From the Rector
There is a moment in the Eucharist that often brings tears to my eyes. It happens as we gather around the altar, hands outstretched, ready to receive the bread, wine, or a blessing. I get a bit teary because of the focus, attention, and presence that I often experience with those I am serving. Oftentimes there is a connection, a feeling or sense that I can’t quite explain. And every time it happens, I realize once more what a tremendous privilege it is to be leading people into Communion, or oneness with God.
At that point in the liturgy, we have gathered, sung, listened to stories, reflected on them, held silence, opened our hearts in prayer, greeted one another in peace, heard the arc of salvation, remembered the Christ event, and have been invited forward around the table.
And often, if we have allowed ourselves, we are receptive, open, ready. And whether we are there looking for solace, strength, pardon, or renewal, the hallow we create in ourselves can be palpable. And, if we aren’t ready, or open, or prepared, it can also seem to be simply a bite of bread or sip from a cup.
This is one of the reasons that not all Christians practice Communion in this way every week. For many Episcopal churches, in fact, this practice of weekly Eucharist is a recovery of the 20th century. A concern that some reformers carried was that this sacred act might be reduced to a rote action, undertaken without thought, preparation, or intent. For this reason (and others), they felt that Holy Communion should take place less often in order that its sacred nature be maintained.
The practice of the Episcopal Church, though, especially in the last half-century, has been to engage in Communion week by week and to be ready to show up, to engage in the Mystery each time we partake. To do this, we need to be ready.
One way into this has been modeled for me by one of our assisting priests, the Rev. Dr. Daniel Prechtel. As part of his practice of receiving the Body and Blood, Daniel often responds by offering words other than “Amen.” Sometimes he says, “I am fed,” or “I thirst.” The first time that I heard an unexpected response, I was startled. And then compelled. Because his response to that moment felt engaged, thoughtful. It resonated with me deeply.
Since then, I’ve been paying closer attention to the varied responses that people offer as gather around the table. Scattered among our “Amens,” are responses like, “Thanks be to God,” “Yes!,” “I believe, “I trust,” “Thank you,” and one of my favorites from the under three set, “Ahhhhh.”
So as you approach the Table this week, gathered around with friend and stranger, consider what response you might offer as you receive this Grace. What words, actions, or intent will help you to prepare to approach the “font and summit” of our worship? What will help you come close to the Oneness this week?
NUEVA ESPERANZA, NEW HOPE WITH JESUS’ HELP
A few weeks ago I was standing in front of our new sign on Cedar Street, struck by the poster stating, “Jesus was a Refugee.” What could be more simple? And more profound. It took me back to Advent, that time when each week before the birth of the baby Jesus we begin our new year with offerings for those who are struggling.
Last Advent we gathered together a generous donation for Nueva Esperanza, New Hope, an program which seeks to support immigrants and refugees. Our donation was delivered by our own Elena Ramirez. Elena returned to All Souls to share pictures of recipient families and to give us their message of thanks.
That donation was a very good and helpful thing. But the season of Advent is a short time, and a one-time donation is even shorter. What about the rest of the year? What does a refugee do when the season of giving is over? (What season was it when Jesus told us to love our neighbors?) Laura Eberly persistently and lovingly nudged the Justice and Peace Committee to organize an All Souls Resource Fair, inviting the organizations the committee has worked with over the last few years.
The Rev. Deborah Lee, a pastor with the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, came to our Resource Fair in January with a suggestion. Simple, yet profound. Continue to support the Nueva Esperanza program coordinated by Human Integrity. Support those unaccompanied minors attending school in Oakland who need help finding stable housing, community, basic living needs. Support the parents of unaccompanied minors who seek legal representation, medical coverage, tutoring in English for their children. Support the single mother from El Salvador with three children who needs help in finding local resources such as food banks, legal representation, employment, housing.
Nueva Esperanza seeks to organize that support for refugees by developing Accompaniment Teams composed of 4 or 5 people, including a Spanish speaker for each team. The Accompaniment Team focuses on helping their person or family navigate this new, unfamiliar world. For example, the Team assists by seeking housing or by supporting housing hosts, by helping to navigate the legal process, job-hunting, and transportation, and by finding those back-up community resources such as food banks, language classes, and school registration.
To learn more about the program at Nueva Esperanza, Miriam Noriega, program coordinator, will be here during formation hour next Sunday, May 14th, (beginning at 10:10 am) to give us a brief orientation to the Accompaniment Team Program and to describe the training Nueva Esperanza provides for newly formed teams.
Join us in welcoming Miriam and learning more about how we can be Jesus’ hands in welcoming the refugee, no matter the season. We’ll be in the Parish House garden room. The door will be open.
At the West Country Detention Center Vigil last Saturday, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship offered this closing prayer: “God of all people, grant us vision to see your presence in our midst, especially in our immigrant sisters and brothers. Give us courage to open the door to our neighbors and grace to build a society of justice. Amen.”
