By Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
As the movements for social justice and equity go forward, there has been a lot of looking inward – and looking backward. People who have felt marginalized for far too long are starting to raise their voices and call out the injustices – intentional and unintentional – they have endured for years, or even generations.
In the initial wake of George Floyd’s murder, a group of BIPOC theater artists in the Bay Area began an online document where they could share their stories – publicly, but anonymously. It should come as no surprise that theatre, like so many institutions, has largely been in the control of white males, and this privilege has been made manifest in ways large and small, visible and hidden. In the first three days over 600 people told their stories, and the document now has nearly 2,000 entries. Everything from an off-handed remark in the rehearsal room to the cultural lack of awareness by designers (for example, theatrical lighting requires a different approach for people of color) to the selection of programming that, while “passable” to audiences of 50 or 75 years ago, now contains insensitive or offensive material.
This document has started conversations – constructive, thought-provoking, tough conversations. And it has also inspired another document – a call to action, even a list of “demands” from the BIPOC community to create a theatrical community that truly embodies justice, equity, and anti-racism.
I read this call to action and immediately felt overwhelmed. It felt like I had to completely and immediately overhaul the entire theater or else go out of business. It was dispiriting.
I took a break, breathed deeply – and was reminded of a song from Frozen II (and I deeply apologize that this is taking a turn into Disney) – “The Next Right Thing.” In the scene, the characters face an existential crisis, and they are separated and alone. They are overwhelmed and scared and unsure. In this moment, one of them sings:
“Take a step, step again
I went back and read the document again. I recognized there were steps we had already taken; steps we were about to take; and steps we had not yet thought of taking. All of these steps make up a journey, and journeys do not happen overnight. Look at each moment as it comes, and make the right decision in that moment, and move to the next moment. We will stumble, we will get it wrong from time to time, but all of the steps together will have moved us to a better place.
So much is happening in our country now, and there is so much despair, and fear, and anger. Trying to tackle it all at once is overwhelming. But we all can take our individual steps, and next steps – we all can do our own next right things. And together we can take a journey, and together we can move towards the world that God wishes for us.
by Jerry Clark, Council member
So, are you an extrovert or an introvert?
Well, whether you fall in one camp or the other might determine how you are dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been 4 months since the order came to shelter in place, and we still don’t know what the future holds for any of us individually, or as a congregation.
Adjusting to life indoors has been tough enough and presents different dynamics if you are young, old, whether you are living alone or with others in a household. Now that it’s summer, hopefully, this provides some relief, giving many of us the option to get outside, reading a book on the porch, going on walks, exercising, and taking advantage of open spaces for outdoor activities. Open green spaces can be calming dealing with the stress we’ve all been feeling.
Extroverts tend to need more stimulation and maybe the dynamics of posting content on social media, making videos, and participating in chat groups will suffice for now. Possibly getting out in small closed groups, practicing safe social distancing could also work. But this really depends on our individual health and comfort levels.
If you tend to be more of an introvert, being hunkered down at home might be the perfect fit for living in a social distancing world. In today’s environment, you might find it much easier to interact with others on your own set of terms. However, your tendency to withdraw from others could be exacerbated in this climate, and you still need to make the effort to stay connected to others and keep physically and mentally healthy.
It’s important that we stay connected with family and friends, today we are lucky to have social media platforms to do so. Did you know, people are continuing to participate in book clubs and even playing board games with others online? Years ago, I remember getting mad at my nephew (the introvert) for staying up late playing video games with others online, later finding out one kid was in Korea, the other in NYC. Go figure, this bunch were well prepared to handle a pandemic.
We have learned that we can still meet as a congregation, albeit virtually with YouTube, Zoom for coffee hour, Bible study, and other virtual group interactions. I’ve been meeting with a group of friends for our bi-weekly Zoom “dinner-gang” discussions. Only recently have we decided to move into the next phase, meeting in person for dinners, social distancing, wearing our masks, and eating outside.
We are all getting a bit stir crazy, but the day when we can all come together in person as a congregation will happen, at some point. And, even if your personality leans to being more of an extrovert, or the flip side, an introvert; ether can suffer from bouts of anxiety and depression, but we can find a way to keep our sanity through this pandemic, supporting each other by staying connected and a little prayer to God doesn’t hurt either.
