Thursday, July 18, 2019

John Peeling Choir Memories

Dear St. Paul’s family,

One of our core ministries is that of music, and we are justifiably proud of our choirs. Here are some reflections on being a chorister from John Peeling, who has sung in our choir since 1963.

When I was a young child we lived in an apartment right across the street from the old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church building, which had been moved to San Diego State College campus.  We attended services there while I was in first and second grades.  I was in the first Sunday school class when the church transitioned into St. Dunstan’s Church.  I also took keyboard lessons there, I’m told, on the organ. Later in my childhood I participated in some plays which were presented in the Parish Hall (now the Great Hall) of St. Paul’s.

When I was in college at San Diego State, I applied to St. Paul’s for a paid chorister position and was hired, along with a couple of my classmates, under the direction of Larry King. Right off the bat, I recognized the high quality of music St. Paul’s was providing, and it was my joy to be part of such a fine group.  My (then) wife and I sang also in the mixed Parish Choir along with a number of other young couples.  The younger members (about 20 or so) of the mixed choir even participated in some young adult choir festivals, so young was our average age.

About the time our fourth choir director and organist, Edgar Billups, arrived, he reorganized the girls’ choir into a choir of girls and men, replicating that of the boys and men.  My daughters Kathy and Becky were just at the right age to join and both sang until they graduated from high school.  Later, my youngest brother’s children, Matthew, Bethany, and Sarah sang for a number of years with the choirs even though they were Lutherans. 

When my father died in 1986, I suggested to my mother Maria that she join the St. Paul’s adult choir and transfer her membership from All Souls. Mother sang with us for about 20 years, including making the trip to Washington DC to sing for Dean John Chane’s installation as Bishop there. 

When my daughter Becky and her husband moved back to San Diego, both of their children, Meredith and John, joined the choirs at St. Paul’s.  Meredith sang with the St Cecilia choir of girls and men until she graduated from high school, and she now sings in the adult Cathedral Choir.  John sang treble with the Choristers of boys and men until his voice changed; then he transferred over to the men’s section and also joined the adult Cathedral Choir. 
So, all in all, it’s ten singers from our family, representing four generations, in the last 56 years since I joined the choirs in 1963, and an even longer connection to St. Paul’s.

Thanks be to God for the faithfulness of the Peeling family and their wonderful contribution to the beauty of our worship.

Your sister in Christ


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Construction Update July 17

Regular Wednesday Construction Updates

Site Logistics Plan review:
  • Reviewed pathways and exits for upcoming work.
  • Breezeway pathway from 5th Ave Queen’s Courtyard will continue to be main entry to building.  New signs were installed for directions and advice that we have no ADA access currently.
  • Olive St. parking lot will be available (the 2/3rds of the lot) again this week into next week.  There are signs directing people to enter at the 5th Ave Queen’s Courtyard to access building.
  • There will be an emergency exit rough pathway out the 6th Ave courtyard for this weekend’s services.  It will be for emergency use only, not regular congregant use.

General info:
  • Permit progress: still in a holding pattern, meeting next Tuesday with the city, so hopefully we will be able to get the permits needed so we can proceed with work.
  • Queen’s Courtyard construction for chair lift will start next week.  The barricades will go in and the congregation will have another area of construction that they will be seeing up close.
  • Progress on the trenching of the 6th Ave courtyard and pathways is going well.  They are doing the most amount of work possible prior to receiving the permits.  The inspection dates may or may not need to be delayed.  This is still TBD based on the permits.
  • Work in the Kitchen ceiling will begin next week.  Review of kitchen use schedule on Wednesdays will be accommodated so SPC can use the kitchen for Formation and CYF programming. There will also be a funeral and reception on Monday 7/22 so they will clear out of the kitchen by 1:30p.
  • The work on Nutmeg is progressing.
  • The Park Chateau removal of debris continues.
  • Relocation of the mailbox was discussed.  It was determined that we’ll need to speak to the mail carrier to find out what replacement spot is appropriate and how to proceed with the move out of the Olive St. parking lot entryway.  Kathleen will be contacting the USPS to review details further.
  • The work for the transformer pad will begin Thursday 7/18/19.  This will affect the Clergy parking lot so SPC will not use the lot until Greystar completes the work they need to in that area.
  • The return of the Kitchen emergency exit at the Northeastern corner of the Great Hall will be available for use again as of Monday 7/22.  Currently it is unavailable because of the Park Chateau demolition.
  • Kathleen advised the following updates:

    • There is a date of 8/12 to move the Admin offices to the basement.  If there is a tech delay in cabling the offices for the internet and new phone system, the backup move date is 8/29 due to vacation schedules.
    • Bay Alarm switch over from Admin building hub to other hubs around campus for both alarm system and fire system begin this week and will last about 2 weeks.  Rocky would like to meet with them as well when they arrive today.
    • JDS Security is responsibly for moving or changing any of the security entry systems that we currently have installed when Greystar makes changes to the elevator lobby/office entrance.
    • We’re interested in calling in Habitat for Humanity to see if they would like to salvage anything from the Admin building once it is vacant.  Greystar supports this and would just need a date for when they would want to come in to get things.  Kathleen will follow up on it. 
    • A new communication board is being created for display at coffee hour for the congregation with weekly updated information.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Endowment Introduction

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

One of the responsibilities of Chapter is to ensure faithful stewardship of our financial resources. Treasurer Betsey Monsell offers an introduction to our Enduring Gifts funds.

