From the Rector

Phil Brochard headshot2Deep Gratitude

Recently, all kinds of people have been asking me about how I’m feeling as Christmas is approaching. Not just thoughtful All Soulsians, but today alone, I was queried about being a priest at this time of year by kids on the elementary schoolyard, and by my physical therapist. And the image that has come to mind for me this year is of the 800 meters race, because it’s a race is long enough to be a race of endurance, and yet short enough that you must be able to sprint to compete in it. And right now my sense is that we are at the start of lap number three.

This past Sunday evening, thanks to the generous hospitality of Carol Anne and Don Brown, we had our annual All Souls Staff Advent Dinner. Twenty of us, including salaried staff and assisting priests and our spouses, gathered together to break bread, tell stories, and sing carols.

It was as the meal was winding down, that I looked around the table, that I realized (once again) just how phenomenally fortunate I am to be serving with this group of people. Some of this gratitude stems from the fact that our staff feels complete once more with the addition of our new Administrative Assistant Nettie Pinell (and baby Lucas), who began with us two and a half weeks ago. Nettie’s arrival was quite literally God-sent and has come just in the nick of time as we prepare seven bulletins next week. And it has allowed Emily Hansen Curran (the ultimate team player) to return her focus to her work with newcomers and re-connecting people within the congregation.

And. As I looked around the table and saw these people who give so much of themselves to provide the bones of this body we call All Souls, I felt immense gratitude welling up within me. To be part of a team of people who are willing to sacrifice for one another and for a larger purpose, day in and day out, when it is joyous and when it is heart-breaking, is incredible. To be with a group that is willing to learn and grow, to laugh uproariously and to cry on each other’s shoulders, is exceptional. And to do this with a congregation that so clearly knows what Christian community is about is humbling.

So. What’s it like to work as a Christian priest as we approach one of the great feasts of our year? Not always easy. But given a moment to reflect? Immensely satisfying and gratifying. For I could not be running this race with a more compassionate, thoughtful, dedicated, generous, and faithful group. And for this, as we approach this great Mystery, I could not be more thankful.




advent star

Let all mortal flesh keep silence 
Adapted for Advent by Adam Wood

Let all mortal flesh keep silence
And with fear and trembling stand.
Ponder nothing earthly minded
For with healing in Her hand
Christ our Sister God is coming
Love and service, her command.

Wisdom from on high is dawning.
Even now a golden ray
shines into a world of shadows
from the realms of endless day.
Hidden womb who birthed the heavens
In the womb now hides away.

In Her heart the joy of heaven,
In Her hands the poor of earth,
On Her back all human sorrow,
In Her laugh all human mirth.
God most human, God most holy,
God incarnate comes to birth.

All creation stands in wonder
As Her glory fills the sky
Down in adoration falling
We Her children raise the cry:
She who is and was and evermore shall be
Alleluia! God most high!


Introducing Nettie Pinell

nettieMy name is Nettie and I’m excited to be serving as the Administrative Assistant at All Souls. I’m a native of Wisconsin (go Packers!) but I’ve been in the Bay Area since 2007. For the past ten years I have been working closely with youth and families who have migrated from Central America and have ended up in the detention system. I’m so pleased to be involved with a parish that has a similar heart for the immigrant community! In my spare time I like to hike in the hills, read, experiment with new recipes, or catch a movie at the Grand Lake Theater with my family.

My husband Daniel is a seminarian at CDSP and we are truly an ecumenical family, attending Catholic, Episcopal, and Presbyterian services regularly. We live in Oakland with our foster daughter Cristina (19) and our son Lucas (5 months). He currently accompanies me to the church office in the mornings so please come by and say hello; we’d love to meet you!

You can email Nettie at

From the Justice and Peace Team

Celebrating Graduation with Options Recovery Services


Hosting these receptions has been an All Souls tradition for years.

Last Friday, All Souls again hosted the reception for the graduation at Options Recovery Services in Berkeley. It was another memorable day for the program, as 12 graduates were honored for completing the challenging yearlong program in recovery from addiction. This was also a banner year for Options Recovery Services, as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Options provides treatment and support to people suffering from alcohol and drug dependency. Offering a person-centered, holistic model of care, it serves more than 800 clients each year and has been a catalyst for changing California’s approach to working with drug offenders.

Beginning as a diversion treatment program for the Berkeley Court, Options has expanded its collaboration with the criminal justice system—courts, district attorneys, police, jails, prisons, and probation departments—to promote an alternative approach to address the root causes of crime, homelessness, and broken families. A model program, it provides a range of services—from intensive outpatient substance abuse disorder treatment to mental health services, from assistance with government benefits to clean, sober, and tobacco-free housing.

Again this year, All Souls Parish hosted the reception following one of the four graduations held each year at the Veterans Memorial Building in Berkeley. The celebration was led by Executive Director Tom Gorham and concluded with the Serenity Prayer, led by founder and Medical Director Dr. Davida Coady. The graduates gave moving talks about their experience with the program and how it has changed their lives. The hall was charged with joy of the graduates, and the enthusiasm and encouragement of staff and volunteers, classmates, families, and friends.

Sharon Roberts again led the reception effort, from planning and shopping for 200 people to organizing the workflow, from setting up the room to serving the meal, to the extensive cleanup. And again this year, Mardie Becker organized a great team of cookie bakers.

Reflecting on Fr. Phil’s Advent sermon, Sharon commented: “What is it about the time we live in that drives so many to seek relief in the sleep of drugs? Now, more than ever, in this singular time, bringing an All Souls presence to hear the joy of redemption and to offer a meal of celebratory support to those who choose the arduous road back to full humanity seems more than ever a necessary reaching out, both for Options and for us.”

– Cynthia Clifford and Andy Willis


We have the privilege of bringing gifts each Sunday to be blessed and shared with those who are in need. On the second Sunday of Advent, we will support the foster youth connected with Braid Mission, through Cards of Hope. These cards let children in foster care know that they are remembered, loved, and cared for. This SundayDecember 17th, please bring:

  • Gift cards (for example, Target, Toys R Us, Amazon)
  • Holiday cards you made at home
  • Or, come make holiday cards for foster youth together during formation hour. All card making supplies provided in the Parish Hall at 10:10 am.


This Advent we are once again keeping our communal practice simple. This week will be our last Wednesday gathering for a soup supper in the Parish Hall at 6:00 pm. At 6:45 pm we will enter a candle-lit church for a Taizé service. Icons will be set up around the space, we will chant, keep silence, hear scripture, and pray. Similar to our 12 noon service on Good Friday, a parishioner will offer a short reflection each week.

Christmas Services

Singing Silent Night at the Nativity Story service on Christmas Eve

This year is a bit of an oddity, in that the 4th Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve. So, take note! On Sunday morning, December 24th, we will have just two services for Advent 4, at 7:30 and 9:00 am. We will then join together in greening the church for Christmas, and come back together in the evening to celebrate! You can read a full description of the different Christmas services here.

Christmas Eve

4 pm: Festive Eucharist with Children’s Nativity Story
8 pm: Carols and Candlelight
10:30 pm: Midnight Mass

Christmas Day

10 am: Festive Eucharist