Yesterday, at Grace Cathedral as we joyfully ordained five priests in the Episcopal Church we also prayed quietly and deeply for those who died late Saturday night in the disastrous Oakland fire. This morning I preached and celebrated the Eucharist with Santiago (St. James’) Episcopal Church, Oakland, the closest Episcopal congregation to the site of the fire. Again, we prayed for those who had died and those who loved them.
At this point the death toll is at thirty and may well be higher. The warehouse was used as a home for artists, for artist studios and as an event space for music and art installations. Most of those who died were young-adult artists and people in the Bay Area art world.
Artists, like public school teachers, nurses, social workers, and clergy are people who are essential to our Bay Area communities, but who increasingly find it impossible to live where they work, or to find spaces where they can afford to have offices or studios in these same communities. Income inequality played a factor in this tragedy.
Please join me in praying for those who died in the December 3 Oakland fire, one of the greatest losses of life in the recent history of the Bay Area, and for their families and loved ones. Please also join me in our Diocese of California efforts to provide affordable housing in the Bay Area, including what we call “essential housing,” housing for people essential to our community life who must commute long distances to work. All deserve affordable, safe housing; it is within our power in one of the world centers of creativity to remake our Bay Community into a more Beloved Community.