From the Associate for Music
Endings and Beginnings
The phrase “dearly beloved” is used several times in our Book of Common Prayer as a way for the leader of a service to address those who have gathered with them. I actually prefer the fuller “dearly beloved friends” that can be found in older prayer books; to me, these words articulate a kind of affection that is deep and beautiful. So let me say:
Dearly beloved friends, I’m writing to let you know that this will be my final year serving as Associate for Music at All Souls Episcopal Parish. I will serve at least through the end of June 2022 (perhaps July depending on how things work out).
If I may be honest, it has been a mixed blessing to be able to stay for so long.
From the moment I first interviewed at All Souls in January 2017, I was open with the search committee about the fact that I planned to follow my wife Melanie, then nearing the end of her Ph.D., wherever her academic career took her. We hoped that 18 months later we’d be off to a college or university (ideally somewhere nearer to our families on the east coast) that couldn’t pass up her rare gifts as a teacher; her sharp, creative intellect; and her astonishing emotional intelligence.
The fact that we are still here five years later gives some indication of how hard this period has been for us. Melanie endured five cycles on the academic job market, which (anyone with experience can tell you) quickly crushes the spirit and self-confidence of even the most joyful and resilient individuals. Three of those cycles involved a devastating, couldn’t-be-closer-without-actually-getting-the-job moment, including (I am not making this up) having to do an on-campus interview for a tenure-track job on *the first day* of that school’s first pandemic shut-down. She was the last of four finalists to interview for the job, and we were left not knowing whether the utter chaos of the day had denied her a fair chance. Feeling like she never fully recovered from that experience, she decided this past March that her search for an academic job was over. The transition presented its own challenges and frustrations, but in October Melanie began a new full-time job training teachers for a growing company in the educational technology space. The fact that it’s a fully remote job places us in the fortunate (and frankly unfamiliar) position of choosing where to go next. We feel that now is the time for us to move back east.
While we have confidence in our decision, it is weighted with the sadness of leaving a place and a people that I love. I had no experience running a church music program; you supported me. I took risks; you were up for just about anything. I made mistakes; when I couldn’t see them, you were willing to point them out. I thought and labored, often over small details; you noticed my intention and effort, even in some of the minutiae I cared most about. I spoke and wrote; you listened, read, and often followed up. I asked for your time, creative energy, and (on occasion) money; you gave, and gave, and gave again. I hold a special place in my heart for the staff and musicians of our parish who have been in the thick of it with me, and have followed me into some challenging and fun places. Thank you to all.
During this season of Advent, as Melanie and I look forward to a new chapter in our own lives, I have on my mind an Advent hymn that asks “Can it be that from our endings new beginnings you create?” I trust that whoever guides the musical life of this place into the future will use their vision and gifts to help transform it, sparking something new and good. In the meantime, I’m thrilled to have seven more months to sing and play together.
Dr. Jamie Apgar
A Note from Phil
Well, All Soulsians, unfortunately this day has finally come. As you read above, Dr. Jamie Apgar, our Associate for Music, and his wife Melanie are headed back to the East Coast to be closer to family and friends and see where their next adventure leads them. Truth be told, Jamie and I anticipated that he would only be here at All Souls for 2-3 years––that it will have been over 5 years when he leaves next summer has been unexpectedly fruitful for us, even as they have been challenging for Jamie and Melanie.
The reason that we are sharing this news six to seven months in advance is because of an unusual opportunity we have in front of us. A couple years ago I was approached by the Very Rev. Dr. Mark Richardson, the Dean and President of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), and the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, Academic Dean at CDSP (and All Soulsian), about whether or not CDSP might hire Jamie on faculty to teach church music and be the Chapel Musician––I gave an enthusiastic reference. Since then, we have collectively seen the similarity of approach to music between our two Christian communities, each with a half-time position. So we made an agreement that whenever it was that Jamie was going to head out to his next adventure, that we would conduct a joint search for a musician in common as our combined positions at All Souls and CDSP would make for a much broader and deeper pool of candidates.
