From the Rector
Words Make Worlds
Along with millions of other Americans, I am heartbroken today. Disgusted, sad, fearful, angry, and heartbroken. The fabric of our nation, already strained and stressed, experienced a significant rift yesterday and as of the writing of this reflection, it is not clear what lies ahead until Inauguration Day.
There is so much to consider about what it means to be a Christian in this nation at this time, but today I would like to draw upon the teaching of a renowned rabbi of the 20th century, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who taught that, “words make worlds.”
Rabbi Heschel’s teaching was on my heart and mind yesterday morning, afternoon, evening, and night, as a violent mob of supporters of President Trump stormed the United States Capitol Building, fought with police, broke into the Senate chambers, looted art from the walls, trashed congressional offices, and created mayhem throughout the Capitol.
The reason why Rabbi Heschel’s wisdom kept returning to me is because while this expression of anger, violence and ultimately of insurrection, was wrought by this mob, the credence for these actions has been created for months and was voiced once more by President Trump that morning. Just hours before the Capitol was breached in the most significant attack since it was burned by the British in 1814, as Congress was fulfilling its Constitutional duties, President Trump rallied his supporters in front of the White House.
And among the fraudulent and divisive words he used, here are some of the phrases that that incited his supporters to desecrate the icon of this country’s common pursuit of governance,
“This was a fraudulent election”
“We had a landslide election stolen from us”
“We will never concede”
“Fight much harder”
“You will never take back our country with weakness”
I realize that President Trump, despite his promises to accompany his supporters to the Capitol, wasn’t one of the ones macing police officers, breaking windows or stealing photographs and signs. But there is a clear and direct line from the words that he shouted that morning and the world that they created that afternoon.
Some of this was obviously seen and heard when one member of the mob repeatedly played President Trump’s false claims of fraud from this past presidential election as he stormed the halls of Congress. But it is a world of grievance and falsehood that President Trump’s words have been making for months, and many would say, years. And what we all witnessed yesterday was a falsehood that President Trump has believed––that since this was a world that he was creating that it would be one he could control. Instead, the spirits of hatred and bitterness that he had fomented had been unleashed. And they are far, far outside of his control.
To be clear, Donald Trump didn’t invent the idolatrous ideologies that underlie his words. He has given cover and encouragement with his words to a world of white supremacy that has existed since the foundation of this nation, one that we have been in constant struggle with ever since.
The challenge of our lives remains before us. As has been made absolutely clear in the weeks leading up to and since the election in November, this world of allegiance to whiteness as supreme is still being created, and it is a world that is antithetical to the teachings of the Christ.
The courageous efforts of the Congress to meet and certify the results electing Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President mean that Donald Trump will no longer be serving as President of the United States in 13 days.
And. The worlds that he has created will remain. And calls for violence to match violence will commence. And in the days to come we, as followers of the Christ, we will have to give witness to our faith in deed and in word. And so I wonder, following the wisdom of Rabbi Heschel,
What world will our words help create?
New Adult Formation Classes
This week we have two brand new Adult Formation courses! For those of you following these sorts of things, there has been one change of plans. You might have heard that this week we would launch a class about healing taught by parishioners Cynthia Li and Ruth Meyers, however, that that class is not postponed until the fall. In its place is a class that was supposed to run later this spring called Praying with Scripture taught by Madeline Feeley and Tonantzin Martinez-Borgfeldt.
Praying with Scripture
Are you looking for new ways to pray? Or resolved to make 2021 a Year of Prayer? Then Join Tonantzin and Madeline as we explore ways to use scripture in our daily life. We all desire a closer relationship with God, but it’s often hard to hear the Spirit in such a noisy world. Perhaps the Bible can help us center and focus that desire. Each session, we’ll use texts from the week’s lectionary and introduce you to practices designed to enrich your prayer life. You’re welcome to attend as many sessions as you can. This class will meet on Zoom (here) at 10:10 Sunday, 1/10, 1/17, and 1/24. We look forward to praying with you!
The second class is one for Newcomers (or anyone who feels like one!). This class will be taught by Emily Hansen Curran and Phil Brochard at 10:10 on Zoom on Sunday 1/10, 1/17 and 1/24. Anyone is invited to participate in our Newcomer Class, starting this Sunday, but you are especially welcome if you have started attending All Souls within the last 6-8 months or so. This is a 3-week class where we’ll look a little at the Episcopal church generally as well as the history of All Souls in exploring what it means to be a member at All Souls.
We know that it’s difficult to connect with a new worshipping community at this time, and it’s also true, because of our choice of medium for services, that we can’t know who you are unless you let us know you’re here. And so, I’m calling all newcomers to head out to this class so we can meet you and hear your story. Looking forward to meeting you all!
From the Senior Warden
Your Vestry met on December 15, and continued our practice of opening with a reflection grounded in a scriptural passage, this time led by our Chaplain Tim Ereneta. The passage this month was Luke 1: 26-38, the angel visiting Mary. We spilt into small groups and discussed the passage and tried to answer how each of us might have responded.
We turned then to the business of All Souls. We approved the purchase of a new laptop for use by Emily Hansen Curran, and by Jim Feeley and the team that brings us our streaming services. We approved our budget for 2021, essentially in line with our 2020 budget and taking into account a projected modest increase in expenses. Phil Brochard+ presented a very full Rector’s report. Advent, always a busy time, brought new challenges as well as opportunities due to the strictures of shelter in place. Tony Martinez Borgfeldt led a discussion on the state of our Ministries – our myriad communities have continued to connect and work through all the challenges of 2020. Participation in our Ministries has remained robust!
We turned next to “Generative Questions” – questions that we ordinarily do not ask and answer – in an attempt to keep your Vestry’s focus not just on the day-to-day work of our Parish, but on the bigger questions, the horizon, opportunities we may not ordinarily be considering. Questions included are there things that All Souls does that it can stop doing? Are there ways All Souls can enhance our Christian practices in our homes? What challenges might lie ahead in “rechurching” – bringing parishioners back who have drifted away during the pandemic? We split into small groups to consider these questions, then regathered to share our thoughts and conversations.
We ended the year on a strong note, a chord of gratitude – grateful for the extraordinary work the staff was able to do through all the challenges of the pandemic, grateful for the ongoing engagement of all of you with All Souls and our services and Ministries, and looking forward to a new year with the resumption of in-person services, our youth and children’s programs, our Ministries and fellowship.
From the Stewardship Committee
Inspired by Jeremiah, we started the pledge campaign asking the congregation to be like the tree that draws nourishment from the stream, stays green in a time of drought and continues to bear fruit in anxious times.
And this congregation has borne abundant fruit in anxious times.
In this turbulent, challenging year, with its suffering, frustration and uncertainty, All Souls members and visitors pledged just over $650,000, a 3% increase from last year. This response was amazing in several ways.
In a year when scores of All Soulsian households moved away, we had 173 adult pledges this year, down 8% from last year’s 187. During the campaign, the Stewardship Committee talked with numerous members who were suffering through difficult financial times and were not able to pledge financial support right now.
Many of the people who could afford to make pledges, increased them. Often substantially. We had 86 households increase their pledge from 2020 to 2021. An astonishing 27 increased their pledges by more than 50%.
That deserves repeating. Twenty-seven pledges increased by more than 50%. In any time that would be amazing. In this time, it is to leave one speechless.
The reasons behind these increases vary from person to person. But at their core, all of them speak to the importance and centrality of All Souls in the lives of so many.
In this year of odd distance, we have welcomed new members and visitors. All Souls’ presence on-line and through the in-person ministries we continue to offer, have let those seeking a spiritual home find us. We received 33 pledges from people who did not make a pledge for 2020.
And we have had numerous losses. In many ways the losses feel similar to a wildfire sweeping through a forest. We have lost long-term, mature members of the parish this year; some have died and others have moved away. We feel their loss and miss them. And yet, many of those who have moved away have pledged for 2021. Pledges totaling $20,000 have come from those who have relocated this year. Their continued pledge support may be less certain going forward than it has been in the past, but it has been crucial to lifting us to a viable budget in 2021.
Your Stewardship Committee has been humbled by the generous and committed support of the members of this parish. We are grateful for the careful consideration so many of you have used to make the decision to support All Souls in 2021 and we are renewed in our appreciation of the invitation in Jeremiah:
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought, it is not anxious, and does not cease to bear fruit.
Sunday Live Streaming News
Join us at 9am on Zoom for what was our outdoor, courtyard worship service. Or (and!) join us for the live stream of Sunday’s 11:15 service, which can be accessed through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
We have three class offerings this Sunday
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study. Contact Daniel Prechtel, firstname.lastname@example.org, to join that Zoom call at 10:10am.
- Praying with Scripture taught by Madeline Feeley and Toni Martinez Borgfeldt
10:10 Virtual Formation Class on Zoom (click here for class link) 1/10, 1/17, & 1/24
Looking for new ways to pray? Resolved to make 2021 a Year of Prayer?
Join Tonantzin Martinez-Borgfeldt and Madeline Feeley as we explore ways to use scripture in our daily life. We all desire a closer relationship with God, but it’s often hard to hear the Spirit in such a noisy world. Perhaps the Bible can help us center and focus that desire. Each session, we’ll use texts from the week’s lectionary and introduce you to practices designed to enrich your prayer life. You’re welcome to attend as many sessions as you can. We look forward to praying with you!
- Newcomer Class taught by Emily Hansen Curran and the Rev. Phil Brochard
10:10 Virtual Formation Class on Zoom (click here for class link) 1/10, 1/17, & 1/24 Anyone is invited to participate in our Newcomer Class, starting this Sunday, but you are especially welcome if you have started attending All Souls within the last 6-8 months or so. This is a 3-week class taught by the Rev. Phil Brochard and Emily Hansen Curran where we’ll look a little at the Episcopal church generally as well as the history of All Souls in exploring what it means to be a member at All Souls.
Missed the previous week’s class?? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll be recording all of the Adult Formation offerings and loading them to the Adult Formation page of our website. Click here to get there and access the class recordings.
Children & Family News
In-person Children’s formation is temporarily on hold as we are under a new Shelter in Place order. New ways for families to engage with scripture to you will be sent out via email. If you’d like to receive updates about this, but do not subscribe to the Family Bulletin, please email Maggie Foote (email@example.com) for more information.
Stephen Ministry: We are here for you!
2020 was a challenging year, right?! Most of us have been struggling and overwhelmed. You are not alone. Stephen Ministers understand and are available to listen, support and pray for you. We can offer you a confidential caring relationship or an occasional phone call to help you through these ever-changing times. Contact Maggie Foote at (513) 309-1079 or Madeline Feeley at (510) 495-4512 so we can be there for you.
Evening Prayer via Zoom
Here is the link for the Thursday night BCP Compline, which starts at 8:30 PDT:
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 786 3029 4068
Check out Season 2, Episode 16 of the Soulcast!
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
The ASP Food Drive continues to pick up and deliver food for the Berkeley Food Pantry on a weekly basis. Food contributors and drivers participate every other week. Please email Cathy: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
If you are able to help provide some meals for parishioners in need, please contact Cathy Goshorn to help out! We are in great need at this time to help care for each other––please consider helping other All Soulsians in need by providing meals or gift cards for meals. You can reach Cathy at email@example.com.
Will Bryant (our current seminarian) will be ordained a deacon at the Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, North Carolina, on January 16th at 11a ET (his ordination was delayed due to an illness at the Cathedral in North Carolina). Will is deeply thankful to everyone at All Souls Parish for all the support he has received over the last two years. All are invited to watch the ordination as it will be live-streamed on the Cathedral’s website at https://allsoulscathedral.org/virtual-connect.
This year’s Annual Meeting is January 31st at 10:10a on Zoom! Click here for the link.
Wanting to be a remote lector for Sunday morning’s 11:15 service? Let me know and I’ll get you trained. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.