My Highland Park story is about a local Episcopal Priest, Father Tom, and his family. The denomination of the Callard family’s Christianity is less important than their deep devotion and that of their and their Highland Park faith community. It’s extremely important to me to show through my story that this world could be a very kind one, and that people could be generous everywhere. The significance of this story lies in the path of spiritual development. My meeting with Father Tom and our conversation about the role of religion presented an opportunity to address many questions of the universe, and to walk together along the path of knowledge. And, no matter which particular road to spiritual knowledge a person chooses, all are valid if not bent on destruction.
Through my engagement with the Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland park, I try to illustrate the spiritual and moral principles of its people; the area itself is very special and controversial.
All Saints Parish was founded in 1904 as one of the first Episcopal churches in Los Angeles. It has grown, declined and grown again as the city has aged around it. Over the last twenty or so years Highland Park has become the home to many Latinos, both immigrants and non-immigrants. Our membership is currently over one thousand, with many of those children and youth. The majority of our members are Latinos who live within our neighborhood. Our former Rector, Father Bill Leeson, worked hard with the church leadership to reach out to the Latino Community and offer our form of Anglican catholicism, which is well received by most Roman Catholics.
During the height of the AIDS crisis of the 1980’s – 1990’s All Saints was one of the most active churches in ministries with those affected by AIDS. We housed an AIDS chapel and provided food, shelter, and other support to individuals and their families. The church continues to actively provide support to some families today, and continues to be a strong advocate for those living with HIV and AIDS . And we continue our tradition of fostering strong, caring leaders, Gay and Lesbian and straight, who understand that our faith is best expressed in the love we show for each other. This community has found the Anglican tradition of toleration, reason and parochial care attractive, and in fact our congregation is now one of the largest in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Like the crucifix above our altar, we believe that the arms of Jesus are open to all who seek him as Savior regardless of ethnicity, language, economic situation, sexual orientation or immigration status.
Information from http://www.allsaintsla.org/index.html
Father Tom Callard, Rector
Father Tom came to Los Angeles in 2007. Previously he served as a Vicar at a church in Chelsea, Massachusetts, worked as a missionary in Honduras, worked in a bookstore, canvassed for the environment, and was in college for a long time. Tom is married to Sagrario and they have 3 children. In addition to serving All Saints Church as a Rector, Father Tom is the coordinator of the Diocesan Program Group on Hispanic Ministries for the Diocese of Los Angeles, and former coordinator of the Diocesan Program Group on Peace and Justice.
Some religious practitioners experience the world through the path of traditional paganism, while others follow the path of Buddhism or Christianity. What’s important is that people of faith avoid caging themselves within laws and precepts. It’s crucial to the human soul to practice the religious traditions you feel closest to, in my opinion, while learning to blend in with the surrounding world. To honor religious diversity, to practice compassion and tolerance rather than being afraid of retaliation, this will teach us how to live and breathe…