From the Rector
Time to Reflect
One of the remarkable gifts of the role that I serve is time for sabbatical. A sabbatical, derived from the Jewish and Christian concept of the Sabbath, is a time set aside intended for rest, reflection, and re-creation. Later this summer I will be taking a portion of my sabbatical, from July 13th through September 6th.
Originally, I had been planning for a longer time of sabbatical, but, well, many plans have changed in the last few months. After conversations with the Wardens and other lay leaders, I will be taking some time this summer and some next summer.
Some of this time will be an opportunity to rest. The essence of the Sabbath is to cease activity, in order to be able to rest in God. It is one of the ways that the Creation refreshes itself, when we as humans cease our often relentless and ceaseless drive. As biblical scholar Walter Bruegemann teaches in his book, Sabbath as Resistance, it serves as a critical way for us to remember that we are not beholden to the Pharoahs of the world.
From this rest comes the ability to reflect. This is something that I’ve been looking forward to for some time, and it has only become more urgent in the last few months. There are widespread, far-reaching, whole-system-affecting changes taking place in the world right now. And the Christian Church needs to be able to respond in a faithful way. Sometimes our response needs to come in the moment, and other times it needs to come after serious reflection and consideration. I am deeply yearning to engage in this kind of reflection to be a faithful leader for the changes that are underway.
And through this reflection, I am looking forward to be able to start a collaborative writing project with a friend and colleague, the Rev. Cn. Alissa Newton. Several times in my life as a priest, someone has wondered if I was going to write a book. My response has been that there are sooooo many books in the world that I had nothing that needed to be said that hadn’t been said. And, then, over the past five years, through work in congregational development, an urgent and clarified desire has emerged to write about the ways that Christian congregations can be vital––for those who participate in them and for the communities that they are a part of. At this point, it’s not clear what this project will end up being, whether a series of essays or a book. But through the time afforded me this summer and next, I’m hoping to find out.
And, a sabbatical isn’t simply an important time for a priest. Over the years I have come to understand and trust is that the time that a leader is away can be just as fruitful for the congregation. Some of this comes from the skill of the interim who stands in during that time––this certainly was the case with the Very Rev. Don Brown and the Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver. I am certain that this will be the case for the Rt. Rev. Nedi Rivera as well.
I was thrilled that Nedi was willing to serve when I talked with her back at the beginning of February––and how the world has changed since then. In these last few months my excitement for All Souls to be led by Nedi has only grown. In her time as a priest and bishop, Nedi has been a faithful, creative, passionate, pastoral and wise guide for myriad Christians. And so I anticipate for this to be a time of fresh questions, real conversation, and an deep immersion in the Spirit.
So, again, All Souls Parish in Berkeley, I say thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to serve alongside you, to take faithful risks together, and to be able to reflect on what keeps us healthy and vital for the years to come.
From the Associate for Music
How the Sausage Is Made, Music Edition (Part 2)
Last week I pulled back the veil on how I had gone about music planning before the pandemic hit. This week’s conclusion addresses how the process has changed over the last few months.
Since uncertainty is the hallmark of our present situation, it no longer makes much sense to plan a whole year in detail, which (as I described last week) had become my annual goal. I do think about future possibilities, but finalize selections weeks, rather than months, ahead. Live-streaming has been a big shift. Lay leaders like Jim Feeley, Jocelyn Bergen, and Ed Hofmann, together with our staff, have done an amazing job tackling the technical problems, but streaming has also presented new legal complications, requiring additional licenses and permissions for copyrighted music. The availability of only four voices—capable as they are—has further pointed us toward some different repertoire than we would sing with the full Choir.
The main music planning challenges of the post-COVID era, however, stem from several conflicting imperatives. On the one hand, it has become more important than ever that music be familiar and/or easy to pick up, because people can’t blend into the multitude of voices around them, or follow the aural beacon Justin provides with his trumpet. On the other, many of our hymns and songs—including some of our favorites—seem (to me at least) a bit too “sunny” for the present moment. Some I have avoided programming because they focus on the very things we currently yearn for but cannot have. For example, on Pentecost (May 31), I decided to omit our customary closing song, “Sweet, Sweet Spirit.” Reading the text, with its emphasis on being physically together in the church building, all I could think is that it would feel like a total punch in the gut, particularly to folks at home: “There’s a sweet sweet Spirit in this place” and “there are sweet expressions on each face.”
