October 19 & 20, 2019
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
These powerful words are often posted nowadays on social media, but few who quote them know just who the Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman is and the scope of his influence. Even most Bay Area residents are unaware that Dr. Thurman co-founded this country’s first deliberately interfaith and interracial church, right here in San Francisco in 1944. The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples is marking its 75th Jubilee Anniversary on October 16-17, 2019 with a weekend of celebratory free events: the inaugural Dorsey O. Blake Forum for Social Transformation on Saturday, 10 AM-4 PM, followed by the 24th annual Howard Thurman Convocation on Sunday at 3 PM.
“Fellowship Church” was a radically progressive concept for its time, started by a White minister — Rev. Dr. Alfred Fisk — and a Black minister — Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman — along with a group of concerned San Franciscans during World War II. At a time when the world seemed to be on the verge of annihilating one another, they envisioned the possibility that people of different races, cultures, and faiths could find common ground by gathering intentionally in a house of worship. The church’s permanent home was soon established where it remains today, on Larkin Street in the city’s Russian Hill neighborhood.
Dorsey O. Blake Forum for Social Transformation
10 AM – 4 PM Saturday October 16, 2019
Along with celebrating its 75th anniversary, Fellowship Church is honoring Rev. Dr. Dorsey O. Blake, who is marking his 25th anniversary as one of its two presiding ministers. Dr. Blake was called to the position and given Thurman’s robes personally by Sue Bailey Thurman after her husband’s death. The church has chosen to honor him by sponsoring a day-long Forum on the topic of social transformation. Dr. Blake is a longtime professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley with a signature course on Spirituality & Nonviolent Social Transformation (studying Chavez, King, Gandhi, Dorothy Day). The gathering will include guest presentations, panel and open discussions with some of today’s innovators and leaders in progressive social change, as well as a lunch, and a short dramatic presentation of First Steps Toward the Dream: The Letters of Co-Founders Alfred Fisk and Howard Thurman.
First Steps Toward the Dream: The Letters of Co-Founders Alfred Fisk and Howard Thurman is a vivid recollection of how Fellowship Church began. It is performed by veteran San Francisco actor Felix Justice with Rev. Martin Todd Allen and co-directed by playwright C J Verburg and Peter Fitzsimmons, all longtime members of the church.
The Forum is being generously sponsored this year and admission is free, although registration for the event is requested. Donations, including for the meal, are welcome.
To register, click here.
To make a donation, click here.
The 24th Howard Thurman Convocation
3:00 PM Sunday October 17, 2019
The Convocation, now in its 24th year, honors the spirit of Howard Thurman by recognizing a distinguished person whose spirit and whose life work contributes to continuing social transformation. Described as a “20th Century holy man” by Dr. Lerone Bennett of Ebony Magazine, Dr. Thurman was a spiritual genius. After 75 years, his vision still inspires, supports, and nourishes the spiritual life of people who are drawn to its inclusive, welcoming mission. Howard Thurman and Fellowship Church have had a profound impact on the work of racial relations. In 1936, Thurman was one of the first four African-Americans to meet with Mahatma Gandhi, returning from his trip to Southeast Asia with the powerful practice of nonviolent protest, which Gandhi suggested he share with the American Black community in the budding Civil Rights movement. Thurman served as a mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr., who was said to have carried in his briefcase a copy of Thurman’s landmark book Jesus And the Disinherited.
This year’s honoree is Dr. James Abbington, Choral Director, Executive Editor of the African American Church Music Series, Chairman and Editor of One Lord, One Faith, One Baptist: An African American Ecumenical Hymnal. The convocation this year will be a musical feast started off by the earth-shaking drumming of master drummer Pope Flynne from Ghana, and featuring Soprano Hope Briggs as well as the Convocation Community Choir consisting of choristers from Bay Area churches assembled and rehearsed by Dr. Carl Blake with Dr. James Abbington conducting. There will be a dinner buffet in Thurman Hall afterwards. In recent years the recipients of the Howard Thurman award have included sisters Angela and Fania Davis, Quaker activist David Hartsough, and Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright.
All events free.
Volunteers needed, please contact the church.