From the Associate Rector
The “Big C Church”
Something that I often say is that the “Big C Church” is more important than the “little c church.” I don’t know when or where I picked up this little phrase, but I can’t imagine that I was clever enough to come up with it on my own. In any case, what I mean when I say this is that the mission of the church at large, proclaiming the good news of God in Christ, is more important than any individual congregation or denomination.
When I was called to the priesthood, I was called to be a priest in the Episcopal branch of the “Big C Church,” and not to any one specific congregation or ministry, and that over the course of my life in ministry I would serve in many different places. This gets complicated though, when one individual congregation or ministry is your employer. How do you live into your vocation of service to the “Big C Church,” when you work for a “little c church?” In my opinion, this is not something we do very well, generally speaking. The needs and demands of our own individual churches become front and center in our minds and sometimes that can cause us to ignore the needs of our fellow congregations, or worse than that, even work against them. We can become greedy, hoarding resources for ourselves, and only sharing when there’s something in it for us. This is a mistake, and it misses the bigger picture. The “Big C Church” doesn’t exist simply to sustain itself. It exists to pour itself out for the good of our world and strive to proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ, and each individual “little c church” is called to do the same.
So, what, exactly, does that mean for us?
It means that sometimes the best stewardship of the resources of our own individual congregations is to give them away in service to the “Big C Church.” This might look like budgeting money into our annual budget to support a campus ministry, knowing full-well that not a single student served by that ministry is likely to darken our doorway on a Sunday morning. This might look like clergy, staff, and members of All Souls serving on boards and councils of the diocese, the Episcopal Church, and other local organizations. It might look like sharing programs or curricula that we have written with other churches at no cost. And sometimes, it might look like sharing our clergy or staff with other congregations or ministries.
This will be the case for the next two Sundays, May 8th and 15th. I will not be at All Souls for morning services on those Sundays because I will be serving at St. James/Santiago in Oakland while their vicar is away. St. James/Santiago worships bilingually in Spanish and English, and there are not many priests in our diocese who speak Spanish, and most of them have their own churches and ministries to attend to on Sunday mornings, making it difficult for the clergy who lead these communities to find coverage for things like illness, vacations, professional development, etc. Because we are so richly blessed here at All Souls with clergy to lead worship, I have the opportunity to step into one of these communities for a couple of weeks.
I share this with you so you’ll know where I am, and also because I want to take the opportunity to say that this is not charity. This is not doing a favor for another congregation. I will be leading worship at St. James/Santiago as we serve the “Big C Church” together. Phil and I see this as part of the stewardship of all of our resources in service to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is not unlike the message we have been hearing from the Living Waters campaign. The resources we collect in this campaign will be used to make upgrades to our own physical space, not only so that we can enjoy them, but primarily because they will allow us to better serve our community and all future generations of members of All Souls.
The “Big C Church” exists to give itself away, and so should the “little c church.” I’m looking forward to the many ways in which we can live into this idea in the future, and I’m looking forward to continuing our conversation about what it means to be the church, both, “Big C Church” and “little c church.”
From the Racial Justice Subcommittee
Upcoming Presentation by Dr. Russell Jeung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate
During the COVID-19 pandemic, hate against Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) has surged. The Racial Justice Subcommittee is pleased to host Dr. Russell Jeung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, to help us respond to this hate.
On May 22, during the Adult Formation Hour (10:10-11:10am), Dr. Jeung will present “Be Like Water: An Asian American Christian Response to Racism”. His talk will document the racial trauma that Asian Americans currently face, and what God’s been teaching him about how to heal individually and to effect social change institutionally. By integrating Taoist philosophy with a Christian perspective, Dr. Jeung develops a holistic approach towards racial justice.
As someone who has known and admired Russell for over twenty years, I cannot think of anyone more qualified to speak to us about racial justice and Asian/Pacific America. A professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, Russell has lived in East Oakland, worked as an advocate and organizer for Cambodian and Latino youths since the ’90s. He is also no stranger to our Diocese: when his memoir *At Home In Exile: Finding Jesus among My Ancestors and Refugee Neighbors* (2017) was published, the Executive Council hosted a book group event for the book. Along with two other co-founders of Stop AAPI Hate, Russell was honored as one of Time Magazine 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2021.
You can get a preview of Russell’s talk by reading his recent article:
How should Asian American Christians respond to anti-Asian racism? in *The Christian Century*.
