On Saturday, July 8, the Reverend John Taylor will be ordained as the Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Los Angeles … meaning he will succeed our Diocesan Bishop Jon Bruno when he retires in December. We are delighted that one of his last stops before he begins his ministry as a bishop will be here at All Saints Church on Sunday, June 18th, when he will be both in the pulpit (at 9:00 & 11:15 a.m.* and at 1:00 p.m.) and in the Rector’s Forum (10:15 a.m.*) *join us via live-streaming
In preparation for that visit, we asked our soon-to-be-bishop a few questions to help us get to know him a little better.
Your life experience includes journalist, novelist, Director of the Nixon Library and avocational musician. How do those gifts, experiences and history inform your vocation as our Bishop?
From running the Nixon library, something about the way of complex institutions; from my time with Mr. Nixon and his family, an appreciation of the middle way as well as a familiarity with dealing with controversy and conflict; and from writing and journalism, a love of which I inherited from my deathlessly optimistic and inquisitive mother, a lifelong curiosity about people, about their narratives, about the power of their formative experiences and traumas, and about creation’s essential unity amid diversity and division.
Your mom (Jean Taylor Lescoe) was a long time leader here at All Saints Church. What do you remember about All Saints “back in the day?”
Oh, my, the preaching, the preaching! How she loved to bring me to show off Ed Bacon, Gary Bradley, Gary Hall, Mary June Nestler, George Regas, Susan Russell and Tim Safford; and how she would’ve loved Zelda Kennedy and Mike Kinman. She always had a heart for those who suffered and were left out or excluded, so she bonded with the heart of All Saints soon after she arrived in Pasadena in 1971. We always sat in the south transept. She was especially proud that Union Station started out of All Saints and until the last years of her life made a point to be among the first in line at Thanksgiving to drop off a turkey and side dish. She also helped spearhead the columbarium, where she rests with her dear husband Dick Lescoe.
Thinking beyond the consecration on July 8, what do you see as the greatest opportunity and the greatest challenge ahead for the Diocese of Los Angeles?
Whether people are faithful or resolutely not, whether rich or poor, privileged or oppressed, their hearts are hungry for meaning, purpose, justice, community, and any excuse to let the love burning inside them break free despite the world telling them no, not yet, don’t risk, don’t try, let someone else do it. I can’t think of any human institution except the church whose precise vocation is to meet these eternal human needs. And no church except ours, in this place and time, does this work of our God in Christ with such exquisite liturgical style and without excluding any person on the basis of an unjust prejudice. As Baby Boomers retire and Millennials settle down, let’s be waiting. Let’s be confident and non-anxious and joyous about our future. Let’s just be ourselves.
You’re about to take on a big job in challenging times. Where do you go for hope?
I’ve still got a lot to learn from Bishops Bruno and Bruce. But I already know the best thing about the new season of my vocation. It’s encountering the people of God – in the halls of the Cathedral Center, in receiving lines at churches one visits the first time, recovering and proclaiming the eternal gospel of sacred resistance, growing and distributing food through Seeds of Hope, the Abundant Table, and scores of food banks around the Diocese, being with children after school at Kids Campus, waiting in a hospital or rehab for a visit and a blessing. Our hope is in the people of Christ, and isolation from one another is the enemy.
Finally, how to you plan to heal the deep schism in the Diocese of Los Angeles … between Dodger and Angels fans?
My least successful venture during the walkabouts our five colleagues and I experienced during the episcopal election season was when I suggested a joint Episcopal Dodger-Angels night. The icy silence was abundant. I shall nonetheless root for both until such time as they meet in the fall classic. That’s unlikely but not impossible. Let’s just say that’s at least one advantage of a relatively short episcopate!