125th Anniversary Celebration

Two weekends, March 13-15 & 20-22

To celebrate this milestone, we will host two weekends of performances, film screenings, talks and presentations on the subject of Nature & Spirit. Most events are free. All are welcome to attend!


Week 1 – March 13 – 15

Friday Film Screening 3/13 – A Deeper Relationship with Nature

  • 7 pm – Film screening of the documentary “John Muir, Unruly Mystic”
  • 8 pm – followed by talk/visual presentation by Ami Vitale, National Geographic photographer, writer, filmmaker, Nikon Ambassador, and instructor, on “Stories about our home, our future, and the interdependence of all life.” More info here.

Tickets required for this event. Purchase tickets here ($20).

Saturday Symposium 3/14 – Cultural History Day with Keynote by Obi Kaufmann (Free with RSVP)

  • 10:00 – 11:30 am Session 1: Foundation and Roots: the Church in its Contexts
    • This panel addresses the design team behind the creation of the iconic building: its relation to other artistic and architectural trends—from Japanese aesthetics to the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris–as well as its subsequent legacy in the Arts and Crafts movement.
      • Leslie Freudenheim: TBA
      • Ted Bosley: TBA
      • Paul Ivey: “Ecclesiastic Architecture, A Contrast of Inspirations and Styles.”
  • 11:30 am – 1pm Buffet lunch provided (a $5 donation is requested at the door)
  • 1:00 – 2:30 pm Session 2: Painting with Light: William Keith, George Inness, & Bruce Porter
    • This panel delves more specifically into artists and artisans connected to the church and the Swedenborgian tradition, all of whom created artwork that was premised on the spiritual power embedded in the beauty of the natural world.
      • Dr. Jim Lawrence: “Inscribing Intangibles: Keith’s Subjective Turn”
      • Dr. Adrienne Baxter-Bell: “Transcendent American Landscapes: George Inness and his Influence on William Keith.”
      • Holly Mitchem: “From Ireland to California, the Romantic Revival in Liturgical Stained Glass.”
  • 2:45 – 4:15 pm Session 3:  Visionary Futures: Expanding the New Jerusalem
    • Beyond its architectural and artistic innovations, these papers explore how the church was part of larger utopian impulses, and alternative visions of the future (what Swedenborg described as the “New Jerusalem,” the dawn of a new spiritual age)– both for the city of San Francisco as well as larger dynamics within American culture, and abroad.
      • Colette Walker: “Global Utopian Architecture: Ruskin, Morris, and Rabindranath Tagore.”
      • Kristen Schaffer: “Joseph Worcester’s Friend Daniel Burnham, and his Urban Plan for San Francisco”
      • Gray Brechin: “A Renaissance of the Arts & Crafts: Herbert Maier Promotes ‘Parkitecture’ During the Great Depression”
  • 4:30 pm — Keynote with Obi Kaufmann
    • Artist, author, naturalist, and forthright environmental advocate, Kaufmann is the author and illustrator of two widely popular books: The California Field Atlas, and The State of Water: Understanding California’s Most Precious Resource. 
  • More information & speaker biographies here.

All events on Saturday are free to attend, but an RSVP is required due to space limitations. RSVP online here: tiny.cc/Mar14RSVP

Sunday 3/15 – Spirit and Nature (Free with RSVP)

  • 11 am – Sunday Worship Service with message by Rev. Junchol Lee on the architecture of the SF Swedenborgian Church as correspondences according to Emanuel Swedenborg.
  • 12:15 pm – Anniversary Celebration Coffee Hour
  • 1 pm – “A Love Letter to Nature in the City” – Lila Higgins, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
  • 2 pm – Rubbings from Nature – Bette McDonnell from Nature in the City, all ages.

All events on Sunday are free to attend, but an RSVP is required due to space limitations. RSVP here: tiny.cc/Mar15_RSVP!


Week 2 – March 20 – 22

Friday 3/20 – Passion for Discovery in Nature, Art, & Science

  • 1-4 pm – “Citizen Scientist” intro to iNaturalist app to record data for science, followed by a “bioblitz” exploration of the Presidio of San Francisco, with Calif. Academy of Science staff Dr. Rebecca Johnson and Annie Miller.
  • 7 pm – Film screening #2: “The Unruly Mystic: John Muir”

Saturday 3/21 – Connect/Discover/Create/Grow: Nature & Human Relation (free with RSVP)

  • 10 am – Walk & Meditation – Rev. Lee leads a group meditation walk into the Presidio.
  • 10 am – 12:30 pm – Multiple NatureArt Workshopsfor all ages
    • Nature’s Treasures Hunt – in church garden
    • Paint a “Nature’s Treasure” garden rock
    • Nature Rubbings – art from natural textures and materials
    • Nature Sunprints – quick silhouettes from natural materials
  • 1 pm – “Origami for an Interdependent World” – Social and environmental harmony, as expressed through the geometric harmony of a sheet of folded paper with Robert Salazar, NASA engineer.
  • 3 pm: “Cake or Pie? – Human Conflict Sources and Resolutions” with William Berger, Aegis Trust Advisor, on building mutual social trust in post-war Rwanda, Africa.

All events on Saturday are free to attend, but an RSVP is requested due to space limitations. RSVP here: tiny.cc/Mar21RSVP!

Sunday 3/22 – Spirit & Nature: Seeing and Hearing

  • 11 am – Sunday Worship Service – with Rev. Junchol Lee
  • 1-3 pm“Art of Seeing” Nature Photography Workshop by Art & Clarity Studio co-founder Lowell Downey.
  • 4:30 pm – Concert with Muriel Anderson – virtuoso harp-guitarist and prolific songwriter. More info and tickets here.

Most events on Sunday are free to attend, but an RSVP is requested due to space limitations. RSVP here: tiny.cc/Mar22RSVP!


Both weekends will be replete with refreshments throughout the days, as well as other entertainment and pop-up dramatic readings on nature from historic poets and authors. All are invited to the regular Sunday church services also, which will reflect the theme in sermon and song. Most talks and activities for the public will be free, RSVP requested.

Nature & Spirit: Exploring the role of nature in human imagination, creativity, discovery, understanding.

Updates: facebook.com/allegoricalreality/

Event location: SF Swedenborgian Church, 2107 Lyon Street, at Washington Street, San Francisco. Office 3200 Washington Street, SF.

Contact: Andrew Jack Dodd, concerts@sfswedenborgian.org