Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Dear Friends,

The conflict unfolding in the Middle East is of proportion and impact, both foreign and domestic, that we have not witnessed since the Vietnam War. The preventable starvation and incessant bombing of civilian populations in Gaza, on the one hand, and the strident and often anti-Semitic domestic response on the other, demand our best efforts and offer no easy answers.

Last Sunday, a small band of cathedral congregants braved the rain and chill to join the Unity March against Anti-Semitism. Our “Grace is Love” signs felt like good allyship, a purple accent literally awash in the sea of white and blue. The march, numbering a couple thousand people, made its way down Market Street in relative quiet, with the occasional eruption of “Hineh Ma Tov” (Psalm 133), or the chanted call to educate rather than hate. Counter-protests were virtually absent, and the atmosphere was, on the whole, light.

The lightness was remarkable given the grim progression of anti-Semitism in the Bay Area. And to be clear, I don’t mean reasoned criticism of the Netanyahu administration or Israeli military action. I mean the erosion of public systems and fragility of civil rights. I mean the desecration of Jewish symbols, the bullying and intimidation of Jewish students and employees, the denial of Jewish and Israeli groups’ freedom of assembly. I mean protests that call for the erasure of Jews from the land of Israel, or champion the likes of the KKK and Nazi regime. I mean the celebrating of abject horrors perpetrated by Hamas on October 7. There’s nothing ambiguous about this. It’s hate, and we’re called to love.

The total witness of the Gospels is to love. The way of the Cross is the way of non-violence, of love made public in justice and mercy. And so we need to continue to show solidarity with our Jewish neighbors here, and any community that becomes subject to violence and vitriol. And we must also exercise this love for the people of Gaza.

Our news feeds fill with the details of the dire fates of the civilian population, displaced in disease-ridden conditions without access to clean water or food. It’s unconscionable. Pointing fingers does little to meet basic needs. But communicating with our elected officials can move the needle. Last week, The Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs published this statement following the deaths of some 100 civilians seeking aid in Gaza. It includes this action alert to respond with your concerns to congressional representatives and our president. 

I invite you to use the alert and join me and others throughout The Episcopal Church in calling for a cease-fire. Someone else may analyze this war for its relationship to Just War criteria or other ethical or legal standards. My life of prayer, the study of the scriptures, and embeddedness in the Christian community encourage me to be a pacifist. Any time we resort to violence, it is a failure of our moral imagination. So, I encourage you to cultivate that moral imagination inwardly. As much as possible, learn the names of even a few people who are affected, and pray for them by name. Remember that we love because God first loved us. This love is revealed in Christ, whom we join throughout Holy Week in the journey from betrayal and death to the first dawn of new life. May it come quickly.

With love,


Dear Friends,

This Sunday, we journey with Jesus to the top of Mount Carmel, to a place of dazzling brilliance and divine promise. The ascent is demanding, the view unparalleled, the landscape vast, the descent sobering. The sign and import of the Transfiguration is inexhaustible, but one thing comes into clear focus: we can’t stay there. Like the laws of Newtonian physics, we move up and down.

The direction of the coming season, Lent, is all about grounding and depth. In the sparse landscape, we can rediscover, or discover for the first time, God’s love for us. Led by the Spirit, we can unclutter our inner lives, and clear and cleanse our muddied relationships with God, ourselves, and one another. 

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, this year, February 14. The ashes for Ash Wednesday are made by burning palms from prior years’ Palm Sundays. Please bring palms throughout the day on Sunday, February 11, and join us at 6 pm, when the evening liturgy concludes with a beautiful rite of Palms to Ashes. Ashes help us to recall the brevity of human life, our mortality, and the holy opportunity to return to God’s loving embrace. Participate in Ash Wednesday by praying Morning Prayer, receiving ashes at the noon Eucharist or 6:10 pm, or visiting the cathedral for confession or pastoral counsel throughout the day.

Traditional disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving facilitate our Lenten journey. For personal prayer, consider the Examen, a method of reflection in the light of God, developed by Ignatius of Loyola, with many modern reimaginings. For corporate prayer, look to the Daily Office and join us for weekday Morning Prayer. Investigate practices of fasting. And give alms for the mission of the whole church.

