From the Associate Rector
On Needing Each Other, Part 2
Last week, during the Annual Meeting, we took a look back together over the year 2020 in the life of All Souls Parish. We saw four short videos (that you can find below in the Announcements Section) which just barely scratch the surface of all that this community has achieved, survived, powered through and navigated in the last 12 months. As an outsider looking in on the majority of the conversation, I was so moved by the theme that prevailed throughout these videos: people just showed up. It came up in myriad examples and was articulated in many different ways, but the sentiment was the same. All Soulsians showed up: for themselves, for one another, for this parish, and for the wider community, and brought as much of themselves as they could possibly muster in an incredibly trying time.
In fact, while much of this was going on at All Souls, I was still just a twinkle in the Search Committee’s eye, living and working in Cincinnati, where I was involved with a daily Vigil Against Police Violence that was organized by my friend, Monica Onyedika. Because it was a daily vigil, they always looked different, but there was always music. One song that we learned at these vigils is called “Healing is Possible” by Orion Johnstone. There’s a line in the song that goes like this: “We believe what we need most are the hearts of each other right here.”
Well, if that ain’t the truth.
I don’t know about you, but taking the opportunity to look back over 2020 for me was cathartic, but it was also wearying. When I think about all the new things we have tried, mistakes and missteps, all the nights of hanging out at home with nowhere to go, missing my friends and family, missing going to church, etc. I start to feel exhausted. And, I know that we’re not out of the woods yet, even with the vaccines coming out. We’re in this for a while longer, and we have to dig deep and keep showing up for each other the same way we did in 2020.
I wrote in my Pathfinder article a couple weeks ago about the ways in which we take care of each other, and share the rich resource of our hearts with one another, and today I’d like to highlight two more ways: one very established, and one brand new.
First, Stephen Ministry. This is the most impactful way that we have as a parish of walking together through difficult times. Stephen Ministers are highly trained in Christian Caregiving, which means they are well versed in the sacred arts of showing up, deep listening, and prayer. Over the last twelve years, All Souls has commissioned 49 Stephen Ministers and these dedicated people have provided support for over 145 care receivers. During 2020, Stephen Ministers provided support for 21 care receivers. While Stephen Ministers are equipped to handle difficult situations such as grief over the loss of a spouse, divorce, job loss, or aging, they are also available to you if you’re just having a hard time, and frankly I don’t know anyone who isn’t having a little bit of a hard time right now. If you’re interested in having a Stephen Minister walk with you for a time, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help you get connected. You can read an article below by Erin Horne about what having a Stephen Minister has meant to her.
Second, following the example of two of our very own All Soulsians, Gloria Bayne and Priscilla Camp, we plan to launch an all-parish phone call ministry over the next few weeks. In December, Gloria and Priscilla gathered a small group of volunteers to make phone calls to the elders in our community just to check in to see how they’re doing and to let them know we are thinking of them. At the same time that Gloria and Priscilla started working on this, murmurings started to come up from others that we should think about creating a system by which we can check in on everyone in the parish. To that end, I bring you: a good old fashioned phone tree (cheeky name pending, let me know if you have ideas.)
The idea is that we’ll have a small group of volunteers, ideally at least 10, that commit to calling about 10 households a week to check in and see how everyone is doing. Volunteers do not need to have any special training, just a willingness to talk on the phone and a flexible enough schedule to allow the time to do it. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, please fill out this form to let us know how you’d like to be involved.
Let’s hope that in our Annual Meeting next year, we’ll have some different things to look back on besides quarantine and figuring out how to be a church online, and just maybe we’ll look back on 2021 as a year that we grew more connected and formed new relationships in our church family under the most unlikely of circumstances.
From Stephen Ministry
A Unique Relationship
2016 seemed to be a monumentally challenging time for me. My beloved All Souls friends would often inquire: “Would you feel supported by having a Stephen Minister?” I always thanked them for their concern, but reassured them that I was okay. I was moving back in with my parents to help care for my dad, who was dying of Alzheimer’s, and I was also in need of several eye surgeries to stop the progression of my loss of vision. The thought of one more thing on my schedule, plus having to dredge up sad feelings of loss was overwhelming.
