Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Greetings, Grace Cathedral Family,

We are in the midst of Lent, walking with Jesus in the wilderness, endeavoring, as this coming Sunday’s Gospel reminds us, to keep our minds on the divine, through Lenten practice. Yet, even as we travel the 40 days, we look ahead to Easter and afterward. Even church requires planning, especially with all the activities at Grace Cathedral designed to deepen one’s relationship with God and the ministry of all baptized.

We have an ongoing need for help hosting coffee hour, usually supported by the different ministries at the cathedral. This is such an important outreach and opportunity to connect with new folks and long-time congregants. If your group is able, it would be a big help and help further the mission of Grace Cathedral via the simplest acts of hospitality — sharing conversation and good cheer over a cup of coffee or tea. Please contact Kate Seagrave at

Another thing to which we can all look forward with excitement is the upcoming consecration of bishop coadjutor-elect Austin Keith Rios on Saturday, May 4, at Grace Cathedral. People will be coming from around the nation — and the Anglican Communion — for the event. It is sure to be over-subscribed, so the Diocese of California has requested that folks register ahead of time. It is important to do so as soon as possible to secure a seat.

In the event that space runs out, overflow seating onsite is being arranged, and, of course, the event will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person. 

As we progress through Lent, amidst all the potential distractions of the world, I hope your Lenten practice is going well. If you are looking to refocus or need a spiritual jump-start, I’d encourage you to attend Morning Prayer online, Monday-Friday at 9 am, or one of our two Bible Studies, Monday at 7 pm or Thursday at 11 am. These are such wonderful ways to pray and connect; you may find yourself drawn to continue the practice after Easter!

Wishing you a meaningful and spiritual Lent to deepen your faith.


Dear Friends,

A very meaningful Advent, and Happy Christmas to everyone! This time of the year is so wonderful, and it is a signal pleasure to experience it at Grace Cathedral. Good cheer, renewed hope, and a sense of God’s holy peace come with the arrival of Christ in the world.

Because of the quirk of the calendar, Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year (4 Advent, to be specific); the clergy team thought we’d spell out the Christmas service schedule in this Congregation Update. You can also check the Grace Cathedral Christmas page as well if you have any questions.

Sunday, December 24: Christmas Eve

Monday, December 25: Christmas Day

We hope you can join us, either in person or virtually, in these celebrations and that you invite family and friends as well, in the spirit of the season. 

We at Grace Cathedral wish you a very blessed Christmas and look forward to worshiping together in the New Year! Here’s a Christmas prayer by Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, who spent some of his career in the Bay Area.

A Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson

Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,

That we may share in the song of angels,

The gladness of the shepherds,

And worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world.

Let kindness come with every gift

And good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,

And teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,

And Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,

Forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen

The Rev. Canon Dr. Greg Kimura, Ph. D.
Vice Dean

Dear Friends,

Growing up Asian American in an area with many Native Americans, Thanksgiving always seemed a strange holiday. The imagery of pilgrims and Indians sitting down together, with all the implications of blessing a land grab, never really meshed. Neither did turkey. We always got together at my uncle’s restaurant with family and friends and had Japanese food. Turkey and mashed potatoes were there, but Thanksgiving food memories for me are sushi, teriyaki salmon, and gyoza. 

Yet the emphasis on thankfulness was always there which made me feel connected to something greater than just a simple family gathering.

All holidays evolve in meaning to fit the context and the time. In the mainly Central American immigrant neighborhood where I live, it was heartening to see many young kids being escorted door-to-door on Halloween by parents and older siblings. The experience seemed new to them, even forgetting to say “trick-or-treat.” Yet, with the excitement of candy and pride in costumes, it also struck me a wonderful way for kids and their parents entering the customs of the culture and becoming American. Holidays, in this sense, are touch points of connection to others in a shared experience.

This Thanksgiving will be informed by what’s happening in the world, with all its conflicts and recent memories of holidays frustrated by COVID. Despite these very real problems and whatever challenges we have in our lives, we all have much for which to be thankful. It is important that we remember that and take time in a holiday like Thanksgiving to commemorate it.

During COVID, we even saw the rise of social media #gratitude, which is another word for thanksgiving. But the one thing we should remember about the holiday as a faith community is not only that we are grateful for what we have; we are grateful to the One who provides it. We are thankful to God for the abundance of blessings, and for the responsibility of stewardship to others, however we celebrate this day and whatever it looks like.

Happy Thanksgiving!