The imagery of Lent is wilderness and desert, but Sundays are “in,” not “of,” Lent. On Sundays in Lent, we hear gospel accounts that are designed to support adults preparing for Sacraments of Initiation, especially Baptism, and to bring the whole Christian community together in the renewal of a baptized life. Formation for adult baptism will begin on Sunday, February 18, and there is still room for you to join. 

The goal and tenor of Lent is not self-recrimination or self-development, it’s freedom. By setting aside some of our attachments, we are invited to become more fully the people that God called and created us to be. And although we’ll find some buoyancy and sense of accomplishment along the way, we don’t do this primarily for ourselves. We do it following Christ, who in absolute freedom gave himself for the life of the world. Blessed are we when we glimpse that life, in its heights and in its depths. 

Every good gift,

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi 
Canon Precentor
Director of Interfaith Engagement

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! Whether you watched the ball drop on East Coast time, or stayed up to bring in 2024 at the stroke of midnight, I hope you and yours enjoyed the festivities and the promise that a new year brings.

We need that hopefulness, that promise. On the eve of the new year, I preached about light in the darkness, and specifically how we, the cathedral community, can bring that light to bear around the Israel-Gaza war. 

As I write, I’m aware of the limits of statements to positively impact the reality on the ground — and I don’t just mean the ground in Gaza or Israel, but locally. In the framing of Christian ethics, there are three primary conditions to consider: ethical outcomes likethe preservation of human lives, ethical duties like adherence to state and/or moral law, and the cultivation of virtue. While there are many references to virtue, or virtue ethics, in the Episcopal/Anglican tradition, the fruits of the Spirit, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians (5:22 NRSV), provides a good summary: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

For us who are mostly at some distance from the conflict, the arena over which we have the most control and greatest impact is our personal conduct, including what is fermenting within us. If we are seething in anger and lashing out in protests or in social media, we are not exhibiting fruits of the spirit, and are not well equipped to contribute to reconciliation or right relationships, locally or anywhere. 

In my sermon, I cited Combatants for Peace (CfP) as a model. Founded by Palestinian and Israelis, men and women, the organization consists of people who have laid down their arms, and committed to the ways of non-violence. Among their work is an annual binational memorial for those who have lost their lives to violence. Grace Cathedral, along with many other organizations, has sponsored this important work. 

Joining CfP is the Parents Circle Families Forum, a group of Palestinian and Israeli bereaved families working for peace and reconciliation. They have created a pledge of personal disciplines that will further peace, a pledge for peace. What they propose is deeply consonant with the values of our tradition and this cathedral community. I invite you to join me in the pledge, and in the inner work that makes us ready for reconciliation.

With love,


The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor

Dear Friends,

As the war between Israel and Gaza rages on, and the flames of hatred flare at home, we might feel at sea, enraged, on edge or confused. Our feelings may nudge us to react or retreat. They might be a clue to God’s call to us. Whether our call is outward toward public action, or inward toward the still small voice, prayer is the most necessary thing. Without it, we risk to become the hate we abhor. With prayer, we can walk the narrow ways of justice and mercy, reconciliation and peace. But what do we pray? One option among many: I’ve composed this Anglican Rosary for Peace, drawn from texts of our tradition. Here is how I’m holding their themes.

Canticle O: A Song of the Heavenly City

This portion of the Revelation of John, published in Enriching our Worship I, speaks to a community in catastrophe, in the midst of persecution and the aftermath of the destruction of the second Jerusalem Temple. Part of what sustains them is the unveiling of the city of peace. It is a place where diverse peoples come to walk, where the rulers of the earth glorify God, and the light of Christ the Lamb illumines the way. It is a place where trees grow to their heights, the water of life flows, and the nations have recourse to healing.

Psalm 122

Found among the psalms of ascents, this is a pilgrimage text. It is to Jerusalem that the tribes go up — they are a people on the move toward God. The diverse tribes are gathered in unity of purpose and voice, to the praise of God. It implores peace: pray for the peace of Jerusalem, peace within your walls and quietness within your towers. But there is also a responsibility for the one who prays: because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.

