From the Rector
What Place, the Cross?
You may have read recent news reports from Germany, about a Bavarian state regulation that mandated the display of a cross at the entrance of every state building. Officials in this area, when asked about the apparent conflict of church and state, explained that the display of a Christian cross was about culture, not religion.
Reading this, especially from an American context (and one influenced by the West Coast cultural context), I was taken aback. How could displaying the Cross really be seen absent of religious implication? When does this symbol cease being the Cross, and simply be seen as a cross? It seems that some of the answer is found in how we understand the role of religious faith in the ordering of a society.
Following the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, Constantinian Christianity pushed a centuries-long tide of Christendom—a conflation of Christianity with state power—across the world, and particularly the European continent. Enough so that, in a post Enlightenment 2018, there is indeed cultural Christendom, and one where it is difficult to extract the components of historically shared symbols and communal practices from religious belief and the practices of faith. It is also interesting to me that this push to publicly display a Christian symbol comes at a time when the practice of Christianity in Germany is on the decline.
We are now in a remarkable age in human history, when for a majority of the world’s population the religious beliefs of a group (tribe, kingdom, state, or country) aren’t determined by the beliefs of their leader. For much of our recorded history, the faith of a people was determined by their chief, king, queen, or czar. And yet now, in most of the world, people have the agency to choose what, or whether, to live a life of faith. The questions we now often wrestle with are this: what role should religious faith have in the arena of political power? And, what stance should people of faith—and specifically us as Christians—take in pluralistic society?
One answer is coming to town tomorrow, as Franklin Graham continues his tour of California, a revival of sorts. While trading on the name of his father, the recently deceased Billy Graham, Franklin Graham seems to be focused on reclaiming Christianity as the dominant political power which, to this observer, seems contrary to the Gospel. I will be praying—I keep the city of Berkeley, its inhabitants, and its leaders in my regular prayers—but I have no interest in calling more attention to what I have seen to be an effort to use Christianity as another partisan tool.
To be clear, I come to this stance from a reading of history, and of the effects of state-mandated Christianity. Some good has come of Christendom, as well as much ill. But in my reading of the last 2,000 years, regardless of religious belief (or lack of religious belief), just as water seeks its own level, temporal power seeks its own ends.
My primary reason to distrust having Christianity as religion of any State is that I believe it is putting trust in the wrong kingdom. The Kingdom, the Reign, the Realm of God that Jesus taught about, gave himself in life and in death for, this Realm doesn’t appear to be a temporal place, with governments, taxes, and standing armies. So then what is to be our stance with the nations and governments that we are a part of?
I, for one, am more concerned with the powers of the State acting on the Beatitudes of Jesus of Nazareth than I am having the cross on which he died displayed within those halls. Rather than campaigning for a cultural symbol on display, or removing ourselves from the public square entirely, as followers of the Christ I believe it to be our responsibility to encourage, challenge, and inspire our legislators, judges, and all the servants of this Republic to ways that promote dignity, compassion, justice, and reconciliation for all. Regardless of what hangs on the wall.
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 THIS Sunday, June 3. 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 few things to remember to bring:
• Food to share—either grillables (hamburgers, hot dogs, or veggie options, including buns, if necessary) or a side dish
• A picnic blanket and/or chairs for the service
• Sunscreen (we hope!) or layers
We also need (please contact firstname.lastname@example.org):
• Grill masters!
• Carpool drivers
• A few hardy Souls to stay until the end and help schlepp things back to church.
Padre picnic site on South Park Dr. in Tilden. If you are coming from the Berkeley side, Padre is on the right about midway up S. Park Dr. between the Brazil Building and the Steam trains.
If you would like a ride to Padre, gather in the All Souls courtyard at 10:30am.
Please note that June 3rd is also Sunday Streets in Berkeley, beginning at 11:00 am. Here’s a map of what will be closed, and where you can cross:
Please Welcome Madeline Flynn!
Join us in giving a hearty welcome to Madeline Flynn, who will be starting as our new Lead Childcare Worker in the nursery this Sunday, June 3rd.
My name is Madeline and I am so excited to begin working as the Lead Childcare Worker at All Souls. I am originally from Northern California and I just finished up my second year at Berkeley, studying English. I’m planning on graduating early next spring and attending law school. I currently work with a family violence law center in Oakland, assisting victims of domestic abuse and family violence. Besides school and work, I also play women’s rugby at Cal and enjoy hiking in Tilden Park, taking short road trips to Santa Cruz and Point Reyes, writing short stories and poetry, and reading in my spare time.
