FROM THE RECTOR
Pride, Gratitude, and Hope
A couple of years ago I had a moment at a diocesan Eucharist as part of our annual convention. It wasn’t in the liturgical rite proper, but what was happening around it. There had been a call for volunteers to help at the Eucharist and several All Soulsians responded, all of them participants in the discernment process for holy orders.
I remember as clear as day watching as Dani, Ari, and Nikky took on responsibilities in Grace Cathedral––welcoming people to the Cathedral, guiding them to a pew, bearing the elements forward to the altar at the Offertory. As I watched them serve that day I had a moment. A moment that was filled with pride, gratitude, and hope.
It was kind of like watching each of my kids as they have headed to greater and greater responsibility. I say this not to infantilize any of these three remarkable women, but because I teared up just the same, seeing the wider church recognize what we have witnessed over these past many years.
The moment that I glimpsed several years ago found particular fulfillment this past Saturday, once again at Grace Cathedral, as Ari, Dani, and Nikky were among six people ordained, alongside our former seminarian Aaron Klinefelter. Seeing them come forward, being part of the assembled who presented them on behalf of All Souls Parish and the Diocese of California, watching as they took ancient vows, and taking part in their ordination, was an honor and privilege that will stay with me for many years.
This sense continued on Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent as Nikky, Ari, and Dani served as Presider and Deacons with grace, skill, and a palpable trust in God. I was so proud to see them live into this calling after years and years of class work, challenge, and uncertainty, study, prayer, and conversation. They were so ready. And is showed. It was so good.
And as I looked around on Saturday at Grace, and Sunday at All Souls, and saw scores of All Soulsians who had been on discernment teams and the Vocations committee, had been on ministry teams with them and on the Vestry, and saw tears brimming in their eyes as well, I was awash in gratitude. So grateful for the time, prayer, attention, and heart that this congregation has offered to these three, and to the others who have been and will be ordained from this parish. Witnessing the culmination of such broad and deep support and guidance was stunning.
And hope. It is not a mystery that there is a broad decline in participation across institutional Christianity in the United States. It is happening across the Episcopal Church and specifically in our own diocese. And yet, in the ordination of Dani Gabriel, Ari Wolfe, and Nikky Wood as deacons and priest I find hope for the life of the Church as we attempt to make the Realm of God seen and known. They are visible practitioners of this faith, witnesses to its mercy, justice, grace, and truth, and icons for us all of what is like to serve and to bless.
Their ordinations could not have come at a more necessary hour. In our cities, in our nation, and in this world we are in desperate need for faith-filled leaders who can show us the way to incarnate belief and resurrected living. So this is why today I write with irrepressible pride, immeasurable gratitude, and undeniable hope.
Thanks be to God,
FROM THE SENIOR WARDEN
The vestry met on Wednesday, November 20th. Following our celebration of All Saints and All Souls, Chaplain Priscilla Camp led us in spiritual reflection focused on remembrance and gratitude. We were invited to share words about our contributions to the “cloud of witnesses” in the nave and how they inspire us. Several people shared beautiful stories of the elders and artists and icons who have inspired, provoked, and uplifted us throughout our lives.
Following reflection and the adoption of our consent agenda, we turned our attention to fiduciary responsibilities. Vimala Tharisayi, Shelley Altura, and the rest of the finance team had prepared a draft budget for the vestry to review, and Eric Legrand came on behalf of the stewardship team to present early outcomes of this year’s pledge campaign.
Then came one of those conversations that make our vestry such a unique and engaged body of thoughtful leaders.
As of our meeting, the pledge campaign had not hit its goal for number of pledges returned. We discussed whether the vestry could help with outreach to those still outstanding. Some expressed concern for the sensitivity of people’s personal information, but Eric clarified that we wouldn’t be looking at the amounts of any specific pledge, only whether a pledge had been made or not.
We noted that the list we would be reaching out to consisted of previous pledgers and new members, all people who had opted in through membership to contributing participation in the life of our community. We also noted the vestry’s particular commitments to help guide and inspire that participation, and to hold fiduciary responsibility for the financial health of our parish. Finally, Stacey Alexeeff grounded us all in a bit of levity; “Also, I’m not mad at anybody who hasn’t turned in their pledge yet!” she said. “Everybody’s busy.”
