Thursday, September 17, 2015

Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation with Monthly Justice Projects

Welcome, (through our Just Lutheran project) will be celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation with monthly justice projects.  We will be working with non-profits and congregations around the Sierra Pacific Synod and doing good things at least once a month until October 2017.

Want to partner with us to do a service project between October 2016 and October 2017?  Contact our Executive Director, Pastor Megan Rohrer (

Confirmed Events:

Kick Off Celebration: 
San Francisco
10am - 3pm  Volunteer Day at congregations and non-profits throughout San Francisco

4pm  - Jonathon Rundman Concert @ Grace Lutheran (3201 Ulloa St @ 33rd Ave)

May 2017: 
Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly
The day before the 2017 Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly gather, we will be hosting justice events around the city.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

In the News: SFist

State Senator Mark Leno honors composer Kathleen McGuire, one of the composers of Street Requiem, and singer Frederica con Stade, one of the performers, prior to the SF premiere of the work. Photo credit: SFist 
Street Requiem: Despite being nominally retired, Alameda resident and famed diva Frederica von Stade, aka Flicka, still shares her big talent and bigger heart for worthy causes. Last week, she brought her voice to a choir of singers recruited from the homeless ranks of San Francisco for the West Coast premiere of Street Requiem, an oratorio celebrating people who lived and died on the streets. The evening supported Singers of the Street, an organization funded in 2010 by Kathleen McGuire, who with her fellow Australian Andy Payne and Jonathon Welch, also composed the music for the requiem. Singers of the Street is a choir for homeless people, who get a sense of purpose and achievement from participating in the choir, a community to be part of, and provide a positive and human experience of homelessness to audiences. They accept donations.

We thought we should check in our cynicism at the door for a concert where the betterment of humankind is achieved by singing together. Heart-warming stories don't necessarily make great art. This was reinforced by a little welcome pitch from Rev. Megan Rohrer, whose congregation hosts the rehearsals and who asked for our leniency for the singers, and extolled their "courage to sing the wrong note." And it turns out that these guys are pretty darn good and would match any amateur choir in the city. No need for indulgence on the audience's part.

The concert was set in two halves, the first devoted to covers by Singers of the Street, and the second to the Street Requiem, with Flicka and a bunch of experienced singers. The acronym for the organization is SOS, and the first song was appropriately the Beatles' "Help"; it was followed by calls for solidarity and songs of positive affirmation, and they all took a pretty emotional color from the context. The performers of SOS literally sang their hearts out: you could hardly imagine performers giving more into a performance.

As for the Street Requiem, it is composed of ten sections, each with a different color, re-interpreting the typical Requiem format with Kyrie, Gloria, Dies Irae, Agnus Dei, etc, but updated with current texts in different languages. The opener gets Middle Eastern scales, an Irish folk song is appropriated for the ninth movement, percussive South African beats in the eighth. It is meant to be inclusive of all cultures. Some movements are of more indeterminate origins, but were always rooted in tonal harmonies. Flicka gets the most beautiful melody in the Pie Jesu. The orchestration sometimes feels a bit studious, it could be a bit more free and unpredictable; but there is a lot of generosity in the writing of the score and the energy of the Gloria is contagious. The Street Requiem has been performed in Australia, Dallas, and will be sung in Seattle, and we hope the composers keep staging it and tweaking it, it is a piece of great emotional power. And a testament that you can better the lives of people through singing.

Monday, September 7, 2015

In the News: San Mateo Daily Journal

‘Street Requiem’
September 02, 2015, 05:00 AM

Tom Jung/Daily Journal
Opera superstar Frederica von Stade (third from left) takes a bow with her fellow performers at the conclusion of ‘Street Requiem,’ a multicultural, multi-faith work mourning those who have died innocent on the street as a result of poverty, war, illness, violence, hate crimes or homelessness. ‘Street Requiem’ was performed at the Congregational Church in San Mateo on Sunday, Aug. 30. From left to right are tenors Blake Quin and Mark Jackson, mezzo-soprano von Stade, didgeridoo player Stephan Davies, tenor Ilyas Iliya, and 'Street Requiem' co-composers Kathleen McGuire and Andy Payne. All proceeds from the performance benefit Singers of the Street, a San Francisco choir of singers at risk of homelessness.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In the News: SF Bay Times