I have almost 6 years of experience caring for children (not counting all the years I’ve lived with 2 younger siblings) and it is one of the most fulfilling and joyful parts of my life. I have tutored children of many ages throughout my life in many subjects, especially reading and writing. I also currently babysit for families in the Bay Area. I am very excited to meet you all, as well as your wonderful children.
Welcoming New Members
My name is Daniel Scuiry. Originally from southern California, I’ve been a Berkeley resident since 1981. After finishing a degree in philosophy, I moved here to study at the GTU. I earned an M.A. in theology (1985). From there my life went in a completely different direction. I’m a retirement analyst/counselor with the University of California. I’ve worked here much longer than I want to admit LOL. Let’s just say, I’m eagerly looking forward to that “golden handshake”.
My Passion: I work with a professional dance competitor and enter contests in the Country Western world of dance (UCWDC). I’m proud to say I win contests too. My next event will be at the “Frezno Dance Classic” Memorial Day weekend.
I’ve sung in church choirs most of my life. My last musical endeavor was with Slavyanka, a Bay Area-based Russian group founded by former members of the Yale Russian Chorus. I really like the choir at All Souls and look forward to singing here.
I can’t leave “my kids” out of this story. I have a small number of (drum roll…) pigeons. No, they don’t fly around outside. My birds are indoor companion pets. Imagine having miniature toddlers around, each with its own unique personality and ways of getting in your face. 🙂 If you think that’s unusual, check out a rescue/adoption group on Facebook called Palomacy. There area few of us out there and we love our little ones. I’ve learned so much – to appreciate life from the tiniest insect to the tallest Redwood. I’ve also learned how many creatures have the amazing capacity for friendship with humans. They are a blessing in my life.
When people ask about church I say, “I raised myself Catholic…” They smile. My folks were unchurched so it was all up to me. I’ve had a “zig-zag” spiritual journey. For most of my life, I’ve lived on the corner of “Christian East and West” leaning one way or the other – that’s a much longer story. More recently, I was drifting to masses here and there, not really belonging, and not really fitting in either.
I discovered All Souls one morning on a lark. Phil preached. I came back. Another week Liz preached. I kept coming. I fell in love. It all came together for me on Palm Sunday seeing Liz at the top of the church steps presiding. I was deeply moved. At last, a woman presider.
I’ve met really nice people. I feel uplifted, welcome, joyful and more excited about Church than I have in a long time. I joined the choir. Now I want to make this community my spiritual home. Everyone smiles. People are friendly. Liturgy is amazing. There are strong core values here. I’m really jazzed. There is an uncanny familiarity here at All Souls. And, I feel like I can be the “catholic” I was meant to be without having to apologize or defend myself.
I’m looking forward to praying, singing, meeting and joining all of you in this journey. 🙂
– Daniel Scuiry
Family Playdate & Potluck
Join us Saturday June 9th, 4:00 – 7:30 pm at Ocean View Park in Albany! The goal is fun, not fancy. Parents, bring your kids, some food or drink to share, and have a laid-back time of fun and connection with other All Soulsians who are in the midst of the adventure of parenting right now. You can RSVP here or email Glenn with questions.
Big Sur Camping Trip
Every summer we have an all-parish camping trip at the Santa Lucia campground in Big Sur, right on the river. The weekend includes swimming, singing and s’mores—as well as a group dinner and informal Sunday morning Eucharist at the outside chapel at the campground. You can find more info here and sign up here!
Parish House Project Update
Come one, come all to hear an update on the Parish House project, Sunday June 17th at 10:10 am. We’ve been discerning, planning and working for years now towards a new building that will both serve the church and offer affordable senior housing in the community. We’ll be sharing about where we are in the process of getting permits, looking towards funding, and the overall timeline for the project.
Walk With Us
SUMMER BOOK GROUP
Summer Book Group starts June 10 with a discussion of Chapters 1 and 2 of Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People. Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran minister in Denver, a two-time New York Times bestselling author, and a former standup comic. In her book she shares stories of her life and work pastoring House of All Sinners and Saints that help us to see God in unlikely situations and in people who society have typically dismissed. The summer schedule is: June 10: Chapters 1 & 2, June 24: Chapters 3-5, July 1: Chapters 6-8, July 8: Chapters 9-11, July 15: Chapters: 12-14, July 29: Chapters 15-16, August 5: Chapters 17-19. See you on June 10!