From the Rector
God of the Journey
May is often a hard month for me. Yes, because of the end of the school year, the year-end tournaments and concerts, the commencements and promotions. And yes, because there are so many things that are pushed off from the intensity of Holy Week and Easter that have to land somewhere.
But even more than that, May is a challenging month because this is one of the times of year when we say goodbye to All Soulsians, headed for parts somewhat known. This has been true for as long as All Souls has been in existence—we were planted as a direct response to the growth of the University of California, Berkeley.
From our beginnings, the ebb and flow of the academic calendar has had a significant effect on the life of All Souls. After a decade of service in this parish I have begrudgingly grown accustomed to wishing Godspeed to undergrads and graduate students, as they head quite literally across the globe to follow their vocation.
And. Recently—at least for the past several years—it has felt like the tide has been pulling out, relentlessly. It’s been more than just the flow of the academic year. For four to five years now we have been sending All Soulsians away from the Bay Area at stunning rate, as the cost of what it takes to live in this area has become more and more untenable. Housing, a fundamental human need, has year by year become prohibitively expensive, and just what it takes to make it without constantly feeling up against it has gotten more and more difficult.
We first started noticing this with our young families, with many of them moving to university towns like Boulder, CO, Austin, TX, Missoula, MT, and Morgantown, WV. Some have found it easier to live in other cities like Seattle, Boston, Sacramento, Chicago, and Portland. More recently our we have been wishing Godspeed to our elders, sometimes to follow adult children across the country, always to escape the increasingly high cost of living.
Each time I give recommendations for Episcopal churches, ask them to keep in touch, and promise to look them up when I’m nearby. It is quite the diaspora now, those who have come close to God in this place, some for a few months, some for decades, all of them no longer near the corner of Cedar and Spruce.
But each time this happens, as hard as it, I have found it essential to mark this passage, to have the opportunity for a good goodbye. Some time ago we began praying over those who were leaving at the close of the service, as we all are dismissed from the Eucharist. It has evolved into inviting all those gathered that day to a laying-on-of-hands, with a prayer that both acknowledges what has been and asks for God’s grace to be with these intrepid travelers wherever their journey next takes them.
While it is never easy to offer this blessing over people that we have come to love and to cherish, I have come to trust that amidst the changes and the chances of this world—of which we have little to no control—one of the few things that we can do is to mark the moment, love that All Soulsian, and send them on their way with God’s presence to lead and guide them along the way.
From Our Candidate for Ordination
Wow, what an incredible journey this has been so far. My family – then just Adam, Ethan, and I – showed up at the corner of Spruce and Cedar one Sunday morning in the summer of 2014. We had just arrived in Berkeley for me to study at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Episcopal seminary up the hill. Frankly, this was simply the closest church, the one we could make it to (more or less) on time that first weekend. We visited other congregations in this diocese, one-year-old in tow, but kept returning here – drawn in by the preaching, the music, and the joy you all exude. It felt like home, like a place where our family could be nurtured, a place where I might be able to wrestle honestly with questions that churned within about call and vocation.
Some of you might know that I came here after beginning discernment and seminary in another part of the country. I learned a lot there and am grateful for many people who helped me grow. And, I carried hurt from unhealthy systems that I had personalized and internalized. When I came out to CA to continue work on a Master of Divinity, I knew that my life’s work was somehow to be connected to the Church, but felt completely unclear as to what shape that would take. In the fall of 2015, I started as a Field Education student here at All Souls, hoping simply to learn from the inside out as much as possible about how this thriving community functioned. I was sure I would learn a ton from Phil+, Liz+, Emily, Jess Powell, and Christopher Putnam and Joy Shih Ng. I was right. But what I hadn’t anticipated was that spending time among all of you would help me heal. I didn’t even know I needed healing. In your presence, I was able to see my scars, name them, and not be identified by them. You all helped me recover a sense of what it means to be Church. You allowed me to hear God’s call again.
In early 2017, I began a formal discernment process here. So many of you listened, reflected, and heard with me a call that I be ordained a priest in this church. It is an incredible thing, to begin to speak out loud, hesitantly, tentatively, about this vocation you think maybe you’re supposed to follow, and to be so affirmed and drawn forward by such honest, faithful, Spirit-filled people. I am awed and humbled by your support. Through many, many conversations, and through your patience as I have learned in your midst (how to preach, lead, teach, provide pastoral care, and more) I have grown in the confidence that I am being equipped to do this work that I am called to do.
The process to this point has in some ways been long and so winding that at times I truly did not think I would make it here. In other ways, the past few years have flown by and I cannot believe the time for this step has finally come. Next Saturday, June 8th, I will be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate (3pm at Grace Cathedral). You are all joyfully invited.
I am thrilled that I will get to celebrate Pentecost as deacon at all three services with you the following day, and I will be preaching the following weekend (come to the parish picnic at Tilden!). Beyond that, I don’t know what is next for me. Discernment continues. I trust that the Holy Spirit will lead me where I need to go. Wherever that is, whatever the timing, I will continue to hold All Souls in my heart, being sustained by the love I have received and praying for you and your life-giving ministry.
If I had to boil all that I’ve learned from All Souls down to one thing, it would be: “There’s a model for that.” A favorite around here (you might have noticed), is Gather, Transform, Send. In case you don’t know, you all are really good at that. You have gathered me in. You have transformed me, and made a space where God could transform me. Soon you will have to send me out. I write this with tear-filled eyes because I love this community so dearly. But I have learned from you that it is now my turn, to go out from here as one who participates in God’s ongoing work of gathering, transforming, and sending in other places. I am more grateful to you than you will ever know.
