Justice Ministries

“Justice is what love looks like in public.” …Cornell West

A committed group of St. Mary’s parishioners has come together to live our Christian call to justice. As the Rev. David Erickson phrases it, the goal of justice ministry is “to address systemic evil with systemic good.” Justice goes beyond charity to address the systems that cause and support injustice. In addition to feeding the hungry, for instance, justice asks that we identify and address the sources of hunger.  Justice invites us to recognize the incarnate Christ in everyone and actively live our Baptismal covenant to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” If you wish more information or to be included on the Justice Ministry e-mail list, please contact Margaret Stafford, David Crosson or Kathleen Murray.

An Evening With Noah Bullock, Executive Director of Cristosol

Sixty people from seven Episcopal Congregations and two Jewish communities gathered in Fowler Hall on January 15th to benefit from a powerful presentation by Noah Bullock, executive director of Cristosal. Noah was direct, knowledgeable, and moving as he explained Cristosal’s approach to long-term institutional and legal change in the Central American countries where violence and corruption displace hundreds of thousands of people each year. It was especially rewarding to learn of Cristosal’s remarkable recent success in obtaining ground-breaking legislation in El Salvador that requires protection and safety of its citizens. Every single member of the Salavadoran legislature voted for that legislation! The committee is exploring with Cristosal what further discussions and actions we can take.

Margaret and Noah

Margaret Stafford moderated questions for Noah

Noah Bullock

Sixty people listening to Noah Bullock, Executive Director of Cristosal

St. Mary’s Justice Ministers Ask Mayor Breed to Support Senior Housing

On December 4th, St. Mary’s justice ministries joined 200 members of Faith in Action Bay Area (FIABA) to fill Mayor London Breed’s City Hall office seeking her support of subsidized rent for senior housing. Several Supervisors have committed to the cause, but Mayor Breed and Supervisor Catherine Stefani had not responded to repeated requests to meet. The FIABA contingent, including three Episcopal priests and four deacons, walked silently through the halls, recruiting Supervisors to join them and ended up occupying the Mayor’s outer office for three hours. At the end of the day, both Mayor Breed and Supervisor Stefani agreed to meet with us.

There are 132,000 seniors living in San Francisco. Over half are immigrants, most of whom have lived here for decades and are now citizens. Most do not earn enough to qualify for supposedly “affordable” senior housing. Twenty-eight thousand seniors are rent-burdened and pay more than 30% of their income in rent. Fourteen thousand pay more than 50% of their income in rent. We are asking the city to cap rents for seniors at 30% of their income and provide a subsidy to cover the balance. We will be meeting Mayor Breed in person on January 17th.

Aida is Released!


On December 6th last year, fifteen people of various faiths accompanied Aida to court again, only to have the hearing postponed to January 17th. St. Mary’s parishioner, Greer Hopkins, who attended the hearing on the 17th, is delighted to report that Aida is finally free. Aida officially was granted permanent resident status and can begin the process for applying for asylum.

ICE picked up Aida over a year ago, three weeks after she had given birth, because she was listed on an INTERPOL “Red Notice” for return to El Salvador. As an expert witness (from the Heritage Foundation, no less) testified, Interpol is no more than a list of people who any government may seek for any reason. Incarcerated ten months, Aida was released under a habeas corpus filing and since has been granted permanent resident status. This ruling of permanent status on January 17th was issued by the federal appeals body and is final.

(The photo at the left was taken at the December hearing, with the St. Mary’s parishioners Mary Hill, Greer Hopkins, and David Crosson, as well as the Rev’s Tim Smith and David Erickson attending. Aida is in purple to the right of the notice board.)


Another trinity?: David, David, and David, 4th floor, ICE hearing rooms, 630 Sansome. The security guard (who gave specific approval to post this photo) is a wonderful, loving, caring person who continually thanks us for making a difference by simply being present. Thank God, there are good people everywhere. Thank God, there is hope everywhere.


The prophet Micah asks, “What does the Lord ask of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” In Micah’s exhortation, justice is not something you seek or pray for or talk about or hope will happen. Justice is something you live. The people of St. Mary’s are responding to Micah’s call.

After a year of exploratory discussions and parish workshops with Faith in Action Bay Area (FIABA), three lay leaders met with our (then) new rector, the Rev. David Erickson, deacon Tim Smith, and FIABA organizer Sara Miles on December 5, 2017, to identify opportunities for those who feel called to live our Christian commitment to justice beyond the physical walls of the church. With the Rev. Erickson’s enthusiastic support, the first meeting of St. Mary’s Justice Ministries was held on January 30, 2018. During an evening of prayer and discernment, we came to understand justice ministries as building relationships among people and communities. We initially divided into working groups on Youth and Policing, Homelessness and Housing, and Immigration. In the twelve succeeding months, over fifty parishioners have been called to these ministries.

For a full report on the work of St. Mary’s Justice Ministries in 2018, click this link.