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Congratulations to Trustee Bishop Warner Brown on his appointment as Senior Interim Pastor of Glide Memorial Church

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Pacific School of Religion extends our best wishes to Trustee Bishop Warner H. Brown on his new assignment.

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, resident bishop of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, assigned recently retired Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. as the senior interim pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. Bishop Brown serves on the Board of Trustees at Pacific School of Religion and chairs the InterCultural Justice Committee of the Board.

“Bishop Brown’s ministry has been framed by a depth of experience, insight, and passion for the Gospel that is lived out in justice—commitments we have experienced in his leadership in the annual conference, the broader church, and in his role on the Board of Trustees at Pacific School of Religion. We celebrate his appointment to Glide, where Bishop Brown’s prophetic voice and true servant heart will serve as catalyst in this moment of transition and new opportunities,” said Rev. Dr. David Vásquez-Levy, Pacific School of Religion President.

Bishop Brown’s ministry has embodied the kind of commitments that drive PSR’s mission of preparing theologically and spiritually rooted leaders for social transformation. He has long-standing ties with the San Francisco Bay Area, serving as pastor, as Conference Council Director, as Superintendent of the Golden Gate District, as chair of the Oakland Inter-religious Network, and vice-chair of the Community Advisory Commission for Alameda County Medical Center.

After his election to the Episcopacy in 2000, Bishop Brown served as Bishop of the Denver Area and then returned to the Bay Area as Bishop of the San Francisco Area in 2008. Bishop Brown recently completed his term as President of the United Methodist Council of Bishops and retired August 31st.

Glide’s outgoing Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto (MDiv ’80), was recently consecrated as Bishop of the UMC’s Mountain Sky region, which includes Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and part of Idaho. In an historic moment for the Methodist Church, Rev. Dr. Oliveto is the Church’s first openly LGBTQ Bishop.

We congratulate Bishop Brown on this new journey in ministry, and look forward to continuing our rich partnership with Glide. We extend our prayers to Bishop Brown’s family, Minnie Jones Brown, Catina Marie Harvin, Warner Brown III, and Calvin Brown.

Pacific School of Religion Welcomes United Methodist Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño to the California-Nevada Annual Conference

By | A World on the Move, Main News | No Comments

Pacific School of Religion is delighted to welcome Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, as she begins her service as resident bishop of the California-Nevada Annual Conference. In 2004, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño became the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church. Her first assignment was as Bishop of the Phoenix Episcopal Area and Resident Bishop of the Desert Southwest Conference of the UMC. She comes to the San Francisco Episcopal Area following her leadership of the Los Angeles Episcopal Area and Resident Bishop of the California-Pacific Annual Conference for the last four years.

Last year, Bishop Carcaño served as preacher for the installation of President David Vásquez-Levy at Pacific School of Religion.

“Bishop Carcaño is a prophetic leader, a tireless advocate, and a faithful pastor, bringing Good News to a world on the move. I have been inspired by her ministry and grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to partner in the work around immigration. This fall as we welcome Bishop Carcaño and celebrate PSR’s 150th anniversary, we are looking forward to building on the long legacy of partnership between PSR and the California-Nevada Annual Conference,” said President David Vásquez-Levy.

A native of Edinburg, Texas, Bishop Carcaño spent her early years aspiring to make a difference in the lives of persons who faced poverty and discrimination. Not forgetting her roots and early hopes, her ministry has always involved work with the poor, farm workers, immigrants, refugees, and those advocating for the full rights of the LGBTQ community. Deeply committed to ecumenism, the strengthening of interfaith relationships, and contextual ministry, she encourages congregations to engage in community organizing across all living faiths.

PSR’s commitment to preparing theologically and spiritually rooted leaders for social transformation is framed and lived out in our partnership with congregations. Filipe Maia, Assistant Professor of United Methodist Studies and Leadership, said: “The vitality of communities of faith relies on the prophetic courage and sensibility of their leadership. With over 60% of its clergy as PSR alums, the California-Nevada Conference is known for its commitments to the construction of a more just world. As we welcome Bishop Carcaño’s leadership, we join hands to pray and labor in anticipation of God’s new creation.”

