From the Rector
Christmas in a Strange Land
One of my absolute favorite services of the entire year is the Christmas Eve 8pm “Carols and Candlelight” service. We created this service ten years ago (!) when it was clear that we could not fit any more people safely in the church for the telling of the Nativity story in the late afternoon. From the start we knew that we wanted to hold that service in the near-dark, with candlelight giving most of the light we used, and sing carols throughout the service, including for the service music.
From the first prayer of that first year it was clear that we had found something, well, awesome. And so in the litany of losses that have piled up in this past year, not being able to celebrate the 8pm Christmas Eve service in person together has been added to the pile.
And it sits alongside a question that many have held on their hearts and minds in the last few months: can we really have Christmas this year? This wondering, this lament, is evocative to me of the psalmist’s lament, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137:4) Asked while the Israelites were enduring exile and captivity in Babylon, the psalmist is crying out to God, asking how to praise God when they find themselves at a time of such suffering and loss.
And this moment, December of 2020 feels like a strange land indeed. The virus is raging, isolation feels epidemic, and many are facing job loss or are facing financial uncertainty. And many of us, feeling the stress and pain of this moment, are wondering how to mark and celebrate Christmas when we cannot gather together like we always do, when the world feels so foreign to us.
For us at All Souls, the way forward will be similar to what we have done that first Sunday of Shelter in Place, and Holy Week, and Easter, Pentecost, the Parish Retreat, the Ingathering of Pledges, Advent, and on. We will keep our practices as much as we can, and develop new practices alongside them.
So, for Christmas Eve, we will be livestreaming at 5pm (with the Nativity told through an incredible video) and at 9pm (with carols and sermon) from the darkened chancel at the corner of Cedar and Spruce. And on Christmas Day we will be gathering via Zoom at 10am to spend Christmas morning together. We are encouraging All Soulsians, one and all, to create sacred space in your home as well. Bring out your Advent Wreath, assemble your crèche, dim the lights, kindle your candles. Sign up for Christmas Communion to receive Christ in bread and wine. Create the space to enter into stillness and perhaps even wonder.
I have come to trust over these past nine months that when you and I create the space for God, God has promised to show up. Even when we are not surrounded by hundreds of people whom we love, even when we are not in the building that has comforted us for so long, even when the patterns that we have come to rely on are profoundly disrupted. Bidden or unbidden, God will be there
So. Get ready friends. Create the space in your home, and prepare the space in your heart. Even now, in a strange land, Christmas is coming. Prepare the Way.
From the Deacon
We’ve just been on a long journey. Sacred Ground was 20 weeks of looking at racism in the history and present of this country and it was tough. “It’s been more than eye-opening. More like gut-opening” says Bruce Elgin, a participant in the 20 week program. As a facilitator I had the privilege of witnessing folks exploring histories and ideas many knew nothing or little about. Together we came face to face with the brutal reality of racial oppression in this country and it took our collective breath away.
According to the Sacred Ground page on the Episcopal Church website:
Sacred Ground is a film- and readings-based dialogue series on race, grounded in faith. Small groups are invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of race and racism, while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity.
The 10-part series is built around a powerful online curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories.
Sacred Ground is part of Becoming Beloved Community, The Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice in our personal lives, our ministries, and our society. This series is open to all, and especially designed to help white people talk with other white people. Participants are invited to peel away the layers that have contributed to the challenges and divides of the present day – all while grounded in our call to faith, hope and love.
It was all that and more. One element that seems particularly important to me is the realization that racism is a white problem. “It never occurred to me when people talked about racial justice and racial issues that they meant white people too.” shared Richard Lynch. Through this program it became crystal clear that racism is, in fact, a problem for all white people to grapple with. This was powerful and motivating.
And now what’s next? For one, there will be another session of Sacred Ground, so if you’re just learning about it you will have a chance to participate! Then, our hope is that the People of Color group that participated in this last session of Sacred Ground will be able to engage in a program with a group of Black parishioners at All Souls. Later we will host a facilitated dialogue between people from all the affinity groups to help direct, for all of us, where we go from here. There will be other opportunities for small group discussion, and a Spring Adult Formation class focused on restoration and reparations. At St. Alban’s I’ll be hosting a book group focused on racial justice, and we’re already fighting over what book to read first.
