From the Rector

Phil Brochard headshot2Focused Attention: Christian Action & Practice

Last week I began a three part series that looked at the three areas for focused attention as part of our recent strategic plan. Again, they are: Deep Hospitality, Christian Action and Practice, and the Re-Development of the Parish House. Today I’d like to look at what has transpired in the last couple of years as we have given our attention to Christian Action and Practice.

One of the hard truths that we wrestled with several years ago as we were discerning where to focus our time, energy, and money, was that there are so many needs in the world around us. Just in Berkeley, or in the greater East Bay, there are myriad ways that we regularly witness pain and suffering. Then, when our focus pulls more broadly to our nation and the world, the injustices likewise grow in scope and need. What we realized is that in order for us to have a sustained impact, we needed to give ourselves in particular directions. Which also meant that, as a parish, other worthy ways of serving would be set aside, at least for the time being. After soul-searching discernment, the areas we decided to especially focus on are: Immigration and Racial Justice, Faithful Response to Climate Change, and Caring for Foster Children and Youth.

During our research we were also were reminded that the Bay Area is second only to Washington DC in its number of not-for-profit organizations. This means that there already are others engaging in the work that we find to be critical. Rather than duplicate their efforts, with each area, we sought out organizations that share our vision and our values. In each area, we have found partnerships with faith-based as well as secular organizations, and the resulting relationships have carried us further than we ever expected. Here are some of the ways that we have given ourselves for the past couple of years.

Immigration and Racial Justice

Continuing a path that was just beginning, we partnered with Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, a faith-based coalition that is addressing both the root causes of migration, as well its effects on migrants here in the United States. With IM4HI, we’ve participated in and led monthly interfaith vigils at the ICE Detention Center in Richmond. And for the last two years, we’ve taken part in advocacy days with state legislators, lobbying for legislation that unjustly impacts immigrants. This past year, for instance, we were part of the push that ended the practice of unjust civil asset forfeiture.

As part of this relationship, we learned of a need for short-term housing for detainees as they leave the detention center. The Vestry acted on a proposal from our Justice & Peace team, setting up a room in the Parish House for respite and hospitality. This past year, we increased our efforts, and now have a second room available for those seeking asylum in the United States, including children.

We have also been more present in the centuries-long struggle for Racial Justice. We hosted a screening and discussion of the film, Traces of the Trade, and took action as part of an interfaith Black Lives rally. We have also begun to learn what it means to be an ally, supporting the No On Coal movement (more on that later), and the Standing Rock Water Protectors. Most recently, we have met with folks from SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice). Supporting all of these efforts have been Sunday classes, “Welcoming the Stranger” and “Building Our Vision of the Beloved Community.”

Faithfully Responding to Climate Change

As the effects of climate change become more and more pronounced, we have increased our responses. In the past couple of years we have joined forces with Interfaith Power & Light, and to alter our own practices and advocate for wider change. One of the most visible ways this has happened (visible even from space), is the purchase of solar panels. They have been up and running for over a year now and have powered much of our electrical needs, thereby saving about 55 tons of CO2 from being generated since they were installed in the fall of 2015.

This past year many folks from All Souls took part in the movement to prevent a new terminal being built at the Port of Oakland that would have allowed more coal to be mined, transported and shipped. Our participation in this effort was especially meaningful, as it led us to a new relationship with the Alameda County Interfaith Coalition. And as I write, members of All Souls are coalescing for the April 29th Climate March at Lake Merritt. Once again, to support these efforts, we’ve engaged in classes: Climate Change (Fall 2014), Preserving God’s Creation: A Faith-Based Response to Environmental Challenges (Winter 2015), Practices of Stewardship of the Earth (Winter 2016), and held discussions on Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change and inequality.

Caring for Foster Children and Youth

This is our most recent area of focus. What we found in our research around Foster Youth was stunning, as what these youth face in the foster care system results in extraordinarily high rates of homelessness, difficulties in school, and unemployment. Because of this, we have continued our support of First Place for Youth, and joined in the efforts of Braid Mission, a mission of the Episcopal Diocese of California.

In addition to our yearly Advent Ingatherings, this past year we made Cards of Hope at our Advent Festival. And in the past few months we have begun assembling two mentor teams that will be paired with foster youth, to accompany them. For one hour a week the team meets with the youth simply to be present, offering support and care. Our efforts in this area were grounded by the course, “Standing with Foster Youth”, that included foster youth sharing from their experiences, as well as adults who work with foster youth.

