From the Rector
About a month ago, while sitting around the Christmas dinner table and talking about the state of the world, my uncle reminded us of the likelihood that years back the Brochard family tree had a branch bearing the French philosopher Rene Descartes. As in the, “Je pense donc je suis,” Descartes. His uncle and godfather, Rene Brochard, is said to reside within our family lineage. This possibility was fascinating, and, after much discussion, it has taken its place in the pantheon of the stories our family tells that shapes our understanding of who we are.
I was reminded of this recently in this moving article, written by one of the members of the All Souls family, Tess Taylor. Tess writes about the process of her many-year exploration of her family’s story and her recent serendipitous connection with an African-American cousin, Gayle Jessup White. Gayle White, moved by this encounter herself, has also written her own reflection on this meeting in this article. What is clear to me in both of these reflections is the almost visceral need to know of one’s own roots, where we come from, how we have come to be.
Whether it is looking through old photographs to see who has Great Aunt Bernice’s nose or listening to the oral history of the family to understand patterns of alcoholism, or a predilection to calculus or poetry, an ability to high jump or to play the mandolin, this reaching back into the past is essential to a fuller understanding of ourselves today. Seen in their reflections, this work has been transformative for Tess and for Gayle, opening new questions, even as they have begun to answer old ones.
It is my firm belief that the same is true of communities of all kinds. It is nearly impossible for us to know ourselves as cities, universities, companies or churches if we are unaware of how we have come to be. Often this happens through the telling of story, whether it is of dramatic events that have occurred in the life of the body or of the lives of those who have come before us.
It is with this end in mind that a couple of years ago I began the practice of reading from portions of annual reports from years of All Souls’ past. After refining this practice (after all, one can hear Uncle Leo tell stories at the dinner table for only so long), now I have begun to telling the stories of two years, that of fifty years ago and of twenty-five years ago. This year being 2014, that means that we will hear from the lives of our forebears in the faith of 1964 and 1989. Then, as the meeting progresses, we will begin telling the stories of this past year, finally looking at what might be in the year to come.
I hope that regardless of the service you find yourself most often attending, you will join us this Sunday, February 2nd in the Parish Hall of All Souls at 10:10 am. As is our canonical responsibility and privilege, we will be electing new leaders among us, re-living moments from this past year and recognizing the gifts this family has been given through leadership and service. And, in order to remember who and whose we are, we will be telling stories of All Souls past. Thanks be to God.
From the Youth Minister
2014 Immersion Trips
This is always an exciting time of year in youth ministry for me because planning is well underway for our immersion trips but there is still plenty of time to prepare for them. It isn’t until the week or so before that I start to feel a sense of panic, thinking “Oh my goodness, we’re never going to be ready!” Right now, though, I am calm and confident in all that we are working on. The trips this summer are going to be really fantastic and I can feel my excitement mounting. I only hope our youth feel the same way!
In June we will host our 3rd annual middle school immersion trip. I feel like I say this about a lot of what we do at All Souls, but this trip has become one of my favorite events. We are uniquely blessed right now to have the first floor of the Parish House available for these trips. We have invited four other churches to join us and I am hopeful that we will have our largest group yet. Samantha Haycock, the youth minister from Christ Episcopal Church in Alameda, and I have been working on the theme, program, and schedule for a few months now and it is finally taking shape.
Our theme this year is “We will” taken from our Baptismal Covenant. We will be using the promises we make to one another at baptism to focus on water justice. We’ve got several fun activities, art projects and service projects planned. At the end of the trip, on Saturday, June 21st, we will host a fundraiser for the high school immersion trip. We’ll have a dunk tank (in keeping with our water theme), cakewalks, BINGO and much more. Please mark your calendars and plan on participating in this event to support both the time and energy the middle schoolers will have put into the preceding week and the work the high schoolers will be doing in August.
ALL youth who will be finishing 5th grade through those finishing 8th grade this year are invited to participate in this event. The registration deadline for the middle school immersion trip is June 1st. Youth are encouraged to invite their friends. Our trip starts on Tuesday evening, June 17th and ends with the fundraiser extravaganza on Saturday, June 21st.
A little over a month later, the high schoolers will be returning to Standing Rock, South Dakota to continue our relationship with the Lakota. This will be the third time the All Souls high school group has gone to Standing Rock but the first time since I have been here and I am excited to join in this work of reconciliation. We are working hard as we prepare for this trip to make sure it includes both hard, manual work and intentional community and relationship building. We will be tearing down walls both literally and figuratively.
ALL youth who will be entering their sophomore year of high school through those who will have just graduated from high school this spring are invited to participate in this trip. The registration deadline for the high school immersion trip is May 11th. Youth are encouraged to invite friends. We will leave on Sunday, August 3rd and return on Tuesday, August 12th. Please be on the look out for fundraising opportunities.
From the Archivist
“In the beginning was the Word …” In a sense, that describes how All Souls began. Before the Guild Hall, before the old brown shingled church, a Mr. Hyde, the father of Louise Hanscom whose first name is not known, started a Sunday School for those living north of the university campus. Louise Hanscom with her husband Weldon and six children moved from Oregon to the house at 1525 Walnut Street, Berkeley in 1881. The first Sunday School was held in the double parlors of that home, until it grew to require larger quarters, which were secured on Vine between Walnut and Shattuck.
