A Vigil for Orlando

“Jesus began to weep.” (John 11:35)

Edward Sotomayor Jr., we remember you.
Stanley Almodovar III, we remember you.
Juan Ramon Guerrero, we remember you.
KJ Morris, we remember you.
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla/Alanis Laurell, we remember you.
We remember you
We remember you
We remember you…

On Tuesday, June 21, eleven church and community members gathered at table to pray, break bread together, and remember the lives that were lost in the shooting at Pulse nightclub just a week before. We gathered to hold in sacred space our vulnerable humanities in all of their complexities, and to communally lament our overwhelming anger, experiences of doubt and betrayal, fears for safety, and deep grief. Our prayers were the sharing of our individual experiences (as LGBTQ and ally folks) tied together to the names and stories of those killed in Pulse, tied together with the ancient laments of Mary and Martha who wept at Jesus’ feet saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). Our prayers became an altar built of pictures of God’s dancing beloveds and of our commitments voiced to one another.

There is no “right” way to respond to such tragedies. In the Christian faith, there is the story of the resurrection—a story that invites us to believe that death does not have the final word. In times such as these, we are called to explore resurrection as a call to continue coming together, to be the Body of Christ moving in this world, creatively and compassionately building up the Beloved Community. This is one of the ways life rises from death. Some of the resurrection commitments voiced during the gathering at Mission Bay included commitments to listen more fully to people and communities who are unsafe and to show up again and again as allies, to remember and share the names and stories of those who are killed, to live each day out loud as our whole selves, and to be attentive and responsible to the parts of the stories that get erased, be it the race, gender, sexuality or faith of people and communities involved. What are your resurrection commitments this day? In what ways will your life be part of the way life rises from death?

As the weeks continue to pass and stories of massacres and shootings surface each day—we remember also this week, the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile—I pray that we learn and share our stories, the stories of the people we meet and the stories of those who have died and are dying. I pray that in the face of overlapping systemic evils including white supremacy, homophobia, Islamophobia, and gun violence, we commit ourselves to giving voice to our resiliency and to being more present allies and co-conspirators in the Spirit-filled work of justice that is dancing in the clubs and the streets, as well as in the churches and mosques. In the face of death, may we seek resurrection—may we come together to speak our truths, hold one another through suffering, and bind our lives to one another in all of our daily actions.

SF Night Ministry


Reverend Lyle – Night Minister

On Friday, March 4th, some of us joined SF Night Ministry to walk the streets of San Francisco and offer a presence of listening and prayer for those in need. Here are some thoughts on the experience from Becca Rhodes:

(1) What was it like?

Before we walked with two night chaplains named Lyle and Tom, we spent about an hour talking through the experience of  homelessness in San Francisco.  Lyle described many of the social services offered to these folks by organizations and churches, and described that the role of the Night Ministry is to provide spiritual presence on the streets not only to people who are unhoused, but also to people who are out on the streets and to the many bartenders and restaurant owners that they have come to know over the years.

(2) Did you feel safe?

I felt incredibly safe!  Lyle and Tom, the chaplains, are so well known by folks on the street.  They are two middle-aged, 6 foot men who have a gentle presence, but because of the goodness of their spirits and reputation, no one is going to mess with them.  Walking with Rev. Dawn, Lyle and Tom was fun because they were all wearing their “priest” collars- which got quite a lot of attention from locals who were out on the streets with their friends just talking and drinking on a regular Friday night.  In general, clergy are respected in SF so it was quite safe!

(3) What surprised you?

I was surprised to realize how many preset patterns of interaction I have with people who are experiencing homelessness.  You might call them biases.  First, there is my gender which is oftentimes a disadvantage, while other times can be a blessing.  Second, the Night Ministry does not provide handouts (i.e. money, meals, clothing, bedding, etc.), so I was surprised that when we were approached for a few dollars, my best response was, “I’m sorry I don’t have that.”  Truth is, I do have the money.  But that was not what we were on the streets to do- we were on the streets to provide a spiritual & human presence.  My bias is to apologize and turn people away, but what I learned is that I should have responded, “Hey, I can’t offer you money, but I can offer you conversation if you would enjoy that!  What’s your name?”  And start a real conversation acknowledging the person’s humanity rather than just turning them away.