Given this, we agreed that we would help with reminders for outstanding pledges (if you’ve gotten a call or an email from a vestry member reminding you to get that in, this is why!) and look to the stewardship team for updated numbers next month.
Phil+ gave a rector’s report on new coverage arrangements for communication and children and family ministries while a new associate rector is sought. We concluded with ministry team updates, where we heard back from the vestry liaisons to each ministry team about how teams are incorporating new members into leadership roles and reaching out to extend hospitality and information to newcomers.
December’s meeting promises to be a full slate with the year’s final budget, next steps on the affordable housing building project with SAHA, and updates on the capital campaign and associate rector search.
You may have heard of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle. Coined by management consultant Joseph Juran in the late 19th century, the 80/20 rule suggests that, in many situations in life, 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. In community, this often translates into 80 percent of the community’s work being done by 20 percent of its members. You’ve probably seen this phenomenon somewhere in a community you’ve been part of; maybe you yourself have been part of an overworked, exploited 20 percent at some point. Depending on your perspective, you might find the 80/20 rule amusing, realistic, cynical, even embittering.
One thing that has always impressed me about All Souls is that the 80/20 rule seems not to have taken hold here. I consistently perceive the community as a whole jumping in, pitching in, each person giving of their time and talents in the best way they know how. In my opinion, it is one of the major reasons All Souls feels so vibrant and steadily attracts new members. Wide community participation in the life of All Souls is part of the bedrock that allows us to enter more readily into relationship with God.
Every year at this time, four current Vestry members prepare to step down after completing their three-year terms, and four new Vestry members are elected to take their place. Perhaps you’ve wondered what it’s like to be on the All Souls Vestry. Perhaps you’ve considered running for Vestry but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Perhaps you feel a little hesitation—or a lot of hesitation!—about the idea of joining the Vestry. Let’s face it, the thought of it can be daunting. None of us, after all, was born knowing how to run a church.
If you have any hesitation, I want to put your mind at ease. You absolutely have what it takes to be a great Vestry member. What helped me the most in my first months on the Vestry three years ago was realizing that being a novice to how a Vestry works was nothing unusual. It’s the norm. And it’s perfectly okay. The Vestry didn’t need me to come ahead of time knowing how to interpret financial documents, or understanding the legal structure of the Parish House Project, or appreciating the complexities of church staffing; it could teach me all that. What it needed was my enthusiasm, my ideas, my commitment to helping All Souls be the best Christian community it can be, and my willingness to step up and lead. And that’s what it needs from you.
Leadership is an area of church life where it can be tempting to let that 80/20 rule creep in. But like every other area of church life, leadership is strongest when it is shared among as many people as possible. The next few years will be exciting and challenging for All Souls. We’ll see the Parish House Project come to fruition, make critical capital improvements to our building to help it keep serving us for decades to come, and contemplate how to best make church together without the financial cushion of interest from the Jordan Bequest. Your participation on the Vestry will give you an important voice in these matters and will assuredly deepen your sense of ownership of and commitment to All Souls. I ask you to give serious, prayerful consideration to running for Vestry in January.
If you have any questions about what Vestry membership entails, please don’t hesitate to contact any of the four outgoing Vestry members, who form this year’s Nominating Committee: Erin Horne, Toni Martinez Borgfeldt, Matt McGinley, or myself. Let’s put together a great slate of candidates for our new Vestry class—and keep proving Joseph Juran wrong.
ALL SOULS CAPITAL CAMPAIGN IS COMING IN 2020
On November 17, team members* from the planning group of the All Souls 2020 Capital Campaign hosted a parish-wide forum to share some of the campaign history and hopes of this parish with members of the congregation. It had been a marathon Sunday (literally and figuratively) and spirited and stalwart group attended. Here is a summary for those who couldn’t be there.
What Is a Capital Campaign?
