Article | September 26, 2021
Stewardship Stories: Phoebe Campbell
Spoken at the 9/26/21 Choral Eucharist
My name is Phoebe Campbell. I am relatively new to Grace, as my husband Tom and I moved to San Francisco from New York in 2019.
I went to college in New York and lived there pretty much ever since. Over the decades, I put down deep roots. Leaving this for an altogether unfamiliar place was unnerving to say the least.
I knew that finding a church home would be key to connecting to my new city. I pictured myself in the pews of a small, quaint neighborhood church, 100 parishioners max, where everyone knew my name. Like Cheers, but with a communion rail instead of a bar. I had heard good things about Grace but knew unequivocally that a cathedral was not where I belonged. Maybe for Christmas Eve at some point? But would be way too enormous and impersonal to be my “everyday” church.
I set off church shopping. but channeling Goldilocks, none were “just right.” Until one Sunday, kind of by default, I wandered into Grace. To my surprise, I was drawn to the space as soon as I entered. The labyrinth. The art installations. I am fussy about choirs and sermons, and both were, of course, sublime. I nervously wandered over to coffee hour, convinced I would get stuck clutching a tepid coffee by myself with everyone chatting around me. Instead, almost immediately, several people introduced themselves and struck up a conversation. Later, when I looked on the Grace website many ministries—social justice, adult education, and even yoga, called out to me.
Grace, it turned out, was the one that would be, “just right.”
So here I stand, two years on from knowing for absolute certain I was NOT coming to Grace, with it integral to my life. I have evolved and deepened my faith, thanks to insightful, thoughtful peers in courses such as EFM, the Newbegin Fellowship and Sacred Ground. I found ways to connect my faith to justice through outreach and advocacy. I support parish life through congregation council. Most of all, I feel included and welcome in a caring, robust community of people from many backgrounds, experiences and points of view.
In thinking about what to say this morning about why I pledge, I realized there is a kind of Grace miracle. Look up and around you—this is an imposing building. I can’t pretend to know everyone here and imagine that’s true even if you are a long-time member. I consider myself very involved, yet there are many activities and ministries I have not participated in, whether due to time or because of life stage and interest.
I thought about the hundreds of others who experience Grace in ways equally as meaningful to them, albeit entirely different to me. They go to different services, participate in different ministries. Each for their own reasons. Collectively, however, we form a community that – and this is the miracle part – is simultaneously intimate and expansive.
In other words, my pledge supports what is important to me, and what is important to you. And by joining me at whatever amount is comfortable, we both help Grace to welcome many more who we may never meet or share interests with—and that’s terrific. And so right considering God’s own welcoming, intimate yet expansive spirit.