June 7, 2012
From the Rector
A Life-long Conversation
For the last two weeks I have been exploring the central vows or promises of the Benedictine life, that of stability, obedience and conversion of life. As part of a retreat with Bishop Rickel of Olympia entitled, “Leadership as Pastoral Act,” we looked at the balance inherent in stability and the listening act at the heart of obedience. This week I would like to explore the third aspect of the Benedictine regula, or rule, that of conversion of life.
Interestingly, the wording of this part of the rule actually has shifted some in the last century. Apparently in the 8th century, a monk who was transcribing Benedict’s Rule mistakenly wrote this aspect of monastic life as conversio morum. As one scholar from Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland has noted, “Broadly it meant ‘to live the monastic way of life with fidelity.’” But what scholars discovered in 1912 (over 1,000 years after the scribal error) was that the phrase that Benedict used was actually, conversatio morum. So, you might wonder, what difference does this make?
Conversatio has as its root the meaning “to change” or “to be converted.” It is for this reason that a recent Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Frank Griswold, offered that if we are going to engage in true conversation with someone we must prepare to be converted by them in as much as we might convert them. In this way, the third promise of the Benedictine life is that we will live a life of ongoing conversion, involving a change one’s morum, or manners. To live this vow is to engage in daily conversion, a life-long conversation with God.
This is why practice is so critical to Christian life. As any person in a 12-step process can tell you, conversion to another way of living is not a one-and-done event. In order to change a part of your life you have to engage in a practice today that over time will allow you to do something that at the present you cannot do. Those who run marathons – or like Margaret Simon, Ed Hahn and Don Brown, ride hundreds of miles on a bicycle to raise money and awareness to end AIDS – know that you have to train, to practice in order to change a way of being.
A life in Christ is no different. Our word “discipline” comes from the same root word as disciple, or follower. This commitment for Benedictines, and I would argue for all Christians, is that as we grow in likeness to Jesus, in thought, word and deed, we have to realize that this is ongoing. Simply staying with it is an essential part of practice. My hope is that as we engage in our visioning process as a community for the next several months and live into that vision for the years to come, we will stay true to this aspect of Benedict’s Rule of Life, remaining in committed, ongoing conversation with one another and thereby with God, living together in this life of conversion.
From the Associate Rector
Significant Sunday School News – Check Out What’s Happening!
Summer is nearly here, but Sunday School will NOT be slowing down this year!
• The last day of regular Sunday School will be June 17th. Certificates will be passed out to all children present, and our team of amazing Sunday School teachers and volunteers will be recognized during the 10am service.
• Summer Sunday School will begin on June 24. During the summer we combine into one class and rotate between music, art projects and Godly Play stories each Sunday. We’ll kick off the fun with music with Toni!
The biggest news of all, though, is that over the summer we will be working hard to prepare for a big transition in our Sunday School Program. When we kick off Sunday School on Rally Sunday next Fall we will be adding a FOURTH Sunday School class!!! Our classes will be then be divided into a Preschool Godly Play Room, a Kindergarten-1st Grade Godly Play Room, a 2nd-3rd Grade Godly Play Room, and a 4th-5th grade class using a curriculum for older children.
This is a HUGE undertaking – but one we are excited to do because, frankly, our Sunday School is bursting at the seams. The Children & Youth Committee and I are forming several teams to coordinate this transition, and if you are interested in helping please contact me.
In the meantime, be on the lookout for ways to learn more about our core curriculum, Godly Play. We will have story sets and information about Godly Play in Parish Hall during coffee hour throughout the summer so stop by to play for a bit. And since the best way to learn about Godly Play is to experience it, we will have three Sundays throughout the summer where everyone in the parish is invited to join the circle and participate in the holy learning. Mark your calendars now for July 1st for the Story of The Great Family, for July 22 for the Parable of the Sower, and for August 12th for the Story of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
And perhaps most importantly, in late summer be ready to pick some apples from our fundraising tree to help us buy all the wonderful story sets and materials we will need for our classrooms! More information about this will be coming next month.
Yours in God’s peace,
June 10 – Sunday School ~ Graduate Recognition ~ Open Door Dinner
June 17 – Last Day of Regular Sunday School—certificates passed out in class!
June 24 – Summer Sunday School Begins! ~ Big Sur Camping Weekend
July 1 – Summer Sunday School ~ Parish-wide Godly Play Story Sunday after 10am service
July 9-13 – Mt. Cross Day Camp Week
Thought for the Month
A Prayer for Ordinary Time
May the spirit of life move within you,
May you bend as the grass bends, change
as the grass changes,
Keeping life within you, feeding
those who seek nourishment,
Being reborn when the rain falls again.
As the green grass waves and turns to gold.
Resource for the Month
Last month our Spiritual Parenting group began a discussion on the topic of bullying. There are so many dimensions to this topic that is a pervasive part of so many of our children’s lives. If you were unable to join us in May please notes that is an issue we will pick up again in the Fall. In the meantime I highly recommend the book The Bully, The Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to high School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence by Barbara Coloroso.
Register NOW for Mt. Cross Day Camp!!!
MT. CROSS DAY CAMP AFTERCARE PROGRAM IN THE NEWS!
Check out the link to the latest edition of The Lutheran, the magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to read about one of the awesome projects we do as a part of our VBS every year – Bible Times Cooking!
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.
Parents in the Park (or the Parish Hall!) Every MONDAY
All Are Invited to Begin the All Souls Vision Process
Why a vision process? Why now?