A capital campaign is different from annual stewardship. Our annual stewardship drive raises money for our yearly budget to pay for staff, ministry programs, outreach, utilities, and our diocesean assessment. The annual budget has only a modest set aside for maintenance and repairs.
A capital campaign is how a congregation, at intervals, funds the work necessary to return the campus to good condition, prepares for changing uses, and realizes its vision to best serve those who come next. Others have done this for us—we worship and work within the spaces imagined and provided for us by previous generations at All Souls.
In 1955 a capital campaign made it possible to replace a too-small and termite-ridden church with the building and office space we use today. A 1999 campaign remodeled the sanctuary to reflect changes in theology and practice (the altar table was brought forward toward the center of worship), and made accessibility improvements. We have done other substantive work since then—mini campaigns to raise funds for the playground in 2006 and to buy the Parish House in 2010. And, we installed solar panels in 2015.
The realization of the Parish House project as a 35 unit low-income senior housing project will fulfill one of the three goals of our strategic plan. That project is a joint partnership with SAHA, funded through city, county, state, and government sources.
Included in the project are new office spaces for All Souls and two apartments for the church staff. When the project is completed (est. late 2021), the church offices will move to the new building, creating both an opportunity and a need to look at new options for the Undercroft spaces and to consider how they can be reconfigured for flexible use. As we make changes, it remains important to live into our vision for complete accessibility, and attend to other areas of need that are not included in our annual budgets. Churches typically hold a capital campaign every 10 to 15 years. It has been 20 years since our last major capital campaign. So, it is time.
How Do We Know What to Do?
Together, the parish went through a process in 2014 to articulate the core values of this community. The resulting Vision Statement is posted around the campus and can be read/seen here: ASEP Vision Statement. And, while a vision statement identifies core values, a strategic plan articulates how to live into those values. After months of congregational discernment in 2015, the Vestry adopted a Strategic Plan that designated three areas for focused attention in the following three to five years—Deep Hospitality, Christian Action and Practice, and the Re-development of the Parish House.
What Is the Process for Starting a Capital Campaign?
Looking at next steps to fulfill our vision and mission, the vestry discussed a capital campaign at their retreat in February 2019; voted to begin the campaign in May; and contracted with consultant Marc Rieke of the Enrichment Group in September. The vestry also discussed the importance of including a tithe from this campaign that will go to support the efforts of the inbreaking realm of God outside our doors.
This fall, a capital campaign task group has been meeting to prepare for the campaign, identify potential projects, and gathering preliminary cost estimates. Others will join the campaign team in the coming months and the entire congregation will join together for learning, prayer, and fellowship—a capital campaign is a process as well as a result and this will be a faith journey that we all take together.
What Needs to Be Done?
Potential projects that will improve and adapt our facilities have been grouped into general categories that address All Souls’ affirmed goals of complete accessibility, communal flexibility, carbon neutrality, and continued vitality. These categories align with areas identified by our vision and strategic plan.
Our Vision statement says, “We confront barriers to inclusion within our hearts, our practices, and our facilities.” The 1999 campaign installed a lift between the church and the Parish Hall foyer, and added ADA bathrooms, including one on the Parish Hall level. The sanctuary remodel created a larger raised area at the front of the church and included a ramp to make the altar and choir area accessible. Since that time, we have upgraded the sound system in the church and offer assisted listening devices during services.
Looking ahead, a key component of this capital campaign will be to raise funds to bring to fruition the long-held dream of installing an elevator. Assuming this is feasible, it will connect the Undercroft, Parish Hall, and 3rd floor rooms above the Parish Hall foyer. Together with other smaller changes, this would make the campus truly navigable for any with mobility issues. An audio-visual system in the Parish Hall is another accessibility improvement that will make it easier for all to see and hear presentations.
If you are mostly here on Sundays, you may not realize that we provide space for as many as a dozen groups that use our space regularly and for special events. There are weeknights now when all our meeting spaces are occupied by parish groups and others. The 2020 Capital Campaign will enable us to assess and adapt the Undercroft: to create larger flexible use spaces from what are now individual offices, to upgrade the electrical capacity of existing rooms, and to improve the restrooms in the choir vesting area.
