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Obituaries » Elizabeth Ann Bassham

Elizabeth Ann Bassham

May 27, 2018


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BASSHAM, Lizann Lizann Bassham, beloved spiritual leader, prolific writer and musician, dies at 58. Elizabeth Ann Bassham began her spiritual journey in the Christian tradition, earning her Masters of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion (PSR). In 1988, she moved to Sonoma County to accept a call at the Community Church of Sebastopol, UCC. Over the next decade, she built a vibrant youth program that encompassed her deepest values of love, acceptance, and social justice. Although she had no biological children, she referred to the children she helped raise spiritually as “my children not of my body.” In mid-life, after a viral illness, she developed chronic issues she later came to believe constituted Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She left the Community Church to devote herself to creative arts in service of a social justice agenda. Through Front Porch Spirit, her arts production company, she developed many new works. She wrote, directed and produced three theater pieces: “Stories Seldom Told”, a re-imagining of biblical stories as women might have told them, “Breastify!”, a musical comedy to heighten breast cancer awareness and “Voices”, an intergenerational look at economic hardship. She published two novels: “One of Another”, how AIDS affected San Francisco friends in the 80s, and “Barefoot”, based on her own coming of age story in French Gulch, CA. Her songs were often used in her theater pieces and collected onto CDs, including “On the Alluvial Fan”, inspired by her pilgrimages to the Californian desert and “Out of the Broom Closet”, an interweaving of her feminist, folk, and country history with magical realism. For more about her creative work go to Lizann was an advocate for people marginalized by society, but particularly those rejected because of their sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions. She was a strong proponent of healthy sexuality, first in her youth ministry work and later, through her work on “Our Whole Lives”, a liberal sexuality curricula. As a Campus Pastor at PSR, she had a special rapport with transgender, gender fluid, and polyamorous students. In later years, Lizann’s already inclusive spiritual path broadened to include witchcraft. She circled and danced with North Bay Reclaiming. She was attracted to the deep connection with nature, the consensus process, the integration of spirit and politics and the acceptance of aging. The Sebastopol Farmer’s Market became a ministry as she celebrated those whose mission was a healthier food ecosystem. Her morning barefoot dancing became an outdoor ritual: the soles of her feet receiving the embrace of the earth. She wrote a column for “SageWoman” magazine and blogged at “PaganSquare”. When she paused to devote all her energy to “weeding and composting” cancer cells, Lizann was working on “What’s Remembered, Lives”, a memoir tracing her family’s roots, especially the life of her great-grandmother, Josephine Romero Lindsey Smith. Josie survived the 1906 earthquake and fires only to die in a refugee camp where UCSF’s new Mission Bay campus now stands, of a cancer of the head and neck. Though it was a blow to be first diagnosed at Stage IV, this connection with Josie gave her comfort. Lizann joined a clinical trial of immunotherapy in hopes she would help improve how cancer is treated for future generations. Elizabeth Ann Bassham died as she lived, exuding joy, gratitude, love and compassion, cradled by a caring community she had created. She is survived by her husband, Jeffrey Wilson, of Sebastopol, her mother, Sandy Rosen, of Sebastopol, and her brother Andrew Brennan, of Santa Rosa, her Beloveds, the Rev. Jeff Spencer of Fremont and Stephen Powers of Valley Ford, many family of her choosing, and hundreds of her spiritual children. On Sunday, June 10, 2018 at 2 p.m., a celebration of Lizann Bassham’s life will be held at The Community Church of Sebastopol, 1000 Gravenstein Highway North. 707-823-2484. All are welcome. Her body will undergo a private, green burial at Pleasant Hills Memorial Park in Sebastopol. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Community Church of Sebastopol and/or the Pacific School of Religion.