The Laguna Beach Interfaith Council represents 8 faith based organizations within our community perfoming multiple opportunities for building understanding and support within Laguna Beach. The purpose of The Laguna Beach Interfaith Council is to further communication and cooperation among the faith groups of Laguna Beach and the community Social Service organizations to serve the needs of this community, especially the needs of the poor, the sick and the disenfranchised. The homeless in Laguna Beach who are at the ASL (Alternative Sleeping Location) in the canyon are fed dinner every night of the year, and the Laguna Beach Interfaith Participating Churches are responsible for a major part of providing those meals. They also have food, fruit, etc. available at those dinners for the homeless to take for their breakfast the next morning.

 

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In The News…

Joy of the SeasonWas Truly an Interfaith Success

By JULIETT CHESLEY

The First Annual “Joy of the Season” Festival, which took place on Friday, December 5th, was a true interfaith success.  In conjunction with Hospitality Night, “Joy of the Season”, sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Laguna Beach, was a great opportunity for the various churches within Laguna Beach to open their doors and offer free musical performances, fellowship and refreshments to the community.

The night began with The Laguna Beach Methodist Church and their mini-concert featuring the local piano quartet “Sodalis”.  The Pastor from the Methodist Church, Mandy Flemming, felt, “It was a joy to see our community come together for the pure joy of fellowship.” In regard to the “Joy of the Season”, Pastor Flemming stated, “…it was a beautiful new tradition, especially in my first year of ministry here, and it makes me so proud of the work that the Interfaith Council can do. I look forward to the event next year with great excitement!”

After the Sodalis performance, the Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints performed downtown, as well as at the Mormon Church on Park Avenue.  This choir of more than 100 missionaries from around the world brought the Spirit of Christmas to all who stopped to listen.

Submitted photos

The Missionary Choir of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The Bishop from the Laguna Beach’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, York Galland, was also thrilled by the interfaith efforts… “Joy of the Season was a huge success.  I was so pleased with the support and participation of the other church leaders and congregations in the community.  I was overwhelmed with the spirit of interfaith fellowship that was so abundant that evening.”

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church opened their doors and presented a prayer service entitled, “Blue Christmas: A Service of Comfort and Light”.

St. Mary’s “Blue Christmas” candles

According to Reverend Elizabeth Rechter, “Christmas is not a joyous season of celebration for everyone. If you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, your health, a relationship, your job, or a deeply held dream… the holidays can be agonizing and isolating.”  The “Blue Christmas” prayer service proved to be a celebration of peace and healing, with beautiful music and candle lighting for all who attended.

The Little Church by the Sea performed downtown on Forest Avenue by “The Flower Stand” throughout the evening.  Their Worship Team performed beautiful Christmas carols and provided refreshments to all who passed by.

The evening would not have been complete without the traditional caroling, refreshments and tamale sale provided by the centrally located Laguna Presbyterian Church.  Reverend Steve Sweet felt the night was a huge success… “What a great event. Every year it gets better. Having our church provide music, tamales, cookies, food, cider and a place to gather is one of the highlights of our year.”

For those who attended the various events of the “Joy of the Season”, the interfaith efforts were greatly enjoyed and fully experienced.  Beth Garlock, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ women’s group, and a devoted member of the Interfaith Council, detailed her joyful evening, “We started our night attending a wonderful piano concert at the Methodist Church.  We then attended a beautiful service at St. Mary’s, enjoyed tamales and the tranquility of Laguna Presbyterian, strolled to the Flower Stand to catch Little Church by the Sea, and ended our evening with the 100 member missionary choir and live nativity at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  This event was a great way to kick of our holidays.  We truly felt the ‘Joy of the Season’”.

The Interfaith Council looks forward to the “Joy of the Season” becoming a true Laguna Beach tradition. Laguna Beach United Methodist Church member Judy McCall felt this tradition has a real place in our community, “We all talk about peace, and pray for it in the world, but the whole Interfaith community coming together gave us a glimpse of how peace is possible. The music, the words, the food and the true sense of community really began for us that night.  God bless us everyone!”