March 6, 2014
From the Associate Rector
The Task of Lent
This week I returned from my sabbatical and my re-entry coincided with the entry into Lent. During Lent we look at our lives to see if we are going in the right direction, and if we’re not, we are called to repent – to turn around. This introspection, this slowing down and paying attention, then, is in many ways a continuation of what I did while on sabbatical. My time away was a gift. I was able for a couple of weeks to drop as much as I could while still being wrapped up in the daily pattern of getting my boys to school and doing laundry, etc. I was able to shift my focus and be more present with my family, with myself, and in different ways with God. And I was able to take the time to delve deeply into a topic of study and develop a course for parents (and others) called The Hard Questions: Parenting with Doubt, Faith, and Wondering – which will be offered starting March 16 when the new set of Sunday morning adult formation courses begin.
One way that I grounded myself during my time away was to choose a prayer to focus on each week. Many of you read these, as I posted them to my Facebook wall, and I’m more than happy to share them with you via email if you’re interested. But as I re-entered the All Souls community this week, and as we entered Lent together, it put me in mind of continuing this practice in some way. And so it is that I chose this as a meditation for the start of my Lenten journey:
“After being baptized by John in the River Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question of what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask, one way or another, what it means to be themselves.”
Frederick Buechner – Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary
I encourage everyone this Lent to find ways to slow down and pay attention to where you’re headed. To repent. To take up the task of identity – what it means to be you – and what it means to be us together.
To this end I offer two ways to engage these tasks: pray in whole, or in the parts that hit you in a gut space, the Litany of Penance found in the Ash Wednesday service (Book of Common Prayer pg. 267-269) downloadable here AND/OR pray in whole, or in the parts that hit you in a gut space, the Baptismal Covenant (Book of Common Prayer pg. 304-305) downloadable also from the previous link.
These seem to me to be powerful lenses through which to encounter Jesus the Christ as we make our Lenten journey to come close once again to the Mystery of Easter.
Yours in God’s peace, Kristin+
Day by Day: A Lenten Journey through Godspell
Have you heard of Christ the Harlequin?
What does it mean for us to experience Lent with Jesus in a tie-dyed shirt, throwing flowers and ribbons, frolicking around beautiful cities, and inviting us to participate in his joyous community?
For the next five weeks, the Wednesday Lenten Series invites us to participate in the theater of mischief and laughter as we relive the good old memories of Godspell through songs and video presentations. From the Oscar-winning Day by Day to On the Willows, the Lenten Series will be packed with nostalgia as we reminisce the iconic musical that caught our hearts and our imaginations.
But, like any circus in a show, the Lenten Series will also engage with the satirical hints masterfully juggled by John-Michael Tebelak and Stephen Schwartz in their songs and lines. By comparing biblical texts and two renditions of the musical – one from 1973 and the other from 2009 – we will practice contextual, reader-response hermeneutics that values responsible reading of the implied reader. Along the way, we will also delve into the ambiguity, irony, and the subversive struggles that come along with trying to “live out” the Word of God in our time.
For the first week, we will prepare the way of the Lenten Series with Matthew 3:1-3. We will call upon the clowns and minstrels of Stephen Schwartz as we listen to the voice that is crying out from the wilderness of New York City.
By the second week, if you are not offended yet or you feel like lightning is not going to strike you, we will take down Jesus from the cross one more time and reflect upon what it means to be in the community of Christ in our unforgiving world. If you are slapped on you right cheek day by day, will you still turn the other cheek?
We turn to cynicism on the third week. The Beatitudes are usually interpreted as consoling, eschatological, and even hopeful. We will reflect upon the difficulty of living out the messages of the Beatitudes especially in the face of blatant and material contradictions happening within our context. Moreover, we will expound upon the power of (subversive) humor as a response to the contradictions that we face as people of faith.
For the fourth week, we will re-visit the famous Prodigal Son with some hip-hop flavor and pizzazz! Nuf said!
For the final week, we will center ourselves in preparation for the coming Holy Week with solemn reflection of the concept of “Beautiful City.” Using a Korean-American poem that rose from the ashes of the LA Riots of 1993 entitled, Sa-I-Gu, we will ponder upon what it means for us to build a beautiful city of God.
This Lenten series promises to be unlike any other! Come for a simple soup supper at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays beginning March 12 and continuing weekly through April 9, stay for the program from 7:30 to 8:30.
