From the Rector
In our Godly Play canon there is a phenomenal story about the Church year. It’s really a story about time, about how though it is eternal and circular, we humans mark it in linear ways. When we do that, time often takes the shape of a spiral, as we encounter the same events and stories (Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, All Saints), but in increasingly deeper and deeper ways. Whenever I tell this story to adults, even adults who have been in the church for decades, they are stunned by realization that they have been living by this calendar for years but hadn’t understood the intent and meaning behind it.
When you look at the Church calendar, you can quickly see that much of the year is taken up by “green” Sundays, the seasons after Pentecost and before Advent and after Christmas and before Lent. Sometimes called “ordinary time,” in the language of Godly Play, these weeks and months are known as the “green, growing season.”
In just a few weeks, this is just what we will be entering – the green, growing season. This year Pentecost falls on May 24th and Trinity Sunday on May 31st. Then starting with our Parish Picnic on June 7th, the green Sundays extend for months.
For us this year, the green, growing season is a particularly interesting metaphor. As I wrote about in last week’s article, I will be leaving on sabbatical this Sunday evening, returning after Labor Day. Sabbaticals are set aside as times of renewal, study, and reflection, and I will be doing all of these. I am becoming more and more excited to have the space to reflect deeply as I engage texts like Greg Garrett’s My Church is Not Dying, Esther de Waal’s Seeking God, and Walter Brueggeman’s Sabbath as Resistance.
Similarly, I am excited for a time of reflection here at All Souls. Whenever a leader is away from a congregation, the opportunity exists for the body to more intentionally explore their practices and patterns, to learn more about themselves and to try on new ways of being. When I arrived at All Souls nearly seven years ago, for instance, it was very clear to me that the interim space between rectors had been an incredibly fruitful time for All Souls to know of its own capacity and self-understanding. Though this time is not nearly as long as that was, my sense is that discovery and possibility awaits.
Part of my hope rests in the energy that has been building for months with the fruits of our strategic planning process. The first two reports about Deep Hospitality and Christian Action and Practice point to work that is already growing, around temporary housing in our Parish House for asylum seekers, and new practices for incorporating new people into our parish family. Alongside those efforts, this summer we will be beginning our searches for two half-time positions, an Associate for Youth Ministries and an Associate for Ministry Development, which you will be hearing more about in the weeks to come.
With that, I have tremendous hope and trust in the leadership that is assembled at All Souls. Joining our outstanding core staff of the Rev. Liz Tichenor, Christopher Putnam, Joy Shih Ng, and Maria Baird will be the Rev. Terri Hobart (staying on through June!) and the Rev. Stephen Shaver (through the end of August). I cannot tell you how much I enjoy working and planning with these faithful Christian leaders, whether they have been here for decades or are just stepping aboard. Simply put, they do good church.
This same sense of trust exists because of our grounded and faith-filled Vestry. I have been so heartened by their collective guidance, support and wisdom. They, along with the scores of lay leaders that make church here at All Souls, have all that they need to lead and guide for this green and growing time.
In reflection, my heart is full as I approach this time of Sabbath. I am profoundly grateful for the privilege of taking this time away, to study, to reflect, to explore and to renew. And I am thankful to God for the presence and dedication of those who will make church while I am on Sabbath. I ask for your prayers for our time away and our journey. Know that you will be in my daily prayers as well. And as I wrote last week, so I write again: I cannot wait to see what our life together will be in September.
The Phoenixes Keep Rising
Last year, the All Souls 20s and 30s group – now known as “The Phoenixes” – was resurrected after a long hiatus. The group has had a lot of success since its renewal, with consistently strong event attendance and a growing list of active participants.
The Phoenixes gather at least once a month for a range of activities, which break down into three categories: faith, service, and social. Our faith-based pursuits have included a Taizé service in the chapel, a three-week Lent Bible study series, and very popular “Stump the Rector” and “Stump the Seminarian” events, which allowed us to bring our toughest questions to our resident theological experts. (Thank you Rev. Phil and Reed!) On the service front, Phoenixes have given their time to bring Christmas cheer and song to the Kyakameena Skilled Nursing Facility and to the unglamorous but necessary task of cutting back the bushes in the All Souls parking lot, including the impenetrable Bamboo Forest. Finally, on the social side, we have gathered for karaoke, game nights, barbecues, and hikes in the Berkeley hills.
