From the Associate Rector

A Holy Disruption

For the last several years I have held the same Lenten practice, but this year it’s not going to work for me for a few reasons, so I’m finding myself in need of something new.  For me, a good Lenten discipline has to include a few key elements, but primarily, it has to disrupt a pattern of behavior, and inject more intentionality into at least one facet of my life.  For me, great Lenten disciplines break me out of a pattern of behavior that I have adopted because of convenience or ease: they create a holy disruption, you might say.

Personally, since quarantine began, I have noticed myself filling all of my spare time with media of all kinds; I’ve listened to more music and audio books than usual, I’ve read more books and news than usual, I’ve spent more time doom scrolling and looking at Instagram then ever, and I’ve watched more tv and movies than ever.  Not all of these things are actively harming me, and one could certainly argue that reading more and listening to more music and audio books is enriching. Nevertheless, they have created a pattern of behavior that leaves little room for prayer, personal reflection, or silence. They have allowed me to avoid thinking about the present reality, if only for a short while, by filling my brain with distractions.

This is why I’m eager to engage with the Daily Lenten reflections offered by All Soulsians each day.  I’m planning to use them as a way to shut out the noise that I’ve sought out for the last year, and open myself to what comes up when I take time to reflect and be quiet and listen. They offer an opportunity to embrace the quiet, to take a long look at the reality of our present world, and to shut out the easy distractions that keep us far from God and from one another.

Every day, on the Lent 2021 page of our website, an All Soulsian will offer a reflection on a theme or question related to the larger theme of transformation. These offerings are meant to be a jumping off point for your own personal reflection on these same themes and questions.  They may take on different shapes, and they’ll all come from different perspectives.  I commend these to you, as you consider your own Lenten practices and disciplines. I wonder how they might help us slow down, listen, and be still resting in the knowledge that God waits for us in her eternal changelessness.  Now, we begin the Lenten journey through transformation: we listen, we open ourselves, we awaken to God’s presence, we turn toward God, and enter.

In peace,

Lenten Reflections

What does God seek to heal in me this Lenten season?

This week marks the beginning of Lent, the liturgical season of fasting and prayer that leads up to Easter. It’s a quiet one, for the second year in a row now: No Mardi Gras parades, not even in New Orleans, no church pancake dinners.  In my parish, there’s been a deeply quiet email call for Lenten meditations, and an equally quiet list of links to Lenten zoom services we could attend.  For someone who loved to spend Mardi Gras  circling the church rec-room with a glass of wine and a plate of jambalaya, the season feels silent. It’s strange to approach this threshold of fasting in a year already studded with losses.  For people like me, who like to observe Lent, a question comes up: In a year when we’ve already given up the world as we knew it, for nearly a year, how do we observe this season?  What if we just don’t want to give up more?

First of all: let me talk about Lent a bit. I’ll begin with a confession. As sheer time in the pew goes, I’m not always a particularly devout Christian. In the old days I was the road a lot, and to be honest, this year our family gave up on zoom church months ago.  But there are many gateways to the holy, and wherever I’ve been, I’ve always loved Lent’s offering of a spring fast. Over the years, I’ve filled Lenten weeks with dreamy practices (write in my journal every day) or social ones (try, each day, to call a friend). One way or another, I have practiced Lent for decades, even when I haven’t practiced much else. Even in my twenties, when I joked about attending the “Church of Brunch” and the “Church of the Holy Comforter” (i.e. bed) I still loved the ritual of being more intentional in spring, of watching the trees begin to bloom and the tulips rising out of the thaw.

How I’ve practiced has changed though: in later years, after I’d wandered back to church, I’d use Lent to give up wheat or alcohol or sugar, enjoying abstaining, perhaps also hoping that my Lenten practice would also make me (ahem) a bit leaner.  As I began to raise kids, Lent sometimes snuck up, feeling like one mindfulness too many, something I’d just fail in an already busy life. “This year I’m giving up Lent for Lent” I told my priest.

My view of Lent evolved again, a few years ago, when I was living in Northern Ireland, and visited Carrickfergus Castle, on the north side of Belfast Lough. The castle, which dates from the 12th Century, has a whole history as part of England’s colonial efforts in Ireland, and is one place where the bad King John of Robin Hood fame actually ended up. (Note: historians are fairly sure that John De Courcy existed, whereas Robin Hood may well have not).  Carrickfergus is a great stone castle, with a narrow tower and thin arrowslits in the stone walls so that guards could send rains of arrows down to defend against marauders at sea.  All that was fabulous, but what caught my attention on that cold February day was reading a description of liturgical life in the castle circa 1250. A plaque described how after the big feast and hunting seasons of winter (you’d hunt in the fall and freeze meet for the cold), the community came together to feast once more before entering Lent, when they’d essentially live on oats and peas for six weeks until spring came. Their late-winter feast was a stone soup affair—inviting the town to put out the best things they’d been hoarding—a last hurrah before, as a community, the times became thinner.  Looking out at the rainy landscape of Ireland, I understood the gesture: There was not much to harvest. The community fasted partly because the earth was at rest.

Suddenly I understood Lent differently. I now saw this fast rooted in both ecological and communal principles—a practice undertaken by and for community so that people could care for one another and the land in a lean time. Thinking about this fast —as a practice by and for community, in stewardship of one another and the earth—changed my thinking about how I wanted to observe it. It was a bit of an aha moment: Suddenly it became far less important to think about how successful I was or was not at giving up sugar, and more important to think about how the practices in which I root my life— work or art or faith or daily doings—act (even in mysterious ways) with and for the community around me. Thinking this way informed my actions:  Last year, for Lent, my practice was simply to drive less and ride my bike as much as possible.

This year’s Lent has other resonance. Last years Mardi Gras was (unbeknownst to us) our family’s  final communal dinner, our last evening out together in the former world. I still remember us weaving into the small crowd gathered at church, eating together.  We took turns watching as everyone’s children climbed on the church’s outdoor play structure, and my daughter wove in and out of the building amassing a preposterous number of bead necklaces. The virus was in the news but (we thought) not close to us yet. I was supposed to leave at dawn for a whirlwind trip to New York.  On the drive home that night, my husband, who rarely raises objections, asked me to cancel. “There’s a storm brewing, Tess, with this virus, and would be really bad to get sick right now.”  I, who have spent years charging hard at the world, cancelled my cab at four the next morning, and called my editor in Chelsea to say I’d reschedule as soon as I could.  Those were famous last words. I haven’t been in New York since. The very next day some known cases of exposure to Coronavirus appeared at our kids’ schools, and the schools closed.  That was the beginning of shutting ourselves in and down. For us, the first day of  that Lent marked the beginning of this difficult, life-changing year.

This brings me back to the question:  After this incredibly difficult year, in a season of so many losses and deprivations, what can we offer this this second quiet Lent? How do we make choices that let us slow down and root in whatever world is here now, and prepare for whatever world is coming next?  We’ve already given up so much:  I think of my parents six blocks away not able to missing their grandkids, our relationship muted by a year of careful skirting one another.  I think of losing my great aunt in North Carolina to COVID, and the way we haven’t been able to meet as a family to bury my grandmother, a child of 1918, who passed last January. We’ve given up libraries and bars and airplanes and airports; schools and childcare and indoor spaces; we’ve foregone the comforting mammal sensation of seeing one another’s mouths.  Some of us even have given up on saying hello to one another as we pass in the street, as if somehow silence will keep us safe.

It’s easy to feel like it’s all too long, and hard, as if giving up something else this year is just beyond what anyone should attempt. It’s then that I come back to the idea that struck me in the Irish castle facing the North Sea.  I remind myself that all this giving up, has—for the whole year—had at its root, some hope of keeping one another well, of helping us all to make it through this difficult season together.  I’m reminded of the signs that were posted around our neighborhood: “Wearing your mask is an act of love.”  I resolve again to slow down and weave that  love back into my understanding:  As I keep my distance, and don my mask, and register to get vaccinated, I do it for the community in which I live.

On Mardi Gras, I did make pancakes and hot sausages for my kids for dinner. I haven’t decided, quite, what this year’s Lenten practice will be. I’m still thinking about it. I am considering volunteering each week in a local community garden.  I miss hugging and drinking wine with friends in a big old rickety church building.  I’m so hungry for the world. There is, this year, an endgame in sight, however far off. Maybe not by Easter, maybe not by summer, but we will find our ways back to one another.   For now I try to center on love. I keep my eye on the tulips, also: I watch them moving, day by day towards bloom.

-Tess Taylor

All Souls Helps Launch New Tiny Homes!

Tiny homes and planters in progress

It takes a village to build a village. You’ll find this slogan on T-shirts designed by Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA)—and indeed, it takes a village. For the past couple of years, All Souls Parish has rallied in support of the Tiny House Empowerment Village, which celebrates the arrival of its first residents on Friday, February 19. All Souls Parish joins more than 2,000 volunteers from 10+ congregations in support of this first- of-a-kind housing solution for 22 formerly unhoused young adults aged 18-24, and four staff people.

If you drive down Hegenberger Road under the BART Rail at Baldwin Street in Oakland, you will notice a brightly colored fence. Take a closer look and you’ll realize that each piece of the fence has a blessing, a tribute, or a wish. Within the fence are 26 tiny homes on trailers and two communal yurts, raised garden beds, bikes, and racks. Two of the homes will be wheelchair accessible.

Hundreds of volunteers built the tiny homes—including All Soulsians who hammered, drilled, and raised roofs until these spaces could be lived in. Fast forward almost two years and hundreds of artist-hours, and every surface of the tiny homes is covered with original murals. Inside each home is a fold-down murphy bed, a beautifully painted chair, a handmade quilt, original artwork on the walls, a welcome basket with toiletries and essentials, a welcome home card, a clock, a desk lamp, a mirror, and closet hangers.

The new residents, 11 from Oakland and 11 from Berkeley, will live in the Village for up to two years. Each resident provides three hours of weekly community care for the Village and at least one hour of recreation such as biking. Each will commit to working for YSA in some capacity for at least eight hours a week.  In addition to other wrap-around services and trainings, these young folks will work with a job developer and case manager to explore their future and long-term options.

Our dear friend, the late Vicki Varghese, led a Justice and Peace team for this project. With contagious enthusiasm, she organized volunteers to paint planters and fence boards, hang mirrors, and decorate the houses; and Justice and Peace provided three mattresses. It was all hands on deck the weekend of February 14, as 150 volunteers and families converged to put finishing touches on the homes, including painting shelves and hanging curtains—with sandwiches, bottled water, fruit, and snacks provided by All Souls. Youth group families provided toiletries and other essentials, while the youth created Welcome Home cards.

Moving forward, there will be opportunities to celebrate and support as we give thanks for a model project that is making a significant difference in the housing crisis. Thanks be to God!

Jenny Kern, All Souls Liaison to the YSA Tiny House Empowerment Village,

with Cynthia Clifford

The amazing Blessing Fence

One of three homes All Souls is preparing

Streaming Services

Sunday Mornings:  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.

Wednesday Mornings: 9:00am PDT

Join the Zoom call here:
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218

Thursday Night Compline: 8:30pm PDT

Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 786 3029 4068
Passcode: Compline

Adult Formation

7:30am Bible Study

This group of 9-13 regulars is still meeting regularly. We are open for anyone else seeking an early morning Bible study with rotating facilitators. In order  to receive the Zoom link sent out each Saturday, just email to be added to the list.

Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Daniel Prechtel,, to join that Zoom call at 10:10am. 

Story With Story taught by Jeannie Koops-Elson and the Rev. Phil Brochard at 10:10 on Zoom (click here to enter the class) on February 21, 28, March 7 & 14.

The Bible is full of passages that seem to resonate with one another. The ancient stories of the people of Israel were the foundational texts of the people recording the stories and letters that became the New Testament. These authors seem to intentionally invoke and echo the older stories as they narrate the life of Jesus Christ and His Way. In this class, we will look at pairs of passages from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament and through close reading and conversation, explore what new richness or understanding we uncover when we lay these stories alongside each other.

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. 

Children, Family & Youth News

Children’s Ministry

Children’s Chapel meets Sundays via Zoom at 10:10! The theme for Show & Tell this week is wilderness.  Bring something that you’d need if you were going on an adventure in the forest or jungle. If you’d like to receive updates about this, but do not subscribe to the Family Bulletin, please email Maggie Foote ( for more information.

Kid’s Book Club meets Wednesdays at 4:00pm on Zoom. We’re reading The Magic in Changing Your Stars by Leah Henderson. Hope to see you there!

Youth Group

Youth group resumes meeting every other Sunday at 7:30pm via Zoom. Our next meeting will be Sunday, February 28th. Hope to see you all there, and if you have a young person in your household in grades 6-12, and do not receive updates about Youth Group events, please email Maggie at to be added to the list!

Other News & Notes

Lent 2021 Practices

Click here to learn about what we’re up to this Lenten season and to participate with the daily Lenten reflections that our fellow parishioners are writing for us!


Check out Season 3: Episode 1 of the Soulcast!

Stephen Ministry: We are here for you!

2020 was 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.

Summer Book Group

During the summer, All Soulsians select a book to read together and devote the 10:10 Sunday adult formation hour to discussing that book. The Adult Formation Committee requests your nominations for a book for Summer Book Group.  Books may be fiction or nonfiction. After nominations are gathered, we will put nominees up for a parish-wide vote.  Beginning in June 2021, all are welcome to join us in discussing the book during formation hour at 10:10 am.   Help us pick the book by submitting suggestions either here or by emailing

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: for more information.

Meal Train

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

Alameda County Vaccine Information

If you are over 75, you qualify for vaccination! Click here for more information if you need it. 

International Women’s Day Project

We are seeking participants for an audio visual project honoring International Women’s Day, coming up on March 8th. If you are a woman and you have a photo of yourself that shows something you’re proud of or a picture of you showing something about what it means to you to be a woman, I’d like to talk to you about it! Email me at for more details.