In this painful and critical moment of our common life, Grace Cathedral stands committed to the deep and ongoing work of anti-racism.
Our baptismal covenant calls us to renounce the evil powers of this world and strive to uphold the dignity of every human being without exception.
It is clear to us that living into our baptismal covenant at this time means using our voices, our collective power, and our resources to demand racial justice and healing and to say, without hesitation, that Black Lives Matter. We recognize that both in the past and in the present our institution has perpetuated racism and that we must begin by naming and dismantling our individual prejudices as well as our collective complicity in institutional racism and white privilege.
We make these commitments:
To name the reality of systemic racism within Grace Cathedral and the wider Episcopal Church and to recognize the culture of white privilege.
To listen to the voices of people of color within the congregation, the staff and the wider church and world community and to act on what we hear.
To provide anti-racism training for all our staff and to build an anti-racism staff and congregation culture. We commit to taking strategic action in our hiring and advancement practices that makes Grace Cathedral a more equal and equitable employer.
To be guided by, and partner with, leaders of color in the local community in working to address racial injustice in the Bay Area.
To pray for the day when all God’s children will be free and know no barriers to the love that should unite us.
To pull-together an increasingly divided city, we joined hands to discuss issues including systemic racism, poverty and climate change, seeking to build bridges toward inclusivity and justice. We gathered in January and February for two sessions about who are neighbors are, and how we can live in community with others.
Our gatherings were filled with vibrant conversation and insight from the community, clergy and lay leaders from Grace and GLIDE, including our very own Jorim Rhee, program manager at Grace. Jorim offered her unique perspective as a child of immigrants and woman of color. Marvin K. White, GLIDE’s Minister of Celebration, facilitated the second gathering.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus outbreak has led us to pause the Who Is Your Neighbor discussions until we can gather in person again. Many participants in the Neighbors conversations don’t have access to a computer or the Internet, and their voices are essential to our work.
Glide Memorial Church and Grace Cathedral encourage San Franciscans to express the spirit of Who is Your Neighbor through action. Please read the letter below, and thank you for your efforts on behalf of the neediest among us.
We wanted to let you know our plans for the Grace/Glide Who Is Your Neighbor gatherings.
Many participants in the Neighbors conversations don’t have access to a computer or the Internet, and their voices are essential to these discussions. Rather than holding these meetings virtually, we are postponing our conversations until we are able to gather in person once again.
Look out for an announcement of new dates this summer. We’re all looking forward to gathering together again.
In the meantime, here are several ways to get involved and to learn more about the plight of our neighbors:
1. Support all those organizations that are working with the homeless during this pandemic. Our unhoused neighbors are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and also at greater risk of serious health complications. In our own anxieties let us not forget the needs of those in greatest peril.
2. Write to Mayor London Breed, Director Dr. Grant Colfax from the SF Health Department, and Trent Rhorer from the SF Human Services Agency to ask them to take UCSF up on its offer to test all shelter residents immediately for COVID-19, and move all unhoused people from shelters to hotel rooms. We are making progress, but it is far too slow. This is another action step you can take to push our city’s leaders to do the right thing. Sample email is located here:
Subject: Test and House Shelter Residents Now
I am asking as a concerned San Francisco resident that you act now to do the following:
- Test all homeless shelter residents for COVID-19 immediately. Homeless people deserve to be tested.
- House all shelter residents in hotel rooms by moving entire shelter operations into hotels. Moving the entire shelter into a hotel can happen quickly: Los Angeles is moving a thousand people a day. San Francisco should at least get this done. If they move the entire shelter, they don’t need to worry about staffing, structure, rules, food or anything else. They simply duplicate the shelter in a new, safe space — this one with private sleeping and baths.
- Let’s not wait for homeless people to get infected before putting them into housing.
3. From Faith In Action:Our PICO California family is launching a campaign to make unity visible. All over the state, people will light a candle, take a selfie with it, and post the picture with the hashtag #LightToUnite. If you’re in San Francisco, you can also tag it #ShelterfortheSoulofSF, #HotelsNotHospital Beds, and @mayorlondonbreed, with a message to shelter ALL homeless people in hotels immediately to prevent more infections and deaths. May this ritual be a way to share our hope, and give us strength to continue acting together to make real change.
