From the Rector
A Summer of Preparation
I had an awakening this morning as I walked home from dropping the boys off at school. Tonight is Open House for their classrooms, where we tour the dragon collages and Ohlone houses of the past nine months of learning and exploration. I love this night, with all of its attendant chaos, the look in a child’s eye as they excitedly share this part of their life that we as parents only glimpse from time to time. My awakening, though, wasn’t about Open House. It was about what Open House means: that the end of the school year is but a few weeks away. Which means that summer is just around the corner.
Now, it’s not as if I haven’t been planning for parts of this summer since winter, because I have. Between the College for Congregational Development (more on that in a few weeks), some time as a chaplain at Camp Galilee, our high school immersion trip with Standing Rock, and some time away, I have been planning for this summer for months. But the fact that summer is a few weeks away means that things are getting serious.
Summer means many things to people: a more relaxed time (unless you are scrambling to find camps and activities for your children), some quieter space in the office (to get more done?), the opportunity to explore and recreate (unless you are retired and will let others withstand the heat and the crowds). For the people of All Souls I’ve talked with, it will involve time to study, to serve, and to vacate. What this summer will mean for us at All Souls, though, just might reverberate for several years to come.
Because even though people travel hither and yon over the course of the next several months, at the corner of Cedar and Spruce we will be listening, praying, interviewing and planning. This was clearly seen last night at our May Vestry meeting, as we received and engaged two detailed and exciting reports: that of the Associate Rector Search Team and the Strategic Planning Group.
As you may know, our Associate Rector, the Rev. Kristin Krantz, along with her boys Jasper and Zach and her husband Bryan, will be leaving All Souls Parish on Sunday, July 27th, headed for Baltimore, Maryland. Accordingly, in the last few weeks our Search Team has released the job posting and description and we have already begun receiving applications. From the start I have been consistently encouraged by the grounding and the vision that has emerged. As we read their responses, hear their sermons and speak with these candidates, please keep the Search Team in your regular prayers. Our hope is that by the time Kristin leaves we will have found the person who will next take this position.
The other report that we heard and discussed came from the Strategic Planning Group. As you may know, two years ago (again over the summer) we engaged in a visioning process that led us to our Vision Statement. Similar to the mutual ministry review and planning process of four years ago, and using the current Vision Statement as a guide, we will be discerning two to three areas of emphasis for the next few years at All Souls. On Pentecost, Sunday, June 8th at the 10:10 a.m. learning hour, there will be an all-parish forum to introduce the process that we will be following. It will involve listening groups meeting on different days of the week and at various times of day, all with the intent of having holy conversations, listening for the Spirit’s guidance as to our particular focus, time, and attention for the next few years.
What I ask of all of our community is that we engage in this summer as we do the rest of our common life: by making church together. That we come together to listen, to converse, to sing, to pray and to imagine. At this point we have only but a glimpse of what God has in store for those who come together at the corner of Cedar and Spruce. But this summer, through story, conversation and silence, we will be preparing ourselves, and opening our hearts to prepare the way for what is to come.
From the Associate for Parish Life
The Rise of the Phoenixes
This past Saturday night our new 20s and 30s group, The Phoenixes, met for the third time. Last month we met for a “breakfast for dinner” potluck in the Parish House just to get to know one another and to talk about what we hope this group might look like. It is a group that has thrived and struggled many times at All Souls. This particular demographic of people can be tricky because we are often so transient. Many in the group are students and who knows where they will be or where they will go when they graduate. Others are young couples who may be starting families soon and, while parents are welcome, attention naturally shifts towards home and family life when you have young ones.
Our goal this time around is to be intentional about sharing leadership among one another so that as people transition in and out for whatever reason the group itself is sustainable and has continuous to have momentum. The life of any group is often cyclical, which is how we decided on our name. Like the mythical creature the phoenix, our group is rising again after having petered out a few years ago.
This past Saturday we had a pizza dinner in the Parish House and played board games together. We laughed at our ourselves and one another as we played Charades and Scattergories. We also discussed a few activities for this coming summer. I created a Google Group for the 20s and 30s at All Souls and so far my list has grown to over 35 people. This is an exciting development and it feels like the time is ripe to create something new.
What I have been thinking about over the past month is what the purpose of a 20s and 30s group is. Are we peers? Is this purely a social thing? How inclusive/exclusive are we going to be? For me this is not necessarily an obvious group. What does a 35-year-old professional have in common with a 23-year-old grad student. It hasn’t always been clear to me why a group like this is so important. And yet, as several people came to Phil or to me over the past months asking about putting a group together it became apparent that it is, indeed, important. As we continue to meet and form an identity our purpose will surely be better defined and understood. We are committed, for now, to offering a wide range of activities from the more family friendly to more “wild” and late night. Below is a list of what we have planned and what we are thinking about.
We will be going to a karaoke bar. The dates and times are still to be determined so please stay tuned.
We will also be going to Pride on Saturday June 28th at the Civic Center and on the 29th to the parade. Join us at either or both!
We will be going to Phono del Sol Music Festival on the 12th.
We’re also hoping for a strong presence at the all parish camping trip in Big Sur July 18-20.
We will be grabbing a beer with Phil to “stump the rector” – dates and times to be finalized soon.
If you are in your 20s and 30s and are looking for others to spend time with, share meals with and to connect to please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, Linden Rayton at email@example.com, or Ethan Lowery at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add you to our google group and start inviting you to our various and sundry events.
Silent Prayer and Meditation Small Group
Be Still and Know that I am God
The noonday sun is harsh. The traffic on Cedar is heavy. I notice five new messages as I turn off my cellphone and pull open the heavy metal chapel doors. Inside it is cool and silent, with a single candle on a table surrounded by padded chairs.
Holy ground. Sacred space. A cave of the heart.
The dictionary says that silence is the absence of sound. Almost all religious traditions, however, see silence not as absence but as presence. Many see silence as the most powerful form of prayer.
“Be Still and Know that I Am God.”
The language of silence is at the heart of contemplative prayer. We find our deepest and most intimate relationship with God in those moments of pure presence.
“In God Alone My Soul In Silence Waits.”
It is not easy to sit in silence for 20 minutes. The mind is an amazing, prattling machine, full of wandering, constant thoughts and emotions, some profound and some repetitive and nagging. We slowly learn to let them all go, both the transcendent and the mundane, and simply be present.
We can do this on our own, at home or out walking, but it is especially powerful in community. We meet together for a brief check-in, a psalm or poem or hymn, 20 minutes of silence, and then a short discussion and sharing of the experience. We meet on Tuesdays at noon at All Souls in the downstairs chapel, rain or shine. All are welcome to come occasionally or on a regular basis.
“May we all grow in grace and peace; and not neglect the silence that is printed in the center of our being. It will not fail us.” (Thomas Merton)
From the Stewardship Team
The Giving Tree
For the next several Sundays, you will hear short presentations during the worship service from members of the Stewardship Team and the parish about our “Giving Tree Gift Appeal.” All Souls has been offered a generous $15,000 matching grant: for every $2 given by a parishioner, $1 will come to us from the grant. With your help, we can reduce the All Souls budget deficit and help this parish grow into the church we have committed to become. You will be receiving a letter next week with further details, but the short and sweet of it is that by July 1 we are asking for your help to raise $45,000.
A gift from you will add a leaf to the Giving Tree and strengthen the All Souls community for the work that God has given us to do.
–The Stewardship Team