From the Senior Warden

Behold the Annual Meeting

Behold! Behold what you are, become what you receive. We hear these words at the Eucharist. They were offered as a Stewardship theme this past fall. What does it mean to “behold”? What are we? Who will we become?

Here is one snapshot: It is a Saturday morning in early September. Many of those involved in liturgical ministries – the lectors, intercessors, and chalice bearers – have gathered in the common room. We are on the brink of our new Sunday schedule. Mary Louise Hintz, our former deacon, explains details of how this will work in the worship service. The morning is overcast and damp, and the room pulses with a mixture of curiosity and anxiety. Although the vestry had begun to imagine this moment last February, and 20 or so members of the Transition Team have been meeting twice a month for 6 months to think through all details associated with this change, now that the moment has arrived it feels a bit overwhelming. It feels awkward to do familiar things in new ways, a little scary to step into the unknown. Most of all, it is difficult to accept that rituals can be changed. Behold: consider what we guard, what we seek to preserve, what we hold close.

Another snapshot: It is a week before the Day of the Dead, Arts at All Souls has invited anyone who is interested to come and make big, fluffy orange tissue paper marigolds to use for decorations in the church for All Souls/All Saints weekend. Several tables are set up in the Parish Hall. Jocelyn Bergen has prepared all of the materials – squares of tissue paper, scissors, wire “stems” – and has a plan for assembly. About a dozen women and several children arrive and settle in to fold and snip and twist. Off to the side, Michelle Barger has spread a large swath of fabric across the floor and is working on a banner for the stewardship dinner. Out of a red background, letters take shape proclaiming, “Behold.” It is a peaceful, concentrated time. As we work, over the rustling sound of tissue paper, we introduce ourselves, asking the sort of questions that sometimes feel too personal if you don’t have something to do with your hands, a breadth of time to listen, and trust in a shared purpose. I am able to learn a little more about people I have seen around All Souls for some time but never had an occasion to speak with. I learn about lives in transition, and hopes for the future. We are young and old, patient, curious, creative. Behold: look at what we can do together. Behold: observe who we can be for each other.

Another snapshot: It is 10:45 on a Sunday morning. Around tables in the Parish Hall, women and men are discussing a film they have just watched about immigrants risking their lives to cross the US border. As part of a formation class on “Welcoming the Stranger,” Christine Trost has invited us to share the stories of immigration in our own lives. Many of us are surprised to remember that we all have them, to remind ourselves that we have all been strangers at some time. In the film, we have heard the stories of those who journey to the United States seeking a better life. Stories told within the context of humanity and scripture rather than nationalism. Immigrants seek what we all seek – the ability to feed their families, educate their children, hope for the future. Everyone at my table is in tears, moved by the suffering and injustice we have apprehended, opened to making the world more welcoming to the strangers among us. Behold: see what is happening to our brothers and sisters. Behold: consider how our efforts together make more of us all.

A final scene: it is Christmas Eve, the Midnight Mass. Candlelight makes every face in the church look soft and hopeful. The hour is late. The music is sublime. A fragrance of evergreens and candle wax fills the air. This service contains the final moments of doing all that needs to be done or said before the birth of hope in the darkness. Father Phil’s sermon touches something in me in a way that connects my ordinary life to the divine – the strange miracle of being alive is fitted to the great wonder of all that is. We sing of Joy to the World. And after, we meet in the parish hall with old friends and new acquaintances. Cookies, hot mulled wine, conversation, and hearts brimming over with joy. Behold: remember why we come here. Behold: keep faith. Behold: consider how our efforts together make more of us.

I would like to thank all of you for the openness that you have shown this year, for trying new and sometimes uncomfortable ¬¬ways of being church, for holding up what is important in our lives together, for leadership, for dedication. I especially appreciate Lewis Maldonado for his dedicated efforts and insight as junior warden this past year. Thank you Fr Phil for giving me the opportunity to be senior warden this year. It certainly has made more of me! As we look ahead to All Souls in 2014 and beyond, what will we be? Who will we become?

–Nancy Austin

From the Parish House

A Day in the Life

Greetings from across the parking lot. My name is Tripp Hudgins. I am a Baptist pastor, musician, and liturgical theologian. Patricia Austin, my spouse, is a local theater professional and we live in the Parish House.

Trish and I moved to Berkeley from Chicago a couple of years ago so that I could pursue a PhD in Liturgy at the GTU. Ruth Meyers was my advisor for my masters work at Seabury-Western, so the GTU seemed like the obvious choice when it came time to look at PhD programs. It’s been a wonderful experience thus far.

I want to give you a small taste of what it’s like to be part of the Parish House community.

