From the Rector
How Sweet It Is
Often when we gather with St. Paul African Methodist Church and Congregation Beth El, we sing a version of Psalm 133, one of my favorite psalms. “How good it is,” we sing, “How sweet it is,” we continue, “When kindred live together in unity.” It’s a psalm that I’ve often known to be true in Christian communities––at summer camps, on immersion trips, at our Parish retreat, in deep scriptural study, when building tiny homes. There are few human experiences like a group of people in harmony with one another.
These prior experiences should have helped me anticipate a challenge we had this past Sunday. As you may know, Bishop Marc was visiting with us, and we had a several events planned––a couple of services, a conversation with our CnC confirmands, a meeting the Vestry, and a tour of Jordan Court. It all went well, with one significant theme: it all ran late. We significantly underestimated the time that people, all of us, wanted to talk with each other, visit with each other, meet each other. Because of all these conversations and encounters, well, let’s just say that the trains didn’t run on time. And it was ok. In fact, looking back on the faces of joy and relief, it was good.
Which is something that I might have expected. We have been intentionally separated from one another for over a year, connecting solely through virtual calls and conferences and streams. Don’t get me wrong, I am profoundly grateful that we have been able to maintain some form of communal practice during this time of pandemic. And, considering the outpouring of love and affection that I witnessed this past Sunday, I realized anew how essential congregating is to a congregation. Now that rates are low and the number of fully vaccinated people increases by the day, I invite one and all to gather in person once more.
Since Palm Sunday we have been gathering in person in the courtyard at 9am, and on Sunday, May 23rd, we will gathering once more in the Church for the 11:15am Eucharist. (with four baptisms!) At the present moment, congregational singing is allowed out of doors, but not yet indoors, so if you would like to be able to sing, please sign up for the 9am courtyard service. At the 11:15am service, the state has allowed “performers” to sing (masked), so we will use as much of the chancel as we safely can with our musicians. Because of this wrinkle, we will be moving the altar and ambo to the nave, and will move to the round a few weeks earlier than usual, beginning on Pentecost.
I realize that it may take some time for everyone to be ready to gather together. For the time being our 9am service will remain in the courtyard, as some feel more comfortable out of doors, where the spread of the virus is negligible. And for the foreseeable future we will be streaming our 11:15am service, with an area set aside in the nave for those who do not want to be seen on the stream. Our sense is that between these two services there will be space for all who wish to worship in person.
So come once again to the corner of Cedar and Spruce. Bring all of yourself––your joys, your sorrows, your uncertainties, your hopes, your desire to be one––with God and each other. Gathered together, again in person, we will worship.
From our Deacon
A Personal Update from Deacon Dani
Whew! This past year (and several months) have been a wild ride. I found myself more than a little exhausted, and then last week got the unwelcome surprise of a cancer diagnosis. I will be having surgery this week and then will see how things go. Because of all of this I’ll be taking a leave from All Souls until August. I will miss being with all of you very much, but hope to return with focus and energy. As always I am grateful for the company of a wild and wilderness surviving Jesus, and grateful for All Souls.
Note from Phil and Maggie: if you are looking for a way to support Dani and their family in the next few months, please reach out to Maggie Foote. Maggie is coordinating the pastoral care (meals, prayers, etc).
From the Music Department
There’s more to music than sound
A few days ago I got to play a piece I love, the Evening Hymn (“Joyous light of heavenly glory”) from Marty Haugen’s Holden Evening Prayer, as part of a pre-recorded service for Church Divinity School of the Pacific, where I am Chapel Musician and Lecturer in Church Music. After we finished making the recording, I found myself humming and singing my favorite moment of the piece—where the tune peaks and cascades down—on a loop. I kept trying to relive the moment, never quite satisfied with each attempt to recover the feeling it provoked. I was responding to, among other things, the simple fact that sound is ephemeral. Sometimes this feels like a bummer. If sounds cease to be even as they come into being, how do they have meaningful, lasting consequences? What do they provide beyond fleeting sensual enjoyment?
Some answers to this question come by reifying and reflecting on sounds. Sounds are inscribed into materials or mediated by technologies that give them afterlives—ink on paper, wax cylinders, grooves on vinyl records, digital audio. Furthermore, we use our memories to create new experiences not only of past sounds but of the emotions they once brought forth–often with an assist from a whole ecosystem of other materials and technologies (like the souvenir cup you brought home from a Broadway show). In creating the commentary you’re currently reading, I have transformed my experience of a set of sounds into writing, and have disseminated the result through multiple media onto phones, tablets, and laptops. The process gives me fresh access to the pleasure of that recording session, and affords readers a chance to interpret the meanings that I ascribe to the particular collection of sounds over which I’m obsessing. All of this feeds a psychology of anticipation that leads me to keep seeking opportunities to make music.
Sometimes even these sonic afterlives seems insufficient, and certainly not enough to sate whatever longing is behind my earworm (or voiceworm, as it were). Faced with the grim reality that the things I love—musical sounds—perish in an instant, one might justly wonder how could I really feel fed, filled, or given life by music.
Fortunately, there’s more to music than sound. Numerous disciplinary frameworks from the humanities and social sciences converge on the idea that music is a social practice. This doesn’t mean it is some categorical good, but rather a tool—a site for building and transforming, or, conversely, fracturing, relationships. The sounds I obsessively re-play in my head may disappear, but they reverberate beyond my memories or my futile attempts to sing them back into being. Laborious or ludic, music-making can destabilize and even allow us to re-configure the social relations we experience in other spaces.
