Blog|Gabriela Strand Bruce
Spoken at 10/10/21 Choral Eucharist
Being from San Francisco, I have always known about Grace Cathedral and I remember a special school field trip to study the Ghiberti Doors – who would have thought then, that I would eventually become a Docent here.
I started to worship here in 2004. I remember the day I came to walk the labyrinth and stayed to check out the 6:00 service; in those days it was in the Quire. I was sitting in the back pews by the labyrinth. The Verger came up to me and invited me to join the service. I said that I was fine; I did not want to interrupt the service which had already started. He said, “Oh no, we reserve seats on the aisle for latecomers”. I told him that I’d already had communion earlier in the day. He said, “You can have it more than once a day. I’ll walk you up there”. Episcopalians talk about radical welcome, this was it. It seemed like a long way to the Quire, but we walked together, he led me to my seat and I stayed for the service. I came back week after week.
Not long after that, I saw a notice about the annual meeting. Mary Wood was staffing the table. She asked if I was a member. I told her that I’d been giving weekly; I didn’t really know the term stewardship. Mary explained that pledging meant making a commitment, becoming a member and voting. I joined on the spot and have never looked back. Pledging changed my relationship with Grace –made me a member, not just someone who comes here, someone who belongs here. I have heard people say that getting married deepens your relationship; well, in the same way, pledging deepens your relationship with Grace. This is my church. Let me say that again. This is my church and I support it with my heart, my prayers, my work and my treasure. I am so proud of Grace Cathedral and all of its people. Are we perfect, of course not. Do we try hard? Absolutely, with God’s help, we do God’s work, for each other and for ourselves, because we are also enriched by doing this work.
When I look around, I see so much more than a beautiful building, with amazing music and liturgy. I see a community, my community. After pledging, I requested a meeting with the Vice Dean, Fran Tornquist, to see how I could volunteer and participate more fully in the life of the Cathedral. She asked me to join the Stewardship Committee and wear my nametag. Little did I know that I would soon be co-chairing it with one of my best friends, Ron Johnson who everyone called Dr. J. I have made so many of my closest friendships here. Grace means so much to me, within these four walls and beyond. I have a relationship with the Bishop’s Ranch. Heck, I have a relationship with the Bishop. We follow Jesus’ command to go into the City sharing our vision of the world as civil, loving and caring. Because of Grace, I do Jail Ministry – I don’t think that I would have done it otherwise, regardless of Jesus’ command to visit the incarcerated.
As a child in my Catholic church here in San Francisco, some of my earliest memories are of going to church and putting my family’s contribution into the collection basket. My siblings and I would trade off weekly as to who got to have that honor. In addition, I was so proud to put in my own personal offering, a quarter which I had saved from my weekly allowance. All of us kids did that.
There’s been a little inflation, but I still have that habit, that value, of giving to my church, of supporting the mission, of supporting God’s work, of supporting our shared life here together.
I often wonder what it would be like if everyone pledged or if those who could, pledged more?
I wonder what it would be like if everyone who comes to Grace could have the feeling of truly belonging to this place like I do? To know that Grace Cathedral is your church home. I would love that for everyone.
Please join me in pledging this year. It’s easy to do on the Grace site and there are stewardship brochures in the pews.