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Rev. James Burklo – Bio

Jim Burklo


Associate Dean Office of Religious Life, University of Southern California. Our office is the interfaith center for USC, serving 33,500 students who include practitioners of all the major world religions. I staff the undergraduate student

Interfaith Council, I organized our SHANTI Interfaith Choir, I initiated our SOULJOURN program which brings students to different houses of worship in Los Angeles every weekend. I plan and conduct special events bringing together students of many faiths, including speaker series and artistic offerings. I am responsible for chaplaincy and religious and spiritual programming for students and staff at the USC Health Science Campus. I serve on a committee that is organizing a new Center for Integrative Medicine at USC. I counsel students at both campuses regarding personal needs and issues, and organize and advise religious clubs on the campuses. I officiate at special university-wide ceremonies. I involve students in faith-based service projects in the low-income South Central area around the campus. I serve as a consultant to the national Abrahamic Family Reunion Project and am active in the national and regional progressive Christian movement as a writer and speaker. Office of Religious Life, URC 106, USC, Los Angeles, CA 90089, 213-740-6110, 8/08 – present, full-time.

Minister Sausalito (CA) Presbyterian Church. I was the pastor of a church in a beautiful historic building near the center of the town. I preached, led worship, counseled members and visited the sick and homebound, led the business affairs of the church, prepared church communications, and worked directly with the children’s program and mission/service projects of the church. The church is characterized by its progressive identity and theology, its creative worship style, and by the many weddings it holds. I represented the church in the Marin Interfaith Council and continue as the editor/writer of “Sacred Space”, a weekly column in the Marin Independent Journal newspaper. The church has 130 members and about the same number of friends who attend and participate. I continue to serve on the national executive council of The Center for Progressive Christianity,, speaking and leading events about the progressive Christian movement nationally, and coordinating its fundraising and identity campaigns. 112 Bulkley, Sausalito, CA 94965, 415-332-3790, 9/03 – 3/08, full-time.

Campus Minister United Campus Christian Ministry at Stanford University. I served students on behalf of several Protestant church denominations. I organized and led projects, classes, spiritual retreats, and internships for students in service with and for low-income people in the communities around Stanford. I also managed the business affairs of the campus ministry organization. I was the co-chair of the Community Working Group – Opportunity Center, which built a $24 million drop-in center and housing complex for homeless people in Palo Alto. UCCM, Rm 22, Old Union Clubhouse, PO Box 20149, Stanford, CA 94309, (650) 725-0050. 7/95-8/03 (20 hrs/wk).

Minister College Heights Church, United Church of Christ. I was the minister of this congregation distinguished by its informal worship style, its commitment to spiritual growth through a variety of Christian and other traditions, and by its commitment to local community service. I preached, led worship and special services, assist members with special needs, administered the business affairs of the congregation, and engaged in community service work on behalf of the church. I co-directed week-long youth summer camps for the N. Calif-Nevada Conference of the UCC. College Heights Church, 1150 W. Hillsdale Blvd., San Mateo, CA 94403, (650) 341-7311. 12/92- 8/03 (30 hrs/wk).

Executive Director Urban Ministry of Palo Alto. I was the chairperson of the committee that organized it in 1984, and came on staff in 1987 as the Executive Director and Minister of this interfaith non-profit corporation sponsored by 30 local churches and synagogues, serving over 3,000 homeless and very low-income people annually through six programs. During my tenure, the organization’s annual budget grew from less than $40,000 to $360,000 and the staff grew from two to nine employees and 350 regular volunteers. I led the development of several creative new services: most recently, a money management program for disabled homeless people. I worked and met with the Board of Directors, wrote and tracked grants, supervised and trained staff and volunteers, preached in local churches and gave speeches in other forums. I did casework and acted as chaplain with people of the streets at Urban Ministry’s drop-in center, shelter, food and meal programs, and clothes closet. Urban Ministry of Palo Alto, 600 Homer, PO Box 213, Palo Alto, CA 94302, (415) 853- 8672. 1/87-12/92 (full-time).

Case Manager Community Services Agency. I supervised the Community Kitchen soup kitchen staff, interviewed and provided emergency food and housing assistance to homeless and other low-income people, counseled and gave information and referral, and trained and supervised volunteers in casework functions. CSA, 204 Stierlin Rd, Mountain View, CA 94043, (650) 968-0836. 3/84-6/87 (20 hrs/wk).

Associate Director Ecumenical Hunger Program. For an interfaith hunger relief agency, I wrote and tracked grants, did extensive preaching and public speaking, conducted a building campaign, interviewed and served emergency assistance clients, and trained and supervised volunteers. EHP, 1934 University Ave, East Palo Alto, CA 94303, (650) 323-7781. 3/84-8/86 (20 hrs/wk).

Associate Minister First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ. I served as the associate minister of a large local church in a university community. I preached monthly, did children’s sermons, supervised the church school staff and program, advised the youth groups, staffed boards and committees, wrote for church publications, visited the sick and homebound, provided pastoral counseling, and did extensive community organizing and service work on behalf of the church. First Congregational Church, 1985 Louis Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94303, (415) 856-6662. 12/79-3/84 (full-time).

Community Organizer South Hayward Parish. Through a consortium of 4 local churches in Hayward, CA, I organized residents of a low-income neighborhood around planning, zoning, and tenants’ rights issues. I served on the steering committee of a renters’ rights initiative campaign. I organized and conducted summer day camps for children in the neighborhood, recruiting and training volunteer staff. I preached and led classes in the four churches on a regular basis. SHP, c/o Westminster Hills United Presbyterian Church, Hayward, CA. 6/78-9/79.


Spanish Language Study Instituto de Idiomas “Benjamin Franklin”, Morelia, Michoacan, 1985.

Master of Divinity San Francisco Theological Seminary (Presbyterian), San Anselmo and Berkeley, CA, 1979. Ordination: United Church of Christ, 1981.

Bachelor of Science, Social Relations University of California, Riverside, graduated Phi Beta Kappa, 1975. Attended University of California, Santa Cruz, 1971-73.


My latest book, HITCH-HIKING TO ALASKA: The Way of Soulful Service (St Johann Press: 2013), celebrates and explores service as a spiritual practice.  How can spiritual practice (whether or not it is formally religious) help me to help others better?  How can I “hang in there” in service, when the going gets tough?  How can I grow in faith through service?  How can I go deeper in helping relationships?

BIRDLIKE AND BARNLESS: Meditations, Prayers, Poems, and Songs for Progressive Christians, book (St Johann Press 2008)

OPEN CHRISTIANITY: Home by Another Road, book (Rising Star/St Johann 2000)

— and many articles in books, magazines, websites, and newspapers.


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