From the Rector
I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of All Souls Parish. But I am fairly certain that there was an historic moment this past Sunday morning. I have not thoroughly researched our archives, but I do believe that at our 7:30 am service, at the Thanksgivings, for the first time ever in the Chapel of the Nativity, someone gave thanks to God for Pussy Power.
And these thanks were given by an 86 year old with a twinkle in her eye, no less.
These days that we are living in—they are extraordinary turn by turn. Tomorrow marks one of the more remarkable features of our American experiment in democracy, the peaceful transfer of power. And, as was noted at yesterday morning’s 9:00 am Eucharist (love that service), the root of the word inauguration comes from the auguries, or the signs, the interpretations of what is to happen. Everyone, seemingly around the world, is waiting to see what will happen next.
This seems to be one of the more challenging day to day aspects of life in the United States—the uncertainty. To be sure, we’ve just been kidding ourselves if we’ve truly believed that we know what any tomorrow will bring. It’s just that in this past year or so, the uncertainty of what lies ahead has been made very evident. Since early November we’ve been waiting, anticipating, wondering. And tomorrow, it begins.
Millions of people around our country are preparing today to proclaim a public witness tomorrow and the day after. Some will be celebrating the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Others will be demonstrating against his election. On Saturday, in Washington DC and around the United States, including all over the Bay Area, millions will be participating in the Women’s March, both in response to the words and actions of President-elect Trump, and in proclamation of what is believed to be a self-evident truth: the dignity of every human being.
Some from All Souls Parish are already in Washington DC, meeting up with mothers, sisters, cousins, nieces. Others are knitting pink Pussy Hats, preparing to take part in the marches in Oakland and San Francisco on Saturday. (If you would like to join the group from All Souls for the Women’s March in Oakland, we are meeting at All Souls at 9:00 am to take BART to Oakland, and/or meet at the corner of Madison and 9th Street in Oakland at 9:45 am.) Whether you will be watching, walking, or attempting to ignore this altogether, I have one request for every member of the All Souls family.
Pray for our country. Pray for us as participants in this nation’s pursuit of life, liberty and (in some way) happiness. Our prayers will take many forms, this weekend and for the weeks to come. Some will be said silently in our hearts, others will be pounded out by our feet. And yes, some of them, out loud, will be for President Trump by name. Here’s an article by our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry about our tradition of praying for our leaders.
As I have been praying for these past couple of months, a passage from Jeremiah has come up again and again. At this point in the book, the Israelites have been taken into exile in Babylon, and they wonder if they will ever return to their homes, their land. A letter from Jeremiah comes to those in exile, with words from God, to, “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” In the welfare of this nation, with those we agree and those we disagree, this will be our welfare. One, for all. Tomorrow, Saturday, and for the days to come.
For this, let us pray.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? FROM OUTREACH TO JUSTICE AND PEACE
Aaron Klinefelter preached a wonderful sermon on New Year’s Day about the importance of naming who we are and what we believe. Aaron observed that “words create worlds and no words are more powerful than names.” “Names are important,” he noted, “names have power.”
All Souls’ ministry of service to those in need in the wider community has been known as the Outreach Committee for many decades. We work to promote justice and peace in our local community and the world by such actions as feeding the hungry, working for racial justice, standing with immigrants and refugees, preserving God’s creation, and providing support to foster youth. Over the past six months our committee has been engaged in a soul-searching process of what to call the work we do – how to name it. We took on this task for many of the same reasons that Aaron identified in his sermon. After much reflection, consultation with Fr. Phil, and examination of the names used by other faith communities throughout the country, we voted in December to change our name from the Outreach Committee to the Justice and Peace Committee.
