Meet Reverend Jane Gould, Downtown Long Beach resident, whose service to our community extends far beyond her roles on the DLBA Board (Advisor) and Public Safety Committees; For the last five years, Gould has served as Rector (Senior Pastor) of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at the corner of Seventh Street and Atlantic Avenue in Downtown.
“I believe that those of us who live and work Downtown can create a community in which everyone thrives,” said Rev. Gould. “DLBA has the relationships to bring our Downtown stakeholders together to imagine an abundant life for all who call Downtown home.
“I wanted to join the conversations and work of DLBA because we, as a community, must figure out how to address the needs of those who are unhoused as well as the needs of our institutions, businesses, and residents,” Rev. Gould continued.
She went on to note that for more than 30 years, St. Luke’s has provided Downtown’s unhoused neighbors with showers, clothes, and food on Saturday mornings. “During the pandemic, we never closed,” she said. “We are a trusted advocate and ally of those who live unhoused in Downtown Long Beach. While I am proud of St. Luke’s commitment to welcome and serve our unhoused neighbors, our current situation serves no one well, and I know we can do better.”
Growing up in Washington D.C. as the youngest of four girls raised by a single mother, Rev. Gould recognized her calling early. “Our mother lived an embodied faith working with United Way, the DC Mental Health Association, the Visiting Nurse Association, and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo,” she explained. “We grew up understanding that we had a responsibility to make the world a better place. For me, by the age of eight, that meant participating in protests, working on Capitol Hill, and advocating for justice.”
Throughout her school years, Rev.Gould strove to maintain the high educational standards set by her mother and sisters. When it was time for college, she defied the three-generation family tradition of attending Smith College in Massachusetts, opting instead to move to California and pursue her education at Stanford University. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in American History there, and played four years of Varsity Field Hockey.
In 1986, Rev. Gould received a Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was ordained in the Episcopal Church. She went on to lead congregations in the mill cities of the Greater Boston area, and was, for seven years, Episcopal Chaplain and Coordinator of the Technology and Culture Forum at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“In 2017, I moved from Ocean Street in Lynn, Massachusetts to Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, California,” Gould told us. “I love that I can walk to work, and stroll by the ocean. I love that there is an amazing array of culture, shopping, and dining within walking distance, And, I love that merchants, neighbors in my building, and those living on the streets know me and say hello.”
On Sundays, Rev. Gould leads worship at 8am and 10am in English, and at 12:30pm in Spanish. Throughout the week, St. Luke’s seeks to serve the Downtown community by developing partnerships with individuals and institutions committed to strengthening the entire city. In addition, the church provides office space for ten nonprofit tenants to do their service-driven work.
“At St. Luke’s,” said Rev. Gould, “we are striving to fully affirm everyone, joyfully embrace diversity, courageously pursue spiritual and social transformation, willingly accept challenges, repair the hurt we caused, and equip everyone to make God’s vision for the world a reality.”
Reverend Gould shared her favorite off-work pastime with us: “My new-found main hobby is playing with my seventeen-month-old granddaughter, who lives in LA. Luckily, her parents are raising her right; She delights in good food, enjoys hikes in the hills or by the beach, loves reading books, and actively participates in protests!”