A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast

Club Q, Thankfulness, & The Sacred Creative w/ Theresa Cho and Sam Lundquist

November 24, 2022 Simon Doong and Lee Catoe Season 1 Episode 103
Club Q, Thankfulness, & The Sacred Creative w/ Theresa Cho and Sam Lundquist
A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
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A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
Club Q, Thankfulness, & The Sacred Creative w/ Theresa Cho and Sam Lundquist
Nov 24, 2022 Season 1 Episode 103
Simon Doong and Lee Catoe

This week, we send out our deepest prayers to those killed and injured at Club Q in Colorado Springs and we celebrate the furthering of gender inclusion in sports.

Question for the Week:
What are different ways that you have seen people express thankfulness or gratitude?

Special Guests:
Theresa Cho & Sam Lundquist, Pastors at St. John’s Presbyterian Church (San Francisco, CA)
 
Guest Question:
What are ways we can experience God and the divine through the arts and creative worship experiences? Why is it important to live into creativity especially within our faith spaces?

Resources:
St. John's Presbyterian Church

For Listening Guides, click here!
Got a question for us? Send them to faithpodcast@pcusa.org!
A Matter of Faith website

Show Notes Transcript

This week, we send out our deepest prayers to those killed and injured at Club Q in Colorado Springs and we celebrate the furthering of gender inclusion in sports.

Question for the Week:
What are different ways that you have seen people express thankfulness or gratitude?

Special Guests:
Theresa Cho & Sam Lundquist, Pastors at St. John’s Presbyterian Church (San Francisco, CA)
 
Guest Question:
What are ways we can experience God and the divine through the arts and creative worship experiences? Why is it important to live into creativity especially within our faith spaces?

Resources:
St. John's Presbyterian Church

For Listening Guides, click here!
Got a question for us? Send them to faithpodcast@pcusa.org!
A Matter of Faith website

Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to a Matter of Faith, a Presby podcast, the podcast where we respond to your questions and comments on issues of faith, social justice, and church life. Don't be afraid to write in and ask your question because if it matters to you, it matters to us, and it just might be a matter of faith,

Speaker 2:

Whether it be faith in God, faith in others, or faith in yourself. We are brought to you by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and Unbound the interactive journal on Christian Social Justice for the Presbyterian Church usa. I am your host, Lee Cato,

Speaker 1:

And I'm your host Simon Dune.

Speaker 2:

Without further ado, let's dive into today's questions.

Speaker 1:

Well, hello everyone and welcome again to a matter of Faith, a Presby podcast. I am joined by the returned one, oh God,<laugh>, the returned one Return of the Lee.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thank God

Speaker 1:

Lee Cato Lee, how is it to be back in on this side of the world? Are you jet lagged?

Speaker 2:

I, I'm actually not because I'll tell you why. I, I, I strategized and I wasn't gonna, so my flight left early in the morning, but it was later than I imagined. And so I ended up getting a hotel because the conference ended on Friday and my flight was on Saturday morning and I actually slept and then I stayed up the whole time flying and now I'm kind of acclimated. So it was a good choice. And so I did work on the plane. Yeah. But it's really nice to be home. I don't like to be gone that long. It was a long trip. It was an intense trip. And whoever is planning on going to Israel Palestine, yeah, you should check out Grace Tours. I wanna give them a shout out, check out Grace Tours because they actually give you a well rounded experience of the dynamics in Israel Palestine. So it was an intense trip. It was a good trip. But I am glad to be home and in my own bed and with Will and Ruper and yeah. And now I'm waiting on my, uh, parents to get here. So it's just been a whirlwind cuz it's Thanksgiving of course. And yeah, they're coming to visit, so I'm glad I'm not jet lagged. But How are you Simon? Is it cold? You said your beard froze y the other day.

Speaker 1:

<laugh>. Yeah. My, my, yes, my, uh, for those that have experienced this, or maybe if you haven't experienced it when you go outside, I went, well, I went running and it was cold enough that I had a gator pulled up over my mouth to keep my face a little warmer and my beard froze through the gator. So then when I went to pull down the gator, I like pulled down hard and it's like pulling, it's like someone Velcro your beard and pulling, which is not comfortable. So I had to let it thaw a little bit<laugh> and let that ice melt before I could take the gator off, but ugh. So, yeah. Uh, it's not quite as cold today, I don't think it was. I mean, it was cold when I was out this morning earlier, but it has since warmed up a bit, which I'm thankful for.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thank for for that. But, but yeah, it's good to see you and it's good to see you while I'm not exhausted. So y'all, I am not gonna be traveling that much anymore. So this past fall, I know I was gone a lot, but not gonna be doing that much anymore unless I'm doing it for vacation cuz these were not vacations. So, and then I won't be talking to you at all. Maybe<laugh><laugh>, but yeah. So, but, but being back, it's kind of, it's kind of bittersweet because of what happened in Colorado Springs to our siblings at Club Q five. People were killed injured because of a shooting. And it's just really sad, uh, for our community as people. But you know, just in general, it's not only is it a gun control issue, but it's also homophobic issue. It's a transphobic issue, phobic issue. And yeah, it's just a terrible time right now. And they had a vi vis, uh, a visual here in DC at DuPont Circle about it. And it was, you know, it is just, it's amazing how a community can come together, but it's also devastating to hear some people's reactions, but also some people's statements about it that not, that are not very pointed enough. And some of those people are in our church and some of those people are leaders. And I just wanna say, call it what it is. It, it was a, it was a homophobic, transphobic, phobic crime. And yes, we need gun control, but it was also intersecting a lot of fear and a lot of hate toward our siblings. And so we need to be a little pointed in that, but sending prayers out too, and we're standing in solidarity with, you know, the people who were killed and who are injured and all the people who were traumatized by it. And, the community is also traumatized. It may not have happened directly, but it's something that, you know, whenever we go out to clubs or whenever we go out to bars and they get bars and clubs within the community are a place of community, and it's one of the few, and I think people don't realize that they're often just seen as like drinking and dancing. It's like, but it's much more than that. And now we have to have that a little, a little more fear whenever we enter through them. And so, yeah, even here in DC they're upping the security at some of the clubs and bars. So it's just very scary. So if you're out there, please speak out against it. And if you're, and if you're a hater of the community, maybe you should just keep that to yourself because words create action and Yeah. But I don't think people who listen to this would necessarily do that. They might, but if you do, watch what you say and maybe get to know a person before you say it,