As all prayer is itself a form of thanksgiving, we pray:

Almighty and gracious God, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(Adapted from the BCP, Rite II, prayer for Thanksgiving Day)

The Rev. Canon Greg Kimura, Ph.D.
Vice Dean and Cathedral Canon

Dear Friends,

The attention of the world has been breathlessly focused on a sliver of land in the Middle East. Our hearts and consciences have been overwhelmed by the news each day.  

Hamas’ horrific attack and kidnapping of civilians in Israel and Israel’s military reaction and call for mass migration to south Gaza have us all desperate for a humane resolution to this flare-up in an ages-long conflict. President Biden’s visit to the area underscored US support for Israel while issuing a joint statement with European leaders that “recognize the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and support equal measures of justice and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians alike.” 

The bombing of an Anglican hospital in Gaza brought condemnation and finger-pointing to responsibility. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued a statement on Wednesday, calling the bombing an “atrocity [that] violates the sanctity and dignity of human life.” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry recalled his visit to the hospital in Holy Week of 2018 and his sorrow over the damage to the vital ministry it provides and asked for donations for the hospital. Leaders from all backgrounds have called the faithful to a time of renewed prayer. Prayer is always a good thing. Prayer brings healing, even amidst tragedy. 

The Grace Cathedral Chapter and Social Justice Working Group helped craft a prayer that has been shared on social media and at our daily worship. Last Thursday, prior to Evensong, we met on the steps and plaza to pray for “peace and reconciliation” in Gaza and Israel before processing into church. 

The entrance to Grace Cathedral has become a natural gathering place for all San Franciscans, regardless of religion or no religion, to meet and show mutual support in times of crisis. The situation in Gaza and Israel is no different. We are also open every day for individual prayer and meditation. We gather in person and online for corporate worship throughout the week

We invite you to join us in renewed prayer. We pray that peace and reconciliation come to this part of the world. And when we run out of language to describe tragedy, and are unsure of the right way forward, we take heart in knowing the Spirit intercedes on our behalf, “with sighs too deep for words.” (Rom 8:26). 

Dear Friends, 

Bay area residents were reminded Tuesday that, despite the abundant rainfall this past season, wildfires remain a concern. Here at Grace Cathedral, it happened midday. Folks walked outside to the smell of smoke and a haze enveloping Nob Hill and the City. The Wednesday senior brunch and fellowship moved online for health concerns. Everyone’s been checking their phones for air quality.

The result of shifting wind patterns from fires in Northern California and Oregon, the smoke reminded everyone that danger persists even here. Signs popped up in my neighborhood reminding residents about fire mitigation around homes. I thought back to the wildfires I’ve lived through in Alaska and California, their rapid devastation and lingering effects.

Human impacts clearly contribute to the problem of global climate change. We are doing much to reduce or even reverse them, but we have a long way to go. We have been near the tipping point far too long and are running out of time.

The church has an important role in this process. Our tradition holds robust theological views on the caretaking of creation, and our faith holds us accountable. 

Bishop Marc Andrus is a leader on the issue, not just in the Episcopal Church, but as a representative of our faith on the national and international level. This Sunday, he will preside and preach at the 11 am Holy Eucharist for Michaelmas, the autumnal feast celebrating St. Michael and All Angels, gathering the community together after summer vacations and the start of school.

Maybe by then, the smoke will pass, and we’ll see clear skies and breathe freely again until the next time. For now, it is a reminder of our precarious and inextricable connection to the natural world. It is a concrete example of the need for continued prophetic witness and urgent action by our church, nation, and world, as stewards of God’s holy creation.

Here is a Michaelmas prayer from the Church of England to remind us that, through prayer and the omnipresence of angels, we can find strength for these earthly actions:

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and mortals in a wonderful order: grant that as your holy angels always serve you in heaven, so, at your command, they may help and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ your son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

“Come unto me all who are heavy laden and travail and I will give you rest.”

Mt 11:28

The long Labor Day weekend signifies many things. It marks the end of summer for some. For others, it is the beginning of the school year. For tennis fans, it means the US Open.

Labor Day as a national holiday traces its roots to 19th-century industrialism and the organized labor movement. It is meant to celebrate the contributions to the country of workers who, often unseen, work tirelessly and frequently in difficult conditions. It acknowledges their dignity, rights, and the importance of their overlooked work to the commonweal. It celebrates, in part, by taking a day off from work.

The theological origins of Labor Day (or May Day/International Workers Day) lie in the idea of the sabbath found in the Genesis accounts of creation. God created in six days, but on the seventh rested. “So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.” 