Why did we make this change? If we had to offer just one reason, I would say that it is our sense that our new name more clearly reflects the work our faith tradition calls us to do. The words “justice” and “peace” recur hundreds of times in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament and are fundamental in defining who we are as Christians. The closing words of our Baptismal Covenant ask us to affirm that, with God’s help, we will “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” BCP, p. 305. Our catechism or “Outline of the Faith” at the end of the prayer book also states that “the Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.” BCP, p. 855.
A secondary reason is of a more practical nature. Our ministry engages and forms coalitions with many different groups and organizations — both religious and secular — in the East Bay and beyond. Over the past couple of years we have found that when we identify ourselves as the All Souls Outreach Committee, some of those we work with do not readily grasp what the scope of our mission is. We end up having to give a fuller explanation of what we are all about.
I became a member of All Souls in 1998 and have been involved with the work of this committee at various points over the years. I admit that on one level I had a certain fondness for the name Outreach. It was familiar and had a long tradition at All Souls. Nevertheless, I and all the other members of our committee arrived strongly at the view that Justice and Peace Committee more faithfully and transparently reflected the work we have found ourselves called to do. We have also noted that it may take a while for us to get the hang of saying our new name, and we understand that may be true for other members of the congregation as well! We still find ourselves saying “Outreach” some of the time – after all, it’s one word and rolls off the tongue easily – and that’s O.K.
Over the past year our ministry has been engaged in many activities of education, service, and advocacy, which, springing from a place of faith and hope, offer healing for our fellow humans and the natural world. Here are some instances of our work. We have responded to detained immigrants and migrant refugees who are fleeing violence and seeking asylum in the US; we have responded to racial injustice through our educational efforts and through participation in effective community organizations, such as Showing Up for Racial Justice (“SURJ”); we have acted to promote environmental justice and climate action by forming coalitions with other groups, such as California Interfaith Power and Light, and participating in the No Coal in Oakland campaign and the opposition to the oil pipeline near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota; we have sought to feed the hungry through our Open Door Dinner and by working with the Berkeley Food Pantry; we have sought to provide shelter to the homeless by opening our parish hall on frigid nights; and we have begun to explore ways to provide support to foster youth, working with groups such as the Braid Mission and First Place for Youth.
With the start of the New Year and the transition to a new Administration in Washington, many people at All Souls, as well as in our wider community, are feeling called to acts of service and compassion. On January 22, All Souls will be offering opportunities to act on that call. As Laura Eberly described in her January 5 Pathfinder article, the Stewardship Committee and the Justice and Peace Committee will be sponsoring a resource fair on January 22 between roughly the hours of 8:30 am and 12:30 pm, offering information and ways to serve. We will have tables in the Narthex and the rear of the Sanctuary, at which members of our Justice and Peace and Stewardship Committees, along with representatives from some of the groups with whom we partner, will be present to talk with you and see if there is a form of action that might move you or even inspire you.
We recognize that daily life keeps us all busy. Your participation could be as small as writing a letter to a public official, coming occasionally to a monthly immigration prayer vigil, or serving the hungry once a quarter on an Open Door Dinner team (where we could very much use some new volunteers). If you have more time or just feel called to take on a larger role, we can offer those opportunities as well.
I write this on Martin Luther King’s birthday, a day when we honor a man who gave his life to bring freedom and justice to all, regardless of race, creed, or socioeconomic status. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, addressed to fellow clergy, Dr. King urged that faith communities not simply be “thermometers” that record the principles and ideas of popular opinion, but that they be “thermostats” that help to transform society in the direction of justice. Come join us on January 22 and see if there is a way in which you can participate. As members of our Committee can attest, whatever you offer in the way of time and service, you will be enriched in ways that you might never imagine.
– Lewis Maldonado
Chair, Justice and Peace Committee
WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS
In early December, we welcomed many new members into the All Souls family. Today and in the coming weeks, we’ll hear from them.