Whether or not you are an Asian American Christian, expect to learn with Russell to “be like water: clear, humble, persistent, and restorative”.
Please welcome Dr. Russell Jeung to All Souls on May 22 and invite your friends!
Reflection on Holy Week
Maundy Thursday Vigil
The vigil that begins after our Maundy Thursday service and continues until the evening of Good Friday calls our church family to watch and pray with Christ all through the night and the long hours before his Passion. Our Holy Week vigil invites us to be with Jesus long after he has knelt to wash the feet of his friends, to keep awake with him long after he has taken, blessed, broken, and given bread and wine to his beloveds. Taking part in the vigil again this year reminded me that the moments of Holy Week that touch my heart most deeply–Friday’s soul-aching veneration of the Cross, Saturday’s dancing flame and baptismal waters flowing under the watching sky, Sunday morning’s radiant dawn of glory–begin to unfold in the moment when Christ leaves the Supper to pray alone. This is when we offer our companionship to him in the verdant garden of repose, into which our chapel on Cedar Street transforms each year.
When I arrived for my hour of prayer late in the afternoon on Good Friday, I anticipated that I would spend the time praying for the needs of the world in the words of my heart. As a cradle Episcopalian, the words of my heart are sometimes straight out of the Book of Common Prayer. Sometimes they are the outpouring of my soul loosely translated from emotion into English and offered to God. But on this particular Good Friday afternoon, the hour of vigil I kept with Christ immediately became a time of prayer embodied, devotion enfleshed. I knew something was going to be different this time when I set my BCP and prayer journal down and took off my shoes and socks. For the first time, the soles of my bare feet connected with the cool floor of the chapel, and I had the sensation of standing with the all the generations of All Soulsians and neighbors who have prayed there, received the Body and Blood of Christ there, greeted one another at the Peace, and laughed, and wept, and were sent forth into the swift current of life surging past right outside the chapel doors. Through the soles of my feet I felt my roots to this place grow deeper into the earth, touching where thousands of other souls have stood and believed, wondered, rejoiced, doubted, and waited, and watched.
I laid down on the floor in front of the altar in Savasana, corpse pose, resting supine in the light of the candles. I rested there and breathed, and my breath became a prayer for my grandmother Louise, who had taken her own last breaths in this mortal form the night before. I lay there, and my breath became prayer for Christ, who had taken air into lungs of flesh for one last morning before his Passion was complete. In my inner eye I saw Christ in mirror image over me, lying in deepest repose. As our lips touched, the vision faded. I knew that I could, as easily as Judas, betray Jesus with a kiss. Yet in this chaste, mystical kiss, I trusted that all I could ever do was forgiven in the intimate expansiveness of Christ’s love, which he pours out for me.
So I lay there in the shadow of the altar and considered all the ways it is possible to come before the throne of God and be accepted as God’s beloved child. In the yoga I practiced in that hour, I offered myself as a warrior of ferociously tender love, as a tree soaring with arms uplifted towards the radiance it feeds on, and as a child bowing his forehead to the ground in sweet surrender to the One. Whether I come as a tree, a warrior, a child, or an empty vessel before the throne, I know I will be held by the sacred ground on which the table is rooted. I know that I will be welcome to the feast of Christ’s love, a feast so abundant that the table can barely contain it, though our eyes may not see it yet.
During my hour of vigil, the world outside the chapel windows was anything but silent. The voices of people just getting home after five on a Friday evening, of children posing questions and pleading and playing, all rung out like a cacophony of bells ringing in relentless witness to life. A smile crept over my lips as I recognized anew: this is the beloved community. These are the friends for whom Christ came and poured out his life. As I lay with Christ in the tomb, I felt my heart break open, and in its tender soil, love sprang up and flowered with the promise of an eternal Spring. And when the time finally came, late in the night on Holy Saturday, for us to proclaim the Resurrection of Christ, my soul received it on a mountaintop of joy.
From the Living Waters Campaign
We are Building This Church Together
For four months, I have been thinking, writing, speaking and trying to do graphics, about what the Living Waters campaign asks us all to do. It asks us to listen to God’s call to renew the physical space of this church; it asks us to imagine the church remade and it asks us to embrace, over the next three years, the opportunity for generous and sacrificial giving above and beyond our annual pledges.