Palm Sunday Antiphon

The antiphon for the weeks, prayed 28 times in one cycle of the rosary, is taken from our Palm Sunday gospels. Jesus, there the acclaimed leader, is not of this world. He enters the city gates on a donkey. He has no military vanguard. In a few short days he will offer his life in perfect solidarity with the will of God and the needs of the world. But first, the triumphant entry, as the crowds shout: “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

While often sung as a hymn of praise (think the Sanctus in the celebration of the Eucharist), the word “hosanna” actually means “please save.” It is a plea for help. The antiphon, including “Blessed is the One…” is also a recognition that no matter the circumstances, God continues to send help, to send earthly representatives that guide us toward heavenly values. Therefore, even our cries for help can be held in tempered joy. God does come salvifically in humble, unexpected circumstances; God never ceases to call us to walk through Good Friday’s valley of the shadow of death toward the promise and disorienting mystery of Easter Sunday.

Nunc Dimittis

The Song of Simeon, taken from the presentation of our Lord in the Jerusalem Temple (Luke 2), is a spontaneous hymn of praise following a life of fervent prayer and searching. Simeon was waiting expectantly for God’s self-disclosure, and his waiting and prayer prepared him to recognize it in the Christ Child. “Lord, you now have set your servant free,” prayed at Compline, Evensong and in funeral processions (themselves Easter celebrations of the Resurrection), it encourages our faithfulness. Even when the earthly outcomes are uncertain, God’s promise is for us, and for all.

Pray constantly. Then pray again. Seek the good of the peoples and the land.

With love,

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor
Director of Interfaith Engagement

The texts below can be prayed with an Anglican Rosary, either individually or in a small group, and may be preceded by a time of gentle silence. Here also is a general introduction to the Anglican Rosary. This rite may be prayed for peace generally, and is designed in response to onset of the October 2023 Israel – Gaza war. 


O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Praise to the holy and undivided Trinity, one God,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Invitatory: A Song of the Heavenly City 

  • Enriching Our Worship I, Canticle O

I saw no temple in the city, *  
for its temple is the God of surpassing strength and the Lamb.  

And the city has no need of sun or moon  to shine upon it, *  
for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  

By its light the nations shall walk, *  
and the rulers of the world lay their honor and glory there.  

Its gates shall never be shut by day,  nor shall there be any night; *  
Into it they shall bring the honor and glory of nations.  

I saw the river of the water of life,  bright as crystal, *  
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  

The tree of life spanned the river, giving fruit every month, *  
and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  

All curses cease where the throne of God and of the Lamb stands,  
and all servants give worship there; *  
There they will see God’s face, whose name shall be on their foreheads.  

To the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb *  
be blessing and honor and glory and might,  
for ever and ever. Amen.

Cruciform: Psalm 122

  • St. Helena Psalter

I was glad when they said to me, * 
“Let us go to the house of God.”
Now our feet are standing * 
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built as a city * 
that is at unity with itself;
To which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Holy One, *
the assembly of Israel, to praise the Name of God.
For there are the thrones of judgment, * 
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: * 
“May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls *
and quietness within your towers.
For my kindred and companions’ sake, * 
I pray for your prosperity.
Because of the house of the Holy One our God, * 
I will seek to do you good.”

Weeks: Palm Sunday Antiphon

Hosanna to the Son of David.
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Concluding Invitatory: Nunc DImittis

Lord, you now have set your servant free
To go in peace as you have promised.
For my eyes have seen the savior,
Whom you have prepared for all the world to see
A light to enlighten the nations
And the glory of your people Israel.

Concluding Cross: Aaronic Blessing

The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious to us. The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us peace.

Dear Friends,

The attic of the house where I grew up was my father’s study. Lined floor to ceiling with books from graduate work in theology, philosophy, and ethics, the shelves also held some hidden gems of literature. By the time I spotted them, I was in junior high or high school. Well before the advent of Google, the only way to get to know them was to crack open the cover and read.

I found a well-worn paperback of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. I savored its context in a one-room Paris apartment and neighborhood gay bar, and imagined the streets where I would later live. I wrestled with the themes of sexual identity, desire, and isolation that had little place in high school curriculum. I think I read it twice that year, and it marked the beginning of my lifelong interest in Baldwin’s writing and place in American literature and culture. 

