classism and economic justice); and 3) ways to align faith, values, and our ways of financial being.  You can sign up for that class here

Again, thank you for your feedback as we continue to move from stewardship-as-fundraising to stewardship as discipleship; as doing all that you can, with all that you have, all of the time.  The Stewardship Committee and I value your continuing feedback as we deepen this journey together.

Jeff Martinhauk

RefugeeNet: A Vital Resource

RefugeeNet began in 1995 at St. Luke's, North Park to provide supportive services to refugees during their adjustment to life in the U.S. We have grown from a small committee of five people to a nonprofit corporation with a board of directors and an annual budget of $188,000 funded by donations and small grants. In 2010, we became an institution of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

RefugeeNet guides new families through the bureaucracy of immigration, education, employment, and welfare issues, with transportation and translation services during their years of adjustment to American life. The goal is to help refugees become independent and productive U.S. citizens.

RefugeeNet employs a staff of three full-time employees, and one part-time employee, and are supported by a cadre of dedicated volunteers who donate numerous service hours each week. We own one pickup truck and two vans for the transport of food, necessities and clients. Our staff members are refugees themselves who speak many of the Middle Eastern, African and Asian languages our clients speak. The majority of the refugees we serve reside in City Heights, El Cajon, North Park and Linda Vista.

RefugeeNet provides translation services for families at government agencies and job sites, medical, dental and hospital visits. We also offer social and educational services, including transportation and tutoring on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in City Heights, and assistance and advocacy at schools, legal hearings, government agencies and property owner meetings, help in completing forms and applications, connecting to available community services, and emergency assistance for those times when they don't know what to do. They call us. We assist refugees in understanding the laws and expectations of their new homeland and we provide basic living services. We gather and distribute household goods, furniture and clothing, food from food banks and donations to distribute on Tuesdays and Thursdays. +

Volunteers wanted to help people learn English, how to drive, how to take public transportation and walk the journey of life together. Contact Lisa Dumolt to lend a hand:

Learn more at

This article first appeared in the Diocesan Messenger, the official magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Natural Human Migration

Human beings and our ancestors have been migrating for millions of years, since long before we became Homo sapiens. Everyone reading this has ancestors who migrated out of Africa. The Americas were populated in repeated waves of migrants who came first from northeast Asia, either across the Bering land bridge or by small boat down the west coast, beginning some 15-20,000 years ago. Later influxes came from Europe beginning in the 15th and 16th centuries. Those were succeeded by colonists, slaves, deported convicts, soldiers, and people searching for a better life and/or fleeing oppression, war, and violence.

The biblical narrative is also filled with long journeys and migrations, beginning with Adam and Eve, refugees from Eden. Abram leaves Haran for Canaan; his descendants go down into Egypt; and Moses leads them out toward a land of promise. Later the Israelites are deported to Babylon, and Cyrus sets them free to return. God's own self migrates into human flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, and calls together a network of friends to become his body migrating and bearing good news across the globe.

This nation still struggles with the tension between immigrants and the original peoples of this land, often ignoring the serial migrations that have shaped its history. If we look back far enough, we might come to realize that the land is God's, and cannot ultimately belong to any of us. That understanding forms the base of the biblical injunction to love our neighbors, particularly the wayfarer, the sojourner, and the alien among us-for we are all sojourners on this earth. None of us leaves the planet alive, and we do not take the land to our graves-our graves take us back to the land.

While we walk this earth, we have the ability to bless those who walk this way with us. RefugeeNet is one way of blessing, offering welcome and the support of a community to the sojourners around us. Those who participate in that kind of community soon discover themselves blessed beyond imagining. Befriending the stranger and the newcomer expands our view, showing us novel faces of God. Even our understanding and worldview can migrate into new and unexpected possibilities-that's what it means to learn, or to repent and amend one's life.

We live in a society that's stirred up by fear of the other. The biblical command is to love the other, for each one bears the image of God. The Diocese of San Diego knows something about what it means to love fearlessly. We can practice that fearless love by embracing the foreigner or visitor in our midst, and expecting to entertain an angel, bringing us the good news of God's abiding love for all. Learn more about the ministry of RefugeeNet here:

The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori 
 This article first appeared in the Diocesan Messenger, the official magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

There is God in Those Hills

Hello everyone! My name is Alex Nelepovitz and I’m a new parishioner here at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I’ve only been around for about three months but it’s already been an incredible experience. From the beautiful services to the joy to the Pride, there has been so many things about this new life of faith I thought was cut off from me that is now so beautiful and so important in my life.