Today I am going to take a moment to share what I, well really what we – my wife Liz and I – are going to do for the campaign. Liz and I started thinking about our financial commitment by recognizing how much All Souls means to us and to our family. We have been here 5 and ½ years and have found a path to being closer to God. We have met people we like, admire and respect – we have made friends that enrich our spiritual and daily lives. We have been stretched as people and as Christians. We are grateful to have found this home.
As I talk with people about the campaign, the conversation often gets to the details of one project or another. And I think that engagement is crucial for the success of the campaign. But I want to reaffirm that LW is more than the sum of its projects. For all their appeal, let go of the focus on the projects for the time being.
If you have been at All Souls for some time, you may be aware, by pledge presentation, solicitation or thank you note, that I am taken by the idea that at All Souls we make church together – we pray together, we learn together, and we celebrate together. The Living Waters Campaign, is our chance to build church together.
As you consider your commitment, I invite you to give with a generosity that does not depend on your favorite project. Don’t think of your gift as supporting an elevator or a new floor; think of it as building a church with the person sitting closest to you and the person sitting farthest from you for the people who will join us in the next decades. As you decide how to give to Living Waters, have faith in God, and faith in the people of All Souls, present and future, that we are building this church together.
So, what is my household committing to this project? It was not an easy turn to consider what we would commit to the Living Waters campaign. We would like to be able to give a leadership gift. But the past two years have been financially hard for us. Liz, the primary breadwinner in our family, was unemployed for two years and the real estate company I manage has had significant difficulties which have dramatically cut my income. Last Fall Liz joined a small startup at less than half her previous salary, betting on the success of the firm. The company has struggled and Liz recently had to take a 30% pay cut.
Two and ½ years ago, if I had known where we would be financially today, I would have said we can’t make more than a token commitment. If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said I don’t think we can do anything. I would have been focused on the shrinking of our financial capacity, on a growing sense of scarcity. But shepherding the Living Waters campaign has re-ignited the pull we feel to All Souls and expanded our ability to think about our financial support. I have seen the work that so many have put into this campaign. I have heard stories of transformation and support that have their roots in these spaces. I have heard about the work people are ready to do in the future. Liz and I are called to find a way to support that project.
So, here I am seeking to inspire and invite others to generous gifts made from the recognition that all we have is provided by God. The best way for me to do that is to tell you about our gift. Liz and I had a heartfelt conversation about how we could help renew this church. In our discernment we’ve used some of the metrics that the campaign has been offering to others throughout the campaign:
Our commitment will be the biggest gift we have ever made.
Our commitment will be a stretch for us – one we can fulfill only over three years. We cannot responsibly write a check for the whole amount this year.
Most importantly, our commitment is one based on faith and trust. We do not know how we will fulfill it. For a portion of it I am going to sell some old coins my father was duped into buying for an exorbitant sum. I will be glad to be free of those coins and the feeling of needing to recoup his investment. But for the bulk of the commitment, we will have to figure it out over the next three years. And it is on top of our annual pledge, so we will be doing some financial scrambling.
More than the details of our gift, I offer the process we’re using to discern our it – gratitude for All Souls, looking at our financial capacity and giving a gift that will keep us working over the next three years. You may have a different process. You may be able to give a one-time asset-based gift that is significant for you on a multi-year scale. You may only be able to make a gift that symbolizes your desire to participate. But, if you can give with an open and generous heart, focused on the ministry All Souls provides today and will provide tomorrow, then whatever commitment fits for you will be a grace for All Souls.
I’ll be around All Souls a lot in the coming days and I would be happy to continue this conversation about our gifting with anyone who is interested. After all, we are building a church together.
-Richard Lynch, Campaign Co-Chair
Save the Dates
May 21, All Parish Living Waters Party 5:30-8p
May 22, Guest speaker Dr. Russell Jeung presentation during the Adult Formation hour
June 5, Pentecost
June 12, Parish Picnic in Tilden (after the 11:15 service)
July 15-17, All Parish Campout
Join us at 9am, in-person, outdoor service in the courtyard. This service will move indoors if the weather is below 40 degrees at 8:15a, if the AQI is over 150, or if there is rain.
Or (and!) join us indoors for the 11:15 service or on the live stream at 11:15a, 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. At our 11:15 service, masks are optional.
Then join us in the Parish Hall at 5p Sunday Night Service for a Eucharistic Service.
If you miss a Sunday, you can always catch the sermon on our homepage or as a podcast, anywhere you listen to podcasts!
