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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Grace Cathedral Search for a New Dean

Ah, for the good old days. Grace Cathedral was packed on the first Sunday of the month when Bishop James A. Pike, Bishop of California was the preacher. He was prophetic, confrontational, wildly humorous and had a great theological and ethical mind. While forcefully advocating civil rights for African Americans, against attempts by the Roman Church to censor movies and books, he helped successfully raise money for the completion of the nave and fleche for the cathedral. He advocated a strong ecumenical church inviting Eugene Carson Blake, head of the Presbyterian Church to preach proposing more unity among the reformation churches. Martin Luther King Jr. twice preached at Grace during Pike’s tenure. He called on the clergy to be as outspoken on social and political issues as he was. He supported them when they got into trouble.

Pike was not the dean but he urged and supported then dean Julian Bartlett to support art shows, a jazz mass led by the late Vince Guraldi, a concert lead by Duke Ellington and other events leading the thinking of the congregation and citizens of San Francisco.

I had hoped that Grace Cathedral would be lead by a dean with that kind of dynamism, creativity, and prophetic ministry. People join and support a church which connects the gospel message of Jesus to the every day life of human beings, the people of God whether they believe or not. We have had an educator, a quiet prophet and a spiritual director. The leadership of the cathedral has found out what the people wanted and them lead them into doing that. Can you imagine Jesus doing that? I know, I know, Jesus didn’t have a fabric to maintain.

Fundamentalist preachers have enormous congregations by relating their understanding of the gospel to people’s concerns. Sadly, the message is anti-homosexual, abortion and chastity before marriage. Our liberal church is concerned for full civil and church freedom for all people, peace, healing, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and the environment. Sadly, the Episcopal Church and the cathedral have been followers and not leaders in those struggles.

I would hope our next dean would be a leader and not a follower. Here are some issues where we need leadership:

1. Development of a powerful anti-war and peace movement. Establishing a Department of peace to balance the Department of Defense – earlier known as the War Department, which it really is.

2. Leading a movement to change the laws and society that hunger and homelessness cannot happen to people.

3. Following Jesus, the healer, assuring adequate health care for all Americans, immigrants and tourists. Whatever the health care reform accomplishes, much more will need to be done.

Here are some concrete goals that the dean and trustees of the cathedral can embrace that would make the cathedral a place and voice in the city, the nation and the world.

The following excerpts from the present thinking about a new dean are very inward, minding the store, keeping the peace, being nice and fund raising:

In the eighth dean of Grace Cathedral, we are looking for a woman or man who can be many things to many people. It is a tall order. In the process of discernment, we have challenged ourselves to be clear about what the next dean must do and who the next dean must be. The truth is that there isn't a simple answer: this is a complex job in challenging times.

We seek a person who can preach and who can listen. Who can teach and who can lead. Who can create a vision and is comfortable with ambiguity. Who can connect to the least among us and also successfully fundraise among the wealthiest in our community. Who is secure in themselves and can both lead and collaborate.

In the last 20 years, the focus of the Cathedral’s work has been more on “civic conversation” rather than social action.

Planning has been organic rather than strategic. Hands-on work in the community has consistedof meaningful but smaller efforts driven by the interests and energy of individuals, rather than a planned and focused effort by the Cathedral.

Even More Potential to Grow We continue to look at ways to offer opportunities to “grow” spiritually. Grace Cathedral is a place where an intelligent and generous Christianity is practiced.

Communications in Flux As identified earlier, the communications function in the Cathedral is in a state of transition.

In marked contrast to the limitations of budget and staff resources, there is a call and expectation that Grace Cathedral should be leading the charge in embracing new

technologies for communications. Not only should the Cathedral be setting the standard for web outreach for delivery of key messages, but it should also be embracing new media communications processes for development and mission outreach.


Blogger LarryK said...

Another peace initiative of possible interest:

An international grassroots campaign is afoot to introduce citizens' representation at the United Nations. The idea is to begin with an advisory body associated with the UN - a citizens' watchdog with clout - that gradually transitions into a world parliament. This would be similar to the development of the European Parliament that now has co-decision powers and is elected by over 490 million voters of the European Union. Although just launched in April '07, the Campaign already has support from participants in over 125 countries including academics, Nobel Prize winners and over 600 current parliamentarians. Please go to the website for background information and to endorse the proposal on-line. Join activists all over the world working for global community and an effective, accountable United Nations. A UN Parliamentary Assembly would be a symbol of global consciousness, a conscience for the world, and a lever for further democratic reform.

2:32 AM  

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