The following Sunday, June 7, featured another instance in which I felt I should work harder to identify a text worthy of the moment. It was Trinity Sunday, and the challenge with many trinitarian hymns is that they often just re-iterate—albeit through beautiful turns of phrase—the glory of the Trinity. Less often do they tell us what to do with that information, acknowledge the challenges of this world, or petition the Trinity for strength in addressing those challenges. Fortunately, after leafing through our hymnals, I was reminded of the text “Gracious Spirit, give your servants joy to set sin’s captives free.” This hymn asks for “hope to heal the broken-hearted” and “peace to share love’s liberty,” so that we may be led “to the truth that frees,” becoming vessels through which a “balm of gladness” may be brought to the “wounded and oppressed.” It seemed to speak to the destruction wrought not just by the pandemic but by systemic racism, and to beseech God to help us become agents of healing and liberation. I had simply forgotten that the hymn addresses the whole Trinity, and does so in classic fashion: the first three verses petition Spirit, Word, and Creator, respectively, while verse four calls on the “Triune God.” Furthermore, in our hymnal Wonder, Love, and Praise, the hymn is set to the weighty tune ABBOT’S LEIGH, which is found three times in our Hymnal 1982. It seemed obvious to me that these words suited where we are now better than anything else available, and the deal was sealed by the gravity and familiarity of the tune.
A final source of difficulty has been the way liturgical change has collided with my aim of maintaining a sense of continuity in our choral and Angel Band practices. I want to keep our Angel Band music, and some semblance of our choral repertoire, alive. So far this has effectively edged out the Communion hymn, where I often used to include Taizé chants and other congregational favorites (particularly those with a verse-refrain structure) like “One bread, one body.” It is an unfortunate consequence of the way we have to do liturgy now: less music is needed to hold space for the liturgical action when the liturgical action is over almost as soon as it began. But I’m continuing to think about how these items can be brought back.
Hopefully this two-part article has given some idea of how I go about choosing music, and how the process has changed in recent months. As with everything these days, it has become a harder task. That said, I’m grateful when people share with me the pieces they’re most longing to hear; this encourages me to find a way to include them in our worship.
Introducing the Rt. Rev. Nedi Rivera
Back in the olden days, Eucharist was only offered once a month at principle services. I was a young girl when I started attending the 8 o’clock Sunday Eucharist, in addition to the kid friendly service at 9.30 I would walk over to the church with my father and sit in the front row (I’ve always been a kinesthetic learner.) I wasn’t confirmed and so I couldn’t receive communion, but I loved being there, watching the people as they came back from that holy experience. So it is, that worship in general and the Eucharist in particular have always been central to my sense of who I am .
In high school I was blessed to attend an Episcopal convent boarding school (Tuller School, Tucson) where I first encountered ‘smells and bells’ and lots of new liturgical adventures. Our life was aligned with the Sisters’ daily worship and church calendar, including close to twenty hours of worship in Holy Week. For many reasons, Tuller was an important part of my (continuing) journey toward wholeness and the real beginning of my vocational search. At one point I had asked the Mother Superior about joining the order. With less than a deep breath of hesitation she said, “I don’t think so, dear.”
Years later I had a conversation that made it clear to me that someday, maybe sooner than we thought, the church would begin to ordain women to the priesthood. At that moment, my life clicked into place. There were hurdles, there was brokenness, there was struggle – both in the church and in my personal journey – but in 1979 I was ordained priest at St Clare’s, Pleasanton. It’s been an E-ticket ride ever since. Bob (my ordained priest husband) and I served as Associates at St John’s, Ross, then co-rectors at St George’s, Salinas. After three years, Bob left St George’s to be Archdeacon for the diocese and I became sole rector of St George’s.
When Bob accepted a call to St Anselm’s, Lafayette, I did secular work for about a year where I learned a lot about the royal priesthood and what it means to be a priest in the world. (Ordained or more importantly, not.)
In 1994 I was called to be rector at St Aidan’s, San Francisco where I served for ten years. St Aidan’s is a lively, creative, dynamic congregation. I appreciated being in a congregation where folks knew way better than I that ministry is what we do after the dismissal. There was so much to love in this congregation who continued to travel with me on my journey toward wholeness.
Then in 2004, the greatest surprise of all: I was elected suffragan bishop of Olympia where I worked primarily in Evangelism, Stewardship, Faith Formation, and Ethnic Ministry (that’s what we called it then.) I had a ball working with some amazing people. Perhaps my favorite accomplishment of our work together was a quartet of Revivals celebrated over a week starting in the north and moving south. Bishop Michael Curry preached at all four gatherings.
After five years in Olympia I was called to Eastern Oregon first as Provisional Bishop and then as Diocesan where I served for seven years until I retired in 2016.