An Installation Service for Bishop Carcaño will take place on Saturday, September 24, at 2 p.m. at St. Paul’s UMC, Manteca, CA. The church is located at 910 East North Street, Manteca, CA. Details about the installation and a full biography of Bishop Carcaño are available here.

A Century of Living Boldly: Meet our Oldest Alumni

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David Vásquez-Levy, George Aki, Henry Hayden

Pacific School of Religion President Rev. Dr. David Vásquez-Levy (left) honored George (center) and Henry (right) at Pilgrim Place this spring

At Pacific School of Religion, we prepare theologically and spiritually rooted leaders for social transformation. Our two oldest living alumni, Rev. Dr. George Aki and Rev. Dr. Henry Hayden, have embodied this calling for decades. They also share a lifelong friendship that began in their student years at PSR. Both currently reside at Pilgrim Place, a senior community for retired clergy. Both George and Henry received Distinguished Alumnus Awards in 2011.

Pacific School of Religion’s oldest living alumnus, Rev. Dr. George Aki (MA ’40, MDiv ’42, DD ’66), has led an exemplary life of service to God, his country, and his community.

George and his wife, Misaki, both earned their Master of Arts degrees from PSR in 1940. George continued to work towards his Master of Divinity. Their lives were tragically upended on February 19, 1942, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the deportation of Japanese Americans to internment camps.

Over the objections of Pacific School of Religion professors, including Galen Fisher and then-president A.C. McGiffert, Jr., George and four other Japanese American PSR students were sent to internment camps. George recalled: “I was a prisoner of my own country.”

George, Misaki, and their daughter Joanne

The day before George was scheduled to graduate from Pacific School of Religion, he and Misaki were transported to a temporary holding center at the Tanforan racetrack. They would miss his graduation ceremony.

However, the very next day at Tanforan, George recognized an old friend, Ward Stephenson, a classmate from Pacific School of Religion. Ward had travelled to Tanforan to deliver George’s diploma. George thought, “There must be thousands, millions, of Americans who feel like Ward towards all the Japanese Americans.”

Shortly thereafter, surrounded by PSR professors and classmates and in front of a crowd of 500 gathered at the dining hall of the temporary internment camp, George was ordained into what would become the United Church of Christ.

In 1944, George served as a chaplain in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the almost entirely Japanese American unit of the United States Army. Said George: “I was glad that I could uphold my ordination pledge to go where my church goes. And those Army volunteers would be my church.” The 442nd became the most highly-decorated unit of its size in the history of the Army.

After the war, George continued his service as a minister of the United Church of Christ Congregational Church of San Luis Obispo, ushering his church through an important phase of expansion. George counseled veterans and was actively involved with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Committee. He also served as a missionary with the UCC Board for World Ministries, and as a guest lecturer at Cuesta College, also in San Luis Obispo. George and Misaki had three children, Joanne, Galen, and James.

George’s ministry and service embody PSR’s aspiration for the kind of theological rootedness that places one’s life in a much broader context and the spiritual rootedness that sustains us over the years.

Rev. Dr. Henry Hayden

Henry with one of his recent original paintings

Rev. Dr. Henry Hayden (MDiv ’41, DD ’66), our second-oldest living alumnus, has committed a lifetime to advocacy for justice for all God’s people.

After being “bored out of his mind” at an insurance job, Henry arrived at Pacific School of Religion in the early 1940s. He cites James Muilenberg, Professor of Old Testament, as the “inspiration of my life. He’d walk up and down the aisle of our classroom, telling us, ‘Don’t preach sentimental nonsense! Be prophets.’”

In 1956, Henry started a church across from Fresno State College. He wanted his church to be “a microcosm,” welcoming people of every race, every sexual orientation, and every vocation. Within a few years, the congregation grew to 500.

Henry’s ministry is inextricably bound to social justice. As a campus minister, he organized sit-ins to protest racist policies, inviting W.E.B. DuBois and Martin Luther King, Jr. to lecture. Henry marched alongside Cesar Chavez to fight for migrant workers’ rights, inspired by the children of farmworkers he’d met while a student at PSR. In 1970, Henry ordained fellow PSR alumnus Bill Johnson, who was the first openly gay person to be ordained in a mainline Christian tradition. Henry’s courage embodied PSR’s tradition of boldness to live out the gospel’s call.  However, it also resulted in his receiving over 300 hate-filled letters.

