John Taylor consecrated bishop coadjutor of Los Angeles in ‘grand fiesta’ of unity, diversity

By Pat McCaughan
Posted Jul 10, 2017
Taylor consecration

John H. Taylor kneels before the co-consecrating bishops during the litany at the July 8 consecration service in Los Angeles, which included some 20 bishops from as far away as Kenya. Photo: Donna Machado

[Episcopal News Service – Los Angeles, California] The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor was ordained and consecrated bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Los Angeles on July 8 in a “grand fiesta” of celebration highlighting the diocese’s rich cultural diversity and its focus on mission.

Korean drummers, Chinese dancers and a mariachi band led processions of bishops from across the Episcopal Church as about 3,000 laity, clergy, ecumenical visitors, interfaith guests and civic leaders gathered for the service at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles. Another 8,000 watched the celebration by live-streamed video.

Banners representing the diocese’s 140 congregations and institutions lined the pavilion’s entryway prior to the start of the service. Taylor chose the theme “Feeding Hungry Hearts” for both the consecration service and his episcopate, and guests were invited to bring grocery gift cards for distribution to those in need.

The Golden State British Brass Band performed musical preludes, and two choirs – 80 choristers from congregations across the diocese and the Episcopal Chorale Society – offered musical selections during the three-hour multilingual service led by Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

taylor mitre

Newly ordained Bishop Coadjutor John H. Taylor of the Diocese of Los Angeles receives a mitre from his wife, Kathy Hannigan O’Connor. Photo: Elizabeth Kurtz

Co-consecrators included Los Angeles Bishops J. Jon Bruno, bishop diocesan, whom Taylor will succeed upon Bruno’s retirement; Diane Jardine Bruce, bishop suffragan; Chester Talton, resigned bishop suffragan, and Sergio Carranza, resigned bishop assistant.

Some 20 other bishops attended the ceremony, including Bishop Onesimus Park, Diocese of Busan and primate of Korea; Bishop Joshua Switi Ouma of the Diocese of Maseno East, Kenya; and Bishop Donald Tamihere of the Diocese of Tairāwhiti in the Anglican Church of New Zealand. Near the end of the service, Tamihere and five young people from his diocese performed a Maori song and dance to express unity with the Los Angeles diocese, followed by a haka ceremonial dance.

Bishop Guy Erwin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, assisted by the Very Rev. Dajad Yardemian; and Rt. Rev. Edward Clark, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of Los Angeles (Roman Catholic) also were present.

Resigned (retired) Episcopal bishops resident in the diocese of Los Angeles attending the service were Edward Mackenzie, former bishop suffragan of Cape Town, South Africa; Catherine Roskam, former bishop suffragan of New York (now serving as bishop-in-charge at St. James’ Church, Los Angeles); and Artemio Zabala, former bishop of North Central Philippines.

Other Episcopal bishops attending were Barry Beisner, Diocese of Northern California; Patrick Bell, Diocese of Eastern Oregon; Mary Gray-Reeves, Diocese of El Camino Real (California); Michael Hanley, Diocese of Oregon; Scott Hayashi, Diocese of Utah; Edward Little, Diocese of Northern Indiana (resigned); DeDe Duncan Probe, Diocese of Central New York; Gretchen Reberg, Diocese of Spokane; Greg Rickel, Diocese of Olympia; Allen Shin, bishop suffragan of New York; Kirk Smith, Diocese of Arizona; Brian Thom, Diocese of Idaho; and Carl Wright, bishop suffragan for Federal Ministries.

Attending from dioceses in companion relationships with Los Angeles were Enrique Trevino of the Diocese of Cuernavaca, Mexico; and Dean Hosam Naoum of the Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East, representing Archbishop Suheil Dawani.

The Diocese of Los Angeles has strong and active ties to other faiths and denominations in Southern California, and the congregation included a number of interfaith and ecumenical representatives, including: Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council; Rabbi Morley Feinstein, immediate past president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California; Father Alexei Smith, interfaith officer of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles;  Simon Simonian of the Society of Friends (Quakers); Judy and Steve Gilliland, representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Interreligious Council of Southern California; Swami Atmatattwananda and Swami Atmavidyananda of the Vedanta Society of Southern California; and Tahil Sharma of the Sikh community.

Of the consecration service, Taylor, 62, said: “Today is a giant celebration of the unity in Christ of the people of God discovering through the beauty of the liturgy, the beauty of the music and our faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to bind us together, to bind up our wounds, and heal our divisions and listen to each other with love and without rancor and by talking to one another face to face about the things that inspire us, the things that worry us, the things that divide us.

“We have been fed today to go forth into the world to do the work that Jesus Christ has prepared for us, to feed his people, to work for justice, to work for unity, to work for peace. It was a grand fiesta in the Diocese of Los Angeles.”

Following gospel readings in Tagalog, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Spanish and English, the Rev. James Brenneman, served as preacher.

Brenneman founded the Pasadena Mennonite Church, where he served for 20 years. In May 2017, he was named president of the American Baptist Seminary of the Southwest. He had also served as a faculty member of the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont, teaching Old Testament scholarship.

He drew laughter from the congregation when speaking about the hybrid nature of his ministry, noting that students at the Claremont seminary had gifted him with a T-shirt that said “Episcomenalian” and that he considered himself “either a high church Mennonite or a low-church Episcopalian”.

Continuing Taylor’s stated theme for his episcopacy, he said he was deeply troubled at reading that “we the people through our elected representatives and our president are proposing to cut $193 billion from food stamp programs in the next 10 years … (when) 13 percent of American households are food insecure.”

The entire service may be viewed on the diocesan Facebook page here.

Arrangements for the service were handled by a 14-member committee led by the Rev. Canon Melissa McCarthy, vicar of Church of the Epiphany, Oak Park, and dean of the diocese’s northernmost geographic deanery. Robert Williams, canon for community relations, provided staff support to the committee.

Taylor was elected to become seventh bishop of Los Angeles by the 121st annual meeting of the diocese on Dec. 3, 2016. He is the 1,101st bishop of the Episcopal Church.

He is a native Detroiter, the son of journalists and a published novelist. Prior to his election, Taylor, who formerly served as an aide to former President Richard Nixon and later as first director of the Nixon Presidential Library, was vicar of St. John Chrysostom in Rancho Santa Margarita, in the Los Angeles diocese. He and Kathleen Hannigan O’Connor, another former Nixon aide, married in 2002. He has two daughters, Valerie and Lindsay, and two stepchildren, Daniel and Meaghan.

Taylor will succeed Bruno, who has served as diocesan bishop for more than 15 years. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles was established in 1896 and encompasses 65,000 members worshipping in 140 congregations located in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Immediately after the services, guests enjoyed a dessert buffet reception in the park across the street from the pavilion.

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.