From the Rector
This past week Emily Hansen Curran and I hosted a group of seminarians for a congregational visit. As one of the components of CDSP’s Low Residency program, these seminarians were studying All Souls for a morning to see how we make church, and specifically how we engage a congregational development model known as Gather, Transform, Send.
After spending time reading through our website, attending the 9am Eucharist, and walking through our building, the seminarians came ready with questions. Questions about how we welcome new people, what kinds of transformation take place at All Souls, and how we have seen this parish change over time.
In the midst of the back and forth, one of the seminarians shared that they were amazed at the breadth and depth of lay leadership here at All Souls. In looking through our site and reading some of our material they were stunned to see the number of people and the extent of communal life that takes place.
And they are right. It is kind of amazing, actually. And something that I, for one, can take for granted. So if for no other reason, once again I’m grateful that seminarians come to spend time with us. It offers us an opportunity to regularly take a step back and consider what we are doing as a congregation, why we are doing it, and how it happens. In this case, to remember that what many, many people give to this place makes All Souls Parish alive.
I was grateful to hear this feedback for another reason. Over time I’ve become aware of a misconception that some people have about All Souls––that I am a Steve Jobs-type leader, with my hand in every project, micromanaging every detail, making sure that I have the last word on what happens here.
Now, yes, I do care how we live in this community, the values that we hold, the direction in which we are oriented, and the ethic that we abide by. And sometimes I get a bit too deep in the weeds. But one of the primary reasons why I love being a priest at All Souls and I believe that it is a vital, engaged, and healthy Christian congregation, is because there are scores of followers of the Christ who give of themselves to make church together.
Even when there are myriad demands, people are willing to make church together. In the midst of work and household, economic stress and cultural uncertainty, in the details and through generational strategy, you, the people of All Souls Parish consistently and faithfully make church together.
So as I reflect on another year of life together, a year of both challenge and promise, I once again am grateful to all of the All Soulians who together make this place what it is––church, together.
During the months ahead, we will have the opportunity to look around at the All Souls buildings and grounds and to consider how well they have served us. This is the place we gather to make church, feed the hungry, plan ministry, teach children, engage and learn together, offer space to community groups working to heal and practice. All of this is space that has been provided for us by those who came before. Imagine that!
From time to time—every 10 or 15 or, in this instance, 20 years—these spaces need to be reimagined and readied anew for a next generation to live into God’s work in this place.
During the months ahead, you will see signs around the All Souls buildings inviting you to “Imagine This!” Imagine: an elevator to get you from the chapel area to the parish hall foyer. Imagine: a drinking fountain (or two). Imagine: a new floor in the Parish Hall. Imagine: better lighting in the Chapel. Imagine: new meeting rooms downstairs where offices used to be (because the offices will have moved next door to the Parish House apartment building). Imagine: more solar panels and a carbon neutral heating system that help us live more lightly on this fragile earth. Imagine: an audio-visual system in the Parish Hall. Imagine all this, and more.
Last fall, the All Souls 2020 Capital Campaign planning group collected estimates on a range of capital needs projects to make our buildings 1) accessible to all, 2) more versatile and adaptable for different groups and different uses, 3) energy wise and carbon neutral, and to 4) attend to repairs needed for continued vitality. We hired a property inspector to assess the condition of the buildings. We commissioned an architect to study the feasibility of installing an elevator and reconfiguring spaces.
Under the guidance of our campaign consultant, Marc Rieke, we assembled a team of about a dozen campaign leaders who, between now and the end of May, will help us all experience living, loving, and giving together as a time of faith formation and growth. Imagine that. We invite you to be present on January 26 th when the All Souls 2020 Capital Campaign will begin. The campaign and campaign team will be consecrated during worship services. Information about the campaign will be offered at the Annual Meeting.
We invite you to be present three weeks later on Sunday, February 16, when Marc Rieke will preach and a detailed presentation of the campaign will be offered between services. We invite you to be present, be curious, and imagine with us what can be!
—Nancy Austin and Marilyn Flood, campaign co-chairs
2020 Pledge Campaign
The 2020 Pledge Campaign is in the books. The All Souls community has pledged $629,000 to operate our church and mission this year. Wow! We offer our thanks and gratitude to each person who pledged, listened to a pledge appeal, read a pledge letter, or even thought about pledging. We know the campaign and the asking can seem uncomfortable and relentless, but becoming financially self-sustaining is an important step for us to take as a congregation.
And we have not successfully made that step quite yet. The 2020 campaign had two goals: To meet or exceed the total raised last year and to move 100% of our active members to offer a pledge. We did not meet either of those goals, but we came close to consolidating the significant gains we made last year.
This year we have had $629,008 pledged, a decrease of 5% from last year’s total. As a reference point, we pledged a total of $575,747 in 2018, so we have made significant strides toward financial sustainability as we anticipate the end of the subsidy from the Jordan gift.