As you can see, this area of attention has been incredibly fruitful in the past couple of years. And, in each of these three areas, it seems that the needs have increased. My hope is that as we continue to follow the Spirit, our sustained prayer, service, and advocacy, will offer light, solidarity, and in the end, change.

What I am sure of, is that we have been—and will be—transformed in the process


From the Associate for Music

Jamie Apgar

Not just symbolically, but viscerally

When I ask my students at Cal to discuss the role music plays in their lives, they often begin with emotion. Music, they say, seems exceptionally capable of reflecting, even producing, diverse affective states. Few are surprised to learn how many cultures embrace some form of this or similar ideas, and how far back in time they can be traced (Plato being the famous case from the ancient West).

This thought is with me as we approach Holy Week, which traces a story of grief, love, and ultimately joy (check out the other words that are inspiring our Stations of the Cross photography project, which you can find out more about in last week’s Pathfinder). What we sing and listen to during the week will certainly highlight these emotions, helping the mind and spirit contemplate and struggle with how they shift and indeed coexist. But music will do more than mirror the narrative. On Maundy Thursday, as we actively commemorate the extraordinary humility of foot washing, we will comment on its meaning in song. On Good Friday, the interplay of music, words, and silences will structure meditation on the events and sentiments surrounding the crucifixion; these sonic cycles will create spaces for pondering and reacting to the experiences of Jesus and the witnesses to his passion, but also help to bring the full weight of those experiences home. At the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday evening, music will dramatize the passage into light, unleashing the joy of the resurrection not just symbolically but viscerally, in exultant rhythms and robust melodies.

In these ways, our music will express the emotions of this journey, but also work together with preaching, liturgy, and spoken prayer to chart the course. The ride will be worth it.

– Jamie Apgar

Haiku for Lent

One of the ways All Soulsians are tracing the path through Lent this year is by writing haiku together. By sharing it on social media and on paper in the narthex, we’re getting down to the essence of what we’ve lived in just a few words. We’ll be sharing some poems from each day today and in the weeks to come. It’s not too late to join in – just look for the daily prompts on Facebook, see all of the prompts here, read lots of the haikus in the All Soulisans Facebook group, and share away.


Waiting and pregnant
Isn’t that the advent meme?
Perhaps we are late.
– Caroline

In my life, pregnant
Means expect twice as much life.
Like, jaw-dropping life.
– Maggie


With love, with patience
And with faith she’ll make her way
Yes, she’ll make her way
– Bob

what makes us wonder
what spirit drives our striving
do we dare to see
– Daniel

Unknown passageways
Many new paths to wander
Boundless wonderment
– Pat


Doubt, then shame, then hope,
Thomas looks at the nail holes,
“My Lord and my God.”
– Suzy

I struggle crafting
Haiku with nails; events too
Chilling to describe.
– Maggie

Imagine the nails
As I would prefer not to
Foreboding of pain
– Caroline


This quiet practice–
Four more weeks before it will
Give way to passion
– Pat

My grandma might say:
These ashes – is it really
worth it? I hope so.
– Jeannie

My chest heaves. In, out
Goes the air from my lungs; ache
And thrill and blaspheme.
– Tripp


Humble things, feet are;
But they ground us on the earth
to do our heart’s work.
– Tara

Scholars oft remind
That “feet” aren’t “feet” in Bible times.
Yay, euphamisms!
– Tripp

I believe our God
Smiles at a touch of humor
Even during Lent.

– Cynthia

Stark beauty, wild, pure.
My preferred definition.
Flip side: much darker.
– Pat


Oh, the wilderness!
It’s God’s awesome reminder
that we are lowly.
– Tara

Blisters on my feet
cannot decrease my passion
for wilderness time
– Caroline

Into wilderness I will roam
canyon or forest
I feel at home.
– Andrew


Only through lament
can I break open my heart
and begin healing.
– Tara

I don’t dare lament,
Privileged male as I am.
(Save me from myself!)
– Tripp

It is the women
At both cross and open tomb
Voicing our lament
– Caroline

My sad heart laments.
Yet remembering the love
works to heal my soul.
– Cathy


He saw a new way
Told others, got himself killed
Visions are costly.
– Bob

The hoped for vision
seems difficult to achieve.
Darkness overwhelms.
– Cathy

“Be Thou my vision,”
Or so the old tune demands.
Such courage is rare.
– Tripp

Sight plus hope and plans.
Or, that flash – rent cloth, bright shard.
Glimpse of what might be.
– Jeannie