When All Souls called Fr. Phil in 2008, we recognized that we were largely living the vision that was articulated by the vestry in 2002. It had become who we are, rather than who and what we are called to be. We wanted our new Rector to help us listen and to lead us in the definition of a new statement of aspiration, articulating our current understanding of God’s call. Fr. Phil has spent 3 years getting to know us well, leading us in ever more vital ministry and worship, and he and the vestry have determined that it is now time to articulate that new vision.
What role will our vision statement play in guiding the future of All Souls?
The vision that the parish will be developing this year will be an aspirational statement – what we are called to over the next 5-10 years. The vision will have a clear connection to our history and to who we are today – a growing parish, with new and different needs and an expanding capacity to serve those beyond our congregation. The vision will be developed through an inclusive process, engaging any and all members of the parish who wish to be part of this prayerful effort of listening for God’s call. Once the vision is articulated and approved by the vestry, the vestry will develop and adopt a set of goals and actions designed specifically to move us in the direction we are called. At that point, the Vision Steering Committee’s work will conclude and new groups will be formed to guide the work of the parish.
What is the process and how can I get involved?
A Steering Committee has been formed to guide the vision process. This committee is led by co-chairs Missy Longshore and Kim Wong, and includes Dan Acland and Sharon Roberts as vestry representatives along with Marilyn Flood, Mark Koops-Elson, Alan Schut, and Frances Thomas. Fr. Phil and Caroline McCall are ex-officio members. The Steering Committee will be supported by an external consultant, Lynn Wendell, and has been charged with recommending a vision statement to the vestry in November of this year.
There are several opportunities for you to participate in this process:
2. Weekend of September 22nd and 23rd: Review emergent themes. By early September, the Steering Committee will have completed the listening groups, and some themes will have emerged. We will use this weekend in September to review these themes with you and to hear your reactions to them. To be sure we include as many parishioners as possible, we will have forum(s) at Parish Retreat at Bishop’s Ranch and at All Souls after the 10:00 a.m. service on Sunday, September 23rd.
3. All Souls Day, November 3rd Parish In-gathering: Review draft vision statement. At the parish in gathering, parishioners will have the opportunity to review and comment on a draft vision statement. The Steering Committee will hear all comments and consider them before recommending a vision statement to the Vestry in mid-November.
4. First Sunday of Advent: Come celebrate the new vision statement!
What is our current vision statement?
The vision statement below was approved by the Vestry in 2002:
We affirm a Gospel of the universal, unconditional, inclusive love of God in Jesus Christ. This understanding of the Gospel calls us to welcome all who seek Christ into our communion and our community, and to honor them for who they are. It also reminds us to keep reaching out to those who are not yet with us.
We embrace the priesthood of all believers. Our goal of growing the church has led us to encourage lay ministry in worship, in program leadership and service, and in our efforts to pastor each other.
We put children and youth at the center of the life of this church. Strengthening this commitment does not come at the exclusion of others, but recognizes that children and youth, as much as adults, are the Body of Christ today.
We make our liturgy fresh, vital, and inclusive. We support both the faithful use of traditional forms and the inclusion of formal, informal, and new liturgies to celebrate God’s love.
Who should I call for more information?
Also, feel free to approach any Steering Committee member, and he or she will be glad to help you get involved.
Church Beyond Church Walls
Kyakameena — Being Church, Being Present
This is the second article in a series about being “Church” outside church walls. All Souls’ contribution to the “Beloved Community” includes practicing Christianity in neighborhoods outside our parish and in collaborative partnerships with other values-aligned organizations and fellow Episcopal parishes.
The people gathered, and they were healed.
Eight years ago, Emily Lyon followed Fr. Bill Fay into the Kyakameena Skilled Nursing Facility in south Berkeley to witness how music, liturgy, and loving presence transform the lives of residents. The occasion transformed the witness as well, beginning a call that has become a part of Emily’s ministry since that day.
On the third Sunday of each month, at the conclusion of our 10 am service, we send Emily and a team of dedicated All Souls parishioners to Kyakameena with Holy Communion and prayers from our entire congregation. At Kyakameena, between 15 and 20 elderly residents gather to take part in the service offered by this All Souls ministry. Most of the residents are in wheel chairs, some are unable to speak, or appear mentally absent. They are of diverse ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. Yet all have in some way expressed to the staff their eagerness to take part.
Nowhere is this eagerness more apparent than in the light that shines in their faces when Carol Perry and Erin Moore begin playing hymns on the piano and flute, or when Elena Ramirez or Marsha Thomas-Thompson place the service books – turned to the right place – in their hands. Their delight is evident when Emily, assisted by All Souls parishioners Kim Spinale or Jim Moloney, brings communion to each, placing her hand upon their head with a blessing.
During the service, we share readings from our Sunday lectionary. Occasional exclamations of “AMEN” tell us when residents connect with the meaning. After the readings, Emily gives a short homily relating the Gospel passage in a way that uplifts the lives of these residents.
As Emily says, “This is about life! This is what we try to communicate in all our gestures, expressions and words – the loving, enthusiastic and lively presence of God in their midst!”
I experienced this myself one Sunday, when a resident held my hand – her eyes lighting up – and said, “Honey, if there is anything I can do for you, just ask me! I am so glad you came!”
On another occasion, a bed-ridden resident asked for the All Souls volunteers to come to her. Emily and others visited the resident and lay their hands on her as they said a healing prayer. The following month, the resident had recovered sufficiently to join the service, robustly singing hymns! These are typical of the healing that happens and is witnessed by volunteers to this worthwhile ministry.
“The fact that all leadership in Christian community is servant leadership is very important. It has to do with the nature of our community. It has to do with our baptism.” – Rev. Mary Louise Hintz, All Souls Parish Deacon