From the Rector
In the past two weeks, we in the family known as All Souls Parish have been shaken to the core by the death of Fritz Tichenor, the infant son of Liz and Jesse Tichenor. His death, sudden and unexpected, has left us with an incalculable sense of loss and grief.
In the spasms of our shock and disbelief we have been wondering about much. How this can happen, why this can happen, and at every step, what can we do to be with Liz, Jesse and Alice in this time of trial? Because of these questions, many in our parish family have asked what each of us might do for Alice and Jesse and Liz.
It was with all this swirling in our hearts and minds that I came across an op-ed piece by David Brooks called “The Art of Presence”, published in Wednesday’s New York Times. His reflection is based off of conversations with the Woodiwiss family and a remarkable, moving piece by Catherine Woodiwiss, found here on the Sojourners website. I urge you to take the time to read both pieces. Catherine Woodiwiss is writing about her own first-hand experience and David Brooks is reflecting upon what the entire family has found as they have lived through their trauma.
There are critical truths for us to absorb in their writings, especially now as we seek to be with Jesse, Alice and Liz. First is that presence matters, both in terms of simply showing up and in how we show up. Being there, as Liz and Jesse’s family, co-workers and close friends have been in these past two weeks, is essential, even if it feels uncomfortable or you aren’t sure what to do or say. Because what our sacred story and our own experience tells us is that physical presence is one of the primary ways we experience love. The extension of this presence, through food, letters, prayers, phone calls, and cards let those in trauma know one of the most important truths of human existence: that they are not alone.
And as we are present with those who are suffering loss we must, must, must take great care before we attempt to offer theological reasons for the trauma of life. If we are to use words in our time of presence, be aware that platitudes and easy truths are not what is needed. In his article, David Brooks writes that, “Theology is a grounding in ultimate hope, not a formula book to explain away each individual event.” Theology, the knowledge of God, has to have contact with the world in which we live. But one of the more prevalent and ancient theological responses to trauma, whether widespread as in a hurricane or closely felt as in the death of a family member – that God has a plan for everything – can be terribly damaging and most often only aids the person offering the counsel rather than the person receiving it.
While it may be of help to some to feel as if a greater plan ordains the death and pain of the created, I believe that to be a misguided understanding of God’s purpose and desire for the Creation. I realize that this is a strain of Christian tradition, finding some basis in Scripture, and is often seen as exemplified in Jesus’ own death. But there is a great deal of witness in Scripture that points in a different direction than that premise.
Whether it is Lamentations’ (3:33) words that God “does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone,” or Jesus’ own questioning of God’s causation of suffering in Matthew 5 or Luke 13, it is my belief that it is God’s very nature to reconcile and make whole, rather than to destroy and cause pain. And that Jesus’ actions of healing and solidarity, and ultimately his being present after death, are fundamental to our own response to those experiencing trauma: to simply be with them.
What is clear from the experience of the Woodiwisses is that living with trauma is a process that endures. As Catherine writes, “Healing is seasonal, not linear.” Just as it is important for us as a family to be present for the Tichenors this Saturday for Fritz’s funeral, it is important for us as brothers and sisters to be present with them as they heal – for the days and weeks and months and years to come. This is the lifelong road of healing.
And it is essential for us to remember that the presence we provide to others in times of trial and tribulation can be a source of hope even in the midst of the pain. In his article David Brooks uses the words of Ashley Woodiwiss, the father of Anne Woodiwiss who was killed five years ago in Afghanistan: “That period changed me and opened my imagination,” Ashley recalls. “This thing called presence and love is more available than I had thought. It is more ready to be let loose than I ever imagined.” But, we, the family of All Souls Parish – for the Tichenors and all those who suffer the traumas of life – must be there for that to be so.