That time, sadly, is now. And because an academic search is more involved and therefore takes longer to see through, and because we want this person in place by August of 2022, today both All Souls and CDSP are announcing Jamie’s departure in the summer of 2022, and that we will together be leading a search for his replacement.
We will be celebrating Jamie’s incredible work over these past 5 years when his departure becomes more imminent. In the meantime, please thank him for his faithful and excellent service, especially in trying times, and pray for Jamie and Melanie, for the communities of All Souls and CDSP, and for the person who will next lead us all in song.
Why Spiritual Direction?
First: What is it? I think of it as companionship while traveling the roads of our lives. As the African proverb puts it: if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Spiritual direction can be a way to deepen one’s walk of faith; to explore new ways to study, to pray, to build community or move through changes in our lives – both the changes we might choose to make and the changes which take us by surprise.
I have had spiritual directors on both an informal basis – where I found myself consistently seeking the same person’s wisdom – and on a formal basis – where I asked someone to meet with me regularly. In either case I was seeking help as I tried to figure out how to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit and to live as an ethical, faithful Christian.
Tracking the Holy Spirit can be tricky. While watching trees sway in the wind one day I was startled to realize that, like the wind, I could not see the Holy Spirit but I could only see the impact of its motion through the trees (or my life). I find it helpful to have other people watching for the movement of that sacred wind with me.
I treasure the opportunity to help others discern the ways in which the Holy One is moving in their lives, calling them into ever deeper loving relationship with the sacred, and bearing fruit into the world created and held in divine love.
Important aspects of my own journey include: long-term 12 step recovery programs; LGBTQIA+; healing from fundamentalism; hidden disabilities & chronic illness; grief; and rejoicing in God’s grace!
Would you like to explore the possibility of spiritual direction? I am happy to meet on Zoom; sliding scale (no one will be turned away for lack of funds). Please email email@example.com.
The Rev. Marguerite Judson
Spiritual Direction and Guidance as a Ministry
When I came into the Episcopal church in the late 1970s it was after spending years as a young adult searching into Eastern and esoteric forms of spiritual practice and beliefs, some of which were quite unhealthy, without a trusted and mature spiritual guide. Fortunately, the ministry of spiritual direction was just beginning to be offered to, and often by, lay people and ecumenical training programs were beginning to equip people for this work. I was immediately interested in receiving spiritual direction and the thought of offering spiritual companionship to others was planted on my heart.
After several years as a parish priest, I entered a program about spiritual formation and received peer supervision for my own emerging spiritual direction practice. Over the years I have had the opportunity to teach in seminaries, work for spiritual direction training programs, directly provide spiritual formation programs, and supervise spiritual directors.
This ministry can be available to you. A spiritual director, or frequently called a spiritual companion or guide, meets regular people in confidential individual or group sessions on a ongoing basis to assist us in exploring the subtle movements of God in our lives while we “listen with the heart” together for the meaning that particular situations may hold for us. A session with a spiritual director can provide a good routine spiritual maintenance checkup, but it can be much more too! My practice now specializes in working with people that want to engage deep prayer and meditation methods, imaginal techniques, dreamwork, and shamanic methods for discerning divine wisdom and receiving psychospiritual-based healing for individuals, communities, and the earth.
Reflections on Faith
Waiting for One That Was Born to Fly
Most people, if they think about it, have a favorite wild animal or two. Tigers, bush babies, hedgehogs, for example, are all good choices.
My favorites are whales and Monarch butterflies, a nice contrast. You won’t catch me swimming in cold water to get acquainted with a whale. But Monarchs, I have lived with. Indoors. On the kitchen counter.
Here’s what you do. Order a butterfly enclosure online, preferably the mesh one-foot-square size, if you want to keep it indoors; it has a zipper opening on one side, and a clear panel on another, for better viewing.