In the Parish Hall, we can hoping to build cabinets to tuck away the tables and chairs when not in use, and remodel the kitchen to improve storage and workspace.
There is a floor above the Parish Hall foyer and kitchen which some may never have visited. It consists now of three small rooms used for storage, acolyte vesting, and Sunday School. Joined together, these rooms will offer more useful space which, with an elevator, would be accessible to all.
In August of this year, the vestry adopted the following motion: “We resolve that the parish embrace climate justice as a parish priority in our education, action, worship, and prayer life.” As Justice and Peace framed this for the vestry, this parish-wide climate initiative grows out of the strategic plan and vision work of 2015. We installed an array of solar panels in 2015. Adding additional panels and a battery system to store that energy will make carbon neutral energy available at night and enable All Souls to serve as a resource for neighbors during power outages. Replacing our old gas boilers with an efficient electric boiler to heat all of our spaces—church, chapel, undercroft, and parish hall will reduce our overall energy use and cut fossil fuels from our on-site energy supply.
Some important projects do not land neatly into one of the preceding categories:
- new lighting, paint, flooring for our Chapel
- revitalized landscaping along Cedar and Spruce streets
- repave the courtyard and install a gate along Spruce Street to create more useful outdoor space
- build a columbarium in the courtyard as a place for memorial and reflection,
- replace the Parish Hall floor (with radiant heat, if possible),
- repair the large Parish Hall windows,
- install stained glass over the choir skylight to help with the heat and glare,
- repair or replacement of our organ.
What Happens Next?
The official launch for the campaign and commissioning of the campaign directors will take place on January 26, 2020 at the Annual Meeting. Throughout the winter and spring, as we hear the hopes and concerns of the parish, we will learn more about what will be possible together through this capital campaign. Pledging will take place in April-May followed by celebration. Once pledging has been completed and a pledge total is known, the vestry will determine the scope of work and prioritize the projects. It is possible that some projects will be the work of another time—church is never finished—but this campaign will be the significant contribution of our people in this time and place to answer God’s call to us!
—Nancy Austin and Marilyn Flood, campaign co-chairs
*Campaign planning team present at the forum: Fr Phil Brochard, Nancy Austin, Shawn Adderly, Michelle Barger, Patrick Tahara, Kim Wong
Please join me in extending generosity and warmth of the Advent season with the Roosevelt Middle School Newcomer community as part of this year’s All Soul’s Angel Tree. Visit the tree downstairs near the Godly Play classrooms and select one (or more!) ornament that represents the wishes and needs of Roosevelt Newcomer students and their families, who have arrived in the U.S. within the past year. Please return unwrapped items with the ornament attached to the tree by 12/15. There will be a wrapping party on 12/15 at 4pm. Contact Molly Nicol with any questions or to arrange drop off/pick up of items (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Christmas Pageant Time!
It’s that lovely time of year again – Pageant time! If you are interested in participating in the Christmas pageant this year during the 4pm Christmas Eve service – please email Whitney at email@example.com. The pageant this year needs about 9 speaking parts and another 10-12 character parts that don’t have any lines to memorize.
The rehearsal schedule is: (pizza served)
- Sunday 12/8 1-3(ish) for reading our lines and walking through the pageant. (speaking parts only)
- Sunday 12/15 1-3(ish) for all speaking parts (with lines memorized) and other participants to try on costumes.
- Sunday 12/22: 1-3 for all participants in costumes
- Tuesday 12/24: arrive at 3pm for the pageant and one last review
Questions? Check in with Whitney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advent Ingathering for this Sunday
For December 8–– Options Recovery Services, providing treatment and support for men and women suffering from alcohol and drug dependency, has requested these donations for their work:
+ new socks for men and women + toiletries
+ scarves and knit hats for adults + infant blankets
* To help the Options team deliver gift boxes with these items, contact Lewis Maldonado: email@example.com.
Festive greening December 22 at 12:45
Come be a part of transforming the worship space from Advent to Christmas. Time commitment flexible; varied activities. Candles, tree and lights, ribbons, creche and wreaths will all come out to prepare for the Christmas season.
More Images from the Ordinations