As the number of Episcopal families living north of the university campus grew, two additional families began to hold Sunday School classes for children in their homes as well. Starting with ten boys (apparently there were no girls), Sunday School classes were also held at the Osborn home on Shattuck and Professor John Galen Howard’s home on Ridge Road (the present site of C. D. S. P.). Sometime in the early years of the century, the Reverend Edward Lambe Parsons, rector of St. Mark’s, sent the Rev. W. R. H. Hodgkin, then a deacon, to help with the new Sunday School.
The Sunday School grew and soon a larger space was required to handle the growing numbers. Professor Howard, the University of California’s architect, prepared plans for a new building, and Mrs. Louise W. B. Kellogg, widow of Martin Kellogg, president of the University of California in the 1890’s, donated land at the corner of Spruce and Cedar Streets, on which a “Guild Hall” was built about 100 feet west of Spruce fronting on Cedar. It was financed by individual subscriptions from parishioners of St. Mark’s.
The Guild Hall soon became known as All Souls’ Chapel. On Easter Sunday, April 15, 1906, three days before the San Francisco earthquake, the Reverend W. R. H. Hodgkin, now ordained a priest, was installed as vicar of All Souls Chapel. Many refugees from the 1906 earthquake and fire fled San Francisco to the east bay, and some remained to build new homes in north Berkeley. As more families moved into homes north of the University campus, a larger chapel building became necessary. A new chapel (the old church building) was designed by Percy R. M. Jenkin, who served for many years as the Sunday School superintendent. The new chapel was completed in time for Christmas services 1907. All Souls received its first episcopal visit from the Right Reverend William Ford Nichols, Bishop of California, during this first Christmastide. As before, the funds for building were raised from individual subscriptions from members of St. Mark’s, of which All Souls’ Chapel was a mission.
The original church was a weathered brown shingle designed to blend with the hillside. At the time a newspaper report described the building as “one of the most artistic edifices in Berkeley”. (Later, after the great north Berkeley fire of 1923, the brown shingles were replaced with a light stucco, which had become the exterior of choice for buildings in the area.) After a successful three year campaign to clear the debt for the new building, the chapel was consecrated by Bishop Nichols on October 27, 1912, and parishioners of St. Mark’s who lived north of Hearst were encouraged to attend All Souls’ chapel, rather than making Sunday church attendance an all-day affair of packing a lunch and traveling by foot or carriage to St. Mark’s for the eleven o’clock service.
From the Outreach Ministry Team
Welcoming the Stranger
Even veteran historian Doris Kearns Goodwin described the event as “exciting!” Watching Congressional leaders preceding President Obama, as he prepared to deliver his annual State of the Union Address on Tuesday evening is about as close as we come to the pomp and circumstance of the appearance of the Queen.
Perhaps I am just basically an inveterate optimist, but it did seem to me that the expression on the face of Speaker Boehner projected a tad more willingness to appear not to reject everything the President said. He even stood up from time to time and clapped! The prospect of passing an immigration reform bill appeared to be met with some enthusiasm.
It is with that same sense of optimism that I had greeted the article in New York Times last week, regarding two women who may be finding a way to unlock the immigration stalemate that has plagued our Congress for far too long.
Esther Olavarria, a Democratic Cuban American, worked as Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s top immigration lawyer and now holds a post in the White House. Rebecca Tallent, a Republican, left suburban Arizona and became Senator John McCain’s chief of staff, and is now a top policy aide to Speaker Boehner. These two women have been working together on immigration since 2003, in the back rooms of Capitol Hill.
Ms. Tallent is a key player in writing what are called the Republican guiding principles for immigration overhaul. The goals, which are expected to be outlined in detail in the next week, are likely to include bolstered border security and enforcement inside the country, fast-track legalization for agricultural laborers, more visas for high-tech workers, and an opportunity for young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children to become American citizens.
At the White House, Ms. Olavarria is charged with finding a compromise that Democrats and activists can live with. Both sides say they expect the two women to immerse themselves in discussions. That is the kind of “back room” activity that we might admire.
Keep an eye out for a proposal that just might have a chance of passing. While it will be far from perfect, it must be a step forward. Letters, phone calls and e-mails will be in order.
East Bay Community
On December 15, during the third week of the “Welcoming the Stranger” Formation Hour, Rev. Deborah Lee, Director of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, which is part of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice in California, spoke to us of the tragic circumstances of hundreds of the immigrant detainees held at the West County Detention Center – people taken from their families and incarcerated with virtually no legal assistance offered.
Outreach Ministry member Elena Ramirez has spearheaded All Souls’ efforts to respond to this intolerable situation. Every first Saturday of the month Elena joins a prayer vigil at the West County Detention Center, 5555 Giant Highway in Richmond.
These vigils are led by Kehilla Community Synagogue & Jewish Youth for Community Action. Participants gather to pray and bear witness to the pain, suffering, and separation of these immigrant detainees, and to call for compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform.
The next vigil will take place this Saturday, February 1, 11:00 am -12:00 pm. For further information contact Elena at email@example.com.
The Outreach Ministry invites all interested parishioners to join us in determining activities, events and/or organizations in which we as a faith community may participate. Please share your ideas with Outreach Ministry Chair, Christine Trost, firstname.lastname@example.org.