Sunday, August 23, 2020

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

We are all in this together


Hello St. Paul’s,

The other day I sent an email to a couple of my chamber music friends, just to check in. We haven’t been able to play together since February, and I have been strangely reluctant to pick up my viola and practice it during the pandemic, although I have, strangely, been playing the piano. I was curious to know how other musicians were coping. My friends responded that they too have been neglecting their instruments, or, in the case of one multi-talented individual, some of his instruments. All of us have remained healthy and haven’t suffered economically, so it’s a bit of a mystery why we would stop doing something that gives us so much joy, just when you might think we would have lots of extra time to do it.

I know how well off I am. Each morning I thank God for another day of health and another day of opportunities to work with people I love. Nevertheless, I confessed to my friends that I have ups and downs, and one responded with dismay, because he has only ever seen me being cheerful and upbeat.

I think a lot of us have been putting on a brave face for many weeks, and I have to wonder how much longer we can keep it up. I’m noticing some frayed tempers and increasing crankiness in our community. I think there’s a lot of pent-up suffering out there, whether the cause is a lost job, or a delayed surgery, or terror of getting sick. And there are people who are just angry: angry about having to stay home, angry at having to wear a mask, angry at losing a vacation or an income, angry at the roller-coaster of closures and reopenings.

I get it: believe me, I get it. We’ve been trying to launch our outdoor worship, and every time we are ready to go, something happens and we have to change it again. We are trying to plan for the future, but every plan has to be hedged around with conditionals, like “in the event of” and “Unless…”. And then there is the pressure to feel and express compassion and outrage for other terrible things that are happening, like police brutality, or extreme weather. I wonder if you feel as exhausted as I do when people demand strong reactions. I know I’m not alone in sometimes wanting to say, “I wish I could care more, but I only have room for so much caring, and I’m pretty full up right now.”

So, what do we do about this frustration, this anger, this depression, this compassion fatigue? We are people of faith. We trust in the promises of God. We have a treasury of tradition to fall back on. We have familiar prayers and Scripture passages that we can recite together or alone. The Psalms provide for expression of every emotion known to humanity. And we have each other. Maybe we can dare to let someone know what we are feeling. Maybe we can invite a friend to share their burden, not with any expectation that we can fix it, but with the assurance that we are all in this together. Let’s be kind to each other and offer a listening and confidential ear.

And meanwhile, for our own comfort, here’s a slightly modified prayer from the Prayer Book: Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through these times of frustration, sadness, and impatience, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness.; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

See you on Sunday.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Hearing the Word

 Hello, St. Paul’s.

One of my favorite Collects goes like this: “Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life …” We hear it on the Sunday before Thanksgiving every year.

Hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest: the Church seems to be telling us that we should first HEAR the Scripture, and only then read and study it. In ancient times most people didn’t have access to written materials, if they could even read, and so they encountered the word of God by hearing it. In our literate age we tend to depend heavily on written texts, even to the extent, sometimes, of being critical of someone reading aloud when they deviate from the text by a single syllable.

While I don’t encourage anyone to offer extemporaneous translations of Scripture in church, I do think that we can keep in mind that these are not just translations but paraphrases of ancient material, and sometimes we can lose sight of the power of Scripture if we get too bound up with the script. When I used to serve regularly as deacon I sometimes enjoyed memorizing the Gospel and telling it as a story, with no book between me and my listeners. It was striking how many people started off following word for word in the bulletin but soon put down the paper and became fully engaged in the story.

Where am I going with all this? Well, I want to invite you, in our Zoom and streamed worship, to let go of the bulletin a little and allow Scripture to speak to you. We have a roster of excellent lectors, and with online worship everyone has a front seat, so you should have no trouble understanding the reader. You might try closing your eyes and imagining the scene the reader describes. At other parts of the 10:30 service, we will soon include a shot of Cherie Dean providing a simultaneous translation into American Sign Language. If you’ve ever noticed Cherie signing during a service you know how beautiful and graceful it looks.