A lot of those experiences have been so unbelievably incredible because of the 20s and 30s group. I didn’t think I’d bond so fast and so fully with a group of people like this, not after the years of distance I felt growing up Catholic and drummed into bible camps and church getaways. Those were more like requirements and chores. The retreat that took place last month with the St. Paul’s group? The furthest from it. This was a Joy.

Waking up bright and early Saturday morning, I drove from my parents' house to Bookstar where I bought my first personal bible with my own money. We have a family bible, being half-decent semi-Catholics…but it is both massive and the KJV. I wanted the NIV translation, with clearer language and something closer to the original Greek. Because I did my research. After getting my customary roadtrip Starbucks, off I went.

The drive was an hour and change due east, where even with the A/C on full blast, I could see the heat wave affecting the world around the car like a consistent pressure. Eventually I made it to the designated address. Hazelruth, group leader, had followed me in past the gate separating the mountain community from the small town below it. We unpacked her car, full of lasagna and goodies and got into the house.

And what a house.

Expansive and meticulously maintained, the home was clearly well-loved and well-cared for. Hazelruth and I found a note on the floating bar wishing us well and blessings on our retreat. Apparently, the owners weren’t going to rent for just one night, keeping to a sensible minimum of two nights. That is, until he heard we were a church group. After that, they were open and willing to just the one. What a blessing!

Slowly people started to trickle in. Chris and Jairus, ever the ultimate hosts, brought food, drink and fixings galore, stocking the fridge with both Lagunitas and La Croix, depending on one’s needs.

As the early afternoon turned to late afternoon, David Tremaine explained the first part of our weekend. Around the house, he had set up different stations that explained and demonstrated a faith tradition or means of prayer. There was a station explaining the Labrynth, sound prayer… and out on the balcony, overlooking the lake, lay prayer beads, perfectly set to contemplate the wonder of God.

David continued the contemplative bent by introducing a style of reading the Bible I had not done before. He read a passage, then asked us each to say a word or phrase that jumped out to us. After that, he read the same passage again, asking us to connect something new… and then read a third time, followed by a moment of silence as we thought through the passage with both our own growing feedback and those of the others. What followed was an incredible deep dive by us all into what the passages meant to us, how we related, the context within which Christ operated and how that context still matters. We went through that exercise twice, diving into the Word as It spoke, was read and was written all at once.

We closed that part of study off with prayer and David left to return to his family. We kept talking and connecting through the night. A majority of us were LGBT+ so that colored many of our discussions, as it colored our experiences with faith and the Church. The night capped off with a card game that took Cards Against Humanity and melded it in unholy union with the Bible. What a riot!

The next day was breakfast, where we talked at length about what the 20s and 30s group would look like, what it would do and be. We prayed, talked, ate, laughed, all overlooking the scenery of mountains and a lake. It was magical.

After we packed up and cleaned the house, some of us went on a hike. Some went home as real life was waiting. Those of us on the hike talked more about what the group could be, our experiences with faith, our pets and dating/marriage as young, sometimes queer, Christians. You know, the usual.

The retreat brought us all together, those who knew St. Pauls and those of us still learning but from it came our new weekly schedule, a style of devotional reading I still make a part of my daily routine and true, deep friendships.

Alex Nelepovitz

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Year-Round Stewardship at St. Paul's

Stewardship has gotten a bad reputation in the church: it has come to mean fundraising.  That is unfortunate because stewardship is not at all about fundraising (although the annual fall campaign certainly raises funds for the church).  My favorite definition of stewardship is this “doing all that we can, with all that we have, all of the time.”

What is a steward anyway?  A steward of old did not own the resources s/he managed.  S/he managed the resources on behalf of another.  Wise stewardship was to care for those resources in ways that honored the one who owned them.  If we are each stewards, what might that mean for us?  If we together are stewards of our collective resources as a congregation, what might that mean for us as St. Paul’s?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


At once profound, casual, cozy and creatively playful  a shop in which we express the sheer delight of physical mobility and the joy of moving and growing together. This is not a typical dance class of routines and dance steps imposed upon the body.  Here, the format and the content of our learning environment perpetually changes itself to meet the ever growing needs of its participants. We can describe this workshop more with metaphoric phrases like 'meditation in motion', ‘yoga on the go’, ‘tai chi on tap’ and ‘ballet ala belly', to  point to the flexibility,  flow and the synergistic nature of its dimensions.

