Friday, July 29, 2011

SF CARE Kick Off Picnic & Sock Drive

It’s a Picnic! It’s a kick off celebration! It’s a sock drive!

Where else can you get all three in one? Come out and join us at the Free Farm on Eddy and Gough on Sunday August 21st from noon until three and you can:

· learn a bit more about the collaborating partners of SF CARE and meet some of the fine people running them

· wander the beautiful Free Farm and walk the labyrinth (I’m a bit of a labyrinth nut, and the one at the Free Farm is definitely high on the awesome scale.)

· enjoy a delicious free lunch

· bring lots and lots of new white tube socks (the ones with the grey heels and toes) for us to give away to folks who need them

I’m looking forward to seeing all you lovely people who have been reading this blog there. It’s very informal, so come when you can and leave when you must. Do me one favor, though. Please RSVP to or at so I can be sure we have enough food for everyone.

Socks (have I broken my record for number of sock mentions in one post yet?), a beautiful setting, good food, good company, and a good cause. What more can you ask?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dreaming Big

The partners that collaborated to form SF CARE have over 200 years experience between them working indoors and out, day and night, providing nourishment for body and soul for San Franciscans. We’ve worked to help the most vulnerable residents of San Francisco, especially those with mental health issues, to improve their quality of life.

Between our three comprising bodies, we currently:

· -feed many people in a respectful environment each week at several different times and locations

· -provide middle of the night non-judgmental pastoral care and crisis intervention

· -hold a variety of worship services (four of them outside) each week

· -grow a bounty of fresh produce to give away

· -distribute socks, blankets and other necessities

· -provide service referrals.

Sounds like a lot, huh? But we were doing all that before SF CARE came to be and we’re dreaming big about what we can do together that none of us can do on our own. A piece we’ve been mostly lacking individually is advocacy to change the conditions that leave people in need of our services in the first place.

Ok, in the near term it’s small things. We’ll be launching a GED preparation class this fall. We’ve got a training coming soon to train volunteers to accompany people living outside and in SRO’s to their many appointments. We’re hoping to launch a theater of the oppressed in the spring.

Down the line we’ll be advocating for some real policy changes to make substantial improvements in the lives of many in the City. Things like more family shelters, having TB vaccinations and trauma care available in shelters, access to services that promote healthy living for those living on low incomes, a raft of changes in how SRO’s are managed, and more public seating and restrooms to name a few on our list.

And we are dreaming big. How about a universal Pre to Three program? Or universal head start? How about truly affordable housing? Policies that improve the employment rate for trans folks?

See something in the list that’s near and dear to your heart? Something that you’d like to make happen? Do you have experience teaching, sitting patiently with people, changing the world? Give us a call at 415-673-3572 or drop us a line at to find out how you can be a part of the dream.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Anybody, Everybody’s Body

My favorite place to preach, worship, or preside is at San Francisco Night Ministry’s Open Cathedral at the Civic Center location. I’m there once or twice a month bringing food and often preach or preside on those Sundays as well. If I have time, I come on Sundays when I have no other particular responsibilities just because I like to.
Open Cathedral’s Civic Center location is outdoors on the plaza behind the fountain at the Civic Center, just where Leavenworth comes down to meet McAllister, every Sunday at 2p.m., rain or shine. We share worship, Communion, and lunch. Though there is no requirement to come to the service in order to receive lunch, our worshiping congregation is sometimes close to 100 people. Even in the pouring rain we’ll get 30 or so. We feed around 100 the first few Sundays of the month and sometimes 150 -200 on fourth and fifth Sundays.

A few Sundays ago Rev. Monique Ortiz, the Associate Night Minister in charge of the Civic Center Open Cathedral was running late. She was coming from San Gregorio and in a hurry, so she stopped in a little mercado there to pick up the Communion elements. It turned out her choices were pretty limited. There was no grape juice at all and none of the kinds of bread we normally use. There was no time to go anywhere else though, so she pickup up artichoke heart bread and some grape Rockstar soda.
Ok, all you liturgical purists out there take a deep breath and hear why that was so perfect for Open Cathedral. What you have to understand is that everybody and I do mean everybody is welcome at Open Cathedral. On a typical Sunday we welcome people who don’t feel comfortable inside walls and people with active mental health or substance abuse issues who would be shushed or asked to leave in many traditional congregations. We often welcome student groups and board members from some of the best non-profits in the City alongside people who live in SRO’s, people who live in mansions, and people with no roof of their own at all. We don’t welcome every behavior, but we do welcome every person. We welcome babies and elderly people and every age in between. We welcome fully able bodied folks and people in wheelchairs. We welcome folks who embody the full spectrum of genders. That is all on a typical Sunday for us.
If the body of Christ can be all those people – and you know Jesus would welcome all those people – then artichoke heart bread and grape Rockstar can represent the body of Christ as well as Welch’s and sourdough. Maybe we should use non-traditional elements in traditional churches once in a while just to remind us of the wide variety of bodies and minds Jesus welcomed to him.
I love Open Cathedral because people will answer the questions I pose in my sermon, out loud, right then. I love Open Cathedral because you never quite know what will happen or what someone might say. I love it for the sacred sense of community and the many contributions of those who worship there. Most of all, I love it because everyone can feel welcome.
Please feel free to drop by and join us any Sunday. You can be sure of a warm welcome.

If you have a group that would like to provide lunches one Sunday (or even on a once a month or every other month basis) drop me a line at and I’ll get you signed up.