Saints Marching In

By Richard Mineards   |   February 8, 2018
(from left) Bishop Taylor, the reverend Michael Bamberger, reverend Melissa McCarthy, Ed Fuentes of Montecito Fire Protection District, and the reverend Aimee Eyer-Delevett in front of Birnam Wood Country Club following a tour of the devastation of Montecito

All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church played a critical role on the night of the deadly mudslides, I learn.

The church was spared the worst of the damage, but became a triage center for those injured in the disaster, says parishioner Sheri Benninghoven.

“Hundreds of people descended on the church during the heart of the emergency – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday – seeking medical help and, eventually, evacuation assistance from the California National Guard, which staged operations at All Saints.

“That morning, we had dozens of people trying to get off the 101, so they pulled off at San Ysidro and into the church parking lot. The fire department started bringing the injured and all pulled from the mud to the church.

“A paramedics unit, a neighbor who is an ER doc, and a city fire engine company, as well as the rector, Aimee Eyer Delevett, her wife, and three people living on the campus became first responders.

“I think we’re all somewhat in shock. I think a lot of people did things based on adrenaline. The reaction was stunning and remarkable for everybody. The community has been hit really, really hard, and we will always think back to that week and no one will ever be the same.”

The church later hosted a Service of Hope and Healing at Trinity Episcopal Church, given All Saints was still officially out of bounds, attended by the bishop of Los Angeles, the retired reverend John Taylor, and retired reverend Diane Jardine Bruce, Bishop Suffragan.

Bishop John Tayor takes a photo of reverend Aimee Eyer-Delevett in the All Saints Sanctuary during the Diocesan visit. The wreaths of Christmas still hang in the Sanctuary, as it has been closed due to the evacuations.

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