Speaker 1:

So Yeah,

Speaker 2:

Yeah,

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So we send out our, our prayers to the victims, to their friends and families, and to our siblings in the community and to the community in Colorado Springs. Uh, and prayers also for increased inclusion, love, diversity, all of those things. And speaking of diversity and inclusion, this is in the sports world now for folks that are really into soccer, or I guess I should say football in other parts of the world, the World Cup, the preliminary games are being played, all the group group matches are being played. If you saw the US game versus Wales, I'm sorry,

Speaker 2:

<laugh>, I did not, I did not see it. So

Speaker 1:

The US and Wales Tide, which really the u in that situation, the US should have won. And it's people, some people are very disappointed in it. Um, but we did wanna highlight a step in the right direction for diversity and inclusion. Stephanie Fra Art became the first female official at a men's World Cup in Mexico's group C game against Poland. And that's very exciting. And so we hope to see more diversity and representation in our sports and in those who referee and help, uh, make sure the game goes on. So yeah, that's kind of exciting.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome. Yeah. But it's also in guitar, right?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So that's the other thing, which is the

Speaker 2:

Problematic, yes.

Speaker 1:

The World Cup is being held in Qatar, and I mean, we can get into this on another podcast, but hosting something like the Olympics or like the World Cup is a huge endeavor and often ends up being, can be more detrimental economically for the hosting country or city

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Than profitable, if that makes sense. I will also say prayers for guitar in the sense that this is a big endeavor, it's not easy to put this kind of event on.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And, and just the other side of it that when we're speaking about our siblings, yes, it's not the most welcoming, well it's not welcoming whatsoever to those folk. And so I think that that is also conversations that are happening and there too, like I don't need, I think England didn't, there's some pla I think it was somewhere that they didn't show, the BBC did not show the opening ceremonies of

Speaker 1:

Right. And many artists refused to perform at the World Cup as well for the opening ceremonies. So

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And that just adds a whole nother layer. Yeah. I mean, coming from just coming from the Middle East, it was hard. I mean, we had conversations about injustice and occupation and all these things, but in that, in, in that part of the world, sometimes even mentioning gay or is very dangerous. And so it's just an interesting and hard na the thing to navigate, especially if you're a gay soccer player or if you're gay working in the church, or if you're gay in general and trying to help people where they are. It's just a, it's just a very hard thing to navigate to. So yeah. Sending prayers for them too, but that's awesome. And Stephanie right, that yes, she is the first woman in a country that doesn't have a good track record for gender equality. And so yeah. That's pretty awesome.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yep. And we'll also be curious to see what happens with the rest of the World Cup group matches. There's one thing that I, I do love about soccer in particular, it is seeing groups of people come together, particularly people who share heritage from, you know, from a nationality and watching the games. I'm a, I was just on Instagram and saw a former classmate of mine who is Mexican, but he lives in Korea and it's just all people I believe of Mexican descent and identity together drinking Coronas and watching the Mexico game. Yeah. Which is pretty awesome in while in Korea. Amazing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. That is amazing. It is one of those events that bring people together. Yeah. And I don't think the US really realizes, because soccer isn't, I mean, I would say broadly, not necessarily something that's the most popular thing, but in the rest of the world it is the thing. Right. And it is amazing to see how it does bring people together and it is a global sport. Yeah. Whereas in the US like football, which is very just American. It's just interesting. But, but yeah. Good luck to the players. Good luck to Stephanie. We're sending prayers for people who may feel unsafe or, or not being able to be who they are. So I know that's very difficult, but

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah. And know that we're thankful for you.

Speaker 2:

Yes, indeed.

Speaker 1:

And speaking of

Speaker 2:

Being thankful,

Speaker 1:

<laugh>. Yes. There we go. There it is. It is. Thanksgiving week folks. And we have a question written in about being thankful. Question reads, what are different ways that you have seen people express thankfulness or gratitude? I love this.

