Alison Faison

How interfaith collaboration helps us grow

For decades, Calvary Presbyterian Church has connected with interfaith networks. Currently, Calvary and other San Francisco Presbytery churches work with the San Francisco Interfaith Council. We encourage our children, youth, and young adults to continue those connections whether they are in the San Francisco neighborhood, around the U.S., or in other countries. Over the past decade our youth have connected with local youth at Congregation Sherith Israel, St. John’s Presbyterian, and Grace Cathedral, as well as groups connected with Sierra Service Project and more. Every February or March, youth from Calvary and Sherith Israel meet in the kitchen at the Unitarian Universalist Center to prepare and serve food for men staying at the shelter. We hope to have more opportunities to collaborate on workshops, service opportunities, and fellowship events.

Calvary is not unique in its interfaith focus. The Presbyterian Mission Agency outlined the Interreligious Stance of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the first time in 2014. This statement and its edits show us where we are now as a national group. “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at all levels seeks new will be open to and will seek opportunities for conversation and understanding respectful dialogue and mutual relationships with non-Christian entities and persons from other religious entities traditions. It does this in the faith that the church of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is a sign and means of God’s intention for the wholeness of all humankind and all creation.”  The General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations recommends that the 221st General Assembly (2014) do the following: 7. “Direct the Presbyterian Mission Agency to cooperate with youth and young adults in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in their interreligious engagements that support the larger efforts of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in respectful and mutual interreligious relationships on behalf of justice, peace, reconciliation, and the common good.”

If you are a parent living in San Francisco, you know how busy children and youth are during the weekends. Calvary children and youth attend many San Francisco public and private schools, as well as those in Marin and Pacifica. Most children and youth do not see church friends at school, so there are less opportunities to get to know each other. School breaks don’t often sync, so it can be challenging to schedule events, workshops or trips. Sports, birthday parties, camping trips, performances, and tournaments happen on Sunday mornings, so kids on average make it to church about once or twice a month. Children, youth, and parents motivate to attend service opportunities or gather with interfaith neighbors. The more we collaborate and visit each other’s houses of worship, the more we expand our learning and compassion.

Calvary Presbyterian Church welcomes families of all faiths. At Calvary, many families have one parent who practices Christianity and another parent who practices another faith or is agnostic or atheist. We can create opportunities to welcome each other and hear each other’s faith perspectives. Many children and youth have friends of different faiths at school. It can be difficult to share experiences about Christian faith as many folks don’t want to be associated with negative examples of Christian extremism played out in the world right now. We want to encourage children and youth to normalize sharing their faith in safe spaces, so that they can see the commonalities of age-old Golden Rule values that prioritize people over profits, and advocate for the wellbeing of neighbors. Calvary is a Matthew 25 church, as well as a Sanctuary church, so our values speak from Jesus’ words about radical welcome.

More to Explore

Celebrating Asian, Asian-American & Pacific Islander Heritages

People living in San Francisco, China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Mongolia, and all over the world celebrate Lunar New Year. The holiday begins on Sunday, January 22 and continues for a week. 2023 is the year of the Rabbit. San Francisco activities kicked off with the Flower Fair on January 14 and will last through the annual Grand Parade on February 4. During Sunday Studio on Lunar New Year, we will encourage children to read the broad range of children’s books featuring stories of Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) families, as well as do activities related to Lunar New Year. It is important that AAPI children see themselves represented in children’s books, history, as well as in dolls and toys. We celebrate AAPI heritage every day, not just during Lunar New Year. I am thankful that SF Unified School District children and youth have a day off to celebrate and commemorate. In a recent SF Chronicle article Mayor London Breed touts that AAPI hate crimes have lowered in 2023. She acknowledges that people still need to look out for one another. The Presbyterian Church USA has written statements against AAPI hate. Here is a statement entitled ‘We see you among us’ from the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly on March 25, 2021.

From generation to generation: ancestors, us, and our kids

This morning I drank coffee, ate breakfast, and lit candles: twelve connected in a circle, the 4th candle on the menorah, and the four Advent candles on the angel chimes. It is Winter Solstice, also known as the Longest Night. Tonight we will celebrate a long night transition which generations of our ancestors have experienced. We share the Advent theme of “From Generation to Generation” with A Sanctified Art and countless churches across the United States. How do we remember the good that our ancestors fostered while doing good now, and encouraging a sustainable future for our children? This afternoon we will make lunches for over a thousand people to receive on Christmas Eve. Then we will sing together by candlelight in the chapel. How do these spiritual practices relate to sustainability, stewardship, and Seven Generation Thinking?

100 things every child should know before confirmation

The next time you are at childcare or Sunday Studio, please pick up a free copy of Rebecca Kirkpatrick’s book 100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation. This book focuses on the practice of planting the seed of faith, feeding the soil of each child’s soul, and watching children and youth grow. We want them to know the oral tradition roots that originate with the Israelite People, the Gospels that tell the life of Jesus, the acts of Jesus’ followers, and the liturgical seasons of the church starting with Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.