As we celebrate our 150th anniversary this year, we remember those who have left lasting legacies to St Paul’s Cathedral Enduring Gifts (endowment funds) so that our ministries could continue into the future in perpetuity.  Donors have come from all walks of life — schoolteachers, nurses and business leaders.  St Paul’s Enduring Gifts have grown to $2.7 million as of May, 2019.  (Funds held by the LLC which recently sold part of the cathedral campus are not addressed in this letter). The funds are invested for the long-term in a portfolio of stocks and fixed-income securities designed to generate growth and income.  The funds are overseen by the Endowment Committee chartered by Chapter.  While the principal must remain invested in perpetuity, the Cathedral may draw down income annually calculated as 5% of assets. In 2019, the endowment funds generated $120,000 to support ministries at the Cathedral, an essential supplement to pledged donations, along with income from the LLC invested funds.

Bernard W. McKenzie started St Paul’s endowment fund in 1921 with a gift of $5,000 for the sick & disabled of St Paul’s Parish.  This was followed by a bequest of 200 shares of stock in his company, the Western Metal Supply Company, in 1924 to create the McKenzie Humanitarian Fund to care for the poor and sick of the Parish. Today, almost 100 years later, the McKenzie endowments have grown to $379,000 and provide $20,000 annually for our outreach ministries!

St Paul’s is not BW McKenzie’s only legacy.  Next time you’re at Petco Park, look for The Western Metal Supply Company building which has been preserved for posterity as an historical building.

General Operations
Some donors have left endowments for general purposes.  This provides the most flexibility for future Chapters to fund our needs.  Cathy Hopper left $363,325 to the Cathedral in 2009 which provides almost $20,000 income annually.  She left an equally generous legacy to Vida Joven children’s orphanage in Tijuana.

Cathy was trained as a teacher and rose through the ranks to become one of only two women high school principals in San Diego at the time and finally assistant superintendent of operations for the school district. Cathy was a dynamic, loving force at St. Paul’s Cathedral. She served as the People’s warden and member of the stewardship, hospitality and finance committees. She was often the first to greet visitors and newcomers to the cathedral.

Our newest endowment fund is the Music Endowment to support St Paul’s glorious music ministry.  Monies given by several current parishioners and an endowment from Mary McBride initiated this fund earlier this year, with a current balance of $151,800.

Leave Your Own Legacy for the Future to St Paul’s Cathedral
Pledges and other recurring income cover only two-thirds of the Cathedral’s annual expenses.  Leaving a legacy to St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the best ways to supplement the Cathedral’s income and help ensure the Cathedral can continue as the spiritual heart of San Diego for generations to come.  Think about endowing your pledge: bequeath 20 or 25 times your annual pledge, so that an annual draw of 4 or 5% will replace your current pledge after you are gone. If you are interested in how you can leave a legacy, please contact the Rev. Canon Jeff Martinhauk at 619.298.7261 or

Your sister in Christ,


Construction Update July 10

Reviewed the following:

  • Site Logistics Plan review:
    • Reviewed pathways and exits for upcoming work.
    • Guild Room pathway will begin being utilized in the next week.
    • Olive St. parking lot will be available but during business hours might be needed for the trucks for hauling the debris out as well. The trucks will be gone by late afternoon and not here on weekends, so the lot will be partially available, for now.
    • Start of cutting into walkway in front of elevator lobby and between breezeway and parking lot entrance. A bridge will be installed for access to the downstairs offices.

  • General info:
    • Permit progress: still in a holding pattern, meeting next Tuesday with the city, so hopefully we will be able to get the permits needed so we can proceed with work.
    • Queen’s Courtyard construction for chair lift will need to wait for the permit.
    • Water shut off in the future will be better communicated with the SPC team.
    • The work on Nutmeg is progressing.
    • The Park Chateau removal of debris will take about one week.
    • At about noon on Wednesday, SDGE hit a gas line while doing the construction work on Nutmeg St. The Cathedral and Chapel were cleared of people for safety at the instruction of the SD Fire Dept. At 3pm the gas was able to be turned off and after testing by SDGE the Cathedral was cleared for use. The Light Up the Cathedral for Pride event was able to proceed without interruption from the accident.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

B&G Introduction

Dear St. Paul’s family,

Chapter recently chartered a Buildings & Grounds Committee (“B&G,”) as one of the standing committees of the Cathedral. Mark Lester has graciously agreed to serve as chair. Here is Mark’s introduction to the mission and scope of the committee.

The traditional responsibilities of Chapter center on what are sometimes called “the temporalities” of our life together, including finance, budget, and operation and care of our buildings and grounds.  While a Finance Committee has been in place as a council of advice to Chapter on budgetary matters for many years, our previous B&G Committee faded from existence over the past ten years or so, and given the amount of activity resulting from the Cathedral Campus Redevelopment Project that we anticipate in the next three years, it became increasingly important to revive this committee of advice to Chapter.  I was honored to be asked by Dean Penny to be its first chair. Our charter is fairly broad, ranging from emergency preparedness, through review of reserve studies and reports on potential repairs, to recommending to Chapter priorities for needed maintenance and how best to fund B&G needs in the long term.  We will be moving into brand new office, meeting and classroom space in the Olive Street project in a few years, but the Cathedral and Great Hall structures are aging and in need of constant and careful attention. The B&G Committee is comprised of Cathedral members with an interest in and love of these sorts of issues, currently including Declan Brown, Jen Jow, John Will, Margret Hernandez, Ross Sippel, Jim Greer, Gary Owen, Erin Sacco Pineda and Susan Shaw Hulbert, along with ex officio members Dean Penny Bridges, Kathleen Burgess, Bob Oslie, Marshall Moore, and Susan McClure.  We will be meeting monthly on third Tuesdays, and welcome your input.  Please feel free to contact us regarding any B&G issues or questions you may have. We will call upon outside experts as needed to advise us and we are developing a list of potential consultants. If you have a particular skill or professional background which might be relevant to our work, and if you would agree to consult with us from time to time, please let me know, and we will add you to our directory of experts.  B&G is a ministry we can all participate in through our care and stewardship of Cathedral facilities. Mark LesterChair, Buildings & Grounds

Your sister in Christ,

Thursday, June 27, 2019

It takes a consecrate a Bishop! (photoessay!)