Patrick and I both grew up in the Columbia River Gorge area of the Pacific Northwest. He grew up in White Salmon, on the Washington side of the river and I grew up in Hood River, on the Oregon side of the river. Our parents could see each others’ houses from across the river. We grew up in St Mark’s Episcopal in Hood River – the only Episcopal church for 20 miles. We have known each other since grade school and our families are friends. I first came to All Souls when I moved to Berkeley to attend Cal many, many, many years ago. I started going to St Mark’s Berkeley during my Cal years. Patrick moved down here after he graduated from University of Washington and we were married at St. Mark’s Berkeley.
I work at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs in a lab that studies mammalian functional genomics. Patrick works in the project / construction management field at CBRE in Oakland. Our twins, Kazu and Emi, are seventh graders at Korematsu Middle School in El Cerrito. We live in Kensington. Kazu likes to play baseball and Emi likes art.
– Jennifer Akiyama, Patrick Tahara, and Emi and Kazu Akiyama-Tahara.
MEET YOUR 2017 VESTRY CANDIDATES
It is once again time to elect a new class of vestry members! Here are the four generous souls who have agreed to offer their time and talent in leading our community.
Does the thought of sitting in a meeting make you bored and want to run the other way? Not me! I have always loved being in meetings where we can dream and ponder together. Having the space to look at ideas and issues from all sides and question what it means for many different groups within the church is something that enlivens me. That is one of many reasons why I would be honored to be on the vestry at All Souls.
I have been coming to All Souls for just over 4 years. In that time I have made an effort to understand many different parts of this parish; from ministries to structure to receiving pastoral care from our rectors. This has been done through serving on the newcomers and evangelism committees, the Deep Hospitality Strategic Planning Group, participating in Angel Band, the Phoenixes, the Connectors program, being a chalice bearer, putting out the children’s coloring sheets and crayons in the pews and coordinating spiritual care for my father as he died.
One of the aspects of All Souls that I love the most is the way we practice what we preach about including and appreciating all types of souls. My 18 years in Lutheran churches and time in seminary have made me who I am today and I look forward to bringing another perspective to the conversation and leadership of this amazing community of All Souls.
I began attending All Souls in the summer of 2014. My husband, Andrew, and I had already moved to the Bay Area in January of 2013 but had not found a home church. I was received into the Episcopal church at Grace (now St.Paul’s) Episcopal Bakersfield in 2010. At Grace I taught Sunday School, led the Acolytes through their training and weekly supervision and was an active member of the parish community. In my previous life as a Lutheran, I have served in leadership roles on two church boards. One position was at the church I grew up in, Grace Lutheran and the other at University Lutheran Church at Florida State University.
Currently, I am a door person and an acolyte leader at All Souls. I am a science teacher at Parkmead Elementary in Walnut Creek. I hope that I can use my experiences to help the vestry and increase support and resources to this parish. I look forward to this opportunity and to be of service in any way.
I began attending All Souls in June 2015 after a twenty-year absence from church. I joined All Souls in December 2015 and was received into the Episcopal Church in June 2016. I have greatly appreciated the thoughtfulness, inclusivity, and faithfulness that underlie how we make church together. At All Souls, I serve as a lector, intercessor, usher, and chalice bearer. I also participate in a lectio divina small group and have helped from time to time at our Open Door Dinner. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist by profession and currently direct a clinical traineeship program in substance use counseling for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
Back in my college days, I served on the board of directors of St. Francis House, an Episcopal chaplaincy in Madison, Wisconsin, as a student representative, giving me a bit of vestry-like experience. More recently, running my own business (a psychotherapy practice) for ten years, together with personal experience as an agent for power of attorney, estate executor, and trustee of a special needs trust, have taught me a great deal about responsible financial stewardship.
At All Souls, we are fortunate to be part of a community diverse in age, background, life experience, spiritual outlook, political views, and many other respects. Yet that very diversity can sometimes present challenges with regard to making decisions and building consensus. As I help to make decisions together with other vestry members, I will do my best to listen carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully to each of you; to support directions consistent with the values and vision of All Souls; and to stay grounded in connection to our Creator who loves us and gives us life.