Put a paper towel on the bottom to make clean-up easier, because caterpillars eat all the time, and poop all the time. To clean up the poop, you just fold up and remove the paper towel. Every day. Depending on the population, maybe twice a day.
You can find tiny caterpillars in your neighborhood on milkweed plants. You may even be able to see the minute white eggs on the underside of a milkweed leaf. But the green and yellow striped caterpillars, even when almost too small to be seen, are unmistakable. And adorable.
Cut the branches with caterpillars on them, put the stems in a small glass of water, over which you have stretched plastic wrap to keep poop from falling in and making a mess, and put the glass in the enclosure. Keep adding new branches and clean water, and removing what is left of each stalk after the leaves have been consumed. You can safely remove the occupied branches while cleaning up and putting in new branches; the caterpillars are firmly attached, with their many tiny feet, and they won’t try to run off. I once had three glasses and twelve caterpillars going at one time, and no matter how many new branches with leaves I put in at night, in the morning the place looked like a tornado had gone through.
The danger with this much interaction is that you can get emotionally involved, and when a caterpillar dies, it is upsetting. Of our 32 adopted caterpillars this summer and fall, 3 died, an acceptable rate of loss but still difficult.
So be prepared.
Those other 29, though, they were something. Especially that last one, last because it was adopted by accident, almost invisible on a branch brought in for the more advanced ones. Eventually, since it was so far behind, it was alone in the enclosure, and I became quite attached to it.
When it looked mature and the time seemed right for it to form its chrysalis, it kept going back to the ceiling and looking ready, then crawling around some more and continuing to eat. A hesitant personality, perhaps. Finally it formed the white filament that attached it to the ceiling, and then formed its chrysalis, a process that resembles a human trying to get out of a straight jacket, happening very fast; you can leave the room to fold up some laundry, say, and when you come back, boom, a chrysalis, the greenest thing you ever saw in your life. You mark this on the calendar, because in 10-14 days, a butterfly will emerge.
I had seen emergence a few times before, a magical thing to watch, also very fast. You can miss it if you are distracted, although the chrysalis turns black gradually and you know the butterfly will emerge soon.
This last one, such a character. Because of the direction it had been facing when it formed the chrysalis, I was looking at it from the rear, when one leg popped out on the left. Then the other one, on the right. Then the back split and the butterfly, all scrunched up like a human coming from the birth canal, backed out. A brand new butterfly now hung onto the remains of the chrysalis, always wonderful to behold. In a couple of hours it was dry and flapping its wings, so I put the enclosure outdoors on the deck, where the garden is, and opened the door. Usually, they fly out and go to a flower for nectar within a few hours.
This butterfly was slow to catch on. At the 24-hour mark the next day, by which time it should have been eating, it had not left the enclosure or even moved closer to the door. I put a stem of foxglove in a glass in the enclosure, to provide nectar, but it didn’t climb on, and another few hours went by. It had to eat to survive; I knew that. I moved the stem closer. Finally, although without apparent enthusiasm, it climbed onto the flower. Then I put everything, glass, foxglove and butterfly, into the garden, and eventually it moved to another plant.
That night, rain fell continuously. I was worried; I knew the butterfly was completely unprotected unless it had moved to shelter.
In the morning there it still was, in the same place! Alive? On an impulse I put my hand near it, and it crawled right on, a lovely feeling for me, but now what? I put my hand near a flower. The butterfly crawled onto the blossom, flapped its wings and looked ready to take off. I went inside for a minute, and when I came back out I saw that it had flown smack into an old and unoccupied cobweb hanging on the inside of the fence. I nearly had a heart attack, but the web was dry and no longer held the sticky substance spiders use to trap prey.
Now, obviously, I was overly emotionally involved. “I need you to live,” I said aloud. “You are the last one until spring. I raised you from a speck.” So, holding my breath and working very slowly, I untangled it, gave it my hand again, and transferred it to a flowering bush. I went indoors and could no longer see it, though I found myself checking on it. The first two times I looked, it was still there. Then, the third time, it was gone.