Speaker 2:

Me too. I think this is a good, it's a good question to get us to think about because in the work that we do, specifically when it comes to justice and calling out injustice, Thanksgiving has now become something that is kind of clouded in colonization and like genocide and civically towards our Native American siblings. And so it's not what we had ever been taught when we were children. And so we can't go without saying that, but it has become a time where we do reflect on what we're thankful for and the people that have kind of be been in our lives that, you know, express thankfulness or gratitude. And one of the things that sticks out to me is, I mean, I was in Israel Palestine and we were talking to this group that empowers women and they make olive and honey and all this and all these things. And a part of the group that we went with, which is the mosaic of piece. And if you haven't checked out the blog, you should will put the link in the show notes. But we stopped by this place and we gave a gift after, after people talked with us and kind of presented what they do. And one of the things that one of the women did was ask us, she said, what is it that you do in your culture when it comes to gift giving and receiving gift? Do you open it up when you, after, like right after you get it in front of people or in our culture, we wait and we open it up in the privacy of our own home or, or whatever. And it, it just expressed a whole different kind of like thankfulness, but also respect and hospitality all within it. She was very thankful, but at the same time and very gracious, but also very hospitable in that asking of it. And I was like, wow, what if we, what if we kind of did that more often? Like within our thanks and within our, our gratitude also be authentic and try to meet people with hospitality as well. Because I, I do think when it comes to culture, not ev not even if it's international, but even within the context of the US where there's a multitude of different cultures and subcultures and ways of doing things, it's, it's just having the, the, the mentality to ask. And so I just thought that was, I just thought that was really awesome of, of, yeah. And within the thankfulness of it and just in general that experience, the people that were there, how, you know, that gratitude was authentic in a way that the way in which we've partnered with people in Israel Palestine, like it is not very, it's not transactional at all. And so it's very mutual and it's very much built on relationships. And so you saw the gratitude within us and within them and the thankfulness that everybody had just to be with each other. And so I do think, for me, the ways I've seen it and it stood out to me is when there's that that strong relationship built and there's just kind of this genuine mutual gratitude towards one another. And it's not so transactional because, you know, that can get kind of superficial, you know?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I love that. And that brings me, that makes me think about when I was in Korea and I realized that this happens other places as well, but if you went to someone's house who was like hosting you for an event or even just to come over, or if, when we went and, and visited each of the sites that we were going to be working at as young adult volunteers, when we first met with like our supervisors for an hour, got a tour of the place where we would be working, it was sort of accustom to always bring something as a gift, but not like in a, not in a transactional way, just as in a sort of like a thank you for your time. And I always thought that that was kind of nice. I'm not saying that everyone needs to be focused on gifts per se, and I don't even know if I would call it gift. It was just like a token of appreciation for, for letting us be here.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And I, and I appreciated that. And not everyone needs to do that, but there is something to that. And I, when I think about other ways that people express gratitude or saying, well, being thankful, obviously there is the very much the the thank you. Yeah. But I also think that even if it's something as simple as when you receive something from someone else, there is the sort of the opening or the receiving of the thing, and then you look at the person and maybe you just sort of nod your head at them and you say thank you with a smile on your face. Yeah. There's the level of, I get up and maybe I give you a handshake or a hug. If you have that kind of a relationship with the person and say thank you. And even those are two kind of different things. Not saying that one is better than the other, but I do think like if you actually get up and hug somebody that is taking it a step further than sort of just acknowledging the receiving and just expressing things, it just like, I'm gonna express things with my body too. Yeah. Which is kind of neat.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And if you think about it, I mean, a lot of times when we say grace or a blessing before a meal, very often thanks as a part of that as well, thanks to God for the food, for the opportunity, for the, for the time. So there, yeah, there's different ways that people, people express. Thank you. I was also sort of raised to do thank you cards, or even if you don't do a card or a note, at the very least you can send an email later or a text message that says, Hey, just wanna say thanks again for that. That was great. I really appreciated that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And it, it goes a long way. Yeah. Saying thank you goes a long way. And every time I'm like at a restaurant or every time you know, you're being served something you like, say thank you. And it goes a long way because there are times where we do take things for granted. And there was a moment when I was in Bethlehem, I had burnt cell. Did I tell everybody, I burnt myself,<laugh>, I burnt myself and a second degree at least, at least I'll be scarred for life. But I was so thankful. There was a time, there was a moment where I was like, oh gosh, I don't know what I'm gonna do. Because like, it was bad. And so I go to for, um, to our tour guide and I ask him, what, what should we do? And immediately he took me somewhere and immediately he didn't think about anything. He just said, let's go. And took me to a little emergency room thing and then took me to the pharmacy where you can get antibiotics all you want, by the way. And not even a prescription. And so I, I, I took a second and I think it does take that, it takes people slowing down and it takes people really to kind of give themselves time to say, that person didn't have to do that. And that person saw something in me and we had developed a relationship to the point to where he kind of just snapped into action and helped me to where I didn't know what I needed to do. And I took a second and I was like, how wonderful is that? And how thankful am I to him, somebody I hadn't met like seven days prior to, to do that and do it without even a blink. You know, like just, just kind of helping out. And it, it does take just a second for people to take a pause and realize that there are people that do things for you and there are people that help you out. And there are people that are in spaces to where they might not necessarily wanna be helping you, especially in restaurants where people are tired or coffee shops, but they're doing it so they can get by in their lives and make some money. But it doesn't mean that, that we should just take that for granted either because that, that's just, that's just not how it should be. And I think people just really need to slow down and realize how much or how many people that are in their lives that, that do things for them and that are, are there for them. Saying thank you goes a long way and sending a thank you note goes a long way. Not an email, but like a thank you note written by you written in your hand. And I think that that's, you know, that's just very important. So I think we should just take more time, especially in the holidays. Holidays go by so fast cuz it's so packed with stuff. I think we just need to pause, you know?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And I think especially when we talk about the holidays, for some people it's very much a time of being thankful, but I think for others it's just a huge time of stress. Yes. Because you have people coming together, you're traveling, you're see, you're seeing family, or you are not seeing family. And that's stressful too because of, you know, various circumstances and reasons. Yeah. And I think it's very easy to sort of either become self-absorbed or just absorbed into the busyness of it all. Mm-hmm.<affirmative> without the thankfulness. Yeah. And so just a reminder to folks to be thankful, we're grateful for you all that. Listen, super grateful. Yeah. And I'm grateful for you and I'm, yeah. And I'm grateful for you, Lee, and everything we've been able to do. Uh,