Inspired by each other and with the help of our mentor we exercise our creativity to make not only functional moves but also aesthetically pleasing ones best suited for and intrinsically arising from our unique anatomical/physiological makeup. Then delightfully challenge ourselves to extend and perfect our moves through controlled spontaneity and integrated breathing, progressively upgrading our moves for flexibility, strength, balance and coordination, resulting in ease and flow, not only in our dance, but in all our daily movements. Likewise our creative work in making personal dances will spill over into other areas of life including all artistic media. Actors and singers may find this of special interest as we work with the voice as an integrated part of the full body mobility. Rhythmic breathing is the creative link between voice and movement, both generated by the moving parts of the same dancing body.

We celebrate the fact and the miracle of the body as the temple for spirit and marvel at the ever changing relationship of its parts as we move. Observing the working of the body in this way, we realize that we are not a body having a soul but a more ethereal being with body as its physical manifestation. We learn about deep breathing and the energy fields surrounding and within the body as the link between our physical and spiritual dimensions.

We turn all competition into compassion, cooperation, company and kindness as we work and play in the party of together-ship; giving and receiving help freely to overcome blocks and release our stale habitual movement patterns in order to reveal our inherently fresh mobility potential.  Each of us will be growing at our own level and pace and through our common work, we develop a sense of fellowship and community as the nurturing canopy supporting and sustaining all of us.

Your guide for this extraordinary tour through the kinesthetic landscape  will be Darius, a dancer and dance maker who has been active in choreography, performance, improvisation, lecturing and education of dance for over a half of century. He has conducted numerous workshops, conceived and performed hundreds of concerts, in solo and in collaboration with other artists. He taught dance at USC while completing his doctoral work in movement arts and physical education (1974) and is former professor of dance at Tufts University in Boston. He also happens to be a mathematician (Cal Poly University 1968), a philosopher and a transcendental poet. He publishes his writings and visions directly through the public performance of aesthetic movement and sung poetic words. And last but not least Darius is a gypsy who during the last 40 years has traveled, lived and performed all over the globe. He has adopted a nomadic style of life in his search for simplicity in order to have more space and time to continue his pilgrimage to divinity. This offering is a part of that yearning deep in the core of his being.

Session 1 is offered free of charge, on Friday's 7:15-8:45 pm from Sept.14 thru Oct. 5, 2018 in the Great Hall of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The only price of the enrollment is your devotion to your own personal advancement in mobility and a dedication to our communal growth. It is open to all regardless of physical ability. Novices and professional dancers, young and old can inspire and grow alongside each other. Physical health and graceful aging for all will be one benefit of our work. If the spirit calls you to join please feel that you’ll be welcome. Also welcome will be media artists who like to perform their art (music painting, poetry, sculpture...…) inspired by the dancers who, in turn, will be inspired by their creative output.

Dance Workshop, mentored by Darius Mozafarian, begins September 14: Fridays 7:15-8:45 pm in the Great Hall. Free of charge, open to all.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Sunday Sermon: Bread from Heaven

For four weeks now we have been hearing about Jesus and bread. He fed the multitude with bread and fish. He spoke of manna in the wilderness as bread from heaven. He said, ¨I am the Bread of Life¨. And now he says, ¨I am the living bread that came down from heaven ... Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them.¨

The Gospel has drawn a straight line for us from the miraculous feeding of the hungry crowds to the Eucharist. Maybe it´s time for us to reflect on the Eucharist, that bread from heaven that we consume every Sunday, especially as our weekly forums are leading us through an instructed Eucharist.

Most of us here are in the privileged position of not having to think too hard about what we eat. Oh, we plan meals and we follow recipes; we make lists and choose one grocery store over another because of cost or quality or variety; but our food is readily available to us, on shelves or in refrigerators. We don’t have to worry about whether the crops will get enough rain or whether our livestock will be attacked by disease or predators. We don’t have to spend hours weeding or milking or hunting. Most of the time we have no idea where our food comes from. We don’t know who sowed the seed, who harvested the grain, who slaughtered the animals, who drove the trucks across the country, who prepared and packaged it.