God rest ye
merry gentle people
let nothing you dismay
– John

“Stay with me. Remain
Here with me. Watch and pray. Watch…”
But, Lord, we need rest.
– Tripp

Dark candle closet
Live yeast makes grain into beer
Rest in the darkness
– Suzy

no peace with unjust
systems no rest while forces
of oppression rule
– Daniel

Rest is what I need
Not eyes-shut rest; turn off the
Festering hate rest.
– Maggie


Which of us can know
That Mysterious Nearness?
Everyone. No one.
– Raymond

The distance between
Myself and The Divine Christ
Is no more than Breath.
– Tripp

Each breath is Spirit.
Such is the nearness of God.
Our life is in you.
– Daniel

Listening stillness
Reeling in my far flung thoughts
Nearness to God? Poof!
– Pat

Your nearness haunts me
It’s not easy to be known
Though love rests therein
– Bob

From the Associate for Youth Ministries

Coming Together

Jess_PowellThe youth and I have spent the last few weeks of youth group discussing Lent. What is it? Why do we have this season as part of our church year? Why do people give up chocolate or dessert or other things during this time? We’ve used finger painting as a form of prayer. We’ve acted out the verses of Jesus’ temptation in the desert and played Charades to explore what it’s like to pretend to be someone else. The goal of all of this has been to lead the youth to a deeper understanding of why we bother with this season shrouded in purple and focused on repentance.

As with Holy Week, none of those discussions could have happened with just one person. One of the key aspects of life at All Souls and in youth group is community. Those who attend Holy Week services here come together in a unique way. We celebrate our belief that Jesus died and rose from the dead. That idea alone is a mystery that we celebrate and name every Sunday but get to really think about during Holy Week and to dive into the “why” behind it.

The youth involved in Confirm not Conform (CnC) and I will attend a service each day of the Triduum, the three great days Holy Week. Most of the youth have attended at least one of the services before. These youth have spent the past several months learning about what it means to be Episcopalian and whether or not they want to commit to the Episcopal tradition. Going to the Holy Week services is a part of their discernment process. They have built their own remarkable community since the beginning of CnC, and they will attend the Holy Week services as both All Soulsians and CnC students.

I invite you to join them, me, and countless others by making the time for the Holy Week services. While each of us could read the Scriptures explaining and naming these events on our own, celebrating them in community brings us closer to them in a unique way. We sing together. We pray and mourn together. We rejoice together. We find the depth of communal silence and the joy of voices raised in raucous music. Regardless of your role in the Holy Week services, you make it happen in a way that would be impossible otherwise. I invite you to come to the table, the sanctuary, and the chapel during Holy Week. Our worship happens in community.




Feasting in Holy Week

Speaking of Holy Week, if we want to celebrate right, we’ve got to have good food and help! Sign up here to bring food and help set up and clean up for the Vigil and Easter Sunday.

Easter Eggs!

Part of the fun of Easter is, of course, the Egg Hunt! Please take a bag of empty plastic Easter eggs home this Sunday and bring them back on Palm Sunday, filled with candy or small toys so we can be ready for the joyful chaos on Easter morning. Eggs and bags will be available in the narthex.


Please join the Phoenixes at our next brunch, April 2. If the weather is nice, we’ll sit outside the Parish House and enjoy a picnic! We’ll provide some basic bread (regular and gluten free), meats, cheese, and PB&J and you bring condiments, sides, drinks, or any other sandwich fillings you would enjoy! Holly will bring down a griddle if you want to cook it up or you can just enjoy it cold! Please RSVP to Holly so we know how much food to get!


Join us at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond for the monthly interfaith immigration vigil. We’ll gather with song, prayer, sacred story, and make our presence known as loudly as we can for our sisters and brothers being detained. Contact Margaret Sparks for carpooling information. The immigration vigil is usually held the first Saturday of every month. However, in April it will take place on Sunday, April 2, from 2:00 – 3:00 pm with a Passover Seder.


A tradition at All Souls, and around the world, is to keep vigil the night of Maundy Thursday in remembrance of the events after Jesus’ betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane and his arrest. At the end of the evening Maundy Thursday service at All Souls, we will process as a community to the chapel where we will leave from there in silence but members of our community will take shifts throughout the night keeping vigil. If you would like to help keep watch, email Erin Horne to sign up for a one hour slot from 9:00 pm to 8:00 amApril 13-14. For more information, contact one of the Vestry chaplains, Bob Holum, Erin Horne or Kat Lisa.