From the Associate for Ministry Development
Why do we gather? We gather to solve problems we can’t solve on our own. We gather to celebrate, to mourn, and to mark transitions. We gather to make decisions. We gather because we need one another. We gather to show strength. We gather to honor and acknowledge. We gather to welcome, and we gather to say goodbye.
But here is the great paradox of gathering: There are so many good reasons for coming together that often we don’t know precisely why we are doing so. You are not alone if you skip the first step in convening people meaningfully: committing to a bold, sharp purpose.
When we skip this step, we often let old or faulty assumptions about why we gather dictate the form of our gatherings. We end up gathering in ways that don’t serve us, or not connecting when we ought to.
I’ve recently picked up the book The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters by Priya Parker, from which those lines above are taken. In the margin of my book, after these opening lines, I wrote, “we need to pose this question to ourselves about how we participate at church”.
As we all know and likely have experienced in one way or another, this year of being isolated and changing our daily routines because of the pandemic has caused us to question what we give our attention to and why. My assumption is that consciously or not, we have applied this same evaluation to All Souls, and I imagine that many of us have discovered that our time away from church and church things was easily filled with other good things.
And while I would love for everyone to return to All Souls in the same roles and capacity that we all used to, I also know that we have changed. Some of us return a little more bruised and battered than we were before March of 2020, and some of us have had our priorities shift over our time away. And so to assume that what and how we were participating prior to March of 2020 will be the exact same in July of 2021 would be to make a gross and inaccurate assumption.
We as a staff keep saying to ourselves that we don’t want to just offer the same ol’ things because that’s what we used to do. That’s just not good enough. That does not mean that things MUST change, but that if we return to what was without considering the possibilities of change, we miss the opportunity of this moment. A moment which I think is really lovely. We get this rare opportunity to evaluate who and what we are, and why we do what we do. I mean, it’s rare that we allow just 15 months of time to rattle our assumptions of purpose! But also, this reckoning, or to use biblical imagery, this moment when we separate the wheat from the chaff in our lives feels daunting. We’re in a moment when we can be and do better––with greater life and wholeness, and health (in that vein, check out this article by Diana Butler Bass if you’ve got a few extra minutes in your week)––when we can recreate our systems and try new things again. And all of that is a lot of work.
I write this article now because I wanted to say that we, as a staff team, are trying to do that work. To get there, I’ve turned to Priya Parker’s book. With regard to purpose she suggests one thing: “to move from the what to the why”. She then lays out some ways to get there, one of which really captured my imagination. In her words, “Drill, baby, drill: Take the reasons you think you are gathering––because it’s our departmental Monday-morning meeting; because it’s a family tradition to barbecue at the lake––and keep drilling below them. Ask why you’re doing it. Every time you get to another, deeper reason, ask why again. Keep asking why until you hit a belief or value.” She goes on,
“Let’s look at how we might move from the what to the why of something as simple as a neighborhood potluck:
Why are you having a neighborhood potluck?
Because we like potlucks, and we have one every year.
Why do you have one every year?
Because we like to get our neighbors together at the beginning of the summer.
Why do you like to get your neighbors together at the beginning of the summer?
I guess, if you really think about it, it’s a way of marking the time and reconnecting after the hectic school year.
And why is that important?
Because when we have more time in the summer to be together, it’s when we remember what community is, and it helps us forget the bonds that make this a great place to live. Aha. And safer. Aha. And a place that embodies the values we want our children to grow up with, like that strangers aren’t scary. Aha. Now we’re getting somewhere.”
My mind jumps to our ministry teams and how they function, our monthly all-ministry meetings, our youth group, how we welcome newcomers, some of the elements of Sunday worship, and the list really goes on and on. But I think this is a team effort, and so my hope is that we do this work together. That we as individuals, as ministry teams, as staff, as a vestry, take a beat and ask these questions as we head into the fall and the start of our program year. Let’s take risks together, and scrap things that need to be scrapped, ask questions, and wonder out loud. Things might remain exactly as they are, and if that’s where we come to at the end of our deep dive, then that’s pretty cool. But let’s ask the questions and see what comes of it. I’m hopeful and energized about this year ahead with you all.
–Emily Hansen Curran
Housing the Bay
Can we make the Bay Area truly affordable for all?
“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Episcopal Impact Fund and Eden Housing present a two-part webinar series examining the post-Covid housing crisis, how we got here, and what we can do to achieve a better future for all residents of the Bay.