Did you know that the average journey of food in the United States from farm to table is some 2000 miles? I did a little research the other day into our Communion wafers. They are made of nothing but whole wheat flour and water, literally untouched by human hand according to the manufacturer’s website, and they come to us from Greenville, Rhode Island, that’s about 2500 miles from San Diego. Our bread from heaven is actually bread from New England. And who knows where the wheat was grown.

I remember a February years ago when I was at a conference in Connecticut and a blizzard was coming. It was the day before Valentine’s Day and the chef had planned special treats, so he stayed over and even though we were snowed in we got chocolate and fresh raspberries for our Valentines feast. I remember how incongruous it seemed to eat raspberries, a quintessential summer fruit, on a snowy February day. They had probably come from Chile, a much longer journey than our communion wafers. It felt wrong to indulge ourselves at such a high carbon cost.

The practice of eating together is a sacred one. Hospitality, the first virtue, requires that we offer guests something to eat and drink, as Abraham and Sarah once offered their angelic guests food and drink, and were consequently blessed with Isaac. When we eat together we create community, family, friends. Our life celebrations and holidays are focused on food: marriage, Thanksgiving, funeral receptions. The traditional church potluck allows people to share the fruits of their labors as they come together, and echoes the words of the Didache, a first-century Eucharistic prayer: “As this broken bread was scattered over the mountains, and when brought together became one, so let your Church be brought together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom.” When we eat together we make Church happen.

The forums this month walk us through the process of the Eucharist, allowing us to see the shape of the liturgy. That shape is not an accident. We enter the near presence of God with songs of praise. We hear the word of God, first through the prophets and apostles and then through Jesus himself in the Gospel. We contemplate that word, guided by the preacher who has hopefully applied some level of theological education and study to the sermon, opening up the word through personal interpretation so that we too can find our own way of receiving that word. We pray for ourselves and for others. We confess our sins and once assured of God´s forgiveness we can offer one another the reconciling Peace of God.

The first part of the Eucharistic prayer reminds us of the great history of salvation, from creation to the resurrection of Jesus and on to his second coming.. The sacrament that follows carries meaning only because of what has come before. We can receive the bread of life, the flesh and blood of Jesus, because we have heard his words, practiced reconciliation, and prepared ourselves for union with him. Only then can we possibly expect to become the body of Christ in the world. At the end of the service the deacon sends us forth to be companions for one another - a word that literally means those who eat bread together.

One of our forums several months ago focused on our food supply and touched on the ethical and physical challenges of a meat-based diet. That talk has stayed with me, to the extent that I now eat less meat and I think more about where the meat came from and how the animal was raised. What we put in our bodies matters, because it becomes us and has an effect on our lives.

Just as the food we eat changes us, so the heavenly food that we eat changes us too. We receive the Eucharist believing it in some way to be the flesh and blood of Jesus, and it changes us. It changes us individually and it changes us corporately. As one writer puts it, “We eat Jesus as the bread of life so that he can enter into us, transform us from within, so we can perform in the world the healing, nurturing ministries he makes possible. Jesus has become our food so we can be a source of nurture for others.” Norman Wirzba “God the Gardener” in Yale Divinity School’s Reflections Fall, 2014.

One of our most beloved prayers asks God to give us this day our daily bread. This isn’t just asking for a regular supply of nourishment: this is asking for the bread from heaven to be always available to us. How does Jesus become our daily bread? Not only through the Eucharist, but also through our life as the body of Christ, living in community. We need to absorb Jesus every day, let his words soak into our souls, hear his voice in everyone we meet, encounter every mouthful as a sacrament, so that we become Christ´s presence in the world. We are transformed not at a cellular level but, if you’ll forgive the wordplay, at a soulular level. We are to chew on him, to gulp down his teaching - the choice of words in the original language of the Gospel conveys this earthiness. He is as close to us as the slice of bread at the breakfast table. It is no accident that Jesus chose the most basic food source, ordinary bread, as the primary vehicle through which we receive him.

