FROM THE RECTOR
Clarity + Humility
One of the gifts of this time in human history is that we have a stunning amount of information at our fingertips. And one of the great challenges of this time in human history is that we have a stunning amount of information at our fingertips.
So when I come across an article, column, or commentary that forces me to reconsider something, or to examine a belief in a new light, it becomes like an island of dry land amidst what can feel like an ocean of information.
I found one such island this past week in an article by Frank Guan. In it, he explores the notion of the phrase, “moral clarity,” tracing its history and reflecting on the blessings and curses it offers. And especially during this political season of our nation, it helped bring me to the holy action of consideration.
First the blessings that moral clarity can bring, as Guan writes, “The weapon of clarity works differently depending on who’s wielding it: It tends to be a blessing for insurgent underdogs and a curse for domineering overlords.”
From my reading of human history, moral clarity is essential for the ongoing reformation of humanity. Without moral clarity Frederick Douglass, Quaker abolitionists, and scores of allies would never have been able to abolish chattel slavery in the United States. Without moral clarity Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Susan B. Anthony and scores of other women, and finally men, would not have been able to re-write the Constitution of this country so that women could enact one of the fundamental practices of a democratic society—voting.
Without moral clarity, Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, and scores of migrant workers in this country, would not have been able to establish humane working conditions for farm workers in this state and around this nation. Without moral clarity, Pauli Murray, Harvey Milk, and scores of LGBTQ Americans would still be subjugated to unjust, cruel, and deforming laws.
Moral clarity allows us to see through the fog of our time in order to chart a new direction. It gives us the courage to act against the tide and the resolve to endure the inevitable antagonism that emerges to keep the status quo. Perhaps this is an occupational hazard, but I get moral clarity.
And. It was in reading Guan’s article that I was also reminded of the critical companion to moral clarity, that of humility. Again, given the state of our political discourse, and the historic polarization that we are engaged in, this pairing is both unexpected and challenging. Guan writes,
“In politics, as in all things, it should be possible to match decisive action with intelligent consideration. Clarity achieves only the first of those two; left to its own devices, taken as a virtue in itself, it tends to generate more problems than it solves. Strategic vision requires something more than narrow intensity. It develops by admitting its limits and working to understand the enemy at a high resolution—the kind that only humble relativity can access.”
This does not mean that you abandon your principles. It does not mean that anything goes. It means that even as we make our stand, we continually seek to learn and understand. It means that conversations, true conversations, with those we disagree are as important as those we have with our allies.
There have been few times in our nation’s history that clarity and humility have been more in need. And, if my read of the next two years is even close to accurate, as disciples of the Christ, these two virtues will be essential guides in the days to come.
From the Stewardship Team
Now that 2019 has arrived, it is time for the 2019 Stewardship Campaign to wrap up. The response has been singularly inspiring. So far 198 pledgers, including 5 youth and children, have committed to supporting All Souls this year. We have received 45 new gifts and 99 pledgers have increased their gift from last year. To date, we have received over $658,000 in pledges. All souls have given a great deal. Together as a community we have strengthened our parish and laid the foundation for 2019. Your Stewardship Committee is grateful.
We will close the books on the campaign at the end of next week and look forward to sharing more details about the inspiration and grace we have seen at work. Before that, if you haven’t yet submitted your pledge, please consider making it today. The holidays can be so hectic and the rush of the end of the year can overwhelm paperwork but we would still love to have your pledge. Even if your pledge is for only a few dollars, for whatever reason, your pledge is a sign of your commitment to our community. And you won’t be the first. We are thankful for any and all participation.
You can pledge, confidentially, by using a google form to pledge on-line, or by emailing your pledge to our Giving Secretary, Maggie Cooke, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there is some non-administrative reason you haven’t made or cannot make a pledge — your spirit feels a vague lack of connection or if your economic situation has changed — Associate Rector Liz Tichenor would welcome a chance to lend a pastoral ear.
Several times during this campaign, Liz and Phil have reported that the campaign itself — its request to commit to and support the parish — has led to important individual pastoral conversations. They are always ready to walk with you on your path. In fact, walking the path together is the reason we do this Stewardship work.