At CGS, our mission statement includes the intention to proclaim, worship and serve. In order to accomplish this, we need donations to fund our efforts. I am happy to say our commitment to our mission hasn’t been neglected, despite the challenges we are facing.
We budgeted general giving as of 6/30/20 at $125,010. To date, our actual donations for general giving are $169,344, an increase over budget of $44,344. In addition, our budgeted expenses for the year as of 6/30/20 are $190,761. As of 6/30/20, our actual expenses for the year are $176,462. Our expenses are under budget by $14,299. None of us planned on doing church this way in 2020. Many of us long for in-person worship and community gatherings that encourage and sustain us and that is our goal as soon as it is possible to meet safely. Our continued commitment to fund our worship and service to our community is making it it possible to adjust our operations to this new normal and plan for worshiping together when we are able In addition to our donations, our investments have increased as of 6/30/20 by $19,538. This gain fluctuates monthly as the stock market fluctuates, but we have been blessed to have such a substantial increase.
If you would like to see more detail on the actual financial statements, you can find them on the following links:
Balance Sheet as of 6/30/2020
Profit & Loss Actual vs Budget YTD 06/30/2020
Chart of Actual vs Budget YTD as of 6/30/2020
Please take a look at the latest titles being added to the CGS Library. Unlike the titles I usually add, the selection of books I made this time was to honor the Black Lives Matter movement. It is intended to make available to us at CGS many of the books currently considered to be important in helping us understand the context of what is happening in our society. By paying better attention to the voices of the BLM movement, perhaps we can become both better informed Christians and citizens of our country.
-Paul Thomas, CGS Librarian
To get these books, go to the CGS building and:
Summer 2020 Special collection in memory of George Floyd
Anderson, Carol. White rage. 305.800973 And
Baldwin, James. The fire next time. 305.896 Bald
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the world and me. 305.800973 Coat
Eberhardt, Jennifer L. Biased : uncovering the hidden prejudice that shapes what we see, think and do.
Haney-Lopez, Ian. Dog whistle politics : how coded racial appeals have reinvented racism and wrecked the Middle Class. 323.1196 Han
Harvey, Jennifer. Raising White kids : bringing up children in a racially unjust America. 649.709 Har
Kendi, Ibram X. How to be an antiracist. 305.800973 Ken
Lipsitz, George. The possessive investment in Whiteness : how White people profit from identity politics.
Lorde, Audre. Sister outsider : essays and speeches. 814.54 Lor
MacMullan, Terrance. Habits of Whiteness. 305.800973 Mac
Oluo, Ijeoma. So you want to talk about race. 305.800973 Olu
*Reynolds, Jason. Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you : a remix of the National Book Award-winning: Stamped from the beginning by Ibram Kendi. 305.800973 Rey
Ritchie, Andrea. Invisible no more : police violence against Black women and women of color.
Rushdy, Ashraf H. American lynching.
Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta. From #BlackLivesMatter to Black liberation. 305.896 Tay
Ward, Jesmyn. The fire this time : a new generation speaks about race. 305.896 Ward
Harris, Meena. Kamala and Mays’s big idea.
Penfold, Alexandra. All are welcome. J 813.6 Pen
*This is a young adult (ages 12 and up) edition of Kendi’s book, but adults will also find it powerful.
Titles on African-Americans, the Black Experience, and Race Relations already in the CGS Library
Alexander, Michelle. The new Jim Crow. 364.973 Al
Baldwin, Lewis. Never to leave us alone : the prayer life of Martin Luther King Jr. 323.092 Ba
Barber, Rev. William. Revive us again : vision and action in moral organizing. 261.83 Bar
Barndt, Joseph. Becoming the anti-racist church : journeying towards wholeness. 277.3 Bar
Brown Camille Lewis. African saints, African stories. 276.0092 Br
Collier-Thomas, Bettye. A treasury of African-American Christmas stories. 810.8 Col
Cone, James. A Black theology of liberation. 230.089 Cone
Cone, James. The Cross and the lynching tree. 277.308 Cone
Cone, James. God of the oppressed. 261.834 Cone
Davis, Angela. Are prisons obsolete? 365.973 Da
DiAngelo, Robin. White fragility : why it’s so hard for White people to talk about racism. 305.8 DiAn
Douglas, Kelly. Sexuality and the Black church : a womanist perspective. 230.082 Dou
Duncan, Lenny. Dear Church : a love letter from a Black preacher to the Whitest denomination in the U.S. 266.6 Dun
Echols, James. I have a dream : Martin Luther Junior and the future of multicultural America. 305.8 Ec
Grant, Jacquelyn. White women’s Christ and Black women’s Jesus. 232.088 Grant
Haley, Alex. Roots. 929.2
Hill, Daniel. White awake : an honest look at what it means to be White. 261.833 Hill
Jenkins, Willis. Bonhoeffer and King : their legacies and import for Christian social thought. 261.10 Je
Johnson, G. Jeff. Black Christians : the untold Lutheran story. 267.1 Jo
King, Martin Luther, Jr. The strength to love. 220 Ki
Mandela, Nelson. Mandela : an illustrated autobiography. 968.065 Ma
McDonnell, Faith. Girl soldier : a story of hope for Northern Uganda’s children. 276.76 Mcdo
Noel, James. The Passion of the Lord : African-American reflections.