To start with, Cherie will simply be signing some of the fixed parts of the service, such as the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed: these can be pre-recorded and replayed every week so as not to abuse Cherie’s gift of time. Earlier in the summer Cherie offered a forum in which she started to teach us how to sign the Lord’s Prayer: she will continue with this on Sunday. Now we have a great opportunity to expand our reach to those whose first language is ASL, by both incorporating it into our services and by learning the basics ourselves. When we return to cautious, in-person worship, signing the Peace will be a helpful alternative to physical contact.

So, this Sunday, try hearing the Scripture before you read it: it may come alive for you in new ways. And thank you, Cherie, for sharing your gift with us.

See you on Sunday.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Sunday Sermon: the Grace Margin

In our lesson from the Hebrew scriptures today, Elijah is tired. He has performed mighty and spectacular acts to show that the God of Israel is a living God. He has thrown down the altars of competing gods. He has killed 450 prophets of the god Baal. The signs Elijah has demonstrated have been excessive: big, showy signs of strength and power.

Elijah has just performed a particularly spectacular ritual that involved bulls, water, and fire. Jezebel, with her prophets decimated, threatens to kill Elijah. He gets scared, and he flees. He runs about 300 miles by foot into a cave, where we find him in this morning's reading.

Elijah has worked hard for God. I imagine him to be tired, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

God comes to Elijah. But God does not come in the way God has shown up for him in the past. While Elijah's past works with God have involved elaborate and ornate displays of power, this time God is not to be found in the wind, in the earthquakes, nor in the fire.

This time God is found in the sheer silence. And it is hard news. Elijah is being decommissioned. Elijah will always be a favored and treasured part of God's history with God's people, but it is time for a new way. A new prophet is being called- one that works differently than Elijah. There will not be as many spectacular shows of power as there were in Elijah's past. This new prophet will be less showy and work more subtly.

Frequently in the scriptures the people of God are challenged to change, to grow into a bigger understanding of God. Time and again, from the story of the exodus to Elijah to the story of the exile to the story of Jesus calling Israel to grow into to the way of love, it has been hard for the people of God to trust in the unfolding of God's love in bigger ways than we can imagine for ourselves.

Right now many of us are tired like Elijah. I am tired. I do not want to hear about change, much as I imagine Elijah did not. I would much have preferred to write a very comforting sermon, to feel somehow validated that we are ok for feeling adrift in a world that seems to have come loose from its moorings, to yearn to return to stable ground.

But I think both things are true-- that it is ok to feel adrift, and the story of the people of God asks us to embrace change. The gospel story this week is helping me with that.

That passage begins where we left off last week- with Jesus and the disciples tired and exhausted, grieving and reeling from the tragic news of the death of John the Baptist. As they sought a place to grieve and adjust to the change, they unexpectedly met a crowd. Jesus, rather than giving the disciples a day off because it had already been a long day, asked them to serve. To give. They fed the crowd, with miraculous results.

And now, even more tired, they seek refuge. So Jesus sends them ahead on a boat.

A boat or ship is a metaphor for the church. It has been so long since we have gathered in the building, I want to show you a part of it. We call the space where we gather the nave. Nave is a word that means ship. Often the building, as with our own, is designed to call to mind that metaphor, to remind us, the Church, that we are on this voyage together. The Church is not the building. But the building reminds us of who we, the Church, are called to be. We will weather the storms together. We will keep going. The buttresses of the beautiful Notre Dame cathedral that burned recently are said to symbolize oars. We are each called to take an oar on this metaphorical ship and row together to a destination. We row forward, to wherever God is calling us. To someplace new; to new life; to the yet fully unknown kingdom of God we hope and pray for.

This boat in our gospel story has been battered by waves, it faces strong winds. It is a hard journey. I think we can relate to that. But Jesus comes to them. He will arrive at the boat and lead the boat through.

Peter, always the eager one, decides he wants to leave the boat.

Jesus does not object, but the experiment is not exactly successful. It is the safety of the boat that leads through the storm. Jesus arrives in the boat, calms the storm, and leads the journey on safely. We are in this together. It is not by anyone jumping out and running ahead that the boat moves forward. It is by Jesus calming the storm that we can listen in the silence, grab an oar, and heed the direction of our navigator.