The Stewardship Committee
From Adult Formation
Our theme for Adult Formation this year is TRANSFORM. We started out our year with the cornerstone of Anglican spirituality, the Book of Common Prayer, and journeyed through explorations of the relationship of Church and State, of the spirituality of music, of the problem of evil, and of the theology of the Incarnation. Now, at the midpoint of this journey, we stop to examine one of the central ways that faith “gets under the skin,” the ways by which we are transformed: spiritual disciplines. Last week, Dr. Sheila Andrus shared about the discipline of tracking our carbon footprints, so as to better steward our island home. In the next two weeks, four All Soulsians will share about spiritual disciplines that they have personally found helpful in their journeys of transformation. On January 13th, Stephen Southern will share about Lectio Divina and Dr. Dana Kramer-Rolls will share about Ignatian spirituality. On January 20th, Dr. Diane Haavik will share about the practice of silence and the Rev. Dr. Daniel Prechtel will share about Benedictine spirituality. Join us at 10:10 am in the Parish Hall on these Sunday mornings as we learn about these sustaining practices together. And as we turn from Epiphany towards Lent, consider taking one up as your own on your journey toward the ultimate transformation of the Empty Tomb.
– Rob Johnson
Adult Formation Committee
Here are the five wonderful All Soulsians who have agreed to stand for election to our Vestry, the group of parishioners elected to guide and hold responsibility for this parish. There are four available spots on the Vestry, for which you will vote during our Annual Meeting on January 27th at 10:15 am. Please thank each of these fine souls for their generosity of time and spirit!
When my family first came to All Souls were in the midst of one of the most significant changes in our lives. My career in Information Technology had moved us from Chicago to the East Bay. We knew almost no one in the area and my 3 year old daughter, Melody, was leaving the only home she’d ever known.
All Souls was the first stop and last on what I envisioned to be a large period of “church shopping.” I love how the Church is committed to providing a welcoming environment to people of all ages and backgrounds. For my family All Souls has been a place where we could build friendships, where we could grow spiritually and intellectually and where we could feel connected at a time when we could have easily felt isolated and alone.
In the past I’ve been something of a spiritual nomad. My journey prior to All Souls has involved growing up in Fundamentalism, moving into a more progressive form of Evangelicalism as an adult, getting an M.Div from a Baptist Seminary, Converting to Catholicism and then finally settling into the Episcopal church where I have found a larger community that is committed to the justice issues that I am while feeding my soul through worship and spirituality.
As a member of the vestry I would help to support and extend how we as a community live out our vision that everyone, everyone, everyone is welcome at All Souls.
How I came to be at All Souls. My husband Spike and I have lived in Kensington for 30 years, and I was attending St. Aidan’s in the city, where my aunt, Nettie Rivera, was the rector. I came to All Souls one Sunday, Phil delivered a knockout sermon, I loved the music and everyone was very welcoming. I grew up Catholic, but All Souls was the church I always wanted. I felt like I had come home.
How I’m involved here. I attend the Sunday 9 o’clock service almost every week, and cofounded the LGBTQ 12-step meeting that meets Wednesday evenings in our chapel. I have enjoyed parish retreats and the camp out and have volunteered for our Open-Door Dinner. I’ve spoken at the Good Friday contemplative service a couple of times, and on another evening in the Parish Hall, spoke at some length about overcoming overwhelming loss.
How I spend my time outside the parish. I’m a writer and am finishing a novel. I work with young people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. For many years, I served on and chaired boards of large impact AIDS organizations. I’m a member of the State Bar, a retired lawyer. I’m passionate about the wilderness, love backpacking and am an avid fly-fisher.
Why I feel called to serve on the Vestry. I feel complete at All Souls, and want to try to give back some of what I’ve received from this extraordinary, loving community. I want to support the work of our unbelievable staff. I’m excited about the new Parish House and the prospect of working on that important project. I want to help ensure All Souls continues to grow and thrive so others can be part of this incredible community.
In 2009, I was tasked with choosing the Episcopal church that Sarah (Crawford), my wife, and I would attend. I was raised Catholic; attending Catholic school for 12 years and Catholic church for 14 plus but, as happens, I had lapsed. Because Sarah attended regularly and worked for the Episcopal church, she was gracious enough and smarter still to let me have the final say.
The first time we entered All Souls, I felt at home. From the similarities to the Catholic service to the oodles of families with children as well as gray-hairs like me, I knew I had found the place where we belonged. But because a good decision is not based on one experience, we dove deeper. We attended the newcomer’s dinner at Carol Anne and Don Brown’s beautiful home, helped at an Open Door with Pat Jones and Don Gates, and attended a few more Sunday services. When we found a fresh baked zucchini bread on our porch, which mind you is 10+ miles from All Souls, the deal was sealed.