Noah, Trevor. Born a crime : stories from a South African childhood. 791.45 Noah
Obama, Michelle. Becoming. 973.932 Obama
Page, Hugh. The Africana Bible : reading Israel’s scriptures from Africa and the African diaspora.
Pero, Albert. Theology and the Black experience : the Lutheran heritage interpreted by African and African-American theologians. 267.1 Pe
Pinn, Anthony. What is African-American religion? 267.1 Pinn
Steinberg, Jonny. Little Liberia : an African odyssey in New York City. 305.896 Stein
Thurman, Howard. Jesus and the disinherited. 261.83 Thur
Tutu, Desmond, Archbishop. No future without forgiveness. 261.86 Tu
White, Rozella. Love big : the power of revolutionary relationships to heal the world. 248.4 White
Whitten, Reggie. Sewing hope : child soldiers in Uganda. 967.61 Whit
Wilkerson, Isabel. The warmth of other suns : the epic story of America’s greatest migration.
Williams, Delores S. Sisters in the wilderness : the challenge of womanist God-talk. 230.082 Wil
Williams, Reggie. Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus : Harlem renaissance theology and an ethic of resistance.
Wytsma, Ken. The myth of equality : uncovering the roots of injustice and privilege. 261.833 Wyt
Brundidge-Fuller, Regina. Children of color storybook Bible with stories from the Contemporary English Version. 220.62 Brun
Byers, Grace. I am enough. J 242.66 Byers
Golenbock, Peter. Teamates : [biography of Jackie Robinson]. J 796.357 Go
Grant, Jennifer. Maybe I can love my neighbor too. J 226.809 Grant
Hamilton, Virginia. The people could fly
Hill, Laban. Dave the potter : artist, poet, slave. J 739.092 Hi
Katz, Karen. The colors of us. J [Fic] Katz
Obama, Barack. Of thee I sing : a letter to my daughters. J 973.0922 Ob
Pinkney, Sandra. Shades of Black : a celebration of our children. J 306.7 Pink, J 813.6 Pi
Schofield-Morrison, Connie. I got the Christmas spirit. J [Fic] Scho
Tarpley, Natasha. I love my hair J 813.54 Tarp
Tutu, Desmond, Archbishop. God’s dream. J 211 Tu
Tyler, Michael. The skin you live in. J 571 Tyler
Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown girl dreaming. 811.54 Wood
by REY LAMBATIN, Choir Director
As part of our choral ministry adjusting to our current situation, we started creating videos of us singing virtually that we play in our CGS live-streamed worships. And as much as it’s wonderful that we’re able to do this and see our choir singers singing together, nothing can replace the experience of singing and hearing our music live. I believe that every choir singer will agree that it’s not just the singing that everyone misses. It’s the in-person fellowship, praying for each other, sharing of stories, food, and drinks during rehearsals, and being physically present and surrounded by people with whom you enjoy being around. An article published on The Guardian on June 16 states well how I feel:
“Singing in a choir is not only about communality, social cohesion and harmony; for many it is an essential source of emotional wellbeing and positive mental health. Moreover, it is a powerful expression of our culture and humanity, and it cannot be allowed to fade away.”