As I write this, there are Italian sausages simmering in tomato sauce on the stove. The apartment smells great. Trish and I have been doing laundry today. I’ve been back and forth from the GTU in meetings about my dissertation proposal, comprehensive exams, and a class I am TA for at Pacific School of Religion. It’s been a whirlwind kind of day with a lot to think about and not enough time to accomplish all that needs doing.

I am sure you can relate.

We’ve been enjoying the company of Dong Jeong’s mother. She’s been staying in the spare bedroom while visiting our fellow Parish House community members Dong and Rhian for a short spell. It’s good to have space to share with friends old and new. The Tichenors have stayed with us in the past. They too are good friends. We’re still holding them in prayer and love. This is, in the simplest way I can state, the essence of community here in the Parish House. We share what we have and seek grace in our day-to-day living.

We do gather and share a common meal once a week. We pray together, too. These are also incredibly important practices that serve us as a Christian community. In the end, however, for me at least, these other day-to-day kindnesses such as sharing space and love and light with one another also make this a faith community. Prayer and “sharing all things in common,” as the Bible reminds us, is a pretty good recipe for community.

Tonight I will make my way across the parking lot into church to make a little music with the choir and Angel Band. It has been my great joy to sing and play with them and to participate in the liturgy when I can. It is another means of gathering, of communion (if you’ll let me be baptisty about music for a second), of blessing and sharing in the Spirit.

There is a sacramentality to song that blesses me.

Trish and I are not entirely strangers to All Souls. Sarah Crawford, for example, and I have known one another for a long while now. And it seems that each day I discover another connection to All Souls that I did not know. The world is very small. I look forward to getting to know more of you over time.

I am inspired by the day-to-day kindnesses and the intentionality of the Parish House community, by the friendships old and new. I am inspired by the continuity of relationship with people like Sarah and Kieran, Ruth Meyers, Dan Prechtel, and Horace Griffin. I am inspired by the chance to pray and sing with you all.

I know that this old building can sometimes be a burden on All Souls. I simply want you to know that it, and the opportunity it affords so many, is also a great blessing.

Thank you for the opportunity to be here with you. Trish and I look forward to making new friends.

-Tripp Hudgins

E-Scrip News

Help Support our Children and Youth Programs

If you haven’t signed up for eScrip yet, please do so. Each month, All Souls parishioners and friends earn money for the church just by doing their usual shopping with credit (see note below) and debit cards they have registered at All the money goes straight to programs for our children and youth. It is a free way to donate automatically to the parish each time you shop at several participating local merchants and restaurants or at over 1,000 merchants at the “Online Mall.” It’s easy to sign up by clicking on the “Donate” button at our website, Click on the “AutoEarn” button on the eScrip site, and you can go directly to the site where you want to shop, without going to eScrip first. If you’ve already signed up for eScrip through another organization, you can add the church and proceeds will be split (up to 3 ways).

Kindle and Nook readers –you can purchase your e-books through eScrip. Barnes & Noble will give 3.6% of your purchase to All Souls, Amazon 2.4%. Every penny counts!

A word of caution: We were informed by eScrip that All Souls lost money last month because our Safeway shoppers used credit cards. Safeway’s new policy is to accept only cash, checks, debit cards and gift cards along with your Safeway Club Card.

In 2013, All Souls received more than $800 from parishioners who have enrolled in eScrip. The more who join, the more we will earn.

–Mardie Becker

New Formation Classes

Starting February 16th

This coming Sunday, February 9th, you will have the opportunity to sign-up for the next round of formation classes starting on Sunday, February 16th. Below is a description of each course. Please take a moment to look them over and pick a class to participate in.

Bible Workbench: (ongoing) A lectionary-based Bible study practice designed for small groups, the material invites us to explore scripture in a broader context; learning to see how the texts relate to what is going on in the world, and to our own lives.

Spiritual Autobiographies: Remembering & Sharing Your Story of Faith – Led by seminarian Reed Loy. This four-week course will guide individuals in reflection, recollection, and sharing of the breadth and depth of their story of faith development. Participants will be guided in A: Naming and acknowledging the milestones of their personal faith development, B: Becoming comfortable sharing their story of faith generally, and C: Learning and practicing how to share this story briefly and powerfully in a ‘missional storytelling’ form. Participants will go forth with greater agency in their own relationship to God, and with a new or strengthened ability to share their faith with friends, neighbors, or even strangers. Undertaking this process in community will bind us closer together as the All Souls family and make us more prepared to welcome others.

The Eucharist: Its Meaning and Practice: Led by Ruth Meyers. This course will help to deepen our understanding of what we do when we celebrate the Eucharist and why we do it. It will provide an understanding of our celebration of Eucharist in relation to other Christian communities in different times and places and help to make connections between Sunday liturgy and daily meals.