Rest, blessing, and holiness are all of a piece with work in the Christian understanding. We give thanks to God on Sundays, celebrating in church and giving back from the fruits we have been given. And, importantly, we rest. We ritualize rest because rest along with work constitutes us as spiritual beings in our tradition. In a world of 24-hour remote work, a culture of overwork, or, when we find ourselves out of work and desperately looking for meaningful work — this is difficult to reconcile.

Many folks cannot afford not to work. They forego the rest they need, pitting two human necessities against each other. 

As a nation, Labor Day should be a day when we reflect on this as a matter of justice, and create humane working environments that respect work and workers. As a church, we should pray for — but also press our elected officials to enact policies and laws for just, equitable, and humane working conditions, including rest. 

Grace Cathedral, dating back to the 1930s, has played an important role in the area of workers’ rights. It is a tradition to uphold today.

COVID taught us how much we rely on, for example, field workers, many of whom are undocumented. This Labor Day I will remember them, especially in prayer. I will give thanks to God for their essential work in a time of global crisis. I will stand by them and march with them when called. I will also remember them — and the countless others whose work goes into creating a better country and world — when going to the polls.

Happy Labor Day and blessing to you in your various work and in your rest. 

Dear Friends,

One of the joys of summer in the Japanese American community is the season of festivals. Lately, we’ve been in Obon season. Every weekend there are Obon celebrations around the Bay and state.

Obon is a Buddhist-Shinto observance, but is welcome to everyone. It is a religious commemoration of the ancestors and includes services, prayers, singing, and dancing — Bon Odori. These are choreographed dances en masse in the street. Folks wear kimonos and hapi coats. We sing, clap, and wave fans in unison.

I love to see how it brings current generations of JA’s together to reflect on what we owe to those who passed before and to honor them. In the US, we especially remember they endured for their descendants to make this country a better place, during the WWII incarceration. We remember them with joy and pride. We hope to live up to their legacy and dreams.

Every community has much to learn from the perseverance of their forebears. We even have a name for them in the church: the communion of saints.

One time, as a college student, I dropped in late to a midday Holy Communion service. It was a traditional church. The high altar was at the east wall, and the priest prayed the Eucharistic prayer with his back to the congregation. I was the only person in attendance.

I asked the priest about doing communion with no one present, as he started with no one in the pews. “We are always surrounded by the souls who have passed before,” he said. “I’m not praying alone. I’m praying with the holy communion of saints.”

I’ve thought a lot about those words. They express a deep truth about our connection to those who came before. We, as individuals, are part of a great spiritual community. We become especially aware of that when we gather at the altar rail every Sunday. Those who have passed before join us. We feel a real sense of their presence. We are connected by the sacraments in Christ Jesus.

Like dancing Bon Odori, our Holy Communion is a group act. It is a joyful remembrance that those who have passed. We commemorate, and we thank God for them, for their building up of God’s kingdom. We honor them, and we give thanks.

The youth group left Tuesday on their racial justice pilgrimage. They are visiting historic sites in the Deep South and learning about the history of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement. Please keep them and their chaperones in your prayers.

Deacon Miguel Bustos is in Baltimore helping with the “It’s All About Love” gathering there. This is the first national event that he has helped to organize for the Episcopal Church in his new role as Manager for Racial Justice and Reconciliation. Folks are attending from around the country and the world.

We continue to work on the IT bugs as we move the Grace Cathedral server to the cloud and upgrade the phone system. We are aware that some phones are not working and others cannot access voicemail (the system is internet-based) at both the Cathedral and Diocese House. If you cannot contact a priest or staff person, please reach out via email. Our emails follow this format: first name and first initial of last name (e.g. I am gregk@gracecathedral). We hope to have these problems resolved soon!



The Rev. Greg Kimura, Ph.D. (Cantab.)
Vice Dean

O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

– Collect for 2 Pentecost

We mark the passing year in various ways at different points in our lives. The church year begins with Advent. The calendar year is in January. The fiscal year (for many) is July.

This week marks the beginning of summer for many families with K-12 students. Here at Grace Cathedral, the week has been busy with religious services and board meetings. It has also been frantic with end-of-school activities as Cathedral School for Boys students and others graduate or depart for summer.

It’s a well-worn “dad joke” that nothing proves the relativity of time more than the speed with which summer flies by. Increasingly, our young folks are programmed with sports and camps and summer jobs, and summer learning. Even the short “sabbath” of summer growth is shorter.

It is important to remember, metaphorically speaking, that even God rested on the seventh day.

