Interfaith service, panel, youth overnight, and march commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in San Francisco

Posted on January 18, 2017

This past Sunday, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, hosted a series of events to commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Events began with an interfaith service where featured guests addressed the question “where do we go from here” in the beloved community. Imam Abu Qadir Al-Amin began the service with an invitation from the Quran, and the Rev. Dr. Dwight Hopkins continued with a reflection of the legacy of Dr. King, reminding the congregation that “every great challenge yields an opportunity for great progress.”

The Rev. Dr. Julian Andrés González Holguín continued by calling on those listening to consider their next steps — and that the reality to strive for is one with “discourse, where quiet communities can be heard.” This was followed with a heartfelt medley sung by the Passages Singers, allowing time for reflection on what had been heard so far before the Rev. Dr. Valerie Miles-Tribble expanded on González’s words. Dr. Miles-Tribble reminded everyone that “the struggle today — no matter about January 20 — [is that] we have work to do.” She illustrated her point by calling on all people present “to believe that shalom peace is possible.”

Imam Al-Amin then offered wisdom from the Prophet Muhammad, saying “no one of you is a true believer until he loves his brother or sister as himself,” and continued by challenging those in attendance to respond to calls by acting in love, specifically in love as a verb, not a noun. Rita Semel, an activist at Temple Emmanuel expanded on this call to love from a Jewish perspective. Her brief yet powerful remarks garnered some laughter when she said “love they neighbor as thyself. Do unto your neighbor as you would do to you. That’s the whole Torah, the rest is commentary.”

Aaron Grizzell, the executive director of the NorCal MLK Foundation concluded the evensong with statements on how the work continues. Grizzell reminded the community of Dr. King’s presence at Grace Cathedral on March 28, 1965, just three days after he finished the five day march in Selma. This more intentional focus on Dr. King’s work continued after Bishop Marc dismissed all with a blessing in the panel he moderated with distinguished scholars about Dr. King’s book “Where do we go from here?”

After a quick transition, the panel discussion began downstairs with Dr. Clayborne Carson speaking about how this nation will never have another civil rights movement as there was in the 1960s. He talked about how Dr. King’s book was about what to do after the Voting Rights Act passing, which, for the first time, he said granted full citizenship to all Americans. City commissioner Susan Belinda Christian, Esq. noted how, while lots of time has passed since the end of “what is known as the civil rights movement, there is still much more work left to be done.” She exemplified this point by speaking about the San Francisco that is, in comparison to the San Francisco that could be if housing costs and availability weren’t in the dire situations that they are. Dr. Dwight Hopkins wrapped up the panel by talking about what this idealized future could look like, speaking in particular about the millennial generation’s upbringing and emerging role. 

Bishop Marc thanked the attendees and the panelists for their time before dismissing the crowd, some of whom attended the 6 p.m. Eucharist at Grace Cathedral, which was the third and final event that Grace Cathedral hosted for the weekend. Sunday night, the youth of the diocese gathered at the cathedral to help set the table for the evening Eucharist and stayed afterwards for a “lock-in” — an overnight in the Cathedral. Youth played games, prepared for what they would do the next day for the MLK, Jr. day of service, and had discussions about part of the speech that Dr. King gave on Grace Cathedral’s steps in 1965, which they listened to.

After camping out on the cathedral floor, youth awoke early Monday morning and boarded Muni to get to the Bayview Mission where they served others by beautifying the playground and helping to organize seasonal supplies.

Afterwards, they got back on Muni to be a part of the DioCal contingent at the MLK Jr. march and parade through San Francisco. That group was made up of about 20 people from Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, St. Mary the Virgin, San Francisco, St. Matthew’s, San Mateo, St. Paul’s, Burlingame, Trinity, Menlo Park, St. John’s, Ross, and the bishop’s staff.


At the conclusion of the parade at Yerba Buena Park, the youth went back to Grace Cathedral to debrief from the day and have some wrap up discussion about where society is now and where it is going, and what their impact might be. A few clergy and bishop's staff stayed at Yerba Buena park for an infaith service, which featured faith, nonprofit, political, and youth leaders from across the Bay Area of various faith backgrounds as speakers. They shared favorite MLK, Jr. passages and their own words on the work to be done.