Speaker 2:

I know. I'm grateful for you too, Simon. It's

Speaker 1:

Oh, thanks.

Speaker 2:

It's, uh, you know, there are not many people in this world that you can work with as well. And so yeah, I am very grateful for you and I'm grateful for the people who support us. And we'd even be more grateful if you subscribe and left us a review about how much, you know, maybe you could thank us

Speaker 1:

<laugh><laugh>

Speaker 2:

Grateful. But, but I, I am very grateful for just this experience in general because it, it has been fun and it has been wonderful. And I'm grateful that whoever the powers that be just let us do this. Not that we asked much permission, but we, we have a good time. And yeah, I am very grateful for that. Especially during, you know, during hard times. This is kind of your, our refuge sometimes is doing this, but, so I hope people realize that. I hope they know we we're grateful for them and, and more good things to come in the new year to express our thankfulness,

Speaker 1:

I think. Yeah. So folks, feel free to again, subscribe, leave us a review, but also feel free to write into Faith podcast at P C S a.org and let us know the different ways that you have witnessed people expressing gratitude, expressing thankfulness, or how you've expressed it or how you've received it as well. Well we are so excited to be joined on this episode of a Matter of Faith a presi podcast by there, Cho and Sam Lundquist, who are the pastors at St. John's Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, California. Theresa and Sam, thanks so much for coming on the podcast.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, thanks for having us. Good to be

Speaker 2:

Here. Yeah, welcome to the podcast. And before we ask this question, I'm gonna give a little preface as to one of the reasons why we invited y'all on is because a little bird said that there was a dolly, I am a big dolly. Pardon fan. Everybody on this podcast knows, and a service was done, a dolly service. And I was like, where in the world that this happened? And I need to know more and how creative that was. And we had a question in about creativity in our faith spaces. And so our question reads for this week, why is it important to live and to creativity, especially within our faith spaces? And so we have two great people here who are very creative that can respond to our question. And so we'll get the floor to you and then we'll chime in a little bit for some conversation. But what would you respond to that question with

Speaker 4:

Sam? You should start, you were the creator of Dolly Church.

Speaker 3:

I, yeah, I mean, so yeah, we, we held our, our dolly church that was our pride service, um, this past June, uh, 2022 Pride service. Yeah. It, it was, it was really lovely. I'm trying to really just think about, you know, that question though, um, in terms of creativity and worship spaces and I think, you know, that was a, a one off service and it's that spirit of creativity, that spirit of like connecting to all of the different things of life. Um, whether that's, you know, the, the issues that are important in the world, the music we list, listen to the, the entertainment we consume. I mean, that's something we try to do, you know, every Sunday here, uh, at St. John's. And I think from my perspective, I see the worship space as a storytelling space. I, I see, you know, we are really for our, our hour on Sundays or, you know, whatever the time might be, that's a space where we get to tell the story of God. And every, everything is up for grabs to tell that story, uh, in this world cuz God is working and, and moving through all of that, be because of that. We, you know, we want to create, we wanna be creative in that space to connect with different people in different ways, the the different ways that they might connect with God. And I also think, I mean there's so much to talk about here. I also just think like theologically speaking, I think of the first act of God is creativity.<laugh> is really what it comes, comes down to is, um, you know, God looking upon, you know, this whatever, this world, this universe, all of that is. And it is our God is a creative God. Um, and, and so we have that spirit in us too. And that, that spark of imagination, that spark of creativity, that spark of artistic expression is something that we see God do from the beginning of the story of God. So it, because of that it seems, you know, really vital to, to make that a centerpiece of worship, uh, on a weekly basis.

Speaker 4:

I think it's interesting cuz I think especially in the Presbyterian church, creativity always seems to be kind of, uh, like a gimmick or an option. And I think for Sam and I, it's really just kind of a state of being. And so, you know, like take Dolly church, it wasn't, I mean, yes, we admire and and love Dolly, but it wasn't about Dolly Parton and wanting to do Dolly Church. It was about, you know, that it was pride month and how do we go about honoring, um, not only being an open and affirming church, but really creating a service where we can celebrate, celebrate that. And so I really look at creativity as kind of, it's almost like a tool to make our faith more pliable and flexible. And I think in this world, especially the last couple of years, things have been so difficult and a lot of us have experienced a change or a loss or a transition of something, whether it's a loved one or a job or security or something like that. And that can really test our faith. And there's nothing like entering into a creative space, um, that really opens up our mind and our curiosity to really stretch then how we believe, um, to open us up to see things maybe in a different way and makes our spirituality more like strengthening, um, and, and stronger so we can handle the things out there in the world better. Um, so we're, and what's great is Sam and I are creative in different ways and we're able to enter into the worship space, um, differently. But with that same kind of mindset,

