Updates from the Here/There Camp
On January 14, during a break between winter rainstorms, a group of All Soulsians sat at church with Joe Pendleton, of Here/There Camp, thinking about how we might continue to serve the Here/There community and develop a longer term commitment to work with them. It was our first meeting together since the very generous and active Advent drive, (thank you All Souls, we rocked that!) and we were happy to hear that the tarps and coats and boots we gathered in December are serving a great many people well, now. We also learned some harder stuff: that one elderly fellow, a diabetic, can no longer feel his feet and cannot tell if rats are eating them; that another is in and out of the ICU with pneumonia and may not live through the winter; that another, beloved by many, is exhibiting a lot of symptoms of dementia, that one of the people we’d really hoped to help (and some of us had befriended) had, after a long struggle with chronic pain, lost his sobriety and left camp. He is living solo on the streets again.
These are hard stories, but to me, it feels critical to know them, to give shapes and names to the crisis around us. Some of you know that I have been going to Here/There—the group of 20 tents at Ashby and Adeline— for a year now, and for me it has been a place of connection, and learning, and even joy. My visits grew out of my wish to be in closer relationship with the homeless community in our midst. El Cerrito, where I live, has 23,000 people; the last count of homeless in the Bay Area is 46,000. That means that for every person under a roof in my town as the rain pours down tonight as I write this note, two people are without permanent shelter. I wanted to educate myself about who these neighbors are and what we can do to help. It’s meant a huge amount to me that so many people in the All Souls community seem aligned with this mission. It’s also meant a lot that Here/There is open to being in relationship with us.
Indeed, there are a lot of ways to help: Joe mentioned that Arthur, a senior who is being transitioned off the streets and into nursing care, needs slippers, pajamas, and a bathrobe. Donations welcome! The camp would like to raise money for an electric generator. And Joe explains that one of the ways we can easily offer some care on a continual basis is to offer rides to elderly people who need to go to Target or some other pharmacy for toiletries or to pick up their medications. A great many people in the Here/There camp have some form of income and some form of health care or gym membership, but many are also elderly and have issues with transport. Dani Gabriel of Peace and Justice (firstname.lastname@example.org) offered to serve as a point person in these efforts.
Our conversations also turned to a desire to spend some time educating ourselves about homelessness and about the resources and organizations addressing it in the Bay Area. When I was a kid, there was a fabulous organization called Berkeley Ecumenical Chaplaincy for the Homeless, in which faith leaders across denominations worked together to help people navigate shelterlessness, and it seems odd and worth noting that nothing has quite been organized to take its place. Meanwhile, as a team we reviewed our common contacts at Berkeley Food and Housing, EBHO, Interfaith Communities United and Youth Spirit Artworks. As we began to learn about the various kinds of care and support (as well as what we might wish to come to understand or provide and advocate for) we discussed the idea of hosting a teach-in about homelessness—part party, part presentation, where we at All Souls could meet activists and interlocutors from the homeless communities and from various service organizations, and build new projects and new relationships. In the spirit of aligning an ecumenical approach, we also talked about cross denominational action (inviting representatives from other churches and beginning to open dialog about coordinating approaches.) If you’re interested in helping plan this teach-in on homelessness for the church, please contact me or Dani Gabriel.
Finally, in a particularly moving moment, Joe suggested that we consider organizing memorial services for those homeless that will die this year on the streets, and or holding a candlelight vigil for the many homeless people who die without shelter or adequate care. Opening ourselves to mourn and pray for those who leave us in this way––and to remember them and their lives—feels like an important first step in healing ourselves, our world, and attempting to build the beloved community.
I’ve got a particularly busy few months coming up, so Dani and Peace and Justice are going to spearhead the effort. But if you’re interested, or if this work calls you, join us.
from the deacon
Join the Justice & Peace Ministry at All Souls
One of the great joys of returning to All Souls is getting to witness what our Justice and Peace team is up to. On Monday I was privileged to celebrate MLK Day by attending the film Just Mercy with a group of about 20. This movie looks at the death penalty and racism as it continues to prevent justice in our justice system. Some joined in a great discussion and dinner that followed. This is the kind of activity Justice and Peace puts on regularly, and I am grateful I get to bring my children for the education, and I am grateful that they get to see their community showing up to tackle inequality.
Justice and Peace regularly ministers in several areas: seeking climate justice, accompanying and vigiling in support of immigrants, mentoring foster youth, offering centering prayer in the chapel on the first and third Monday evenings of the month, building tiny homes with Youth Spirit Artworks for unhoused students, and sponsoring the Open Door Dinner to feed those who are hungry.