One of my main takeaways is gratitude. Thank you to all who coordinated, all who led groups, and all who participated. Thank you for being willing to be uncomfortable. Thank you for facing painful truths. All Souls had one of the largest Sacred Ground programs in the country, and I think that says a lot. I look forward to action.
Update on Advent Ingatherings
Ingathering for the 4th Sunday of Advent
Usually during Advent we have our Advent Ingathering at the church, at the altar. This year, because of the pandemic, our deacon, Dani Gabriel, worked with the folks living in the camps at 8th and Harrison, 2nd and Jones, and at the Here/There Camp, to develop wish lists. Thanks to all of you who generously delivered gifts to the bin at the front of the church for the first three weeks of Advent. For the fourth week, our tradition is to collect food for the Berkeley Food Bank. We invite you to bring items on the following list this Sunday from 12:30-2 pm to the Spruce Street steps to drop off. You may also mail a check to the church at 2220 Cedar St., Berkeley, CA 94709 (make your check out to All Souls, with Berkeley Food Pantry in the memo line) or make a donation on the All Souls website. Please don’t drop off donations at other times as they might not get to their intended location!
Thank you and have a blessed Christmas!
DONATING FOOD TO THE BERKELEY FOOD PANTRY
Thank you for your support of the Berkeley Food Pantry! We’re so grateful for your contributions, which help us address food insecurity in Berkeley and Albany during the holidays.
We have a few requests that will help us serve our pantry visitors better:
Please donate foods that you and your family would like to eat. We ask that you respect our pantry visitors by NOT donating the following (which we must discard):
- Expired foods
- Opened, unpackaged, loose/bulk, or partially used food items
- ‘Mystery” or oddball food that you haven’t gotten around to eating
Please do NOT donate canned or bagged items greater than 2 pounds. Many of our pantry visitors carry their groceries home on public transportation, bicycle, or by foot.
Please DO donate:
- Boxed or packaged stuffing
- Canned cranberry sauce
- Canned ham
- Canned corn
- Canned green beans
- Canned pumpkin and pre-made packaged piecrust
- Peanut butter
- Low-sugar breakfast cereal
- Canned soups, low-sodium
- Canned beans, low-sodium
- Brown rice
- Healthy snack foods for kids, such as low-sugar nutrition bars and dried fruit
- Gluten-free grains and pasta
- Shelf-stable non-dairy milk, such as soy, almond, oat, etc.
- Cooking oil, including olive oil and sesame oil
- Boxes of teabags
- Ground coffee
- Toiletries, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, bath soap, deodorant, and shampoo
Thank you for your generous support!
Berkeley Food Pantry * 1600 Sacramento Street * Berkeley, CA 94702 * 510-525-2280 * www.berkeleyfoodpantry.org
From the Senior Warden
At our meeting on November 18, your Vestry continued its recent practice of opening with a spiritual reflection grounded in a scriptural passage, led by one of our Vestry Chaplains, and then splitting up into small groups to discuss the passage as well as questions, all as a way of grounding ourselves and focusing our hearts, minds and souls for our work.
This month, Chaplain Priscilla Camp opened with Matthew 25:31-46 (” . . . I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you and visit me. . . .”) Priscilla observed that since Shelter In Place began, most of us have not been moving about in the world as we usually do, making it harder to care for those in need. Given this challenge, she asked how could we carry the message of this passage, individually and collectively? What have we been managing to do? What else might be possible?
The Vestry was struck by the power of prayer and all that can still be done. When a homeless person involved with Project Sandwich recently was asked what we could continue to do to help, they simply replied, “Pray for us.” Prayer, small acts of kindness like providing sandwiches, even a smile behind a mask, still gives us ways of connecting, caring, providing, bringing the message of Jesus Christ into the world.
Our Deacon Dani Gabriel joined us to make recommendations and lead a discussion on the investment of funds remaining from Project Sandwich. The Here/There homeless community continues to have concrete needs for tarps, gas and grocery cards, and waste removal. The Vestry voted to authorize Rev. Dani to spend the remaining funds to meet those needs.
