Peniel–September 2016

August 29, 2016


PENIEL: “Where Jacob Wrestled With God and Survived..”


P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Sims, Director



September signals the beginning of the change in seasons in most places; here in San Francisco we begin to have our warm weather, and so our Indian Summer is the beginning of our Fall.  People move from the informality of summer to  the formality of a busier life.

The election season is in full swing with its rancor, and the political advertisements reflect that rancor in all of our social media as well as the conversations that occur.

On the street, the poorest of the poor are far removed from the business of life and the political rancor.  People are struggling for survival. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in Katrina: Reaching Out, Renewal and Recovery in Faith and Solidarity: “Responding to this catastrophe should open our eyes and hearts to other human calamities which haunt our world.  When observers say in amazement, ‘It looks like a Third World country,’ they are saying something profound not only about New Orleans, but also something important about how most of the world lives.”

In an article about the presidential campaign, recently, one writer commented that the very poor are left out of the argument, and that the United States has one of the highest poverty rates among developed countries.  People are starving on our streets, they are suffering from lack of health care, from no place to sleep, from mental illness. Beneath the glitter there is much pain and suffering. 

One columnist in Oakland fears that their increase in homeless has gotten beyond the ability of the city to eliminate the problem; in San Francisco they are talking about increasing their homeless solution from ten years to twenty-five years.

All this leaves our heads ringing, and we want to throw up our hands.  For me, personally, all I can do is feed people, give them some socks, talk to them individually, love them for who they are, and have the hope that if all of us would do the same we would see health care provided, and people given homes and provided with food and clothing. For deep within me is the hope that, when we start giving of ourselves to others, a transformation takes place, and it transforms all of society around us. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Temenos Catholic Worker Presents author
Scott Brown:



St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

1755 Clay Street

San Francisco, CA 04109

September 6, 2016

7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

In Active Peace, peacemaker and psychologist Scott Brown answers the big question: “Why do we do so much violence to ourselves, to others and to the Earth?”  He identifies his belief in separateness as the root  cause and skillfully weaves together the essentials needed to move beyond separateness into the lived experience of interrelatedness. Active peace is a guide to the great work of our time–the creation of a nonviolent world.




Friday, October 7, 2016


Haight and Stanyan

Service of the Eucharist

followed by

 a meal  of vegan stew

to all present

Remembering Philip Workman, who was executed by the State of Tennessee in May of 2007, and who gave his last vegetarian meal to the homeless.

Following the Service we will ask that volunteers distribute flyers supporting the “Yes on 62” Campaign– the measure to end the death penalty.

Vigils are Every Wednesday and Leafleting Every Friday

Vigil Planned for State Capitol on October 31, 2016

for more information contact or phone 415-710-8709



Someone recently asked us “How do you live on donations, with everyone is asking for donations?” The truth is that we do not know, but for twenty-two years, through the generosity of others, we have provided food, socks, pastoral care, and harm-reduction supplies to so many people that we have lost count.  All we can say is that we are thankful for your continuing to care, with all the of the requests coming your way, and want you to know that your gifts have given hope and joy to so many.  Please continue to support us at:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA. 94164

or at www.  on PayPal

Being Kicked In the Behind

August 27, 2016



Matthew 25:14-30

This is a  parable of wasted opportunities.  We are each gifted uniquely by  God, and we must use our giftedness as God wishes.  What matters is not what we are given, but what we do with our gift.

I walk by hundreds of people every day sleeping in their sleeping bags, or with out anything on the street. I come home and cry myself to sleep because I know so many of them, I care for them, and we hang out together, eat together, and joke together. But I have no room. But I do what I can, and I lay my head down at night knowing that.

People tell me all the time they have regrets over what they have not done.  There is no time for regrets for what stares us in the face are thousands of homeless, hurting  people, sleeping on our door steps, without food, mental health care, health care, clothing and places to call home. What can we do?  Well I have a dream–

I have a dream that if each individual would use ten per cent of his or her time (ten hours of a work week) of their talents for people on the street, we would see changes.

 I have a dream that If each doctor/ dentist/social worker/counselor would give ten percent of their work time how many would fine healing and comfort?

 I have a dream that if those who  advocate- write letters, emails and  give ten percent their time for writing about homeless matters and do that with our politicians, what changes could be brought to pass?

 I have a dream that if all religious leaders would move out side their doors ten percent of their work week to the street-what transformation would take place in the lives of so many?

I have a dream that if each of us would talk to a homeless person, give them food, clothing, blankets, socks, using  ten percent of our time how much more easier their lives would be?

