All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, a 3,500-member parish heavily involved in social action projects, has decided to spawn 40 small groups within its fold to attend to the personal and spiritual needs of parishioners.
The Rev. George F. Regas, the All Saints rector, said in an interview that such an approach "has had a secondary place in my priorities for our work and, at worst, many times I had a strong prejudice against small-group ministries." Churches that had them seemed to him to be too inverted with no substantial commitment to alleviating "the pain of the human family in the world," he said.
But "unlike most Episcopal and other mainline denomination churches, All Saints is growing fast," Regas said.
In the last five years, the church's budget has grown from $850,000 to $2 million without the benefit of an endowment and attendance at worship has doubled, he said. It has become "essential that people find small communities of compassion in this large congregation," Regas said.
That nurturing aspect of the parish has been needed to balance the social action thrust, Regas said. All Saints recently got the green light, after two successful court battles, to build a shelter for the homeless in Pasadena, which Regas described as a $1-million commitment. As a self-declared "sanctuary church," it has aided Central American refugees. Several years ago, it co-founded with Leo Baeck Temple, the Center to Reverse the Arms Race. A resource center for AIDS victims and their families is also run by the church.
To launch the new venture, All Saints mailed out 85,000 brochures about a "Festival of Life" meeting next weekend at the church. It will be starting point for the small-group ministries, Regas said. Episcopal layman-author Keith Miller will give the first of his three talks Friday night. About 20 workshops will deal with loneliness, grief, stress, sexuality, religious doubt and other personally oriented topics.
Other conferences next week: Pepperdine University's 44th annual Bible Lectureship, a four-day program by Churches of Christ leaders, starting with the keynote lecture by Jerry Rushford of Agoura Hills Tuesday night in the Firestone Fieldhouse. . . . Sociologist David Moberg of Marquette University will speak on "Spiritual Maturity and Holistic Religion" for the opening session Thursday night for a three-day conference on "aging and wholeness" at the School of Theology at Claremont. . . . American Indian ministers and other evangelical leaders will convene Monday through Thursday at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. The "Native Leadership '87" conference is sponsored by World Vision International and is an outgrowth of a convocation two years ago in Houston that mapped strategies for evangelizing ethnic communities.
Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, a leading scientific opponent of attempts to teach religious-related creationism in public schools, will lecture on that subject and evolutionary theory Sunday at 11 a.m. in the Streisand Auditorium in Westwood. The program is under the auspices of the Streisand Center for Jewish Cultural Arts and sponsored by the Los Angeles Hillel Council.
A specially created Roman Catholic parish for the deaf--the eighth in the United States--has been established by the Los Angeles archdiocese at the old Santa Marta Center in Vernon. Father Brian Doran, director for the deaf in the archdiocesan Office of Pastoral Ministry with Handicapped People, was named as pastor. Services for the deaf will continue at regular parishes in Whittier, Northridge and Oxnard.
Advice on how a congregation can share its church building with an ethnic congregation and avoid friction and disputes is the subject of a day-long conference next Saturday sponsored by an agency of the American Baptist Churches. United Methodist minister Bruce McSpadden of San Francisco, who has written a manual on shared facilities for his denomination, is one of the speakers. Other speakers include the Rev. James Conklin of the host church, Temple Baptist Church near downtown Los Angeles, and the Rev. Ralph F. Wilson of the sponsoring Los Angeles Baptist City Mission Society.
G. Charles Dart, 57, has been reelected to a three-year term as president of the Seventh-day Adventists' Southern California Conference based in Glendale. The conference also admitted four new congregations, all ethnic: the Gardena Japanese American Church, the Los Angeles Tongan Church, the Valley Korean Church and the Montebello Spanish Church.