From the Rector
Re-formationLast night, ten youth, nine parents, and five other adults who guide and mentor youth, crammed into our Youth Room. The occasion? The third and final re-visioning meeting for youth ministry at All Souls Parish. As you can see in the photo, it was crowded. And alive.
As you may know, earlier this summer Jess Powell left All Souls for a full-time position with benefits. Jess had directed our youth ministry for the past three years and we were left wondering what we would do next. What wasn’t at issue was whether we would be walking with our youth; the question before us (the staff, the Vestry, and me), was how?
Even though the current budget cycle doesn’t allow for hiring another person for a half-time position, it was clear to the leadership of this parish that youth ministry is essential to who we are as a body, as our All Souls Vision states, “…our youth come to know Christ through spiritual formation, action in the world, and meaningful participation at the center of our parish life.” Again, the question wasn’t, “if we support youth ministry,” the question was, “how will we do it?”
With the time, energy, and attention of literally dozens of youth and adults, Emily Hansen Curran and I led a process of re-formation for youth ministry at All Souls this summer. In June we considered questions like, “Why do we do youth ministry?”, and, “What hopes do we have for youth at All Souls?” It’s clear that there are many opportunities for youth to gather in the East Bay––school, music, sports, interest groups––so why do we this? What make youth ministry in an Episcopal Church important or distinctive?
Using the responses from that night and other conversations, and guided by an excellent resource, Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark De Vries, we began to distill a vision for what ministry with youth could be in this congregation. Here’s our working vision:
“We want to offer youth a spiritual home––one they can have for all their lives. Our hope is that youth at All Souls have a safe space set aside for them, a place where they can practice a life of faith, and a path to discover the Christian way. We envision a community where youth and adults (who are not their parents) grow together in their understanding of God, the world, the church, and themselves.”
That stated, for the past month or so we started work on what shape should this path would have. Everything was put on the table for consideration: what activities happen, who leads them, when it happens, where it happens, and with whom. Throughout the conversations and iterations, we kept coming back to these central questions, “Who are we (the youth and adults of All Souls? Why are we doing youth ministry? What’s important enough to give our time and attention to? Where is God calling us in all of this?” Soon a calendar emerged. And a volunteer team. And excitement.
Excitement because in all of the conversations, it feels like something is shifting. For the past seven years we have been able to have a half-time paid youth minister. And that has been a good thing. But what it has allowed us to do is forget that this work of guiding youth through the wilds of adulting is not the responsibility of one person, but instead of an entire parish.
That is why the energy in the youth room last night felt so significant. Because it was closer to that vision of how youth live and grow in this place. It is still just a glimpse of what can be. But I am incredibly grateful for that vision and for the first steps on how to get there. More to come.
In Thanksgiving for the life of Fred Lothrop
It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Fred Lothrop died yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, August 8th, 2018. As you may know, Fred was diagnosed with cancer just over a year ago. In the last couple of weeks he began to decline rapidly, and died at home with Judith and other members of the family. His memorial service will be at All Souls, likely in early September. Please keep Judith and the family in your prayers.
Judith’s words about Fred are just right, “A gracious man, a generous man, someone who (just like he did today) made sure everyone was taken care of and then simply disappeared.” May Fred rest in peace and rise in glory.
Sunday School Perspective
Not What I Signed Up For
I didn’t really want to teach Sunday School. I just wanted my daughter to go to Sunday School, but she was nervous. So I said, “what if I teach your class?” I knew All Souls was looking for a Fourth/Fifth grade teacher. So a few weeks later, there I was in the crow’s nest, with a bunch of bibles, a lot of markers and construction paper, and a group of squirrely fourth and fifth graders.
It took some time to feel comfortable teaching this age group (I teach adults). But over the next four years I discovered the joy of being with children exploring their ideas about God, the world, and God in the world. Their questions are unexpected, their answers are even more unexpected, and their spirits are wild. I learned a lot about my own faith. I learned a ton about scripture, and teaching them to use the BCP I got better at using it too. Praying with them each week deepened my own prayer life.
