Most helpful positive review
Pilgrims who went Before
on May 14, 2002
I commend Diana Butler Bass for sharing the story of her own transformation and growth in the context of growth and change in the Episcopal Church. My sense is that the hearts of many will sing as they read words that they feel they might themselves have written.
My purpose is to set the record straight for I was there in relationships and in places where she was not. I took this book from the shelf at our local bookstore because of the title, Strength for the Journey. I first heard and then used those words as curate and then associate at All Saints, Pasadena where every Sunday without fail George Regas would proclaim, "Wherever you find yourself on your journey of faith, you are welcome." George Regas was carrying on the long standing tradition of welcoming and empowering a diverse and gifted household of faith. Ed Bacon has gracefully and effectively continued to do so. So also, did Gethin Hughes carry on according to his gifts the ministry of nourishing and empowering the household of faith called All Saints by the Sea after the retirement of George Hall. But the changes Diana describes did not come out of the air. They came from seeds planted in those very eras which Diana criticizes. The eras when George Regas and George Hall served.
Diana never met "George and Sally" and has no idea of the breadth of their ministry to others not only those who attended All Saints but those in the community beyond who simply were in need. I know because I am blessed to be their daughter as well as an Episcopal priest. A recent obituary of George Hall features a photograph in which he is holding one of the more than 1,000 babies he baptized. Not one of those babies was baptized on one of the "tony" estates the author describes. I quote from that same obituary, "Although (the Reverend George Hall) was officially rector at All Saints by the Sea for 32 years, his ministry, community involvement and love for his fellow men and women led him into many other activities and organizations in Santa Barbara and the surrounding area. The list is staggering: He was on the founding boards of the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, the Children's Home Society, the Alcohol Information Services...Casa Nuestra, etc..He always worked to help the homeless and those who battled drug and alcohol abuse, and he supported education at all levels..." He and his wife, Sally, walked the walk. I remember George Hall proclaiming at the end of services, "Go forth and be the Church."
The more than 400 people who gathered to celebrate George Hall's life were far more diverse in age, economic status, race and religion than one might expect if one only read about him through Diana Butler Bass's book. But she never knew him. I pray that we all might continue to be blessed by the God who teaches and transforms us from generation to generation.
The Reverend Frances Hall Kieschnick
Palo Alto, California