Many of us begin this month the anti-racism work of Sacred Ground. The work of anti-racism has always been a spiritual practice for me as a white person; a model for the white church- the whole church- to heed. It should be obvious that racism itself is evil. But the practices of anti-racism are central to the Christian faith: listening, valuing the other, being mindful of one's power and how it is used: the theme of wrestling with complacency and privilege as God calls us into something bigger than ourselves.

White privilege is always insisting that it is my right to jump out of the boat. That I deserve to meet Jesus first, or that this faith journey is only personal- it is private between Jesus and me. White privilege lies and says that like Peter, I should leave the other disciples behind in the boat, because there is something extra-special about me that makes it ok for me to abandon them. But Peter can't do it alone. Neither can we. Those reminders of humility, to listen, to stay connected: to be in the boat, valuing my traveling companions- those are some of the reasons why anti-racism are, for me, intricately connected to my faith.

I cannot love my neighbor if my faith is primarily an exercise in my own self-interest; if faith is a personal matter. The God I follow loves each and every one of us just as fiercely as he loves me. I cannot then develop a faith that ignores my impact or connectedness to any of those around me - to do so is the heart of privilege.

Whether you are participating in Sacred Ground or not, I want to offer this model developed by Eric Law as a template for being church.
See below for larger version 

Many consider the church to be a safe place; a kind of haven for personal healing. Certainly it is that, but that is only an entry point. The mission of the church is to change the world, to reconcile humanity with God and each other. If we stay in this comfort zone of personal healing, personal growth, and inward direction, we fail to live into the mission God gives us in the world. Congregations with large comfort zones tend to have large percentages of people who are the same age, the same race, or the same class. In this zone we can become complacent; we can stop listening to God's dream of living into a bigger vision for the world than our own minds can contemplate. We need varied voices to live into God's dream. None of us have claim on God's vision on our own. Without engaging difference we fall into complacency.

Conversely, if we have an 'anything goes' attitude-- if we truly embrace anyone, let's say, someone openly carrying a weapon in worship-- that may push us into a fear zone. It is hard to truly grow to know the other in this zone when we feel threatened. Navigating what is fearful requires an honest conversation. We all have different boundaries. "Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey of faith you are welcome here" is aspirational, and I love that and use it often. But while we may want everyone to feel welcome, there are limits to who actually feels welcome and who we actually welcome when they show up. Being honest about those limits is important when negotiating what this fear zone boundary is. Is it using non traditional music in worship? Maybe it is the use of Spanish language in principal services? Where the boundary lies is not nearly as important as striving to be gentle, open, and aware that there is a boundary so that we are not disingenuous in our welcome to those who fall outside of it. Westart not by trying to move the boundary, but by naming it so that we can create a grace margin.

And that is the sweet spot, this middle spot, the grace margin. Congregations with big grace margins are comfortable with making safe, brave, and courageous space. There are intentions set in that kind of space-- it is less about who my friends are than it is about how I make space for people I would not normally associate with at coffee hour. In this space we make room for those assumptions to be named out loud, to give room for courage and vulnerability. St. Paul's has done a particularly good job of creating a large grace margin for those who live outside, and our hospitality for that group has been established carefully and thoughtfully over the years. We just negotiated a larger grace margin for children in worship with the prayground this winter. Where are our other opportunities?

Some congregations have thin grace margins. Others have large grace margins. If the expectations are not set well, we will retreat to the comfort zone when someone who does not fit the norm comes in from the fear zone. We retreat, like Elijah and so many others in our tradition, to retreating to what has worked for us in the past- but risk becoming closed to what God is doing now. In the grace margin, we set intentions to listen carefully, not for the wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire that so rattle the world around us. Instead, in the grace margin, we act with intention to listen in the stillness to where God might be leading us in this great ship of the Church, together.