I was also leery of having a type of counseling with a fellow All Souls member. What if we were already friends? Would this hinder our relationship, and would we be able to be friends again after the sessions ended? Would our talks be totally confidential? Would bumping into them in line for communion feel awkward?
During Lent and Holy Week of the following year, I was deeply grieving the loss of my dad, and missing his support during another urgent eye surgery. I felt numb and paralyzed, as if I could not keep up with the world around me. Finally, I was ready to have another outlet, where I could not only talk about my mental health, but focus on my spiritual well-being.
From the first time I met with my Stephen Minister, I knew it was a matching of God’s grace. She was saying things that almost sounded like my dad’s words of wisdom and support. It almost felt like the three of us were sitting in the local coffee shop. When my Stephen Minister had to step away because of health issues, I was again hesitant to start with someone else. But I also was now aware that the relationship would be solid, ongoing, and confidential.
At the next sad anniversary during Lent and Holy Week, my new Stephen Minister and I decided to design a very personal ritual. We met in a nearby park to pray and sing a little, and to write and then burn my laments in a little outdoor barbeque, and watched as my prayers rose up like incense before us.
We did not meet as often BC (before Covid) but once we could no longer be in the sanctuary at church, we seemed to both be grateful for the actual presence of another All Soulsian as we walked and talked together.
The Stephen Ministry program is an invaluable, life changing resource for whatever our hearts and souls might need, at any time in our lives, and for that I am forever grateful.
Upcoming Small Group
Couples and Partners Small Group
It’s not often in this church that we have talked about marriage and partnerships, and yet, for many, the relationship of a partner is a defining part of life. As a result, Dr. Tracy Smith and Dr. Paul Guillory, both licensed therapists, have offered to host a small group for couples/partners, which is set to start on February 7th and will meet for six weeks.
I asked Tracy to reflect on a few questions so that we could get a better idea of the nature of this group. In case you were looking for a reason to join this group, here are Tracy’s answers:
How did you get into the work of couples therapy?
My work in couples therapy first evolved from reading a required book by psychologist, Sue Johnson, on Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples. While it may sound a little funny, reading that book was a “love at first sight” moment for me. It helped me to understand love through an attachment lens and how healthy it is to bond “from the cradle to the grave,” per John Bowlby, who was one of the early developers of attachment theory. From there, Paul and I went to Canada to attend one of Dr. Johnson’s trainings. After that, I was sold and went on to focus my dissertation on studying couples.
What keeps you in it?
Life can be hard. I’ve said many times that 2020 really tested us and we’re still being tested. When we have someone in our corner, who we know is there, it helps us to get through those difficult times. Couples work is also challenging, especially if there has been a threat to the security of that bond. Helping couples to navigate through that and work towards rebuilding trust is fulfilling work for me.
How does your faith inform your work?
Paul and I were raised in the church and attended schools where we learned about Jesus’ teachings of love, forgiveness, humility, and being kind to others and to ourselves, which I believe helps to create a calming presence for couples.
“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.” –Annie Dillard, from Teaching a Stone to Talk
Over the years I have turned to this paragraph from Annie Dillard at the start of the Lent––the time of year when we enter liminal spaces and fearfully ask to be drawn out to the wilderness, to the places from which we might not return.
But it’s not just Lent that comes to mind when I read these words from Dillard, it is also the Catechumenate class, specifically. And, I think of the Catechumenate because, for me, this is the most radical class we teach all year––the one in which we learn that crash helmets might be required; where we learn about our particular Episcopal batch of TNT, which I happen to think is especially explosive. As an adult convert to this tradition, I am aware that I can tend towards the radical, but I also know that as an adult convert, I happen to have a more intimate acquaintance with just how life-altering this particular Episcopal tradition can be.
