St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco has become a pilgrimage site for people who care about thoughtful, historically informed, and engaging liturgical practice. Known as "the church where people dance," it is a faith community where both liturgical renewal, and activist community service, are in lively conversation.

The current interim rector is a liturgist, artist, cook, and a wicked poker player. Here is a taste of the Rev. Paul Fromberg's approach to liturgy:

A huge icon of "Dancing Saints" is painted inside the rotunda of St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco. Ninety larger-than-life figures hold hands. Dancing by the congregation and music highlight innovative worship at St. Gregory's, which attracts delegations from many parishes
"Real liturgy is risky, because it isn't a matter of writing a beautiful script and performing it correctly. Real liturgy is an ongoing conversation in which liturgists, the assembled congregation, the stranger who wanders in off the street and the Holy Spirit all participate."

"We care less and less about doing liturgy "right," but doing it well, with integrity, remaining faithful to the values rather than the forms, and trusting that God will be there," Paul says.

Sara Miles first encountered church when at age 46, she walked through the doors of St. Gregory's. It was at the church that Sara discovered her passion for cooking and feeding people and that her new-found passion for Jesus could find common expression.

In 2000, Sara founded St Gregory's Food Pantry, which now provides groceries for about 600 people every Friday. It is run by those who use it.

At Vine & Fig Tree Books, Sara Miles' book, Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion, is number two on the best-seller list. "It's not necessarily church people who are buying it," says proprietor Elaine Perry. "It's people who are interested in 'spiritual memoirs.' I tell people that if they enjoy Anne Lamott's writing, they'll enjoy Sara's."

February 19 through 21, 2009, Paul Fromberg and Sara Miles will be at St Mark's Kitsilano to lead a workshop entitled, "Feast, Pray, Serve." Over two and a half days, they will focus with us on the core principles that unite effective liturgy and service, and their power to transform individuals and communities.

The programme will include presentations, small-group and general discussion and a wide range of participative liturgies. Not only will we be talking and thinking about liturgy, we will be experiencing worship together in new ways each day.

On Thursday, February 20 at 7 pm, St. Mark's will host a reception during which Sara will read from Take This Bread. Admission will be by donation to benefit the Tri Parish (St. George's, Trinity United, St Mark's) Meal Ministry. Everyone is welcome. We hope that parishes will send teams of people to participate. Sara's Thursday evening reading, and Saturday morning's event are designed to include those who cannot attend weekday daytime events.

Posters and brochures with schedules and fee structure are being distributed in Parish Mail. Additional copies may be requested from Tricia Coldren, St. Mark's pastoral liturgist, by email: or phone: 604.760-2162.