And then there were the pillow fights. And making s’mores in the courtyard. There were arguments and messes, there was running and loudness and giggling. There was a trip to an immigration vigil, and creating a quilt to welcome an immigrant family. There was the infamous Easter Vigil at which something got hurled like a frisbee into the fire. But most of all, there were the questions about “why?” that we got to explore together.
When I first started off teaching Sunday School I said “I’m not really a Sunday School teacher.” I was only doing it to get my kid to Sunday School. But over time it has become a core part of my practice and a great joy. You might find that too. Send me a note to talk more about it: email@example.com.
Parish Retreat Update
Parish Retreat, 2018: Pilgrimage
Friends, it’s that most wonderful time of year––Parish Retreat time! On September 14-16th we’ll head up to the Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg (see photo attached if you have never been or can’t quite remember the magic that is the Ranch) to re-create together as a parish.
This year’s theme is Pilgrimage, lead by The Revs. Michael Lemaire and Liz Tichenor. Our youth programing will be lead by Emily and Megan Hansen Curran, and The Rev. Phil Brochard and Nikky Wood will lead our children’s program. It is going to be a retreat you won’t want to miss.
Two things I want to highlight. First, for those who are new to this parish, or who have not yet been on one of our parish retreats, consider this is your official invitation. This is a great space to both meet new people and to be refreshed and renewed. The retreat is a combination of free time together and structured teaching time. Oh, and Bishop’s Ranch is magical––right, I already said that.
And so, with that, registration is officially open! Spots fill up quickly, so sign-up early. Click here to register. You can find costs and further details on the registration form above. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have, firstname.lastname@example.org.
With great excitement,
Come join our pick-up Summer Choir on Sunday August 19th! The music will be manageable enough to prep entirely on Sunday morning, creating an opportunity for those looking for a slightly different way into our choral family. Come at 8:30 sharp to sing at the 9:00 service, 10:45 sharp for the 11:15 service, or both!
Family Play Date
The next Family Play Date will be held at the home of the LeGrand family in Albany on Saturday, August 11 from 5-7pm. Register for the potluck here.
Summer Sunday School
Wondering through the Parables
I wonder what is a seed bomb? I wonder what would happen if I tossed this seed bomb into this bare patch of dirt? I wonder what would happen to All Souls campus if we planted native wildflowers here? I wonder what would happen if we planted seeds around the whole block?
I wonder what makes bread so puffy and full of air? I wonder why the dough grows so big? I wonder who makes the bread for communion? I wonder what that bread really is? I wonder what would happen if we really feasted on that bread?
I wonder how you build a table? I wonder how you build a chair? I wonder how you build a whole house? I wonder what would cause me to trade in all of these things I’ve worked hard to create?
I wonder what hare-brained scheme they’ve cooked up for me this Sunday??
If you are a child somewhere between preschool and 5th grade, and you wonder things likes this, summer Sunday school is for you! (And, if you are a teenager or adult who would like to join in making this happen, please talk to Lenore, email@example.com!) We will be wondering about parables and more, in all sorts of creative and hands-on ways this summer. Join us at 10:10 in the Common Room!
From Palace to Public Square: The Way of Love
Learn more about what Jesus meant by love and how God is using Royal Wedding preacher Michael Curry to spread that love around the world.
Nearly 2 billion people perked up to hear the riveting words of Bishop Michael Curry at the 2018 Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. What hit a nerve was an inspiring and encompassing meditation on love. And what’s propelled Bishop Curry into the international spotlight is paving the way for even greater Gospel work done in the name of love.
In this class, Bishop Curry offers us four video presentations entitled:
* The Royal Wedding
* The Way of Love
* International Exposure
* The Jesus Movement
This class is ideal for those looking to deepen their understanding of love and to ponder new ways of sharing and living into God’s love.