FROM THE RECTOR
Leadership that Gives Life
You may have heard an old adage, that the fastest way to leave a church is to join the Vestry. It seems to me that this is often said when what people bring to the group isn’t recognized, or when there isn’t a cohesive sense of connection within the body, or when the work of a Vestry doesn’t seem to have any impact in the world around them. When giving time to a group feels like this, then a three-year term can seem to be a life sentence.
God knows that I have experienced enough church meetings that have sucked my will to live. But I was recently reminded that by and large, this is not the case for the Vestry of All Souls Parish, Berkeley. In fact, being a member of the Vestry often serves to develop one’s faith rather than push one to abandon it.
Continuing a theme that I reflected on a few weeks ago, Kat and Andrew Lisa announced recently that they are moving to Orlando, Florida. It’s a great move for them—they will be closer to family and friends from college, and it will offer them possibilities that are harder to come by in the Bay Area. And, for many reasons, it is hard to see them go.
One of them is that Kat has served on our Vestry for the past two and a half years. In this time she has been a consistent source of clear thinking, offered a humble spirit, asked illuminating questions, and witnessed to a tangible faith.
Seeing as there will be about seven months left in Kat’s three-year term, the Vestry faced a decision—should we leave that seat empty until the election of a new class at the Annual Meeting or elect a new member to fill out the last seven months? (All Souls bylaws allow for the Vestry to elect a member to finish out terms of less than a year.)
At our May meeting as we considered the Parish House project’s continued progress, the ongoing life of the parish, as well as the desire to improve the church facilities in the near future, we decided that having twelve elected members would be helpful. And, that finding someone who was already conversant in the Parish House project was essential.
So a few weeks ago our Senior Warden, Laura Eberly, reached out to Toni Martinez Borgfeldt, to see if she might be willing and able to serve. Toni had served on Vestry a few years ago, including as Junior and Senior Warden. One could think that this kind of intense service, offered recently, would mean that Toni might run screaming from this kind of a request.
In fact, Toni had quite the opposite response—she’s been waiting to serve on Vestry again. And so, with a unanimous vote and real excitement, last night the Vestry elected Toni to serve out the remainder of Kat’s term.
And her enthusiastic response reminded me of what a body like the Vestry can be, and most days, what our Vestry is—people recognized for what they have to offer, connected and bonded with each other, and making an impact in the world around them.
And it has left me feeling incredibly grateful. Grateful to Kat for her service with All Souls in this way, grateful to Toni for her ready response, and grateful to all those who give their time, attention, wit, wisdom, heart and good faith so that this branch of the vine can bear fruit.
N.B. I have come to learn that in reading my reflection in last week’s Pathfinder, some interpreted that the Very Rev. Don Brown had renounced his holy orders. Nothing could be further from the truth. Don has simply discerned that now is the time for him to step back from congregational life as a priest. He assures me that if he has told you that he’d officiate at your funeral, he is still glad to do so. Just don’t go dying on his account.
Ordination to the Diaconate
This past Saturday, after about eight years of discernment, study and formation, the Rev. Nikky Wood was ordained to the transitional diaconate at Grace Cathedral! To clarify, there are two ways that people can be ordained deacons: first, like Nikky, as deacons who will go on to be ordained priest (hence the “transitional” in the name), and second, to the vocational diaconate, or, deacons who will permanently remain deacons. Either way, deacons serve as an intentional bridge between the church and the world, bringing the concerns of the world into the church, and pulling the church beyond its walls and into service and advocacy in the wider world. Nikky will be serving as a deacon here at All Souls for the next while, and God willing and the people consenting, she will be ordained a priest in about six months. Here’s a glimpse of the day:
Unpacking Our Liturgy
A New Resource: The How2charist
Have you ever wondered why we do what we do? Coming together in worship, and for the Eucharist specifically, is at the core of who we are and why we exist as a community. And, if you didn’t grow up as an Episcopalian, (or maybe even if you did!) a lot of the language and symbolism can seem mysterious and opaque. In the hopes of making our liturgy more broadly accessible, an Episcopal priest set about making a digital resource of an instructed Eucharist earlier this year. In the How2charist, which currently is a set of four films, you’ll find a pretty middle-of-the-road style liturgy with super-imposed explanations of what’s happening, what the things are that are being used, and what the big ideas are behind them. It’s a little more formal in some ways than how we practice at All Souls, but overall, will probably answer a lot of questions about our tradition, as well as raise some more things to wonder about. It’s free, and you can find it online here.
This past Sunday, we welcomed in 20 new members as they officially joined All Souls Parish. It was a wonderful and varied crowd, across all walks of life and representing many different backgrounds. We generally hold this New Member Ceremony twice a year, and each time it proves to be a good chance to recall what it means to be a member of this body. Membership is a bit of funny thing here, in that all people, members or not, are welcome to take part in most everything here: worship, formation classes, receiving pastoral care, joining in service, creating art, and so forth. The main thing that changes in becoming a member is taking on responsibility and making a commitment to this shared enterprise of making church together. As such, in many different forms, members endeavor to worship together, eat and learn together, pray and serve together, and finally, to give together, both financially and otherwise. If you are curious about what it might mean to join All Souls, or if you want to revisit a more detailed explanation of these membership expectations, you can find them online here. In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing bios of our newest members. When you see them, please introduce yourself and welcome them in!
This Sunday in Tilden Park!
Church in the park and then some! We’re looking forward to bringing our 11:15 am service to a beautiful spot at the Padre picnic site in Tilden this Sunday, Sunday, June 16th. Here is the exact location on Google maps. After an open-air Eucharist we will continue the feast at about 12:30 with a potluck picnic lunch, games and fun… especially a big kickball game! There will also be 7:30 and 9:00 am services at All Souls. We still need help carrying things to and from the park… please email Jeannie at firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP if you can help. Check out all the details here.
20s/30s Small Group
A group of 20s/30s-ish folks are meeting monthly this summer to break bread together in each other’s homes and explore different prayer practices. Expect tasty, dietary restriction-friendly potluck, equally attractive non-alcoholic beverages, and real talk about church, prayer, and our shared life together in 21st century Bay Area. Meetings are June 18, July 16, August 20, and September 17, 7-9 pm. Come once, come every month, you are welcome. For more information please contact Jane Thomason jane.thomason12@
CHILDREN’S FORMATION CELEBRATION
It’s been a wonderful year of learning and exploring in Sunday School, and we want to celebrate! There’s no Sunday School next week, June 23, but all kids are invited to join in an end-of-year party on June 30 at 10:15 downstairs. We’ll also be sharing about the fun in store for this summer!
All Souls at the A’s
It’s time for our annual All Souls group outing to the ballpark: Saturday August 3, Oakland A’s vs St. Louis Cardinals, 4:30 pm start for the tailgate gathering in the Coliseum parking lot, 6:05 pm game time. Cost is $33/person including the hearty tailgate spread. Please RSVP to email@example.com as soon as possible, and no later than July 7. We hope you can include this fun evening in your summer plans!
BIG SUR CAMPING TRIP
Sign-ups are Live
Mark your calendar for the annual parish camping trip to Big Sur, July 19-21! This is always an amazing weekend of relaxing beside the river with favorite people, of skipping stones in the water, conversations with new friends, soaking in natural beauty, getting dusty and getting clean, eating great food, counting stars, singing and praying around the fire… in short, making church away from church and building the beloved community. Please join us — sign up here!
Summer Book Group: Searching for Sunday
The Summer Book Club book this year will be Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans. Join us on any or all of these summer Sundays: June 23, June 30, July 14, July 21, July 28 (skipping the weekend of July 4). We’ll meet at 10:10 in the Parish Hall — come one and all! We have several copies available if you want to borrow one, too.
SPONSOR NEW MUSIC BY WOMEN
All Souls is blessed with an impressive music library boasting over 500 choral compositions. About one percent are by women. Given this, the Music Department is seeking 15–20 sponsors to add compositions by women. Depending on the composer and the length of the piece, a set of 25 scores for one piece will usually cost between $40–$70, or more for larger works, but if you agree to sponsor a composition, you may have your name, and/or the name of someone you wish to memorialize, featured in that week’s bulletin. Music composition remains an extremely male-dominated field, and purchasing and performing music by women is a small way to help fight that inequity. To learn more, talk with Jamie Apgar.