San Francisco Stake Helps Sponsor Interfaith Blood Drive
Contributed By By Sylvia Coats, Oakland Stake assistant public affairs director
For the third year in a row, a month-long interfaith community blood drive and concert in the San Francisco Bay area will provide needed blood donations while sharing common beliefs and spiritually touching the lives of both performers and audience.
Each year the interfaith blood drive has been accompanied by performances of the Lamb of God oratorio by the Oakland Temple Hill Choir and the Oakland Temple Symphony Orchestra. This past spring more than 5,000 people attended performances of this oratorio at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Oakland Interstakes Center Auditorium; in the Cathedral of Christ the Light, Catholic Diocese of Oakland; and the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, Catholic Diocese of San Francisco.
Each year the American Red Cross has generously covered the cost of advertising, printing, and equipment and Rob Gardner, the Lamb of God composer, has allowed the use of his music and sale of CDs that cover the remaining expenses.
The month-long July 2013 Interfaith Community Blood Drive schedule, with times and locations, is posted on Facebook and the American Red Cross website for those interested in giving blood this year.
Both the Oakland Temple Hill Choir and the Oakland Temple Symphony Orchestra maintain a regular group of volunteer singers and orchestra membership. This group has expanded each year for the Lamb of God performances, making this a true interfaith endeavor.
Alan Chipman, director of the Oakland Temple Hill Choir, says, “We typically invite and look for additional singers and instrumentalists for Lamb of God who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as we treat this as an interfaith event. The performance deeply touches both the audience members and the participants.”
Kirsten Bradford, who sings the part of Martha, says, “What an amazing few weeks. I’ve had so much positive feedback from everyone that came to the show, some still in tears when I talked to them. When I sang it felt so real, like Martha was with me, like the Savior was really there, like it was all really happening. By the time I got off the stage I wept out of gratitude. I was grateful for all the incredible singers and musicians and grateful for the incredible experience of growing and learning. Most of all, I was filled with overwhelming gratitude that my Savior, Jesus Christ, would die for me.”
Dolores McLeod, who attends the St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Oakland, has sung in the performances for the last two years. “The words are so meaningful to me because they touch my soul. Singing ‘I Am the Resurrection’ makes it real how Jesus was resurrected.”
Christoph Tietze, the director of music for St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco, where the Lamb of God was performed for the first time this year, has this to say: “The concert was very powerful and moving, and I will gladly facilitate this performance again.”
Esteban Zapiain is a member of the Catholic Church and served as the assistant director of the Lamb of God orchestra in this year’s performance. He shares a particularly powerful experience regarding both the interfaith blood drive and the Lamb of God performance. After donating blood during the 2011 interfaith blood drive, Esteban received a call from the American Red Cross advising him to see his doctor that day without delay. Within days he was diagnosed and began treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) with an excellent prognosis due to early detection. Two weeks later, as he was participating in the Lamb of God performance, he said, “I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I have always donated blood with the hopes that my blood might save someone’s life. I never dreamt that the life I’d save would be my own.”
The interfaith blood drive has been accompanied by performances of the Lamb of God oratorio by the Oakland Temple Hill Choir and the Oakland Temple Symphony Orchestra. This past spring more than 5,000 people attended these performances.
Originating from a simple desire to serve the local community, the interfaith community blood drive and Lamb of God performances have become an opportunity to provide blood donations at the time of most critical need each year, share common beliefs, and spiritually touch the lives of both performers and audience.
It began late in the spring of 2010 with a meeting between Dean E. Criddle, president of the Oakland California Stake, and Salvatore J. Cordileone, then bishop of the Oakland Diocese and currently archbishop of the San Francisco Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church. Sharing their commitment to community service, President Criddle and Archbishop Cardileone discussed the possibility of an interfaith blood drive in collaboration with the American Red Cross.
The result was the 2011 Interfaith Community Blood Drive, the largest single blood drive in the history of the Northern California Blood Services Region and believed to be the largest church-organized blood drive in the history of the American Red Cross.
The American Red Cross urged that this interfaith blood drive effort take place during the month of July when supplies of blood in the San Francisco Bay area run critically short each year. During July of the first year, 2011, blood drives took place at 24 places of worship throughout the San Francisco East Bay area and 1,700 pints of blood were collected.
During July of the second year, 2012, this interfaith partnership grew to include nearly 80 individual blood drives at places of worship throughout the greater San Francisco Bay area, and 3,827 pints of blood were collected.