From this month’s issue of the Living Church, an article on St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Hollywood, CA. As the article says, the only Anglo-Catholic parish in Los Angeles. The article, “Apolitical Inclusion at St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood, CA“
In terms of reviving a parish in the Anglo-Catholic tradition (and I simply love the “apolitical inclusion” bit), a couple paragraphs from the article:
“The Rector, The Rev. Elliott Davies, restored the altar to an eastward facing position and celebrates Mass with his back to the congregation in lieu of ‘the bartending position.'” I love that – “the bartending position.” Continuing, “Ensign recalls UCLA students fascinated by the celebration [Gregorian chant, lots of incenses, etc.] – as opposed to ‘that old hippy crap our parents like.'” Out of the mouths of babes. And, continuing, “‘One guy had never seen a pipe organ,’ Ensign said. ‘For us baby boomers what was so meaningful, relevant, and rebellious is so old hat. What’s old is new again.’” [emphasis mine]
“St. Thomas has a tradition of social activism in the surrounding area, including among the homeless in Hollywood and gay and lesbian residents in West Hollywood… But Proposition 8 [California’s marriage amendment] has never been preached about,’ Ensign said. ‘Preaching is always gospel-centered and Scripture-based. We’re here to worship Almighty God. If you want to be political, join a political group.'” Did we hear this! In the Anglo-Catholic tradition of social activism, the parish tends to the needs of those disadvantaged and marginalized, yet they recognize that their focus is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to worship Almighty God, not to be a political action committee or a social service organization. The Good Works happen because the people are taught to love neighbor as the love themselves, but tend to their relationship with God first.
“‘I got suckered in by Fr. Carroll Barbour,’ Ensign admitted. ‘Urban legend goes: in the early 1980’s St. Thomas was downgraded to mission status. The bishop called Fr. Barbour in – then in his late 50s, and serving in Long Beach, with a checkered past, a history of alcoholism – and said, basically, it was make or break for both.’
“‘He took the parish Anglo-Catholic in theology, teaching, and ritual, and threw the doors wide open,’ Ensign said. ‘He held his ground when parishioners left, then went to work. There was little money, no answering machine, let alone a secretary. No organ, no choir. Just a mock English gothic building in a so-so location.’
“‘He was a little guy from North Carolina; a real jackass,’ Ensign said. ‘But he was no-nonsense, and a real priest. Not a social worker, or politician; always humble by the altar. The priesthood was most important in his life.’
“‘He was a broken man. He often said, ‘God loves broken things. We break bread, and broken people are ready to listen,’ Ensign recalled.'”