4. Join this Facebook group, organizing to get unhoused people into hotel rooms, mostly from faith communities but open to all.
5. Read one of these books that help us understand race in our society. Let us know if you have difficulty obtaining one for any reason and we will do what we can to help: Bryan Stevenson – Just Mercy; Robin DiAngelo – White Fragility; Ibram X. Kendi – How To Be An Antiracist.
We look forward to being together again and in the meantime hope that you will all take good care of yourselves and look out for your most vulnerable neighbors.
With our love and best wishes,
Ellen Clark-King Miguel Bustos
Grace Cathedral Glide’s Center for Social Justice
who created us for and from love,
in this time of social distancing,
hold us close in your arms.
Comfort those who are afraid,
enliven those who are bored,
give courage to those who are distressed,
and warm those who feel the cold touch of loneliness.
Breathe in, with and through us
as we walk through uncertainty into a new future
knowing that you are with us now and await us there.
In the name of Christ the Beloved we pray.
In response to the statement The House of the Bishops of the Church of England made in their recent Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships, we at Grace Cathedral will continue to take delight in marrying couples both in opposite and same sex marriages and in witnessing to a love of God that is inclusive, unboundaried and focused on the well-being of all humanity. Read below for the full letter.
The House of the Bishops of the Church of England in their recent Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships makes this statement:
“the Church of England teaches that “sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively” (Marriage: a teaching document of the House of Bishops, 1999). Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings.” December 2019
In response to the hurt this statement has caused, and from our own deeply held beliefs about what our faith teaches us about God and humanity, the Bishop of California and the Dean, Chapter and Clergy of Grace Cathedral affirm:
- Sexual activity meets God’s purposes most fully when it is part of a loving, faithful, committed relationship and serves to build ties of intimacy, trust and mutual cherishing.
- The rightness of a sexual act does not depend on the gender of those engaged in it but in the love, respect and honoring of the self and other that they bring to the act.
- Those whom God created lesbian, gay, trans, bi, straight, intersex, asexual all bear the image of the God who is beyond gender and are all equally called to loving, nurturing, intimate relationships and to the service of God in the Church and world.
We at Grace Cathedral will continue to take delight in marrying couples both in opposite and same sex marriages and in witnessing to a love of God that is inclusive, unboundaried and focused on the well-being of all humanity.
The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California
The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young, Dean
The Rev. Canon Dr. Ellen Clark-King, Vice Dean and Canon for Social Justice
Canon Lori Coleman, Canon for Finance
Canon Katherine Thompson, Canon for Development
Canon Jeffrey Hookom, Canon Precentor
The Rev. Canon Jude Harmon, Canon for Innovative Ministries
Canon Jack Fagan, Canon Director of Operations
The Rev. Mary Carter Greene, Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministry
The Rev. Kristin Saylor, Director of Formation
The Rev. Anna E. Rossi, Succentor
The Rev. Heather Erickson, Director of Senior Ministry and Social Outreach
Many of us have been watching the detention of children and adults at our southern border with growing disgust and despair. Here is one way for those of us who are clergy to respond and try to influence public and government opinion in the direction of ending this outrage.
The following letter will be sent to The Department of Homeland Security, to Senator Feinstein and to the President:
The horrific spectacle of children being separated from their parents, detained, and held in deplorable conditions is shaming our nation in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of God. This has to stop.
We the undersigned are clergy and lay leaders from across religious faiths who are mandated reporters of child abuse, and thus legally required to report such behavior to the relevant authorities. We would therefore be remiss in our civil as well as our religious duty if we did not draw your attention to this unlawful neglect and abuse of minors in the detention centers on our southern border.
Our humanity is outraged at this treatment carried out by our own country. Let us know what steps you will be taking as a public servant to rectify this immoral state of affairs.
If you, a clergy or lay mandated reporter are willing to add your name in your role as a mandated reporter of child abuse please do so by following this link. If you have questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org. And please share widely!
Yesterday, our Executive Pastor and Canon for Social Justice Ellen Clark-King spoke at a demonstration outside San Francisco’s City Hall meant to highlight growing income inequality and economic hardship in our city. You can read her remarks below.
