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A tribute to the best time in my life.

I spent 3 years at The Sanctuaries, Dc.
as co-minister & community organizer
for my ministry internship 

"The Sanctuaries, based in Washington, D.C., is more explicitly focused on responding to young people’s desire for spiritual connection. It was established three years ago by Erik Martinez Resly, a Unitarian minister who is also an artist, community organizer and skateboarder. He initiated The Sanctuaries to promote spiritual growth through the arts by bringing together millennials across lines of religion, race and gender orientation."

Resly made a conscious decision not to house The Sanctuaries in a fixed location. “D.C. is pretty segregated demographically,” he said. “We want to be as accessible as possible to people of all backgrounds.” The group holds gatherings and events across the city in homes, houses of worship, community spaces, and dance and yoga studios. The events’ names express their variety. They include: Sermon Slams, Spring Walks, Holistic Health Workshops, Black Arts Reading Circle, Hip-Hop for Social Change and Meditation Through Film.

The 20s and 30s are a time when people are asking big questions,” says Resly, who was influenced by the anthropologist Veena Das’s writings about “ordinary ethics,” which connect philosophical problems with the problems of daily life. “Many people are struggling; they’re unemployed or feel undervalued. We make space for what Cornel West called the ‘raw funky skanky stuff of life.’ 

Osa Obaseki, a hip-hop artist who leads the group’s performance team, adds: “One of the main needs that we fulfill is creating a space for people to explore our differences in a way that is comfortable and inviting. That really goes a long way. One of the biggest things that I’ve learned is that our differences can really be a source of unity. Before, I looked at differences as more of a challenge; but now I feel like they make things more human and, in a sense, easier.”

Rekindling Human Contact in the Digital Age

By David Bornstein  (In the " Fixes" opinion column of the New York Times),  May 8, 2015. 


How it Started

In the Spring of 2015, my good friend Jasmine was finishing up her internship with Rev and suggested I try it out, as she was also an artist.

Rev interviewed me for an hour and then asked, why do I think it is a good fit. I said, well aside from the rest of the good things I have heard, before I preach I always sing "prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true, with thanksgiving, I'll be a living, sanctuary for you. What does  The Sanctuaries mean"?.....

He replied, "you think about what it means to be really be a sanctuary and tell me in the fall".

I got the job! And he wanted me to quietly participate all summer to truly know the community before I am "blessed in". This picture above is us in a soul train line at a retreat when only he and I knew! The pictures below were taken of others in attendance. 

Black and White Photograpy is Rev's signature style. He took all the B&W on this page. All these people would become my family.


2015 Spring

Fall 2015


Rev has a ritual at the end of his 
events, where he asks everyone to
gather in a circle and name something that they would like to 
receive blessings/good vibes/
well wishes for, ie. health.
Everyone else replies in unison,
"we bless your health".

At the end of our infamous Dinner Huddles, when all the meals had been devoured, songs shared, poems performed, we gathered to do our blessing. Rev asked me to stand to his left and started off the blessing to his right.When it got back to him, he turned to me and said, Crystal, we bless your...internship".... or "ministry" or something like that. I can't remember verbatim but then he started up the circle again and each person gave me a blessing, so specific to who I am. That is the beauty Rev created by allowing me to integrate into the community first. 

2015 Fall
2016 Interns

 2015 Core Team
Clara, Celia, Kevon

We went out of limb in 2016 and rented a few fixed physical locations as our team grew. We had interns from all over the US, larger art teams, and the performance team was doing big things. They recorded an EP and even submitted it to NPR Tiny Desk. Rev chose a screeprinting office location as that is a deep passion of his. He taught me enough that I was pretty okay!

NPR Tiny. Desk 

Mi familia!
Akiva- strummin
Osa- rappin
Erin- sangin (sitting)
Keirstin- sangin


Best Interns Ever
Ayari & Alexis

Soul Slam!


Let me be clear, 
I did not participate in planning this one to save Barry Farms but it was really cool and I love everyone in these photos.

2016 Barry Farms
2016 Sundowns




In 2016, we started an evening inspirational service called The Sundown, and we were contacted by CBS to come film one of them for their special, Faith Spirituality and The Future. I will never not be sad that they ran out of time to interview me at the end of the night. When I got to the venue we had some major issues and I got pulled away during my interview slot. Oh well. All these years later, I found a picture someone took of me and Rev around the stage. All is well that ends well. 

Here are some of the earlier Sundowns
Rev and I did two sermonettes each,
and the rest was open mic performance


Erin Walter was here from Texas!

Ok so here is the Sundown they recorded and the special is below. I also included the spoken word that I performed, titled "Naked". 

2016 CBS

Rev is to the left and I am on stage

12768347_556490107851890_2585067974800183379_o (1).jpg

The lights were so bright!

Screenshot 2024-04-05 at 10.32.45 AM.png

Full Circle.
I moved to Philadelphia to have my son is 2017 and commuted back to Dc until it was unsustainable. Unrelated, Rev Erik announced that
we were closing the doors on The Sanctuaries as we knew it, but it would still live on through us all. He never did tell me what the name meant for him, but he texted me to ask for a quote of what it means to me after 3 years. He made sure I had some coins to come to town for the final Soul Slam and when I got there, I was met with the coolest surprise. A final blessing: 

2017 Final Soul Slam

He put what I wrote on the back of our "yearbook".


my son "singing" with mi familia


I also got to keep a massive amount of artwork and returned a massive amount 
of the EP, The Mixtape,
I had stored.


Rev, we bless your legacy!

Then I led a final huddle!

A special thank you to Rev Erik Martinez Resly and Co-Founder
Osa Obaseki for your supervision, love and support. 

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