–Dong Hyeon Jeong
Catechumenate Class Beginning March 16
Meet your Co-Facilitators
Starting March 16, Sean Albrecht and Betsy Dixon will be co-facilitating the adult catechumenate class at All Souls. What is a “catechumenate”? Since the early days of the Church, those preparing for Baptism (and Confirmation) have been called “catechumens.” This term derives from a Greek word katekhoumenos meaning “one being instructed,” or “learner.” Catechumenate refers both to a group of catechumens who prepare together and to the period of preparation.
Just as we worship in community at All Souls, we discern and form spiritually in community. In our catechumenate class, we support, encourage, challenge and guide one another. The class is designed for adults who are interested in Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, or Renewal of Baptismal vows, but is also open to any parishioner looking for a spiritual experience during Lent. For a first-person account of the catechumen experience, see last week’s Pathfinder article by Arianne Wolfe
When a friend invited me to attend the catechumenate classes offered by Betsy Dixon and Blair Rorabaugh in the spring of 2012, I was living through a very difficult time. Following several personal catastrophes, I found myself trying, with great effort (and minimal success), to resuscitate the faith that had once been at the core of my identity. I accepted the invitation almost on a whim, but it was the first decision I’d made for some time that felt right. And, right it was – the catechumenate at All Souls asked me the questions, and gave me the space, to re-examine my beliefs, my relationship to God and to my community, and also to myself. When I was confirmed into the Episcopal Church on April 21, 2012, it marked a final embrace of Christianity as my own. In this, my first time helping Betsy lead the catechumenate, I hope to facilitate a space where we can share our insights and experiences in our spiritual journeys, ask questions, learn from each other, and prepare one another for the next steps along the way – whatever those might be.
I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church in 1979, when I was a young adult living in Salt Lake City. I don’t remember many details about my experience as a catechumen, but I know something stuck; the Church has been my spiritual home for 35 years. I first came to All Souls Parish in 1996 and, in 2010 and 2012, co-led the catechumenate class with Blair Rorabaugh. I’m very grateful to Fr. Phil for asking me to co-lead the class with Sean Albrecht this year. For me, the catechumenate is one way I can fulfill my baptismal promise to support others in their life in Christ, and to have others encourage and guide me as I prepare to renew my own faith during Lent and Eastertide.
A Note from the Finance Group
Recapping the Annual Meeting
It seems appropriate to offer a follow-up to our Annual Meeting discussion of the 2014 All Souls budget at the since that meeting does call for a lot of information to be conveyed in a limited amount of time and not everyone could attend.
Every budget for All Souls is a statement of where we currently are and who we aspire to be. The 2014 ASEP budget leans heavily in the aspirational direction. It reflects the growth that has been seen in our parish, and the changes that we are in the midst of implementing, and the future growth that is our (not yet realized) vision.
The “bottom line” is a budget with a significant shortfall in terms of revenue and expense balance. Our budget shows two alternative deficit estimates: $83,025 if we assume no shrinkage of the pledge amounts that have been committed, and $97,168 if we assume a 3% attrition rate in our 2014 pledges. The actual amount will likely fall somewhere in between. In either case, it is a number that is large in the context of our total budget of just over $700K.
The primary drivers of the revenue gap are:
1. We have added staff resources to meet the demands of current and future parish growth—first in the addition of the half-time Parish Life position which Sara Gunter has assumed along with her Youth ministry duties; and secondly with the funding of the Associate Rector as a full-time position, expanding the scope of what can be done at All Souls with two full-time clergy.
2. We have completed the multi-year process of implementing the recommendations of the Vestry-approved Compensation Task Force to insure that our overall staff compensation was consistent with current norms for the responsibilities and parish size that we represent.
3. On the revenue side, we had a flat year in terms of total pledge commitments. There are multiple reasons for this and probably some that have not yet become clear, but after a sizable increase in pledges from 2012 to 2013, we saw the 2014 pledge total come in essentially the same as our 2013 figure.
The decision from the Vestry is that the budget commitments necessary to live into our vision for All Souls in 2014 should move forward. We do so with two primary revenue sources available to bridge the gap between income and expenses: our General Reserve Fund and the investment earnings from the “Jordan Fund”, the legacy gift received in 2011 from the estate of Ann Jordan. The Reserve Fund presently amounts to just over $83K, representing savings from prior budget years. The Jordan Fund earnings currently are in excess of $100K, over the inflation-adjusted base amount of the gift. The original gift plus an inflation factor are reserved for a special, long term use, such as capital project, in the future. So, we have sources to draw upon to manage the transition year of 2014. Of course we don’t want to draw upon either source any more than we have to. We don’t want to deplete our reserves in one year and we don’t plan to. We want to see the deficit trending downward as we progress through the year.