All this took place in the heyday of the religious right in my native Ohio. Still, reading Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye was an undisputed junior-year rite of passage. I had to stumble upon Baldwin, but I have no memory of his work being banned. Reading even works with whose tenants we vociferously disagreed — Jonathan Edward’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” comes to mind — was normative, and certainly not dangerous. I knew that there were times and places where books were banned, but that was not considered the tactic of a centrist society.

A few decades later, Ohio is not so purple. Across the country, books that opened my world and mind are banned, and one camp’s literary gem is another’s cultural poison. It is such a prominent cultural feature that we now have a week and an organization devoted to banned books and displays at local bookstores.

We can’t turn back the pages of time to a world where the center could hold more, but we can do something quintessentially Anglican together: develop a practice of reading works from authors whose perspectives we do not share. In the well-worn pages of a borrowed or used book, we can walk in other worlds — and so become the mean between the extremes. 

In support of the many LGBTQ+ authors and works that have been banned, and in enthusiasm for his work, I’m proud that Grace Cathedral is joining churches around the country to bring British Anglican trans poet, educator, and activist Jay Hulme. Look for details about his next radical act on the evening of Wednesday, November 15: reading with us.

With love,

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor

The University of Texas Tower, Columbine, Sandy Hook Elementary, UN Plaza, Mission Street, or a family’s home. When did the shooting start? And when will it end? 

At the same time The United States faces an epidemic of gun violence, civilian ownership of military-grade weapons has risen to numbers never seen before. This love affair with guns, sometimes cloaked in Christian language or endorsed by Christian institutions, is an affront to the love of Jesus, and the love of neighbor to which every Christian is called. 

The ubiquity of guns leads to more deaths. And each tragic and preventable death is met with a litany of thoughts and prayers. While well-intended and even sincere, these thoughts and prayers alone will not heal the scourge of gun violence. They are not enough.  

Relentless and sometimes sensationalist media coverage of mass shootings also obscures the fact that most incidents of gun violence — 99% of all shootings — include fewer than 4 people. The multiplicity of these shootings adds up. 

This sort of gun violence most commonly happens between people who know each other and who escalate tensions from an argument to a deadly result. But this also means that individuals have extraordinary power to reduce or end violence in their communities. Healing is possible through prayerful action, through sensible legislative reform, through moral leadership and courage. 

This month, CA state legislators passed SB2, which limited concealed carry of weapons in public spaces, including houses of worship. While faithful to “the general welfare,” this legislation is widely expected to be challenged, perhaps even at the Supreme Court. 

The stakes continue to climb higher, and so voices of courage need to be stronger in the public sphere, for the common good.  The Episcopal Church has consistently taken positions to limit and heal from gun violence, with General Convention resolutions dating to 1976.  

In this spirit, Grace Cathedral is embarking on an extended campaign, “Beyond Thoughts and Prayers: Responding Faithfully to Gun Violence.” Through education, the arts, community partnerships, solidarity, and advocacy, we will explore the cathedral community’s role in healing this plague of violence by joining with other concerned communities and by supporting legislation that results in fewer guns on our streets.  

On October 8, at 12:30 pm, join Jahan Fahimi, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at UCSF, whose groundbreaking research and advocacy centers on gun violence as a public health crisis. With cathedral trustee and fellow UCSF faculty and physician Lenny Lopez, Fahimi will reflect on the epidemic and the opportunities for advocacy and reform.

Dear Friends, 

On the night of Jesus’ betrayal, the Gospel according to John records an extended teaching, which scholars term Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse.” In its narrative context, the lyrical, mystical poetry is intended to shore up the disciples and prepare them for Jesus’ glorification on the cross and ultimate return to the Father. Jesus prays: “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” (John 17:11 NRSV) And Jesus continues: “I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (17:23) 

Theologians have understood the unity of which Jesus spoke as proleptic (already and not yet), or eschatological (fulfilled at the end of time). We might look to it as both vocational and aspirational — that is, it is the work and hope of every Christian, by the grace of God working in us. And while this work is common to the whole Church and shared among its members, it is particularly expressed in the Episcopate, the Order of Bishops. 

