FROM THE RECTOR
Summoning a Spirit
Last week I was in conversation with the spiritual director that I have been walking with for several years. As part of our time together, we talked about what we have been witnessing in the past year or so, since Donald Trump has begun his campaign for the presidency.
My spiritual director, who is a Jesuit, offered that to him, it is as if Donald Trump has been summoning up bad spirits through his words. It was not surprising to hear someone trained in the Ignatian tradition frame the events of this election campaign in these terms. From the origins of the Society of Jesus there has been an understanding of what Paul of Tarsus called the “powers and principalities” of this world.
And his observation resonated with me. It is not clear what Donald Trump’s actions will be as the President of the United States. But what is clear is the effects that his words have been having on myriad people around this country. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate crimes have spiked since the election (this is their Hatewatch section), and in this article on Berkeleyside, acts of hate specifically using Donald Trump’s name have repeatedly taken place in Berkeley and the greater Bay Area.
It is my sense that the hatred that is being expressed through anonymous acts and in public statements—that has come out in xenophobia, racism, bigotry, and misogyny—has been present in our country since our founding. However, in the past year through his speech, Donald Trump has given cover, permission, and sanction to those whose fear, frustration and anger has been simmering. By no means do I believe that everyone who supports Donald Trump is harboring hatred towards those who are Muslim, LGBTQ, immigrants, or people of color. But those who do harbor hatred are now acting with an impunity that is newly emboldened.
These acts of violence and abuse have left many shaken, especially those who are most vulnerable in our society. And as followers of Jesus, it has left us with a question. As some use their words and/or their actions to summon ill spirits, what will our witness, words and action be? What spirit will you and I summon?
This article in TIME magazine uses research from political scientists and psychologists to show that we can influence the communities that we are members of by “collectively bear(ing) witness”. For instance, in the past month a sisterhood of Muslim women and Jewish women has formed to stand in alliance as fear increases.
One of the most powerful witnesses to the Spirit in our country recently has come from the Lakota people of Standing Rock. From the beginning, those who formed the Sacred Stones camp to protect the waters of the Missouri River have been clear: their resistance is grounded in prayer and is non-violent. These precepts have been threatened as thousands of others joined the protest, sometimes bringing a host of other agendas and practices with them. But time and time again, the Water Protectors have said that they are summoning the Spirit of truth, faith, and non-violence. In the words of Martin King, the power they have yielded has been “soul power.”
It seems to me that in the next stretch of our lives as Americans, through our words and our deeds, we will be asked to “summon spirits.” For centuries, faithful Christians have called upon the Spirit of God, the spirit who reconciles and sustains, who seeks the truth and bears it with enduring compassion. Here at All Souls, with time, skills, and funding, we have taken an active part in the newly emerging East Bay Interfaith Coalition. As that continues to unfold we will share more about what our part will be.
More than most times of the past 50 years, the road ahead is uncertain. In this potent time of Advent, as we wait for the Light to emerge in us, my prayers, of word, silence, and action are that we will be part of the summoning of the Spirit of God within, among and around us.
From the Associate for Ministry Development
Welcoming New Members
Last Sunday we welcomed in 23 new members! There is a lot that goes into deciding to be a member at a church, and the reasons for this bunch are wild and vary greatly – I encourage you to plan some time to hear their stories and get to know them! Regardless of background, becoming a member here means making this place home and a place where God can be found.
The expectations of membership here at All Souls are to worship with us, eat with us, learn with us, pray with us, serve with us, and give with us. These are not requirements but simply expectations. The hope is that these would be fulfilled not necessarily all at once, but over time.
Each of these 23 new members (well, in some cases just their parents) have committed to these expectations and many are already participating, as some new members have been attending All Souls for nearly two years. Please hold these people in your prayers and reach out and say hello next time you see them. Also, keep an eye on the Pathfinder in the coming weeks as we highlight the bios of these folks!
They are: Molly and Terry Nicol with their daughter Nora, Kaki Logan, Annika McPeek, Sarah Bakker Kellogg, Jeff and Nicole Lowe, Mariko Conner, Jen Dary and her son Noah, Jennifer Akiyama and Patrick Tahara with their kids Kazuhiro and Emiko Akiyama-Tahara, Katie and Jeff with their daughter Isa Fleishman-Blevins, Anna Dair, Kyle and Rebecca Peacock, and Laura Eberly with Jane Thomason.
– Emily Hansen Curran
From Music Ministry
This is your call.
I grew up playing heavy metal and rock songs on electric guitar. Never in a million years would I have thought I would find myself playing banjo in a folksy bluegrass band in hippy/hipstery Berkeley. But there is a simplicity about the music, beyond the fact that they’re usually just three chords. It’s a feeling that is distilled and stripped of the unnecessary. There’s an honesty and authenticity that seems to be absent from other forms of music and I dig that.
