From the Rector
A couple of weeks ago I began a series in this space about the essential ways that we practice being Christian together. As part of inviting people to join this community, we have found it important to describe to them how and why we gather, so that they are aware of the implications of becoming part of this body. In that article I wrote about the ways that we pray together. Today I’d like to hold up the ways that we eat together.
Here is what we invite people considering being a part of this parish to do with us:
Eat with us. Inspired by the breaking of bread together, we continue the Feast by sharing meals as a parish. Join us throughout the year as we gather around tables at church, in our homes, and all over town because when we enjoy good conversation, when we laugh and celebrate, when we savor good food, we are Christ to each other, we are the beloved community.
This may seem somewhat pedestrian. After all, eating is something that everyone does. Every day. Hopefully several times a day. Why would we consider this to be a core practice of our congregation? Well, for one, we are a people whose regular, essential, ritual act takes place around a table, re-membering a meal. And as I wrote about a couple of months ago, our gathering around a table every Sunday doesn’t just remember that “last supper” with Jesus and the twelve, but also the appearance of the disciples in the breaking of the bread in Emmaus, a practice that followers of Jesus continued to follow. From the start, breaking bread with one another has been a sacred act for us as Christians.
To be clear, though, the sacredness of eating together is not limited to being in a church, with a priest, and an agreed-upon set of words. When you read through the stories that tell of Jesus’ life, it seems that he is always eating at someone’s house, or making a feast in the wilderness, or talking about eating. Take this interesting exchange from Matthew’s account when Jesus retorts that, “…the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (Mt. 11:19) Eating (and apparently drinking) with all kinds of people was apparently very important to Jesus.
And it has been something that Christian communities have recognized as a primary way to come close to God. It’s why in one of the models from the College of Congregational Development, “food” is seen as a source of transformation, as fundamental to life in community. Because when we gather to eat with other people, especially when we share home and hearth with them, there is an intrinsic connection that can emerge. We share parts of our lives, reveal aspects of our selves that we might not otherwise, and often God can be seen as powerfully present in those moments.
This kind of feast happens with people of All Souls all the time. On Sundays when we continue the feast between the 9:00 and 11:15 am services. At our Open Door Dinners, where one and all are invited. Twice on Thursdays—at midday at our Lunch Bunch, where a group of faithful and dedicated parishioners cook and prepare tables for 35-45 every week, and in the evenings, when the Hofmanns extend the tradition of former All Soulsians Nat and Nydia, welcoming people into their home. Every month at our men’s group Spaghetti Again, where the feast is never spaghetti. On the last Sunday of the month, when the Phoenixes, our 20s and 30s group, gather after church for brunch. Several times a year when our young families gather in the backyards and decks of folks of All Souls. And in a special, once-a-year way this Sunday, when we have our Parish Picnic in Tilden Park at the Mineral Springs site.
This is also a way of life at All Souls that we are looking to expand. Stay tuned for these new ways of inviting people to table—to find companions upon arrival at All Souls, to deepen Lenten practice in our homes, to re-connect with All Soulsians you might not have seen in awhile—in all to find together the Risen Christ in the breaking of the bread.
PARISH PICNIC THIS SUNDAY
Blankets and lawn chairs sprawl across the field, still shaded by the towering eucalyptus trees. Birds sing and squirrels scurry about as the Angel Band warms up. The wind blows through as we lift our prayers. It’s a different kind of church this Sunday at 11:15 am – particularly elemental, grounded, spirited, free. And in Tilden Park. Our 7:30 and 9:00 am services will be held at All Souls, as usual. But for those of you longing for worship and fellowship outside, this is the day for you! Head up to the Mineral Springs site in Tilden for Eucharist at 11:15, and then we’ll roll right into the potluck picnic, barbecue and general merriment around 12:30. (If you go to an earlier service, come join us for lunch!)
Remember to bring a blanket and/or chairs for the service, sunscreen, AND grillable items or a side dish to share. Get excited for the 3-legged race and brace yourself for the high school immersion trip fundraising pie toss! At the time of publishing, Phil Brochard, Mark Koops-Elson and Emily Hansen Curran are the three staff and vestry members slated to receive a pie… if you want to change this, come ready to pay $20 for someone else to receive one, or pay $25 to insure one of them from this sticky fate!
If you would like a ride to the picnic site, meet in the All Souls courtyard at 10:30 am. If you know you can offer rides, please contact Jeannie. Location: Mineral Springs picnic site on Wildcat Canyon Rd. in Tilden (between Brazil Building and Inspiration Point).
IN THANKSGIVING FOR THE LIFE OF Gary Chawk
It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Gary Chawk died on Tuesday, May 28, after a brief illness. His memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 11th at 10:00 am at All Souls. In lieu of flowers, gifts are directed to All Souls. Please keep Gary’s wife Suzanne and their family in your prayers. May Gary rest in peace and rise in glory.
From the Archives
Giving and Fred the Fish
During a discussion about giving at the vestry retreat in February, mixed views were expressed by several present, including the rector and the associate rector, about payment of pledges by automatic bank transfer. On the positive side it means no last minute scurrying Sunday morning to find a new batch of checks because someone used the last one in the checkbook; no desperate search for the pledge envelopes so safely stored as not to be immediately found. The discussion also covered Jesus’ admonition about not making a big show about giving. Yet very much on the negative side was the comment that it did not seem like giving, but more like paying a credit card bill. There is a certain good feeling that goes with doing any good deed, including putting money or a pledge check into the collection plate during a worship service. While the sense of the group was that advantage of automatic bank transfers prevailed, the regretful feeling remained.
As parish archivist, I mentioned two other ways of giving that were used at All Souls’ in the past:
First, there was, and still is, the “Buck-a-Week” Club. About fifteen years ago, during the usual ongoing concerns about parish income, it was suggested by the then Senior Warden that we all (at least all vestry members) put an additional dollar in the collection plate at each service in addition to our “regular” pledge. Because I regularly serve as an usher, I have noticed that a few parishioners still put an “extra” dollar to the plate, so the practice still continues in a limited way. Admittedly, the discussion at the vestry retreat did get a little carried away, first with a suggestion that instead of putting a “Washington” in the plate one might put in a “Lincoln” or “Hamilton.” When this escalated to a “Grant” (truly wishful thinking!), the discussion was stopped. But the basic concept makes sense, and I have rejoined the “Buck-a-Week” Club. An extra dollar each service is a small thing, but still provides an internal warm feeling of giving. If each of the 400+ adult communicants in good standing as reported in our 2015 Parochial Report were to join the “Buck-a-Week” Club, we would raise more than $20,000 additional each year.
Second, there was “Fred the Fish.” Fred is still around, but is kept in a cupboard in the sacristy. Fred was a gift from Dr. Richard Sutherland, a former Senior Warden, who made Fred. Richard was a psychiatrist, and may have made Fred as his own way of keeping himself sane. During the time for celebrations and thanksgiving, Fred was brought out by an acolyte and celebrants were offered, but certainly not required, an opportunity to add coin or currency to Fred. There really was no pressure to give – some did and some did not. All monies collected by Fred were sent to the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief. In the 1970s and 1980s Fred collected an average of well over $1,000 each year. Apparently the use of Fred was stopped because a former rector felt it would force people to give when they did not want to do so – a strange idea for a parish that tends to go into a full court press at pledge time. Quite frankly, I miss Fred. I thought that was not only a relatively painless way to support our (the church’s) work in the world, but a fitting remembrance of Dick Sutherland and other parishioners who remain with us only in spirit, and not in body.
I invite you to join the “Buck-a-Week” Club. There are no dues and no meetings, but you will feel better if you become member.
– Thomas Burcham
SUMMER READING GROUPS
Where would you like to spend your summer vacation? On a trip to another planet? On the banks of Tinker Creek? In rural Tennessee? Or would you rather spend it discussing important issues of racism or spirituality? You can do all of these things just by showing up on Sunday morning this summer at All Souls! We will be having a number of reading groups throughout the summer.
RAFFLE AND PIE THROW FOR FIRE RELIEF
The high school youth group’s immersion trip this summer is focused on fire relief in Okanogan National Forest in Washington. For the next few weeks, we will have fundraisers! Purchase raffle tickets: prizes are two $50 Amazon gift certificates, two sets of two free nights at the Bishop’s Ranch, and two sets of two free nights at St. Dorothy’s Rest. Tickets are $10 each with a discount of 4 tickets for $30. Throw pies: There will be a very silly Reddi-Whip pie toss game at our Parish Picnic! Pay $20 to pie one of our vestry or staff members, or pay $25 for insurance, for yourself or someone else to avoid being pied… unless more folks pay to have them pied! Whichever side raises the most money – to pie or not to pie – a particular person will win, with the 3 people receiving the most contributions being the ones pied. Contact Jess Powell with questions.
Runners, try changing up your pace on Sunday, June 12th! Plan to worship at the 9:00 am and then join other All Souls runners for a fun run after you enjoy a cup of coffee or a book group. Meet at 11:15 am in the courtyard and we’ll set out together for a variable length and pace run.
BIG SUR CAMPOUT, JULY 15th -17th
Join fellow All Soulsians for a relaxed weekend of fellowship and fun! The cost is $30 per person for the weekend (children under 5 stay for free, $100 max per family) To reserve your spot you must sign up and pay in full no later than June 22nd.
The Santa Lucia Chapel and Campground, a mission of All Saints Parish in Carmel, is a private and secluded campground in the gorgeous Big Sur area. The campground itself is right on the Big Sur River and has a family friendly beach area. The campground 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 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 are ocean beaches within driving distance for those who want to venture out. In general this weekend is a time to relax, play in the river and on the beach—and for the kids to roll in the dirt! Contact Jeannie Koops-Elson with questions and you can sign up here.