May 3, 2012

From the Rector

The Great Thanksgiving

There are more than a few aspects about our common life at All Souls Parish that are, well, particular. That we deliver loaves of bread to the doors of newcomers the afternoon they visit is unusual. That we have been serving jambalaya, an intensive and expensive dish, to anyone who is hungry for 19 years now is not typical. And most visiting Episcopalians who come to All Souls on a Sunday morning do not expect to hear unscripted, often Spirit-filled testimonials of people giving thanks for God’s presence in their lives.

What was a decades-old practice of coming before the congregation around one’s birthday or anniversary has come to a new place. Whereas several years ago this practice happened once a month, it is now almost every week. And rather than simply be the recognition of a new year of life or marriage, people who have come to All Souls to worship the living God are now offering thanks for God’s presence in myriad ways.

For some it is to give thanks for finding work in an uncertain time. For others it has been the celebration of years of sobriety. Sometimes people offer thanks to God for the community of All Souls that has sustained them through sickness, grief or turmoil. When I first arrived at All Souls I was a bit skeptical of this time in the liturgy. With this element in place the flow of the liturgy wasn’t as “tight” or “clean” as I had been accustomed to. And yet, over time, I began to understand the significance of this opportunity to thank God with the community as witness for what had taken place in one’s life. One recent member, who at first blush was also not quite so sure of this liturgical event, has come to see it as a way for witness in this body, as a way for the community to recognize in itself the work of God in our common life.

The challenge, of course, is that it isn’t always practiced in this way. Because of this, what I ask of all of us is that if there is something that you would like to announce to the congregation that you let a member of the clergy know ahead of time so that it can be placed in the announcement sheet or offered at the verbal announcement time by the clergy. And if you have a request for prayer that it be offered during the Prayers of the People either by writing it in the “green book” which is available near the font before and during every 10 am service or that you offer your prayer verbally during the Prayers. And that what is offered at the time of the “Thanksgivings of the Community” are just that: an offering of thanks to God.

I continue to believe that this Spirit-filled particularity of All Souls is in fact one of the aspects that truly fits with the liturgical action at that time: the Great Thanksgiving. It is my hope that in the weeks and years to come, we can continue to give thanks for the gifts we receive: our years of new life, the reflection of the Divine in the life of the community and ultimately the Presence at whose Table we gather around.


From the Associate Rector

Spiritual Parenting Gathering on May 20th – Bullying

Join us this month from Noon to 1pm in the Common Room as we take a look at bullying. Director for Youth Ministry Sara Gunter and I will co-lead a session on bullying using a documentary about middle school kids and bullying that will be shown to the Youth Groups as part of a larger unit on this issue. We especially invite parents of youth, but the program will be just as important for parents of younger children as this is not an issue that has age limits. See a preview of the film for more information. 

Each month childcare is provided on the playground; see Ed or Letina to sign your kids in, grab some coffee and join us for some parenting fellowship! The All Souls Spiritual Parenting group includes parents of tots to college age young adults and meets every second Sunday of the month. Newcomers are always welcome!

Yours in God’s peace,

May 5: Sunday School
May 13: Sunday School – Rule of Life for Families after 10 am service – Open Door Dinner
May 20: Sunday School – Spiritual Parenting
May 27: Pentecost! – Sunday School

Register NOW for Mt. Cross Day Camp!!!

Mt. Cross Day Camp is our Vacation Bible School and a great way to add faith and fun to your child’s summer! This year camp will run the week of July 9-13.

Join us to explore how it is that Jesus chooses us! In the Bible, Jesus calls people to follow him one by one, but also forms them into a community of those who know and love Jesus. It’s kind of like the original social network! This summer’s theme explores the dynamic that occurs when the focus switches from our own choices about friendship and community to the choice God made long ago.

The camp is geared toward elementary school aged children, who are ages 6-11, or who will have completed kindergarten prior to enrollment. The cost for the week long program is $125 per child. The camp will be at Shepherd of the Hills Church, 401 Grizzly Peak Blvd., in Berkeley. The day camp program runs from 9 am to 3 pm. Extended Care until 5:30 is available at no extra cost. Scholarships are available upon request.

To request a packet or for more information, please contact The Rev. Kristin Krantz, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 510-848-1755.

Performing and Visual Arts Group

Knitting Together and Supporting Existing Artistic Endeavors at All Souls

I am pleased to tell you about a new group at All Souls Parish – the Performing and Visual Arts Group (PVA). I say “new” but really it is an umbrella group that serves to knit together and support existing artistic endeavors already in place at All Souls. By working together, we can integrate our efforts towards creating new avenues of experience in worship and parish events. Four subgroups comprise the PVA: Liturgical Drama, Parish Events, Theater of the Sacred Soul, and Visual Arts. Although we have a core group of people in the PVA group, there will be many ways for all members to engage throughout the year – whether in creating, performing, directing, or simply experiencing. Look for articles in the Pathfinder for future activities of the PVA, or stop by our table at the upcoming Ministry Fair in the Parish Hall on Sunday, May 27th to learn how you can be a part of the possibilities.