Speaker 1:

This is something that I've been slowly sort of growing into as I, as I get older, which is kind of funny cuz I think some people think, oh, young people, you must love y'all. You want the contemporary worship, you want the thing that's not quite the same. But I'm also a big structure person, which probably is one reason why I'm very Presbyterian born and raised Presbyterian. But as I've gotten older, I've been exposed to different types of worship styles, structures of worship, worship in different cultures and different contexts. I've really started to appreciate the value in understanding, uh, the ways that we can experience God and the divine, but also the ways we can sort of feel that in community with, with other people. And, uh, I think something I saw on your all's website was that you've also made artistic use of things like, sort of like prayer stations as well in addition to the, the dolly Pardon service. So I was curious if you could talk a little bit more about that and the ways that you've been able to, uh, incorporate the arts through that. So that worship is, it is an experience, it's not necessarily a production, but it is a creative endeavor that people feel like they're, uh, a part of as opposed to just sort of passively participating in

Speaker 4:

Yeah, you know, our congregation is, it's, it's diverse in the sense that we have people who have a lot of different faith experiences and backgrounds. We have people who are cradle Presbyterians, those who are new to faith, but those who also have come out of a different tradition like the Catholic church or an evangelical church. And so to hold that kind of diversity intention is also admitting that in worship we cannot please everybody. Everyone is not gonna come into this worship space feeling completely satisfied and comfortable. But there will be moments that you'll be able to enter into worship. And it also, I think doing things like prayer stations, it's honoring the fact that some of us are visual learners. Um, some of us love the word, some of us are more lyrical and Presbyterians love the word<laugh>. We love liturgy, we love law liturgy. Um, but you know, if, if we want to be a truly intergenerational church from all ages, that's recognizing that there are children who are more visual as well as children who are more, um, word focused. There are adults who are more visual and there are adults who are more word focused. And how do we enter into the space to enter into the word in different ways. So there's the sermon, but then there's ways that we can also play with the things that the sermon brings up. And to do, be able to do that through prayer stations, um, kind of allows people then to not only engage with each other, but also for families to engage with each other as well. And I just think it's more than about doing something cool and niche, but it's just about providing many different opportunities and honoring all the ways that we experience God.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean, I, I'm, I'm glad you mentioned just kind of Simon, you mentioned, you know, you you've lived in the Presbyterian world kind of your whole life. I have not. I I, I'm someone who like my first church, uh, happened to be Presbyterian. It popped up in the middle of my faith journey at another point. And then when I came to San Francisco it popped up and, and when it popped up, none of that was intentional. I didn't go back, you know, looking for a Presbyterian church. So I've been all over the place. Um, and I spent a lot of time in, you know, evangelical spaces in Pentecostal spaces. I spent a lot of time in Episcopal spaces, um, in Catholic spaces, yeah. For, for a couple years that wasn't going anywhere except for like Ash Wednesday at the big Catholic church. And that was like, so meaningful for me during that time of my life. And so I think what I took away from, you know, uh, all of those faces is, is the breadth of what worship, uh, the time of worship, uh, the gathering of worship can be. And, you know, different people are connecting in different ways. I, I, I have learned, and I did not know this when I kind of settled into the Presbyterian shirts, that there is this kind of love of order and liturgy, um, which actually to be honest, kind of like butts up against me a little bit cuz I'm not that person who needs, this is the map and this is how we do things. I've, you know, spent a lot of time in spaces where I could move around, I could put my hands up, I could wander around the sanctuary. I think what a gift of a space to be able, you know, you can't please everybody and especially in one single Sunday, but I think you can connect with the different parts of, of people in different ways. So during our, our weekly service, like we have, you know, a good five plus minutes where people wander around and they light candles, and sometimes there's a different interactive station there. Some people just sit, um, our kids play on the floor on the carpet, but people are asked to get up and move and just get their bodies going. And that changes, you know, different series will have, you know, different things that happen in that space. So I, I think the more, I think it is important, you know, even when structure gives us a framework, but sometimes we can hold too tightly to that. So it's always that fine balance of like letting people on their own terms, you know, engage with the space, how they need to. And like Theresa said, we have people who have lots of different faith experiences. Some of them are, are, have had really painful ones. Other folks, like they're, they're fine. Like, they're like, you know, come at me, what do you want me to do? Like, I'll do it. So it's, it's really about, you know, from a pastoral perspective, how to hold all of that together. And I, it's really, I think we do a great job of like, we try to do a great job of being invitational. Everything's an invitation, you know, the, the, the structure itself is an invitation. You are asked to engage however you would like. So I think that's really vital. The other thing I, I think I wanted to add was, so my background, like my faith background's been, you know, uh, deliciously all over the place. My professional background, I come from entertainment and theme park design. And when you talk about production, that's in my blood. Like, and, and I think what I know about from, from that work, I do know that human beings love being immersed in a story that is part of who we are. And I think, you know, kind of rewinding our faith as far back as it can go, all of this, this is all storytelling and it's all like, you know, campfire storytelling to gather people around a story, to enliven them and move them in certain directions. And you know, if you think like even, uh, you know, as Jesus is telling stories, you know, using the things around him, using everything that is available to connect people with the things of life and to tell that story in a new way. And I think that's what creativity really is, is like, here's the things of life, you know, in San Francisco, what, what happens here? What happens on our corner? What happens in our building? And using those things that people are familiar with and then telling this new, the story of God, this new story of God with them, a mentor of mine in theme park design, he is not, he doesn't practice, uh, Christianity anymore, but he said something that I've held on to for a long time, um, which is church is just theater. And I, I've, I've really kind of latched onto that, but for me, church is theater where the congregation's also in the show. And so you are asked to be a part of that story, not a passive observer of that story. You're asked to be active in that story. And when we do rituals, especially, you are active, you're touching things, you're drinking things, you're tasting things, you're smelling things. And I think the more people are able to, to touch the story of God with one another and with a prayer station or getting their bodies moving around, I mean, that's when we talk about a living active, alive faith, it has movement to it and it has a tangibility to it. It's not just a, it it's not just an intellectual exercise, though, that is part of the story

