From the Rector
This past Holy Week was remarkable. In the week following Palm Sunday, the Three Great Days, and Easter, I have talked with many who had an experience of coming close to God. Whether through John Chakan’s moving dramatic engagement with the Passion on Palm Sunday, or Thursday’s footwashing and vigil with the Sacrament, or the parishioners who spoke on Good Friday, or the baptisms and in-breaking of the Easter Vigil, or the glorious, heart-filled Easter Sunday, it was quite a week.
Part of the incalculable power of that week is found in our telling of stories that we have told and heard many, many times – yet each time in a new way. Sometimes this difference was found in a new piece of music, like Christopher Putnam’s composition of the Benedicite using the same words but with a new melody and rhythm that opens us to a different glimpse of truth.
Other times it is a larger change, as this year we created an entirely new service. Adapted from a Good Friday service from St. Paul’s, Walnut Creek, we offered a “Holy Week with Children” service for the first time. And 45 children and adults came to listen to the story be told, from Sunday to Saturday, to wash feet, sit at the foot of the cross and pray. This new way was seen as well by trying out new practices, like the flowering cross that was came alive on Easter morning as the beauty of many backyards came together.
In reflecting upon all of the ways we came close, those that did change and those ways that remained – “Jesus Took a Towel” on Maundy Thursday, “Were You There” on Good Friday, “I Am the Bread of Life” at the Vigil anchored our worship again – I am reminded that this way of encountering of Holy Week is not unlike our overall experience at All Souls Parish these past couple of years.
As we have grown and changed, we have been acutely aware of our desire to maintain the essence of Christianity, the Anglican and Episcopal tradition, and our practice at All Souls, and to do so with new expression. Some of these new expressions are easily seen – a new staff position for Associate for Parish Life, more hours for the Associate Rector, for instance. Some are more subtle, like our restructuring of clerical pastoral care and our newcomer approach.
Other changes have been hard to miss, the change in our Sunday morning schedule being primary among them. Our 10:10 learning hour has been an incredible source of transformation, now for all ages. And, by adding a second principle service on Sunday morning, we have intentionally created more space for others to receive the gift that we have been given. Never has this been more clearly seen than on Easter Sunday.
In 2010 we were shocked when 423 people came to Easter Sunday at the then 10 am service. So for the next three years we responded by adding a third service, at 12 noon. And while that did relieve some of the pressure, it was late in the day and felt like a stretch for our musicians. For the three years that we had an 8 am, 10 am and 12 noon, 75% of those who attended on Easter Sunday came to the 10 am and 25% came to the 12 noon. But this year, with the change in our Sunday schedule, our lives actually became easier. And what a difference it made.
With services at 9 am and 11:15 am, both had great energy (people keep telling me about the palpable sense of joy they experienced), and felt full, but were relatively even in attendance (55% and 45% respectively). And at this point, eight months into the new schedule, our musicians have become experienced in playing twice on a Sunday. With the new vestments and a full complement (over 20 people), they were able to lead and sing a collection of music with breadth and with depth.
My hope is that what we experienced this past Holy Week, and especially on Easter Sunday, is a glimpse of what is to come. That it was a glimpse into our participation in a living practice, gathered over centuries and continents, distilled with thought and intention and offered in a new way in this particular time and place, that all may come close to God. Alleluia, Christ is Risen. And once again, it appears that new life awaits.
From the Senior Warden
The Numbers Part of the Story
I’ll report month by month on pledged income numbers and attendance under this title. Because Holy Week and Easter I Pathfinders were atypical, these March numbers will be followed very shortly by April’s numbers.
Our March average Sunday attendance (ASA) was 232.6, with a 90 average for the 9:00 service and 122 for the 11:15 service. Until now, the two services have had approximately equal numbers. Perhaps this is the start of a trend, or maybe just a seasonal blip. Last year, the comparable Sundays had a slightly smaller ASA. Ash Wednesday services attendance totaled 159. The average attendance for the first three weeks of the Lenten formation series was 49.
Pledged income actually given in March was $36,287. One-twelfth of the pledged amounts that were pre-paid at the beginning of the year was $3,283. The computed March pledged giving therefore totaled $39,283, about $1,000 more than 1/12 ($38,107) of the annual pledged income ($457,283).
Likewise for the first quarter, the computed pledged giving totaled $115,458, about $1,000 more than 1/4 of target annual pledged income ($114,320).
My conclusion: We’re off to a good start this year. We need to sustain attentiveness to fulfilling our pledges, but we’re in a good place for this time of year. Likewise, much as we’re waiting for more people to discover that there’s space for them, and a worshipping community that’s ready to include them, were we to have all been trying to fit into single principal services on March Sundays, we would have felt pretty crowded.
Life Transitions Small Group
Reading and Listening
In our second session of the Life Transitions small group, we used a Lectio Poetica format to enter into an experience of ‘looking within’ via poetry. It is a form of ‘listening with the eyes of the heart’. In session, we read a poem titled For a New Beginning by John O’Donohue. We read it three times, and followed each time with a period of silence, during which a different intention was offered. Everyone shared their experiences after the silence. The first intention was: What single word or phrase catches your attention? The second was: What is the connection to my life? The third was: What wisdom does this hold for me? The group activity invites people to experience a deeper part of themselves through the spaces of the poetry and through the bodily experience of reading and listening.
