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JUST ANOTHER TRIP AROUND THE SUN

 

Side Trip - Tuesday, November 26, 2002 – Meeting of Interfaith Counsel of Escondido

 

Have traveled about 340,000,000 miles.

 

I took a little side trip this week – to the meeting that’s held yearly by The Escondido Clergy Association.

 

What a wonderful meeting it was.

 

Not represented were Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and other non-Christians, but this amalgamation of Escondido Christian denominations was so positive and upbeat that I would be tempted to join them weekly should they put such as that together.

 

More obviously not represented were Christians who are not ready for such gathering together – The Jehovah’s Witnesses – The Christian Scientists – The Pentecostals. There were doubtless denominations not part of the actual program – the man next to me was Congregational (His wife was singing in the choir.)

 

Not many years ago, Catholics and Mormons would have stayed away also. Progress of this kind is slow in coming. Religions tend to be conserving of their status quo. (Conservative.)

 

The choir was made up of the choirs of several churches – the Catholics among them had beautiful robes with gold crosses on them. Others had robes also – except the Mormons in the choir, who were dressed the same as the audience. The mixture was wonderful – a kind of acceptance of all. The pieces sung by the choir were led by different leaders from several churches – Mormon – Catholic – Methodist. It appeared to me that each leader was a bit enthralled to lead it. Is there something in us all that likes this “inclusiveness”?

 

On the program were Mormons, Catholics, Methodists, The mayor of Escondido, Lutherans, Adventists, Universalists. There were probably others represented in the choir – well yes – for sure at least one Congregationalist.

 

This meeting is held in a different church each year. Guess what – this year it was at our own Stake Center. What a nice support for the word “stake” and what it means.

 

In case some do not know – here it is:

 

A chain is as weak as whatever link is the weakest in the chain. That’s the way a “link” works – it is, as an electrician would say, organized in series. Each link connects to the next – and the whole chain is completely dependent on each link. Only one of them must fail for the whole organization to fail. (Some Christmas tree lights are like this – in series. If one light fails the whole string is off.)

 

A tent, on the other hand, is held in place by stakes, not links. If one stake fails, the tent may lose a little shape, but it will not fall down. The stakes work together in parallel rather than in series. This is the way the Stakes of the Church work. If one has a failing, the others will work a little harder to hold everything together – while the lost Stake can be repaired and allowed to find itself back in place. (Better Christmas tree lights are like this – in parallel. If one light fails, we can fix it now – or wait ‘til later, because all the other lights continue to work.)

 

Tonight, we, the Mormons, functioned a little like a stake of the Christian community, and this at our own Stake Center – Appropriate, Glorious.

 

Now some of these people don’t know exactly how to act in one of our buildings. I was impressed, however, that after wonderful renditions by the choir, there was no applause, though it felt imminent each time. There were no announcements concerning this – nor any instruction in the program not to applaud. To tell you the truth, I was surprised at the somehow gained knowledge of the attendants, for I have been to their churches – and they like to clap.

 

This was also the first time I have ever seen a “collection” done in one of our buildings. Plates were passed and filled to overflowing – money falling out on the floor – and laughter of pride coming from many, for the success of the offering. Someone from the stand said, “Our cup runneth over!” The money will be used for the charity work of the Interfaith Community Services in Escondido. Many of you have participated in the breakfast program for the homeless. Brother Huber was much involved and quite a proponent, bless his heart.

 

Most of the churches I’ve visited during the Trip Around The Sun have such a “pass the plate” collection. Some use a cloth bag, so that what is offered is not visible.

 

The meeting was a mixture of patriotic and Thanksgiving songs and words. We sang several patriotic songs – my favorite “America the Beautiful,” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and “Come Ye Thankful People Come.” Also “God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand.” “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

 

The choir sang more general religious songs. “We Will Praise You,” led by the Catholic director, “Come Thou Almighty King,” led by the LDS director, “The Lord Bless and Keep You,” led by the Methodist director.

 

At the beginning, colors were posted by the scouts – and then the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

A welcome message was given by our new Stake President, who appeared satisfied to represent the host of the event for this year. It set a nice tone for the whole meeting.

 

Invocation was done by our own good Mormon Bishop (Kyle Denning) – with emphasis on the Savior and our gratitude for Him and what He has done and is doing.

 

Benediction was given by the Methodist minister. Report 18 was the visit to the Methodist Church – where more is said about her.

 

She is enthusiastic and positive. There was the distinct feeling that she was very comfortable in this gathering of denominations – she could have well functioned as the minister for the group, I think because she had never thought of any of them as illegitimate while in her own church. This is a feature of Methodists and of Nazarenes and of Swedenborgians.

 

The benediction was more of an enthusiastic talk than it was like a prayer. It included an admonition to continue beyond this meeting such working together.

 

Then the choir sang their “Chorale Benediction,” what we would call the “Closing Song.” “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”

 

Then the congregation lost it – big applause. (Such control can only last so long.) It was fun to see the Mormons in the choir – enthusiastically clapping in the chapel.

 

But nobody was getting up to leave – it was as if it wasn’t quite over. The woman Methodist minister (Her name is Faith), started to leave the stand – went back to the microphone and said, “We’re leaving – you can too.”

 

Big Laughter – and friendly banter – and then cookies – lots of them.

 

It was just a side trip – heard about the meeting – invited myself – glad I did.

 

This was a happy gathering.

 

 

Side Trip - Tuesday, November 26, 2002 – Meeting of Interfaith Counsel of Escondido

 

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