That is my dream, that we would give ten percent of our work time to working with homeless and their problems, see them simply as human beings, and not as a problem, and love them as our own brothers and sisters. We all have talents–mine is simply to listen, I am not good at anything else.  We all have gifts, use them. And in this a transformation of love and community would take place in our own lives.

Let’s kick ourselves in our behinds–and give a tithe of ten per cent of our time to people without housing and the necessities of life. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims sfw, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate

Listening in the Fog

August 27, 2016

LISTENING IN THE FOG  I Corinthians 1:17-25   Matthew 25:1-13

Last night at 2:30 a.m. I received a phone call, and nineteen year old Jason  had been cutting himself. So I went up to the Haight on the edge of the Park, took Jason a   hamburger and fries, and sat with him and listened. I cleaned his arm and bandaged it and just listened, for two and a half hours. He wanted me to stay until he fell asleep, and so as the fog surrounded us in its beauty, I continued to listen. Jason  fell a sleep, I sat there and listened. The fog covered everything, and there was a peaceful feeling surrounding us. As the sky brightened, I pronounced a benediction over Jason, who was  sleeping peacefully and came home.

For me this is what Jesus is suggesting when he says to be ready, not for his future coming, but for his coming in the moment. Today at noon I had lunch with an attorney friend, and he took half his lunch  and gave it  to one of the guys, he was ready.  We need simply to listen, to hear God speak to us in the needs around us and to be ready.

The cross is foolishness to the world, it is foolishness to get out of bed at 2:30 a.m. and sit with someone whom you only met twice, it is foolishness to take your good lunch and give to a homeless guy but through the folly of the cross we see the presence of Christ in each human being. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Stay Alert!

August 25, 2016

STATE OF ALERT–    Matthew 24:42-51

“So stay awake! Stay alert!

Scott Peck wrote, “Life is difficult, once you learn that you will enjoy life.” This has been the best advice we can receive for you see if we can keep our sanity in the midst of the craziness of life, in the midst of the pain, life is hellar good.

Yesterday we visited a sixteen year old young man in the children’s hospital with sickle cell anemia, he is in constant pain. He was thrilled because of a new program of viewing movies in 3 D  which is a new program they are experimenting with  to reduce the level of pain. Jay was thrilled with the movie and being able to forget his pain–life is hellar difficult for him, but he said to me: “Life is fu..king good.”

The young man in the photo is homeless and travels, he has nothing, but Shane said, “Life is so much fun.” His sign promotes his view of life, “Smile and the world smiles with you.”

A group of “evangelists” yesterday confronted us with the question “how many people have you saved,” and we laughed and said, “who needs saving, we fed a hundred, and that is being present with them.”, Nevertheless they found us “unsaved.”  This scripture calls us to “Stay alert! now, to be about the business of bringing the reign of God in our midst, not the promise of a future day. Slave holders used the promise of after life as a salve to control their slaves, but the African Americans found the active presence of the reign of God in their midst, and from that people like Martin Luther King Jr, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Father Damien of Molokai, lived out the reign of God in their midst.

We are called to “Stay alert!” to face the difficulty of life, to keep our sanity the best we can and see how life is good in all circumstances.  For in staying alert we are spiritually aware of the presence of the love of God in our life, the God who gives us hope, and joy in each breath, and the joy of helping our fellow creatures. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate, John Knox Seminary


Judgments Divide

August 24, 2016



“Someday after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” Pierre Teilhard de Chartin

de Chartin and Margaret Wheatley in her statement: “It’s not differences that divide us. Its our judgements about each other that do. Curiosity and good listening bring us back together,” sum up for me the heart of the theology of Jesus.

Twenty two years ago the first of September we came to San Francisco looking for a job, we  found nothing, and when we  returned to Minneapolis there was a phone call offering us  a counseling job.  Thus we  began making our way back across the country. Our  life has always been ministry, but at the time, there were no churches accept one that had churches open to queer ministers, and we  had always wanted to do street ministry, and for us  that is being a pastor, pure and simple. And so we began buying people pizza and talking to them, formed the non-profit, and became ordained in the Evangelical Anglican Church in America.  The work we do is that of being a pastor without walls or building. Temenos was never meant to be a “traditional” Catholic Worker of people living in community, but a pastoral ministry, living within the traditions of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.

It has been a glorious twenty two years, really glorious. Today as we listened to one young guy, we thought, it never really changes, our problems remain the same. What has changed is our  theological point of view.

Pierre Teilhard de Chartin  talks about the cosmic Christ, which is Christ who is the God of many faces, and moves throughout the universe. Christ who burns with the fire of love, burning away all of our judgments, and bringing us into oneness. Our judgements divide and destroy us.

