From the Vestry

mark koops-elsonGiving to the All Souls Enterprise

Mark shared the following remarks during Sunday services on June 12.

My name is Mark Koops-Elson. I serve on Vestry and am honored to have a few minutes to speak with you today.

I’d like to begin by proposing that All Souls is a shared enterprise. By shared enterprise, I mean a collective effort, with some definition and agreed upon goals, a level of organization, and a long-term time horizon.

In our case at All Souls, our shared enterprise is not that of our families, our companies, our schools, our government or political parties, or the Warrior’s fan base, but it intersects with all of these. And All Souls is not just our community in the here and now, because our church and our practices extend back into the long duree of history, have linkages across the world, and provide glimpses of the eternal – or at least we hope in our better moments, such as when we gather together as we have this morning.

Momentum is critical in any shared enterprise, shaping the narrative arc we tell about ourselves: where we’ve been, where we’re going, and how we understand the role that each of us as individuals plays in extending our collective story into the future. At All Souls, we are blessed to have tremendous positive momentum today – it’s absolutely palpable – and we’re growing in many ways. We have an expanding array of services, too many for me to list. And our membership is growing – there are currently 70 people on the pathway to membership. This makes us an outlier compared to other large congregations in the diocese, many of which face declining attendance. In short, there’s demand for what we have to offer, and so we’ve been scaling up to offer it in greater breadth and depth.

Some of this growth is rooted in the visioning and strategic planning process initiated several years ago that is now bearing fruit, and that involved – as in any healthy shared enterprise – a significant element of risk. Some of it is through the sheer, unstinting efforts of our exceptionally talented staff, who I like to think of as force-multipliers for the Parish. A little attention from Phil or Liz on a particular issue can release a cascade of energy and effort from the rest of us. Which is really our secret sauce – all of you, and the self-reinforcing acts of friendship and devotion that reverberate throughout this space.

As for any shared enterprise, this positive momentum takes resources. Specifically, it takes money to pay and retain our staff. Our Associate Rector is now full-time, and we hired Emily and Jess, half-time, last Fall. So our expenses have been increasing. Happily, so has our income, with increased giving and investment returns. From 2011 to 2015, giving increased from $440,000 to $565,000 – not uniformly, but steadily. So both our income and our expenses are increasing as we grow. But they are not in close enough alignment.

As a result, and as you may recall, we went into this year with a projected budget deficit of $74,000, and it hasn’t just gone away. We’ll be able to reduce expenses by $5,000, but we need help in closing the gap. We would certainly appreciate one-time gifts, they will be gratefully accepted, and that might be the easiest way for some of you to pitch in. But I’d like to ask that each of you do two things that I think will help you take greater ownership of our shared enterprise, with more personally at stake in its continued flourishing:

1. Consider how you can increase your pledge for the remainder of the year, but in a manner that’s going to be sustainable for next year. We would prefer to head into 2017 without a projected deficit for the year. So, if you can increase you pledge by some amount this year that you can carry forward into next year, that would be great. Or take it in steps, with a smaller increase this year and the expectation that you’ll make an additional increase in 2017. (And if you haven’t pledged, please do so. It’s a cultural expectation with real consequences for the Parish).

2. Consider your pledge in terms of proportional giving – a percentage of your income. Many people give incredibly generously to All Souls. Looking at your pledge in terms of your overall income may lead you to see that there’s room for your generosity to increase as well. Information on pledging and proportional giving is available in the Narthex, and I encourage you to speak with any member of the Vestry or Stewardship Committee.

In conclusion, I’d like to echo our stewardship message that giving can be a spiritual practice if it is approached as such. It’s hard, it’s one place where the rubber meets the road, and it’s an important – and often unsung – way to contribute to the body of All Souls, this daring enterprise we’ve embarked upon, in kinship and in love.

– Mark

A word from the north

CCD team 2016JPG

This year’s All Souls CCD team

Hello hello hello! We are coming atchya from Federal Way, WA (just south of Seattle) where a team of five All Soulzers are spending the week at the College for Congregational Development. It has only been five days but it feels like a month… or a year… or my whole life? It has been a LOT and it has all been good.


Our team breaks from the intensity to cook up a feast

Liz Tichenor and Kim Wong and I comprise the actual ‘team’ from All Souls, those of us who are participating in the training (You may remember our projects this year around the Baptismal Covenant/Families and Youth Ministry Sources of Transformation. This was that.). Phil Brochard and Caroline McCall are serving as trainers for the College, because of their extensive knowledge of the congregational development theories and practices and because they liked the College so much they couldn’t imagine not going back. 🙂


Congregational development is exhausting work.

So far we have learned about: appreciative inquiry and an appreciative mindset, self-differentiated leadership, identity statements and marketing (cf. Fredrick Buechner), and church culture and cultural context [and we explored it by actually visiting a congregation right here in Kent!]. There’s more tomorrow but I’m too tired to flip through my manual, hah. They are really putting us through it here!


Our small group visiting St. Columba’s in Kent, WA

It’s interesting stuff to think about though, right? How can we focus on the best of what All Souls does and build on that as we look to the future? How can church and ministry leaders manage both setting a clear focused direction and staying connected to many wishes and hopes of the folks with which they serve? What specific adjectives would we use to describe our community? Or what Bible story? [There is a rule here that you can’t say ‘warm’ and you can’t say ‘welcoming’ to describe your congregation – you gotta be more specific!] And how should our context in Berkeley—by the university, by the seminaries, by the Gourmet Ghetto, in the high-median salary but housing-crunched context—inform the way we make church?

One of the things the trainer team keeps talking about is the goodness of all church communities. Every church is good and is good at different things – every church has value. And at every church, the folks that attend that church love that church. And so I’m having all these warm feelings thinking about All Souls and reflecting on all the particular, unique ways that All Souls rocks and that I love our place.

And so we are having a rockin’ time here but we do miss our people back in Berkeley.

And we’ll see y’all soon,


So THAT’s what you look like!

joy_shihIt was a year ago when we launched the long-awaited online photo directory of members and regular attenders.This had been a desire on our part to save paper and postage, offer better security for personal information, and most of all, keep up with constant revisions. As you know, any time something is published it immediately becomes outdated. An added benefit is finally getting to know what you look like!

So what’s the update a year later? We are still trying to get YOU to send us your photo. Really now, most people, unless you are a member of the Kardashian family, dislike taking selfies. Or you go through lots of family photos and discard them all because YOU don’t like the way YOU look. So what can a helpful parishioner do to remedy this?


1. Ask a neutral party to pick out a nice clear photo of you or your family. Or better yet, send me several photos and I’ll be truthful…I promise!

2. Show up at church Monday-Thursday and I will take a photo of you in front of the Smiley Face Door. You’ll have to come in just to find out exactly where that door is!

3. Show up at church at other times and grab a parishioner or staff member with a smart phone camera and say “take my photo, please!”

4. Come in to my office and let me watch YOU take your own selfie. This would make my day extra enjoyable. I might even gift you with a snack.

5. Send all photos to me at If you decide to change your hairstyle, take a better photo, or adopt a new pet, you can send another photo to replace the old one. Nice, huh?

Still need information on how to log on? You must be listed to be able to access the directory.

Email me or bring in your device(s) and let me help.

These steps I take don’t get me anywhere
I’m getting further from myself
One thing is always true
How good it is to see you
See you, to see you
 Foo Fighters

Joy Shih Ng
Parish Administrator

School’s out… now what?

Liz Tichenor 2016Some of you—parents, grandparents, observant neighbors—may have noticed. The kids are home. Teachers are catching their breath. This wonderful phenomenon that we call school is still mysteriously connected to the ways of our agrarian forbearers. This has consequences.

Some parents are no doubt prepared with trips, camps, sitters, and maybe even flexible schedules.

Some, no doubt, have been caught off guard… just making it through the end of the year was accomplishment enough! No judgment here. But if you find yourself stymied by the sudden and constant presence of the young ones, or see a friend in such a predicament, we can offer you some light in the middle of the tunnel. It’s called Mt. Cross Day Camp. You might have heard about it a while back, when the need seemed less pressing. But now! Yikes! Childcare! Meaningful experiences, summer fun! We’ve got your back.

In short, Mt. Cross is a great partnership between All Souls, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church (at the corner of Grizzly Peak and Spruce) and Mt. Cross, a summer camp in the Santa Cruz mountains. Mt. Cross’s fabulous counselors come to Berkeley to host a day camp for our kids, ages 5-12, located just up the hill at Shepherd of the Hills. It runs July 25-29, 9:00 – 3:00, with optional (free!) aftercare until 5:00 pm. It costs $175, and scholarships are available. So if you are at loose ends, staring down this long summer, or know other parents who are, please, send the kids our way! It’s going to be a blast, and there’s still room for more to join in. Just email me for a registration form and we’ll get you ready to go.


Show up for Pride

One of this year’s San Francisco pride events, the Trans March, is on Friday June 24th at 6:00 pm in Dolores Park. If you want to join a group of All Soulsians at this march, we are meeting at 4:30 at the main above ground entrance to the downtown Berkeley BART stations. Feel free to email Danielle Gabriel for more information.


Are you in your 20s or 30s? If so, join us this summer at 10:10 am in the courtyard just outside of the Parish House for conversations about theology, community, God, the latest sermon, or anything else we want! This week, we’ll be talking about this cover story on chaplaincies in places other than hospitals (San Quentin, to be exact), but also about the expanding walls and functions of the Episcopal Church, especially here on the West Coast. If you’re interested, just show up, or contact Erica Clites or Emily Hansen Curran to get put on our mailing list.


All Souls men gather on the last Monday of each month for dinner and informal conversations beginning at 6 pm. Dinner is at a shared cost. Please sign up on the bulletin board by the parish hall doors this Sunday. For more information please contact Ross Laverty at 510-526-5394, He can explain why they never actually have spaghetti!


All Souls 20s 30s group, the Phoenixes meets every last Sunday of the month for brunch. Join us for waffles (gluten-free available) in the Parish House after the 11:15 am service. For more information please contact Erica Clites.


On June 27, the Oakland City Council will finally decide what to do about coal. Will the City Council ban coal or will it make Oakland the biggest coal exporting city on the West Coast? This is a scheme that endangers the health and safety of Oaklanders and and would add to climate change throughout the world. Join All Soulsians and No Coal in Oakland on Saturday, June 25th, for a large rally at Oakland City Hall, starting at 1:00 pm. We will meet at noon in the All Souls parking lot to carpool.