Speaker 2:

Too. Yeah. I, we always, we kinda always get a little pushback whenever we talk about production because it's like, oh, it can't be like entertaining or like, it can't be a production or it can't be, especially when we're talking about worship. But like you were saying, Jesus was very dramatic and like very, and did and put on a production much of the time. I can also be very dramatic and put on a production a lot of the time and a lot of these charismatic leaders in our churches, and I grew up, I always grew up Presbyterian, but in the rural south it might as well have been, I mean it might as well have been Baptist, we just baptized babies. That was the only difference they told us between us. And we were just raised with like televangelist and like, I've been to a Christian theme park before tb. I've been to like these, these immersive experiences where the theology may not necessarily be all that great, but you are immersed in all of that and you are moving your bodies and you are going to these youth rallies that you kind of are like immersed in, in that kind of way. And so it made me really think about growing up and going to all these things that yeah, you are very much immersed in kind of the experience. And then when I learned or experienced a Presbyterian church that was very much structured and very much kind of in this ordered way, it was a kind of a shock and was kind of a jolt for me to be a part of something like that. But, but to pivot a little bit, we always like to kind of point our conversations in some way or look through the conversation in some way in a justice lens. And as y'all were talking, I mean this has that written all over it in ways in which we are, we are looking through the lens of justice as it intersects with creativity. And creativity is breaking those barriers and breaking those systems that often perpetuate these injustices. And I wonder if y'all could make speak a little bit about that too, and like y'all's experience, because I do think creativity in ways in which we invite people into different ways of worship does break systems that we often are perpetuating, especially in a denomination that doesn't have the best history of perpetuating systems of oppression and things like that. So I wonder about that aspect of this conversation too, if, if y'all have anything to respond to that.

Speaker 4:

Well, so St John's is about a little, it's a little over 150 years old. Um, and it turns out our founding pastor was, um, uh, known for being in support of the South<laugh>, um, segregating. And so that's the origin of our church. And so I'm, I'm like, not only the first woman pastor, but I'm like the second person of color pastor, um, in the church church's history. So I think a part of creativity for us is it, I think all churches would say that they are welcoming and hospitable. And I think visitors though will definitely tell you if you're truly welcoming and hospitable. I think a lot of times when visitors come to our church, the first thing you can see kind of on their face is, what am I allowed to do and what am I not allowed to do here? Right? And so who sets that system on up of what is permissible in this worship space? And so when we talk about, I don't know, I, I grew up in a Korean church and then I grew and, and also in an evangelical church and being quiet and proper and in order was not a part of holy for me. You know? And so, you know, so I think for the Presbyterian Church, I think we just need to claim and own that a lot of what we name as holy is, you know, from kind of our white upbringing, um, in a sense. And so the part of the creativity is you can enter into the space really as you are, are you happy? Are you grieving? Are you celebrating? Do you come from different faith backgrounds? Do you need something different in this space? You can truly come as you are. And I think when we practice that we can enter into these stories that Sam talks about being to tell stories about each other, knowing that my story is so different from their story. I might not understand their story, but our stories can intersect in this holy place. Um, so when you talk about justice and creativity, when St. John's decided to become, uh, voted to become a sanctuary church, um, in 2017, it was at a time when, you know, people were really concerned and there was this real stigma about, um, especially undocumented immigrants, if we're a sanctuary church, we could be harboring criminals. It could be dangerous. And it turned out that the year that we were discerning this, an incident happened in San Francisco that basically was evidence towards the fact that undocumented criminals is dangerous. Um, and there was a, a young woman who was, um, killed by someone who was an undocumented immigrant, you know, at a pier. And this was the time when we were discerning to become a sanctuary church. And so we really started in worship being able to tell stories and not necessarily focused on whether what you believe about immigration advocacy, but telling stories about migration, telling stories about experience of criminalization that has to do with your identity, not necessarily what you do. And by doing that, it really kind of opened up people to get out of their perspective. And also we were starting to get to know stories of other people that we had no idea was a part of their, their lives in, in history. The point where when we came time to vote on whether we were gonna pick become a sanctuary church, the question wasn't do you believe in this? The question was can we hold space for those who want to advocate for immigrant, immigrant rights and stand with people? Can we make space for this to happen? And, and, and we were able to move forward in that direction. And so I think creativity kind of gave us an ability to really not only accept people for who they are, but also hear each other's stories in a way that was more open-minded and openhearted and, and vote in a way that gave more permission than necessarily it had to be that I understood and believed this

