Monday, September 19, 2011

Last stop on the sabbatical tour- San Francisco

The last trip scheduled for the sabbatical took me to the Bay area.  The primary purpose was to talk with the staff at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, learn more about their ministry, and participate in the Friday food pantry program and the Sunday worship.  As some of you know, this is the congregation at which Sara Miles serves and about which she writes in her books, Take This Bread and Jesus Freak.
Another opportunity I had was to visit several family members and friends while there.  In addition, I was able to go over to PLTS and see former intern, Jeremiah.  He is doing well.  I was glad that we were able to have a final time together after he had finished at United/Good Samaritan.

As for a rundown of the week, I got in on Monday, September 12th and left on Sunday, September 18th.  My first activity was to sit in on the staff meeting at St. Gregory's.  (My sanity was questioned about doing such a thing on a sabbatical but it was good to get a behind the scenes look.)
a view of St. Gregory's

Here are three staff members- admin. assist., education, and interim choir director

Paul Fromberg, the rector

Sara Miles, Director of Ministry

On Wednesday, I had a good interview with Paul regarding administrative philosophy and worship practices.  Their way of encouraging people to pursue their gifts for mission and service are similar to that of United.  The worship seeks to include as many people as possible with the idea that the staff should give away as much ministry and leadership as possible.  For more about these facets of St. Gregory's please click on the following link-

This is the baptismal rock and is located outside next to the sanctuary.

This is a view of the area of the church for the Service of the Word.  Preaching is done from the raised chair in the center.  Behind is one of many modern icons.  I will talk about it in a video later in the blog.
This is the altar and the area in which Holy Communion is shared.

I also learned about a fascinating ministry which was also going on in San Francisco.  It is called the Free Farm and is located on the former site of St. Paulus Lutheran Church.  The building burned down in 1995.  For over a year now there has been a garden run by volunteers on this piece of land.  The food which is harvested is given away at various sites throughout San Francisco.

The sign seems to shout- "Yes, this is in San Francisco!"

Please click on the following link to get a view of the farm.

On Friday, I spent all day helping set up the Food Pantry, serve food, and clean up.  I think somewhere between 400-500 people were served.  There were about a total of 25 volunteers throughout the day.  A few are from the church.  Many are from the community and a number of them came initially to receive food.  They have since returned to help others.

The tarps are down and food is being delivered.  This is about 8:45 a.m.

The food keeps coming.

The food is almost all in and processing it for distribution is underway.

Food and icons

Here are two of the main leaders.  Nerma is the overall leader and Michael (He couldn't resist hamming it up.) is the Operations manager.

Angela is also one of the primary leaders.  All of them are very hard workers and able to direct others into various tasks.

People receiving food.

The woman in red came from Russia 13 years ago.  She knew no English.  Now her youngest is going to college.  She has been volunteering at the food pantry for 12 years!

With about 45 minutes left, the clean up begins.  Food is still distributed as this takes place
The clean up is almost done and most volunteers have left by 4:15 p.m.

Please click on the link to watch a video showing the food pantry and the icons of St. Gregory.

To get a description of the people represented in the icons, please click on the following link.

It was a great day.  I met a number of people and will be glad to share some of their stories.  I got back to the motel at around 5:00 p.m. and promptly took a nap!

On Sunday, I participated in both services and the adult forum.  As I said, the aim is to bring everyone into active participation whether that be in leadership roles, sharing briefly after the sermon, or dancing with others around the altar.  This particular Sunday, there were three baptisms.  They celebrate this gift in a very joyful way.

Baptism at the 8:30 a.m. worship

When the second service was over, I "scooted" out and headed back to Eugene.  With this, the last of my special experiences for the sabbatical came to a close.  I am now in the process of putting together material for classes at United.

It has been a good time filled with people, places, and insights.  And now, I am more than ready to return to our community and life together.  I am glad to be home and look forward to October 2nd when we rejoin one another in life and mission!

In Christ,