Our St Paul's community was on the spot as the host for the consecration of Bishop Susan.  And there was a lot of work in advance, with multiple rehearsals of participants at all levels, preparation of the campus, intricate planning of timing, and practice even up to the very beginning of the service.  Here are some images of these preparations!

The Rev. Laura  leads a prayer before the altar servers/vergers rehearsal.

Verger Todd makes notes at the altar servers/vergers meeting

Organist Gabriel, Canon Verger Lisa, and Dean Penny consult at the rehearsal the night before...
Rev. Laura gives thumbs up to trumpeter Giles after he rehearses the fanfare

Verger Don instructs the communion ministers on their stations the night before

Bishop(elect) Susan and her consecrating bishops rehearse the laying on of hands
Bishop Katharine gives notes
Bishop (elect) Susan clarifies issues with her Deacons,  Rev Canon Nancy and the Rev Canon Brooks

More notes between Verger Don and Canon Verger Lisa while presenters Elaine, Konnie, and Jen follow the bulletin

Chairs await in the Great Hall

Chairs await in the south aisle
Bishop (elect) Susan in front of her Cathedra...

The morning of the service, Gabriel practices with the St Luke's singers

The morning of the service, Choirmaster Martin rehearses the choir
A full gallery of rehearsal photos is here:

Education For Ministry

Dear St. Paul’s family,

One June 30 we will celebrate the graduation of three parishioners from the Education for Ministry program. Below is a reflection that Mark Patzman has written on EfM, entitled Finding Your Ministry Through Community.

Ten years ago, this month, I first came to the Cathedral following a 20-year plus hiatus from religion.  I had moved to Mission Hills following a separation from my partner and being laid off from my job.  My first time at St. Paul’s, I was so captivated with the sermon that I’m sure that it was somehow written just for me.  Nothing like a good personal disaster or two to reorient your perspective back toward God, eh?

At the time, I came to get in communion with God.  The beautiful space, music, preaching and liturgy put my head into a right space that made me feel more attuned with God.  I did not, however, come for the “touchy-feely” people stuff.  I was here to get in touch with God, not other people.  Twenty years of “don’t ask, don’t tell” might have thrown up some bigger walls that I could admit at the time.

Two years later, after attending pretty regularly and participating in several Wednesday night formation groups including Spiritual Autobiography, the Cathedral’s Holiness in Relationships Task Force, and a small-group retreat to Mount Calvary Monastery to ponder “Heaven”, I was invited to join Education for Ministry, or EfM.  I didn’t know all that much about it, but I felt that my knowledge of the Bible was pretty weak.  So not knowing what I was in for, I said yes.  What happened during the four years was an epiphany…that communion with God happens in community… meaning all that messy, touchy-feely, sometimes painful, often joyful stuff with other people of God actually brings me closer to God!  Who knew?!

Every Christian is called to ministry.  EfM introduces the foundations of our faith to equip us in discerning our ministry.  In small group seminars, EfM develops an informed laity through four one-year seminars.  With all four years running concurrently, the first year focuses on the Hebrew Bible; second on the New Testament; third reads church history; while fourth year tries to tie it all together with some basic theology.  Each year is built around a four-year cyclic theme and next year will be Living as Spiritually Mature Christians.  We meet weekly for fellowship over a meal, to discuss our studies, and to practice theological reflection…seeking to understand where God is within a given picture or scenario. 

Contact for more information.  The next year begins in September.  Registrations close in late July or when the groups are full. 

Finally, we will be standing up an EfM alumni book club in the autumn to allow folks to continue the fellowship and learning that made EfM such a fantastic experience.  Stay tuned for details.

I hope you will consider signing up for this outstanding formation program, specially designed for Episcopalians.

