In 1623, Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony declared that we should “render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all his blessings.” This coming week we will celebrate our 397th Thanksgiving Day since Governor Bradford’s declaration. The governor arbitrarily chose the fourth Thursday in November, an ordinary day, to remind us to say "thanks" on a daily basis for the bounties God has heaped upon our lives.

Hundreds of years before Governor Bradford’s official declaration of a national day of thanks, the Psalmist penned his own declaration of Thanksgiving. Of the hundred and fifty Psalms in the Bible, the only Psalm that is explicitly labeled by the Psalmist as “A Psalm for Giving Thanks” is Psalm 100. And give thanks it does. The Psalmist shouts and sings, thanks and praises his thanksgiving message in five short verses. 

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth!” (v.1) reminds us that any Thanksgiving Day is not just an American holiday! This thanksgiving celebration is a cosmos-wide holy day. God is god of all the earth, all peoples, every plant, every turkey, every single thing. When the pilgrims at Plymouth first held their “day of thanksgiving” almost 400 years ago, the Native Americans conducted on that same day a “day of mourning,” myths of that first Thanksgiving notwithstanding. The protests by these first native peoples and their descendants have managed to do what countless sermons and essays have not been able to do: They have forced us to reexamine what the Psalmist means by the phrase, “Know that the Lord is God” (v.3) of “all the earth,” and “we all are God’s people.” 

It has been a tumultuous year for everyone.  The global pandemic, our national elections, record hurricanes and fire, social protests, including the black lives matter movement, all revealed much about the soul of a nation. Basic vulnerabilities offset by remarkable resilience made the BST mission statement come alive in fresh new ways: BST is a laboratory for creating Christian communities of Christian hope, justice and reconciliation.

You have been instrumental in helping to provide a deeply grounded theological education for our students in these perilous times. Your steadfast support makes all the difference. Can we count on you for an end-of-year gift to help our students thrive in their studies and ministries?

The End of the Year Appeal Letter will arrive in your mailboxes during the first week in December. Please complete the form and return to Berkeley School of Theology with your year end gift. Should you have questions or concerns, please contact Lori D. Spears at lspears@bst.edu or 510.841.1905 x239.

As we continue to embrace and embark upon funding opportunities for the seminary, we have deemed the month of November as the Berkeley School of Theology Bequest Giving Challenge. During the month of November, we are asking you to consider including the seminary in your will or trust. A bequest gift is one of the easiest ways for you to make a planned gift. There are many ways to bequeath a gift to BST to include a specific amount, a percentage or an undivided percentage of a particular asset. Providing bequeathed gifts to BST helps to ensure a strong financial future for the seminary.

If you have already included Berkeley School of Theology in your will or trust, please consider documenting the gift with the seminary. Also, if you have questions regarding a bequest gift with BST, please contact Lori D. Spears at lspears@bst.edu or 510.841.1905 x239. Your gift will make a difference in the life of the seminary as well as the life of a student. Give today!

We are encouraging congregations across the country to lift up Palestine and their pleas for justice in worship services on November 29, the First Sunday of Advent You can offer a  prayer or litany, share an Advent children's message, share this powerful Palestinian rendition of litany, share an Little Drummer Boy or simply use these alternative lyrics for O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Below is information on a full tool kit of resources from artwork to sermon reflections and everything in between. The Alliance has long committed to the work of solidarity and joint struggle in Palestine; uplifting Palestine on Nov. 29 is a great way to continue to live out this commitment. Talk to your pastor or worship leader about participating in this powerful national action!

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REV. Dr. James Brenneman, President
Rev. Dr. Lori D. Spears, VP of Institutional Advancement
Rev. Dr. LeAnn Flesher, VP of Academics & Professor
Rev. Sam Fielder, Executive Assistant to the President

Contact us at 510-841-1905 ext 239 or email us at lspears@bst.edu

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