Some theologians insist that the Eucharist is valid only when wheat is used to make the Host. In fact, the website for our communion wafer supplier has a disclaimer in the description of their gluten-free option: “it is considered invalid material for the Catholic Mass”. We Episcopalians have a different take: just as Jesus used the most ordinary, most readily available materials, so Christians in different parts of the world can use whatever comes to hand for the Eucharist. And if wheat makes you sick, it’s OK to substitute something else, because our God is a loving God who doesn’t want anyone to suffer, especially not at the hands of the church. One of the most horrifying aspects of the clergy child abuse tragedy is that the abuse was perpetrated by hands consecrated to bless and heal, hands ordained to administer the sacrament that more than anything else proves God’s endless, unconditional, life-giving and liberating love for all of God’s children.

It is that love that forms the basis of all life. Whether it’s our daily bread on the dinner table, or our symbolic bread at the Communion rail, God’s love gives us all we need to live in fullness and abundance. And there is enough to go round. There is no reason for anyone to go hungry in this world, if only we make the commitment to share what we have with those who have less. The really miraculous thing about love is that the more you share it, the more you have to give away, just like the loaves and fishes that turned into baskets and baskets of food.

Just as the Gospel centers on bread from heaven, so our life in Christ begins and is renewed with that bread. In our darkest moments, the Eucharist will shine a light to lead us back from death to life. When my husband died, my church celebrated his life with a beautiful Requiem. My sons and I had discussed whether to include the Eucharist, given that my husband was not a communicant. My sons allowed my wishes to prevail and we had a Communion service. But it wasn’t until I was kneeling at the rail and first one, then the other son knelt beside me that I knew we would be OK. Jesus says, “The one who eats this bread will live.” So come, you who have much faith and you who have little; you who have tried to follow and all of us who have failed: come to the table, not because the church invites you: it is Jesus, the bread from heaven, who calls you to taste and see just how good our loving, life-giving, liberating God can be.


August 19, 2018
The Very Rev. Penelope Bridges

Why do we celebrate the Eucharist? For all the reasons Dom Gregory Dix enumerates, in his classic work The Shape of the Liturgy.

“Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacle of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetich because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so wounded and prisoner of war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonisation of S. Joan of Arc—one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei—the holy common people of God.”

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Does St. Paul's Have A Lot Of Clergy On Staff?

Dear St. Paul’s family,

From time to time someone makes a comment that makes me realize that they think we have a lot of clergy on staff. When you see all those priests in the procession on Sunday, it’s easy to assume that they are all on staff, and you probably wonder about all the other people in robes up there. How can we possibly afford all those people? The answer is that we can’t and we don’t. The clergy on staff are myself, Jeff Martinhauk, and Brooks Mason full time and Carlos Exposito for about 15 hours a week.

We are blessed to have a large contingent (more than 20) of clergy retired from tenured positions in the cathedral congregation. Some choose to sit in the pews; others are willing to assist with worship out of the goodness of their hearts, and I am deeply grateful for their ministry. Our retired colleagues carry the main burden of the weekday Eucharist services and much of our pastoral care. If you wonder why we don’t hear more sermons from them, consider that a typical sermon of 10-12 minutes can take up to 10 hours to prepare. Being retired ideally means doing only those things you enjoy doing, and after laboring for decades over weekly sermons, many retired clergy are happy to leave that task to those of us still earning a salary. When you have an opportunity, please thank our assisting clergy for the ministry they offer so generously.

There are a lot of other people around the altar on Sunday mornings: all our lay altar servers and vergers are volunteers, and many of the choir members are too. We have about 8 professional section leaders in the Sunday morning choir, and their gifts are a major contributor to the excellence and beauty of our liturgy. Cathedral singers could earn more elsewhere but they choose to sing at St. Paul’s because Martin Green is such an outstanding choir director and liturgical musician. We are blessed to have Martin as a full-time employee and Gabriel Arregui on a very part-time basis: the music ministry they lead is much more extensive than anyone should reasonably expect from such a small staff.

Your sister in Christ,


See our previous post for a field guide to who's who in the processional.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Latest On Our Cathedral Campus Redevelopment Project

Dear St. Paul’s family,

Following up on last week’s presentation to the Uptown Community Planning Group (which expressed conditional support for the project but dislikes the building height), here’s the latest on our Cathedral Campus Redevelopment Project.

The City’s Development Services Department is well into the technical review process for the building design. Review of the environmental analysis is under way.

Our next public hearing will be before the Planning Commission no earlier than late October but more likely some time in November. We will need your presence and support at this meeting! After a waiting period to allow for possible challenges, approval will hopefully take place some time between November and April. We should close on the land sale 30 days after approval.