Your sister in Christ,

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Construction Update June 26

  • Work has started on the Nutmeg Street side of electrical work for permanent power service.  The work will proceed for the next 2-3 weeks. 
  • Nutmeg electrical timeline: work is expected to be done in mid-July
  • Electrical work and drywall work will start in the Music Library next week.  They will be framing out the new electric room walls and installing the hardware and wiring for electrics portion of the space.
  • Monday they will begin working on the “Grade and Grub” removal near the clergy parking lot to make way for the new transformer.  In addition to this, the wrought iron fencing will be coming down and temporary walls (like those around Park Chateau) will be installed.
  • We advised that Simpler Living will be having a plant salvaging party on July 29 from 2-5pm.  This works with the developer’s timeline.
  • Cathedral “make ready” plans were reviewed.  These plans are for:
    • Electric Room in the Music Library and running electric down through the kitchen into the boiler room and then outside and under the concrete in the Olive entrance and exterior breezeway walkway into the 6tth Ave courtyard
    • Queen’s Courtyard ADA accessible changes to the corner stairwell with the addition of a partial ramp and installation of a chair lift.
      • We’ve reviewed the timing of Light the Cathedral for Pride (July 10, 2019) and Greystar will be connecting with Peterson Lighting, our designer and installation team of the uplights, before making any changes to the existing building uplighting in the Queen’s Courtyard.
      • The goal is to have the work in the Queen’s Courtyard ready to install the lift on July 20th, when the lift is due to arrive.
    • Once the Queen’s Courtyard accessibility is resolved, the next phase will be the first floor elevator lobby work.  There will be a 6” change to the floor height and elevator access point.  The elevator will be out for a week during this phase of construction.  Greystar will work with SPC on picking the right week to do the work. This work will be the most impactful and disruptive so we will get details out about it as soon as they become available as we progress through this process.
    • Technical moves such as sewer, gas, electric, water that will have new pathways (running through 6th Ave courtyard and to the remaining building).  There is a “hard date” of July 22 for SDGE to come in and the work to be ready for taking the new gas hook up.  That time frame could shift due to SDGE’s schedule. 
  • Monday, plan on seeing new 5’x5’ steel trenching plates installed near the clergy lot.
  • Bob will get access keys (Medco main door key, A key, and boiler room key) for access to work on the electrical installation earlier than staff arrival (approx. 7am)
  • Reviewed what it will take to make the music library new electrical box “hot”:
    • Approximately a 1 day shutdown of power but this will be for Olive Street, Nutmeg Street and our campus.  It might be done overnight and we may not be impacted at all, but our neighbors will be.
    • They will work like crazy in July to get everything ready for inspection, which should happen the 1st - 2nd week of August.  Then there is a 30-60 day window once approved to get the scheduled date of the shut down and SDGE sends out notices about the shut down to the neighbors.  SDGE tells us when we can make this switch.
  • Reviewed Bob Oslie will be out of the country/unavailable from July 28 to August 15, 2019 for his vacation.
  • Possible work next week for water and valves that may cause water shut downs for the Sacristy and Vesting rooms.  We are going to stay in touch with Brooks regarding any impact on these spaces as soon as it is known.
  • Tom D. asked about the status of decision making on the HVAC for the Great Hall/Cathedral related to the two boilers in the boiler room.  There will be a review of bids and Joe the one handling the HVAC information will be invited to the next meeting on July 3, 2019 to review. Penny will also be consulted, updated with this information and will also be invited to the next meeting.
  • Park Chateau demolition:
    • Will happen once the gas meter is pulled by SDGE.  They feel that could happen today or tomorrow. 
    • Once done, they can pull the building permit and begin demolition.  This is currently scheduled for next week and will take about 2 weeks to complete.
    • There will be blocking off of street parking and sidewalks on the south side of the street and will also lose the parallel parking across the street just east of The Abbey. 
    • The Olive St parking lot will be partially used by the construction team for the demolition period (the spaces on the west side of the lot will be lost for now.  We will make a sign for a temporary handicap spot in the parking lot to replace the one we will lose during this time.
  • Monday we will work with Brooks and Chuck to aid the Greystar workers in salvaging the sacred soil nearest the Sacristy in the 6th Ave courtyard.  We will be saving a layer of the dirt from this area where ashes have been buried and scattered.  We will reuse the dirt in a planting of “Olie” the olive tree and place the new planter filled with the salvaged dirt and Olie over on the Nutmeg side of the building until we can find a new home in the new courtyard eventually.
  • Reviewing the Bay Alarm scope of work with Rocky after the meeting  for the change of services from admin building to new offices and the existing keypads at the choir rehearsal room and the Sacristy hall.
  • We will meet the same time next week 10:30-11:30am in the Fireside Room.

The Sunday Sermon: Too Holy for Who?

This week we will observe the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which marked the moment when LGBTQ people in this country launched a Herculean effort of breaking down homophobia across the land, an effort that continues today. PBS has been running a documentary called the Lavender Scare, about the appalling persecution of government employees on the basis of their perceived orientation in the 1950’s. And today we read this passage from Isaiah, which echoes for me with the pain and anger of those who long to offer their service and gifts for the greater good but have been rejected, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”

For far too long, organized religion rejected minorities of every kind. The Jewish law contains prohibitions against people with disabilities or certain conditions entering the holy precincts of the temple or serving as priests. Within living memory some mainline denominations still refused ordination to people missing limbs. Lots of American churches have galleries that were built in order to segregate people of color. Old churches in Europe have a stripe across the floor behind the back pew, indicating how far into the church a woman could come before she had been cleansed from the impurity of childbirth. “Do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”

I never use the word “heresy” lightly: it is a term that tempts us to judge others by our own biases. But it is an ancient heresy, called out by St Augustine in the 4th century, to declare that the church is a closed club for those who fulfill a particular and narrow image of holiness. Women have suffered from this, people of color, people with disabilities, sexual minorities, and it has even been applied to Episcopalians in this century by those who removed themselves from our denomination, claiming that we progressives weren’t holy enough to stand at the same altar as them. But Jesus teaches us a different way. Let’s look at the Gospel.

A homeless man with mental illness has been rejected, isolated and dehumanized. Jesus approaches him with compassion, and heals him. However, a side effect of the healing is the loss of a herd of pigs, which deals an economic blow to the community. The man’s neighbors are unsettled by this, in fact they are seized with great fear, and they ask Jesus to go away. They don’t want change. They are NIMBYs. They would rather let their own loved ones continue to suffer than face a different world where economies are turned upside down, where the marginalized are welcomed back into community and where demons are banished.

Here was the ultimate outcast in Jesus’ world: not only was this man outside of the people of God, living in a Gentile community, but he was possessed and violent, naked, chained up, living in the unclean place of the dead, and with pigs for neighbors - both of which were anathema to Jews. He was out of his mind: he couldn’t even claim his own name because he was completely in the power of evil. But he was more than his situation; he was a beloved child of God, and Jesus saw through his illness to the suffering human being. And instead of locking him up or shunning him, Jesus freed him of his chains.