Sadly, according to experts in “A Conversation: What Do Science and Data Say About the Near-Term Future of Singing?”, the ability for choirs to safely gather again could be as far off as two years. Two years without live singing. The problem stems from the proximity of singers, and the fact that the very act of singing propels viral droplets, and choral singing won’t be a safe activity until the pandemic is well under control. One especially cruel cautionary story was when 87% of the members of the Washington State Choir developed Covid-19, two of whom died, from one symptomatic member. The prospect of two years without live singing sent a wave of anguish throughout the choral community. It is a sad reality, and choir singers all over the nation are grieving. But I continue to encourage our singers to find comfort in our faith, and in the hope that the time will come when we can gather and sing together in person again. We’ll continue to do our best to create beautiful music and minister with the videos we create, for no matter how long this takes, we cannot let choral singing fade away.
The Teufel Family signed up for a family get- away at Mount Cross from August 7-9 but we have two pet family members that have to stay behind (a green cheek conure and a tortoise). We are looking for a pet lover to take Naya and Willy in for that weekend or check on them and feed them twice at our house. Please call or text Beate at 650 206 3356 if you can help so we don’t have to cancel our trip.
The Teufel Family with Robert, Beate, Annika and Yannis
Usually on this day, Wednesday, you would receive an email update from CGS with all the news and information that would connect you to the life of our congregation. In the past, this email has been effective and most people even read it!
However, since most everything has either moved online or shut down, this weekly email has become less effective.
We know that you get a lot of emails.
We know that you are burnt out on Zoom meetings, videos, and computer work.
And we know that despite all this, we can’t give it up. If church is not here on your computer, it might be too easy to just drift away from each other altogether.
In the New Testament of our Bible, an apostle of Jesus Christ writes a letter to a whole group of Christians – it happens over and over again. It’s how the whole Christian Church was built. As our congregation moves forward with the rest of Christ’s church, that is what we’re going to do here. But we’re going to change our letters to be a little bit shorter, a little more frequent, and hopefully relevant to a life offline as well as online.
On Mondays, we’ll send you an email of all the ways we’re being Church in the world. It will give you access to our celebrations, our sorrows, where we are serving, and all the ways that the Body of Christ is being made visible among us.
On Wednesdays, we’ll send you a pastoral letter from a staff person, a council member, or a special guest. We’ll also include our prayer list for the week. Hopefully, this will be an opportunity for faith formation and reflection in the middle of your week.
On Fridays, we’ll send you all the information for Sunday worship and fellowship: a link to worship, a bulletin, a place for offering, a list of the leaders, and a connection to coffee hour fellowship.
This won’t cover everything. There will also still be actual mail. You’ll still be able to look at our calendar and our website for complete information. And of course, we have tools like actual phones, Breeze, and social media. But we hope to reduce stress and keep in touch through these new emails. We’re going to remind you about God’s faithfulness. We’re going to give you opportunities to live in your faith and strengthen your connection to the rest of the body. And even though it is imperfect, I don’t doubt that the Holy Spirit will be able to work even through this medium. Thanks be to God.
It’s been 107 days since the CGS staff packed up the essentials and started working from home. In those first weeks things seemed to change daily and we did a CGS/COVID update on a weekly basis. Then, we got used to our new situation and as we learned more about pandemics, viruses, and vaccines, we began to realize that nothing would change quickly. Our council went from making weekly decisions to making decisions for a couple months at a time. Here’s a recap of where we are:
In May, seeing the forecasts of the county health department and feeling everyone’s need to have something that was predictable in our lives, the council voted to continue online worship through the end of July. The next time that the council will reassess in-person worship will be at their July meeting. At Pentecost the majority (by a wide margin) of feedback received from the congregation prioritized the physical well-being of our most vulnerable members and was not concerned with rushing back to worship as usual. The council has also received personal emails and calls from members. They will consider this input alongside the input from our county, state, and denominational professionals.
That being said, a team of people (Daniel Thomas, Matt Byom, Phil Boyer, Steve Weirauch, Petra Menard, & Pr. Manda) have put together a technology plan for equipping the sanctuary with the ability to livestream worship. With the council’s support they’ve begun to acquire the equipment (which is in high demand and often backordered). It’s looking as if we could have this installed by the end of September…maybe.