Greystar and architects from JWDA continue to work on the building design with a goal of submitting for a building permit in October. Construction won’t start until at least six months after application for the permit.

Greystar is also currently working on a set of pedestrian circulation diagrams indicating how Cathedral staff, congregation, and visitors will safely navigate the campus during the various phases of demolition and construction.

We care deeply about the welfare of Park Chateau tenants and we expect to be able to give 60-90 days notice to vacate. At this point we don’t know if the timing will be tied to the closing or to the beginning of construction. The Greystar team has been very understanding of our pastoral concerns in this respect.

The LLC is currently reviewing various easements and the condominium declaration that will define the relationship between the Cathedral and the residential building after completion: our approval is required before the project can proceed.

Cathedral staff are developing an initial list of desired room spaces and sizes for our architect at Studio E to use in conversations about infrastructure design with Greystar: this will be refined as the cathedral community discerns the shape of our future ministry. Studio E is also helping us make plans to adapt our existing space for the construction period. A major component of this adaptation will be the replacement of our old elevator. The LLC has set aside funds from previous transactions to pay for this work.

As a reminder, the land being sold is owned by Nutmeg & Olive LLC, a corporation created by Chapter for this purpose and consisting of five managers: Ken Tranbarger, Kendall Squires, the Dean, Mark Lester, and Jim Greer. If you would like more information about the project, please contact Mark Lester at or see the FAQs.

Please keep the LLC in your prayers as we navigate this complex process towards a brighter future for our mission and ministry.

Your sister in Christ,


Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Farewell Letter From Parishioner Jon F. Finley

Dear Friends at St. Paul’s Cathedral,

I want to express my sincere love for you, and deep gratitude for the ways you have welcomed me, nurtured me and loved me over the past ten years. When I came to St. Paul’s Cathedral I didn’t know I could be accepted as a gay man in a Christian community, and you have showed me that acceptance. You have loved me unconditionally, and I thank you!

I have struggled with health issues over the years, steadily declining in recent months. I never intended to leave this beautiful corner of the country, but the time has come for me to return home to Atlanta, Georgia. I am following the path laid out for me, and trusting that God will lead me home. I wish for you, the people of St. Paul’s Cathedral, to know that you have touched my life in ways I will never forget.

The most important thing about life is to leave this world better than you found it. You have done that, my friends. Through your care and support, you have taught me to love myself. You will always be an infinite source of strength and love for me, especially as I make this last journey home.

Each one of you has left an imprint on my heart. You have given my life love, support and friendship. I have been lucky to walk this way with you. I am grateful and I am at peace. And I wish you all the most happiness, love and joy that life can offer to each of you.

All my love,

Jon F. Finley

Friday, August 10, 2018

Introducing... Financial Peace University

Dear ones,

Financial stewardship isn't just wishful thinking.  It requires planning, education, and knowledge about money.  As my own children grow up I am learning more and more that many of the financial literacy skills that are important to flourish in the world today are not taught to us in any one place-- either for me as they leave for college, for them as they learn to manage their money, or for my own future as I think about retirement.  How much should I be saving?  How much insurance do I need?  Am I spending too much? What is the right amount to be giving away when my budget is tight?

Financial literacy in the secular world can offer those tools, but integrating our financial practices with our faith and beliefs is an important part of discipleship.  In the past, I understand that St. Paul's has offered "Living Wi$ely" with my predecessor, Chris Harris, as one of the tools for us as a congregation to deepen these financial stewardship skills.

I wish we could offer that again!  It sounded like a wonderful and popular program.  Unfortunately, those materials were lost when our server crashed last year.  I contacted Chris to see if he had a copy, but unfortunately it is not possible to recreate that curriculum at this time.

When we learned we do not have a course available, our wonderful Stewardship committee went to work.  We explored the idea of developing a replacement for Living Wi$ely or finding a replacement that someone else had already made.  I had heard some of my colleagues talk about a program called "Financial Peace University" by radio show host Dave Ramsey.

Financial Peace University is a faith-based financial literacy program that helps its participants develop a solid plan for their financial future based on their faith and beliefs.  It consists of videos, workbooks, and group discussions. They claim very successful transformation within three months of completion of the program, with exponential increase in savings, decrease in debt, and change in spending habits.

The Stewardship Committee's one reservation with recommending this option is that it is not a free class.  Financial Peace University costs $109 per family, and we serve as host and facilitators but the other organization provides the course content.