What Jesus offered this man was profound. He gave him back his life. He gave him back community, family, self-respect, and hope. But the reaction of the people around him was not joyful surprise or praise of God but fear. It made them afraid to see the power that Jesus had to heal and transform. They didn’t know how to deal with this kind of holiness. They asked him to go away. They preferred not to experience any more of this power. Like the Israelites who once pined for the comforts of Egyptian captivity, the Gerasenes wanted to stay as they were rather than experience the life-giving, liberating love of God. They would rather hold onto their demons than risk having Jesus turn things upside down. How ironic, how telling, that even the demons had more sense of who Jesus was than these people did.

Jesus went across the sea, a symbolic journey, to a place where he was an outsider, a place where Jews didn’t live. He went out of his way to seek out someone in desperate need of God’s healing hand. He didn’t wait for this man or even for a family member to come to him asking for help. This is a model for us as the church to imitate: to go out there among unbelievers, among the possessed and the lost and the strange, bearing the healing love of God to those who have been rejected and injured by the structures of society, and to be unafraid to disrupt the status quo for the sake of the Kingdom.

But this story also challenges us as neighbors: what activity of God makes us afraid, makes us back away, ask Jesus to go elsewhere, when we should step forward into change, social reform, economic transformation? What disfunctional elements of our lives do we prefer to the disruptive healing of Jesus’s hands? What are the demons in us? Demons of fear, anger, bigotry, greed, success? How attached are we to them? Dare we ask Jesus to expel them?

And let’s take an honest look at our own faith community. What populations have we historically marginalized? The socially awkward. Teenagers. LGBTQ individuals. The disabled - look at all the steps we have up here; it’s not exactly accessible. People unfamiliar with the way Episcopalians worship. People who don’t speak English. We don’t see many young children here at St Paul’s. Why is that? All our surveys indicate that we want and need more families in the church, but somehow we send a signal that they aren’t welcome in our midst. How can we do better? Our youth minister Maya is working on a vision to create a friendly space for our children in the nave. Our longterm survival as a faith community may depend on how whole-heartedly we embrace such a vision, welcoming the sights and sounds of children as a sign of our vitality.

Every child of God has gifts to offer and the Church is here to receive all those gifts and empower people to develop them. When someone shows up to volunteer and is told, “We don’t need you,” that’s not acceptable. That’s like saying, “Do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” The church needs everyone, and we need each other. We have seen great strides in inclusion and liberation from chains of oppression, but we are not done yet. As long as there is one person who feels shut out from the body of Christ because of who they are or the demons they battle, we still have work to do.

Here’s a story of good news. A couple started premarital counseling with me this week. They are both men, one an active Episcopalian, while the other grew up Roman Catholic but has long been lapsed. The Roman Catholic mentioned what a profound and liberating moment it was when his fiancé suggested that they get married in church. He had never allowed himself to imagine that possibility, but now they can have their marriage blessed in their own parish church. Thank God our church’s polity now allows us to live into the words of St. Paul to the Galatians: there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of us are one in Christ Jesus.

Jesus instructs the healed man to go and tell what God has done for you. This is the final teaching moment in this Gospel story: that once we have experienced the healing power of God in our lives we are not to keep it to ourselves but to share our story. Go and tell. Go out into the world and share the good news of our loving, life-giving, liberating God.

June 23, 2019 
The Very Rev. Penelope Bridges  

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Summer Socials

Dear St. Paul’s family,

Many of you attended at least one of our lovely Summer Social gatherings last year. They were hugely successful and now it’s time for the next step.

We are already seeing some construction around the cathedral campus, and it’s going to become more and more important to bring cathedral folks together as we go through the next 3-4 years of dust, inconvenience, and reduced parking. We need to find ways to “Love, Learn, and Live in Community” during a time of change and transformation.

Once again Jen Jow and Susan Jester have stepped up to coordinate a series of gatherings in parishioners’ homes over the summer. There won’t be as many as last summer, but I hope that you will still have a chance to attend one. Several parishioners have volunteered their homes again and there are still some open dates, if you would like to join them. And they don’t have to be limited to the summer!

Signups for this year’s series of Summer Socials will open this week, with a table in the Queen’s Courtyard during coffee hour. Space is limited at each location, so don’t delay if you would like to attend.

As good as the socials are, they are just a foundation for the birth of an ongoing ministry. My dream for the construction period over the next four years is that we will develop “neighborhood hubs”, finding parishioners who are willing to host not only summer socials but also occasional gatherings throughout the year such as book discussions or prayer groups - whatever appeals to the cathedral households in that neighborhood. This could lead to carpooling and all kinds of mutual support and encouragement. Of course everyone would be encouraged to invite a friend or neighbor! This will take the pressure off the cathedral campus while space is limited and also build our community.

If you’d like to host a gathering, please contact Jen Jow at to learn more. I look forward to spending some informal time with you this summer as together we seek to Love, Learn, and Live in Community at St. Paul’s.

Your sister in Christ,


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Daily Office Logistics

Dear St. Paul’s family,

One of the foundations of our Anglican tradition is the Daily Office, which means the short services of Scripture and prayer that all Episcopalians can do at different times of the day. For centuries, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer have been said daily in cathedrals, and St. Paul’s is no exception. Anyone can lead the Offices – you don’t have to be ordained. The offices are a simple way to establish prayer as a regular part of your day. You can even do them on the road, using the Mission St. Clare phone app. Ideally, though, you would join us in the cathedral on some kind of regular basis. We currently have a mix of clergy and lay people who lead the Offices in our chapel.