Right now we are in the process of growing our grace margin around race. That requires care, and thought, and deliberation. It requires thought and care to our group norms, liturgical practices, and customs: what pushes us into fear, and what draws us into complacency as a congregation? How shall we be intentional in a time of change about staying present to ambiguity, neither being fearful of change nor attempting to return too quickly to what is comfortable?

We are in this boat, my friends, and the waves and the winds are high. But Jesus comes to lead us to still waters, if we have the courage only to stay on this voyage, together- and be led by hope into something bigger than we can ask or imagine.

The Rev. Canon Jeff Martinhauk
Proper 14A, August 9, 2020
St. Paul's Cathedral, San Diego
1 Kings 19:9-18; Matt 14:22-33

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Seeking Explanation

Hello St. Paul’s,

When bad things happen, we look for explanations. It’s part of the amazing curiosity and drive of the human species that we seek answers to all the mysteries of the universe, and that includes the mystery of illness. Why does one person get terribly sick or die from COVID but not another? And, on a much larger scale, why is humanity being afflicted with this awful virus? The scientists seek answers in epidemiology, and the politicians seek scapegoats and imagine conspiracies, but there’s a strand of human nature, going back millennia, that attributes misfortune to sin.

We see it over and over in the Hebrew Scriptures: in Psalm 78, which we read this week in morning prayer, we hear it put quite succinctly: “they went on sinning and had no faith in [God’s] wonderful works. So he brought their days to an end like a breath and their years in sudden terror.” (vss 32-33). In other books, when the people of Israel were driven into exile they attributed their suffering to their lack of fidelity to the God who had brought them out of slavery.

This bad theology survives today in those who preach that America is suffering because of a cultural current or a political direction, or those who suggest that rape happens because a woman somehow asks for it. But as Christians we know better. We know that natural disasters are nobody’s fault, that there is no justification for violent assault. We know that Jesus didn’t deserve to suffer a horrendous death. We believe in a God of love, not in a God who extracts terrible vengeance or who causes suffering.

So how do we explain this to ourselves and each other? How do we make sense of our world in this time? People are getting sick and dying prematurely. Businesses are going bankrupt. Individuals are losing their savings and their livelihoods. Whatever we may think about government policies, the source of all this hardship is a virus that has no consciousness and no agenda. We cannot blame a virus for doing what viruses do.

Our species is incredibly resilient. We can and have adapted to the most challenging circumstances and have not only survived but thrived and advanced in understanding, technology, and wisdom as we have come through pandemics, wars, famines, totalitarian regimes and everything else that either nature or humanity’s worst instincts could throw at us. We live in an age when mystery is suspect and the internet tells us that everything is explainable, but as people of faith we accept that there are some things we will never understand. We can look back through three millennia and see how our ancestors overcame hardship, and we can look to the teachings of Jesus to lead us forward in spite of all the challenges, confident that the future belongs to our loving God.

Assigning blame and focusing on negativity doesn’t help anyone’s emotional health. Instead, join me in rejecting the bad theology; let’s embrace a theology of the beloved community, knowing that with God, everything is possible, and that life abundant is still the promise.

See you on Sunday!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Sunday Sermon: You Give them Something to Eat

In the name of the holy Trinity, one God.

When I was a child in Ireland in the 60’s, my mother had a credit account at the butcher’s, the baker’s, the pharmacy, and the grocer’s. Each shop was small and specialized, and didn’t offer a wide array of choices. The advent of supermarkets changed our shopping habits, and when I came to the US and walked for the first time down a store aisle solely devoted to varieties of breakfast cereal, I was flabbergasted.

Much more recently, I have learned the term “food desert”- a neighborhood, typically in a city, where there are no choices at all, where the only place within walking distance where you can buy food is the 7-11 or the tiny ethnic market. Both of these – the cereal aisle of 100 choices and the food desert – co-exist in our nation. And something about that seems wrong to me.

The passage we heard from Matthew’s Gospel picks up just after the death of John the Baptist. You might remember that he was imprisoned by King Herod for telling truth to power, and subsequently murdered in jail when Herod’s teenage stepdaughter demanded John’s head as her reward for entertaining the king’s guests. We know that Herod hesitated but then gave in because he was unwilling to lose face in front of his powerful friends. The prophet was killed, essentially, on the whim of a despotic ruler in order to preserve his fragile ego.

