Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | May 5, 2020

“Close the churches, open the beaches,” Dean Young urges in a Chronicle op-ed


“Close the Churches, Open the Beaches,” urges Dean Malcolm Young in an op-ed in the May 4, 2020 of the San Francisco Chronicle. He writes,

“From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we have understood that churches can lead to the spread of the virus …. Our rituals often involve physical touch, sharing communion bread and wine, and singing together …. Grace Cathedral closed its doors during the Spanish Influenza in 1918 and we are closed today.

“Biblical prophets frequently teach that God cares more about justice and the treatment of poor people and strangers than about how we worship. Proverbs 21:3 says, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” … Although going to church is central to how I keep the sabbath, we are showing our love for each other by staying home these days.

“At the same time there have been no clusters of infection … around surfers and walkers at the beach …. Photographs … [can] distort reality and make people appear to be much closer together than they really are. In fact, surfing and walking at the beach, especially here in foggy Northern California, are most often solitary activities …. If particular beaches have been a problem we should address this on the local level.

“… Although … experiences in nature are not a substitute for worship, … parks and beaches have important spiritual meaning to millions of Californians. The ocean and the wildlands feed our soul during a time when we especially need this nourishment. During this time of suffering and tension, during the mental health crisis that is also sweeping over us, it seems especially important to keep natural places open.”

While the cathedral building remains closed, our life together continues online — daily Morning Prayer, Yoga on the Labyrinth, The Forum, weekly Bible studies, Thursday Evensong, and worship on Sunday at 11 am and 6 p.m. Check out our worship services page and events calendar, and sign up for newsletters to connect and participate.

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