Hi Everyone. My name is Ellen Clark-King and I’m one of the priests at Grace Cathedral here in San Francisco. I’m here to speak on behalf of people of faith and of the God who calls us to justice for all people.
The God who says ‘let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’ cares passionately about inequality and calls us to fight against it. The God who commands us to love our neighbor calls us to build communities where all people have a chance to flourish. The God who created this beautiful, bountiful planet wants all its children to be able to enjoy its goodness.
So the struggle for a living wage and a livable city is one we all share. Growth in this city is only just if it offers growth to all. If it is only the rich getting richer then that is of no value to God or to God’s children – that is all humanity. Unlimited growth that does not include fair wages for all only increases the divides in our already tragically divided city and country.
We need to build a city where no one has to choose between paying rent and feeding their children. Where no one has to sleep in their car or to face discrimination because of the colour of their skin or because of their immigration status. Where corporations pay their employees a living wage and pay their taxes in full!
Across religions and faiths we are called to love one another. To take care of one another. To look for the common good not our own advantage. It’s wonderful to see so many people out to draw attention to this vital issue for the future of our beloved city. May God bless all who work for justice and for equality. Let justice roll down like a river and let all inequity be washed away!
The clergy and leadership of Grace Cathedral and Congregation Emanu-El issued this joint statement today:
Grace Cathedral and Congregation Emanu-El stand with the Christchurch Muslim community, our New Zealand friends and the Muslim community of San Francisco in their time of grief and mourning.
This type of violence and the hate that motivates it is unacceptable in any country and people of all faiths worldwide have a responsibility to stand up and say no. No one should fear for their safety when attending their house of worship.
This tragedy occurred on Friday afternoon when the mosque was filled with people who gathered for Friday prayers, just as the Pittsburgh killer attacked Jews at their synagogue, and the Charleston killer attacked an African American Church. This type of violence is driven by racial, religious, and ethnic hatred. Every person of faith has a responsibility to denounce this in the strongest possible terms.
In the wake of this terrible attack we call on our Jewish and Christian brothers and sisters to commit themselves to opposing Islamophobia and to demonstrate acts of solidarity with their Muslim neighbors, co-workers, and others just as we stand against anti-semitism and hatred against Christians or any person of faith.
We affirm our human solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers, inheritors with us of the Abrahamic faith and our belief that every individual on this planet, no matter their color, faith or sexual orientation, is a reflection of the Holy and deserves to live in safety and in freedom.
God of abundant life
we give you thanks for all your generosity to us your creatures.
For making our beautiful home within the universe of your creative love.
For encouraging us to be gentle and mindful guests on this fragile planet,
and loving us even when we fail.
For inviting us to share with you in holding all people within the circle of our care.
We also pray for all those whose lives are disrupted this Thanksgiving,
especially the refugees of fire in our State.
For those who have lost homes, communities and loved ones.
For those whom we have failed to keep safe, both in the human and the natural world.
For those who have fallen outside the circle of our care.
This Thanksgiving may we all grow in gratitude, wisdom and compassion
So that abundant life may take root more firmly
Throughout our beautiful and fragile planet.
In Jesus’ name.
On Sunday, August 4, Grace Cathedral held its first ever gun buy back, with the help of a grant from the San Francisco Foundation. We provided the funds, the volunteers and the venue; the police provided the security and the people to handle the firearms. It’s a ‘no questions asked’ deal. People drive (or walk) up with their guns, hand them over and get a receipt and an envelope of cash. The current rate in SF at least is $100 for a handgun or shotgun, $200 for an assault weapon, and $25 for a BB gun.
It made for an interesting morning. We were out at Bayview Mission in a part of the city that sees more gun violence than most. The first taker was an elderly woman who had walked through the streets carrying her handgun in a see-though plastic baggy. The largest number of guns given in by any one person was 12: 6 shotguns and 6 handguns. The oldest gun must have been manufactured 50 years ago. The ones we were most grateful to get out of people’s hands were assault weapons and guns from homes with children, knowing how many lives are lost to accidental shootings at home (#EndFamilyFire).
We ended up with 55 guns (plus 3 BB guns and one replica) – luckily matching nearly exactly the money we had to give.