Opera Superstar Frederica Von Stade to Sing Street Requiem in Support of Homeless Choir 

reposted from:

operaladyFamed mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade will join with a mass chorus of singers and chamber orchestra in two California premiere performances of Street Requiem by Australian composers Dr. Kathleen McGuire, Andy Payne, and Dr. Jonathon Welch AM. Other vocal soloists include Blake Quin, Ilyas Iliya and Mark Jackson.
This week, it was also announced that Street Requiem has been selected as a semi-finalist in the professional choral composition division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. (For more information, see
McGuire, who is well known to Bay Area audiences having led the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and others from 2000 to 2013, will return from Melbourne, Australia, to conduct Street Requiem on Saturday, August 29, at 7:00pm at Old First Presbyterian Church at 1751 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, and on Sunday, August 30, at 2:00pm at the Congregational Church of San Mateo, 225 Tilton
Avenue in San Mateo.
The concert is a benefit for Singers of the Street (SOS), which McGuire founded in 2010. Now led by Ashley Moore and a project of Welcome, SOS is a choir of San Franciscans who have experienced, or are at risk of, homelessness. Its mission is to raise their voices for justice, healing and joy. SOS will open the concert and will also sing with the mass choir in Street Requiem.
opera2Street Requiem provides a musical opportunity for us to mourn not only the homeless who have passed away, but also our own frustration that there are still so many homeless individuals living in streets and shelters,” said the Rev. Megan Rohrer, Executive Director of Welcome. “Beyond a one of a kind concert experience, audience members can also celebrate that the price of admission enables homeless individuals to heal and express themselves for years to come.”
Composed in 2014, Street Requiem has already received international acclaim. Music critic Wayne Lee Gay (Dallas Magazine) said: “A remarkable, unique and beautiful work…an unfailingly engaging cantata. The religious texts were constantly questioned, but with an effect that produces transformation rather than blasphemy. The audience is never let off the hook: in the final movement, the chorus intones, as if to remind those who observe suffering are as much in need of divine intervention and guidance as those who suffer directly: ‘Given them peace. Give us peace.’”
Street Requiem is a 40-minute multi-movement cantata scored for choirs, soloists, and chamber orchestras. It aims to bring a sense of peace, remembrance, and hope to communities struggling with homelessness, poverty, war, hate-crime and street violence. The work is neither secular nor religious, but is intended to be spiritual and includes English and African lyrics, as well as traditional Latin texts. While at times deeply moving, the work is optimistic and uplifting, and employs Gospel, Celtic, neo-Romantic, neo-Baroque, and contemporary compositional styles and instrumentation to reflect the multicultural and multi-faith traditions of modern city living.
McGuire said, “Street Requiem provides an opportunity to mourn those we’ve lost—often ‘nameless’ on our streets—and to protest the tragic injustices we witness every day. These are global issues, but we can each make a difference, one by one. Ms. von Stade’s generous participation is a testament to the importance of this project and the wider cause.”
Ms. von Stade will be joined on stage by a mass choir including singers from The Choral Project (San Jose), the Chancel Choir of the Congregational Church of San Mateo, singers from CREDO (Dallas, Texas, who performed the U.S. premiere in January), and Singers of the Street (San Francisco). Accompaniment will be provided by members of the Community Women’s Orchestra, and Carl Pantle will play piano.

Rehearsals led by Stephanie Lynne Smith, Grace Renaud, Daniel Hughes, Dana Sadava, Dr. Jonathan Palant and Carl Pantle are currently underway in San Francisco and San Mateo; singers wishing to participate should visit:
Tickets for Street Requiem range from $15–$50 and are available online at or by calling (415) 731-1305. All proceeds benefit Singers of the Street.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Press Release: Celebrating the Release of Meagan Taylor

Meagan Taylor, a black transgender woman who was arrested in Iowa when a hotel worker called the police due to her gender identity, was released from the Polk County Jail earlier today.  Welcome, led by our Executive Director, Pastor Megan Rohrer raised over $5,500 to pay for Meagan's bond in Iowa and outstanding fees from a 2010 case in Illinois.  Additional funds will be used to safely transport Meagan home to Illinois and to pay for her name change and an ID that matches her preferred name and gender.

