Finding Meaning

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Transformational Leadership

By Skip Hellewell

Most would agree it’s a difficult thing to be the leader of a church. I’m a keen observer of Laguna’s church leaders. These good men and women have the difficult duty of calling us parishioners to do what we least desire—to change, to set aside our guilty pleasures and become better than we are. Human tendencies considered, they may have the hardest jobs in Laguna. I mention this because of two interesting leadership events in Laguna this Sunday.

First, Laguna Presbyterian is hosting talks by noted lecturer-historian-author Ronald C. White in their Sunday services. The public is invited. White has written bestsellers examining the transformational leadership of U.S. presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. At this Sunday’s 8:30 and 10 a.m. services, White will speak about Lincoln’s greatest speech, not the Gettysburg Address (covered in a lecture to the Rotary Club today), but his Second Inaugural Address. In a 4:00 p.m. Sunday lecture he’ll speak on “American Ulysses: A New Vision of Leadership,” based on President Ulysses S. Grant.

I’m happy to learn that White is working on two more books, one on Joshua Chamberlain, a remarkable but little-known Civil War leader whom I admire. Chamberlain, a college professor, volunteered and became commander of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment. His unit anchored the critical left end of the Union line at Gettysburg. On the second day of the battle, defending the hill called Little Round Top, they were tested by repeated attacks until they ran out of ammunition. In an unexpected move, Chamberlain led a bayonet charge that stalled the enemy attack and saved the day. What has intrigued me is that his men, weary from battle, followed Chamberlain into that greater danger. It could have been a charge by one. He received the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

Chamberlain later presided over one of the most poignant moments of the war. When General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Chamberlain’s unit was given the honor of receiving the Confederate surrender. As the Confederate troops passed in defeated dejection, Chamberlain ordered his command to come to attention and execute “carry arms,” as a sign of respect for their valor. It was a long-remembered moment of graciousness by the victor for the defeated. Chamberlain was later Governor of Maine, and president of Bowdoin College. He died of complications from his six war wounds, one so serious he was prematurely reported dead, but not until the hearty age of 85.

Finally, at Sunday’s 11 a.m. mass, Fr. Patrick Rudolph will be installed as the new parish priest at St. Catherine’s Catholic Church by Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer. Fr. Pat, as he is known, is the fifth of six children of a Marine Corps family who, during college, “felt the Lord knocking on his heart” and became a priest. He was most recently Vicar for Priests in the Diocese of Orange. I’m impressed with Fr. Pat and wish him every success in his newest calling.

It’s not an easy thing to lead but all these men have done or are doing more, and they’re examples of transformational leadership. I look forward to learning more about all of them. There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.” Email: [email protected]


Places to worship (all on Sunday, unless noted):

Baha’i’s of Laguna Beach—contact [email protected] for events and meetings.

Calvary Chapel Seaside, 21540 Wesley Drive (Lang Park Community Center), 10:30 a.m.

Chabad Jewish Center, 30804 S. Coast Hwy, Fri. 7 p.m., Sat. 10:30 a.m., Sun. 8 a.m.

Church by the Sea, 468 Legion St., 9 & 10:45 a.m.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 682 Park Ave., 10 a.m.

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 635 High Dr., 10 a.m.

ISKCON (Hare Krishna), 285 Legion St., 5 p.m., with 6:45 feast.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, 20912 Laguna Canyon Rd., 1:00 p.m.

Laguna Beach Net-Works, 286 St. Ann’s Dr., 10 a.m.

Laguna Presbyterian, 415 Forest Ave., 8:30 & 10 a.m.

Neighborhood Congregational Church (UCC), 340 St. Ann’s Drive, 10 a.m.

United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley, 10 a.m.

St. Catherine of Siena (Catholic), 1042 Temple Terrace, 7:30, 9, 11, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish), 5:30 p.m. There are 8 a.m. masses on other days and Saturday 5:30 p.m. vigils.

St. Francis by the Sea (American Catholic), 430 Park, 9:30 a.m.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Ave., 9:30 a.m. (summer schedule)

Unitarian Universalist, 429 Cypress St., 10:30 a.m.


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