(4) When did you feel Christ’s presence?

I felt Christ’s presence when a woman came up to Lyle and told him news that she would be in the hospital in July for cancer treatments.  The woman asked for prayers.

(5) What did you enjoy?
Homelessness seems like such a massive issue sometimes (and it is- Lyle said that a good estimate for people who don’t have their names on leases in the Bay Area is 30,000).   I enjoyed realizing that I might not be able to change a person’s circumstances very much, but I do feel much more comfortable having a conversation with a person who is marginalized by their housing circumstance!

(6) What else do you want to share?

Just last night, my boyfriend and I were eating Smitten ice cream in Patricia’s Green.  A man approached us and asked us if we would consider sparing a dollar on the condition that he was able to tell us a joke which made us laugh.  We said, “Absolutely!”  The man asked us if we would prefer a lawyer, politician or pirate joke.  We picked the pirate joke.  Then the man tells us a beautifully crafted, long linguistic joke about pirates (and it involved lawyers and politicians, too).  I could tell he had worked and carefully crafted this joke and practiced delivering it many times.  I laughed twice and was more than happy to give him the dollars in my wallet.  After I upheld my end of the deal, I told him, “I really appreciated your joke- I can tell you put a lot of thought into it.  I’m so happy we met you and I’m going to give you a couple extra dollars for using the word ‘guttural'” (I’m a language nerd).  He then told us about his linguistic passions and about a New Yorker article which inspired his joke.  Before he left, I asked him his name and thanked him by name.  He also was so grateful that he gave us a couple things he had found (treasures he was carrying in his coat pocket).  I don’t think I would have been able to have such a real conversation with this man had I not gone on the Night Ministry walk with Dawn.  Walking with Lyle, Tom and Dawn really helped me realize my patterns and biases and let go of some of the stereotypes I have for interactions with people who are asking for money.

New Elder Spotlight: Julio Delgado

How did you know you were called?

Julio Delgado MBCC Mission Bay Community Church

I do not think I can pinpoint to one moment in which I felt called, but rather there were multiple factors that contributed to my calling. First off, the community welcomed me with such warmth that I had no problem connecting with various people, especially during dinner time. Second, the quirkiness of the church environment put me at ease. From the way people are casually dressed to the Hawaiian bread used for communion, MBCC has its unique flavor. Third, the way the church is set up helps invite change. The way we are allowed to have a dialogue with the pastor during sermon keeps me engaged, the various community events spearheaded by its community members inspires me, and the church’s mission for social justice empowers me. This leads me to the strongest source of my calling- Doubts and Stouts. The fact that we get to hang out in a bar to talk about religion is already fascinating enough, but the way people are challenged to grow stronger in their faith through tough questions moved me to be an elder. It was a great example of how our community has the foundation to grow and I wanted to help its growth in any way possible. Being an elder seemed like the right fit.

What are you most excited about in joining leadership?

Where to begin?! To start, I am looking forward to the collaboration and enthusiasm for new ideas and change. The leadership team is full of some of the most caring and genuine people I know. Their passion to help MBCC prosper will undoubtedly inspire me to come up with ideas that will foster community in our church. I am honored to have a platform where I can make an impact on the MBCC community. I look forward to talking to everyone at MBCC and listen to their stories and ideas in order to furthers MBCC’s faith mission. I am excited to see the administrative side of the church and see how all the gears work together to make MBCC such a wonderful church. I already have a great respect to those in leadership like Marc and Dawn who do a lot of the little things behind the scenes that may not get its full recognition. Finally, I am just excited to be part of an amazing team that challenges me to maximize my gifts and see the best in me.

What did the ordination experience feel like for you?

So overwhelming! I could not stop smiling! I was filled with so much joy. It was truly one of the most special moments in my life. To have a community support me and encourage me to take on this role is truly humbling. That kind of strong support gave me goosebumps. It is a bit crazy to be given such a big responsibility in less than 2 years of first setting foot in the church. Though, what put me at peace was how the community members stood up and laid a hand on my shoulder to rejoice with me in that moment. It was a fitting scene- my community right there behind me in my next big step in my faith journey.