As he nears 100, Henry continues to lead an active retirement, and his days are filled with painting, exercise, and lecturing on the keys to a happy and healthy life.

Reflections from the American Church in Paris

By | A World on the Move, Immersions, Paris Immersion | No Comments

Immersion participants will be blogging here throughout their course, “Immigration/Refugee Crisis, Religion, Globalization and the Post-Colonial State,” sponsored by Pacific School of Religion, UC Berkeley Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project (IRDP), and Zaytuna College. Today’s post is from Joel Wildermuth, an MDiv student at Methodist Theological School in Ohio. 

As we are quickly learning, the study of human migration is deeply complex. It requires thorough care in attending to the layers of identity that are bound up in conversations around the on-going global migration crisis.

As a group of learners from diverse backgrounds, we continue to encounter the challenge of conversations in which religious, ethnic, and social identity are significant factors. What we are learning to embrace is the discomforting nature of these kinds of conversations, and the fact that they demand honest, intentional, and respectful engagement from us if we are to adequately make sense of what we are seeing around us and how we might respond to it. In this way, discomfort is good. Discomfort summons us—particularly those of us who come from positions of privilege—to see the narratives of injustice and oppression that we have been blind to, and further demands that we see (and hear!) these narratives with humility and compassion. Staying with one another through these conversations is part of the necessary work that needs to be done as people join together in justice work.

On a more personal level, I would like to share a thought that came to me as we listened to the migration stories of six members of the American Church in Paris – a congregation in which 40-50 nationalities are represented. In each story it was evident that legal matters played a significant role. Who is allowed in? Who is not allowed in? How long can they stay? What are they allowed to do? How long does it take to obtain legal papers? And how does one’s identity factor in to these questions? The only thing I could think of as I listened to these stories was: Why is it that legally belonging somewhere is such a big deal, and why have we allowed the legality/illegality of migration to preclude the moral prerogative we have to help our fellow human beings seeking safety, opportunity, a place of belonging, and a place to flourish? I yearn for a world in which national boundaries no longer deprive people of these things.


Prayers for Days Like These

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We are uplifting student, staff, faculty, and alumni/ae reactions to the horrific violence affecting our communities, nation, and world. May these words will be a source of comfort and call to loving action. Please email your reflections to Erin Burns (eburns@psr.edu) to be considered for posting.

Active Grief Affirmations

Active Grief Affirmation by Latishia James“As a black woman, learning to be okay with taking up space has been a difficult process. However, it is a process that was aided by my grief. Grief does not care about privilege or propriety. Grief demands acknowledgement and once it begins there is no turning it off. And so I began the journey of not only grieving but of convincing myself that the way I was grieving was perfectly fine. Active Grief Affirmations was born from that place.” – Latishia AV James (MDiv ’16)

Read Latishia’s Active Grief Affirmations here

A Prayer for Days Like These (July 8, 2016)
by Dr. Sharon R. Fennema, Assistant Professor of Christian Worship and Director of Worship Life

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
when weariness seeps into our bones
with its arthritic ache made worse by the ever-present storms of fear and injustice,
when the bright flashes of the relentless death-dealing forces of racism
remain on our retinas even after we close our eyes,
when the thunderous outrage of those who seem only now to have woken up
(how many bodies did it take – ‪#‎staywoke‬)
echoes hollowly in the face of the mountain climb of change
when the arc of the moral universe is too long and the bend toward justice too shallow
raise up in us a voice that cries out
not only in lament
not only for justice
not only in outrage
but also
with feet that take to the streets
with hands that hold the traumas and offer healing
with ears that hear the call to keep unfolding our own prejudice and privileges
with eyes that see not only the need for ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬ but the beauty of it
with fingers that do more than press “like”
and pick up the phone
or the computer
or the voter registration card
or the protest sign
or the prayer book
with bodies that show up and keep showing up
God of these weary days, weary years, weary lifetimes,
Unsilence our tears.