Many who have participated in Phoenix events agree that having a group of generational peers is important to their enjoyment of a faith community. Just like there are ministries for children, youth, and older adults, young adults also deserve their own focused group time. This can be difficult to get off the ground, for many reasons; for example, young adults are often transient residents in a community, especially in a college town (hence our name The Phoenixes!). Or, young adult programming can fall simply into the repeating recipe of “alcohol + theological questions = young adult participation,” with no deviation or creativity – a recipe with diminishing returns. But with a little energy and devotion from both individuals and the church, having a group like this can succeed, and is valuable – we offer support to young adults who worship at All Souls, but also to people nearby. There are a number of Phoenixes who worship at other Episcopal churches, but make the trek over to Berkeley for Phoenixes events because their church does not offer young adult fellowship. Young adults – single, married, with or without kids – want prayerful, enlivening Christian community, just like everyone else who comes to church.
The Phoenixes get the word out about upcoming events via email through a Google Group. If you would like to be added to the group, please get in touch with Emily. We are always happy to see new faces!
– Linden Rayton and Emily Hertz
Biking & Blessing
I have a favorite way of spending Saturdays in the fall. After a good breakfast, with a hot cup of coffee and a thorough reading of the newspaper, I put on my cycling clothes, hop on my bike, and head down Thousand Oaks Blvd to the Richmond Parkway. From there I turn north and east on the I-80 bike path. This is a route that goes through parts of Richmond, San Pablo, El Sobrante, crosses over I-80 at Appian Way, and follows the old Highway 40 through Pinole, Hercules, and Rodeo. Just past the Dead Fish Restaurant in Crocket, I get onto the bike path on the Al Zampa Bridge and cross over the Carquinez Strait to Vallejo.
From there, I ride along the Napa river past the Vallejo Yacht Club and along various side streets, first on one side, then the other of the Napa Vallejo Highway, into the town of Napa. As I pass the Old Adobe House, oldest structure in the Napa Valley, built in 1845, I turn right onto Silverado Trail. A mile further along, I’m back on the route I rode as a child to go to Jr. High School. Three more miles and I’m at my mother’s house.
She’s always got a few chores stored up for me. At the age of 90 she has given up on plumbing and yard work. I try to have those finished by 1:00 when the Cal Bears Football game starts. Though she’s a Stanford fan at heart, she’s managed to come over from the dark side, what with two of her three children having gone to Cal.
Soon after the game is over, Ann (my wife) arrives in the car. The three of us and an occasional grandchild (one of my kids) or two, have a barbecue on the deck or up by the pool. As the evening winds down, I load the bike into the back of the car and we head home.
Cycling is a great way to keep fit. Here at All Souls, there are many of us who enjoy cycling as exercise, or as transportation, or as a way of helping to save the environment. I frequently see Jim Feeley when I’m out riding in the east bay hills. Nancy Austin rides from her home in North Oakland to All Souls regularly. Fr. Phil rides from his house to work at the Parish. Tara McCulloch rides to work at UC Berkeley. There are several of our fellow parishioners who ride in the Aids Lifecycle from San Francisco to LA.
All of this is to say that All Souls is a very bike friendly place. Part of that friendliness will be on display on May 17 when we have our second annual “Blessing of the Bicycles” at 12:30 immediately after the 11:15 Service. Invite your friends and neighbors—all are welcome, visitors expected—for the service, for the blessing, or both. While cycling is always enjoyable it doesn’t come without risks. A blessing from above can only help. Maybe it will cause someone to pay attention while driving and not inadvertently come too close to a cyclist. For me, a blessed bike is a safer bike. If for some reason you can’t bring your bicycle, bring your bike helmet for a blessing. Afterward, we will carry the celebration forward with snacks and continued merriment. We can talk about bikes and blessings.
– Malcolm Plant
Love in Action
This week in the mail you received a packet from the Stewardship committee about our spring campaign, Love in Action. (If you did not, you can find one in the narthex, or ask a staff-person or stewardship committee member.) As you read, we are in year two of a three-year “growth spurt,” or planned expansion of our worship, formation and pastoral care offerings at All Souls. Just as we are stretching ourselves to welcome new members and make deep, meaningful space for all in our parish, our ambitions require faithful investment of our time and money. We give joyfully in recognition that God gives us more than we need through God’s inclusive, infinite love. We see reflections of this in the community we create together, and we are thankful.