This creative, hardworking, fun group of folks meets to coordinate this work on the first Monday of the month at the Monthly Ministries Meeting at 7pm. There will also be a new climate series in the Spring with a focus on taking action, and meetings to plan it are Thursdays, 7pm in the Common Room, February 20 & 27; March 5, 12, 19. We will also be getting together soon to plan a future symposium on homelessness, focused on the voices and leadership of those most impacted.
Join us in serving and loving our siblings! Even if you cannot join us for meetings, you can be involved. Please share your questions, interests, ideas and enthusiasm by contacting the Justice and Peace Team leaders: Janet Chisholm, email@example.com, and Lewis Maldonado, firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the vestry
After packed agendas for the last several months, January’s vestry meeting brought a welcome pause to reflect on 2019 and look ahead to the year to come. Chaplain Kaki Logan led us in a meditative reflection on walking alongside Jesus, who turns to ask us, “What are you looking for?”
In that vein, we revisited our ongoing discussion on welcoming and integrating newcomers. Emily Hansen Curran reminded us of how change happens in a congregation – when a vision for what could be and first steps to get there, plus dissatisfaction with the current state, outweigh the resistance or challenges to making a change. As we respond to feedback that we have missed opportunities to welcome newcomers, we’ve been working from a vision of collectively hosting a dinner party, where everyone takes part in making guests feel welcome in their own way. Emily came to give us a concrete set of steps vestry members could take and – illustrated by football analogies and diagrams that clearly resonated with the rest of the vestry but, I will confess, went right over the sportsball-challenged senior warden’s head – walked us through how we can help.
Rev. Phil reported updates from the Parish House Project (final designs are submitted to the city), the capital campaign (initial feasibility studies revealed additional work that needs to be done, and that installing an elevator is structurally feasible), and the new rector search (a job posting is up, please share!).
Jamie Apgar joined us to share that a crucial part of the organ has worn out, and he presented a range of options for response. The vestry voted to allocate funds to repair this part of the instrument, knowing that further discussion and possible repairs elsewhere will be needed in the coming months.
Finally, we heard reflections from the outgoing class of vestry members on what their time on vestry has meant to them. Erin Horne, Bob Holum, Matt McGinley (and Kat Lisa in absentia) offered their thoughts on being called to be bold in leadership and received our thanks for their three years of service and dedication.
Memento Mori- The Spiritual Practice of the Remembrance of One’s Own Death
As a spiritual practice, recalling the impermanence of life in the form of our own mortality, has been recommended through time and across religious traditions and yet, we find ourselves in a culture and time deeply invested in the denial of death. Our attention is individually and collectively redirected away from something that once, along with taxes, was described as the only certainty in life.
In this three week class, we will explore the reality of death in our time, the culture of denial that surrounds it and engage in a variety of spiritual practices to raise our awareness of our own death and how it can clarify and vitalize our lives today. This class is appropriate and recommended for any members of the All Souls community who will die.
––The Rev. Michael Lemaire
Anglican Prayer Beads or Rosary
Our seminarians, Will Bryant and Annie Jones, will lead workshops on the Anglican Prayer Beads or Rosary. Participants will not only learn about the history and tradition of the Anglican Rosary but will also craft their own personal rosary to enrich their contemplative practices.
Both classes will be taught during Formation Hour (10:10-11:05ish). The Rev. Michael Lemaire will be teaching in the Parish Hall. Will Bryant and Annie Jones will be teaching in the Common Room.
Annual Meeting is this Sunday!
Please come together for our Annual Meeting: a time to hear about the new building for affordable housing and All Souls use, the budget for 2020, 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 as Sunday School does not meet this day. Annual Report 2019
2020 Capital Campaign
Save the Date—Feb. 16
Marc Rieke, consultant for the 2020 capital campaign, will be our guest preacher during worship services. Join him and the capital campaign team at 10:10 am in the Parish Hall to learn more about the purposes and practices of the campaign.
Coming Up in Youth Group
Youth Group, January 26th @ 6:30p. High School overnighter and Middle School late-nighter, February 8-9th. Youth Group, February 23rd @ 6:30p.
Calling All Wreath 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!!
Mardi Gras: Save the Date!
Mardi Gras this year is February 25th. This year’s Mardi Gras will benefit our high school youth who will be traveling to Magalia, just north of Paradise, CA to do fire relief sort of work in August. Come support the youth! Then, come back, the next day for Ash Wednesday––services as 7a, 12p, and 7:30p.