The rite of ordination of a bishop makes explicit this vocation of unity. In the Examination (BCP 517), the Presiding Bishop describes the call to the Bishop-elect, who is “called to be one with the apostles,” and to “guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church.” The first liturgical act that the Bishop-elect leads in the rite is the Nicene Creed: We believe in one God, and by the Holy Spirit, one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. The theme of unity continues after the prayer of consecration and laying on of hands. There, Presiding Bishop then prays that the new Bishop’s heart will be filled so that they can “serve before (God) day and night in the ministry of reconciliation.” (BCP 521) 

A Bishop’s ministry of reconciliation concerns not only pronouncing God’s forgiveness at the confession of sin, but the church-wide and public exercise of their ministry to gather, heal, and share God’s love for the world. Episcopal ministry has been understood as central to the reconciliation of church bodies, dating from the 1886 Chicago Quadrilateral, four criteria for Christian unity, written by Episcopal priest William Reed Huntington and affirmed by the House of Bishops in the Convention. (The unifying role of Bishops was also understood as central to Anglican polity and identity when the Quadrilateral was adapted and affirmed by Anglican bishops at Lambeth two years later.) 

Chicago and Lambeth affirmed “the historic Episcopate, locally adapted.” There is no one way to be a Bishop or to exercise a ministry of reconciliation. While the purview of a Bishop is decidedly global — each is called to “share in the leadership of the Church throughout the world” (BCP 517) — the exercise is often local and particular. Bishops confirm individuals with names, stories, and gifts in the unity and faith of the apostles. They ordain deacons and priests in the same. Bishops convene specific interfaith, civic, and other partners, with whom they build relationships over time, and partner to respond to the real, human (and ecological) circumstances on the ground. 

When Jesus convened his disciples on that fateful night, he prayed that they would be one. Jesus would not need to pray for what already was in its fullness. He prayed because the disciples were also going to be scattered; they were going to betray, deny, despair, disagree, disbelieve, and drift away on their boats. None of this dissuaded Jesus from his prayer, call, and ultimate faithfulness; neither should it dissuade us. This is the faith of the apostles. It transformed the face of the earth. Thanks be to God who gives us signs of unity and the ministry of reconciliation, that by them the world may glimpse the love that makes us one. 

With love,

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor
Director of Interfaith Engagement 

This is the third in a series of reflections on the Election of the Ninth Bishop of California. You’ll find the first and the second on Grace Cathedral’s blog.

Dear Friends,

In the first of a series on the election of the ninth bishop of the Diocese, I reflected on the interdependence of the Body of Christ, and of the orders of ministry (lay persons, deacons, priests, and bishops). In this second part, I want to underscore that each of us has a role and responsibility to play in the governance of the church. Moving from the theological to the practical, what follows is a bird’s eye view of making a bishop in our church.

In some Christian traditions — notably in the Roman Catholic Church — bishops are appointed. By contrast, in the Episcopal Church, we elect bishops. This distinction follows from an Episcopal/Anglican understanding of authority, which echoes democratic structures. On the one hand, the Bishop is the Ecclesiastical Authority. Diocesan governance provides that “in addition to being the Ecclesiastical Authority, the Bishop is the Chief Pastor …” (Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of California, 2018, Article IV) And on the other hand, that authority is exercised with others: “The authority of the Diocese is vested in and exercised by its Bishop (and Bishop Coadjutor, if there is one), its Conventions, Annual and Special, and its Standing Committee, acting under and in subordination to The Episcopal Church, its Constitution and Canons and its General Convention.” (Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of California, 2018, Article III)

In The Episcopal Church, the Standing Committee plays a prominent role in the governance of the diocese. The Church provides for a Standing Committee in each diocese, and its broad remit. “When there is a Bishop in charge of the Diocese, the Standing Committee shall be the Bishop’s Council of Advice. If there be no Bishop or Bishop Coadjutor or Suffragan Bishop canonically authorized to act, the Standing Committee shall be the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese for all purposes declared by the General Convention.” (The Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, 2019, Article IV) Other purposes of the Standing Committee are determined by the Diocese. (In our case, the President of the Standing Committee is an ex officio member of Grace Cathedral’s Board of Trustees.)