For example we celebrate the Eucharist in the Park every Thursday, and personally we do not invite “housed” people, because it is not your typical  prayer book Eucharist. It is open to all, and these guys are simply themselves, and we  have had “housed’ people bring so much judgement on them and us, that we  do not want to be burned. For example there is a woman, who lives in a camper, and has for years, and she brings the Eucharist bread that she makes–but it is made out of marijuana. It is a beautiful offering, but to many people it is offensive, but for her it is the most glorious of offerings, and Christ is truly present.  There are no “rules” for who can or can  not take the Eucharist-it is God’s table be you atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish–God comes in many faces, and invites all to the Table.

People criticize us for not giving our opinion  people on how they shall  live their lives–and for us it is not our place. Like St. Francis says, “Preach the Gospel using as few as words as possible.”  People make their choices, we walk with them, and talk with them about those choices, but it is still their choice. By not judging we can learn a lot about life, we can understand the pain and hurt of people. People live in ways other than our “middle class’ born and bred ways.

“Curiosity and good listening” bring us back together, and the fire of love burns off all of our differences, our creeds, and brings us into the Cosmic Christ. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D..S.T. D.Min. Candidate


Crossing the Threshold of Faith

August 21, 2016


“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees and make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12: 13

Saturday I attended a workshop on police brutality, in which we saw four documentaries dealing with the subject. What was noteworthy was that the police who were the most brutal were minorities.  What came out of this experience was an awareness that the problem stems back for centuries and is found in white oppression.  The “blue line” is essentially a maintaining of the white status quo of power.

I remember a white college student who struggled with being white because he saw the oppression of his brothers and sisters of another color. He suffered depression and worked to eliminate it, but always he carried guilt;  I have struggled with guilt over the  privilege that my white skin brings to me as well. I look at myself, and I see the privileges I have, simply because of the color of my skin, and it scares me for I have always accepted those privileges.  I have been an oppressor through the acceptance of that status quo. We can even this out by becoming aware and actively working in our own lives to make changes.

The majority of the people who receive the death sentence are minorities, and the poorest of the poor.  As we face the election the latest poll shows those who support the death sentence are ahead in the polls. Eliminating the death sentence would even out justice for all.

Let us cross the threshold of faith follow the words of Scripture to:

“… lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees and make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12: 13

Come Join us On Wednesday, August 24 to Give Witness to Life, and to Equality:

Earl Warren Office Building

350 McAllister Street

San Francisco, CA

Noon-1:00 p.m.

Posters and Flyers Provided.

For More Information:

Fr. River Damien Sims


Franciscans Against the Death Penalty


Fr. River Damien Sims

Death Penalty Ad

The Face of Mercy

August 18, 2016

THE FACE OF MERCY–Matthew 20:1-16–Black Elk

Today in the Examiner Michael Barba in his articled “San Quentin Inmates Await Their Fate” describes inmates who have been on death row a long time, all waiting to die, all living in limbo.  The picture of mental illness and deterioration is not pretty at all.

The parable today of the estate manager who pays everyone the same regardless of when they started to work reminds us that God is the judge, he is the one who determines when we live or die. God’s rewards are always equal. God in Christ always shows the face of mercy.

Let us vote Yes on 62 in November–let us be merciful, as Christ is merciful.


NOON-1:00 P.M.



Franciscans Against the Death Penalty

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Fr. River Damien Sims, SFW, D.S.T., D.Min. Candidate,



Be the Change You Can Be

August 16, 2016



“Truly, matters in the world are in a bad state; but if you and I begin in earnest to reform ourselves, a really good beginning will have been made.”

– St. Peter of Alcantara

(And as Gandhi put it, “be the change you want to see.” What might you do today to move in that direction?)

Last night I was talking to  a third year law student friend of mine whom I have observed  grow and develop for ten years.   I met him on Haight Street one Christmas Day passing out gifts to the street kids. He comes from a wealthy family and has had his own struggles with fitting in. He found me “weird” because I struck up a conversation with him and took him out to eat, and we have been friends since that first day–two weird guys.  John was an “atheist”, and through the years we have had many discussions. Last night he told me that he had become  a believer because life did not make sense without belief and because he discovered that true believers were the ones who did not believe in the death penalty. Very observant.

In the first centuries believers in Jesus were pro-life in every way. They experienced execution.They saw its horror first hand. It was only when Christianity was legalized under Constantine that the church began to change. The farther away the Church moved from the center of the teachings of Christ the more pro-death it became.