So, what is the Catechumenate? The Catechumenate is a class where we teach about who we are, and attempt to give an idea of what this Episcopal church and faith tradition is about. Folks who take this class (called Catechumens) will learn from a number of thoughtful people in this community and hopefully get a glimpse of Episcopal theology, history, and structure, as well as how to use the Book of Common Prayer and some ideas on how to read the Bible. The class will meet on the five Sunday evenings of Lent (February 21-March 28) at 7p on Zoom. All are welcome, even if you’ve been an Episcopalian for a long while. But, if you are looking for an introduction to this tradition or are hoping to be baptized (whenever that can happen), Confirmed, Received, or Reaffirmed into this tradition, this is most certainly the class you’ll want to take.
I hope that many of you will join this year’s class as we attempt, together, to wrestle with what it means to be an Episcopal sort of Christian in our world. If you have any questions or would like to sign-up, you can write to me at email@example.com.
Sunday Live Streaming News
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.
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
We have three class offerings this Sunday
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study. Contact Daniel Prechtel, firstname.lastname@example.org, to join that Zoom call at 10:10am.
- Things We Trust and Ways We Know: Exploring the Interface of Theology and the Natural Sciences taught by the Rev. Mark Richardson on Zoom at 10:10a February 7 & 14.
- One of the classic issues of our culture has been navigating the relationship between knowledge and wisdom we trust, but which comes from vastly different sources. As people of faith, we trust, for example, in God as known to us in Jesus. And, on the other hand, we trust in the practical efficacy of technologies based in science, and by implication, its progressive pathways in theory and knowledge. On the face of it, these two domains seem so different. Are they in conflict? Are they both real but so vastly different as to be unrelatable domains? Should we look for coherence across these domains? We will explore these questions in survey on February 7, and look at a case study on February 14.
- Mark Richardson is President and Dean of Church Divinity School of the Pacific. An Episcopal priest, scholar, lecturer and theologian, he has written extensively on faith, science, and evolution. He was founder and director of the Science and Spiritual Quest Project of the Center for Theology and Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
- Newcomer Class Q&A led by the Rev. Phil Brochard & Emily Hansen Curran at 10:10a on Zoom, February 7th.
- Come with your follow-up questions from our three week Newcomer Class course that happened the three weeks prior to the Annual Meeting! Or, if you’re new and haven’t attended the Newcomer Class, feel free to drop in and meet some fellow newcomers, as well as Phil & Emily.
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 News
In-person Children’s formation is temporarily on hold as we are under a new Shelter in Place order, but Children’s Chapel resumes this week via Zoom at 10:10! The theme for Show & Tell this week is healing. Bring something that you use for healing when you’re sick or injured. Maybe you have a stuffed animal that makes you feel better, or a favorite soup recipe, etc. If you’d like to receive updates about this, but do not subscribe to the Family Bulletin, please email Maggie Foote (email@example.com) for more information.
Youth group resumes meeting every other Sunday at 7:00pm via Zoom. Our next meeting will be February 14th. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list!
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.
Sacred Ground We are launching another round of Sacred Ground groups! What is Sacred Ground? It is a film and article-based dialogue series on race and faith written by the Diocese of the Episcopal church for people looking to examine their notions of race and whiteness. You can read more about the program on the National Diocesan website here. This is the last week to sign-up for a group (it looks like this group will be meeting on Tuesday evenings) and you can sign-up by emailing Maggie, email@example.com.
For Couples/Partners This is also the last week you can sign-up for our couples/partners small group, which will start on February 7th. If you are interested in this group, email Tracy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Paul (email@example.com).
Evening Prayer via Zoom
Here is the link for the Thursday night BCP Compline, which starts at 8:30 PDT:
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 786 3029 4068
Check out Season 2, Episode 20 of the Soulcast!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
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 email@example.com.
Alameda County Vaccine Information
If you are over 75, you qualify for vaccination! Click here for more information if you need it.
Missed Annual Meeting?
You can watch the entire meeting here (we’ll leave this up for a couple of weeks and then this link will expire). Or you can simply watch the staff story videos and/or the Jordan Court time lapse videos on our Youtube channel by clicking here.