Priscilla Camp and her partner Bonnie Bishop joined All Souls parish this past fall, after twenty years at another parish. Priscilla describes how they were immediately drawn to the formation hour classes, particularly those of Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers on Marriage and on Worship & Mission. These formation hour classes “were well prepared and presented, and offered opportunities for discussion by the group. This is a great way to learn about others in the parish, their ideas and feelings, as well as being thought-provoking about the topic at hand. All Souls offers many possible points of entry into parish life, which we have greatly appreciated.” The opportunity to learn and reflect together, in the youth and adult formation hour and in children’s Sunday School Godly Play classes, brings us closer to one another as we seek and serve Christ together.
Already we are more than half way to our goal of $40,000, with two very generous anonymous donations and the full participation of our Vestry. Please read the packet you received, reflect on the ways in which you have seen and felt God’s call to put this Love in Action, and prayerfully consider how you might contribute.
Yours in Faith,
Grace Telcs, with the All Souls Stewardship Committee
Calling all Idle Hands!
If you are crafty with a needle and thread, or even just interested in trying to be crafty with a needle and thread, please join us for a special project. We are gathering a group to co-create a new altar cloth to be used at the annual Parish Picnic and likely other places (Big Sur? Retreat?) when we make church outside or away from home. We’re visioning some beautiful nature-inspired embroidery and embellishments on a rustic linen; we hope this is an altar cloth that we can use year after year, adding to it gradually over time. Please come out and help make this vision a reality!
When: Tuesday, May 19, 7-9 pm
Where: The Pub, 1492 Solano Ave, Albany
Bring: Any embroidery supplies you find helpful. Some needles, thread/floss, and scissors will be provided, but if you have favorite tools, bring them!
Q: This sounds like a sewing bee at a pub; what?
A: Yes, precisely.
Q: So we’re creating an altar cloth at a sewing bee at a pub?
A: Yes. Makes you happy to be Episcopalian, right?
Q: Do I have to drink beer to join?
A: No, The Pub is happy to serve you tea, coffee, mead or wine. They also serve some excellent root beers, ginger ales and ciders.
Just come already. It will be great.
If you are not a Brochard or Oneto, please click here and act quickly!
Continuing the Feast Brunch, May 24
Next Sunday is Pentecost so let’s continue (or begin) the feast of the table with a festive brunch between services. There will be no formation classes for children or adults, so take advantage of the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new connections. Brunch will be between the 9am and 11:15services in the Parish Hall. Bring food to share and think RED (strawberries, tomatoes, red velvet cake, watermelon, … ?) or whatever the Spirit moves you to bring!
Mt. Cross Day Camp
There’s still time to sign your kids up for Mt. Cross day camp! This year it’s June 15-19, and once again in collaboration with Shepherd in the Hills Lutheran Church. The camp is for kids who have completed kindergarten through 6th grade. It’s $150 for the week, and scholarships are available. There are registration packets in the narthex, and you can email Liz with questions.
All Parish Picnic in Tilden
Church in the park and then some! We’re looking forward to bringing our 11:15 service to a beautiful spot in Tilden on Sunday, June 7. After an open-air Eucharist we will continue the feast with a potluck picnic lunch, games and fun. There will also be 7:30am and 9am services at All Souls.
In past years this has been a really fun event but everyone has to contribute to make it work. Here’s a bunch of things to remember:
• Bring food to share—either grillables (including buns, if necessary) or a side dish. Sign up here.
• Bring a picnic blanket and/or chairs
• Sunscreen (we hope!)
• Balls or games
We also need (talk to Andrew or Kat Lisa):
• Grill masters!
• A few coolers
• Shade tents
• A few hardy Souls to stay until the end and help clean up
Mineral Springs picnic site on Wildcat Canyon Rd. in Tilden. If you are coming from the Berkeley side, Mineral Springs is on the left between the Brazil Building and Inspiration Point. If you would like a ride to Mineral Springs, gather in the All Souls courtyard at 10:30am.