Speaker 3:

When you were the, the question of justice for me brought up Dolly church stuff. Uh, just there there was some some tie in there that I think yeah, that, that connected for me. What what I loved about that service and services like that that I've done and, and created before, um, that tend to be connected to, to music. I think, you know, music isn't an emotional touch point and, and something that, that's the way that we connect, uh, with the world, the stories of the world with our internal emotional lives. It's, it's just a beautiful thing that that music provides. But what I love about that service is it's a very traditional service. Mm-hmm.<affirmative> like the liturgy is Presbyterian. It's, yes. I mean, there, there's nothing, you know, different about it. There is a call to worship. There are, you know, the hymns are Dolly Parton songs, but we are singing congregationally. There is an opening prayer. We took an offering and raised money for a local, um, L G B T asylum organization. We did a full, we don't, we didn't even do like a mini communion service. We did a full, like long, we did all the prayers, all the words. That was great. But like, it was a full service and if you came to it, you would understand the framework, but you would also see how it was being bent and moved in different directions, you know, as far as I'm concerned, for reasons of creating more space for more types of people. And so I think what I love about that is it takes something that people do already know, this framework of a normal worship service and says, what you expect us to do with this is not what's going to happen right now, but that's gonna be the thing that holds your hand through this experience. So there's a familiarity and you're going in a new direction. And the new direction is, is the story of the space and, and the visuals of the space and the people who are on the chance and who are there in the space. So we had a drag queen host who opened, you know, it was kind of the mc of the whole thing and lip synced for our, our offering. We had, um, members of the local gay men's chorus, a trio of singers including, you know, two cisgender male singers in one trans woman. We had just, yeah. Like all sorts of different ways that we're, we were trying to, you know, show this space is a familiar space and it's, and right now it's being stretched. And to me that is an act of, of, you know, of justice, of, of creating a wider circle in a space that often feels a little tighter and, and a little kind of imposing for some. And you know, and, and you know, you hear after the service people coming and saying, you know, I've, I, number one, I didn't know church could be this way. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>, you come or you, you leave that space hearing, you know, I've never felt seen. I've never felt accepted. I've never felt like I belong in this building. I never felt like, you know, there was anything for me here because not cuz every, I'd always felt like there wasn't, um,

Speaker 4:

Well you had parents who are really appreciative mm-hmm.<affirmative> because they were able to bring their children to experience this as well. You know, and I mean, we have kids who have gone, um, through and are going through the trans a transition process or mm-hmm.<affirmative>, I mean, they're having those conversations at their school with their friends, you know, about gender identity, um, and sexual identity. And so for them to be able to say, oh my gosh, at my church, you know, we're having this conversation mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Um, and that's the other thing too, is the conversation doesn't stop after worship. It continues. And so mm-hmm.<affirmative>, our congregation will always know that there's going to be an opportunity for them to let us know, let each other know. What has your experience been like in worship? How are, how have you, how have you been in touch with God through, through worship mm-hmm.

Speaker 3:

<affirmative>. Yeah. And I, I think, I think one of the, the things when we talk about creativity, when we talk about, you know, I mean, I think for me justice always looks like drawing wider circles, drawing wider circles of, of, of fairness and including people and caring for people like as widely as we can. And I think, you know, the gift of our, our tradition is gifted with such depth of symbols and liturgy and that are like embedded inside of people. Even if they don't do the church thing anymore, even if they hate it, it's embedded in them. And the beauty of those things is still embedded in them. But there's a lot of crap on top that poor institutionalized churches, poor racist, homophobic institutions have added on top of that. And I think right now, one of the important jobs of the church is to, is it is to really deal with all that crap, but also to, to, you know, poke holes in that so you can connect again with that beauty. And I think the reality is, and one of the things I said on the Dolly Church Day, I actually charged our congregation with saying, you know, the, the most inclusive place I've ever been in my life is a drag show.<laugh>. I've never felt more like anything goes there. Like it, it's, it's a wonderful, beautiful expression of not just like, you know, with regards to gender and sexuality, but also issues of politics and just who you are as a person and what does it mean for me, a, a pastor at a church to say that I felt that more at a drag show more often than in many church spaces. Mm-hmm.<affirmative> it means that something is happening, that God is doing something in other places that maybe we've forgotten how to do. And there's something, it, there's this general idea of wanting to take, you know, people out of those spaces and bring them into the church, but what happens, what happens when the church says, oh, there's something to be learned in these other spaces. We need to bring that and make it a part of us in our church spaces. And we need to experience that outside of these walls cuz maybe we've had some memory loss and we've forgotten we've, we've had some muscle memory loss. We don't know how to do it anymore. All that to say, I, I think there, there's such, there's a lot of growth that needs to happen. And I think being creative is, you know, realizing the depth of our, our, our tradition, our stories or symbols or songs, but also looking out into the world and seeing, you know, where where is God at and how do I connect all of that, um, into, into our worship spaces with whatever tools, you know, are at our disposal. I mean, and, and having fun<laugh> and having fun doing that and, and, and making that process just fun.<laugh>, that's such an important thing to fun and playful. Mm-hmm.