We considered this very carefully, leery because the Church does not usually charge for Formation (although a secular course of this quality might certainly cost a comparable amount).  We reviewed the course material and decided we would try it this fall, making scholarships available to assist those who would like to take the class but are unable to afford enrollment.

We found that the class was engaging, helpful, and even I- a CPA with a background in estate and probate tax- had some "a-ha"moments for my own financial planning! It teaches the essentials while staying true to our faith.  For that, the committee felt like the congregation might want an opportunity to participate in developing these essential stewardship skills together.

For those reasons, I hope you will consider joining Pat Kreder and I this fall for Financial Peace University.  You may sign up here.

Please do let me know your thoughts, questions, and concerns.


The Rev. Canon Jeff Martinhauk,
Canon for Congregational Life

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Space ... The Final Frontier?

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

Space ... the final frontier?

Our usable space at St. Paul’s is going to go through some major changes over the next 3-5 years. Currently, most staff offices are in the administration building along with our midsize meeting room, the Guild Room. The Great Hall building houses three staff offices (accounts dept and facilities manager) on the ground floor and two (director of liturgy and a room shared by three part-time staff) on the second floor. The chapel undercroft houses one staff office (music). Since the audiovisual control room displaced the music office, we are looking at moving the choir room to the chapel undercroft, where it will be close to both the music office and the vesting rooms.

Some time next year we will close on the sale of land and we will vacate the administration building. The five staff members currently located there will move to the ground floor of the Great Hall, and the present choir room will become a partial replacement for the Guild Room. During construction the Great Hall will be heavily used for gatherings. It will be a tight fit, but with current staffing we can make it work.

When construction of the new building is completed we will have approximately 2 1/2 times the square footage of the present Administration building. What luxury! Think of four zones: Zone 1, on the eastern wing of the first floor facing Balboa Park; Zone 2, on the western wing of the first floor facing Olive Street and Fifth Avenue; Zone 3, on the second floor, housing staff offices and reception; and Zone 4, the existing buildings with rooms that will be freed up for new uses (imagine a music suite under the Great Hall, and./or an outreach center in the chapel undercroft!). We hope to configure the new spaces as flexibly as possible, always keeping in mind how they can best be used for our mission and ministry while being both safe and accessible. The developer, Greystar, is anxious for us to define the infrastructure so they can build accordingly, and it is time for us to discern how God is calling us to use our space.

I am calling together a task force to advise Chapter on the best uses for the space. The task force will be divided into three groups: a ministries group to agree on the kinds of ministries most needed by our neighbors and our own congregation; a buildings and grounds group to determine logistical needs (such as desirable square footage or plumbing) and limitations (such as our Condo Declarations and zoning); and a steering group, working with Chapter and staff to make decisions and commitments based on the work done by the other two groups.

If you feel called to participate in this exciting project, which will influence the focus of our mission and ministry for years to come, please let me know by August 25.

Your sister in Christ,

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Sunday Sermon: The Way of Love

“Every cloud has a silver lining. That test was a piece of cake. Don´t worry, I was only pulling your leg.” What do these phrases have in common? They are all idioms, phrases that mean something different from what the individual words say and that would not make sense if translated into another language word for word. This week my Spanish homework is to learn about Spanish idioms. I think it´s one of the hardest things about becoming fluent in a language. In order to grasp an idea you have to step back from the actual words and get the general sense. It´s a bit like understanding metaphors or parables, and it´s something that I think we human beings are uniquely able to do, making a jump from literal words to phrase or story or meaning. But we don’t always make that jump easily.

The prophet Nathan tells King David a parable, and like so many Biblical parables, it´s a trap: a lesson taught slantwise, that sneaks a message into the listener´s consciousness by being indirect, a trap that Nathan springs as soon as David expresses appropriate outrage at the obvious injustice. A poor man´s ewe lamb is the metaphor for a woman whom David saw, desired, and conspired to obtain. “You are the man,” thunders Nathan, as he confronts David with the depth of his own depravity. There’s a whole other sermon here, about the objectification of a woman as property, about the abuse of power, about corruption in high places, but that will have to wait for another day.

In the Gospel, Jesus has fed the hungry crowds, and they follow him everywhere in the hopes of getting another free meal. But when he starts talking about the food that endures for eternal life, about bread from heaven, they are baffled. They don’t understand that the bread he is talking about isn’t made from flour, water, and yeast. They can’t make the jump to the metaphor.