Other activities at CGS continue online and in person. Just as we did before the pandemic, CGS has participated in service, public advocacy, and caring ministries. Safe Car Park was a WILD success beyond even our greatest hopes. Our people showed up in the streets to show solidarity with the other faith communities who value black lives and repent of the racism that we perpetuate. The stories of being lifted up, encouraged, and consoled by the CGS community continues to pour from our members and friends. Lives are certainly transformed by the ministry that this congregation is doing.
Our financial outlook is bright, even considering the loss of income from all our tenants who have stopped meeting at 1550 Meridian and the loss of value in our investments. Congregational giving is not only up, but more regular, with the increased use of electronic giving. CGS applied for and received a PPP loan in the amount of $49,000 whose payment will be forgiven. CGS was also the recipient of a gift from St. John Lutheran in amount of $100,000 for ministry with LGBTQ+ folx.
Most of our staff continues to work. Our office manager, choir director, church musician, and pastor all work from home and have altered their job duties to serve our congregation in pandemic appropriate ways. Our sexton and housekeeper continue to work onsite at 1550 Meridian but have altered their job duties to address the current needs: cleaning the common used spaces, securing the property, & keeping the outside tidy & safe. Our nursery attendant & drummer were paid through the end of May but since their duties cannot be used or transferred, they have been furloughed until we have use for these services again.
I don’t want to give you false hope that we could return to church as normal any time soon. The infection rates are increasing again as commerce restarts. And worship activities are still some of the riskiest public behavior in a time of pandemic. All the things we love are still far off if we want to prioritize the physically vulnerable in our community (and we do).
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope. Frankly, this pandemic has been good for CGS. It has inspired us to give more generously of ourselves. It has re-routed our relationships to deeper connections. It has given us a Sabbath from some of our obligations and freed us to be more creative. As Presiding Bishop Eaton said, “The Church has NEVER been closed,” and that continues to be true for us at CGS. We might have gathered more often at 1550 Meridian before this, but God has always been calling us out into the world. No matter how long this pandemic lasts, that will always be true for us.
As we move forward through and beyond this pandemic over the next year, we will continue to steward the resources we’ve been given – our selves, our time, and our possessions. We will continue to stay nimble and adapt as the world changes. And no matter where we are or what the state of the world is, we will continue to do what God has called us to do – Proclaim, Welcome, and Serve.
By Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
Over the last couple of weeks we have watched our economy begin to “open” again - more stores welcoming customers inside, restaurants serving people, workers returning to offices - and I have felt a mixture of hope and dread. Hope because, for every milestone we reach in re-opening, we get that much closer to my theatre producing shows once again (and providing jobs to dozens of artists); and dread that, if society does not reopen in a safe, prudent, and cautious manner, we could find ourselves moving backwards - more sickness, more death - and those milestones (and the theatre’s re-opening) get moved further away.
Personally, I have not felt any great rush to return to “normal” (other than finally getting a haircut in my sister-in-law’s backyard). As much as I want to get back to doing what I love (and what provides income for my family), the desire for my family, my community, and the world to keep safe and healthy takes precedent. And so, I continue to limit my trips away from home. I wear my mask, I wash and wash and wash my hands, we wipe down our groceries before we put them away. They are the smallest of inconveniences to provide some measure of prevention and safety for all those with whom I come in contact.
The other day I went to the grocery store, and I was amazed to see the number of people about - strolling, shopping, socializing, eating at restaurants - and I was dismayed at the number of them not wearing masks. Was it defiance? Was it annoyance? Was it apathy? How could people so easily forgo something so simple, and yet so protective to those around them? Have we grown so soft, so complacent that three months is the limit of “suffering” that we can handle?
Meanwhile, all around us, millions of voices are being raised against centuries of suffering at the hands of the privileged. All around us, thousands of people are suffering in plain sight due to economic hardship or mental and emotional anguish. All around us, people are suffering from life-threatening illnesses or incapacitations. We live in a world where suffering is real and present. And yet, the idea of being “told” to wear a mask - to prevent additional suffering for oneself, or those around - incites such wailing and gnashing of teeth among some people one would think they have been told to remove their arms and submit them as tribute.
Loving thy neighbor can be immensely difficult sometimes. Wearing a mask should not be. Protect yourself, protect those you love, protect your neighbors. I can not wait to be with all my friends, family, and communities in person once again. But if it means maximizing the health and safety of those people, then wait I shall. It is the least I can do for those I love.=
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.