As we do each year, and consistent with Diocesan policy and IRS guidelines, the Vestry voted to renew an allocation of a portion of Rev. Phil Brochard compensation for a housing allowance, and to commence an allocation of a portion of Rev. Maggie Foote’s compensation for the same purpose. This action does not affect their overall compensation package; it is an IRS sanctioned tool available to religious organizations for reducing the taxable portion of their incomes. The Vestry is required to reauthorize the apportionment each year.
During his very full Rector’s Report, the Rev. Phil Broussard reported on progress with Jordan Court. Excavation for the new structure reached the water table; this not unexpected development is being addressed by the construction team. In addition, All Souls has applied for a Welfare Tax Exemption that if granted by the County of Alameda would reduce property taxes owed on the fraction of the building that will be All Souls’ apartments and office space.
Rev. Phil reported that our Sacred Ground groups have continued to meet. This ministry has been an overwhelming success – over 80 parishioners have been actively participating. Be on the lookout for new Sacred Grounds groups forming in the new year.
Our Sunday, socially-distanced 9:00 a.m. service in the courtyard has been well attended and deeply appreciated by attendee parishioners. Unfortunately, we recently learned we will temporarily halt the outdoor 9 o’clock service due to the recent virus surge. We hope to commence again that service as soon as possible after the new year.
Our Advent wreaths and ongoing Advent windows programs have been overwhelmingly successful.
Each evening at 5:40, a new Advent window is revealed by an All Souls parishioner, and the unveiling can be viewed through the website via streaming video. The windows have been beautiful! Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project, which has lightened hearts, brought joy, and grounded many of us in this oh so atypical Advent.
In addition, our Wednesday evenings Taizé services have been held in the courtyard and have been moving and powerful. Thank you to all who have worked hard to make the Taizé services very special.
Upcoming next week: our Christmas Pageant at 5:00 on Christmas Eve, followed by our 9:00 p.m. Candles and Worship Service, all to be streamed via the All Souls website and Facebook. Christmas morning there also will be a service at 10 a.m. that can be attended via Zoom.
Our Vestry Member Nominating Committee, Laura Eberly, Priscilla Camp, George Tharisayi and Stacey Alexeeff, has been meeting and reaching out to parishioners who might be interested in joining the Vestry. Parishioners are also free to nominate themselves. Vestry elections take place during our annual meeting, which is scheduled to occur virtually on January 31, 2021.
The Vestry again took up again the topic of a Benefit Waiver Allowance – a cash payment to staff members whose health insurance needs are provided by policies other than All Souls. The Vestry concluded that not adopting a Benefit Waiver Allowance for the remainder of 2021 and fiscal year 2021 was fiscally wise.
Our Treasurer Vimala Tharisayi presented the proposed budget for 2021. Due to the generosity of parishioners in this difficult year, pledges for 2021 will probably be at about the same level as 2020, and we are forecasting that we will conclude 2020 in reasonably good shape. Thank you all for your generosity! You truly make all that All Souls does possible.
Sunday Live Streaming News
Join us at 9am on Zoom for what was our outdoor, courtyard worship service. Or (and!) join us for the live stream of Sunday’s 11:15 service, which can be accessed through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Advent Practices (click here for links to all the information!)
- Lessons & Carols, Sundays at 5:30p on Zoom
- Live Advent Window displays unveiled nightly at 5:45p on Facebook Live
Christmas Eve & Christmas Day Services
- Christmas Eve: 5p (with Christmas Pageant!) and 9p on Facebook Live or through our homepage. Both services will be Eucharistic, and you can sign-up to get consecrated bread and wine (or juice) here. We’ll then eat together during the services on Christmas Eve.
- Christmas Day: 10a on Zoom
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
We have two class offerings this Sunday
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study. Contact Daniel Prechtel, firstname.lastname@example.org, to join that Zoom call at 10:10am.
- Soul Journeys: An Interview by Fr. Phil with the Rev. Dr. Daniel Prechtel
10:10 Virtual Formation Class on December 20 (one week only!)
