From the Back Pew: It's a season of healing

A lot can happen in one year.

For the people of St. Luke's, 365 days has meant a lot of grieving. It has given the church new focus. And, most importantly, it has allowed for a lot of healing to take place. One year ago on Sunday, St. Luke's held its first service in a small chapel at Glendale Seventh-day Adventist Church, just across Valejo Drive from Glendale Adventist Medical Center, after losing its facilities in a lengthy lawsuit brought by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. That Sunday's service was not unlike any other service I've been to at St. Luke's: While there was music, prayer, fellowship and the usual assortment of families with their kids in tow, everyone knew that an important milestone was taking place.

Today, they are still in that chapel. But one could say that St. Luke's — or by its newly incorporated name, Crescenta Valley Anglican Church — is spiritually wiser because of what members have gone through. This past weekend I had an opportunity to sit down with the Rev. Rob Holman, rector of St. Luke's Anglican Church.

Here is some of what we talked about:

Michael J. Arvizu: What has St. Luke's been up to this past year?

Rev. Rob Holman: This last year has been a year of recovery. It was last Sunday that we said, OK, that season is done. When you've experienced a significant hurt, you can't pretend it's not there. You have to have that season of waiting, and then you move on. So we had that season of waiting where we essentially kept our ministries, and now we're moving on. The grieving, the time of hurt, the sorrow, the time of choosing to bless those who have hurt us and pray for them is done, and now it's time to move forward and not look back.

A lot of it has been taking care of our people. We moved our offices. We've had transition after transition after transition. In the midst of that, we had a locally ordained bishop. We have a new diocese that's now in formation. We've had all of these positive transitions on the diocesan and provincial level and just adjusting to our circumstances.

And then we had all the fires and the mudslides.

Arvizu: Do you think it's a coincidence that your one-year anniversary happens to fall on the feast day of St. Luke?

Holman: St. Luke's has always been a place of healing. This anniversary, and the focus on healing, is the focus of our future. I really think … it will be woven in to the fabric of our church, and it will be a church where people can find healing.

Arvizu: How has St. Luke's itself healed from what it has gone through?

Holman: I've walked everyone through forgiving and accepting God's provision and way. There is grieving that had to go on. It's just like a death. In many ways, the old St. Luke's of-the-Mountains — I'm not talking at all about this new church — died. It was St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Episcopal Church; we renamed it St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Anglican Church, but it was still the same church. That church died. Whatever that church is, God bless them, but they're a new church. For us, that entity and identity died.

It would have been nice, if we'd known the intent and direction of the courts, to have simply left on our terms. But we didn't know it was going to go in that direction.

Arvizu: What would have been your terms of surrendering the St. Luke's property to the Episcopal Diocese?

Holman: Our terms would have been just handing over the keys on our date and our time and leaving everything as it was, but without all the legal trouble. That's what a lot of churches have done in other states where the courts have been more clear.

Arvizu: What has your congregation learned?

Holman: I think we learned that we were a bit inward-looking before. We've always known that the church is the one institution in the world that exists for people who are not its members. And we have really learned that we are here for others. It was so easy to, in our old property, really be about our needs. Something about not having your own property has renewed our vision that we want to reach out to those outside the church. We are about going into the community now and speaking about the good news of Jesus rather than having a landmark that people are drawn to.

Arvizu: Do you think God is teaching you that lesson?

Holman: Absolutely. We should never be just the landmark that attracts people. That's the death of the church.

Arvizu: How did the grieving process manifest itself with your people?

Holman: So often, Christians make a mistake and put on a happy face, not acknowledging their pain and hurt. So we acknowledged our pain and hurt, and we gave it to the Lord in prayer by saying it: "It has been hurtful to be sued and have the courts reverse themselves; it's been hurtful to be portrayed sometimes as hateful, exclusive people. And so we give that to you, Lord Jesus." We've done that in prayer.

Arvizu: Any hard feelings toward the people of St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Episcopal Church?

Holman: Not from me so much. When the Supreme Court made their decision, I was trying to lead [St. Luke's] out. I came in the middle of it. In many ways it was easier for me. I had to be conscious of not dealing with the hurt lightly and to really work hard at trying to understand what it was like for someone to worship here for 50 years…and have all that taken away.

Arvizu: What about the local churches who have opened their doors to you in your time of need?

Holman: I think it says a lot about God's spirit. It says that these are brothers and sisters in Christ, and they have reached out to us. We have to say, we recognize Christ in them. We see Christ in them.

Arvizu: Where do you see St. Luke's a year, two years, from now?

Holman: I see blessing and growth. I see us as an agent of transformation. All are welcome, and all are expected to be changed into the likeness of Christ. We expect, through our transformation and our refining, to be that agent to help others be changed by God — not by us, but by God.

Arvizu: Are you actively looking for a new building?

Holman: We looked at a few sites and had a sense of prayer that we needed to wait. We are actually looking for a location to have a monthly healing service. We're meeting and organizing and praying and training our people and developing schedules, so I expect that to be soon.

MICHAEL J. ARVIZU can be reached at (818) 637-3263 or e-mail

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