San Francisco Harbor Light Dedicates Chapel

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vision 2000“We will be a worshiping community, known for our commitment to prayer, holy living and service to others.”
harbor light
DEDICATION SERVICE–Newly-enrolled soldier Thomas Brownlee leads in prayer during the service, attended by nearly 200. Thanks to generous donors, the $275,000 building was completed debt free.


by Judy Vaughn – 

The heavens opened and rain pounded on the roof as the San Francisco Light-house Corps dedicated its new chapel recently. Indoors, the new building offered a sanctuary in the best sense of the word.

Colonels Robert and Carol Saunders, leaders of the Philippines Territory, officiated and spoke of the comforting symbolism of the cross on the roof, a Christian presence both in the recovery community of the Harbor Light campus and the larger South of Market neighborhood outside.

The chapel is attached to the largest social model detox in the city, dormitory housing for 70 people, transitional housing for 90 single parents and children and detox for 30 people. The HIV detox is one of only two in the city focused on the needs of HIV positive alcoholics. Majors Larry and Vickie Shiroma are corps officers.

Symbolically, the new chapel recognizes the importance of faith, families and friends in the recovery system of people addicted to alcohol and other drugs.

The red brick chapel has two gracefully arched doors. One opens to the recovery program’s tree-filled inside courtyard with picnic tables and a popular basketball hoop for after-hours recreation. A matching door, opening from the sidewalk, is an invitation to the community inside–relatives and friends of those on the program, people who know about alcohol and the devastating effects it has on families.

This is a faith-based, social model AA program–meaning the Army comes to it with belief in the essential strength of a person’s relationship to a higher power. It’s a recovery community. By its very nature, this sets it apart. But, as much as possible, counselors try to remind clients this is the real world–not an insulated society away from the pressures of ordinary day-to-day living. Residents are encouraged to find work, put their medical and legal affairs in order, re-relate to family from which they may have been alienated and­in a peer setting­learn to take responsibility for their own recovery.

“Worship services are voluntary,” says Claudia Muschietty, who was one of four soldiers enrolled by Lt. Col. Richard Love, divisional commander. She is recovery director for single parents whose addictions have led them and their children to homelessness. Clean and sober 13 years, she admits she might never have gone to services had they been obligatory. “Having a place to worship with a supportive community of peers is especially important when you’re all in the same boat.”

Also enrolled were Paul Chan, Barbara Gassama, and Thomas Brownlee.

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