Alison Faison

Sabbatical Summer 2022

Welcome back to the new 2022-23 school year! We are especially busy as our daughter is a junior in high school and son is in eigth grade. Looking through Calvary photos through the years, I see how I changed from a single young adult youth teacher in 1997 to a married person, a mother of two, and then the Calvary Director of Children and Family Ministries for almost nine years. I see how my children grew from infants to present-day youth at Calvary. The nurturing intergenerational community continues to foster my children’s faith formation and my understanding of how faith can change as we move through life’s stages.

I am thankful for the time I have been able to spend at 2515 Fillmore as well as time working with San Francisco community partners and Faith in Action Bay Area. Many thanks to Calvary community and leadership for granting me a summer sabbatical and study leave. I appreciated the ways that our Calvary Childcare Team, Elder, Jennifer Gee and Elder, Erin King, and Rev. Joann Lee worked together to ensure that we had childcare coverage each week during the summer. Keeping Childcare and Sunday Studio open each Sunday all year tells parents and families that we value their presence and want to create safe and meaningful spaces for them when they come to Calvary. After 25 years of experiencing Calvary worship services, I took the summer off and found other ways to engage in faith-building practices.

This was one of the first summers I did not formally work. For years, Westy and I lined up weekly camps for both children, so that we had childcare coverage. This year, I was able to drive our 8th grader to his 6-week consistent day camp at Crissy Field, as well as take our 11th grader to the airport so she could go on her first tour with Young Women’s Choral Projects to France. On the weeks we were home or with our extended family, we were able to be more fully present with one another. I took time to connect with good friends and my family for walks, hikes, or other adventures in sunny parts of the Bay Area and the East Coast. Similar to pandemic times, I kept up my home yoga and music practices.

I was able to continue fulfilling my goals of learning from the Level 1 and 2 Kodály Summer Music Program courses that I had completed online during summer 2020 and 2021. I connected in person with the Kodály Summer Music Program at Holy Names University and visited teachers’ classroom spaces. During the Level 1 and 2 courses, I learned over 100 children’s folk songs that help children integrate circle dances, movement, rhythm games, body percussion, internal hearing, improvisation, and two-part singing. Thankfully, I was able to practice some of these games and songs with the Calvary Nursery School children that I worked with during our weekly Outdoor Program at Mountain Lake Park during 2020-21. It was difficult to integrate all of this pedagogy, musicianship, and conducting without practicing it in an actual elementary school classroom consistently over a long period of time. During 2020 and 2021, I had to submit videos of myself singing and conducting these songs, as well as teaching an imaginary class. This summer, I was able to attend one day of choir and then learn the choral music at home even if I could not commit to participating for a three-week program on campus.  It was fulfilling to hear the participants perform in concert on the last night of the program. I committed to doing the rhythmic and melodic exercises in a sight-singing book as well as practice Kodály Bicinia Hungarica educational music pieces, and two-part exercises. This work supports my long-term goals of understanding the mechanics of music, expanding meaningful work with multi-age Sunday Studio environment, and being able to keep up with my daughter who grew up learning these music skills and repertoire.

I also had a lot of fun gardening with my son, posting silly videos and stories on social media, and having down time with my husband. I hope to carry these sustaining life practices of connecting with friends and family, doing yoga and music, and being present into my daily work world. They increase my hope and faith in God’s abundance, grace, and connection. I am ready to do the social justice work with Calvary and our San Francisco communities, as I think that communal work is God’s way of showing us all of the possibilities to find equity, love, and wellness. 

More to Explore

Wear Orange: When Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

Isaiah 2:4 says, “He will settle arguments between nations. They will pound their swords and their spears into rakes and shovels; they will never make war or attack one another.” I read Sandy Hook Promise posts on Instagram and cannot escape thinking of the horror a parent experiences after their child or teen is shot. This is not sensationalism or fake news. On August 27, 2019, I took my middle school daughter to Lincoln High School for a Town Hall on gun sense, directly relating to the shooting of 15-year-old Day’von Hann, a student who lived in the Mission District. Then Speaker Nanci Pelosi, Rep. Jackie Speier, Founder of Moms Demand Action Shannon Watts, CA Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, and 17-year-old Phillip and Sala Burton High School student and member of United Playaz, AJ Santiago led the meeting. After these change-maker women shared personal experiences, data, and gun sense bill proposals, I was sure we would have gun violence reform. I was wrong. The CDC says that firearms are the second-leading cause of death among American children and teens. One out of ten gun deaths involve age 19 or younger. Everytown Research relays that “there were more school shootings in 2022 (46 shootings) than in any other year since Columbine.” One would think that this statistic would be enough to take immediate action to make common gun sense bills into law and enforce them in court. Money talks, so much of the bills continue to be blocked by gun supporter groups. How do we empower our children and teens to use their collective bargaining power to urge legislative, judicial, and executive branches to make change now? I don’t need to explain how this is related to the non-violent civil disobedience of Jesus and many change-makers. Christians are obligated to love their neighbor and care for the vulnerable. If they do not want to prevent gun violence against innocent civilians, their beliefs are not based in Jesus' life-affirming truth.

Life After Foster Care

During a Faith in Action Bay Area meeting yesterday we were working on pin-pointing false narratives about unhoused people. Our goal was to find true stories that dispel those untrue statements. What are the false narratives about what happens after a youth becomes an adult and leaves the foster care system? In general, a youth has aged out of the system at 18 years old, but some states are extending it to 24 years in order to provide more support. People who do not want to pay for the foster care system might say, “The foster care/government system has supported children until they became adults. They should have the tools to become independent. They are on their own at 18.” Unfortunately, according to the group, A Sense of Home, we know that 50% of people experiencing homelessness are former foster youth. ( The foster care system does not have the capacity to fully serve resources to the average of 566 children who enter the foster care system every day in the U.S. According to the June 2022 AFCARS Report (, that's 1 youth every 2.5 minutes. There is a disproportionate amount of houseless teens who identify as LGBTQ2SIA+. True Colors United says that they are 120% more likely to experience homelessness and are at risk for gender dysphoria and suicide. ( The nation-wide worker shortage or rather workers’ unwillingness to work in unsupportive environments has also brought an uptick in workers striking in order to get their demands met. Working in the foster care system takes training, dedication to learning on-the-job, as well as compassion and problem-solving skills. If workers are not properly trained and supported, they get emotional burn-out. How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus to help change this system?

Feeding Our Grief

“Cynecism is ungrieved grief.” I thought about this quote a lot after reading Traci Smith’s free Treasure Box Tuesday email. She, a children’s minister and author, quotes pastor and author, Rob Bell, who probably officiated many memorials and heard countless stories of grief from congregation members. In the past two months, I have attended three memorials for parents of my peers. All of the services were culturally different, but the grief was the same. We got together to breathe in stillness, hear music, observe the grieving family, eat a meal together, and connect with our own mortality. Ashes to ashes. I experienced three Ash Wednesdays after Easter. Civilian and urban folks world-wide have endured multiple brutal and unplanned Ash Wednesdays since Easter. San Francisco, Texas, Ukraine, Sudan.