In both cases, King David’s lust and the Gospel crowd’s hunger, short-term appetites rule. The people are focused on what is right in front of them and how they can get more of it, rather than taking a step back and considering the long term. David has Uriah killed so that he can possess Bathsheba. The action destroys his credibility as king and sets him and his family on a path of internal conflict, power struggles, and tragedy. The Gospel crowd fails to understand the loaves and fishes as a sign of the covenant relationship between God and God’s people. A little bit later in this same chapter John tells us that many of the disciples left Jesus after this episode, because his teaching was too hard. Once the free food ran out, they weren’t interested any more.

I remember an incident, years ago in another state, when I was at the grocery store and I bumped into a parishioner I hadn’t seen in several months. When I greeted him and asked how he had been, he told me that the church had been great while he and his family were going through a difficult time. Once they resolved their difficulties they no longer needed the support of the church, so they were just doing other things with their time now. Their short-term need was satisfied, and they didn’t look any further for what else the church might be able to offer, or for what they might be able to give back. I had evidently failed to teach them what being church really means.

In contrast, I can point to any number of people here who have stuck to the church through thick and thin, who have built deep and strong relationships, who have appropriately leaned on the loving support of this community through incredibly hard times and have continued to be a part of the community for each other when joyful times returned. The Young family is a great example, as we prepare today to baptize little Dominic.

Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” What does that mean? John’s Gospel is full of stories where people misunderstand Jesus. The woman at the well doesn’t get the metaphor of living water. The scholar Nicodemus doesn’t understand what it means to be born again. We use both of those images in our Baptismal service, describing how we are reborn by the Holy Spirit through the water of baptism into everlasting life. Similarly, we receive the bread of the Eucharist as the body of Christ, a heavenly food that becomes the bread of life for us in a way that we cannot understand.

Biblical language is idiomatic. The individual words often add up to something much more than their grammatical sum. Jesus repeatedly tries to point his listeners to something beyond their short-term needs and appetites. And sometimes it’s hard to understand what he’s getting at. Sometimes we get stuck in the details, trying to parse out a word or a phrase without regard for the bigger context, the overarching meaning. We have to take a step or two back and consider the big picture, the overall message of this God who longs to be in communion with us.

Most of us here today will never know true physical hunger. We generally have the means and opportunity to eat whenever we feel like it. But what about spiritual hunger? When we pray ¨Give us this day our daily bread”, we are asking God to take care of our daily needs, yes, but we are also asking for bread from heaven, we are asking God to satisfy a different kind of hunger, the hunger for meaning, for love, for community, because in Scripture bread never just means bread.

The world we live in demands our attention on the short-term, on the here and now. We are exhorted to get “your best life now”, or to expect instant results from a diet plan or whitening toothpaste. And we are all too familiar with the terrible consequences to our planet and our health of such short-term thinking. But there is another way to live, a way that is healthier and in the end much more satisfying. It’s a way of looking beyond the short-term and the literal. It’s the way of patiently planting seeds, of holding out a vision, of persisting, the way of love. This is the work of God and we are invited to participate in it.

This morning we will welcome a child into the household of God through baptism. We will invite him to confess the faith of Christ crucified, to proclaim Christ’s resurrection, and to share with us in Christ’s eternal priesthood. What kind of community will this congregation be for little Dominic? v The crowd asks Jesus, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answers that the love he offers is the basis for the work we do as his people. He offers a new way to live. To live as if we have everything that we need, because we do. To live as if every human being matters, because she does. To live as if love is the strongest force in the universe, because it is. To live and work for reconciliation, truth, healing, and generosity. To live in gratitude for the abundance that we receive and in trust that this abundance will continue, because everything we have comes from God who is the source of love and life.

Paul´s teaching to the Ephesians gives us more pointers on the works of God, with his language of unity, that is also reflected in our baptismal service. One body, one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. We are one. The church’s mission is to bring people together, to help us grow as a body into the full image of God, the full stature of Christ. We do not exist independently of each other. We are all different, with unique gifts and callings, we don’t always agree with each other, but together we form the body of Christ and are called to “grow up in every way into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” That is the way that Jesus shows us, the way that gives life to the world, the way, in every sense that matters, of love.

August 5 2018
The Very Rev. Penelope Bridges