How can we envision and engage the powerful reality of spirit realms as a follower of Jesus Christ in a 21st century scientifically-oriented western culture? How can ancient shamanic journey methods inform and expand our Christian experiences of prayer and meditation? What are ways that we can draw on God’s presence and power as we seek healing and guidance? These are some of the questions that are explored in the groundbreaking book Soul Journeys: Christian Spirituality and Shamanism as Pathways for Wholeness and Understanding. Join us on December 20 for our 10:10 adult formation class when Fr. Phil interviews our assisting priest Daniel Prechtel about his new book and its rich implications for Christian spiritual theology, cosmography, and prayer practices.
The Rev. Dr. Daniel Prechtel is an assisting priest at All Souls Parish. He has over 35 years of experience as a priest, spiritual guide, writer, and educator. In 1993 he began his spiritual guidance practice as Lamb & Lion Spiritual Guidance Ministries, on the web at LLMinistries.com. In 2015 he began initiations as a practitioner of core shamanism. He has written three books in the field of spirituality. Soul Journeys was written in collaboration with the Rev. John Mabry, Ph.D. and the Rev. Katrina Leathers.
Missed the previous week’s class?? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll be recording all of the Adult Formation offerings and loading them to the Adult Formation page of our website. Click here to get there and access the class recordings.
Jennifer Boehler’s Memorial
Please join us this Saturday, December 19th for a memorial for long-time and beloved parishioner, Jennifer Boehler. The service will begin at 11a through Facebook Live on our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page, or you could find it directly on our website by clicking on “Streaming Services”. There will also be a reception to follow the service, which will be held on Zoom. Link to come for the reception.
Children & Family News
In-person Children’s formation is temporarily on hold as we are under a new Shelter in Place order. New ways for families to engage with scripture to you will be sent out via email. If you’d like to receive updates about this, but do not subscribe to the Family Bulletin, please email Maggie Foote (email@example.com) for more information.
Stephen Ministry: We are here for you!
2020 has been a challenging year, right?! Most of us have been struggling and overwhelmed. You are not alone. Stephen Ministers understand and are available to listen, support and pray for you. We can offer you a confidential caring relationship or an occasional phone call to help you through these ever-changing times. Contact Maggie Foote at (513) 309-1079 or Madeline Feeley at (510) 495-4512 so we can be there for you.
Evening Prayer via Zoom
Here is the link for the Thursday night BCP Compline, which starts at 8:30 PDT:
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 786 3029 4068
Check out Season 2, Episode 15 of the Soulcast!
Still have ingathering donations? Not convenient for you to drop them off Sunday or Wednesday from 2-4? Have them picked up from your doorstep! Email Deacon Dani if you have items for pickup at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
The ASP Food Drive continues to pick up and deliver food for the Berkeley Food Pantry on a weekly basis. Food contributors and drivers participate every other week. Please email Cathy: email@example.com for more information.
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
If you are able to help provide some meals for parishioners in need, please contact Cathy Goshorn to help out! We are in great need at this time to help care for each other––please consider helping other All Soulsians in need by providing meals or gift cards for meals. You can reach Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Berkeley Canterbury Advent Speaker Series
This Advent the Berkeley Canterbury (campus ministry) is hosting a speaker series, which started yesterday with Brother John from the Taize community. Coming up are The Rev. Dr. Robert Tobin, Peggy Wehmeyer, and The Rev. Andy Shamel. Email Tom Poynor email@example.com for more information!
Will Bryant (our current seminarian) will be ordained a deacon at the Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, North Carolina, on January 16th at 11a ET (his ordination was delayed due to an illness at the Cathedral in North Carolina). Will is deeply thankful to everyone at All Souls Parish for all the support he has received over the last two years. All are invited to watch the ordination as it will be live-streamed on the Cathedral’s website at https://allsoulscathedral.org/virtual-connect.
The Rev. Liz Tichenor’s Book Launch!
Join us on January 5th at 7pm on either Zoom (you’ll need to register, which you can do here), or on Facebook Live as we host a conversation between Jane Vandenburgh and Liz Tichenor as her book, a memoir, has been officially published!