Professionally, I work as a freelance graphic designer/creative director specializing in branding and digital marketing. I hold a BS from Cal and love returning to Berkeley and driving through campus for all things ASP – who wouldn’t! Outside of work and All Souls, I spend a lot of my spare time cycling with Team in Training with the goal of eradicating blood cancers. In general, Sarah and I spend a lot of our time building relationships with family, friends, and neighbors and trying to make a difference.
During my ten years at All Souls, I have experienced so much of what a Christian community has to offer – supporting the youth immersion trips, mentoring for Confirm-not-Conform, singing and dancing in the Gospel choir, helping at Open Door dinners, brewing beer with Ale Souls, designing posters, making friends, and pitching in wherever and whenever I am asked. All Souls has given me so much and now in during my 10th year, it seems right and fitting to deepen my relationship with the amazing community.
I’m honored to be considered for a role on the Vestry. If selected, I would work very hard to bring my personal and professional experience to its service.
Being engaged in a faith community has been central to my life since youth. I served on a church staff in high school; attended a Christian college; and later, seminary. I was a member of the same congregation from high school graduation until mid life. At that time, while serving on the board of my congregation, our pastor made it clear that not everyone was welcome to participate fully in congregational life. Sadly, I felt compelled to leave.
For several years afterwards, I and my family searched in vain for a congregation that seemed a good fit. Happily, however, three years ago, I was encouraged by dear friends to apply for a position on the staff at All Souls. As it turned out, the position wasn’t appropriate for me at that time, but I found All Souls to be a perfect fit as a church home, and after years of searching, I landed.
To actually make All Souls my home, I decided I would just keep showing up until I became a part of the congregation. So I attended worship services and adult formation classes. I attended Lectio Divino meeting and the contemplative prayer service. I dined with other Lenten sojourners and brought Russian Borscht Soup for an Advent supper. I marched with the congregation as we stood with other peacemakers, and painted the parish house guest room as we were expanding that ministry. I attended new members classes and joined the church. I enjoyed the camping trip to Big Sur and the retreat at The Bishop’s Ranch. I volunteered to read the scripture during worship. I visited the members at Kayakameena nursing home. I joined the Justice and Peace committee and spent Saturdays at the vigil at the CCC Detention Center where often innocent immigrants were unjustly incarcerated. I look forward later in the year to teaching an Adult Formation class about the terribly unjust U.S criminal justice system.
And so it happened: Members of the congregation warmly and generously welcomed me, and now All Souls is my home. I recommend this “just keep showing up” strategy to any newcomers I meet.
I am an English professor at a local community college and enjoy spending time hiking, bird watching and talking with friends. I have recently lived through the most challenging time of my life and have “fallen upward” as theologian Richard Rohr terms the effect of the unbidden blessings and growth that come of facing our darker times. Meditation has become crucial to my struggle to live in the present; Confession, more meaningful in accepting responsibility for my life; and Empathy, more important in understanding others.
We are sojourners, finding our way together, and I am delighted and deeply grateful to be a part of the All Souls community. All Souls has become a central part of my life, and if called, I have the time and a strong desire to serve our congregation more intentionally as a Vestry member for the coming term.
My wife Martha and I became members of All Souls three years ago as the result of the generous, friendly, informed and insistent work by the outreach folks who met us on our first visit and have kept us here in an increasingly active way. The preaching, music, and liturgical presentation at All Souls have given us a true spiritual home. The social justice activities and focus provide us with a platform for acting out of core beliefs. As a member of the Vestry I would welcome serving to continue and help grow the great work here, especially in outreach and stewardship.
I am the retired senior vice chancellor of the Peralta Colleges, a Cal alum, the son of a Presbyterian clergyman, an Albany resident, and a very fortunate guy to be in a position to serve, if requested.
SAVE THE DATE: ANNUAL MEETING
January 27th, 10:10 am
Please come together for our Annual Meeting: a time to hear about the budget, to listen to stories from this past year and many years past, and elect our new leadership. Please bring food to share! Childcare will be available on the courtyard; Sunday School does not meet this day.
Calling All Forms!
As you put away your Christmas things, please bring back your Advent wreath forms! You can drop them in a basket in the narthex. We reuse them year after year, and if you bring them back, then we don’t have to buy more in advance of next year’s Advent Festival. Thank you!!