UC Berkeley Campus Ministry Report 2018

The Episcopal Chaplaincy to Cal, based out of St. Mark’s in Berkeley, had a busy year of programs and activities. In the fall of 2017 we commemorated the 500th anniversary of Luther’s theses with a speaker series exploring impacts of the reformation. Speakers came from Berkeley grad students and professors as well as from schools and institutions. Topics included: The Formation of the Modern State, The History of Colonial Anglicanism in New York, The Victorian Myth of the English Reformation, The Discourse of Bach’s Sacred Music (with Jeffrey Thomas), and finally a journalist from the Guardian and a scholar of climate change spoke on the topic of technology, communication, and modern life. The semester concluded with a choral Advent Procession. In the Spring we hosted our annual celebration of Candlemas with blessing of candles. Bishop Marc then offered some conversation time on Mary and her role in the Presentation in the Temple.

Our other major spring event was to host the noted translator and interfaith climate activist Martin Palmer. On the first night of the event Martin presented on his translation work with the texts of the Persian Chinese Christian church of the 7th century. This was followed by a meeting with interfaith students and chaplains to discuss climate efforts at Cal. The second night of the event had Martin in conversation with the Rev. Dr. Paula Nesbitt on Christianity, Climate Change, Globalism, and the use of the Indaba process. This multi-day event concluded with a liturgy using the Chinese texts set to music for the first time in over 1000 years.

During Easter Week we also provided a special service of music and poetry drawn from African American voices to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s Martyrdom. This service was prepared by ministry intern Sydney Regina Young. The core of the service paired Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Christ at the tomb with Coretta Scott King’s commencement address at Harvard in place of her recently deceased husband. Many of these events were supported through a generous grant received by the chaplaincy from the Lilly Foundation.

In addition to our special events we also continued to offer a weekly service of choral evensong largely lead by a choir of Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students.  We also offered a weekly book discussion based off the program “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.” This approach, developed at Harvard Divinity School, uses methods such as Lectio Divina to explore spiritual themes with a familiar text. Finally, outside of our programs, Tom Poynor, the chaplain was constantly engaged in the necessary work of coffee and lunch with students in all stages of their faith growth. The ministry to students at Cal remains alive and well.

— Tom Poynor, chaplain