The next day, I saw a Monarch on some orange Lantana on the other side of the house, the combined colors so beautiful. I chose to think that it looked familiar.
This has been a hard thing to write; I am said to be good with words, but sometimes they feel inadequate. I just know that it is impossible, for me, to be touched by something as magnificent and delicate as a Monarch, especially one that started out unseen, without loving it and wanting to tell its story.
This one seemed to need me. And I have no doubt that I needed it, at a troubled time when my encounters with the Spirit have been a struggle. If this Monarch unfolding into new life, vulnerable, brave and resilient, comfortable on my own hand, was not God in this world, I don’t know what could be.
Save the Dates
(*see “Other News and Notes” for more info on events)
December 16, Advent Taize, 6:45p
December 24, Christmas Eve (services at 4, 8 & 10:30p) all indoors with masks required
January 1, New Year’s Day Choral Reading, 5-8:30p
Join us at 9am, in-person, but indoors this week (as it’s predicted to be raining all morning). Masks are required.
Or (and!) join us indoors for the 11:15 service or on the live stream at 11:15a, 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. At our 11:15 service, masks are required.
Come back at 5p for our Sunday Night Service.
Due to the CDC mask mandate, masks are required for all large indoor gatherings regardless of vaccination status. This also applies to when you visit the church offices during the week. Thank you!
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218. Masks are required for this service as it is indoors.
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
We have three classes being offered this Sunday during the Formation Hour:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Contact Kate Murphy, firstname.lastname@example.org to join that Zoom call.
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study at 10:10 in the Chapel (and on Zoom). Contact Daniel Prechtel for the Zoom link, email@example.com
- Newcomer Class
- The first is our regular (we offer it twice per year) Newcomer Class. If you have not been to one of these and/or if you have just started attending in the last 6 months to a year, this is designed for you. The Rev. Phil Brochard & Emily Hansen Curran will lead us through four weeks of the history, values, and practices of All Souls as well as some time to get to know each other. You can find the class in-person in the Common Room or on Zoom (click here). Meets November 28-December 19th.
- All Souls Partnerships
- When we were working on our strategic plan six years ago, one All Soulsian came up to me and said, “I’m super excited about this process, but I just have one request: please don’t start another 501c3. The Bay Area is second only to Washington DC with our number of 501c3s, let’s find the organizations out there who share our vision and work with them!” She was absolutely right, and the work we’ve done around Christian action from that point on has been in partnership with a number of organizations that share our values and our vision for the reconciliation of this world. In our teaching hour (Sundays, 10:10-11:10) this Advent we are going to be in conversation with three of these organizations: Youth Spirit Artworks (11/28), the Episcopal Impact Fund (12/5), and Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA). During the past couple of years we’ve been collaborating with each of these organizations, Youth Spirit Artworks and their Tiny Home Village, the Episcopal Impact Fund was an incredible partner in our work with Project: Sandwich, and SAHA has been our partner for several years now as we have dreamed, designed and built Jordan Court. So, come one, come all, to the Parish Hall (or a zoom screen near you––click here) to hear more about these initiatives, the organizations that we are partnering with, and what the next steps are in our Gospel-inspired service.
Children & Family News
Christmas Pageant rehearsal has begun! Come out at 10:10a in the courtyard to rehearse. The pageant will take place at the 4p service on Christmas Eve.
Other News & Notes
Join us at 6:45p in the church (indoors w/masks) on the first three Wednesday evenings in Advent for a contemplative Taize service. This will be a candlelit service of singing, prayers, silence and some stories from fellow parishioners. All are welcome.
Head over to the Stewardship Season 2021 page on our website for more information about how to give and to find the electronic pledge card.