Women’s Retreat

Westmnster woods

 This past weekend the women of our church retreated away to Westminster Woods.

We gathered with other Presbyterian women from all over the bay area and explored the theme of hospitality. We studied the story of scripture and saw that God has given us the ultimate hospitality by creating the “home” of the world in which we live. Throughout history as God’s people we have experienced both being at home and being without a home. In both,  God’s instructions have been for us to integrate (Jeremiah 29). To make a home, a garden, a family wherever we are and to show Christ’s love in hospitality to others. We explored what is joyful and challenging about being a host and being a guest.


We also enjoyed rest and restoration. We slept over 8 hours each night and took naps as needed. On Saturday afternoon, we did some free fall zip lining, bollywood dancing, yoga and a short trip to the town of Occidental.

jeanette zip

The food was delicious and the accommodations were warm and cozy. Best of all, we enjoyed each other’s company and worship with others in the woods. Women of the church, we hope you’ll join us next year. And EVERYONE, mark your calendars to retreat with us as a church in May (13-15, 2016) to Big Basin.

IMG_6063 2

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In light of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday today, we continue conversations on the reality of racial injustice and our dream for equality for all of God’s people.

During Doubts and Stouts the last two months, we have been discussing Nathan Rutstein’s book Healing Racism in America: A Prescription for the Disease. Rutstein claims that racial injustice is a disease that all of us suffer from and that healing starts with each of us acknowledging our part in the problem.

Hear from a few of our members:

“[The] conversation surrounding the topic of racial injustice and faith was invigorating. The topics were difficult to deconstruct and had many conceptual layers. However, it was a challenge that was worth fully embracing. The most powerful part of the conversation was how socially aware we were in how our faith is intertwined with racism that occurs all around us. Not one person assumed to know the answer, not one person claimed to not be part of systemic racial injustice in our nation, but everyone was willing to accept that their notions of racism could be altered at any moment.”  – Julio

“The looming question for us was how can we as Christians be a part of the healing? Conversations are important and good for us to draw near to our neighbor, gain understanding and insight into our own behaviors and actions, but conversations will not solve the problem in and of themselves. There needs to be change in behavior. Change in action. Change in systems as well as in our hearts.” – Dawn

“We know from scripture: ‘There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.'” (Galatians 3:28) The gospel is beyond the barriers of racism.

“The multiple perspectives in our conversation led to people reflecting in their own actions and beliefs about racism more deeply. This seemed to lead people to embrace the discomfort that comes with such heavy ideas and using that discomfort to grow closer to God. Specifically, the discomfort helped us try to find genuine solutions that can provide God’s work in our local communities. We could not simply accept that because we are part of a church that we were doing enough to counter racial injustice. In fact, we were aware that some aspects of Christianity have played a part in perpetuating racial injustice. Therefore, this humility and unassuming demeanor of our group really paved the way for constructive conversations about our own community. We left the conversation with more questions than answers, but that only helps us seek more justice with the presence of God and scripture in mind.” – Julio


Justice is an important part of the gospel. Join us in our conversation and in our prayers this day for racial justice in America and in the world.

Our New APP!




Blog Post from Pastor Dawn Hyde


Theologian Karl Barth said to read the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other. Well, these days we do both in one hand, on one device. A smart phone, a tablet, a laptop. One device to connect to the world, to each other, and to the divine.

At our church in San Francisco, our first encounter with Christ is online. Without fail, each visitor who walks into our church found us on Yelp or through Google. One search for “evening worship” or “progressive theology” in San Francisco and there we are: Mission Bay Community Church. Depending on your curiosity level, you might spend a few minutes looking over our Yelp reviews or wandering through our website. Within minutes, you’ve seen our faces, our worship, our camping retreat, our temporary tattoos. You’ve seen us. You’ve experienced us. You see Christ through us.

Mission Bay Community Church Website MBCC

When I left Columbia Theological Seminary to take this call in San Francisco, I knew I was signing up for more education. Faith in San Francisco takes unique shape and so I knew I had much to learn from my congregation. In the last few years, they have taught me the ways of Silicon Valley and stretched me to “catch up with the [tech] times.” In fact, I returned from my sabbatical in September to a few elders who had taken my permission to lead the church seriously and had designed a new church logo, website and app. I smiled, thanked God and thought to myself, “There really is an app for everything.”

