75th Jubilee Anniversary Forum & Convocation

By October 8, 2019 Events No Comments

October 19 & 20, 2019

Forum October 19th
Convocation October 20th

CHURCH LOCATION 2041 Larkin Street San Francisco, CA 94109

PARKING INFORMATION: Complementary event parking for both days between 9am – 6pm is at St. Brigid Church and School 2151 Van Ness Ave & Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94109 Enter gate on Van Ness Ave. First driveway after Church building. Marked: FELLOWSHIP PARKING

You do not need to register for the Convocation, just the Forum, please do so with the button below. Please arrive early to pick up your Forum registration. Doors open at 9:30am on Saturday.

“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 19-20, 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 19, 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.

The five featured speakers for the Dorsey O. Blake Forum for Social Transformation:

DESEREE FONTENOT is currently a Collective Member of Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project and is an alumna of the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. After almost a decade of working within the LGBTQ movement, Deseree shifted her focus towards land-based work as a scholar, activist and farmer. In 2015 she became a co-organizer of the People of Color Sustainable Housing Network and in 2016 she co-founded the Queer Eco-Justice Project, organizing at the intersection of ecological justice and queer liberation. Deseree holds an interdisciplinary MA in Social Transformation focused on African-diasporic spiritual traditions, queer ecology and land-based movements.  


CARL ANTHONY is an architect, regional planner, social justice activist and author. He is the founder and co-director of Breakthrough Communities, a project dedicated to building multiracial leadership for sustainable communities in California and the rest of the nation. He is the former President of the Earth Island Institute, and is the co-founder and former executive director of its urban habitat program, one of the first environmental organizations to address race and class issues. He is the author of The Earth, the City, and the Hidden Narrative of Race, which addresses regional equity and climate change.

NONI SESSION is Director of East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative. She is a 3rd generation West Oaklander, Cultural Anthropologist and Grassroots Organizer.  After a 2016 run for Oakland City Council in which she garnered more than 43% of the vote, Noni came to believe her community’s clearest pathway to economic justice and to the halt of rapid displacement was a cooperative economy. Session holds a B.A. in cultural anthropology and black studies from San Francisco State University and an M.A. in anthropology from Cornell University. She is also one of the founding organizers of State of Black Oakland, which aims to identify ways to improve life for members of Oakland’s black community.

KEVIN BAYUK is a partner with Lift Economy, a consulting group where he merges his experience in business with his experience in permaculture to help businesses care for people while enhancing the earth. Kevin also serves as the Senior Financial Fellow at Project Drawdown developing the business case to address climate change through existing practices and technologies. As a founding partner of the Urban Permaculture Institute San Francisco he has helped design and start food security gardens. He frequently teaches classes, workshops, does public speaking, facilitates meetings, plans events and provides one on one mentoring.

GUS NEWPORT is a social justice activist and independent consultant providing techinical assistance in the areas of community and economic development, public policy, community organizing strategies and organizational and systems development, such as helping the Gulfport, Mississippi community rebuild in the wake of damage from Hurricane Katrina. He has been the director of neighborhood initiaitives such as the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston. He was the mayor of Berkeley CA (1979 – 1986) and the Director of the Vanguard Foundation. He was the MLK Fellow at MIT, Sr. Fellow at U. Mass. Boston, Yale, Portland State and UC Santa Cruz. He is the recipient of Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Award.

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. MartinTodd 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. 


The 24th Howard Thurman Convocation
3:00 PM Sunday October 20, 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. 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 Baptism: 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, Gus Newport, Quaker activist David Hartsough, and Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright.

Dr. Thurman was a spiritual genius and was described as a “20th Century holy man” by Dr. Lerone Bennett of Ebony Magazine. 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. 

DR. JAMES ABBINGTON is the Associate Professor of Church Music and Worship at the Candler School of Theology at Emory. His research interests include music and worship in the Christian church, African American sacred folk music, organ, choral music, and ethnomusicology. Along with his roles at Candler, where he has taught since 2005, Abbington is executive editor of the African American Church Music Series by GIA Publications (Chicago). In addition to writing and editing, he has produced numerous recordings under GIA. One of the nation’s most respected choir directors, musicians and authors, Abbington is a popular speaker, performer and conductor at universities, conferences, symposiums and churches around the world. From 2000 to 2010, Abbington served as co-director of music for the Hampton University Ministers’ and Musicians’ Conference, and as the national director of music for both the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the NAACP. In 2010, Hampton’s Choir Directors and Organists Guild honored Abbington by naming their Church Music Academy after him, and in 2015, he became the second African American to be named a Fellow of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.

DR. CARL BLAKE is the music director for Fellowship Church. He holds three degrees in piano performance: Bachelor of Music (magna cum laude) from Boston University, Master of Arts from San Jose State University, and Doctor of Musical Arts from Cornell University.  He is the first recipient of the Marian Anderson Young Artist Award (presented by Ms. Anderson herself) that led to a year of private study with Pierre Sancan of the Paris Conservatory of Music. Blake has performed in the United States, Russia, France, England, Central and South America, and the Caribbean Islands.  To creditable acclaim, he performed several recitals at Carnegie Recital Hall and Wigmore Hall (London) and has toured with cellist Kim Cook to Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands under the auspices of the Artistic Ambassador Program of the United States Information Agency.  Dr. Blake has received two Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards to lecture, teach, and perform at national music schools in Honduras, Central America.

HOPE BRIGGS has performed far and wide, including with Oakland Symphony, San Francisco Choral Society at Davies Symphony Hall, Opéra Louisiane, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall with the New England Symphonic Ensemble, Frankfurt Opera, Staatstheater Stuttgart, and Opera Company of Brooklyn. She drew a rave review from Opera News for her San Francisco Opera debut as the Duchess of Parma in Busoni’s Doktor Faust “… Hope Briggs was stellar, delivering one of the evening’s highlights with her lusciously intoned, lovelorn aria.”  She is a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions National Finalist, Metropolitan Opera International Vocal Competition Award Winner, and recipient of an Encouragement Award from the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation. Hope Briggs is also an ABC KGO-TV 2012 African American Salutes Honoree, Marion Anderson Historical Society Scholar and a 2013 Heritage Keeper Award Recipient from Friends of Negro Spirituals. Ms. Briggs is featured on PBS nationally performing the role of Emma Hyers in the documentary film: Voices for Freedom – The Hyers Sisters’ Legacy.

POPE FLYNE is a Ghanaian performer, composer and educator. He was once known as lead vocalist for the legendary Sweet Talks band of Ghana, where he helped bring the art of highlife music to new heights. When not on stage, he shares his joyful spirit and vast knowledge of African folk music, dancing and percussion with his legions of American students. Pope is also a recording artist publishing under Akwaaba Records and Spiraling Music.

All events free.

Volunteers needed, please contact the church.

Sponsored by Rainbow Groceryand Arizmendi Bakery

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