This model of governance was exemplified when Bishop Marc publicly announced his retirement on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, July 22, 2022. That announcement followed several months of working with the Standing Committee to anticipate the requirements and form of an election for his successor. The Standing Committee in turn helped to form the Search and Transition Committee of the Diocese (Learn more at

We will soon see some of the fruits of the Search and Transition Committee’s work. An initial slate of candidates will be announced on Friday, September 22. Consisting of those who applied by May 31, 2023, candidates will have undergone a substantial review of their applications, supporting material, and references, as well as multiple interviews and a retreat, before being put forward. On September 22, the committee will also open a process for candidates by petition through Friday, October 27, the eve of the Diocesan Convention, when the final slate will be announced. From November 2 through 6, the people of the Diocese are encouraged to attend one of the Meet and Greets with the final slate.

When the diocese convenes on Saturday, December 2, we’ll elect a Bishop Coadjutor, who will serve alongside Bishop Marc in a few months’ transition. The “we” includes a majority of the clergy entitled to vote, and not less than two-thirds of all the parishes and missions, including the cathedral, represented by at least one delegate. Cathedral delegates are elected at the Annual Meeting of the Congregation. So, if you voted at Annual Meeting in January 2023, you have contributed to the election of the next bishop.

In the December electing convention, the clergy and lay delegates vote separately, and the candidate must win a majority of both to be elected. (Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of California, 2018, Article XII) The election result then proceeds to the whole Episcopal Church, where it must be certified by a majority of the Bishops with jurisdiction, and the Standing Committees of those dioceses. (The Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, 2019, Article II, Sec. 3.) And then follows an ordination and consecration — an update unto itself.

I see in the intricacy of this governance process the extraordinary care that our forebears took to ensure that the Spirit moving through each of us could give rise to a Chief Pastor, the principal steward of the mysteries we celebrate in the same Spirit.

Almighty God, giver of every good gift, by your grace you have called us into one fellowship of faith: Look graciously on the people of the Diocese of California during this time of transition. May we be guided in heart and mind by your Holy Spirit to seek and welcome a faithful pastor who will care for your people and equip us to perform the work of the Church. Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us do. Save us from all false choices, that in your light we may see light, and on your path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

All good things,

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor
Director of Interfaith Engagement

Dear Friends,

Save us from all false choices. This sage bidding is included in our prayer for the Bishop Search and Transition process, and borrowed from a Prayer for Guidance in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (p. 832). Its human authors recognize that we are too often captive to mutually exclusive propositions and that asking a good question is as important as defining a good response.

On December 2, 2023, the clergy and lay delegates of the Diocese of California will convene at Grace Cathedral to elect our ninth bishop. The election is actually for a coadjutor, allowing for a time of transition with Bishop Marc, before his retirement. The successor is, among other things, asked to build on Bishop Marc’s leadership in ecological and social justice, and to discern with the congregations and institutions of the diocese as we grapple with the impacts of a post-COVID, inequitably digitized, climate-impacted, and yet grace-filled world.

The forthcoming election generates excitement about possibilities, as well as curiosity about the mechanics of the election, and the significance of the orders and bishops to our Episcopal/Anglican tradition. For today: The faith that has been handed down to us is an ordered faith, understanding the structure of the church to be expressed in distinct charisms and commitments. The largest and most important order — the laity — emerges from the waters of baptism, affirming that each of us is a child of God, charged with an essential faithfulness to the Almighty, the Christian community, and the whole creation.

Those whose Church expectations were formed in a small parish, or in another Christian tradition, might next think of a priest, pastor, or senior minister. In a practical sense, if they were the only staff cleric, that person may have been the principal preacher, teacher, minister of the sacraments, or decision maker. If they had a long tenure, they may have had an outsize influence on the community’s understanding of orders — the community may or may not have had the sustained presence of a deacon or bishop, or a fulsome sense of the authority given to the laity at baptism.

The aspiration of an Episcopal cathedral is quite different: my fervent hope is that by being part of this worshipping assembly, by encountering a variety of priests and deacons in their roles, and by praying with Bishop Marc and perhaps being confirmed, or hearing him pronounce God’s forgiveness or blessing, you are building a nuanced and composite image of what it means to be an ordained minister for the church. You know that each of us expresses a call with a different accent or emphasis, and, I hope, that those accents speak to the depth and breadth of Christ’s body.

In his First Letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul writes: “Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body…If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? … But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.'” (NRSVue 12:14-21, excerpted) “Save us from all false choices,” the prayer continues, “that in your light we may see light, and on your path, may not stumble.” How many muscles and organs it takes to walk without stumbling?