Stephen Ministry: Christ Caring for People through People
That’s the motto of Stephen Ministry. The Stephen Minister’s role is to bring God’s love into the lives of people who are going through a difficult time or experiencing a crisis. What do Stephen Ministers do? They listen, care, support, encourage, and pray with and for a person who is hurting. And in the midst of this confidential, one-to-one, caring relationship, God’s healing love comes pouring through.
If someone you know is facing a crisis—large or small—and could benefit from the caring presence of a Stephen Minister, talk to Rev Maggie Foote (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Stephen Ministry Leader Madeline Feely (email@example.com). Our Stephen Ministers are ready to care for you!
Check out our season opener of season 5 of the Soulcast!
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.
Giving to All Souls via our mobile app
The platform we have been using for mobile app donations is changing from Give+ to Vanco Mobile Faith Engagement. You can find this (Vanco Mobile Faith Engagement) in your app store, and login with the same login you had with Give+. Once logged in, search for “All Souls Episcopal Parish” and it comes right up.
BYOC (Bring Your Own Chalice)
We’re looking to build up a store of reusable chalices so that we can stop using disposable chalices each week for the Eucharist. If you have a few small vessels around your house that you’d like to donate, please bring them and leave them on the back Narthex counter. You can watch this episode of the Soulcast to get a better idea of what we have in mind.
Advent Ingathering Schedule
- December 12: goods from this list (click here) for the Berkeley RV camps
- December 19: food for the Berkeley food pantry
Christmas-ing the Church
Come “Christmas” the Church! December 19 at 12:45, be a part of transforming the worship space from Advent to Christmas. With several hands it should take less than an hour. No specific past experience needed 🙂 Let Ray Concepcion (email@example.com) know you’re interested.
After an Advent with just greens, Christmas flowers are especially welcome and offer an opportunity for you to recognize a person, an event, or simply blessings received. If you want to contribute to Christmas flowers, please note Christmas flowers on your check for the offering plate. If you want wording other than ‘For blessings received’ in the Christmas bulletins, please contact Maggie Cooke, Giving Secretary, (firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-699-6700) before December 20.
The Peace & Justice Lending Library
How well do each of us know our U.S. History? James Baldwin once said that “the history of the Black person is the history of America”. What are some of the historical myths we buy into, such as the idea that anyone can succeed if he or she works hard enough? What are the daily indignities, called microaggressions, of which we may be unaware? What is the difference between intentional racism and structural racism?
As members of All Souls, we are committed to racial healing, reconciliation and justice in our personal lives, in our church, and in our society. Let’s educate and enlighten ourselves as we further this commitment. We have a large, far-reaching selection of amazing books in the narthex, and they are free to take at your convenience. You may keep them or return them, and please add any book you might think others could enjoy. Here are few examples:
The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee:
Most White people were raised to believe that race is part of the zero-sum paradigm; i.e. if the Black population wins something, White’s will lose. If a minority group comes into my group, my group will diminish. But in reality, when one group is pulled down, everyone is pulled down as well. This is true with health care, job earnings, environmental issues, and educational opportunities. McGhee does a great job of not only giving current illustrations, but she gives us great hope in showing the successes of working together and ways that attitudes of unity are changing our culture.
How to Be an AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi
Kendi is an amazing writer, who believes that denial is the heartbeat of racism. The source of racist ideas is not ignorance and it is not hate, but is grounded in self-interest and fear. I can say I am not racist, but still support the status quo. To be antiracist, however, I need to actively support antiracism policies. An antiracist believes in full equity, not in “helping” the poor or expecting someone to live and act like me. Kendi sees the Christian as one who is striving for liberation. He offers an invitation to live out this gospel message.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
This intriguing novel follows twin sisters who are raised in Mallard, a town with only light-skinned Black families. Both sisters struggle with implicit and covert racism within their own community, and they take very divergent paths toward adulthood. The book considers the lasting influence of prejudice and the need for acceptance and love wherever one can find it.