Phil Brochard headshot2A Sign to be Seen

Last month, a seminarian from CDSP was getting a Lyft back from the airport and heading up to the seminary campus. Their route took them up Cedar, and as the Lyft driver approached the corner of Cedar and Spruce, he slowed down. But it wasn’t because he was lost. It was because he was reading our triptych as he made his way up the hill.

After a conversation about her being a seminarian and having a number of friends at this parish, the Lyft driver paused and said, “you know — you just don’t think about that until you see it in print that way. Jesus was a refugee. Wow. Wow.”

A similar story unfolded a few months ago when our PG&E meter reader came to read our utility meters. In our post-Joy Shih Ng-world, Liz dug through the folders of keys and through divine intervention, found the right one. After locating what she needed, the meter reader shared with Liz that she had walked past our sign and been stopped cold by the banner. Struck by the image and the words, “Jesus was a Refugee,” she took a photo of it because she said, “I need to take it with me.”

It has been just over a year of having this sign in front of our church, and the response that we have received has surpassed our wildest imagination. Whether it is the stands that we take, the thought-and-feeling-provoking questions that we ask, or the prayers we make room for, it seems to me that through this medium we have become an agent of the Holy Spirit.

The Lyft driver and PG&E meter reader will likely never come back to be with us on the corner of Cedar and Spruce. And that’s ok, as for that moment, All Souls was a conduit for their Christian practice. For those two folks, and I’m guessing many, many others, they re-discovered or found a new way to trust in the living God.


Vestry Elections

george tharisayi

George Tharisayi

laura eberly

Laura Eberly


Stacey Alexeeff

priscilla camp

Priscilla Camp






Congratulations to our new class of vestry members, elected last Sunday at our Annual Meeting: Laura Eberly, George Tharisayi, Priscilla Camp and Stacey Alexeeff. Much gratitude to all the souls who so generously stood for election, and for the many ways you each serve as leaders in this congregation. If you missed the Annual Meeting, you can still read the annual report, which is downloadable here.

From the Associate for Ministry Development

Emily Hansen Curran

Taking away and putting on

Lent is coming, soon. Last Lent we started a dinner group series called Soup + Story, and because it was so well attended and so rich an experience, we are going to do it again.

As you consider what practices you might take away or put on in these coming days leading up to the start of Lent, consider joining a Soup + Story group. For those who have not been to one, Soup + Story is a home group series that we do twice a year (once in Lent and again in October). During the five weeks of Lent, we’ll gather weekly in each others’ homes for dinner and to learn from scripture with each other. Homes are opened, meals are cooked, and we share stories and pray together. If you are hoping to connect with other people, or dive more deeply into our Christian story, or if your family is looking for a Lenten practice that you can do together, consider joining one of these groups.

There are two ways to sign up—on paper sheets in the Welcome area (in front of the sound
booth) on Sundays, or online, on this google doc. We realize there are only three nights open at this point, so if you are interested in hosting an additional evening, please see me.

– Emily Hansen Curran


In December, we welcomed 24 new members into the All Souls family. Today and in the coming weeks, we’ll hear from many of them.

Julie Holcomb

I’m very happy to have found my way to All Souls. After a few years thinking about possibly finding my way back to spiritual community, I got more serious about the search last spring. I was an active evangelical Christian during my teenage years and into my twenties, attending a Presbyterian Church and Calvary Chapel (a center of the “Jesus Movement”) in Southern California during high school, then University Covenant Church when I attended UC Davis, and after that, First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, when Earl Palmer was preaching there. Then, in my mid-twenties, I drifted off, demoralized by my perception that continuing to be a Christian required holding a worldview that I could not sustain. The first churches I visited last spring reminded me of what I missed, but also why I had left, but All Souls seemed different. At All Souls, I found kinship with others who believe that compassion is the beginning and the end, and that relationship with God can spring from an ancient tradition, yet nourish our modern minds/selves in the world in which we actually live. I’m challenged and also inspired by the strong convictions of my two grown sons: Joe, who is Buddhist, and Alec, who is Mormon. Those who seek shall find!

I’ve made my living as a letterpress printer for more than 35 years. I live happily in North Berkeley with our dog Luna (who goes to work with me), three chickens, and, currently, my older son, joined by my younger son on school breaks from UCSB. I volunteer at the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt and pursue the art of bonsai with my friends at the East Bay Bonsai Society. I also serve on the board of the Berkeley Democratic Club.

– Julie Holcomb


Tuesday, February 13th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Come on out to have breakfast for dinner, or the best jambalaya in town. Celebrate the last night before Lent and get your Mardi Gras beads. After dinner, we’ll move to the courtyard to light the holy fire and step into Lent. If you still have palms from last year, bring them for the fire – we gather them (from last year’s Palm Sunday) to burn for the ashes we use the next day, on Ash Wednesday. Tickets are $10 adults / $5 kids / $25 max per family. The dinner is a fundraiser for the high school immersion trip, which this year will be going to Santa Rosa to aid in ongoing fire relief efforts.


Have you or someone you know been wondering about the Episcopal church? Wonder no more! For the five weeks in Lent, starting February 18th on Sunday evenings, we’ll host this introductory course. In it we’ll explore the whys, hows, and whats of the Episcopal church. If you are looking to get Baptized, Confirmed, Received, or Reaffirmed in the church, this is the course for you. Conversely, if you’re just looking to learn more about this Episcopal tradition, this is also the course for you. Written by our own Stephen Quarles and Emily Hansen Curran with help from a fellow Episcopalian, Andrew Lee, this course is meant to deepen our faith, our practice, and our relationships. All are welcome. See Emily,, for more information.


Christian Wiman is coming March 9th and 10th! We’ve teamed up with First Congregational Church in Berkeley to host the poet Christian Wiman for an evening conversation at First Church on March 9th and a workshop and continued conversation on the 10th here at All Souls. To prepare for his coming, Emily Hansen Curran is hosting two book group meetings. The next will meet this Sunday, February 4th at 7pm in the Common Room. We’ll discuss Wiman’s latest poem anthology, Joy: 100 poems, starting with his introduction and dipping into a few of the poems listed. Anyone may drop in, perhaps bring a snack or beverage to share!

Candlemas at UC Berkeley

Bishop Marc will preside over the Episcopal Campus Ministry’s annual Candlemas procession and the blessing of candles. Afterwards there will be a festive reception and conversation with the bishop. Music will be provided by the campus ministry student quartet featuring music of Palestrina, Morales, Gibbons, Byrd, and more.
When: Thursday, February 8, 6:30 p.m.
Where: St. Mark’s Church, 2300 Bancroft Way, BerkeleyCost: Free, donations are appreciated.
For more information and a courtesy RSVP for preparation purposes, contact Tom Poynor at