You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment.
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
–Matthew 22:37–30

The biblical basis of caring for the alien and stranger in our midst, or the widow, orphan, or alien appears in various places in the Bible. So likewise, we are to let our goodness and grace go out to all people. When asked “who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ response to the lawyer was that he should act neighborly to anyone in need. But probably the most direct is the double command to love God and love neighbor, summarized by Jesus in Matthew 22.

As we seek to understand and live into our First Pres Berkeley mission to “love our neighbor even when it is risky,” we are striving to balance radical hospitality and safety on our campus. Although our campus has been closed, a Campus Response Group (CRG) formed to meet weekly to review and assess First Pres’ call to action on our corner of Dana and Channing. The CRT includes staff and an elder representing Mission, Community Care, Facilities and Operations, and Cornerstone Children’s Center.

The CRT and others have gotten to know our neighbors living on the corner of Dana and Channing, some of whom have worshipped with us on Sundays. We’ve broadened our involvement and partnerships with local community resources with a posture of listening and learning. We are providing help when we can, and our long-term goal is to help secure permanent housing and access to local social services. We are working with local organizations to ensure this happens as quickly as possible.

We are always asking, “How can we be good neighbors and responsive community members AND maintain an environment that is safe for church staff, congregants and guests, and Cornerstone Children’s Center families?” We are grateful for our developing relationships with—and learnings from—the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s office; the City of Berkeley’s mayor, city management office, and Berkeley Mental Health ; First Church Berkeley UCC; the Telegraph Business Improvement District (TBID), The Village of Love, First Presbyterian Church of Hayward, and others. We have a Campus Guest Policy that is evolving and improving as we strive to embody welcoming hospitality and maintain safety on campus in our community.

If you have questions please reach out to the Campus Response Group by emailing [email protected].

With love for our neighbors,

The Campus Response Group
Ralph Anderson, Sue Burger, Pastor Tom Elson, Elder Karen Erickson,
Janay Foster, Tara Gray, Beth Thomsen, David Wagner