Evening Prayer in English is broadcast live on the “St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral” page on Thursdays.

Until now, we have needed a staff member with a key to lead Morning Prayer, but with construction under way, the campus will be opened earlier in the morning and it will be possible for a volunteer to lead. If you feel called to a regular ministry of leading Morning Prayer, perhaps one day a week or twice a month, please contact the cathedral office and we will put you in touch with the staff member who will be opening on those days so that they can let you into the cathedral.

While the Offices can be said by one person alone, we try not to have someone alone in the cathedral in the early morning or evening with the doors open, for safety’s sake. It is also impossible to see who is coming and going by the North Porch door from the chapel. If the officiant is alone, we usually keep the doors shut unless we know others are coming. Obviously this isn’t an ideal situation, and we would much rather have the doors open until the service begins. We can do this if we make two changes to the usual routine: one is to have at least one additional person committed to attending, and the other is to allow access by a door closer to the chapel.

For Evening Prayer, we will have a policy of the sexton on duty being in the church for the 10-15 minutes of the service. For Morning Prayer, we need volunteers, as the sextons don’t come on duty until 1 pm. Please consider signing up!

As for access, we will start opening the western door to the South Transept on Nutmeg Street 5 minutes before the start of the service. People using this door, located behind the organ console, are easily visible from the chapel. It will be the officiant’s responsibility to open and to close the door securely after the service. Signs will be posted around campus directing attendees to the appropriate door (remember, the campus is closed before 9 am and after 5 pm).

I hope you will consider making Morning and/or Evening Prayer a regular part of your day.

Your sister in Christ


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Sunday Sermon: to release what is rotten

Is there no limit to the interesting situations Paul and Silas find themselves in? In today’s story, we have a fortune-telling slave girl possessed by a spirit who just won’t leave them alone.

The passage says she had a “spirit of divination.” The Greek word in the original text for “divination” is POOTHian which sounds like PYTHON and means: “to rot.” To ROT!

How do we go from something rotting to divination, to something divine?

There are processes in nature like composting that change rotting things into healthy, life-giving, rich soil that nourish other plants. When a tree stump rots in a forest, there is a point at which it actually stops rotting and gives birth to abundant new life in the form of young saplings and nutrient rich mushrooms among other things.

Switching gears...

Have you heard of the oracle at Delphi? She would sit atop a crevice in the earth and inhale vapors that gave the power to predict the future, or so the Greeks believed. In their mythology Apollo slew a giant serpent, a python, and cast its body deep in the earth. The python’s rotting body, having been touched by the divinity of Apollo, gave rise to superhuman powers: seeing the future. Modern scientists believe the gas, ethylene, rises up from the earth in the exact location of the ancient oracle chamber. When inhaled in the right doses, ethylene can cause hallucinations, muscle relaxation and euphoric psychedelic experiences.

Back in the story with the slave-girl, I read one commentator who said that when the slave girl says: “These men are slaves of the most high god proclaiming the way of Salvation,” the people would have heard “Most High God” and thought of Zeus not the God of the Israelites, so you can see why Paul takes action. The text says he was very annoyed. Those words, “Very much annoyed” are translated at other times as deeply grieved, or exhausted to the point of depleting, painful worry. For days the slave-girl has followed Paul and Silas around. Paul has grown exhausted and casts out the spirit.

This reminds me of the story in Luke about the persistent widow who goes to the judge day after day asking for justice. The judge, even though he didn’t fear God or care what people thought, granted her justice! Because she wore him down!

So Paul casts the spirit of the python out of the slave-girl thereby giving her salvation. She is freed from the thing constricting her life and keeping her enslaved.

Now when Paul casts the spirit out, all hell breaks loose.

Of course that’s where Christ often does his best work.

As Paul and Silas are sitting in the dark of night, wounded from a beating and probably feeling very far from God, they transform their rotten experience into a divine moment through prayer and song.

I don’t know about you but if I were in their position I would not be praising God and singing hymns! Usually when I’m down, and I get down by much less than they do - slow Internet, a bad haircut, not having a signal on my phone - my first instinct is not to pray and sing. It’s to complain to my wife and anyone else who will listen!

But not Paul and Silas! They sing and pray and God does great things!

Victor Frankel, holocaust survivor, said: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response is our growth and freedom. Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the freedom to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

But please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that if you just have enough faith, just have a good attitude, just pray, and believe that Jesus is your lord and savior, everything will be all right. Because life doesn’t work like that. Those kinds of simplistic platitudes actually just make me feel worse and feel guilty because I don’t have the kind of faith Paul and Silas had.

That’s why faith is given to communities more than just to individuals. This faith walk is not a solo act. Yes we can have our personal experience of prayer and connection to Jesus and the stories of the Bible, but we can also take a step back and understand that our whole community of faith here surrounds us all the time, affecting us in ways we don’t even know. Tibetan monks meditate for the world every minute of every day. I sometimes wonder what unseen impact that has on all of us that we don’t even know.

I had for years held onto bitterness and a feeling of being mistreated by a particular person. I went on a silent retreat about a month ago, and there, away from the Internet and other distractions, I got in touch with the fact that the story I was telling myself about this person who so mistreated me, was really causing ME a lot of rancor, and rottenness. By the grace of God I let go of some of that bitterness and resentment that was keeping me from abundant life. Since that day I have experienced resurrection in that relationship.

A couple weeks ago in this sacred space a conservative, Roman Catholic man, and his even more conservative wife attended an ordination service of a woman, an openly gay woman, becoming a deacon, a leader in Church, ordained to speak in church, to proclaim the gospel.