From the Associate for Parish Life
Transition has started to feel a bit like a four-letter word to me at this point. I find myself wondering, six months into it, when I will stop thinking of our move to three services as “the transition” and start thinking of it as “the way we do church”. I have to remind myself to be patient; to be patient with myself, with others, and with this new (or not so new?) way of being. The reality is that I do, in fact, really like what we’ve been doing since September. I think we are moving in an exciting direction and it has been an honor to be a part of this process. It does, though, feel like we’ve been moving in hyper-drive to get things done. And so, with one week left in January (!!!), I am trying to slow down and take stock of some of the things we’ve started to help us all stay connected as one body.
A clear theme that has emerged this past fall and winter is food. We are a parish that enjoys eating with one another, which, being located in the “Gourmet Ghetto” seems all too appropriate. Many of the ways we have found to be in community with one another is to share meals together. This has taken on a couple different iterations. For example, THIS coming Sunday (January 26th) we will have another Continuing the Feast after the 11:15 service. Dan Joselyn-Siemiatkoski brought this idea back with him from his Sabbatical in England, finding deep meaning in continuing the meal we start together in the Eucharist after the dismissal at the end of our Mass. Dan and Jeannie Koops-Elson have been gracious in their time and creativity to launch this new ministry. This time our theme is Mediterranean food and we invite you all to join us. Bring a dish to share and enjoy the company of All Soulsians for a festive meal.
Another exciting new fellowship offering we have started is Loaves and Fishes. Caroline McCall dreamed up this idea and has worked tirelessly to coordinate hosts, dates and invitations. After a slow start this ministry has taken off in recent months to become and lively and easy way to get more deeply connected to All Souls, both for newcomers and long time members. With at least one meal offered almost weekly in different members’ homes in a variety of neighborhoods, Loaves and Fishes has proven to be an important new way for us to strengthen existing relationships and develop new ones. We are strongly encouraging people to RSVP using the sign-up sheets online or in the Narthex so that hosts can anticipate how many people to prepare for. Please take a look at February’s meals and plan on participating in at least one. If you’d like to be a host or have any questions about Loaves and Fishes please contact Caroline McCall at email@example.com or me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Less food oriented but no less important are our new Affinity Groups. Idle Hands has met twice now to work on craft projects together. They will continue to meet on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at Schmidt’s Pub, 1492 Solano, at the corner of Santa Fe. All are welcome to join. We are also working on starting an All Souls brewing group. A label has already been designed for our very own beer “Ale Souls.” Contact Jeannie Koops-Elson at email@example.com or Mal Mead at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are already a brewer or are interested in participating in this group. In particular, they would like to know what resources are currently out there to be pooled, such as carboys, bottles, cappers, hops, yeast and enthusiasm. Be on the lookout for further affinity groups starting, such as a writing group, hiking group, running group or film group. If you have a passion for something and would like to see if others at All Souls share your interest please let Jeannie or me know.
Perhaps another theme that I see emerging is “connection”. How do we stay connected? Certainly Continuing the Feast, Loaves and Fishes, and affinity groups are key ways to stay connected with one another but how does one find out about these events? Communication has become a central part of almost all of my conversations over the past several months. This is so important we have created a Communications Crew to help brainstorm new ways to communicate what’s happening in the life of our parish both internally and externally. One exciting thing is our new “Coming up at All Souls” page on the website. This will be updated regularly to provide an easy way for anyone to find information about upcoming events at All Souls.
Another resource the Communications Crew has developed is a Communications Request form. If your ministry is hosting an event, on or off All Souls’ campus please fill out this form and we will work to put together a communications plan. We will continue to prioritize communications as we continue to grow and we need your help to be as effective in reaching as many people as possible.
Vote at the Annual Meeting
Julie and I, and our (then) three children, transferred from St. Paul’s, Oakland in the autumn of 1972, at what turned out to be the beginning of a new era of growth and stability for All Souls. Having moved to the north end of Berkeley in 1967 and finding it increasingly difficult to get ourselves and our children organized on a Sunday morning to make it to St. Paul’s on time for the beginning of morning service, we visited All Souls in the Spring of 1972 and decided to try it again in the Fall after Julie and the children returned after having spent the summer with her family in the U.K. We found the friendliness of parishioners at All Souls to be a perfect fit along with the fact that it was announced that morning that All Souls had just called a new rector, William Power Clancey, Jr., whom we both knew during service on the board of Church Counseling Service. It seemed to us to be a clear message to make the transfer.