This isn’t a cheap undertaking for a church but it is immensely satisfying. One of those times when you know that you are making a real difference. Not solving the problem of gun violence. Not undercutting the political influence of the NRA. But still doing something practical and effective – allowing people to get rid of the guns that they no longer want in their lives. Making it less likely that an unsecured gun will cause a family tragedy. Making it less likely that a moment of anger will lead to deadly violence.
Just to be clear – we didn’t handle any of the guns, that was left to firearm experts supplied by the police. We welcomed the people bringing the guns, thanked them for being willing to give them up, handed over the cash, and received their thanks in turn for offering this service.
It was a meaningful and tiring morning for Grace’s 10 volunteers. It left us feeling that our faith had truly been in action that day, and that this is something we want to do again. I encourage other churches to consider whether this is something they could do – maybe in alliance with other congregations – to help make their own locale a somewhat safer place to be.
As you may have read, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited scripture yesterday in justifying separating migrant parents from their children at the border. Sessions cited Romans 13: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established.”
When our holy scripture is being abused to defend an immoral and unjust policy it is the duty of all Christians to rise and speak out. We cannot allow such blasphemy to go unchallenged or we become complicit in the wrongs that it is being used to uphold.
It is true that the Bible does speak about obeying lawful governments, but this can hardly be thought to be its core message. Far above duty to earthly authority comes our duty to God and to God’s laws, the most fundamental of which is to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. There is no universe in which obeying the government takes precedence over obeying God’s law of love.
In this Year of Truth make sure you know which truth to follow and make sure you act to make this following more than lip service. Call your representatives, give to law firms supporting refugee children and look out for further opportunities to act through Grace.
Editor’s Note: After all services on Sunday, June 17, we will be writing letters to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to protest the administration’s policy to separate immigrant parents from their children at the border and to challenge his justifying the policy with Holy Scripture in a speech on June 14. Since the policy went into effect in April, some two thousand children have been separated from their parents.
We will offer a templated letter you can sign, as well as blank paper, if you wish to write your own, and we will mail the letters from Grace Cathedral. What better way to celebrate Father’s Day than taking action to help keep fathers and their children together?
Some truths hit us hard. In this part of Grace Cathedral’s Year of Truth we’re focusing on the truth about others and, as part of that, I’m reading I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown.
I recommend it very highly, but it’s not an easy read for those of us who live with white privilege. Brown talks about her everyday reality as a black woman in majority white environments, including the church, and the barriers that are erected, both consciously and semi-consciously, to keep her in her place. Sometimes admired as exotic, more often underestimated and patronized, but never the norm and rarely wholly seen or understood she speaks of her anger and frustration with white fragility and self-justification. She also speaks of the fear that is a constant companion:
“We fear the overreactions of white people who clutch their purses in elevators and lock their doors when we walk by… We fear that any public imperfections of our children will lead to extra-judicial, deadly consequences. Even when our babies aren’t perfect, when they are rude or disrespectful, even when they make mistakes or fail, even when their sixteen-year-old brains tell them to do risky, stupid things, we still want them to live. We want them to make it to another day.”
Fear and anger are hard and exhausting companions to live with throughout a lifetime, so what can we do to change that reality? If we’re a person of color, speak out when we feel safe enough to do so; if we’re white, actively listen and be prepared to change. And remember this is a white problem and we who are white are the ones who need to change.
Some truths are not easy to hear – but they are often the ones that we most need to be open to if we are to grow personally and spiritually. Listen to the truths that challenge you, that question your privilege, that allow you to see the world from a different perspective – and allow your heart and mind to expand even when it hurts. Speaking the truth of racism in this nation is the only way that we will find the path to justice and equality and allow us to create a new truth for America.
Last evening I joined with clergy and laity from congregations across the city to walk and pray together as a witness to peace and inclusivity. There were Roman Catholics and indigenous people, Mennonites and Methodists, Quakers, Rabbis and Episcopalians. Together we prayed for our city and our country, for justice and reconciliation, for peaceful resistance to all forces of racism and hatred. Together we committed to not stay silent in the face of oppression and to work with one another for the better world that we all long to see.
This is where hope lies in the midst of all the battering bad news of the last few days and weeks. In groups from different communities coming together, holding one another’s hands, and letting the world know that we will not let hate triumph over love.