The man is my father. His wife, my mother.

It was a divine event. So many of you were here, THANK YOU and so many friends from around our diocese! The music, the organ, the trumpets and timpani, and bagpipes! The pageantry, banners, the beauty of it. It was divine!

But my relationship with my parents over the past decade, since I Came Out, has at times resembled something rotten with noxious gasses escaping it.

But THEY WERE HERE! They were able to release whatever part of their ideology that prevented them from accepting me and my wife for many long years, and they were here supporting me on such an important day. Through the love of God, they were open enough to come and hang out with me, my wife, our queer and straight friends, all of YOU for one golden, glorious day!

It wasn’t a perfect weekend. My mother and I got sideways in conversation. Apologies had to be made and forgiveness given. She made a point of telling people at the ordination rehearsal that she PREFERS the 1928 Prayer Book.

But they were here.

Rottenness really has to do with stagnation. Compost can’t become compost, the bacteria can’t do its thing, without oxygen, time and space and turning. The places in ourselves where we are blocked are stagnant. Those are the places we need to breathe new life. That’s where being in a faith community like this one is helpful. We need one another to recognize where we are blocked. Only then can we begin to work on releasing the resentment or the thing we’re holding onto that robs us of life.

Just like Paul and Silas’ wounds were dressed and healed, so we can dress and heal one another’s wounds in community by letting things go and by releasing whatever is rotten.

Just yesterday a group of about 50 of you gave time on your Saturday to come together to help care for this campus. What a wonderful example of the community caring for one another and for the church.

Jesus’ prayer in the gospel talks about an indwelling of the love of God that is embedded there to release us from whatever constricts us. Jesus’ last words on earth before ascending is for the Father to help us, you and me here today, to have the love that transformed Jesus’ death into life. Because the love of God resurrects things.

Paul releases the slave-girl from the python spirit within her. On retreat God helped me to release a little bit of resentment. My parents were able to release something inside them enough to support me. We can all be released from whatever is rotting inside us.

Where do you feel things rotting in your life? Can you breathe into that space between stimulus and response? What can you release today?

The Rev. Hannah Wilder

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Misa Plan

Dear St. Paul’s family,

Since early April, when we announced our plan to right-size the budget, plans have been underway to provide for the continuation of our Spanish-language ministry and our formation programs, after we lose Fr Carlos and David Tremaine. In this letter I want to update you on the Spanish-language plans.

I am committed to doing everything in my power to continue our Spanish language ministry, and my three years of Spanish language study will help me to lead this effort.

We will say good bye to Fr Carlos after the 1:00 Misa on June 23. I hope we will have a wonderful celebration of his ministry among us, which has benefited not only Spanish speakers but other areas such as our Stephen Ministry.

We will also say goodbye to the Mariachi band; I am currently seeking a single musician with the skill and experience to lead us in worship using guitar and/or keyboard.

On June 30 we will start a three-month experiment, moving the Spanish service into the chapel (if the congregation approves) for greater community. The current average attendance is around 40, so the group will fit (although I hope it will outgrow the space).

I will be the primary pastor of our Spanish-speaking members. I will preside most Sundays at 1 pm, and I will preach once a month. Some bilingual colleagues and friends are going to help out: Dr. Orlando Espin, a distinguished Cuban theologian, will preach twice a month. The Rev. Colin Mathewson will usually preach and preside when I am not available. Canon Jeff will preside occasionally.

Our Spanish-speaking parishioners have risen to the challenge of this transition and will be offering support with liturgical, fellowship, and formation ministries, as well as translation needs. As we are making this change during the summer we will have several weeks before the First Communion classes start in the fall, so that gives us some time to find teachers for the children (who all speak English fluently, so Anglo teachers are most welcome!). We already have a wonderful new parishioner leading a book study for adults.

This three month period will be a test to see if we can maintain the worshiping community without burning anyone out. We will re-evaluate in mid-September.

In order for me to pace myself, I will probably miss occasional 8:00 am services. I hope you will understand!

Your sister in Christ


Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Sunday Sermon:Keeping the words of Jesus

Alleluia Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.

Have you ever been stuck? Have you ever had a plan that looked really good, but every time you tried to put it into action you were stopped by roadblocks; nothing coming together, no clear vision emerging? That’s where St Paul was when our story from Acts begins. Paul and his travel companions were literally at a crossroads in their mission. They were in the middle of what today is Turkey, and they intended to go north towards the Black Sea, but for some reason it wasn’t working out.

Then Paul had a dream. Somehow, he knew that the man in his dream was from Macedonia - maybe it was his accent that gave him away - and in response to the dream, everything changed. As we might say today, “Make plans and God laughs”. Paul let go of his desire to evangelize Asia, and the team set out westward. They took ship across the Aegean Sea to northern Greece and a few days later arrived in Philippi, the capital city of Macedonia. Christianity had arrived in Europe, a momentous event in the history of the world.

Another significant thing happens at this point in Acts: the narrator stops talking about “them” and starts talking about “us”. As you know, Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke, so it seems that Luke himself has now joined the team. The story is no longer about some people somewhere, but about us: it’s personal. And personal stories are always the most compelling.

It’s a man who calls to Paul in his dream, but it’s a woman who turns out to be an important new convert. Lydia is a Gentile businesswoman, trading in the expensive and exclusive commodity of purple dye - there were actually laws restricting its use to the upper classes of the Roman Empire. So Lydia is obviously wealthy and she has access to the highest levels of society. She’s quite a catch for the missionaries!