Mission Bay Community Church App MBCC

These elders knew of eChurch, a software company that offers apps and a modern donation collection service to churches. You provide the content and they design the app. Our app “Mission Bay Community Church” is available through Google Play and at the Apple Store. It’s free and available to anyone for use. It has a Bible, calendar, church stories, sermon podcasts and social media posts. It gives you a way to financially support the ministry of our church. My favorite feature is a prayer wall. Throughout the week, you can post a prayer and know that this church community is holding you in prayer.

The church app is a hub for our community. It serves the real need for us to connect with scripture, with each other and with the divine 24/7. It also allows anyone, anywhere, who has access to a device and ability to open an app, to jump into our community and commune with Christ. Download it today and start your walk with Christ online with us!

Pakistan Educator Veda Gill 

We welcomed Veda Javaid Gill on Sunday, July 26th. She proclaimed the gospel to us from her unique perspective as Christian in Pakistan. 

Veda is the executive director of the Presbyterian Education Board. She likens her position there as a superintendent here. She is responsible to the board and oversees several schools – elementary through high school. Veda taught us some of our history. Our great great (probably a few more greats…) grandparents in the Presbyterian Church USA sent missionaries to Pakistan to start schools in the 1800s. These schools were taken over by the Government of Pakistan and then returned to the PCUSA in the early 1990s. 

She preached an encouraging word for us about having courage to live into Christ’s call. She preached from God’s call to Abram and Jesus’ call to the disciples, she shared with us several inspiring stories about how she and her community in Pakistan have lived out their faith with courage. 

It takes courage for Pakistani Christians to go to church, unsure if they will return home safely. 
It takes courage for the young girls in her school to speak up in society.
It takes courage for all of us to respond to Christ’s call for us. 

Our brothers and sisters in Pakistan are doing great ministry. Veda brought an inspiring word that connected us to her, to her community and schools in Pakistan and to our united mission in Christ. 

MBCC Goes Camping!


We were getting excited in anticipation of the weekend retreat at Big Basin National Park.  It had been a very long time since our last camping trip, and our first with a three year old, so many questions arose: Was the tent going to work?  How far are the bathrooms?  Will we disturb our neighbors with toddler crying in the middle of the night?

Despite our doubts, we packed up our car.  Within an hour and a half, the scenery changed from city to suburban highway, then to windy roads among giant redwood trees.  The setting of the great outdoors was refreshing and set the scene for a weekend of communing with our church family.  On Friday afternoon, people began to set up campsites, and it was exciting to see everyone in a totally different context—under the redwood trees, instead of in a formal church setting.  We got ready to roast hot dogs and marshmallows, and while we had to make sure all of our food was secured in bear lockers so we didn’t attract any animals, we did attract a lot of hungry mosquitoes.

We began our Saturday morning with a devotional moment where we reflected on the upcoming day and how “play” fit in with worship.  Each person received a chunk of homemade play dough and we were encouraged to allow our hands to freely shape the dough as we reflected on the words of a devotional prayer and bible passages.

The theme of play continued after the morning meditation and took a more physical form.  About 25 people gathered in a circle and engaged each other in about seven or eight well-planned games.  We learned fun facts about each other, got to run through the clearing to avoid “seaweed,” danced, and sang.  In the afternoon, as some of us took naps, the more intrepid members of the church went on a six mile hike!  We heard that a couple of our campers “accidentally” fell into a stream.  The kids explored and played, climbing trees and rocks.

On Saturday night, we continued getting to know one another while preparing hobo pockets, and eating S’mores!  Our family was not able to camp a second night, so unfortunately we missed the morning church service in the woods.

For our first camping adventure with a small child, we were very glad that we were able to experience it with our church family. Tyler loved running around with the other kids, and it was a hospitable experience for those of us who are not expert campers. The weekend was an opportunity to spend time with our church family in a beautiful setting. The trip enabled us to strengthen connections with those we were familiar with and develop new relationships with people we those who we did not know. Spending time together renews our relationship with the church. We look forward to future MBCC retreats!