Dean Williamson’s poem, which was shared with the group, is the result of a between session practice that was offered to the group. The practice was to find, or write a poem, that has meaning for you and take 5 minutes each day to sit and be with this poem in silence or reading aloud. This poem is the result is the result of this practice, and Dean shared it with our group in our next session. We were all very touched and moved by his poem and reading. A felt experience permeated the material and is very timely for Easter. Our group continues until mid-May.
The God man rose this morning
and left me
for His bride.
Alone, beneath the table,
I gathered the fallen crumbs
to wipe away the watered wine.
Left with His unmade bed,
I watched, beyond my tears,
the blood and bed sheet flap in the window.
I try not to provide too much “back story. The poem introduces another voice and perspective to what most Christians would agree is a seminal transition or turning point in their faith tradition. This voice and perspective is meant to be singular, “alone.” The hosannas and alleluias did not stay or remain. The’ve gone on… to a muffled “flap”.
From Parish Life
Spring and Summer at All Souls
Wow! There is a lot coming up at All Souls in the next few months! We want to make sure that everyone knows about everything coming up so that you can participate in as much as you are able to! Below is a list of events with some descriptions about a few specifics.
First, new formation classes started this past Sunday. Consider joining one this coming Sunday. After these classes end we will be offering book discussion groups over the summer. A few books to be read and discussed are: The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone, The Nonviolent Life by Rev. John Dear, Real Life, Real Faith: Practices for Nurturing Children’s Spiritual Lives by Karen Marie Yust, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
NEW FORMATION CLASSES
Lectionary Bible Study: Bible Workbench (ongoing) A lectionary-based Bible study practice designed for small groups, invites us to explore scripture in a broader context; learning to see how the texts relate to what is going on in the world, and to our own lives. (Parish House)
Meeting All Souls Again for the First Time. This class will engage participants in conversation about begin Episcopalian as a member of All Souls, connecting knowledge and practice. Led by the Rector, the Rev. Philip Brochard, the goal of the course is to bring established members and newcomers together to deepen their personal and communal experience of our worship. No commitment is necessary for this on-going class; drop-in and occasional attendees are always welcome. (Parish Hall)
Miracles in the New Testament. Participants will gain a better understanding of the different structures of miracle/healing narratives and develop the ability to assess the implicationsthereby dismantling the binary distinction between fact and fiction. Multiple ways to interpret these events will be offered. Additionally, participants will be invited to imagine how particular stories serve specific pastoral situations. This class will be led by Rhian Jeong. (Common Room)
3rd – Richmond Federal Immigration Detention Center Vigil
3rd – Loaves & Fishes at the Borgfeldt’s at 5:00
9th – Texas Hold ‘em fundraiser tournament at Christ Church Alameda for High School Immersion Trip
10th – The Hootenanny is back! Come on out to enjoy the sweet sounds of the Angel Band, relax with good friends, or meet someone new. It is always a good time. Bring something to eat or drink and share; if you like, bring an instrument and play along! 5pm on at the Koops-Elson home: 1007 Contra Costa Dr. in El Cerrito. Contact email@example.com for more info.
10th – Loaves and Fishes at Gloria Bayne’s at 5:30
11th – Newcomers welcome and cross ceremony
11th – Open Door Dinner
12th – Monthly Ministry Meeting
17th – 20s & 30s game night
17th – Loaves & Fishes at Ray Conception & Dan Gordon’s at 5:30
18th – Acolyte recognition and new acolyte welcome
18th – Continue the fellowship of the Table after the 11:15 Eucharist with a potluck feast. Please bring a dish to share! This is a chance to share good food and rich conversation with old and new friends; we’re also looking forward to sharing hospitality with guests coming for the blessing of the bicycles. Plan for a festive day!
18th – Kyakameena Nursing Facility visit
23rd – GRIP family shelter dinner
26th – Spaghetti Again men’s fellowship dinner
1st – Parish Picnic. This year the picnic will happen in Tilden Park at the Mineral Springs location for the 11:15 service. Bring sunscreen, a chair or blanket and some food to share!
7th – Richmond Federal Immigration Detention Center vigil
8th – Open Door Dinner
9th – Monthly Ministry Meeting
15th – Kyakameena Nursing Facility Visit
17th-21st – Middle School Immersion trip. This is for all youth who will be going into 6th grade through 9th grade in the fall. There is still time to register! Please see Sara Gunter for details.
21st – High School Immersion Trip fundraiser carnival extravaganza
21st – Loaves & Fishes at the Carriere’s at 5:30
23rd-27th – Mt. Cross Day Camp Vacation Bible School
27th – GRIP Family shelter dinner
28th – Loaves & Fishes at the Borgfeldt’s at 5:00
Things slow in July and August but there are a couple to look forward to and mark in your calendar:
July 18-20 – Big Sur Camping Trip
August 1st – All Souls goes to an A’s game!
Keep your eyes open for added events as the spring and summer continue.