In preparation for my forthcoming best-selling autobiography, I’m happy to introduce myself as a vestry nominee. I am a 54-year-old white male, raised Catholic in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I left the Catholic Church in 8th grade but never stopped the spiritual quest – studying psychology, Buddhism, and world religions. In college, I majored in philosophy and English. For some reason I graduated and dove into the business world in high tech, but eventually decided to return to my original base and enrolled in a graduate program in religion at Temple. After after a lot of consultation with teachers and mentors, I took my masters and went to CA, I enrolled in the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare to pursue my ultimate career decision of working with the seriously and persistently mentally ill. After working at Zen Hospice, I went to work for the city of Berkeley in an assertive community outreach program for bringing in folks who are homeless and mentally ill. I’ve been there for 16 years, and now supervise a team of 6 social workers, MFTs, nurses and psychiatrists in working with maintaining and housing the mental health population in the city of Berkeley.
My journey to All Souls is one I share with my wife and my family. Being married to Michelle, who is a long term Presbyterian and being Catholic myself, finding the Episcopal church was an amazingly happy meeting for us, and one that helped me understand that there really were healthy forms of Christianity. I found an oasis here. For me, the Episcopal approach is a spiritual hub where so many different things come together, in particular music, spirituality, community, education, and sermons. For the last 15 years, I have been on discernment committees, beginning with Dan Green while we were members at St Gregory’s, who went on to serve at All Souls while in seminary. I have also served as a catalyst for the annual intergenerational wrestling mania at the parish retreat, and look forward to further developing this dynamic incarnational Jacobean ministry.
All Souls goes to the Women’s March!
Come together this Saturday, January 21st, with a crew of All Soulsians at the Women’s March in Oakland. If you would like to ride BART together, meet in the parking lot at All Souls at 9:00 am, and we’ll walk down together. If you want to meet in Oakland, look for us (and the All Souls banner!) at the park corner of Madison and 9th at 9:45 am. For more information, contact Emily, Liz, Phil or Jess.
RESOURCING OUR RESOLVE
Are you ready to make a difference in 2017? Hungry to be present with and guided by marginalized communities, but not sure where to start?
Join the All Souls Stewardship Team and Justice and Peace Committee on January 22, from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm in the Welcome Area of the nave for a resource fair with our many partner organizations serving immigrants, foster youth, people of color, and others on the edges. We will have a chance to hear what they need and start learning how to take action alongside them.
You can also access the take-home materials for reflecting on your stewardship of time and power here.
Cookie Making Party
Happy St. Valentine’s Day: Let’s make cookies! Join us on Sunday, February 5 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm in the Parish Hall for fabulous intergenerational fun! Bring your kids. Bring your neighbors. Bring your grandparents. We will bake cookies to eat, cookies to take home, and cookies to serve to our guests a the Open Door Dinner. All supplies provided.
Big Dates in 2017
Wondering about the parish camping trip to Big Sur? The Parish Retreat? Our summer day camp? Here is a list of the major events in 2017 that you can add to your calendar.
ONE BOOK, ONE PARISH
In summer 2017, All Souls members will read one book and come together each week to discuss it from different perspectives. During January and February, the Adult Formation Committee invites your nominations for the book we’ll all read. Books may be fiction or non-fiction.
Nomination forms and a box for submissions are available at the back of the chapel and in the narthex outside the main worship space. Or submit your nomination online here.
Nominations are due Sunday, February 26.
Join us on Sunday, January 29 at 10:10 am for All Souls’ 113th Annual Meeting of the Congregation. Come and find out what we’ve been up to the last year: our people, our parish, our joys and celebrations. We’ll gather for a time of light refreshments, elect our new vestry and deanery representatives, hear interesting historical facts from the rector, and honor those who have gone above and beyond in service this last year. All are welcome.