-Cathy & Christina

Finding Sanctuary in a New Place


I realize that a building is just a building. “The Church” is the people – the life coursing through a living room, the streets, the world; but whenever I enter a place of worship, I love to pause for a moment and imagine all of the things it has witnessed. How many prayers of confession, baptisms, and choruses of How Great is Our God have these walls absorbed? How saturated must these cross beams be – radiating holiness and liturgy, hopes and fears, sin and grace, laughter and tears. While a building is just a building, there can be no denying the weight of tradition and the power of sharing space and humanity.

That is what I love about church. No matter if you have been a member of a congregation since before its first days or whether today is the first time you have been within 2000 miles of this place there is something shared, and safe, and stable about being here. Being in a “church” is a way to physically step into historical prayers. To walk around and feel the unique but communal experiences of joy, heartbreak, peace, doubt, faith, and community that so many before me have encountered, here.

I am so grateful we worship a God that can be accessed everywhere from a wifi-filled coffee shop bustling with YPs to the corner of a forgotten street in a desolate ghost town. I am bursting with excitement for progress being made toward equality and love and for communities learning the unforced rhythms of grace that have long been hidden under tradition and ritual.

But I am also not willing to let all of that tradition go. Like a beautiful old sanctuary – dark cedar beams, rich red carpeting, and warm glass windows – I cannot ignore the mysterious way a place like this makes a deep place in my soul come to life. So let’s not do away with these shared words, prayers, and hymns. Instead let’s dust them off, hang a few new banners in the rafters, and learn to see them in a new light.

The Church still has so much work to do in order to reconcile its past sins, and it can often be disheartening to see the ways in which a place that brings me so much joy, and comfort, and peace can be so hurtful to the people I love and care about – the very people Jesus intended the Church to be for. But having the opportunity to hang those banners and listen to the beautiful outpouring of love and trust during worship on my first Sunday at MBCC was so encouraging. No community is perfect. We have all fallen short. However, I am so excited for the opportunity to spend my summer with this group of people, in this city, doing this work.

-Hannah Sikes, summer intern


As four of us sat in a car last Sunday evening, looking for an escape from the harsh, bitter, piercing, San Francisco wind, I couldn’t help but think we had made a huge mistake. Holding worship outside in the park sounded like such a great idea. The sun would be shining, we would have a nice little picnic complete with cake, and we would be present in the community that surrounds us. What could possibly go wrong? While setting up the area, the wind began to pick up and we quickly discovered that everything we brought would need to be weighed down or we would have to chase it. Tables were flipping, balloons flying away, and our chairs decided to try and cross the street. After an incident with a dog that was very interested in the communion elements, we finally asked the question, should we just go back inside?

This week serves as a stark reminder that it is hard to go out. It is hard to leave the comfort of our sanctuaries. It is hard to leave the familiar to go to the unknown. Our original intent for gathering outside, in the community, this week was to emphasize our call to reach beyond our walls. God calls us out into the world to continue the ministry of Jesus. At Pentecost, the disciples were locked in an upper room, hidden, scared, trying to escape the harsh conditions they found themselves in. Jesus, risen from the grave, had been with them again, and left them again. And now they waited…again. The good news is that the story doesn’t end there. The disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit and emboldened to go out. Tongues of fire rest on their head and they go out preaching the good news of Jesus in the languages of everyone gathered. Their previous inhibitions are so absent that observers called them drunk! This is truly an event worth celebrating, but then we have days like Sunday, and we remember the 1st chapter in Acts. We remember that the work God calls us to is hard for so many reasons.

So we ended up back inside. I don’t like calling it the church, because I don’t believe the Church is a building. After all, the passage we read this week doesn’t mention breaking ground on the first sanctuary, and yet Pentecost is known as the birth of the Church. In this case; however, I think I can make an exception. I’ll say we ended up back in the church. I make this exception, because this week the church provided shelter. It provided a place where we could be in fellowship with one another. It provided a place where we could worship God together. It provided a place where we could be comforted. It provided a place where we could hear good news in our lives where there may be none. It provided a place where we could be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is what we do as the Church in the world. We ended up back in the Church because WE are the Church. May we find hope and courage knowing that the Holy Spirit will continue to strengthen and comfort us as we go out to be the Church in the world.

– Christopher Smith, Music Leader

Say Hello!