Remembering Mama Jean


Last Saturday, we had a beautiful memorial service for Mama Jean Pannell, beloved member of our All Angels’ family since the 1980s. The gospel choir sang some of her favorites like “How I Got Over” and “O Happy Day,” imagining her singing and dancing her heart out right there with us. There were both tears and laughter as we shared stories about her. The Reverend Mark Swanson, former Director of Community Ministries, sent this precious remembrance of her from his days on staff at All Angels’:

My most prominent memory of my friend Jean comes from a winter’s day after a coat drive we had just completed at All Angel’s Church. Among the bags and bags of coats we received, someone had donated a beautiful fur. I can’t, for the life of me, understand what it was doing inside one of the black hefty bags I unloaded from the back of my father’s truck that day, along with the surplus army jackets and worn topcoats. I kept it in a closet in Palmer Hall and then, after the Pathways drop-in center closed its doors that Thursday afternoon, presented it to her as a gift from the Lord. Jean began to cry. And jump up and down. And hug me, as she cried, and jumped up and down. I don’t think I’d ever experienced such undiluted gratitude before, and I haven’t since.

Another memory that comes to mind is her ability to take teasing and the occasional practical joke, especially from me. One of Jean’s greatest fears was of rats. She, for very understandable reasons, hated them more than you can imagine. One day, someone brought in a remote controlled rat- a fake rat pelt covering a toy car chassis with eyes that had a malignant red glow. Well, Jean was at the front security desk and so I sent the rat into her space from around the corner of the stairwell. As I followed it in a moment later, smiling ear to ear, Jean was standing up on top of the desk, looking for the heaviest object she could find to throw at the little beastie. And then she saw me, and that she had been had, and immediately collapsed into unbridled laughter, her eyes shut, tears rolling out of them. Jean was a good sport.

I have been away from New York for nearly ten years now, and when I think of my days at All Angels’, Mama Jean is among the best of all the people I had the pleasure to know. She was tough as nails, kind and giving, deeply loyal, and never one to put up with what she felt to be false or unjust. She was a force. She was, as I think about my life as I approach my fiftieth year, one of the few people who have every truly loved me. That’s a fact.

I miss her, but I now look forward to the day in Jesus’ presence when I will see her again, and she will hug me, and we will cry, and jump up and down together again.

-Rev. Mark Swanson, Vancouver British Columbia.

Getting On To God’s Agenda

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Acts 1:8

Dear All Angels’ Family,

We kicked off our Acts teaching series last Sunday with Jim’s challenge to us as a church to get off our own agendas and get on to God’s. He challenged us to:

  • Take a spiritual health check and ask ourselves, “If Jesus really alive to me? Am I walking with him as a friend or is he a character in a book?”
  • Ask, “What are the agendas I have for All Angels’?” and to bring them under the Lordship of Christ.
  • Commit ourselves to the task of prayer day and night as we await the
  • Holy Spirit’s leading for our lives and for All Angels’.
  • Be open to whatever the Spirit wants us to do: a new vision, new tasks, new worlds to reach, even to experiencing persecution for the gospel as we follow Jesus.

If you missed it and are wondering where it is on our sermon podcast, there were some technical difficulties and we are working on getting it re-recorded and posted as soon as possible.

We also launched the survey, an important first step in our self-study, seeking to learn more about who we are as a church and what we are looking for in a Rector who will lead us in this next life stage of our church. Jim shared the words of John Wesley, “God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it,” and exhorted us to make prayer our first priority: “Do not fill out the survey until you have been down on your knees.”

This Sunday, Christine will be preaching on Acts 2:1-11, the story of Pentecost and how the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples to be Christ’s witnesses. May the same be true of us as we begin this new year and new season!


Jim & Christine

Launching Into 2018

Dear, All Angels’ Family,

Christmas 2017 seems a long time ago. There is a sense of energy and excitement as we head full throttle into our 2018 program. This week we are launching two new initiatives that we want to make sure you are aware of:

  • Our sermon series on the Book of Acts. From now until the end of June, we shall be looking at the Early Church and asking how the lessons they learned as they changed the world can be applied to All Angels’ in 2018. This will be a challenging series. We encourage you to commit to coming every week and, if you are unable, to listen to the sermon on our website or iTunes podcast.

There will also be opportunities to engage in action resulting from the teaching. This Sunday the Missions Committee will be sharing and inviting us to rethink our engagement with missions. We will pick this theme up again as we journey through Acts.

  • We launch the Self-Study survey which is part of our search for a new Rector. The Search Committee met for three and a half hours last week and agreed on a survey to be sent to all those actively engaged with All Angels’. More details are below.

In addition we encourage you to continue with or join the Bible Project’s excellent Read Scripture schedule, which includes 3-4 chapters of Scripture and a Psalm daily. It is very exciting. Things to note this week:

  • Cards with each day’s readings for the month will be available in the back of the sanctuary. Please feel free to take one.
  • David Larrabee will be leading a discussion on how the reading is going in the Whiting Room at 11:30 after Sunday morning worship. We invite you to join in.
  • We have started an All Angels’ blog where along with reflections on the readings, we will post follow-up thoughts on the Acts sermon series, share what we’re thinking about these days, give book recommendations, and much more. Details below.
  • Talk about the readings with other church members. What did you learn? What was challenging?

Above all, please be steeped in prayer. The next few months will be crucial to the future of this church. We will either move forward in unity into God’s next phase for us or we could slip into disunity if we take our eyes away from Jesus. Let us fix ourselves on him.


Jim and Christine

New Sunday teaching series on Acts

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

I am excited that we are starting a new teaching series this Sunday looking at the Book of Acts. We shall be learning how the Early Church turned the world upside down in a little over a generation and asking how we could apply these lessons to All Angels’ in 2018. Please get on board and journey with us. If you miss a Sunday, do listen to the sermon online. – Jim