"My tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy when I learned that Meagan was going to be released from jail," said Pastor Rohrer.  "I want to thank the 133 people who donated funds to help us remove the financial barriers and the Transgender Law Center who expedited the legal barriers that were keeping Meagan in jail."

Pastor Rohrer has been in regular contact with Meagan and her family, offering support and pastoral care.  Welcome, whose main work is with LGBT homeless individuals in San Francisco, became involved in this case in order to lift up the issues that disproportionately affect transgender women of color and to raise awareness to the ways that compounding fees can impact vulnerable individuals.

Over the years, Welcome has taken on special projects to support to LGBTQ individuals around the country, because we believe it will help prevent homelessness in San Francisco.

"I have heard too many stories from homeless LGBT individuals who moved to San Francisco in hopes of finding safety from discrimination, only to find some of the country's highest housing costs," said Pastor Rohrer.  "I hope the overwhelming support that Meagan has received, will help other transgender people feel less alone and lead to diversity training for individuals working in hospitality, criminal justice and police departments across the country.

Contact Information:
Pastor Megan Rohrer:, 415-827-2587
PGPs: They/Their

Link to the fundraising page to see funds raised and spent to date:


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Press Release: Funds Raised to Free Meagan Taylor, a Transgender Woman Jailed in Iowa

Individuals interested in donating to free Meagan Taylor can do so here:


Meagan Nicole Taylor, is a transgender woman who lives in St. Louis.  While on a trip with a friend, a hotel manager called the police (possibly twice), because Taylor's identification did not match the name and gender identity that Taylor has used with family and friends for years.  

"What happened to me, was definitely based on my gender.  Transgender people are being gender and racially profiled and it has to stop," Taylor said.

Woken up by a knock at the hotel door around 9 am, Taylor was taken into custody because she did not have the prescription for her hormone treatments with her and for how she spoke to the officers, whom she felt were unjustly arresting her.

Thinking back on her arrest, Taylor says: "To the woman at the hotel and police officers who arrested me, I have no ill will towards you.  I think God will take care of it and help you gain more education about transgender individuals.  LGBTQ individuals are very happy and peaceful people."

Taylor was told that she would be held without release until trial, scheduled for August 10, 2015 and was feeling frustrated that she would not be able to prove that she had a prescription for her medications for nearly a month.  On top of the $2,000 bond for Taylor's release, $500 fine from a 2010 offense had tripled due to fees and penalties and a warrant from Illinois could not be dropped until the $1,713.20 fine was paid in full.

The Welcome Ministry, led by the transgender Lutheran pastor Megan Rohrer, has raised $3,601 as of 9:12 am on July 19th and will be working with Taylor's aunt to pay both the fines in Iowa and Illinois.  Updated information on the funds to free Taylor can be found at:

"Raised in the Midwest and a frequent traveler," Rohrer said, "I often fear that what happened to Meagan will happen to me.  I hope Meagan's story raises awareness, so that this never happens in Iowa or anywhere else in the country again."

"Think about if one of your kids was transgender.  What would you do?  And, how would you want society to treat them?" said Taylor.

Welcome's goal is to pay the fines and hopefully get Taylor release on Monday morning.  When she is released, supporters plan to have some of Taylor's favorite foods on hand (hot pickle, fried chicken and shrimp).

"I am thankful for all the support," said Taylor, who was moved to tears by the outpouring of support from over 80 donors and the transgender artists who had been forwarding information about the cause along on twitter.

Any additional funds, above the amount needed to pay for the fees for Taylor's release will be used to support LGBTQ homeless individuals in San Francisco and projects to uplift the voices of transgender individuals living in poverty.