– Michelle Barger

For this introductory Pathfinder article, we asked Rhian Roberts to reflect on her experience in the Passion enactment on Palm Sunday:

Reflection on Palm Sunday
It was an honor to participate in the Passion play. Liturgical Drama is a beautiful ministry of the people, and I was genuinely touched by the invitation to partake in the process of creating a holy space for our fellow parishioners. It really excites and energizes me to see congregants using their gifts for the spiritual benefit of others. We, of course, received much grace as well. The cast and I had a tremendous time bonding with each other, and such camaraderie probably provided a huge incentive for our investing so much energy into this project. Hallie Frazer poured a great amount of work into scripting, staging and directing Mark’s account of Jesus’ final days before assuming a glorified body. But within the framework that was set, each of us had the opportunity to get in touch with our characters. What might they be thinking? How might they say this line? What gestures might accompany the words? The slightest execution was an interpretation of the text. We realized that there were numerous approaches and angles, but each of us had to make a faithful choice as to how we would assume our roles. This certainly led me into deeper reflection. Personally, I felt an initial awkward weight due to my desire to fulfill people’s expectations. But as the cast helped me ease into my part, I began to see how we all worked together and functioned much like an icon. We were not pretending to be an exact reenactment. We offered one image that could be a portal through which one looks through and beyond towards the mystery of God. It is my sincerest prayer that everyone had some encounter with the Holy Spirit. It was our pleasure to celebrate Palm Sunday with you all.   

– Rhian Roberts

From the Parish Archivist

The day of the 1923 fire

If you have not looked at the photographs of the old church posted on the Archive bulletin board in the Parish Hall, please do so. They show All Souls’ Chapel from 1905 though 1926, after which the church and Parish Hall changed little until 1955. These pictures will be replaced shortly with photographs of the great 1923 North Berkeley fire, which consumed some sixty blocks of houses in rapid succession, some blocks being consumed in the matter of minutes. The posting will also have a map of the extent of the fire.

First a little background. In 1904, the population of Berkeley was nearly 15,000, but two years later after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake it had grown threefold to 45,000, and continued to grow, especially on the north side of the University campus, to 56,000 by 1920. On Monday, September 17, 1923, a small grass fire started in Wildcat Canyon, three miles from the then city limits. Aided by a combination of low humidity and high temperatures, the grass fire was pushed by high winds over the ridge line onto homes in Berkeley. While some 600 buildings were destroyed, as far as I have been able to tell, no lives were lost, compare that to the 1991 Berkeley–Oakland fire storm which left 25 dead, destroying 63 homes in Berkeley and 3,400 in Oakland.

The day of the 1923 fire was the day that the “Monday Club”, a gathering of the Episcopal clergy of Berkeley, was meeting at All Souls. The meeting was interrupted by an announcement that the houses on the other three corners of Cedar and Spruce were on fire. Members of All Souls’ Servers Guild kept the roof damp with wet blankets and gunny sacks dampened with what little water could be obtained. The chapel filled with smoke, the altar silver and brass were removed, and Miss Kathleen Luke, a member of the choir and later parish organist, and her mother rescued as much of the choir library as they could carry. Everyone expected All Souls to burn, but when evening came the chapel and guild hall were still standing. In the lobby, messages were posted to tell parishioners where families and friends had taken refuge. A photograph of the postings will be in the new display. By the light of a single candle in a bottle, a parishioner, Miss Josephine Stewart, cheered the refugees and helped commuters returning from San Francisco find their families and temporary accommodations, never once letting on that she had lost her own house to the fire, along with 70 other parishioners.

I think my favorite story of the 1923 fire was told by the Rev. William Clancey, rector from All Souls’ Day in 1972 to February 16, 1988. A parishioner, who lost her house to the blaze, took her children, caught the ferry to San Francisco and went to her husband’s office. Walking into his office, she was greeted by him with the words: “Madam, I have told you never to come to the City without your hat and gloves.”

–Thomas Burcham, Archivist

A Special Invitation to All Souls Bicyclists!

Pre-Bike to Work Day Commuter Bike Check-Up

Got a commuter bike that needs to emerge from the garage after a winter of neglect? Come by the Teilhard Guest House Bike Check-Up on Saturday May 5th from 10am-2pm in the All Souls parking lot. We are getting ready for Bike-to-Work day (May 10th) and want to share our bike skills with you. Jesse Tichenor is an all around handy dude, and Jonathan Potter is a professional bike mechanic with many years of experience. So drop by for a quick check up and get that metal steed pedaling playfully once again.

Sojourn Chaplaincy Honors Betsy Dixon


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