Similarly, we did not increase our household participation. We dropped from 194 Adults/Households in 2019 to 187 in 2020. Although the term “Active Member” does not have a precise definition, this year we had 33 “Active Member” households which did not offer a pledge. We are continuing to look for ways to reach this community and develop a path that can invite them to pledge their financial support in any amount.
Even though we did not meet those goals, we continue to have strong signs of the vibrancy and strength of our parish. Due to a variety of economic and life-style issues, 2019 saw at least 20 pledging households move from the Bay Area. Those households accounted for a total of $42,120 in 2019 pledges. Other pledgers died or grew apart from the church and that lowered the pledging carry-over base as well. The pledges we lost during 2019 put us in a pretty large hole to start and we still came close to meeting our goal.
We also added 25 new pledgers during 2019. The turnover in membership continues to be a hallmark of our church and it has serious implications for our pledging support. An analysis of pledging patterns over the past 10 years confirmed the intuition that, on average, the longer someone is here and pledging, the more they pledge. This marries the increase in connection to the community over time and a common increase in economic resources during a household’s life-cycle. Where member turn-over disrupts a long connection between a pledger and the congregation, we would expect to see lower increases in pledging. Part of our work over the coming months is to offer new members of the community a context in which they can be comfortable pledging earlier in their time here.
The parish has made great strides toward becoming financially sustainable, but we are not there yet. At current levels, in 2020 the parish will need to draw on the Jordan Gift earnings to close the gap between our income (pledging, other giving and rental income) and our operating expenses.
We are grateful for your attention and generosity during this pledge campaign. We will continue our push to financial sustainability when we kick off the 2021 Pledge Campaign next fall and we look forward to talking about Stewardship anytime.
Eric Legrand, Chair Stewardship Committee
Richard Lynch, Co-Chair Stewardship Committee
Tonantzin (Toni) Martínez-Borgfeldt
All Souls has been my spiritual home for almost 15 year. During this time, I have participated as a Sunday School teacher and music leader, and I was part of the Family and Youth ministry while my children were young. I´ve been a Small Group leader, a representative to the Deanery and delegate to Diocesan Convention. I was in Vestry from 2012-2015, serving as Junior and Senior Warden. During this time, I also attended the College for Congregational Development. I currently chair the Evangelism team, and I help lead Children´s Choir. For 15 years, I have witnessed the growth of this congregation, not just in numbers, but in its vision and understanding of how to embody Christ´s love in the very challenging 21st Century Bay Area.
I´m originally from Mexico City, where I grew up and lived until my early 30s. I was raised in the Episcopal Church of Mexico. My parents and grandparents were very involved in the life of the church since their youth, so my sister and I followed suit.
I married a Bay Area native, and in 2004 we moved to Albany, his hometown, where we have raised daughters, ages 14 and 18. In my professional life, I teach Spanish at Albany Middle School.
I appreciate the opportunity to be nominated for Vestry again, and I look forward to continue being part of the adventure of growth and renewal that is this Parish.
Irina Wolf Carrière
I relocated to the Bay Area from France 12 years ago with my husband, Antoine, and our then toddler, Maxime. We joined All Souls Parish not long after arriving, and have since added Nicolas and Colette to the family.
I was raised in the Episcopal Church on the East Coast, attended Catholic and Jesuit schools most of my life, and was attracted to All Souls for the balance of traditional and “Berkeley” the community offers. Antoine and I also knew ASP would be a place where we could grow as a family: it is acceptable for children to make noise in the pews during the service, and we knew we would be making lots of noise.
I am an organizational development professional, currently growing and coaching leaders at Kaiser Permanente. I hold a B.S. in French and Italian from Georgetown University, an MBA from UCLAAnderson, and a professional coach certification from the International Coach Federation.
In addition to my professional and family pursuits, I love running and am passionate about interior design.
Many years ago, when I reluctantly accepted yet another family meal from the church, Kristin Krantz encouraged me to accept the meal offering without shame, saying that she was confident that I would find the right time to give back to ASP in the right capacity. I see the opportunity to serve on the Vestry in 2020 as that opportunity.
My family and I have been active members of All Souls for nearly five years since relocating to the Bay Area from Atlanta. You can find my husband, Nate Conable, singing in the choir. My son James is a member of the youth group and an acolyte. My daughter Lily is at college now, but she returns to All Souls to hold babies and serve at the altar. As for me, I take some credit for getting at least a subset of our family to this place on Sunday mornings. And Nate and I are team captains with Open Door Dinner’s wonderful Team Two.
