Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | January 9, 2024

Stewardship Stories: Phoebe Campbell

Blog|Phoebe Campbell

Spoken at the 12/10/23 Choral Eucharists.

When I sat down to think through what to say this morning, I decided to start by defining what the word “stewardship” means. I enlisted my dear friend Google, who told me this: Stewardship is “the acceptance of responsibility to shepherd and safeguard the valuables of others.”

The valuables of others— So, It’s not just my own bumbling spiritual journey?

At my first meeting after I joined the board of trustees Grace, we were told that the cathedral serves three constituencies: the congregation, the diocese, and the community. I reflected on that last one. A city isn’t one community. It’s a mash-up community of communities. Which one do we serve? What does “serve” even mean?

San Francisco is experiencing complex times. Despite what the media says and all the inequality, fear, and difficulties, there is also a tremendous amount of what Grace’s mission statement calls “courage, joy, and wonder.” There are many wise, kind, and brilliant people here, and an abundance of natural beauty. I live in Sonoma—although I consider myself an honorary San Franciscan—and when I drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, even if I am late and harried and stressed, the way the city shimmers from across the bay always makes me take a breath of gratitude that I get to be here.

So, where does Grace fit in?

In my professional life, I work with an Indian architectural practice that designs dignified spaces for marginalized people. Through them, I learned how inextricable space and flourishing are. It’s only partly about well-stacked bricks and mortar. It’s also how buildings have an essence that influences what people feel and experience inside.

Grace Cathedral is so much more than a stunning building. There are plenty of attractive buildings in this city, and what makes Grace special and unique is that it is a sacred space. Partly by its design—following centuries of tradition of cathedral building—and mostly because it is filled with the Holy Spirit and the spirits of generations of good, wise people who work and pray and preach and gather here.

Here’s what I found on Google when I asked for a definition of sacred spaces: “places that hold and extend the best in us beyond the world that inevitably threatens and saddens us . . . places where we feel part of a sacred reality.”

As a cathedral, Grace is the whole city’s treasure. When we steward Grace Cathedral through our financial gifts, we are indeed protecting the valuables of others: Access to a sacred reality available to everyone in our messy, complicated, troubled, amazing, and fabulous community of communities.

At Grace, we might find someone with fragile faith who finds inclusion and acceptance here in the pews after experiencing churches that rejected their identity. We might find a parent who wants to share the tradition of carols at Christmas with his child. We might find a seeker of no specific dogma quietly walking the labyrinth. Or someone attending a concert or a lecture or a sound bath because they know it will be an “only at Grace experience,” distinct from other

cultural venues. We will also find so many others who, for their own reasons, find what they need by coming here.

And what we find every time is a Grace Cathedral that welcomes all these people without exception. That is why I pledge to stewardship to support Grace, and I hope you will, too.

Fall is stewardship season in the Episcopal Church. It is a time for us to show our appreciation for the love we experience in our caring, inclusive community. Our participation in the stewardship campaign means that we make the ministry and message of Grace possible. When we pledge, we become a part of something bigger than each of us individually. Join us in pledging today.

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