Rest. Time not scheduled with to-dos. Time to recharge. Time for serendipity. Reading into the wee hours and sleeping in late. Time with family and friends in conversation…or just being together. This requirement for rest is part of what constitutes us as humans. (I might add, time spent away from “screens,” whether phones, TVs, or iPads. This is a peculiarly recent temptation that usually leads not to serendipity but distraction and isolation. We need to learn how to “be” without screens.)

Whatever your plans for the summer, I hope they include a lot of nothing. Nothing but time to simply enjoy the time, the world around us, and each other. Because before we know it, summer will have slipped away.

The Rev. Greg Kimura, Ph.D. (Cantab.)
Vice Dean

“The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than what we use. In this, if in no other way, we can see the wild and reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index.”

— John Steinbeck

This Saturday, April 24, is the celebration known as Earth Day. It is a day set aside to appreciate the natural world around us and to recommit ourselves to taking care of the physical environment of which we, as humans, are an inextricable part.

In Christian theology, this connection is part of the creator-creation distinction. Humans tend to arrogate to ourselves creator-like authority and control over the world around us as if we are separate from it. But this is hubris. The Genesis narratives of symbolic origins and developmental science tell us that we and the world around us are one. We have agency, but we are not God.

Instead, theology uses the language of stewardship for our relation to the natural world, a role we have as intelligent beings with the personal and collective power to care for it. We must care for the world, the “creation,” and the environment. Sometimes the climate crisis seems so overwhelming that we wonder if anything we do will help. But non-action is not an option, whether from a secular perspective or with the religious person’s call to stewardship.

In my previous parish in another diocese, the youth group took up the “Sustaining Earth, Our Island Home” initiative pioneered by Bishop Marc and Dr. Sheila Andrus. Through an online app, the youth walked families through ways to reduce the household carbon footprint. This includes big things like installing solar panels and small things like air drying clothing occasionally. Even simple actions can be quantified in reduced emissions with the app, so you actually see the impact being made. 

I was gratified for another reason: “Sustaining Earth, Our Island Home.” It was the energy and passion of the youth that made this happen. They stayed at coffee hour with laptops and helped the elders go through the app. If folks completed the app, they gave them a gift pack of led lightbulbs, detergent sheets, rope, and clothespins. A couple of youths visited elders’ homes and installed lightbulbs for them. It was a wonderful activity that united what is sometimes seen as a generational divide in the church. 

This Earth Day, I’m going to revisit as a way to recommit to the stewardship of creation. I will think about small, manageable ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. I’m going to continue to support those organizations and politicians that promote sound environmental policies, like our own Episcopal Church in the Office of Governmental Relations Creation Care division.

And I will take time on April 24 to appreciate the natural beauty surrounding us and thank God for the blessing and responsibility that is caring for this fragile earth.

The Rev. Greg Kimura, Phd (Cantab.)
Vice Dean

The change in weather last Sunday — Easter — truly felt like an atmospheric change to the Easter season. The warm sun came out, and all the rain of the previous months made the earth green with new life. It doesn’t always happen, but this year, the weather embodied Easter resurrection in the Bay Area.

This time of the year is also the cherry blossom festival season. Last weekend’s and this weekend’s festivities will continue in San Francisco Japantown at the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival. In Japan, this season is an important time of celebration, as the country is covered with cherry and plum trees that blossom for just a few days or a little over a week.

The beauty of the cherry blossom, or “Sakura,” is embodied in this quick transformation. The trees bud, then blossom, then the flowers fall from the branches, covering the surrounding ground in pink and white. The air is perfumed with their smell.

The arrival of Sakura marks spring and the change to warmer seasons. Their brief presence points to the annual renewal of life, hope, and the year’s cycles. Many poems, books, music, art, and movies take up the image of Sakura, such that it is an inextricable part of Japanese culture.

The blooming of Sakura and their brief life span is also traditionally a metaphor for the transitoriness of life and eternal return. Things are born to die. We are born, we live, and we pass into greater glory. 

In the case of Sakura, the blossoms fall while still alive (unlike, I suppose, a leaf on a deciduous tree), adding another dimension to the metaphor. They point to how, while alive, we should live life to its fullest, with joy, integrity, blessings, and gusto. The Sakura image even has been adopted as a way of life by groups as diverse as Buddhist monks and samurai. 

This Sunday at Grace Cathedral, we will celebrate the second Sunday of Eastertide with baptisms at the 11 am and 6 pm Eucharistic services. With the message of Christ’s resurrection and baptism, we have a message of rebirth and renewal of life in sync with the understanding of the cherry blossom. 