This relationality of music is on my mind as we approach our first indoor, in-person services since the start of the pandemic. Unfortunately, the congregation as a whole won’t be given license to sing; this fundamental corporate act could wind up being the last one restored. But more members of the Choir will be allowed to lift our voices, working, playing, and collaborating. To be sure, most of us will want to create sounds that please our ears. Some of us will continue in the tradition of Christians who experience musical sounds sacramentally, as providing a point of contact with the divine. Just as much joy, however, will be had at regaining the opportunity to enact community in this specific way, bodies gathered in the same physical space, breathing as a group, each sensing our collective efforts echoing around the room and into the hearts of our wider parish family.
A Recap from Bishop Marc’s Visit
This past Sunday, May 9th, we had our triennial visit from our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus. It was a joy-filled day with lots of worship, conversation, and engagement.
First, at our 9:00am courtyard service, Bishop Marc confirmed four of our young people, Emma Calimag-Sisson, Jasper Kern, Pearl McCulloch, and Elinor Rees-Hill. These four have been in preparation for their confirmation since the fall of 2019, and faced several delays on the road toward confirmation due to Covid-19. It was a joy to see their confirmation journey come to a close in our own courtyard surrounded by the All Souls Community, especially their sponsors, Megan Hansen Curran and Calvin Payne-Taylor, who have been on this ride with them since the beginning. After the courtyard service, Bishop Marc engaged the confirmands in conversation about their experience preparing for confirmation, and why they chose to participate in the rite.
Later, in our 11:15 livestream, Bishop Marc streamed in from offsite and offered a wonderful sermon about what it means to pour out our lives in love for God and one another. You can listen to that sermon here.
After the 11:15 worship service, Bishop Marc met with the vestry for lunch and led us in a conversation about a few things that were on the hearts and minds of our vestry members. A highlight of the conversation was the five things that Bishop Marc believes are necessary for the church to survive and thrive in the face of decline:
- collaborating within and without the church
- being invitational, in addition to being welcoming
- being sustainable, within the community and Creation
- being embedded in the neighborhood
- encouraging, developing diversity to reflect the community
Finally, after all of that, Bishop Marc and Sheila joined in on a small tour of the new Jordan Court project. You can see some photos here that Sheila shared in the Diocese of California newsletter. It was an incredibly full day, and we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with Bishop Marc and share some of what we have been up to lately at All Souls.
Sunday Mornings: Join us at 9am in the courtyard, in-person (masked and holding a 4’ distance between you and anyone outside of your pod or family). Attendance is limited for outdoor services, so please sign-up here! Please remember to bring your own chair and chalice!
Or (and!) join us for the live stream of Sunday’s 11:15 service, which can be accessed through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Additionally, you can try out live streaming our 11:15 service to a Zoom call, so that you can participate in church with fellow parishioners. Click here to get into the 11:15 Zoom call, and please send us a note this week about your experience with this new mode of virtual church!
Wednesday Mornings: 9:00am PDT
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
Thursday Night Compline (Night Time Prayers): 8:30pm PDT
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84737698405?pwd=dlh2OXZmblBYTU5hTEw5TGJXUVZNZz09
Meeting ID: 847 3769 8405
7:30am Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Kate Murphy to join that Zoom call.
10:10am Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Daniel Prechtel to join that Zoom call.
Restorations and Reparations at 10:10am on Zoom with the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers and guests.
Over the past year, All Soulsians have been pondering questions of racial justice, healing, and reconciliation. This class will explore questions of restoration and reparation, inspired by the promise of the prophet Isaiah, “You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in” (Isaiah 58:12). In conversation with leaders from the wider Episcopal Church, we will explore foundations for the work of racial reconciliation in scripture and Christian tradition, and consider next steps we might take individually and as a congregation. This class is open to all and is intended to be complementary to the Sacred Ground groups and the fall class “Carrying the Cross Together.”
May 16: The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation Care. She has worked with Katrina Browne in the Sacred Ground curriculum. Her most recent book is The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline, and New Hope for the Beloved Community, which explores how communities steeped in racism, establishment, and privilege can at last fall in love with Jesus.
Missed the previous week’s class?? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll be recording all of the Adult Formation offerings and loading them to the Adult Formation page of our website. Click here to get there and access the class recordings.
Children, Family & Youth News
In person Children’s Formation takes place in the courtyard this Sunday at 10:10am.
Youth group meets Sunday, May 23rd, at 3:00pm in the courtyard. Hope to see you all there, and if you have a young person in your household in grades 6-12, and do not receive updates about Youth Group events, please email Maggie at email@example.com to be added to the list!
Other News & Notes
Soulcast: Our Weekly Video Announcements
People needed to “Make Church Happen”
Consider joining the Usher and or Greeters teams!
During the week the musicians practice and the sacristans ensure the altar linens and other things necessary for the service are in order for the service. They arrive early on Sunday and set up for the service. These preparations enhance our experience of Church. When we arrive on Sunday morning there are people who greet us, hand us a bulletin, and make note of newcomers then distribute wine and juice during the service. They answer our questions, help us with a chair and place to sit. They welcome us and want us to feel at home.
Does this sounds like something you’d like to do? If so, contact Renae Breitenstein.
Stephen Ministry: We are here for you!
2020 was a challenging year, right?! Most of us have been struggling and overwhelmed. You are not alone. Stephen Ministers understand and are available to listen, support and pray for you. We can offer you a confidential caring relationship or an occasional phone call to help you through these ever-changing times. Contact Maggie Foote at (513) 309-1079 or Madeline Feeley at (510) 495-4512 so we can be there for you.
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
The ASP Food Drive continues to pick up and deliver food for the Berkeley Food Pantry on a weekly basis. Food contributors and drivers participate every other week. Please email Cathy: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you are able to help provide some meals for parishioners in need, please contact Cathy Goshorn to help out! We are in great need at this time to help care for each other––please consider helping other All Soulsians in need by providing meals or gift cards for meals. You can reach Cathy at email@example.com.