"Meagan has a family that loves and supports her and a strong desire to support other LGBTQ individuals who are vulnerable, facing discrimination and in need of support.  After we get Meagan out of jail and she gets some rest, Welcome will continue to help her tell her story," said Pastor Rohrer.

The comments from Taylor in this press release are statements Meagan Taylor approved for sharing with the press and supporters.  They were transcribed in a web conference on July 19, 2015 from her isolation cell, by Pastor Megan Rohrer.

About Welcome:
Welcome seeks to provide a faithful response to poverty and to improve the quality of life for individuals in our community through hospitality; the arts; education; food; and referrals.

Individuals interested in donating to free Meagan Taylor can do so here:

Media Information:
  • Contact information for Pastor Megan Rohrer: 415-827-2587   @mmrohrer 
  • Pastor Megan Rohrer's PGPs for news stories are: They/Their
  • Despite some of the stories published, Meagan does not want information about her private parts included in stories about her.  You can find the GLAAD guidelines on reporting about transgender individuals here.
  • Meagan would like the press to use her preferred name, pronouns and photos in stories.  Her family has been honoring this request for years.  Name: Meagan Nichole Taylor  PGP: She/Her
  • Approved photos:
    Approved screen shot from a video chat between Pastor Megan Rohrer and Meagan Taylor on 7/19/2015

Links to Media Reports about This Story:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Arrested for Being Transgender: Meagan Taylor: Fundraiser for Bail: Advocating for Change

 Thank you to everyone who has supported the effort to help pay the fees and bond needed to get Meagan out of jail.  If you would like to donate to Welcome to support our other work with LGBTQ homeless individuals you are welcome to use the donate button above. 

 Now that Meagan is Free if you would like to provide her with additional funds or support, please contact her directly. 

Funds raised and designated to Welcome to "Free Meagan": $4,719

$955 in additional undesignated donations to Welcome between 6/21 and 7/23 were approved by the Welcome Board to cover additional fees (if needed) and to ensure that Meagan is able to legally change her name and get a new ID.  We apologize for not being clearer about this earlier, but our priority was Meagan's privacy, getting Meagan out of jail and ensuring that she was able to make her own decisions without pressure.  Donations will not be deposited in to Welcome's bank account until 8/13/2015.

Total Funds expended to date: $5,381

Final Expense Accounting:
  • $88 in web conferencing fees with Meagan in jail
  • $2,276 wired funds to pay Meagan's bond at the Polk County Jail ($2,100 of this will be returned after Meagan appears in court or the charges are dropped)
  • $1,825 wired funds to Meagan's family that paid her fees in Illinois 
  • $646 funds wired to Meagan in Iowa
  • $546 Instead of actual expenses for name change and ID fees, Meagan has opted to receive $500 to get the money in advance.
Meagan Taylor was the only individual making decisions about how funds were expended.  Welcome did not reimburse or accept requests for unsolicited reimbursement. We were saddened that so many strangers, expected funds raised to pay for Meagan Taylor's legal, would be distributed to them.  

* Notice that has been on this donation page, since start of the campaign: Welcome is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  Your donation will be acknowledged with a letter for your tax records.  We are committed to paying Meagan's fees.  Any remaining donations raised above the actual cost of fees will be used to support LGBTQ homeless youth and transgender individuals living in poverty.  Meagan has requested that we pay it forward to other people in need. 

Meagan Taylor was arrested in Des Moines because she was transgender and it upset hotel staff.  She is currently being held in Polk County Jail with a $2,000 bail amount. You can learn more about the case here:

We don't know all the information about Meagan's story, nor do we wait to help people until we learn all the details of their past.  Poverty is complicated and no one is perfect.  Deeply rooted in faith, we believe that all people deserve another chance.  If you agree, we hope you will help raise attention to this issue.

While not homeless, Meagan's story is familiar to us.  At Welcome, we have traveled the country to document the stories of LGBTQ homeless youth.  And the affects of laws targeting homeless youth and LGBT individuals of color.

Here is a video from New York to learn more about some of the issues that Meagan is experiencing.