What a terrible waste of a life. No wonder Jesus wanted to go off on his own to grieve the senseless loss of his cousin. The juxtaposition of these two stories is significant. Herod throws a lavish feast for the rich and powerful, with an outcome leading to death; and then Jesus throws a party for hungry people and offers them abundant life.

The miracle of the loaves and fishes is very familiar, and with good reason: the story is told six times in the four Gospels. It’s the only miracle told by all four Evangelists, and Matthew and Mark both thought it was good enough to tell twice. It is clearly one of the most important stories about Jesus that we have.

Jesus wants to grieve in peace, but the crowds won’t leave him alone. They are hungry, starving for good news. They are oppressed, afraid, voiceless, ruled by leaders they cannot trust, regarded as barely human by the occupying forces, seeking a word of comfort, of encouragement, yearning to be fed w

ith God’s word, God’s love. And, by the way, they are people of color.

And Jesus, even in his grief, cannot deny them. He is the word of God incarnate. The whole purpose of his life on earth is to embody God’s love. He is moved in his very being by the needy people before him. He has compassion for them – you might remember a few weeks ago when our preacher talked about that word compassion, and how the original term means a twisting of the guts, a visceral compulsion to reach out in solidarity to those who are suffering. Jesus cannot help but love these people.

But evening comes and the shadows lengthen, and the disciples realize that they have a huge problem: five thousand men, plus women and children, in a deserted place, as dinner time looms. They are in a food desert, not even a Quik-Mart in sight. How are these people going to be fed? Send them away, they tell Jesus. This is beyond us. But Jesus shocks them with his response: YOU give them something to eat.

Oof: that one landed right between my eyes. YOU give them something to eat. YOU take care of these crowds in food deserts both physical and spiritual, these people who cannot feed their families with a full-time job, these people who are hungry to hear God’s word and feel God’s love. YOU offer hope to those who suffer from injustice, YOU offer comfort to those who fear losing their privileged place in the world.

The disciples turn out their backpacks and come up with a few snacks. Jesus takes the bread and blesses it in front of the crowd. Perhaps he uses the words of our Psalm: Blessed are you, Lord God: “the eyes of all look upon you and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.” As he reminds his listeners of their relationship to God the open-handed giver of all good things, they think of what they have in their pockets. How can it be right to eat my picnic when the person next to me has nothing? And a miracle happens, and people are fed, community is created, and God is present.

When everyone pitches in, when we all empty our pockets and open our hands to pool our resources, there is plenty for everyone. Some of you have donated your COVID subsidy to the church or to other non-profits, because you don’t need it. Some of you have made special donations with the money you could have spent on vacations or eating out.

Loaves and fishes. This is the true miracle of faith, when human beings overcome our fear of scarcity and our tendency to hoard, and instead share freely what we have with those who have less. Our national myth of rugged individualism has corrupted our sense of communal responsibility. It is act

ually a blessing to have enough to be able to share: that’s where we are blessed by God, not by building bigger barns like the rich fool in Luke’s Gospel. In the wealthiest country in the world, people go to bed hungry. This is a scandal and a sin, but it’s one that we can mend, if we work on it together.

If we were sharing the Eucharist today, this Gospel would be an obvious lead-in to the sacramental part of our worship. As it is, we are fed by God’s word alone in this season, while we witness the growing hunger of our neighbors in the face of an ever-worsening economic catastrophe. What can we do with our meager resources?

Perhaps we have more than we realize. We have a rich and vital community, coming together online every day of the week to pray, to read Scripture, to learn and grow together. We have a depth of tradition on which to draw, teaching us that all are welcome. We have hearts for service and for generosity, demonstrated by those who donate clothing and who regularly make gifts to our pastoral needs fund. We have 100 people who want to learn how to dismantle the injustices of racism. We have much to offer to this hungry world.  “You give them something to eat,” says Jesus. Yes, let’s do that. Let’s share what God has given us, and we will all be blessed. Amen.

