At the end of June we bid farewell to three extraordinary members of the All Saints staff: Zelda Kennedy [Senior Associate for Pastoral Care], Cathy Maginn [Comptroller] and James Walker [Director of Music.] Between them they have served All Saints Church for a total of sixty-nine years and in many ways we cannot imagine the story of All Saints Church without them. As part of our celebration of their work and witness among us, we asked them to tell us their stories — the stories of what brought them to All Saints and what kept them here — and featured them in the June issue of Saints Alive. Here are those stories:
In 1994 my husband and I visited southern California together for the last time. As a result of that visit he became very ill. I vowed never to return to southern California. (One must always be careful of what one vows, especially when God has other plans.)
I entered a discernment process in 1997; went off to seminary and met Ed Bacon during my senior year. Ed invited me to apply for open positions at All Saints and although interested, I felt compelled to return to North Carolina. Three years following my encounter with Ed, I was, once again, invited to apply for a position.
The time was right. I arrived in southern California in May, 2003. I often shared that Ed’s persistence brought me to All Saints. However, it was the community that kept me here for 14 years.
One former member of our community was Lydia Wilkins, whom some of you might remember. For years Lydia was the oldest parishioner in our community. She died at the age of 106 years, 10 months and 33 days. Lydia was independent, outspoken and lived alone for most of her life following the death of her husband. She was almost 5 feet tall and at the age of 100, while barely seeing over her steering wheel, she drove away from All Saints narrowly missing every car she passed.
One day I flagged her down and offered to take her home. During the drive home, I suggested she consider parking her car for good. She responded that her driver’s license did not expire until she was 103 and that she definitely planned to renew it, when the time came. Well, that comment ended the conversation. It’s one I’ll never forget. She taught me a lot about confidence.
It is with a great sense confidence that I’ve decided to retire. Frederick Buechner once wrote, “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
As I listen to my life, I believe it’s time for me to “trip the light fantastic.” Everyone asks about my next chapter after All Saints. Let me assure you that I’m not going to serve in another church. Previously, whenever I had time to re-create, I either returned to North Carolina or travelled out of the country. I never explored the southwest. You know, places like the Grand Canyon, or Yosemite or Yellowstone or the giant Redwoods. I often tell people that I’ve “driven by” Big Sur.
Therefore, I’m excited about visiting as much of God’s creation in the southwest as I can, while knowing I don’t have to rush back. This next chapter will provide me with the opportunity to get acquainted with the person, who was born in the Bahamas, reared in Florida, educated in Tennessee, North Carolina and Connecticut, who vowed never to return to southern California.
However, I thank God I did. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. So, I want to thank all of you for making my time at All Saints a wonderful life experience!
In 1985 (after spending way too many years in Ohio, where I grew up) I moved to California with my husband and two sons. As we dug our cars out from 3” of snow that fell the day after Easter, I announced that I was ready! My husband’s family lived in Claremont, so we made the decision: California here we come!
Pasadena seemed close enough to Los Angeles where my husband was finishing law school, and we found a lovely home in Upper Hastings Ranch—that cost us four times the amount for which we sold our home in Akron, Ohio. We had no clue what a deal we were getting! And so we settled in to life in Southern California, with a pool in the backyard and palm trees out front.
After working for a couple of architectural firms – and after my husband had graduated from law school and was working as an attorney – I decided to begin a bookkeeping business from home. I loved my jobs, but was not fond of driving to downtown LA every day. All was going well until my husband had a stroke in 1994 and left me with two teenage sons to raise. So I needed to go back to work since my home business didn’t provide enough revenue.
I was contacted one evening in early 1996 by a local CPA where I was working, asking how I felt about doing some accounting work at a church. A bit hesitant, I asked which church. She said it was the church across from City Hall in downtown Pasadena, All Saints Church. (Oh goodness. It was that church.) It would just be part-time, helping them get caught up on entering their Accounts Payable until they could find a full-time person. After talking with a neighbor about All Saints – where she thought I would fit in well – I said yes. Might as well try it for a while. And it was only part-time.
Soon my part-time job was taking more and more of my time – and I loved it! That’s when I went to Ed Bacon and told him he needed to hire me full-time. He agreed and I started as a full-time employee on July 1, 1997 – and I’ve never looked back!
Coming to work at All Saints was the best decision I’ve ever made! I cannot imagine where I would be and what I would be doing today without all the support I’ve received over the years in addition to all the friends I’ve made. This has never been just a job to me. I have always felt as though this place was another part of my family and my home.
As I take down the pictures of my grandkids from my walls and the Lakers posters from my bulletin board, and pack up the candy jar from my desk, I will fondly recall all the memories attached to my days at All Saints Church. Thank you All Saints for all that you have given me for twenty years and will continue to give as I head into retirement. What a great part-time job this turned out to be!
It was the summer of 1982, and I was 25 years old — fresh out of grad school and content with my work as Organist at Westwood Presbyterian Church and College Organist at Occidental College — when I received a phone call from the Director of Music at All Saints. He told me about the open Associate Organist position, wondering if I might be interested.
A few months later, the Associate position again became open, and the job description was now more enticing. Through a rigorous audition process, I was hired and began work in February, 1983.
During my 15-minute interview with the Rector, George Regas, he expressed his belief that staff members who really make a difference stay at least three years, and I responded that I really like to establish roots where I work. 34 years later, I believe it is fair to say that I have honored that commitment.
It was an awesome feeling, coming into such an established and highly respected church music program, and those eight years as the associate musician were fantastic years of personal growth — musically and spiritually. While maintaining my cradle-Presbyterian identity and membership, I was being nurtured and formed by the liturgy and theology of All Saints.
In the summer of 1991 the church sanctuary was closed the Sunday after Easter for a six-month renovation, and that summer there was a bit of a blow-up in the music office. I was called back from vacation to help “make it work.” After four months of doing just that, I was hired as Director of Music.
The ways in which the music ministry has grown over these 26 years — not just in numbers, but in commitment, excellence, understanding of mission, and pastoral care in community — is the source of immense joy.
The work of the dedicated members of Canterbury and Coventry choirs, every Wednesday and Thursday evening, has sustained and inspired me all these years. It’s a miracle that 55 people can come into a rehearsal room — week after week, with all the stuff of life on their hearts — and through the disciplined preparation of music be united and transformed into an instrument of healing.
And the highest joy of all happens as we then come together with the larger All Saints community to offer the fruit of our labors to the glory of God.
I could not possibly have imagined the fulfillment, joy and challenge these 34 years have brought. I am deeply grateful to the All Saints congregation for their love and encouragement over these many years. Together we have joyfully worshiped God and have been faithful vessels of new life created through justice, inclusion, love and reconciliation — all with much laughter and many tears, in community.
The decision to move into my next chapter as a freelance organist, pianist, conductor and consultant comes after many years of discernment. As excited as I am about my own upcoming next chapter, I am already thrilled with the new chapter that All Saints Church has begun. I wish you all God’s blessings and joy in the coming years.