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218. Masks are required for this service as it is indoors.
Living Waters: Renewal for our Second Century Capital Campaign
Living Waters Docent Tours!
Tour the All Souls campus with a focus on the capital campaign. The Living Waters Campaign has created a walking tour of All Souls, highlighting the areas where the capital campaign will renew us for our second century. A guide will lead the tour through 20 brief stops to better understand the places the capital campaign will touch. Docent-led tours are available on Sundays – April 24, May 1, May 8 and May 15. No registration or RSVP is required. The tour will leave from the Narthex at 12:45. The tour should last about 30 minutes and then volunteers will be available to answer any questions you have. Self-guided tour packets are also available in the Narthex.
- Save the Date! All-Parish Celebration on May 21st 5:30-8p at All Souls. RSVP online allsoulsparish.org/celebration or by calling the church office (510-848-1755).
The Living Waters team invites you to visit (and bookmark) the new module of the All Souls website to keep track of our campaign efforts, http://www.allsoulsparish.org/capital-campaign/. There you’ll find an overview, FAQs, campaign calendar, resources, and general announcements about our effort. We also invite you to read our first newsletter, if you didn’t already see it in your inbox. We look forward to communicating with you through the website, email, print, and social media in the weeks ahead.
Adult Formation Classes
We have three classes being offered this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Contact Kate Murphy, email@example.com to join that Zoom call, or join them in the Common Room!
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 10:10a. This Bible Study meets in the Chapel downstairs or on Zoom. Contact Daniel Prechtel, firstname.lastname@example.org to join that Zoom call.
- Christian Mystics Explore the breadth of mystical experiences in Christian faith communities, and ponder some of the ways the Sacred breaks through into your own life. Co-taught by the Rev. Daniel Prechtel and the Rev. Marguerite Judson, this four week drop in class introduces a wide variety of ways we draw closer to the Holy. There will, of course, be a substantial bibliography provided! click here for the juicy bibliography 🙂 The classes will be held in the Common Room, and on our Zoom link [HERE] between 10:15 and 11:05 am.
- May 8 – Notions about prayer and encounter with the Divine are further stretched when we consider the Cloud of Unknowing, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila and her contemporary, John of the Cross.
- May 15 – Contemporary mystics speak from a wide variety of traditions, including Anglican Evelyn Underhill; Quaker Thomas Kelly; and civil rights activist the Rev. Howard Thurman. What might all the mystics discussed over the four weeks teach us about how the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives and in the world?
Children, Youth, and Family News
This Sunday, May 8th: No Sunday School or Youth Group for Mother’s Day
Coming Up, May 22nd: Acolyte and Sound Board Training [Click here for more information, and to register!]
Other News & Notes
There is a super easy way to give to All Souls––for either a one-time donation or for your ongoing pledge––that is through an app called Vanco Mobile (what used to be called GivePlus). You can find this app through the app store on your phone. Once downloaded, search for All Souls Episcopal Parish and you’re in! If you’d prefer not to download the app, you can just as easily give online through our personalized online donation page by clicking here.
A Great Way You Can Help a Hurting Friend
Do you have a friend, neighbor, coworker, or relative who is going through a difficult time? Here’s a great way you can help them—tell them about our Stephen Ministry! Stephen Ministers are members of All Souls who have received special training to provide high-quality, confidential, one-to-one, Christian care to people who are grieving the loss of a loved one, coping with a cancer diagnosis, going through a divorce or separation, battling a chronic illness (or caring for a spouse or parent who is chronically ill), experiencing a great deal of stress, facing the loss of a job—or encountering any of countless other life challenges.
Stephen Ministers meet weekly with their care receivers to listen, care, encourage, and provide emotional and spiritual support. The caring relationship lasts for as long as the person needs care. It’s free, and it’s a powerful way you can help a hurting friend.
To learn how to connect someone you know with a Stephen Minister, talk with Rev. Maggie Foote (email@example.com) or Stephen Ministry Leader Madeline Feeley (firstname.lastname@example.org). Our Stephen Ministers are there to care!
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.
From Justice & Peace
Coming soon: The Law, Criminal Justice, Race, and our Christian call to Justice & Mercy (Matthew 23: 23-24). A 3-session Monday night online discussion series based on the documentary series Philly DA — May 23, June 6 & 20. You watch episodes on your own then join the conversation with other All Soulsians. Email with interest or questions, firstname.lastname@example.org.