Thursday, March 25, 2010

A "Marathon of Service"

To expound on the previous post, I just wanted to put down my thoughts on this last weekend. Whenever I do volunteer work, I feel rewarded. But for some reason this last weekend felt extra special. Maybe it was just the excitement because I knew people in the marathon, or maybe it was knowing how we were helping the community. Either way, my feet were tired, but my heart was full when the weekend came to a close.

Our Church was highlighted in an LA Times article last week, which I thought I'd share here as well. Link (for as long as it works):,0,7413718.story

And here is the article:
Churches get the runaround during the L.A. Marathon
By Martha Groves
March 14, 2010

Mindful of road closures and parking problems, leaders at several churches near the race's route have made unusual arrangements for race day -- including telling congregants not to show up.

The Rev. Mary E. Haddad found it bizarre one recent Sunday to be telling the congregation at All Saints' Church in Beverly Hills to not bother showing up the morning of March 21.
"Remember the Sabbath and keep it aerobic," the interim rector said. Officials of the Episcopal church had decided to cancel all four morning services on the day of the Los Angeles Marathon and hold one 6 p.m. service instead.
"In 18 years of professional church work, I've never known anything to close church on a Sunday morning," Haddad said, adding that the decision speaks to L.A.'s automobile culture.
Genuflecting before the reality of road closures, crowds and parking problems, religious leaders at several places of worship on or near the 26.2-mile marathon route have made out-of-the-ordinary arrangements for race day.
According to race organizers, 14 churches sit along the new "stadium to the sea" route, and 88 others are within a five-block radius. The names reflect the city's diversity: Chinese Buddhist Assn., Filipino Christian Church, Centro Cristiano Pentecostal, Sung Lim Korean Presbyterian Church. Some, like All Saints', will forgo morning services and hold gatherings on the evening before, or the evening of, the race. Members of Lutheran Church of the Master in Westwood will attend Mount Olive Lutheran in Santa Monica.

Brentwood Presbyterian Church is encouraging members to spend part of its "marathon of service" weekend preparing food for homeless people, gleaning fruit in Oxnard or planting trees. Some members will remain at the San Vicente Boulevard church to play music from the film "Chariots of Fire" and cheer on runners as they pass Mile 22.

The nondenominational Paradox Community Church normally holds a 10 a.m. Sunday service in AMC theater No. 4 at Westfield Century City. Come race day, however, the shopping center will be on the route. So members will meet for a baptism at Mother's Beach in Marina del Rey, well away from the fray, said Pastor Tim Wagner.
Runners this year will go from Dodger Stadium to the ocean, passing through Echo Park, Silver Lake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood, West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. In years past, competitors ran through parts of Los Angeles not known for stunning views. This year, they will catch glimpses of such name-brand sites as the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Sunset Strip and Rodeo Drive.
Last year, the marathon was held on Memorial Day, a Monday, after a number of downtown churches complained that detours and crowds on the traditional Sunday in March kept parishioners away. For many churches, the limited access also meant drastic reductions in collection-plate money.
"Inevitably, the route would cut off access to literally dozens of churches" in downtown and South and Central Los Angeles, said Father John S. Bakas of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral. The disruptions affected nearly a million people, he said.
Memorial Day, however, proved problematic for a number of reasons. Marathon officials said participation fell by roughly 5,000 competitors, and the L.A. Marathon organization had to reimburse 2,000 runners who had thought the event would be in March. City officials also feared that hot weather could dramatically increase the number of medical emergencies among entrants. The weather ended up being mild, but officials said they could not always count on that.
Ginger Williams, the marathon organization's director of community relations, began communicating with churches months ago. A few, she said, sought directions for routing members around closures and into garages.

The Rev. Dave Carpenter, pastor of Brentwood Presbyterian, said at first it seemed "off-the-charts unbelievable" that the L.A. Marathon might stop Sunday morning worship in its tracks. Then the "marathon of service" idea took hold."The marathon could be seen as an affront to religious freedom or an opportunity to support the community and be good partners," Carpenter said."We decided right away that's better than going out and picketing."

No comments: