From the Rector
A truth that I have learned from the development of congregations is that one of the most powerful interventions that you can offer a group of people is to put them in touch with their own experience. And, that often we are unaware that other people are thinking or feeling like we do, or that they aren’t thinking or feeling like we do. So being asked to consider how we think and feel, then seeing this reflected back to us, can be the catalyst for change and growth.
It was with this in mind that we reached out to All Soulsians far and wide with a survey a couple of weeks ago. And the responses were remarkable…in fact 125 of them! Below in an article by Liz Lynch, one of the All Soulsians who helped us with this project, and over the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing the results of that survey. What I thought that I’d do today is offer my own reflections as to how we as a parish are faring during this challenging and transformative period in our common life.
From this snapshot in time, (from the cohort of those who responded), folks of this congregation are mostly as well physically (90%) as before the pandemic began. Spiritually, most are doing well (70%), but some would like more ways to connect with God. Financially, at least at this point, most of the congregation is in a stable place (78%), and will be able to continue to support the parish with their giving. Where the strain is mostly being felt, at least at this point, is emotionally. Some of us (12%) are living our best life in quarantine, half of us are good, a quarter of us are just hanging in, and some of us (12%) are struggling. What this tells me is that mutual support, like with a Stephen Minister, or a Connection or Emmaus Group, or simply a phone call on a regular basis, would go a long way. Caring with and for each other, leaning on each other in this time, will be increasingly necessary as it becomes clear that this will likely be a long haul.
It was incredibly encouraging to see the depth and breadth of ways that All Soulsians are connecting to God in this time of trial. Top of the list (almost 90%) was worship, especially in the sermons and music, the Thanksgivings and the Prayers of the People, as well as Compline during the week. It is also clear that for some, especially our youngest All Soulsians, streamed worship doesn’t allow for connection to God.
What this time of shelter in place has opened up, however, is the reminder that God can be encountered in myriad ways, many outside of the Sunday liturgy (a shock for many Episcopalians, I realize). All Soulsians experienced this through sandwich making for the homeless encampments, ongoing friendships, small groups like Connection Groups and Emmaus Groups, hearing and reading about the life of the parish through the Pathfinder and the Soulcast, and through the practice of daily prayer. From the variety of responses I am again reminded of the resiliency of this congregation, and of how God wishes to be known.
And. Throughout our common lives throughout this time of pandemic and uncertainty and upheaval, we are lamenting what we have lost. We miss casual conversations with other parishioners, receiving the Eucharist, hugs, and SINGING TOGETHER. My goodness, but we miss singing together. The responses that we offered have driven home for me the essential truth that we are embodied creatures. While I am deeply thankful that we have been able to carry on some of our practice through streaming in a way that simply hasn’t been possible for almost all of the 2,000 years of Christianity, there is no substitute for touch and scent and taste and sound. It may be awhile, but it is clear that we long to be together, in the same place, at the same time.
And I suppose that this was one of the more startling aspects of the survey––the earnest, honest, and heartfelt responses that were given. It was beautiful and humbling to see the fullness of life in this pandemic, all the things together, reflected with grace and truth. The feelings of loneliness for some, and of full-on, non-stop for others. Of deep thanksgiving and of serious lament. Of connecting with family members scattered across the continent through All Souls Sunday worship, and of profoundly missing the faces and laughter of people we hold dear.
My sense is that there are several aspects of our common life that we will continue to work on––especially the formation of children and youth, remaining connected with one another, and how best to re-gather once we are able. And what was made clear to me over and again is that the Spirit remains alive in this parish and its people.
And that together, by the presence and grace of God we will support, guide, challenge, and uphold one another, as we have for 114 years. Keep the faith, beloved of Christ, keep the faith.
Survey Results Are In!
As someone who spends her working hours “driving digital transformation” (That’s my Linkedin description), I spend a lot of time with data and interpreting what it means about what people need. I’m working with the staff team to sift through the survey results, what we’re learning, and what we can do to respond to our community’s evolving needs. We are still early in that process But we wanted to share some of the highlights we can already see:
- Most adults are joining the live streamed services at 10:30 on Sundays. That’s not a surprise, because there’s a good chance you learned about the survey during Phil’s announcements, so you must be attending the service. We were preaching to the choir with that question. (I’ve been dying to say that.) Some of us love it (“Church in pjs!”) and some of us wish there was a less video in our lives, but we’re all glad we can tune into All Souls.
- Most people report they’re doing well physically and financially. There have been some rough spots, and will continue to be, but we are in good shape overall.
- Spiritually and emotionally, we’re struggling more. This gets tougher as SIP is extended and COVID continues to be very present. Soup & Story and Connection groups are helping us weather this; reading the Pathfinder has become more important; we’re engaging via Phil & Emily’s Soulcast; and people are practicing daily prayer more often. The All Souls staff is already looking at new ways to help with spiritual practice at home, and daily prayer is high on the list. Getting this feedback puts even more emphasis on that need and energy behind the work.
Finally, thank you for an enthusiastic response! 125 people completed the survey, including many very open detailed comments that will help us understand the challenges you’re facing, the concerns you have, how your needs are changing, and what you’re most looking forward to when we can start to meet in person. We are grateful to all of you. Watch future Pathfinders for more survey results details. There is so much to learn and share that we are spreading it out over several weeks.
Note: in the graphs below, 1 basically means “things are not good” and 5 means “things are great.”
–Liz Polk Lynch
From the Giving Secretary
The past few months have been curious ones. It seems like I have more than the usual amount of time on my hands, yet I seem to be accomplishing less. To the global pandemic, add the political scene, the murders of two, three, or is it four, more individuals of color at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve, the ensuing protests and alliances that just might be the catalyst for long needed change… and I am left saying, “How am I able to contribute?”
All Souls had to respond, very abruptly just as Holy Week was upon us, in creative ways to maintain the spiritual connection we long for and may have taken for granted. In addition to maintaining weekly worship services, adult formation, and Open Door Dinner, there are more needs bubbling up as food insecurity is magnified. So Project Sandwich happened, and we are now helping stock the Berkeley Food Pantry by picking up the donations you can no longer bring to church. This congregation has stepped up in many creative ways to keep our ministries growing to reach the vulnerable, some who find themselves newly vulnerable and some to whom vulnerability had already become a bitter fact of life.
I know there are parishioners who are multitasking work and child care, and I also know that for some, work has been reduced or has disappeared for the undetermined future. I imagine there are some whose pledges joyfully and purposefully made in the fall now loom as a burden. So if you are looking a way to step up and step in to contribute to our communal well being, we have just the thing for you.
A faithful parishioner had the idea of asking others to help fulfill pledges for our brothers and sisters who are financially impacted by recent events beyond their control. You might imagine the difficulty of bringing this issue up, and if we can offer the resource of friends who are wanting to help, it may make it easier. Imagine how you will feel when I tell you your gift has fulfilled a portion or all of a family’s remaining pledge that had weighed on them. Even in an anonymous context, you will know exactly how you helped. Please reach out to me at (415) 699-6700 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk about it more. This is a very real way to step up to an immediate need.
– Maggie Cooke
As we head into summer, with so much unexpected change around us, this is a good time to consider where we are in relation to our forecasts (budget) for this year. At the end of May, we were approximately 40% of the way through the fiscal year. Overall Income is a bit ahead of what is expected for the year, and year-to-date expenses are a bit less than our budget.
Overall, this is a good situation for us to be in, and we’re so appreciative of your response to the appeals from the Stewardship Team. However, income frequently comes unevenly and is often concentrated in the beginning of the year. None of us know how long this pandemic, and the strain it has wrought on our economy, will last. We’ve all been impacted by this crisis, in one way or another. We ask that, if you can do so, to please continue with your planned giving for the remainder of the year. In addition, if you made an authorized purchase for the church and have not yet submitted it for reimbursement, please do so before the end of July.
The balance in Vanguard (Jordan) funds at the end of May was $1,129,080. Of this total, $823,340 is considered principle held for capital needs likely associated with the 2021 occupancy of Jordan House (the joint project with SAHA to provide affordable senior housing and housing/office space for the church). Earnings (unrealized gain) at the end of May were $225,740. We have drawn $22,000 from the Jordan Principal for mission-related costs this year.
If you have questions about any of this, or would like additional detail, I would be glad to talk with you.
Sunday Live Streaming News
The live stream of Sunday services can now be accessed through our website (rather than simply on Facebook)! Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
This Sunday join our teaching hour at 9:15a to take part in the fourth week of our Summer Book Group! This week’s book club discussion of Braiding Sweetgrass will cover the fourth section, from pp. 205 to 300. Our Zoom meeting will be led by Raymond Yee, who serves our parish in so very many different ways. Here’s a little about his background:
Born and raised in northeastern Ontario, Raymond is the grateful son of Chinese immigrants. Coming to Berkeley 30 years ago, he says, seeking fame and fortune and finding neither, he did add a Ph.D. in biophysics to his resume. He also compiles love, faith, hope, and the continual cheer of fellowship with other followers of Jesus at the corner of Spruce and Cedar.
Click here for the Zoom link to access the class on Sunday.
|June 14||Planting Sweetgrass, Through 59|
|June 21||Tending Sweetgrass, pp. 61 — 117|
|June 28||Picking Sweetgrass, pp 121 — 201|
|July 5||Braiding Sweetgrass, pp 205 — 300|
|July 12||Burning Sweetgrass, pp 304 – 384|
Big Sur Camping Trip is on!
July 17-19 is our annual Big Sur trip, and we just got word from the camp directors down there that they are open and able to host us! There are a few changes we’ll need to make to accommodate safety standards, but we think they are sacrifices worth making so that we can all make this trip together. Sign-up here. $35/person and a $120 family max. More details to come.
Sacred Ground Groups!
If you are interested in joining a Sacred Ground small group, please fill out this very simple form here. We’ll gather more information from you later, but would like to get an idea of how many folks are interested before we get this fully launched. If you’re unable to access the form, you can also just email Annie Rovzar to say that you are interested at Annie@allsoulsparish.org.
Children & Family News
We will be doing a children’s chapel program this Sunday at 9:30am via Zoom. It should last about 30 minutes. Please email Whitney Wilson for a link so your family can participate. We are hoping that this will give the kids a time together for their own “church” and a time to see their friends as well. Please email Whitney Wilson at email@example.com if you want a Zoom invite or have any questions.
If you are looking for some current information regarding Children’s Chapel or the upcoming Kids Book Club – check out the new additions to the All Souls website. The All Souls Website has been updated to include some new information and resources(including the links for all the storybook videos) for families. Here is the link: http://www.allsoulsparish.org/children-youth-and-families/childrens-virtual-formation-during-covid/
All Souls After Hours
This week, Phil will host a final chat before he takes off on his sabbatical. You can find the link to this on the “Streaming Services” page on Sunday morning or head to our Facebook page to find the live stream just after our Sunday service.
Evening Prayer via Zoom
Here is the link for the Thursday night BCP Compline https://schoolmint.zoom.us/j/7124066649?pwd=d0Z4c1RHeld0QllOLzdlS1IxK3FKZz09. For safety, the password needed to join the call is 329903.
All Souls Geek Squad
If you’re having any trouble with technology during this time of tech-only contact with others, we want to help! On the homepage of our website is a box with the words “Technical Help”. Click on that box and you will be taken to a form that you can fill out. Once you fill that out, we’ll have someone get in touch with you to help with your tech problems. You can also click here to access the form directly.
Check out the latest episode of the Soulcast for more parish announcements!
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 RETURNS!
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
For those who have not yet heard, The Rev. Dr. Alec Blair died last Thursday, June 25th. There will be a live-streamed memorial for Alec on July 11th at 11am. You can find the link to the live stream on the homepage of our website.
Update on the Tiny Home Project
Jenny Kern organized it, and while several helped with donations, Jocelyn Bergen, Jenny and Jasper Kern collected the items, and dropped them off. Here are Jenny, Jasper, and Jocelyn delivering the donations to YSA Youth Spirit Artworks two weeks ago or so.
24 mirrors, desk lamps, and clocks!