– Sharon Roberts
FROM THE ARCHIVES
The first Christmas worship service at All Souls was not held in the old church, because it had not been built in 1905. The first service was held in the Guild Hall (later called the Reception Room) half way along the block to the west of the corner of Cedar and Spruce Streets, roughly where the exit from the church parking lot is now located. It also must have been in the Guild Hall that the Reverend W. R. H. Hodgkin was installed as vicar of All Souls, still a mission of St. Marks Parish, on Easter Sunday, April 15, 1906, (3 days before the great San Francisco earthquake and fire).
The new chapel (i.e., the old church) was built and completed in time for Christmas services 1907, and during that Christmastide, All Souls received its first episcopal visit by the Right Reverend William Ford Nichols, the Bishop of California. We still use a missal stand engraved “All Souls Chapel – 1907,” dating from those beginnings, along with a large silver chalice engraved “Memoriam – All Souls Chapel, St. Marks’ Parish; Easter 1909.”
The United States did not enter World War I until it was almost over, but lives at All Souls were affected from the war’s beginning in 1914, unlike lives in much of America. Many families at All Souls had British origins, and some of All Souls’ sons and their relatives went off to fight before the United States eventually declared war on Germany. Many left behind, especially the women, were actively doing work with the Red Cross or the British Overseas Club. After the United States declared war on April 6, 1917 (ironically, on Good Friday), more All Souls’ sons of went into military service and some of them went to fight “over there.”
The Rev. W. R. H. Hodgkin, vicar of All Souls, enlisted in the Y.M.C.A. in the autumn of 1918 and worked with the soldiers in the camps. The Rev. Dr. Herbert H. Powell, then a professor at (and later Dean of) Church Divinity School of the Pacific, located in San Francisco at the time, took charge of All Souls during the Rev. Mr. Hodgkin’s absence. The aid provided to All Souls by CDSP is a recurring theme in All Souls’ history.
– Thomas Burcham
HOLY REFLECTIONS FROM A HOLY WEEK
On Good Friday afternoon, seven wise and brave souls shared how their own stories connected with the Stations of the Cross. Today and in coming weeks, we will be offering some of those reflections, in no particular order, but with much gratitude.
Station 1: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
On this Good Friday, I see myself in Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (James and John) as they accompany Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. For these disciples are companions to a man who is about to die.
I turned 50 last month, and with every landmark birthday comes refined reflections on death. I count myself fortunate for having relatively few encounters with death, especially the death of those most dear to me. But as my wife Laura and I like to say: we get to grow old — if we’re lucky. An inevitable part of growing old is death: that of loved ones around you and ultimately of your very self, and every part of yourself: your body, your ambitions, your mind, your breath.
At 50, I am joining the very human club of those familiar with death up close. Al, my step-father-in-law, died about 2-1/2 years ago at the age of 81. Anthony, my brother-in-law, died at the age of 68 in December. After they died, I learned new things to appreciate about both men and wished that I had gotten to know them and love them that much deeper when they were alive. While they were dying though, I didn’t know how to be present with them.
On Tuesday evening, Walt, a man who was very much my hip and wise honorary uncle died at home. He was 91. Walt and his wife Ginny were the first people to have me to their homes when I arrived as a grad student in 1990. I remember clearly that first Sunday in Berkeley, almost 27 years ago. I had the luxury of arriving in a new country and a new city confident that I would be welcome by at least two loving people.
It was only 4 weeks ago, when trying to schedule a brunch date with Walt and Ginny, that I heard that he was in the hospital. A couple of days later, I learned that he was coming home. He was coming home for hospice care because there was nothing left for the doctors to do.
I was blessed by my last two visits with Walt. Last week, Walt sat up in his bed, in the liminal space between life and death. I was anxious to let him know the greetings of love that I had promised to convey from two friends who also loved Walt but lived far away. Walt spoke slowly, sometimes forgetting what he was saying — but he did manage to finish the story he needed to tell. He was sad to be leaving us but was at peace with dying. I wanted to say the right thing, but more eloquent than any of my words were the Trader Joe’s chocolate blueberries we had brought. Walt lovingly cradled the box of chocolates, while bits of chocolate clung to his beard.
My second visit was on Tuesday morning. This time, Walt was asleep. For some minutes I sat quietly by his bedside. I reflected on how hard it had been to sit with Walt. Like Peter, I could be physically proximal to a dying man, but I was not on the same journey as that man. “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
I told Marie, who was also in the room, about the Good Friday reflection I was working on. Jesus had a simple request of Peter, James, and John — and they were literally falling asleep on the job. “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Not that I thought that I could do better than the disciples. I judged myself in the way that I felt that Jesus was chastising his disciples.
But Marie surprised me when she answered me: who among us who is waiting with the dying doesn’t want to fall asleep? It is hard work indeed to be present with a dying man. Marie, who had been spending days with Walt, had a lot of credibility on this matter. And with her statement, I was able to hear from Jesus, the dying Messiah, not chastisement but profound compassion, offered in his darkest moments.
