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

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.

How interfaith collaboration helps us grow

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.

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?