August 2 2020

The Very Rev Penelope Bridges

You Give Them Something to Eat

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Sacred Ground

Hello St. Paul’s, 
This week the cathedral staff gathered on Zoom for our first Sacred Ground session. We are serving as a guinea-pig for the customized version of Sacred Ground that the eight or nine parish groups will begin using in August.  

Much of the first session, with 12 staff members, was introductory; each person was invited to say something about where we grew up, what draws us to the work of dismantling racism, and what we hope for from the months ahead. Our staff is a mix of full- and part-time employees, as well as some non-stipendiary key leaders. It is rare for us all to get together, especially on an occasion when we aren’t focusing on the tasks of ministry. I know some people better than I know others. This conversation gave me new insight into my colleagues’ lives and experience. It gave all of us a greater sense of connection and community as a staff team. It reminded us that we are diverse, with widely varying family histories and ethnic identities (even if most of us look like Europeans).  

We had some homework to do in preparation for session one, and while there wasn’t exactly a test, we were asked to reflect on the materials we had read or watched, and to share how they intersected with our own experience.  

We implemented a group practice called Mutual Invitation, in which the leader invites someone to share, then that person invites someone else, and so on until everyone has had the opportunity to speak. The beauty of this method, as long as people adhere to time limits, is that nobody gets to monopolize the conversation and everyone has a chance to contribute once. It’s especially helpful in a group where there is a perceived unequal power dynamic; in our case, for example, the lay people might defer to the clergy, and the clergy might yield to the temptation to preach; whereas the point is that we are all on this journey together and everyone’s voice is equally important. 

I am very grateful that our staff are willing to participate in this program, and especially grateful to Kathleen Burgess for serving as our facilitator. We all have plenty to do and giving two hours in the middle of a busy week is a significant commitment, especially when we have deadlines (such as recording for Sunday morning) that do not yield.  

Sacred Ground encourages us to share our emotions, so it isn’t just an intellectual exercise. We are invited to share our tender feelings, to express our grief at the crumbling of cherished myths, to examine the ways we have unconsciously enjoyed privilege and to critique them. It is going to be challenging work, but work that I believe is central to our call to follow Jesus. I enjoyed our time together this week and look forward to future sessions. 

Registration for Sacred Ground is always open, and, if you haven’t yet signed up, I hope you will consider doing so. It’s going to be time well spent. 

See you on Sunday.  
Your sister in Christ, Penny 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Resolution of the Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul, San Diego

Resolution of the Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul, San Diego

Declaring Support for Decisions of The Rt. Rev. Susan Brown Snook to Suspend or Otherwise Restrict In-person Worship

Whereas, in the current time in which authorities have instituted policies that restrict in-person gatherings in order to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, and our Bishop has prayerfully made the difficult decision to restrict in-person and/or indoor worship until such time as such worship is permitted and deemed to include acceptable safety measures, the Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul wishes to demonstrate support for our Bishop’s decisions and to give thanks for her leadership.

Resolved: That the Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul expresses its support and gratitude for decisions Bishop Susan has made to prohibit in-person, indoor worship and gatherings at churches during the present public health crisis, and further expresses its support for our Bishop as she faithfully and lovingly discerns best practices regarding policies aimed at trying to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Finding Joy

Hello St. Paul’s.

We are coming up on five months now since our lives changed so dramatically. I am grateful for the fact that, so far, very few of our cathedral family members have been sick with the COVID virus and only one has died from it. I’m also deeply grateful for being able to work from home, especially in a home that gives me access to the outdoors and where my workstation is set up by the window. But I have to confess that I have moments, and they are coming more frequently as the weeks wear on, when I am just sick and tired of this COVID way of life. There are nights when it’s hard to get to sleep, and days when I want so badly to break out: to go to the mall or a movie theater or, and especially, to participate in a glorious liturgy in our cathedral, to sing with the choir, and to see the nave filled with all of you.