May our baptizands, their families, and the entire worshipping community, celebrate this wonderful, brief season of Easter. As they — and we — grow in life and faith, live with the joy and purpose we recount in the Baptismal Covenant, during the cycle of the year, until we rejoice at last in the eternal return to the God that created us with love.

And if you get a chance, visit San Francisco Japantown this weekend and enjoy this once-a-year celebration!

The Rev. Greg Kimura, Phd (Cantab.)

Vice Dean

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went up not to joy but first suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace.

— BCP, p. 272 Liturgy for Palm Sunday

This Sunday, Palm Sunday, we enter Holy Week, the most solemn time of the year, preceding Easter. On Palm Sunday (and Good Friday), we hear the story of Christ’s final hours, beginning with the entry into Jerusalem, through his denial and betrayal, to Jesus’ death. 

It is a defining truth and mystery of Christianity that to get to Easter resurrection; we have to travel through these dark days. No life can be eternal without Christ’s Passion and death on the cross. This is the essence of Holy Week.

Theologian and philosopher Cornel West calls this “the Christian tragic sense of life.” For West, Jesus’ suffering to bring redemption is the context through which we understand the world. Not all suffering is redemptive, of course, and suffering, in general, is not justified on that basis. Yet, we acknowledge that Christ died to save us from sin, from which we could not save ourselves. In the divine economy of salvation, the cross is unavoidable. This is the truth that is a tragedy.

For West, this gives Christians a clear-eyed view of the depths and perniciousness of sin — and an appreciation of Jesus’ redemptive act. Jesus endured the Passion out of love for us.

Holy Week is the last week of Lent. It is a time set apart in the Christian calendar. It crystallizes the self-reflection and moral self-inventory we undertake during all of Lent. It is also outside of time, forcing us to see ourselves in the characters of the Passion narrative. We become Peter and Pilate and the crowds. 

We contemplate and inhabit, at least for the period of time between Good Friday and Easter, a godless world. We don’t do this for self-flagellation but to truly understand the sacrifice and appreciate the redemption arriving Easter morn.

Join Grace Cathedral as we walk the last days and hours with Christ. This Sunday at 9:30 am, we will begin folding palm crosses, followed by a single 11 am Palm Sunday service (no 8:30 am or 6 pm service, as was the custom before Covid). Then attend our many Holy Week and Easter Sunday services; here is the full schedule:

April 2, at 11 am: The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
April 4, at 11 am: Chrism Mass
April 5, at 12 pm: Midday Eucharist
April 5, at 6 pm: Tenebrae
April 6, at 6 pm: Solemn Liturgy of Maundy Thursday
April 7, 9:30 – 11:45 am: Rite of Reconciliation (Confession)
April 7, 12:30 – 2 pm: Rite of Reconciliation (Confession)
April 7, at 3 pm: Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday
April 8, at 9 am: Holy Saturday Morning Prayer
April 8, at 9 pm: The Great Vigil of Easter
April 9, at 8:30 am: Easter Sunday Choral Eucharist
April 9, at 11 am: Easter Sunday Choral Eucharist with Brass and Timpani
April 9, at 6 pm: Easter Sunday Evening Eucharist 


The Rev. Greg Kimura, Ph.D. (Cantab.)
Vice Dean

Lent is a time for a new beginning, a new framing of our individual faith. It is a time set aside. Forty days (excluding Sundays and other feasts) to think deeply about deep things. A sort of cleaning out of the spiritual closet. 

The Prayer Book tells us that Lenten discipline includes (at least) three things: self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and meditating on scripture. Pray, give something up/take something on, and read the bible. It’s that simple. 

But Lent is serious work. And it is hard work. 

For these reasons, Lent holds an important place in the yearly cycle of return for the practice of our faith. It prepares us by stripping away those things that distract us from the holiness that should be central in our lives. 

I’ve also found that Lent also holds a fascination to those outside the worshiping community. When I was a university chaplain years ago, the annual Ash Wednesday service to kick off Lent was amongst the best attended. It attracted the spiritually curious precisely because of its sense of solemnity, the strange custom of ashing, and the sense of discipline involved.

It was a sign of a hunger for depth and meaning — even from that age group, the church too frequently writes off until they grow older and have kids of their own and return.  

There are some of our offerings that I will suggest for your own Lenten discipline. You can join us online, from Monday-Friday at 9 am, for Morning Prayer. The service takes about twenty minutes, and it will be a great way to start your day. We also have Thursday morning bible study and Sunday 4 pm book study. We invite you to take a class or attend a program with our diverse, open-minded community and see where it takes you.

I wish you a deep and meaningful Lent as we wander with Jesus in the wilderness to arrive at the joyful resurrection of Easter.