Retirement suits me just fine. My first purchase was a sewing machine and my second was a new kitchen. Both have served me well while we shelter in place. I find that as long as I am on a learning curve I thrive. I will be on a fairly steep one this summer, as it has been fifteen years since I’ve served a congregation, and All Souls is like no other congregation. I’m looking forward to being with you, to learning from and with you, and to continuing the (our) journey to wholeness.
A Message from Bishop Marc and the Union of Black Episcopalians
Dear friends in Christ,
I and the other bishops of the Episcopal Church in Northern California (Diocese of California, Northern California, San Joaquin, and El Camino Real) received the statement, below, from the Northern California/Vivian Traylor chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) yesterday (June 10). We in the Diocese of California have already published the statement in our online Diocesan News and Events.
I am writing today to be clear that I personally, as Bishop of the Diocese of California, endorse this statement. Though I issued (Tuesday, June 2) a statement on structural racism and the President’s threats to use U.S. military in our states and cities to quell protest, I feel my endorsement of the UBE statement is even more important. This clear, strong, grounded, and heartfelt statement leads our way forward, and I am committed to engaging with the UBE in this work.
While injustice in our country and in the world have been in plain sight from the first moments of colonization in this land, I do sense, with many, that we have reached the verge of genuine, widespread, and, by our faithful commitment, lasting change. I will work with UBE to enact the areas of resolve in their statement and ask you to join me in this undertaking. The thunderous, prophetic call, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everlasting stream” (Amos 5:24) is both our petition to the Divine, and God’s call to us. Let us so pray and so act.
Northern California/Vivian Traylor Chapter’s position on the eradication of racism in the Church and society
The Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE), whose members are of African descent, has fought to eradicate racism for over 200 years by encouraging the involvement of Black people in the total life of the Episcopal Church — on every level and in every way — stewardship, evangelism, education, leadership, governance, and politics. We have stridently worked to dismantle power structures within the Church and in society that have gone askew. Today as members of African descent in the Episcopal Church, we are deeply hurt, gravely offended, and morally wounded by the unconscionable acts and senseless and horrific killings in the first half of 2020 of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, in addition to the many other Black and Brown people who have been unjustly victimized and murdered by the police; those who are charged with protecting, helping, and serving our communities. It has been a collective awakening for us, the Church, and society as a whole.
Recognizing that history cannot be undone and that we must move forward working for change, we invite all members of the Episcopal Church to join us in the fight to eradicate the systemic racism that has plagued our country and the Church. Eradicating racism in the Church is UBE’s charge, but it is not, and cannot be, solely our responsibility. Our Chapter of UBE has established the following goals with that aim in mind:
- Identifying and exposing structures of racism where they exist within the Church and society. We must confront and root out racism, racial injustice, racial bias, and racial inequities wherever it exists — in the Church, our communities, our workplaces, and our homes. This is the responsibility of everyone in the Church. Our white brothers and sisters in Christ also have to educate and inform themselves about the ways racism is perpetuated in the Church and actively partner with UBE to eradicate these structures. We need to require that everyone who serves in the Church, lay or ordained, take an oath to confront this issue and work for change;
- Seeking removal of such racist structures. We must educate the Church and our members, and advocate for the dismantling of racist structures, organizations, programs, both within and outside of the Church;
- Promoting and increasing the representation and participation of lay and ordained persons of color on all governing bodies of local churches and in dioceses. We must honestly and clearly establish policies that ensure the selection of lay and ordained persons of all racial, gender and sexual backgrounds so that we achieve equity and inclusion.
- Providing a safe and comfortable place for people of the African diaspora to interact and fellowship with each other. We must recognize that having a diverse and inclusive church enriches the Church and grows our mutual appreciation and understanding of the many parts that make up the whole body of Christ.
We believe that it is imperative that the Episcopal Dioceses in Northern California: California, El Camino Real, Northern California and San Joaquin join us in working not only to achieve the UBE goals but also to create better communities, state and nation by:
- Creating safe and whole communities for all. Everyone should live in a community where they have good, safe, and healthy access to housing, schools, health care, libraries, open spaces and parks, transportation, and religious institutions so they can thrive. No one should be forced to live in an environment riddled by drugs, crime, poor schools, inadequate housing, lack of services and being over-policed. We call for the redistribution of police resources and the reinvestment of those resources into needed community resources and services to achieve this goal.
- Using our voices, our churches, our collective power and resources to demand social change and the end of systemic racism that permeates every sector of our society. We must change the current system which leads to racial, economic, physical, environmental, and social inequities in the form of poor housing; lack of adequate transportation, health care, and childcare; poor performing schools; food deserts; limited access to services and over policing. These conditions adversely impact the majority of Black and Brown people, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and ultimately impacts our larger communities, the state, and this nation.
- Supporting the rights of organizations and movements to peacefully protest and advocate for a just and equitable society free of racism, oppression, suppression and unjust acts. Collectively using our power, our resources and voices to eradicate racism, inequity, and injustice and support and promote movements working for unity, peace, hope, dignity and justice for all.
- Calling for the end of “qualified immunity.” This legislation has shielded officials from the unforeseeable consequences of their “reasonable acts” and now provides near-impunity for police officers who engage in unconstitutional acts of violence.
- Adopting Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community”. This would be an extension of the Jesus Movement and The Way of Love platforms of the Church. By using the “Beloved Community” tenets and lens to guide Church decisions, programs and allocations, we would ensure that the Church, by its actions, supports: all people sharing in the wealth of the earth; poverty, hunger and homelessness are not tolerated or allowed because it conflicts with human standards for decency; racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice are replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood: and that economic and social justice are the pillars of a healthy society where everyone has equal access and equity.
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 first week of our Summer Book Group! This summer we are reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and Distinguished Professor of Environmental Biology at SUNY. Here weaves an invaluable story of how to heal the fundamental bonds borne of our intertwined and often tragic shared history, even as she helps us assess our relationship with the living earth and all that exists upon it. Both the e-book and the audiobook version are available from the Berkeley Public Library via Hoopla ( https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/explore/elibrary/hoopla-digital ).
Each section will be led by a different parishioner or community member with a specific approach to this achingly moving and inspiring book. 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|
All Souls Survey 2020
Don’t forget to fill this out by Sunday!! To be filled out by each adult attender in your household (and if there are kids, have one adult fill this out for the kids).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
“What is time? A question that I believe many of us have been asking ourselves over the past few weeks and the past few months. Whether it is in regards to racism in America or the question of how far we have actually progressed regarding treatment of people of color – we wonder about time. Or perhaps time has felt differently as we have been sheltering in place – moving at break-neck speed as we try to keep up with the latest developments and feeling like time is frozen as each day seems to melt into the next. Time has felt different to me over the past few months. Perhaps you have felt this way too?
“What is time?” This question starts the Godly Play story called “The Circle of the Church Year.” Jerome Berryman, the original creator of Godly Play, describes this as “every year, the Christian people move through a circle of memory and expectation to open themselves to the elusive presence of God.” Additionally, we as Episcopalians have a three year circle we move through based on our scripture readings each Sunday. The idea of time acting in a circle might feel a bit limiting – I mean we are not in “Groundhog Day” where we keep living the same day over and over. But I believe this circle could also be seen as a spiral. For example, we come back around every year to Holy Week yet things look and feel different. We are different people from the previous year and we encounter God differently. But we continue to move around the circle and the “new time” that is just happening – can become “old time.” How quickly does the future become the present and change into the past? And how do we capture this change of time at church? These are some of the big questions that can challenge us as we move through our days.
I will be sharing these wonderfully deep and challenging questions of time in our next All Souls After Hours program on Sunday June 21st right after the 10:30am worship service ends. I hope you will join me as I tell the story of the “Circle of the Church Year” and perhaps we can wonder a bit about how we encounter time spiritually. What does time look like to you when you encounter God? I look forward to “seeing” you all at Godly Play.
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: email@example.com for more information.
Wednesday 9am Service RETURNS!
For many years now, a group ranging from 3-20 people or so has gathered every Wednesday morning at 9 AM in the chapel for a spoken word service and time to discuss together the gospel and the feast day of the Saint for that day. When COVID-19 hit and we needed to shelter in place, that ritual time spent with a small part of the family of All Souls abruptly came to a halt. It was a happy day on Wednesday, June 17 when a core group of that small family gathered together on Zoom to return to this faithful service and reflection time. This service is open to everyone. We have even had people attending in the past who are not regular members of All Souls but are longing for some nourishment in the middle of the week. We gather together in prayer in the word in discussion and when we are lucky enough to meet in person, we share in Christ’s holy meal together. It is a unique service where you are even able to pass the peace of the Lord to everyone in the room!
We did not know how this service would play out over Zoom. Do we need breakout rooms? Could we all be able to speak and see each other? My heart was warm and lifted from the start when I logged in and heard Father Phil‘s voice and saw the faces of so many people I love and All Souls but have not been able to lay eyes on in months. This hour together is not for socializing but for coming together as God’s children to learn and grow and support one another in our struggles, joys, growth as Christians and citizens of this society, and remind each other that we are here for each other even if not physically close.
If you want to join in this service on Wednesday mornings and have your heart and soul fed by the word and by your All Souls family please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Father Phil for the link to the Zoom meeting. The secret is out so spread the word!