We are approaching the program year, where the cathedral will have a significant role in the sequence of events leading to the election (December 2), ordination and consecration (May 4), and eventual seating (date tbd) of that bishop. There will be times of intentional preparation and reflection for the election, which will be planned in August. We will host a meet and greet with the final slate of candidates (November 2, evening). And most importantly, we will continue to pray for the process, for Bishop Marc and Sheila as they continue to love and serve the people of this cathedral and diocese, and for the sign that we are all called to be as Christ’s body, mutually dependent, broken and poured for the world.

Every good gift,

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor
Director of Interfaith Engagement

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you today to share with you some information that may have made it a little harder to connect with your cathedral in the past weeks. Two weeks ago, we had a technical event that impacted our telephone and voicemail system. We expect the system to be fully restored in a few days. If you have tried to reach us by phone and have been unable to leave a voicemail, please accept our apologies. Until phone systems are fully restored, email is the best way to reach the staff. If you don’t know the email address of the person you hope to reach, email with the person’s name in the subject line, and your message will be forwarded.

The cathedral clergy are here to support you in your time of need. Often that is a prayer, or sitting together during a hard time, or making connections for health and mental health support. If you have a prayer concern, the best way to communicate that is to email It will ensure that your concern is included in the daily rhythm of prayer, a ministry to which many people, lay and ordained, staff and volunteer, contribute. If you wish to bring a personal concern to a member of the pastoral staff, write

There are also those rare and poignant circumstances when an accident occurs, or someone is admitted to the hospital, and after-hours support is called for. If you have an emergent need such as this, and are not able to reach the pastoral emergency phone, please call my extension at (415) 749-6396, or that of the Rev. Canon Mary Carter Greene at (415) 749-6369.

The cathedral offices and programs will be closed on Monday, July 3, and Tuesday, July 4, in honor of Independence Day. Amid barbecues and fireworks, please join in praying for our country, in your own language, or in the tradition of our prayer book:

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Every good gift,


Dear Friends, 

Among the great delights of our new flat is the local farmer’s market. It unfolds on a small street off Columbus, and its relatively small footprint boasts lively vendors, delectable produce, unparalleled sourdough, and third-wave coffee. Part of our Saturday morning shtick is for my wife Amie to wax poetic about the day’s finds, and each walk down the street is marked by some anticipation of the following week’s treats. It’s stone fruit season! 

Yesterday, I gave myself 20 minutes to run an errand that took me across the very street. This time, it was filled with flats of produce in 50-pound bags. I gazed up to see a line of people waiting to receive food, stretching down the city block and around the playground. The people standing in line were overwhelmingly ethnic-Chinese elders, standing single-file, masked, six feet apart in relative silence. And the atmosphere felt heavier than the flats of produce. Today, I made a small contribution to the San Francisco Food Bank as an acknowledgment of this shared space without common ground. 

The Daily Office lectionary has led us into the Letter of James, a small portion of the New Testament that drew great ire of the Reformers for its assertion that faith without works is dead. The letter is critical of wealth, not for its own sake, but because of its emotional power and externalities — the unseen and unjust ways that the costs are born, out of sight and out of mind. In our reading this week, a phrase leaped from the page: “Let the brother or sister of humble means boast in having a high position and the rich in having been humbled because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.” (NRSV 1:9-11) 

Absent smartphones, energy drinks, and Wi-Fi-enabled flights, exactly how busy were the rich in the pre-industrial Mediterranean? What timeless insight! Few of us are rich by local standards, but compared with the span of the globe and the centuries, many are. It is often in the disruption of business as usual that we are reminded of our relative comfort and the great gifts we have been given. And as in my neighborhood, many of the disparities are hidden in plain sight: I don’t fear hunger, and my immediate neighbors do. 

Pentecost Sunday, May 28, we welcome the Rev. Norman Fong to The Forum and the pulpit. From his humble beginnings in Chinatown, Norman has become a Presbyterian minister of deep faith, and a passionate activist for housing, social welfare, and civil rights. His generous vision of a society that seeks common ground — Norman has said to me before: we both share noodles; this is the beginning of a shared table. Please join us for this festive celebration of Pentecost, which also concludes AAPI Heritage Month. Consider what you hope for, and what you will bring to a shared table.

With love,

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor
Director of Interfaith Engagement