Santa Barbara Mission and Lompoc Baptist Church Join Forces for Barrier-Breaking Rally


What began about 18 months ago with a couple of Georgia-born cloth men – one white, one black – meeting for lunch at the Five Points mall will launch this Saturday as a cross-pollination ecumenical and multiracial between Old Mission Santa Barbara and True Vine Bible Fellowship, the predominantly black Baptist church in Lompoc.

Leading Saturday’s event are Pastor James Cray of True Vine and the father of the Old Mission. Dan Lackie. Working behind the scenes to make this gathering happen, philanthropic co-conspirators, friends and occasional bullies — one white, one black — downtown landlord and real estate investor Richard Berti and Cliff Lambert of the Endowment for Youth Committee. The union of the two religious leaders has been “a passion for breaking down barriers”, the father said. Lacquered. Pastor Cray described it as “breaking down the walls of racism, sexism and classicism”. Kalyan Balaven, the first black principal of Dunn’s School in the Santa Ynez Valley, will deliver the keynote address, titled “Refusing Hate — Embracing Love.”

Balaven said his speech will be about “the power of teaching,” highlighting the transformative impact that a high school speech and debate teacher — ​Mr. Lindsey ​— took over her own life. At the time, Balaven was attending James Logan High School in Union City, California. The smoke from the Rodney King riots was still fresh and the racial tensions thick.

“He really looked beyond me as a student in a classroom and saw all the struggles and challenges outside of the classroom and took it upon himself to save me,” Balaven said of by Mr. Lindsey. “By saving me, he embodied love.”

Balaven said Lindsey trained her students to understand other people’s points of view, not just judge them. “He made us feel powerful in our ability to embrace other perspectives,” he said. “It’s much easier to understand the world through the simplified lens of everything black or white without gray. But it’s our job as educators to make it as complex as possible, with as much gray as possible.

Balaven has been sought out by local school administrators for his thoughts on recent racial incidents, including one in which a group of Santa Barbara Junior High students re-enacted the murder of George Floyd by kneeling on his neck. a black classmate. “Mr. Lindsey would have asked why this happened in the first place,” Balaven said. “He would have wanted a deeper understanding of the conditions that existed prior to the incident.”

In addition to Balaven’s speech and comments from Pastor Cray and Fr. Lackie, six high school students from multiple ethnic backgrounds will receive scholarship checks for $5,000 each. Two of the six recipients will speak.

This Saturday’s event ​— ​which will take place at 11:30 a.m. on the lawn in front of the Old Mission ​— ​is not the first of its kind. Earlier this year, just after a guilty verdict was reached in the George Floyd murder trial, Former Mission Father Larry Gosselin and a group of parishioners attended a joint event at True Vine. Considerable donations were made and Father Gosselin, moved by a much more emotional service, waved his arms skyward as he swayed to the beat of the music.

“He didn’t preach per se, but he gave a short sermonette, maybe three to five minutes,” Pastor Cray said. “It was so genuine, so heartfelt. He rocked the place.

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