From the Associate for Music
Ask someone to name famous composers of classical music, and they might start in with Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, or Brahms. Odds aren’t good that a woman’s name would come up very quickly. To put it mildly, women have been marginalized by the canons of classical and church music that have formed in Europe and America over the last two centuries.
One of the things about artistic canons is that they are circular: to commend, study, or merely perform a canonic work is to reinscribe very the authority and value that had made it seem worthy of commendation, study, or performance. And so the fact that canons of literature, music, and other arts are shaped by larger sociopolitical forces means that they reproduce wider patterns of gendered oppression. The bottom line is that the vast majority of the choral music in our beloved Anglican tradition was written by men. To put this in numerical terms, of the 500+ pieces we have in our own choral library—otherwise impressive for a church of our size—about 1% were written by women (this does not take into account hymns and other kinds of service music, although those categories are probably characterized by similar imbalances).
Such cycles are hard to break without conscious interventions, so the All Souls Music Department, as you may have heard Phil announce this past Sunday, is seeking 15–20 sponsors to add compositions by women. Depending on the composer and the length of the piece, one set of 25 scores for one piece will usually cost between $40–$80, perhaps a bit more for large works. If you sponsor a composition, you may also have your name, and/or the name of someone you wish to memorialize, featured in that week’s bulletin. In just one week we have found five sponsors, but we need more to achieve our goal. As music composition remains an extremely male-dominated field, purchasing and performing music by women is a small way to help fight that inequity. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in supporting this project!
Parish Picnic in Tilden Park
June 16th at 11:15 am
It’s almost that time! In a little over two weeks, on June 16th, we’ll be moving our 11:15 am Eucharist to a beautiful spot at the Padre picnic site in Tilden. It’s a laid-back open-air service, where worship is always a little unpredictable and more beautiful than ever. After our service, we dive headlong into BBQ/picnic feasting and games and general merriment. There will also be 7:30 and 9:00 am 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
• Bring a picnic blanket and/or chairs
• Sunscreen (we hope!)
• Balls or games
We also need (talk to Jeannie Koops-Elson):
• Grill masters!
• A few coolers stocked with ice
• Some hardy Souls to help clean up & cart supplies back to church
Padre picnic site on South Park Dr. in Tilden. If you are coming from the Berkeley side, turn right up South Park Dr. just after the Brazil Building. Padre is on your right on South Park Dr. about halfway up to the Steam Trains. Here is the exact location on Google maps.
If you would like a ride to Padre, gather in the All Souls courtyard at 10:30 am.
Support our Youth
Bake Sale this Sunday
Five of our high schoolers are heading to Dulac, LA this summer on an immersion trip, together with youth from five area Episcopal Churches. There, they’ll be spending time with a community of mostly Native Americans of the Houma tribe. These folks were slowly (around the beginning of the 19th century) pushed south to these swamp lands, where they now live, and which regularly flood. We’ll be staying and working out of a Methodist Community Center, to do housing rehabilitation, and any other work the community might need. Here’s where you come in: it costs a pretty penny to get there! This Sunday between the 9 and 11:15 services, the youth will be hosting a bake sale in the courtyard, will all proceeds going to fund the trip. Come with cash, check, or ready to Venmo. Thanks in advance for your generosity!
PENTECOST CONTINUING THE FEAST BRUNCH, JUNE 9TH
The Spirit blows big on Pentecost at All Souls and we like to celebrate. There will be no formation classes for children or adults on June 9th and we will continue (or begin) to celebrate the feast of the
Our Children’s Choir is going to try a new approach: practicing during the Sunday School hour. We are going to sing a simple song during the 11:15 service on June 9 (the feast of Pentecost), with a rehearsal on June 2 from about 10:20-10:50am and then a warm-up on June 9 at 10:30am. Attendance at the first rehearsal is strongly preferred, but not strictly required; attendance at the warm-up is, however, essential. If you have a child who can read and is between the ages of 7-12, please consider joining us!
Help Address Hunger
Looking for a way to serve? Come next Sunday afternoon, June 9th, to help with our Open Door Dinner. We offer a delicious meal of homemade jambalaya to anyone who is hungry. Come at 2p to help prep, 4p to serve, or 5 to clean up. Contact Mary Rees if you plan to come, or with any questions. Thanks!
CAMP ALL SOULS — LAST CHANCE TO SIGN UP!
Sign up by tomorrow, May 31! This summer we are bringing back Camp All Souls, a week-long day camp for kids to adventure, connect, explore, learn, play, create, question and more, all right here at All Souls. This year the camp will be August 12 – 16. It runs from 9 am to 3 pm and is for kids ages 5 to 11, who have completed kindergarten through fifth grade. Cost is $150, and scholarships are available. Once again, we will be welcoming middle and high school students to help lead the week, as well as adults who want to pitch in — it is a whole community affair! Please email Liz if you want to help volunteer and/or lead. You can learn more and register online here!
Big Sur Camping Trip
Sign-ups are live
Mark your calendar for the annual parish camping trip to Big Sur, July 19-21! This is always an amazing weekend of relaxing beside the river with favorite people, of skipping stones in the water, conversations with new friends, soaking in natural beauty, getting dusty and getting clean, eating great food, counting stars, singing and praying around the fire… in short, making church away from church and building the beloved community. Please join us — sign up here!