All Souls is quite unique with its musical offerings. I describe the service music as a mixtape, crafted with love. I truly love that. I listen to all kinds of music. This kind of variety resonates my core. It is what keeps me coming back. The variety is something we hope to continue and build upon for many years to come.
If it weren’t for the weekly practices and services, I honestly don’t know how much guitar playing or singing I would do. Joining the choir / Angel Band helps me to keep up my playing, which is something I truly value in my life. Taking the time for practices and services is akin to setting aside time to workout or meditate (which I know I should do but rarely ever do). It has become my mindfulness practice for guitar and voice. It has been a great experience: hanging out at practices, doing Angel Band karaoke, rehearsing songs, making mistakes, laughing about them, and singing my heart out. Communal singing is cathartic. It is community-building. It benefits the mind, body, and soul.
If you have an instrument you’ve been telling yourself you should play more, or if you have a yearning to sing more, join the band. Yes, we hear you singing from the pews, but why not experience the service from the other side of the altar rails. We have a seat for you. We accept people in all levels of musicianship. Even those who are just beginning their learning. Truth is, most of us aren’t professional musicians. Some of us don’t read music. A lot of us haven’t received a formal music education. We just show up and do our part. It’s not rocket surgery.
When I was asked to join Angel Band (shortly after joining All Souls), I jumped in. When I was asked to become the new leader of Angel Band (when Nat Lewis moved away), I jumped in. When I was told I would need to learn the banjo, I cringed, but I did it anyway because God equips those he calls. This is your call.
– Ed Hofmann
Finding Grace at Kyakameena
You may have noticed that listed on third Sundays of the month— 2 pm Kyakameena Service. Last year, Ari Wolfe, who leads this ministry, had a sign up following the 7:30 service and was on hand to talk about what is involved.
Kyakameena is a skilled nursing facility for seniors with a variety of disabilities. All Soul’s sends a team of volunteers each month to bring communion to those Kyakameena residents who choose to participate.
The first time I participated was on the 44th anniversary of my mother’s death following a long period of early-onset dementia. This month, another anniversary, I was asked to fill in for Ari leading the service. Most months, Ari leads, and Carol Terry plays the piano. Neither Carol nor Ari was able to be at Kyakameena this time, and only two of us were on hand for the service. We led the opening and gradual hymns a cappella. During administration of communion, when Carol usually plays, I suggested that perhaps someone might want to sing. One of the residents got up and went to the piano, played and sang as his fellow residents and a staff member received the Eucharist! He also accompanied us in the closing hymn, “Amazing Grace”. He played by heart, and truly it was by heart and by soul.
Especially during this time of year, with so many family responsibilities, the Kyakameena team could use more members. Every time I visit (and some months I cannot), I feel the spiritual grace we share with the residents, many with dwindling families, often with few visitors and no chance to go outside the residence. Sharing the Eucharist, sharing the Peace of the Lord, is especially poignant in the Kyakameena setting. Please consider joining us. We next visit on December 18. To learn more, contact Ari.
– Charli Danielsen
During the Season of Advent, as we prepare for the coming of the Christ child, we have the privilege of bringing gifts each Sunday to be blessed and shared with those who are in need. This Sunday, December 11th, we support YEAH! (Youth Engagement, Advocacy and Housing), supports young adults who are homeless in Berkeley. Please bring:
- new socks
- new men’s boxers and boxer briefs
- new women’s underwear
- sanitary napkins and tampons
ADVENT SERIES: STILLNESS, SONG AND STORY
This Advent we are keeping our communal practice simple. Next Wednesday, December 14th, is the final night in our series. We will be gathering for a soup supper in the Parish Hall at 6:30 pm. At 7:15 pm we will enter a candle-lit church for a Taize service. We will chant, keep silence, hear scripture, and pray. Similar to our 12 noon service on Good Friday, two parishioners will offer a short reflection each week. As we get ready for the Emmanuel, God With Us, join to watch and pray. If you can bring soup or bread, please sign up here.
Celebrate Christmas at All Souls!
4 pm: Festive Eucharist with Children’s Nativity Story
8 pm: Carols and Candlelight
10:30 pm: Midnight Mass
10 am: Festive Eucharist
SAVE THE DATE FOR CAMP ALL SOULS: AUGUST 7-11!
Looking way ahead, mark your calendars for August 7 – 11, 2017! Next summer we will be embarking on a new adventure: we are going to offer our own tailor-made, home-grown day camp right here at All Souls! More information will be forthcoming, but you can count on it being loads of fun, with lots of hands-on excitement, deepening fellowship in community, and an excellent grounding in progressive theology and formation. The camp will be for kids ages 5-11, with opportunity for teens to serve as counselors-in-training.