This recitation of our family’s involvement seems paltry considering how much we have received from All Souls during these years. Warm welcomes, banana bread delivery, Bishop’s Ranch retreats, prayers for our joys and losses, stewardship celebrations, youth groups, campouts, service opportunities, and weekly uplifting worship have brought us in to the All Souls’ fold and held us near. It would be my honor to serve the people and place of All Souls as a member of the Vestry.
I am an Army brat, a cradle Episcopalian, and a crossword puzzler. I’m a swim mom, but not a swimmer. I regularly cry in church. I work for an innovative nonprofit called Purpose Built Communities whose mission is to end intergenerational urban poverty by helping local leaders transform struggling neighborhoods.
I have been attending All Souls for just over 3 years. In that time, I have found it a joyous immersive learning experience, challenging my preconceptions of what it means to experience and embody the body of Christ. Having been raised Catholic and being involved in a local Catholic parish in Berkeley for many years, I was surprised at how revelatory an experience it has been to be a part of All Souls. I have found deep connection and community here, initially through Sunday worship, then through my family’s participation in Soup and Story, and then by participating in and now hosting (with my wife, Deirdre) an Emmaus Group.
Early on in my time at All Souls, one feature that stood out to me was how the staff and community recognized what newcomers had to offer. While Deirdre found a place in the choir, and my 2 teenage sons in the Youth Program, I was delighted to be asked to use my theatre and storytelling background in various ways at the Parish Retreat, the Advent Festival, and the Easter Vigil. I also thought to myself, “Wait until they learn that my skill set goes beyond storytelling and improv and includes reviewing spreadsheets, strategic planning and project management, and building an collaborative and inclusive community….” (Currently, I apply these skills at my job at The Lawrence Hall of Science, the University’s public science center, where I’ve worked for 29 years. They have also served me well as I have served on various nonprofit boards and committees of local and national storytelling organizations over the past 25 years.)
If elected to the Vestry, I would be honored to share my time and experience to help this parish continue to be such a welcoming community.
Annual Meeting – Save the Date, January 26th!
Please come together for our Annual Meeting: a time to hear about the new building for affordable housing and All Souls use, the budget for 2020, to listen to stories from this past year and many years past, and elect our new leadership. Please bring food to share! Childcare will be available on the courtyard; Sunday School does not meet this day.
Calling All Wreath Forms!
As you put away your Christmas things, please bring back your Advent wreath forms! You can drop them in a basket in the narthex. We reuse them year after year, and if you bring them back, then we don’t have to buy more in advance of next year’s Advent Festival. Thank you!!
If you are interested in joining a small group here at church, Emmaus Groups might be just the thing. Emmaus Groups are spiritual journeying groups that meet every-other-week for 16 week “semesters”. These groups started this past fall when we had one group of married couples and two groups of women meeting. This winter the married couples group is continuing but is full (we could start another if enough couples wanted to meet!), then there is a men’s group that will pick back up (they met as a pilot group for the first time last spring), and finally the women’s groups that have been meeting have some folks staying and some leaving, which leaves a lot of space for either new groups (single-gender or mixed-gender) to start or for folks to be added to the existing groups. If any of this sounds interesting, get in touch with Emily Hansen Curran (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will work to get you into a group that makes sense for you. Deadline to join (for this coming semester) is January 19th.
Just Mercy Movie Outing
The Justice & Peace team is hosting a movie outing this coming Monday, January 20th. Where: Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland
When: 4:15 show on Monday (only $6.50 at that time). Let’s meet right in front of the box office at 4 so we can go in together
After: (optional) we can continue the gathering with some casual food at The Star, 3425 Grand Ave., https://www.thestarongrand.com/menu It’s a walkable spot from the theatre (one long block) and you’ll probably want to park on that side of the theatre. Sharable salads & pizza so it would help if you bring cash. Email Don Gates for more information: email@example.com.
Climate Justice Planning Team
Tonight, January 16th at 7 pm, you are invited to join the Climate Justice Planning Team in the Common Room to help plan upcoming programs.
5G Prayer Vigil
On Saturday January 25th at 10 am join the Justice & Peace team as we host a Prayer Vigil on 5G and environmental concerns in our church chapel. 5G will bring a huge increase in radiation, virtually overnight, everywhere—in cities, suburbs, parks, nature preserves, wildlife refuges, oceans, Greenland, and Antarctica. Instead of cell towers every few miles, there will be cell towers—small but powerful—in front of every third to fifth home. Instead of 2,000 satellites orbiting the Earth, there will shortly be 50,000.
There is now an International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space, which calls on the world’s governments. To support this effort, we are offering contemplative prayers that support human life, plant life, animal life and spirituality. The Vigil combines contemplative music and time for reflection to inspire collective faith and hope. You are invited to join us in Prayers, Poems and Blessings from around the world including prayers for healing, prayers for life, and prayers of the Saints.
For further information contact: Kate Kheel, firstname.lastname@example.org or Julie Kramer at email@example.com. Further information can be found below: