From the Rector
Always Begin Again
I’ve spent the past several days this week at a preaching symposium hosted by the Diocese of California. Our bishop, Bishop Marc Andrus, invited two of his colleagues, Bishop Mariann Edgar-Budde of Washington DC and Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina, to join in an exploration of the places from which preaching emerges.
As part of this retreat, I have spent a good deal of time considering the conversations that are a part of the preaching endeavor. Conversations with the story of God, with the world around us, with each other, within ourselves. I will be writing a Pathfinder article in the weeks to come about what this process is like for me and how this process lives and breathes in Christian community.
Today, though, I find myself wondering about circles. Because we find ourselves back in familiar territory, just having spent our first week in Lent. Wednesday a week ago, Ash Wednesday, we heard the same stories from Joel and Matthew, and this past Sunday, the first in Lent, we once again heard the story of Jesus in the wilderness. At times, hearing the same text, or the same story, can make one wonder: are we just going in circles?
Well, yes. And, no. As part of our plenary time this week, Bishop Marc invited a professional storyteller to be with us, to tell us a few stories and to talk about her practice and craft. As part of her discussion on the telling of old stories (her primary story was that of Cinder-Ella, which has a version from China in the 8th century and at least 350 versions in Ireland alone), she talked about the experience of encountering a story that you have heard before.
She imagined that after you hear a story, you continue your life, walking in a circle. And, then, at some point later, bidden or unbidden, you return to that story. But when you return once more, even though it has come back to you (or you to it), the story is different. The story may or may not have changed, but you are a different person. Because you are in a different space, with new experiences and perhaps deepened understanding, your hearing of the story will be different to you. It may be imperceptible at first, but if you listen closely it will be different. Again, the story may not have changed, but your encounter with it has. And therefore the next circle that you walk from it goes out even wider. It is no longer a circle but a spiral.
So it is with this time of year. In Lent we hear the same stories. Yes, there is some variation because each Gospel writer tells it from another perspective, and we use different texts alongside the stories of Jesus. But the core of these stories has remained the same for thousands of years. And in addition to the renewed encounter that can come from hearing these stories once more, this re-approach in Lent is also a reminder of the fundamental truth that lies at the heart of this season: we always begin again.
For this is the season of our lives when there is particular structure and space and intent to approach the beginning anew. It could be a relationship that is dislocated or broken. It could be a worn-down way of coming close to God. It could be a lost sense of purpose or meaning. But in all of these places of our lives we are reminded that there is possibility. As with a circle, the ways that have been do need to be the ways that will be.
The story of Life is being told again and we are being invited to listen, once more.
From the Associate Rector
A particular kind of Sabbath
Please join us in welcoming Samuel Erik Tichenor to the world!
Sam was born at home on February 20, weighed 8 lbs, 1 oz, and everyone is healthy.
Of all the many wonderful elements that make up All Souls, right now I am personally grateful for the very practical ways that this community supports families. I wanted to share a bit of what to expect in the coming months. The church is generous in offering me 12 weeks of maternity leave, a concrete way that this body lives out the values we profess. In looking at the many factors of home and work life, I have decided with Phil and the wardens that I will spread my leave out over 16 weeks, taking 8 weeks totally off, and then coming back gradually, beginning on April 19th and continuing to increase my hours over the following 8 weeks before returning to full-time on June 14. I appreciate the flexibility this grants us as we live into this new shape of our family. It will also be particularly helpful as we make church together, because means that Phil and I will be able to collaborate for longer between when I return and when he leaves on sabbatical.
I have received a range of questions about what the community can anticipate from me while I’m on leave. Simply put, I ask that you hold us in prayer and look forward to celebrating this new life with us when I return from leave. As you might imagine, it’s a particularly tender time as I begin parenting a newborn again after our son Fritz’s death last year. I am deeply grateful for the Sabbath time we have to settle into these new relationships, and I will be excited to share the joy with all of you later this spring.
On the practical side, know that my responsibilities at All Souls will be held in very capable hands while I’m gone. We have a wonderful priest coming to serve in my stead at 60% time, beginning on March 2nd. Terri will focus her time on preaching, presiding, taking on my responsibilities as the point person for pastoral care, and working with our newcomers ministry. Our Communications Team of parishioners is stepping up to take the lead on publishing the Pathfinder, curating the website, and sharing information on social media. Vestry members and ministry team leaders have received the information about who to contact specifically with different communications needs, and you can also contact Tripp Hudgins or Joy Ng with general questions. Thank you all for your support while I’m on leave!
From the Senior Warden
Reflections from the Vestry Retreat
During the two Sundays before Lent, we heard stories about Jesus retreating, going to the desert alone to pray, and going to the mountain with two of his disciples. As we listened to the sermons and read Fr. Phil’s Pathfinder article, we were reminded of the importance and sacredness of time and space “apart and away” to reflect and prepare for ministry.
Every year following the Annual Meeting, Vestry members and clergy gather at St Dorothy’s Rest for a weekend retreat to pray, discuss, discern, and plan the work we have ahead for the year. The beauty and holiness of the space nestled among redwoods and the time away from our normal obligations and routines (even away from WiFi!) provided a great opportunity to get perspective and clarity in our ministry as leaders of this body. Quoting Fr. Phil’s recent article, “by surveying what lies ahead, we can chart our path.”
This year, we began by reflecting on the work of our Parish through the lens of “All Souls as a source for faith development.” We pondered questions about how people who come to All Souls in any capacity (whether attending regularly or sporadically on Sundays, visiting for a special service, or using the facilities during the week) see and use All Souls as a source in their spiritual development (or not?). How is our Parish as a whole creating possibilities, openings to invite people deeper into our community with the purpose of developing their faith? How does each ministry in our Parish contribute to this? What are, in this context, areas that we need to be paying attention to this year?
Another important piece this particular year was looking at the work of the Programmatic Proposal Groups. As you know, three groups have been working tirelessly to develop proposals – road maps for our work in the three initiative areas that All Souls adopted as our focus for the next 2 to 3 years as a result of the strategic planning process (namely, “to develop Deep Hospitality,” “to become a center for Christian Action and Practice,” and “to re-purpose the Parish House”). We will hear more about this as these groups continue their work, but the preliminary reports gave the Vestry tremendous hope for and excitement about all the possibilities that will come from this process.
Finally, a central component of every Vestry retreat is the welcome and orientation of the new Vestry class as well as the deepening and nurturing of our spiritual kinship as a body of leadership. Learning and re-learning to work together and pray together, looking at our different gifts and experiences, and embracing or renewing our call to leadership is a profound spiritual experience which we hope and pray continues to show in the way we represent and guide the work of this Parish.
– Toni Martinez de Borgfeldt
From the Archives
A recent Contra Costa Times [January 21, 2015] contained the report of a suspicious fire at the abandoned clubhouse in John Hinkel Park in Berkeley, causing an estimated $500,000 damage. For many years we lived around the corner from John Hinkel Park, and I would walk past the clubhouse every morning on my mile walk around the block. In those days, the amphitheater at John Hinkle Park was the site of performances of the Berkeley Shakespeare Company for many years before they moved to Orinda and became Cal Shakes. One of the benefits of living so close to John Hinkel Park was that we could hear the applause after each performance and determine from the length and intensity whether it was worth our catching the next performance.
I am a great fan of Shakespeare and have a single volume of his complete works published by Oxford University Press and printed on India Paper (very thin paper). Unfortunately this edition is long out of print. My well worn, neat little volume is only 6O by 8¼O by 1¼O, which made it very perfect for me to carry on my travels for Worldwide Farmers Exchange. Moreover, it has 32 full page plates of many of the plays performed from the late 1930s through the 1950s at the Old Vic, the Shakespeare Memorial Theater in Stratford, and other theaters with staring Shakespeare notables like Peggy Ashcroft, Michael Redgrave, John Gielgud, James Mason, Anthony Quayle, Robert Hardy, Leo McKern, Claire Bloom, Sybil Thorndike, Edith Evans, Ralph Richardson, and Alec Guinness.
So, where does the clubhouse at John Hinkel Park fit into All Souls’ history? When it became a parish in 1926, All Souls began reaching out to families living north of the University campus by establishing a Sunday School in the Cragmont area. That Sunday School was initially held in the clubhouse at John Hinkel Park. Later, the Sunday School had to be discontinued because use of the meeting place at Hinkel Park clubhouse was cancelled by the City of Berkeley on the basis that All Souls’ use of the clubhouse was a violation of the First Amendment separation of church and state.
The good news is that All Souls did not give up, but continued to seek to serve the community to the north of the church. Ultimately, the parish leased space at the Masonic Temple near the top of Solano Avenue in the Thousand Oaks district to conduct regular Sunday services in addition to the regular services at the church. All Souls outreach to North Berkeley continued from the mid- 1920s to the mid-1930’s, when the Diocese authorized a new St. Alban’s mission.
– Thomas Burcham
Continuing the Feast
Join us after the 11:15 service tomorrow, Sunday, March 1 to feast! The theme is “what you’ve given up for Lent” – Sundays are always feast days, even in Lent, so bring your favorite indulgent food and share in the fun (and chocolate, or bacon, or…) together!
Lenten Series – The Heart of the Matter: Forgiveness
Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30pm, February 25 – March 25
Gather for a warming soup supper and explore the beautiful, challenging, perplexing topic of forgiveness with the Rev. Michael Lemaire.
Interfaith Immigration Vigil
Join members of All Souls holding vigil at West County Detention Facility, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond, CA on March 7th, (and the first Saturday of every month) from 11 am – noon. The Detention Facility is one of 250 facilities across the country that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses to house undocumented immigrants awaiting hearings or deportation. At each vigil, we sing, pray, and hear testimony from family members and friends of those held inside, or from recently released immigrants awaiting hearings.