Grace and GLIDE’s Who Is Your Neighbor Series

By The Rev. Dr. Ellen Clark-King

Wednesday, April 29

At the beginning of 2020, Grace Cathedral and Glide Memorial Church partnered to create series of community discussions called Who Is Your Neighbor. 

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 justiceWe gathered in January and February for two sessions about who are neighbors areand 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 GraceJorim offered her unique perspective as a child of immigrants and woman of colorMarvin 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. 

Dear friend,

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:

Email To:
MayorLondonBreed@sfgov.org
Grant.Colfax@sfdph.org
Trent.Rhorer@sfgov.org

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.

Sincerely,
Your Name

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

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