Today Francesco, Jim and I were able to do a photo shoot at St. John’s Episcopal Church in the West Adams/North University Park District of Los Angeles (near USC). We received a tip that that this beautiful and historic church, dedicated in 1924, will soon be named the pro-cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. We don’t feel we’re spilling any beans here, as Episcopal Bishop Jon Bruno referenced this fact publicly in his sermon there tonight at solemn vespers in honor of the 80th anniversary of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America.
(The Roman Catholic Archdiocese also commemorated the Armenian anniversary at a solemn vespers service jointly presided over by Cardinal Roger Mahony and the Armenian primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian a few weeks ago at St. James the Less Church in La Crescenta, which I also attended, flanked by Roman and Armenian deacons. There the Armenian primate made a gift of a hand-carved wooden crosier in the Armenian style to Cardinal Mahony, which Derderian jokingly said was made to the primate’s height, somewhat less that Mahony’s towering stature.)
We spent the afternoon taking many photos of the lovely Italian Romanesque interior of the soon-to-be pro-cathedral. And in the evening, we were blessed to participate in the solemn vespers service, jointly presided over by Bishop Bruno and Archbishop Derderian of the Armenian diocese. The service commemorated the Triumph of the Cross, a feast celebrated by both the Eastern and Western Churches on September 14.
During the service, Archbishop Derderian made a gift of a traditional Armenian khachkar, or stone cross, carved especially for the Episcopal Diocese (as well as an Armenian pectoral cross which Bishop Bruno immediately wore, and hand-written icons for suffragan bishops Chester Talton and Sergio Carranza). The service was attended by clergy and laity of both traditions, and music from both Armenian and Episcopal choirs made for a very prayerful experience. I was pleased to run into my friend Matthew Ash of the Armenian diocese, who has been ordained a deacon! Blessings to Matt on his new ministry. Another familiar face was Fr. Rick Byrum of Holy Trinity and St. Benedict Episcopal Church in Alhambra, who will be my roomie on our upcoming interfaith pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
The entire day was wonderful, and we owe special thanks to Canon Mark Kowalewski, rector of St. John’s; Fr. Dan Ade, senior associate of St. John’s; and of course my good friend Dr. Gwynne Guibord, ecumenical and interfaith officer of the Episcopal diocese, for their gracious hospitality.
Look for Francesco to post some amazing photos of this day shortly.