Since that time, we have watched and participated in the ups and downs of the parish, but it has remained our parish. As Bill Clancey said to us during a particularly bleak period at All Souls: “Rectors come and go, but parishes abide.” Over the years I have served in about every capacity in which a lay person may serve. With Suzie Siebert, Julie and I brought the Sunday School back to the parish rather than having our children bussed to St. Mark’s on a Sunday morning. I have been in charge of the acolytes, a reader, an usher, an intercessor, an oblator, clerk of the vestry, a member of the vestry, a delegate to the deanery, the archivist, and member of Spaghetti Again and probably one or two other things I have forgotten.
I hope to bring to the vestry a sense of the parish’s more than 100 year history and would like to work on engaging more parishioners in parish activities. Although I still maintain my license to practice law, I now spend most of my time working with my true passion – Worldwide Farmers Exchange, a program which for almost 30 years has brought young men and women to American farms from some 70 countries around the world to learn practical agricultural techniques while experiencing a cultural exchange. I am a Cal and a Boalt graduate. I am a past president of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and am on the board of the Berkeley Convention and Visitors Bureau.
I grew up attending St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Burlingame, California. My formation included baptism in the ocean at age 9; weekly meetings with a small, tight-knit youth group; and a mission trip to Ireland (in which my husband, Jim, also participated). While still in high school, I found myself drawn to a large, rather evangelical Baptist youth group, where I studied the Bible with folks who assumed I was Catholic and therefore suspicious; this context allowed me to examine my faith more closely, as I did in college when I attended both Episcopal and non-denominational churches, and Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. I am proud of our tradition and the growth it can inspire simply because it allows and encourages exploration. I believe our new service schedule – and especially the formation offerings – gives us fresh ways to invite others into our fold.
I have been at All Souls since 1984, when I walked up the street looking for a church, after transferring to Cal. I have worked with the Sunday School, youth group, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, choir, and Kyakameena visiting team. Currently, I serve as a Stephen Minister, usher, children’s chapel leader, and member of the healing team. After so many years, and so many changes, I am still drawn to this work we call “church;” the calling and the place itself, and especially the people who comprise it, are great blessings in my life.
I live in El Cerrito; my husband, Jim, and I have three children, all of whom have attended All Souls. Their experiences, and my own in the church, continually inspire me; how can we make faith meaningful and relevant, and how can we help it “stick” for our young people? I am an English teacher at the continuation high school in Vallejo; again, I am daily inspired by young people who face terrible odds but – mostly – continue to fight. This has been my vocation for 25 years and certainly feels like a mission.
I am excited about the challenges and changes ahead and look forward to serving the parish.
I came to All Souls in 1998 after 20 active years in another parish. Despite my intention to be connected but not involved, I happily said yes to becoming part of the Altar Guild (aka Sacristans) after 6 months of feeling nourished by the worship life of the community. There have been several yeses since then that have involved me in multiple areas of parish life, service on past vestries, and leadership in Stephen Ministry. I’ve also served as deanery representative and convention delegate.
During my full-time work life I was a faculty member at UCSF School of Nursing, and served as associate dean for academic programs for the final 15 of my years there. Subsequent to that, I worked on a related three-year research and writing project. I have served on professional association and voluntary organization boards.
What I hope to bring to vestry? I want us to continue to live into the many dimensions of our Vision Statement. This is a guiding framework for decisions as questions arise, and over time creates a coherent pattern of action. We are already, in some measure, living into each sentence of the Statement, but each also still challenges us. Perhaps the most challenging one right now: “We encounter the Holy through Gospel-inspired service, working side by side with our sisters and brothers in the wider community.” I hope this will lose its place at the top of the challenge list over the next three years through the choices we make individually and collectively.