Even though the world seems to be more deeply broken than ever, there are things that can give us joy. We are blessed to live in a place where the sun shines almost all the time, making the outdoors reliably inviting and brightening our days. I look forward to picking up my mail, daily at home and about every 2-3 weeks at the cathedral, and finding notes and cards from many of you. I love it when someone drops a bag of zucchini or tomatoes on my doorstep. Even the many, many Zoom meetings are a joy, because I get to see your faces and hear your voices. When I write thank-you letters and pastoral notes, I am lifted up by thinking about you. When we pray together each morning it doesn’t matter that we are scattered all over: we are joined together by our love of God and our common commitment to this extraordinary community.

The work of the church doesn’t stop just because we cannot gather in our beautiful building. Our Sunday forums on Waking Up White have engaged well over 100 people, and over 80 people have committed to a Sacred Ground circle. Reconciliation is the mission of the church – you can look it up in the catechism – and our work right now as a church and as a country is the work of racial reconciliation and the healing of 400 years of unjust social structures. I am so encouraged to see your energy and willingness to be transformed: it gives me hope for our world and for the future that lies beyond this pandemic.
Hang in there, and take note of the things that give you joy. See you on Sunday.


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Letter to Legislators

July 14, 2020 
Toni G. Atkins 
Senate President Pro Tem State Capitol, Room 205 Sacramento, CA 95814 
Shannon Grove 
Senate Republican Leader 
State Capitol, Room 305 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
 Anthony Rendon 
Speaker of the Assembly 
State Capitol, Room 219 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Marie Waldron 
Assembly Republican Leader 
State Capitol, Suite 3104 
Sacramento, CA 94249  

Dear California Legislative Leaders: 
We, the Deans of five Episcopal Cathedrals across the state of California, write to you out of our Christian concern for the well-being of the most vulnerable of God’s children. We lead flagship churches of the Episcopal Church which has about 119,400 members across the state. 

We applaud the efforts already taken by state and local government to keep Californians housed and sheltered during the Covid-19 epidemic. We know that additional measures will be needed in the weeks and months to come and we advocate for these to be implemented quickly. We also know that it is those communities already hardest hit by endemic racism and poverty who face the greatest challenges in these times. Acting to support rent and mortgage relief is a very real and practical way of showing that Black Lives Matter. 

The moral imperative for our religious communities is to attend first to people with the least resources and greatest hardship. While we are mindful that tenants, landlords, homeowners, developers, financial institutions, and government are tied together in a web of economic relationships we ask for low income residential tenants and homeowners to be given especial protection. This may be achieved through suspending eviction and foreclosure, granting payment extensions, direct grants, indirect subsidies, incentives, credits, or other means.  

We are calling on the members of our congregations and other faith communities to exercise charity and forbearance in their own dealings with tenants, borrowers, and so forth. 

The people with the greatest need can’t afford to wait for benefit programs that have a long lead time, depend on funding that is not yet available, or have burdensome documentation and qualification procedures. We have been supportive of temporary measures such as suspending legal proceedings as a stopgap measure. As relief efforts extend further into the future, we encourage measures with clear and simple entry points, integration with existing housing access and social service programs, and incentives for lenders, landlords and local agencies to implement in low income neighborhoods without delay. 

The personal misfortunes and financial hardship caused by the Covid-19 epidemic will be long lasting. Housing concerns attributed to Covid-19 will converge with the long-term challenge of housing access for all Californians. We encourage initiatives that have the potential to be incorporated into current and emerging solutions to the problems of housing and homelessness in our society. 

Thank you for your care and attention to our concerns and to the needs of all Californians. 

The Very Rev. Canon Daniel Ade, Dean and Rector 

The Very Rev. Canon Mark Kowalewski, PhD, Dean and Rector 
St John’s Cathedral, Los Angeles 

The Very Rev. Penny Bridges, Dean 
St Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego 

The Rev. Julie McCray-Goldsmith, Priest in Charge 
Trinity Cathedral, San Jose 

The Rev. James Richardson, Interim Dean 
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Sacramento 

/s/ The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Young 
Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco