From the Strategic Planning Team
What a Gift
I’m sitting outside on one of the longest days of the year. The boys are in bed, the dishes are done, and I forced myself to take a few minutes to reflect on the day. Tomorrow, I’m driving our eldest son, Adam to Camp Galilee for his first sleepaway camp experience – a rite of passage – so maybe I’m more thoughtful than usual.
My mind flies to something that Adam, an eight year old passionate about soccer, said this afternoon while we were watching a World Cup game. He looked up sharply, glanced out the window, then went over to it and gazed out for a moment. I thought a friend was coming up our path, or possibly a fast car was passing by and had stolen his attention from the game on TV. “Dad,” he said, “Look outside. The light is perfect. The temperature is perfect. The time of day is perfect. It’s the perfect time to go out and play soccer. Will you play with us?”
I must confess, a half-dozen reasons not to flashed through my head. I had just finished my third taco, Brazil was playing their beautiful game against Cameroon, and soon it would be bedtime… But fortunately, I said Yes, and our boys and I played for a while, laughed, teased each other – and Adam was right: It was Perfect.
So why did my mind fly to the reasons not to say Yes to that invitation? Well of course, there were Important Things I Have To Do. And, There Wasn’t Enough Time. And, naturally, That’s Not What I Had Planned. But in that moment, I was both needed and being asked to do a pretty awesome thing, as requests go. Indeed, sitting here on a warm East Bay night, I find myself being grateful for the gift of Choice: for being able to say Yes when I’m asked; for the time and capacity to pause and think about my choices and how I make them, and to consider my priorities and how I do or do not live into them. For so many in this world and in our neighborhoods struggling for survival and dignity on a daily basis, this is a luxury worthy of envy.
As a community, we are blessed with – and also challenged by – Choices. We have an inspiring Vision Statement of who we are called to be in several years’ time. This vision begins, “We seek to follow Jesus in his boldness, courage, and compassion.…” We have now begun our Strategic Planning work to engage our community – including those who do not worship with us – over the next few months to discern the first set of Strategic Initiatives to which we will commit in order to make our vision a reality.
These initiatives will be specific actions and activities that will move us tangibly toward becoming the People and Community we believe we can be, with God’s help. The result will be 2 to 3 clear priorities on which we will focus our efforts for the next 18 to 24 months. Some may be foundational, others more bold and daring.
We will discern these priorities through small listening groups or forums. Scheduled on weekends, weekdays, and at different times, these will be structured discussions – with periods of silent contemplation as well – designed to invite each of us to consider prayerfully which initiatives will help us live into that Vision Statement. These groups will provide an opportunity to consider what All Souls and each of us, personally, can do to make an impact. If you have not done so already, please sign up for one or more of these groups, so that our parish may benefit from your perspective and ideas. We would like to announce the first set of initiatives when Bishop Marc Andrus comes to visit in September.
To be clear, we are not planning to stop what we do already so that we can pursue these initiatives. This is not a change of direction. This is a way of taking latent energy, untapped resources, skills, and passion, and focusing them in a few meaningful areas.
Our hope is that clear initiatives will help galvanize members of our community to lend their talents – and will also draw in new people to All Souls as they see even more clearly who we are, and what we do. Ultimately, as we work together to bring this work to fruition, we believe that new opportunities will emerge – asking us to draw on our gifts and to come closer to what God is inviting us to do and to be.
“Look outside. The light is perfect. The temperature is perfect. The time of day is perfect.”
It’s the perfect time to go out and share our gifts with the world. Will you come?
From the Director of Youth Ministries
This picture of me is from last Friday afternoon, the second to last day of the middle school immersion trip. I was hot, sweaty and tired. And having the time of my life. This was the third annual middle school immersion trip that we’ve done at All Souls and it was most decidedly a success!
Twenty-Four middle schoolers and seven adults (including: Julia Martin, Henry Jackman, Lucas Martin, Ivy Waegel, Anikka Wright, Tess McGinley, Mestie Thomas, Gabe McDonough-Swamy, Queendaysha McDonogh-Swamy, Liz Powers, Phoebe Dixon and Ethan Lowery) from four parishes from the diocese gathered on Tuesday the 17th to spend the next four days together doing service projects, community building activities and more. Our theme for the week was “We will”, taken from the Baptismal Covenant. Each day we focused on one of the five questions from the covenant and a piece of scripture from the Gospel of John in small and large groups.
We spent a morning at the Berkeley Marina cleaning up trash and clearing invasive species growing at the water line. That afternoon we glued medallions to the sidewalk at storm drains in the neighborhoods surrounding All Souls asking people to please not discard their trash on the street because the drains go directly to the Bay. It was a great, direct connection to what we’d done that morning.
We spent a day in Sausalito at the Bay Model Project, a to-scale model of the Bay. We then went to Ghirardelli Square for some ice cream and hung out at the beach, playing in the water and building sand castles.
On our last day we volunteered at the Seafarer’s Institute in Oakland, collecting debris and painting their porches. The Seafarer’s Institute is an organization that provides services (internet access, rides to local establishments, religious services and more) to people who work on boats, traveling between the Port of Oakland and all over the world. Often they are on ships for months at a time with only a night off when they arrive at their destination, only turn around less than twelve hours later.
We came home each night to the Parish House, which we quickly made our own. It was a trip full of lots of walking, some hard work, much laughter and thoughtful and meaningful conversation. My favorite thing about these trips is the sense of community that develops by the end. Coming from so many different churches means that there is some hesitancy and uncertainty when we first break into small groups or play large group games. By the end there are shared experiences and inside jokes. We walk away with a sense of belonging and safety. It is a delight to think about these youth continuing to do these trips together for the next several years. By the time they are seniors in high school they will have known one another for a long time and these trips will be all the more important.
We ordered 2 large blocks of ice and broke the youth up into 2 groups and challenged them to see which group could melt their block the fastest. It was definitely a highlight of the week.
From the Jr. Warden
College for Congregational Development
On the week of June 15th, a group from All Souls attended a week-long training at the College for Congregational Development near Tacoma, Washington. Based in the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, the CCD offers a two-year program for lay leaders and clergy, to be trained as congregational development practitioners within congregations across the Episcopal Church. The field of congregational development is somewhat recent. It combines elements of organizational development theory and practice, specifically focused to the unique context, culture and ecclesiastical tradition of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. It is understood as “the development of congregations of all sizes and locations into more faithful, healthy and effective communities of faith”
CD practitioners use models and best practices to help clarify, support and strengthen already existing ministries in congregations as well as guide congregations into new ways of serving. In order to fully become CD practitioners, participants are expected to commit to completing the two-year training, which involves theory and practice on congregational and organizational development, leadership and facilitation skills, as well as reflection and planning of congregational take-home projects. As participants, we are also expected to complete a reading list throughout the year, and take a written exam.
Through plenary sessions, small group discussions and parish visits, we had the opportunity to learn and practice different models of congregational development, which are, as I understand them, “lenses” through which our congregational lives can be better understood and framed, and ultimately oriented towards practices that deepen our faith, bring us closer to God and enhance the ways in which we, the body of Christ, respond to and affirm our call in our particular context.
At All Souls, in the past months we have already been learning and using one of this models, “Gather, Transform, Send,” during our monthly ministry meetings. It has provided a focus for each ministry team to reflect on their work, and engage in it with a common and broader view and understanding of the internal work of each ministry, but also the part each ministry plays in our mission and vision as All Souls. Our work as CD trainees in the coming months will be to continue supporting this process of engaging our work through the application of OD models, as well as a group project, which, as mentioned above, also involves the direct application of what we learned in concrete ways (more to come on this subject).
One of the most significant things for me was having the opportunity to meet new people, church leaders, lay and clergy, of all ages, backgrounds and experiences, from congregations of all sizes and situations, who are all committed to engaging their communities in meaningful reflection and transformational practices. From our casual conversations during meals, to our work together in large and small groups, being able to hear their stories and share our own story as All Souls, was an amazing experience, which gave me a renewed sense of optimism in our work at All Souls, and deep hope for the future of the Episcopal Church.
–Toni Martinez Borgfeldt
You can find more information at the College for Congregational Development.
Giving Tree Gift Appeal Update
Help Us Cross the Finish Line!
We would like to thank the 52 generous donors who have given $22,269 toward our $30,000 fundraising goal to offset the All Souls 2014 budget deficit. With a bit more than $7,000 to go, we look to every member of the community to do what they can – be it only a little, or a little bit more – to help us reach our goal. Gifts to date have been between $25 and $3,000 (gift average is $464), but those gifts come from less than 1/3 of our member families.
Will your gift of $200, or $100, $50, or even $25 make a difference? Yes, it will! Remember that we have a generous matching gift from an anonymous donor – each $2 you give will be matched by $1 from the donor, up to $15,000. With this help, raising $30,000 will actually bring $45,000 to fund our programs.
We believe, along with the Vestry, that the work God has called this community to do is important enough that we stretch ourselves toward the ideals set out in our 2012 Vision Statement and to invest in our staff and programs accordingly. We hope you believe this too, and that you will join with us to help All Souls live into its potential.
We are what God has made us. We have what God has entrusted to us. We strive to live and give in the spirit of love and generosity that God has shown to us. We give to this community so that we might be nourished, strengthened, and formed to be Christ’s hands in the world.
If you have not yet given, please find a green appeal card in the Narthex and let us know this Sunday what you can do.
–The Stewardship Team (David Rolf and Katie McGonigal, co-chairs; Mark Anderson, Nancy Austin, Sherry Markwart, and Malcolm Plant)