Following the Sixties


In the 1970’s Fr. Luce left for a parish in the South Bronx and Fr. Wood became the rector. Community political activism morphed into organizing for the empowerment of poor neighborhoods. Epiphany joined with 19 Roman Catholic parishes in Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, and unincorporated East Los Angeles as part of the United Neighborhoods Organization (UNO), with staff trained by Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation. Lydia Lopez, a leader at Epiphany, became the president of UNO in 1981. Among its many accomplishments during that period, UNO secured a joint powers agreement between the city and the county to fund an anti-gang violence program; helped in the resettlement of refugees fleeing the wars in Central America; and successfully involved then-Governor Jerry Brown in working with the auto insurance industry to reduce rates in poor areas throughout the state.

On Cinco de Mayo in 1981, Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury (head of the Anglican Church worldwide) came to Los Angeles. Runcie had heard of Epiphany and wanted to celebrate the Eucharist there. A festive Mass with Aztec dancers and mariachi music was attended by many clergy in the Diocese, and the street was closed off for a big party with music, ballet folklorico, and a recognition ceremony. The Archbishop shared the stage with Los Angeles Bishop Robert Rusack, Mayor Tom Bradley, and Lydia Lopez – a concentration of political and religious power that would have been impossible without the work at Epiphany of the previous two decades.