Rector’s Pastoral Letter

By The Rev. Elizabeth Rechter

elizabeth_webJesus said to his disciples, do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, and believe also in me. John 14

Last Sunday, May 11, I read a pastoral letter from Bishop Jon Bruno. Following in this tradition I would like to give a pastoral letter as well, so this is the rector’s pastoral letter.

First, I want to thank the Gardening Committee for their work this past year. Many of you have worked hard on improving our gardens and creating a plan that all our gardens be water wise. Thank you. We are well on our way in raising the funds needed to begin this project.  The price tag surprised some, but it included an over haul to the water irrigation system for the whole property. Our system has needed repair for a long time. It has cost us large water bills when it was malfunctioning and in other areas it has destroyed the garden because it wasn’t working at all.  Again, thank you to all who have invested time and resource into this project.

Secondly, I have an update on the Boys and Girls Club collaborative project.  We have taken some giant steps forward in the past couple of weeks. I want you to know that what has felt like a stall was due to staffing issues at the Boys and Girls Club.  They wanted to put in place the right person to oversee the High School program.  That person is now in place and things are now moving.  This month there is planned a “senior’s last day barbeque” and student lead planning is occurring to create other opportunities this summer and going forward.  Attached below is an email outlining future hopes.

In addition, when Bishop Bruno was here last month and heard from the Vestry our plans and challenges he committed $25,000 from a youth trust so we can install an elevator in the Guild Hall to ensure accessibility for all.

These steps forward have made it clear that it is time for St. Mary’s to institute a committee to oversee the progress so that there is broad communication TO St. Mary’s and FROM St. Mary’s regarding how the Guild Hall and Grounds will be used.  The members of this committee are myself as rector, the senior warden, who is this year Nancy Sellas, Mark Powell, Tom Davis, Ria Rhea, Carrie Joyce and Karen Zafty.  I thank them for agreeing to serve.

Finally, we know that we want to take care of our debt which to date is $368,000. This debt was incurred when our sanctuary had to undergo significant structural repair that threatened the buildings stability.  This year we are dedicated to various creative ways to raise money to significantly reduce or eliminate the debt and the burden it places on current ministry of a $40,000/year mortgage payment.  The Easter Hat event was one and many of you enthusiastically contributed. Thank you.  There are more plans in our future.

We are a diverse community.  Not all of us will be interested in or will give the same value to the same efforts.  Some of us claim black thumbs and are not interested in the power of gardens. That’s ok. But we all have something to give from the resources we have. They are all needed in the way we can and choose to offer them to strengthen our community and ensure that in Laguna Beach, on our plot of God’s Eden, the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed and lived.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Elizabeth+


From: Mark Powell <>

Subject: FINALLY — progress on the Teen Center


I’m attaching a few photos of what took place in the Guild Hall this morning.  I spent the morning meeting with two student leadership groups from high school and Dalene, the new Boys & Girls Club teen coordinator.  I hope you’ll enjoy this update.

First, though, the Boys & Girls Club has been moving slowly (very slowly) on this for a variety of reasons, including the departure of the prior teen coordinator.  Dalene is keen to make this happen, and she shares my (and our) idea of getting students to use the space even if it isn’t picture perfect.

Here’s the plan that has unfolded.    

1. We want to get students into the space ASAP so they get used to coming there.  We thought the best approach was to ask the students “if you had a hang out space, what would you do in it?”  The last photo I attached is a summary of their ideas.

2. To get students there this year, we decided to have a “Senior Good Bye BBQ” on June 5th from 4 to 7 pm.  The seniors want a place where they can hang out with their friends and since June 6th is really the last day all of the seniors will be in school full-time, this seemed like a good choice.

3. The students created four working groups for the event — a marketing committee, an entertainment committee, a decorating committee, and a menu committee.  We’re going to let them run with this, and we’ll help has needed.

4. One of the most interesting decorating ideas relates to art.  Many of the art students have built up pretty sizable collections of their work, but they have nowhere to show it.  So we’re going to explore the idea of using the walls as gallery walls, with a group of the art students curating the pieces.  I talked with Mrs. Porter (head of the art department) this afternoon, and she’s all in.  She says she has been looking for a way for students to display their work.  June 5th will also be Art Walk, and she’s going to see if we can get the Guild Hall on the official route so the public can see the displayed pieces.

5. The biggest ongoing needs is “a place for study groups to meet.”  The library closes at 4:00 except during exams, when it stays open till 5.  Study groups have a hard time working in the library because it’s a quiet space.  The really want a place where they can come in groups to work on projects, study, have club meetings, etc.  That’s the same thing we heard last spring when we first asked students about their needs.  Over the summer, I think we should work on this.

6. Another big issue is that even though they’re required to have 40 hours of community service to graduate, the school doesn’t really help them find those opportunities off campus.  There was a lot of student support for creating a data bank (probably in the low tech form of a bulletin board!) of potential volunteer opportunities from around town.

7. On the community service front, one of the groups decided to sponsor a community service event the week or two before the BBQ — clean up event to prepare the place for the BBQ.  If we can get the art exhibition idea going quickly, the community service will probably involve hanging art.

There’s not much for us to do right now.  I just wanted you to know that with Dalene in place, we should be able to push ahead.  During next school year, we’ll figure out which the proposed ideas really has traction, and that will help us decide what kind of build out will make sense down stairs.

In the meanwhile, the student groups will meet next week and assuming the plan gels then, we’ll probably get one request from them — help with food for the BBQ.  They thought having a couple food trucks would make things much simpler and attract a lot students.  We may need to see who we know who knows food truck people and decide if we can give some financial support for this part of the plan.  If trucks won’t work, then we may need a grill master or two.

  I’m glad to see something coming together finally.  

Mark Powell