At the Annual Meeting, I did note that on the revenue side we receive 75% of our income from pledges, so we want to be focused and intentional about cultivating those other revenue sources that make up the other 25% of our income budget, primarily facilities use and non-pledge giving. These are areas for ongoing collaborative work between Vestry, Finance Committee, and the Stewardship Team.
Overall, our budget for the year represents a more challenging situation than most years. But that can be said of so many aspects of our parish life in this time of growth and transition and discernment of God’s will for our community of faith. Wherever we are led in the coming year and in years to come, we take this walk of faith together.
Finance Committee Chair
All at All Souls are encouraged to participate in the Lenten Challenge. The Lenten Challenge invites participants to pray twenty minutes a day, worship one hour a week (this does include Sunday morning services) and take part in a service project four hours each month. The Lenten Challenge reflection for today offers an auspicious start to this discipline:
Prayer is a Relationship
“Prayer is about relationship. It’s a response to an invitation to be in relationship with God. There is no right way to pray. If you find your mind/heart wandering, take a deep breath and find a focal point. This could be a candle, a cross, an icon. Use your breathing to still you. Breathe in. Breathe out. Don’t fight your thoughts. Let your breathing keep you focused.”
Another way to take part in the Lenten Challenge is to use the resources Episcopal Relief and Development has put together:
Healing a Hurting World ~ Supporting Episcopal Relief & Development this Lent
This Lent you are invited to support the mission and programs of Episcopal Relief and Development - the outreach arm of our Church that reaches over 2.5 million people a year in over 40 countries. Each week a different program of Episcopal Relief and Development will be highlighted as a focus for your prayer and giving
Take time each day to pray and to put something in your net bag. Pick up a copy from church of ERD’s Daily Lenten Reflections or sign up to receive them via email. Encourage your children to earn money to donate or decide together how much money to put in the net bag each day. Can they do extra chores? How about they lead family prayers at meals? Be creative!
Bring back your net bag on Easter Sunday and together we can contribute towards the mission of Healing a Hurting World. For more information or to sign up the Daily Lenten Reflections email, visit www.episcopalrelief.org
The 1st Week of Lent (Sunday 3/9 – Saturday 3/15) ~ Alleviating Hunger and Improving Food Supply
Episcopal Relief & Development alleviates hunger, ensuring that people have enough nutritious food that is available and affordable.
• We offer seeds, tools and training to improve crops, add nutritional value and increase total food production.
• We give families and communities healthy animals – chickens, cows, goats and pigs – to provide an ongoing source of nutrition.
• We teach environmentally sound farming practices that sustain the productivity of the land.
Net bags, along with a variety of devotional materials for children, youth, and adults, are available on the counter in the narthex, including Lenten Challenge packets.
Lastly, we are going to have some fun this year by competing for the winner of Lent Madness. You can visit their website to vote daily for the saint you think should “win”. Print and fill out a bracket and bring it with you to church on Sunday. You can leave your bracket in Sara Gunter’s box outside the choir vesting rooms to be hung on wall outside the staff offices. The prize for winner(s) of the “Golden Halo” will be drinks (alcoholic or non) with the All Soul staff at Triple Rock.
Mark Your Calendars!
March 9 – Sunday School
March 16 – Sunday School w/music ~ Continuing the Feast
March 23 – Sunday School ~ Liturgy of Lament & Remembrance
March 30 – Sunday School
April 6 – Sunday School ~ CROP Walk
Liturgy of Lament & Remembrance
Mt. Cross Day Camp – Add Some VBS to Your Summer!
Diocesan Summer Camps
For children and youth, attending a church camp is one of the most important and memorable ways to experience relationship with God through community, fun, and the beauty of creation. The Bishop’s Ranch and St. Dorothy’s Rest offer extensive summer camp programs for children of all ages. Click HERE to find out more and to register!
Save the Date for CROP Walk
Keep your eyes open because registration for this year’s Berkeley CROP Hunger Walk is just around the corner. All Souls will once again be putting together a team to raise funds for Church World Service and local organizations. The walk will be on Sunday, April 6 and will begin at Berkeley’s Newman Hall. Registration at 1:00 pm and the walk will start at 1:30 – ice cream at the finish line! Visit Berkeley Crop Hunger Walk or talk to Christine Trost for more information.
Big Sur Camping Dates
Mark your calendars now the annual parish camping trip to Big Sur! We will gather by the river the weekend of July 18-20. Registration will begin in late May/early June.