Speaker 2:

<affirmative>. Yeah. We need more fun and endeared my ordination service people were taking aback cuz my ordination service was dolly themed. My favorite Dolly pardon song is wildflowers. I have have a tattoo and one of my favorite lyrics on there is I hitch a ride on the wind. And since he was my friend, I just let him decide where we go. And one of the reasons why that is, is that at some point we have to take the plunge and we have to hitch a ride with the spirit at some point,<laugh> for us to experience all this. And I really appreciate this conversation because I do think that especially now that drag queens are becoming a focus in our political discourse, not so good of a focus. Many of them are getting treated very badly here in DC We've seen some terrible things said and terrible things done, and it continues to happen. And that's also an intersection of justice too, because they were the first first ones on the lines for, for, for the rights of folk. And they were the ones that started pretty much started the gay liberation movement and are doing the work every, every night in these spaces that are inclusive. And so, yeah, I really appreciate this conversation and, and hopefully the conversations will continue to have because we'll definitely have to have you back onto the podcast. But we did wanna offer any kind of closing remarks or anything you'd like to, to close this out with?

Speaker 4:

I think just, uh, kind of what Sam said, I think it, it's supposed to be fun, you know, I mean there's, I mean we, we go through so much in our life and I think we think we need to approach faith with a sense of seriousness. And of course, you know, that is true, but there is such, when you enter into a space and you feel fully affirmed, you feel fully welcomed, you feel like there is a place for you here. Um, it is such a joy when I see people come into our worship space and you can see it on their faces and, and they're smiling and they're having fun. It doesn't mean because we're doing anything wild and crazy. I mean, it could be like, it could be a most poignant, solemn moment, but there's something about entering into the space and fully accepting the beauty of the way God created you. And feeling like people accept that in you. That's really what it's all about. I mean, approaching every day of can I love these people and do I feel loved as well? I mean, it's just breaking it down to that, it's, can you love your neighbor as yourself? Mm-hmm.<affirmative>, That's what we're trying to do. And it turns out it's not very easy<laugh>, but when you experience it, I think you feel incredible joy and incredible fun in that.

Speaker 3:

Mm-hmm.<affirmative>, how do we close? I really love talking with y'all. First of all. I just wanna say that it's been a really, uh, a really wonderful conversation. I think the thing that popped up, I, I can't remember somewhere along my faith journey talking with someone about why church was important. I think one of the things that just settled for me was, I mean, life is difficult and especially things are incredibly difficult right now in, in, in ways that, you know, really, you know, prick at you individually, but also just there's a lot going on and what a gift it is in the midst of that have the space that there's talking about where you are seen and known, nothing is expected of you. You can just be you're good enough. Yeah. And, and, and know that we're all doing that together and we're all having some form of that experience together. And I think when, when, when we talk about creativity, when we talk about storytelling, I, I think it is, you know, our job to, you know, every week do the best we can. Be as creative as we can be. Sometimes we're tired, sometimes life as hard for everyone. But to do our best to open like an hour a week where the story is you're, it's gonna be okay. God's with you. You're good enough. We're here together. And you know, when we talk about fun, that doesn't mean it's all, you know, some amped up Disneyland version of Happy all the time. I knew you were gonna say Disneyland. I I was just a<laugh>. No. And, and, and when we talk about, you know, you, you mentioned production and that sort of thing a little bit earlier. I think there's this idea of manipulating into people into happiness. Yeah. Yeah. That's not useful. It's not honest. It's not. It's fake. It's not real. And so to be able to create a space where that's not the goal, the goal is this, you know, beautiful. Hang on, my dog is scratching and you can probably hear her<laugh>. That's not the goal, I don't think. I think that this is, you know, a space where we're holding lots of different things and at the center of it is this faith, hope and trust that you are loved in, in all of that. And that's, that's where the, the story goes. And that's where, that's where the creativity, you know, finds its its center point. Yeah. What, what a gift it is in, in the difficulties of the world to have an hour a week. And, and I do think that's one of the most important, like things a church space can do that people can't find in other places, is that that reminder over and over again of, of that you're okay, you're loved, you belong. No one's gonna take that from you. End a sentence. That's a wonderful gift to have.

Speaker 1:

Well, we are so grateful to both of you for taking time out of your busy weeks to be with us and have this conversation and to share, uh, your wisdom and about your experiences in your ministry with us on the podcast. So thank you for coming on the podcast again and blessings to you both as you continue to do, uh, the creative work that you do in your ministry at St. John's. Thank

Speaker 3:

You. Thank you for the invitation. Yes. Thanks for having us. It's been so great to talk with y'all.

Speaker 1:

This has been the Matter of Faith Podcast, brought to you by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program in Unbound. If you would like to submit a question for discussion, you can do so at Faith Podcast at P C O S a.org. We look forward to hearing from you. See you next time.

Speaker 2:

See you next time y'all. Thanks everyone for listening to episode 103. My gosh, there's so many of these. We are so grateful for every one of you, and we give thanks to every one of you who listen and who have left reviews and who subscribe. And if you haven't done all those things you should, but we are truly grateful and thankful for each one of you. So have a good time and season with your family. If you are with family chosen, biological, all the family and friends and be thankful. Also, reminder that our sister Spanish podcast, UN de Fay has a new episode out now. So check it out and also feel free. And please check out our website, a matter of faith podcast.com, where you will find our listening guides, which will help you, you know, take in all of these episodes and give you a starting point. So check all those things out and again, we thank you, we love you, subscribe, and if you have a question, send them to Fate podcast@pusa.org and we will talk to you again next week.