Walt died that night.
And now I stand here. My spirit is willing. May Jesus compassionately strengthen my flesh for the walk ahead.
– Raymond Yee
In thanksgiving for the life of Kyle Malkasian
Please join together in giving thanks for the life of Kyle Malkasian, who died suddenly on April 15th. Kyle and his family were members of All Souls from 1985 – 1991, when he was a young child. He had moved back to Berkeley recently. There will be a memorial service for him at All Souls on Thursday, May 18th at 10:00 am, with a reception following the service in the Parish Hall.
Parish House Project Update – this Sunday!
On May 14th, right after the 11:15 am service (about 12:45 pm ), you are invited to linger in the church a little longer and hear what’s been happening lately as we plan to replace the Parish House.
You’ll learn about the legal documents we’re signing with SAHA (Satellite Affordable Housing), our plans for reaching out to our All Souls neighbors, and the latest developments in design and finances.
Childcare will be available on the playground. Please join us!
Stump the Rector for Newcomers
Are you new to All Souls? Or have you been coming for a few weeks or months and are looking to make this place home? If so, join us for a Stump the Rector where Phil and Liz will field questions about All Souls and/or the Episcopal Church that Google just can’t answer. Get to know your priests and let them get to know you. Join us May 14th in Phil’s office (downstairs) between the 9:00 and 11:15 am services.
Neighborhood Open House for Emergency Preparedness
On Sunday afternoon, May 21st, just following the 11:15 am service, we will host a neighborhood open house for emergency preparedness. We will open our courtyard, snacks will be available, balloons will be bouncing, and music will be playing as we welcome our neighbors to join us to greet Berkeley’s finest firefighters, complete with fire truck, ready to be inspected, by one and all. Firefighters will come prepared to give us information on how to prepare for a disaster—be it fire, earthquake, etc. We are inviting our Cedar-Spruce Street neighbors to this gathering to let them know that we “live” here too. In addition to the firefighters giving us some tips on emergency preparedness, Khin Chin, Director of Berkeley’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, will update us on what’s going on in the rest of Berkeley. Please let Margaret Sparks (email@example.com, 510-524-6106) know if you can bring goodies to share.
Four All Souls high school students have been working hard in the Confirm Not Conform confirmation program all year. Come and celebrate their dedication and discernment on Saturday, May 20th from 5:00 – 7:30 pm. Join us for the service at 5:00 pm, including the students’ own personal reflections, and stay for dinner and festivities (including karaoke!!) afterwards. Bring a side dish, drink, or dessert to share. You can RSVP online here or contact Jess by email or at 510-848-1755 ext.4.
Runners, try changing up your pace on Sunday, May 21st! Plan to worship at the 9:00 am and then join other All Souls runners for a fun run after your favorite formation class. Meet at 11:15 am in the courtyard and we’ll set out together for a variable length and pace run.
Novelist Mary Rakow and the Rev. Liz Tichenor in Conversation,
“Story Making for Our Uncertain Times” in Point Richmond
Please join Café Society in welcoming acclaimed San Francisco novelist Mary Rakow and the Rev. Liz Tichenor to its Fourth Fridays events series. Mary will read from her new book, This Is Why I Came, the gorgeously concise retelling of more than sixty Bible tales that has been called “an agnostic’s gospel.” Noah’s wife pleads her side of the story; silent Joseph finds words of awe to speak. The novelist, trained as a theologian at Harvard Divinity School, will be joined in conversation by Liz Tichenor, Associate Rector of All Souls in Berkeley.
SIGN UP SOON FOR CAMP ALL SOULS
The deadline to sign up for our brand new summer adventure, Camp All Souls: Called to Justice, is rapidly approaching! It is open to kids for ages 5-11, August 7th – 11th, and the deadline to register is May 31st. You can learn more and register online here or pick up forms in the narthex. Camp will be a great time for kids to build closer relationships with each other and the fabulous teenage and young adult counselors, learn about and practice justice, and explore where God is in the midst of it all. And it’s going to be a ton of fun! Let me know if you have any questions.
SUMMER READING GROUP: THE BOOK OF JOY
Thanks to all who nominated and voted for our “one parish, one book” for our summer reading group. The clear choice was The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, a narrative of a conversation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The first discussion group will be June 18th in the parish hall during the formation hour following the 9:00 am service and will continue for the next seven weeks over the summer. Come to as many sessions as you can; each one will be designed to focus on a section of the book but should be accessible if you haven’t read the whole book. This delightful and wise book and its ideas are suitable for All Soulsians of ages. Here’s some more about the book.
Copies are available at the Berkeley Public Library and in paperback and as an e-book for about $14. The parish will also be purchasing several copies so please contact Stephan Quarles if you’d like to use one of those copies.
Please join us!
Ordinations at Grace Cathedral
All are welcome to join the diocesan ordinations on June 10th at 3:00 pm at Grace Cathedral. Among the ordinands will be Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, who has been sponsored by All Souls through the ordination process.