Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | March 17, 2023

Congregation Update: “Awake, arise, go forth in faith and Christ shall give you life.”

Blog|The Rev. Joe C. Williams

Dear friends,

A little over a week has passed since I arrived in San Francisco, and I’ve never been so aware or grateful for the blessings God continues to provide. I was greeted by a community of faith that has intentionally welcomed me as one of their own and have the privilege of working with colleagues, clergy, and lay, who embody Christ’s commandment daily to love one another. 

I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and tell you a bit about me. I’m the Rev. Joe Williams, and I’ve been called to Grace Cathedral as Succentor. In this capacity, I will assist the Rev. Canon Anna Rossi in the preparation of the cathedral liturgy and in the care and formation of all who serve our worship life. I’m a sixth-generation Oklahoman and a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. My family still resides in Oklahoma, just north of Tulsa, and regularly joins the cathedral community online in prayers from the family farm. 

Coming here was a big step and one I didn’t undertake lightly. In this Sunday’s final hymn, we will sing, “Awake, arise, go forth in faith and Christ shall give you life…” As I finalized this Sunday’s leaflet, that particular line jumped out at me. My entire vocational journey has forced me to “go forth,” and this chapter is no different. While sometimes we may understand the need to “go,” at times can be difficult, which is why prayer is foundational for each of our vocations. It allows us to settle ourselves and be receptive to receiving the light and life offered by Christ. 

In the Gospel of Mark, we are told that after the resurrection, Jesus met the disciples and implored them to “go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” Jesus met them where they were, and they went. They walked around the known world proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s love by word and by deed. The people of Grace continue this legacy by living out our baptismal promises, “striving for justice and peace…respect[ing] the dignity of every human being.” Philosopher and social activist Dr. Cornel West famously said that justice is love made public. I’m blessed to be a part of an institution that embodies this philosophy, a congregation that models the great commandment by welcoming all.

I pray your week is filled with every blessing. If I’ve yet to meet you, please say hello the next time you’re on campus or online. If I’ve already met you on Sunday, please say hi again! This Sunday is packed with excitement as we welcome Bobby McFerrin and Motion, who will lead Circlesongs at 10:30 am. We will also welcome special guests iCantori, a superb chamber choir from Walla Walla University in Washington State, and guest preacher Mary Lomax-Ghirarduzzi, the inaugural vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion and chief diversity (DEI) officer at the University of the Pacific.

May the light of Christ give you life. 

The Rev. Joe C. Williams

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