Lydia is a seeker, a “worshiper of God” we are told: she is not a Jew but she feels drawn to the God of Moses. She and her women friends - maybe her employees - are hanging out by the river where Paul, Silas, and Luke come seeking a synagogue. The missionaries enter into conversation with the women. Lydia is captivated by the Gospel. She and her household are baptized and she insists on opening her own home to the travelers while they are in town. It’s not a stretch to imagine that Lydia became one of the major donors supporting Paul in his ministry. She is a hugely important figure in the story of the early church: the first European convert, a woman with both wealth and influence.

The story is dramatic on its own, but when you consider how it unfolds, you have to be amazed at the fact that it happened at all. What if Paul had stuck to his original plan, in spite of the dream, and headed into northern Turkey instead of going to Greece? What if they had moved on from Philippi before the Sabbath Day? What if they had found the synagogue before they ran across Lydia and her friends? What if they had obeyed the prevailing etiquette rules and not started a conversation with strange women? What if Lydia had not been at a place in her life where she was ready to hear and believe the good news of Jesus Christ?

The key to all this seems to be the willingness of certain human beings to listen for God’s call. Paul discerned a call to evangelize Europe. Luke discerned a call to go with him and keep a travelog, which became the Acts of the Apostles. Lydia discerned a call to disregard cultural norms, engage with a bunch of foreign men, and believe what they had to say. And the evangelists, entrusted with the mission of sharing the good news, didn’t insist on sticking to their itinerary, but discerned a need in the community and responded to it. Macedonia needs some good news. These women want to hear us. Let’s put aside our own agenda and follow the call.

Jesus says, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” We will come to them. Jesus comes to us. Jesus comes to where the need is, where the hunger and thirst for righteousness is most acute, where the loneliness and the isolation overwhelm, where the outcast and the stranger cry out. Jesus comes to us in the shape of people who bring good news to the poor in spirit and who proclaim release to the captives. Who are these people, the Pauls and Silases and Lukes of our world? They are us. This is our job as people of the Jesus movement: to recognize God’s call and respond in love with what hurting people need, wherever that response may take us.

Last summer we enjoyed an intensive series of summer socials in parishioner homes all over the area, from Bonita to Del Mar to Spring Valley. Well over 200 of us enjoyed time together and built relationships, and we didn’t do it at church but out in the neighborhoods. We held the socials because we perceived a need in the cathedral family for stronger bonds of affection at a time when we were perceiving some negative energy in the congregation.

This summer we are going to do it again, but this time it will be less of a sprint and more of a long-distance hike, as we look ahead to three plus years of construction on this campus. There’s a continuing hunger for connection, for opportunities to be together, and so we are responding to the need by going out into the neighborhoods again, and hopefully creating mini-communities of cathedral folks who will come together from time to time for fellowship, encouragement, and even carpooling to church, in the face of the parking challenges.

None of this happens without the love of God as we experience it in Jesus Christ, who dwells with us and among us, who brought us together as strangers and has made us friends, who calls us into ministry in unlikely places and with unlikely people.

On Wednesday evening Bishop-elect Susan and I were honored to attend the annual interfaith Iftar hosted by the Islamic Center of San Diego. The theme of the evening was the role of the media in the development of a united community. We learned about several initiatives, including a new children’s book “Born Here”, illustrating that Americans come in all colors, religions, and ethnicities; a joint prayer service by Christians and Muslims at the border wall in Friendship Park; and a movie that tells the story of a young, contemporary Syrian refugee and her relationship with the poetry of Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet whose words (in translation) are to be found today in Hallmark cards everywhere.

Responding to the needs of the community: going to the schools to address bigotry, to the border to witness to injustice, and interpreting a global tragedy through popular poetry: our Muslim neighbors are showing us what it means to be bearers of good news to the world.

As St Paul’s enters into the construction period we will be listening hard for God’s voice, moving forward with our plans but ready to respond to the movement of the Spirit.

I want you to think again of a time when your plans were upended by something that you now believe to have been God’s will for you. My story goes back to 1992, when I had two small children and planned to deepen my roots in New Hampshire, standing for election to the vestry and starting Education for Ministry. It wasn’t a dream that interrupted my plans, it was lunch with our assistant rector, a young mother like me, and a conversation that included what I thought at the time was an idle question about the ordination process.

My life since then has taken turns and brought me to places I would never have imagined, just as that dream once took Paul to Europe instead of Asia. It hasn’t all been wonderful: my marriage didn’t survive the stress of parish ministry, and there have been griefs a-plenty along the way, but I am confident that paying attention to that call all those years ago was the right thing to do. I am at peace with the journey.

Now turn to someone near you and share your story of God calling you in a direction you didn’t expect. What happened? How did it change you? When did you recognize it as God’s plan? When did you come to peace with it? 2 minutes....

Jesus offers us peace. “My peace I give to you.” The peace of Jesus isn’t the world’s peace. It isn’t anesthesia. It isn’t a Pax Romana or a Pax Americana that spreads a thin layer of peace-like calm over a roiling mess of racism, homophobia, bigotry, greed, and fear. It’s a peace that Jesus has won for us by going through the crucible of suffering on our behalf, defeating the power of death so that we might have life. It’s a peace that enables us to move beyond our fear and hold steady in the midst of chaos and uncontrollable change, so that we can keep the words of Jesus and find the courage to say who we are and whose we are, to speak truth to power and insist on the value of love.

So let’s keep listening for the words of Jesus. Let’s step out to share our stories, to share good news with our neighbors, ready to go where we are needed, filled with the peace that passes understanding. Let’s renew our commitment to the one who created us, who redeemed us, and who sustains us through his living and life-giving body. Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.

May 26 2019
The Very Rev. Penelope Bridges