I am blessed to be a member of this congregation for almost 14 years and have felt like this has been a second home to me and my family. I am a preschool director by profession and my husband and I were first drawn to All Souls among many other things because of its family-friendly atmosphere, even before the birth of our daughter Anikka.
During my time here, I have served on the vestry and as Senior Warden during the last search for a rector. I have also been actively involved as a Sunday School door person and teacher, a Meals and Rides team leader, a Muffin Ministry baker and have served on many committees including Children and Youth, Stewardship, Budget, Greeters and Newcomers, Personnel and Playground.
Because I have always worked in nonprofit organizations, I feel that my skills are a good match for a spot on the vestry. I am used to working with many different types of people on a wide variety of tasks. I am very excited about the new direction All Souls has taken and how our ministries are expanding. As the parent of a youth, I am especially interested in how we can best serve our young people and nurture them in the fellowship of our church to grow them into lifelong members of a church community.
My Christian journey began at a local Episcopal church where my then-Buddhist mother dropped me off for Sunday school. She herself would wait in the car rather than take part in Eucharist, but she wanted my brother and me to try it out. She eventually found a church home at a predominantly Chinese Evangelical church, and that’s where I grew up, got baptized, and found my central community through my formative years. Since then, the journey has taken me to some diverse places – a few of the more colorful examples: a stadium for an Evangelical revival, a Cambodian garbage dump on a choral mission trip, a sorority house dining hall to promote my college fellowship, and nearly a dozen places of worship in my later search for spiritual peace.
That search has brought me in a joyful circle back to the Episcopal Church. After several years of feeling disconnected with my Evangelical upbringing, I finally found a place of inclusion and freedom within Christianity at All Saints, Pasadena, and then at All Souls, Berkeley when my husband started graduate school. My two short years here have been blessed by the spiritual care of my Catachumenate class, challenging sermons that stick and inspire, standing invitations to weekly dinners, hands-on learning and camaraderie with the Sacristans and Counters, and soulful fun with the music ministry. It has been a long time since I felt as at home as I do at All Souls.
This nomination to join the vestry is deeply meaningful to me as someone who is relatively new to the Episcopal Church and also somewhat new to considering herself an “adult” at church. In my professional life, I am starting out as an investment advisor, with a background in accounting and also some experience in teaching. I hope to contribute and support with my skills in finance, unique perspective, and love for this body of Christ.
NOTICE OF ANNUAL MEETING NEXT SUNDAY – Please join us as we gather for the 87th Annual Meeting of the Parish on Sunday, February 2, 2014, after the 9:00 am service in place of our regular Formation Hour. We will receive the 2013 Annual Report documenting the many ministries of the parish, hear the State of the Parish report from the Rector and the presentation of the 2014 budget, and vote for Vestry candidates Class of 2017. Everyone – observers, visitors, all – are welcome to this parish gathering. Childcare will be provided.
Fritz Tichenor Memorial Service
With great sadness, we share news about Fritz, the infant son of Jesse and Liz Tichenor. Fritz died on January 9th at just five and a half weeks of age. We hold the loving parents, Liz and Jesse, in our prayers, and ask God to give them strength to face the days ahead.
We will be holding a service for Fritz at All Saints’ Chapel on February 4th at 5:30pm, and we invite you all to join us.
All Saints’ Chapel
2451 Ridge Road
Berkeley, CA 94709
Donations in Fritz’s memory can be made to Episcopal Relief and Development’s Maternal and Child Health program or to Camp Galilee’s Campership Fund, which helps children come to summer camp who couldn’t otherwise afford it. All condolences can be sent to: Galilee, PO Box 236, Glenbrook, NV 89413.
The Very Rev. Mark Richardson
President and Dean
Church Divinity School of the Pacific