I recommend one book for your reading:

The Early Church on Killing

Edited by Ronald J. Sider

Read it, pray about it, and than act!

And as Gandhi put it, “be the change you want to see.” What might you do today to move in that direction? Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Sims, D.S. T., D.Min.

The Host

August 15, 2016


LUKE 1:39-56

Mary was a fourteen or fifteen year old girl, she could have seen herself as a victim, but instead trusted in God and transformed history in her person.

This is being written and shared because of some recent events that have brought me back into my PTSD mode and meeting a minister of a denomination that removed him because of his sexuality, and he has lost his family, his way of life.  It brings back memories, and a reminder that the world we live in is not San Francisco–where despite all of her problems she is still the best and most open place to live.

The Host, that little wafer, in Greek means victim–Christ is the victim who enters our body in Communion and comforts as the One in triumph, as the Victor.

People often asked me, “Why do you do what you do?”  And I give an answer, but the reality is that because of my own experience God called me to this ministry–a call that if I did not answer would leave my life without meaning.   I was a victim for most of my  life of homophobia. I can  not go back to high school reunions because of the hell I experience in being “different”, the thoughts of suicide, of depression, something which I could not express because to express my true feelings in that area of the country and at that time would have been certain rejection; the depression and thoughts of suicide I experienced in my fifteen years of ministry, for the same reason in the church. The six months of Gay reparative therapy given to me by my denomination–all a result of being a victim; I still have trouble sitting in the sanctuary of any church because of flashbacks, it was in my coming out that  God transformed my life.

It was in my four years on the street as a prostitute where I allowed my body to be  used, and I experienced abuse, and saw violence daily that I was transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit into a new creature.

While a victim, I still made those choices, and I am fully responsible for my actions, it was only in slow process of coming out that transformation took place. Being a victim does not make one not responsible or is an excuse for harm done.  Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, he has  freed us from out guilt, but not our responsibility. When I hear confessions I tell the person that forgiveness is never truly complete until we accept responsibility for our actions.  We grow from our scars. I came back to ministry, to the priesthood only because of this call of God that would not let me go, a call to minister outside the gates. Ministry is not  a job, or a romantic dream for me, but it is that to which I have to do to find completeness in life.  It is never easy.

The scars do not go away, PTSD is a real part of  my life, but in the transformation of my life I find fulfillment in walking with the those who are experiencing what I have and do. It is in the healing of working with them that I find the resurrection.

People tell me all the time “you are different,” and it hurts, until I realize that I have always been different–I simply was in the closet, and it is fun, damn fun being “different”, and I urge people to come out of their various closets and acknowledge their differences because it is fun and changes the way one looks at life. One becomes “real” in coming out of the closet.

The Christ that I experience is the one who has been in the valley with me and led me to the banquet, and one aspect of that banquet is to give myself away.   In the words of Margery Williams from The Velveteen Rabbit:

“Wasn’t I real before? asked the little Rabbit. You were Real to the Boy” the Fairy said, “because he loved you. Now you shall be real to everyone.”

That is the call of Christ to all of us–to give ourselves away–to be real to everyone!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Fr. River Damien Sims, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate

Fire of Life

August 14, 2016

FIRE OF LIFE–Luke 12:49-53 “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing”.

Yesterday we attended the  farewell party for our friend Bishop Karen Oliveto, the new United Methodist Bishop of the Rocky Mountain Conference. She is the first out Lesbian Bishop in the United Methodist Church that is being torn about over the ordination of queers. The person who introduced her commented, that the “days ahead will not be easy because the fires are already burning.”

I was once told that my ministry would be like staring down at many trains coming at me at one time. In other words our ministry would be one of being a fire because our call is to stand as a tree bending in the storm.  That is Karen’s ministry. Many will like her, many will not, most want care,  but she will stand alone. So it is with me I stand alone for the most part.

For us our  theology is summed up in the words of Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your soul, your mind, and your strength, and your neighbor as yourself, ” and Romans 5:1-11.  At the heart of our theology is that in  being justified by faith we are children of God, and we do not judge but we love our fellow creatures.  Regardless of race, creed, religious affiliation, sexual orientation we are all children of God. When we treat people with love, we serve God, whatever face God takes for us.


Life is unsettled, we are always going to struggle, and in that struggle we find life, and in finding life we move into the reign of God. We are pilgrims on the way. But in that unsettleness and struggle we can do so in love.

Someone said last night that “people talk about you a lot, actually they gossip,” and my response was: “Talk is like thunder, loud and formless.” it is the actions that matter, and so it is in the actions of loving our neighbor that we find God.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Sims, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate


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