Where are we and how did we get here? – Thursday, July 29, 7:00-8:00pm PT
In this first session, we will look at the current state of housing in the Bay Area and how our unique history as well as governmental policy have brought us where we are today. Stephanie Martin Taylor, past KQED housing beat reporter and current head of communications at the Diocese, will moderate a conversation with advocates, strategists, builders, and members of the media.
What we can do about it! – Thursday, August 19, 7:00-8:00pm PT
During this second session, we will look at the challenges of building affordable housing in the Bay Area as well as some success stories in the Bay Area. Our panelists will share real-world examples of how they are meeting the housing crisis head-on and discuss ways we and our communities can do something about it.
If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one recently, and you’re interested in exploring and processing that grief in community with others who are also experiencing grief from loss, take a moment to consider joining this group offered by the All Souls Stephen Ministry leaders. Stephen Ministers are trained in offering spiritual care and Christian companionship. This group will be led by Madeline Feeley and Raymond Yee, and it will offer participants a chance to support one another and process their grief together. Please fill out this interest form if you’d like to know more. The group will meet Sunday mornings at 10:10 for eight sessions, including an information and introduction session on July 11th.
Karl Ove Knausgaard, A Time for Everything
As a beginner in the reading of scripture I am continually struck by how proximate God’s relationship was with our ancient forebears. From the Hebrew Bible on through the Gospels, the bond between the human and divine feels intimate, passionate, God right there to praise and decree, punish or reward.
Or, failing the personal appearance, he’d dispatch his trusted emissaries, those otherworldly beings aglow with transcendent light, God’s angels.
In A Time for Everything, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s inspired and thoroughly imagined novel, the writer asks, Where are God’s envoys now, when we and the rest of the natural world are in such dire need of intercession? Why is it exactly now that angels no longer visit us?
In answer, the novelist posits a life of the 16th century theologian Antinous Bellori, whose scholarly writings On the Nature of Angels recount those parts played by angelic beings in the stories of Cain and Abel, Noah, Lot, and the prophet Ezekiel as he foretells Christ’s sacrifice.
We’ll meet in both the Parish Hall and on All Souls’ Zoom at 10:10 during the Sunday Formation Hour. Here are the dates and page assignments.
July 25 (pp. 7 – 136) August 1 (pp. 137 – 241) August 8 (pp. 242 – 334) August 15 (pp. 335 – 499)
We hope you’ll join us in discussion of this compelling book by one the most important novelists of our time.
For the Summer Book Group Committee
Save the Dates
(*see “Other News and Notes” for more info on events)
July 16th-18th: Parish Campout at Big Sur
July 25th, 4:00pm: All Parish Hymn Singalong and Social Hour
August 12, 6:30pm: Young-ish Adults Gathering
August 22: Movie Night
September 10, 6:30pm: All Souls outing to the Oakland A’s Game
September 17-19: Parish retreat at The Bishop’s Ranch
Sunday Mornings: Join us at 9am in the courtyard, in-person.
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.
Wednesday Mornings: 9:00am PDT
Join us in person in the church, or online!
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
Thursday Night Compline (Night Time Prayers): 8:30pm PDT
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84737698405?pwd=dlh2OXZmblBYTU5hTEw5TGJXUVZNZz09
Meeting ID: 847 3769 8405
7:30am Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Kate Murphy to join that Zoom call.
10:10am Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Daniel Prechtel to join that Zoom call.
If you’d like to attend this class in person, it will meet downstairs in the chapel at 10:10am.
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 & Youth News
Believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about the fall and Children, Youth, and Family programming at All Souls! In order to help us plan the best and most holistic programming for children, youth, and families, it is important to know a little bit about the children, youth, and families we’re hoping to serve. To that end, please fill out this form to help us get to know you and what sorts of programs you and your family may be interested in. Please submit one form per family, and all families with children from babies through high school age are encouraged to participate using this same form. Not only will this help us get some feedback about the types of programs you’d like to see, but it will also serve as a sort of registration for fall programming, so the contact information you provide here will help us get information to you in the fall about upcoming programs and events.
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.
Other News & Notes
Soulcast: Our Weekly Video Announcements
Hymn Sing & Social Hour
Come out to sing and hang with fellow parishioners on July 25th from 4-6p. If you’d like to request a hymn in advance (the only way to request a hymn to be sung), fill out this form. And, of course, feel free to bring some drinks or snacks to share!
July 16-18th: All Souls Big Sur Camping Trip
If you haven’t been to All Souls @ Big Sur before, please join the community for this special time—you won’t be disappointed! (If you know, you know!) This is a beloved weekend when we make church just by being together, sheltering under the big trees, splashing in the river, playing at the beach. There is conversation and laughter and quiet. It’s glorious.
We will gather at the Big Sur river under the tall redwoods of Santa Lucia Chapel & Campground, a mission of All Saints Parish in Carmel. The group campsite has running water and toilets (but no showers), picnic tables, a group barbecue area and a large campfire circle. A communal dinner will be prepared for all (by all!) on Saturday night, but otherwise meals are individual responsibility. The weekend will be framed with Evening and Morning prayer, and an informal Sunday Eucharist in the outdoor chapel. There is a family-friendly beach at the campsite, and there are ocean beaches and great hiking within driving distance for those who want to venture out.
If you are a novice camper, are traveling with small kids, or don’t have a lot of camping supplies, this is a great way to do camping-lite! You will be surrounded by a whole community of gear, food to share, and helping hands (to hold the kid, play Uno, kick the ball, coach the S’mores, light the fire, help with the tent, provide a can opener…).
Cost: $40 per person for the weekend (children under 5 stay for free; $125 max per family)
September 10, 6:30pm: All Souls outing to the Oakland A’s Game
We’re heading to an A’s game together and tailgating before the game on September 10th. Sign-up with Don Gates (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get a spot for the game. Sign-up soon as we need a head count sooner than later.
People needed to “Make Church Happen”
Consider joining the Usher and or Greeters teams!
During the week the musicians practice and the sacristans ensure the altar linens and other things necessary for the service are in order for the service. They arrive early on Sunday and set up for the service. These preparations enhance our experience of Church. When we arrive on Sunday morning there are people who greet us, hand us a bulletin, and make note of newcomers then distribute wine and juice during the service. They answer our questions, help us with a chair and place to sit. They welcome us and want us to feel at home.
Does this sounds like something you’d like to do? If so, contact Renae Breitenstein.
Lectoring & Intercession on Sunday Mornings
If you are interested in becoming a Lector or Intercessor (the folks who read the bible passages and lead the prayers during the Sunday morning services), come to our Lector & Intercessor training next Sunday, June 13th between the 9 & 11:15 services. Dr. Scott MacDougall will lead a short training for anyone interested. For more information, see Emily, email@example.com.
Sunday Morning Tech Help
If you are technically inclined and looking for a way to help out on Sundays, we can use the help! Mostly we’re looking for a sound tech or two, and perhaps another person or two to learn how to operate the camera. All roles come with training and great company :). See Emily for more info, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Justice legislation set for crucial hearing
One of the pieces of California justice reform legislation endorsed by All Souls is at a critical juncture in the legislative process. SB483 has a hearing in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tues July 13 at 9am. This is the bill that provides relief to incarcerated people who are serving time for sentencing “enhancements” that have already been stricken from California law as unjust and arbitrary. It would apply current sentencing standards to those convicted in prior years, eliminating thousands of years of additional prison time. Send your message of support to committee members here: https://apsf.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff. Listen to the Committee hearing here: https://apsf.assembly.ca.gov/hearings.
Stephen Ministry: Christ Caring for People through People
That’s the motto of Stephen Ministry. The Stephen Minister’s role is to bring God’s love into the lives of people who are going through a difficult time or experiencing a crisis. What do Stephen Ministers do? They listen, care, support, encourage, and pray with and for a person who is hurting. And in the midst of this confidential, one-to-one, caring relationship, God’s healing love comes pouring through.
If someone you know is facing a crisis—large or small—and could benefit from the caring presence of a Stephen Minister, talk to Rev. Maggie Foote (email@example.com) or Stephen Ministry Leader Madeline Feely (firstname.lastname@example.org). Our Stephen Ministers are ready to care for you!
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
In the before times, bringing a can of vegetables or a jar of peanut butter to church was the practice of many, and every few weeks all this would add up to three or four bags of groceries that I would deliver to the Berkeley Food Pantry. Obviously when in-person church services stopped, so did the influx of food. All Souls Parish made quick and creative adjustments; without missing a beat, folks had signed up to put a bag on their porch every other week for a driver to pick up and bring to the pantry. There were perhaps two dozen households contributing, and four or five drivers so that on any given Friday, between five and 10 bags of groceries were delivered to the pantry. More than a year later, we need wider participation. Drivers have had to make adjustments , and perhaps having the same folks providing the groceries every other week is not sustainable. Please consider offering a bag of groceries for pick up every other week, and/or sign up for any every other week driving shift to pick up from 5 or so households. Contact Cathy Goshorn, email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.