From the Rector
I Have No Need of You
It is hard to be in relationship. It is even harder to be in relationship with those whom we have fundamental disagreement. After an intensely polarizing election cycle, in the context of what feels to be a tidal pull away from the Other, this past week the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Albany, NY released a pastoral letter that reads as anything but.
In his eight page letter, which was required to be read aloud in congregations of the diocese, he gave a lengthy defense for his decision to refuse to abide by the actions of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, specifically the legislative action known as B012.
Simply put, that decision of the Episcopal Church, overwhelmingly passed by the House of Deputies (made up of lay people, deacons, and priests) and the House of Bishops, made clear that all congregations could use the marriage rites of the church for all couples, regardless of whether or not the bishop of that diocese was personally supportive.
The legislation did not demand that any bishop who disagreed provide pastoral oversight, but instead allowed other bishops to do so. In fact, in the case of the Diocese of Albany, the adjacent bishop, the Rt. Rev. Dede Duncan-Probe of the Diocese of Central New York is ready and willing to provide this pastoral function. What the decision clarified, though, was that one bishop does not have the authority to supersede what the larger body had discerned as the mind of Christ.
While Bishop Love claims that the General Convention’s decision was a, “blatant attempt to silence theologically conservative and orthodox bishops in the Church,” it was actually an action taken to protect Christians who are trying to live into love of Christ—with fidelity, honesty, and truth. In fact, Bishop Love is still free to take theological stands that are in contradistinction to the consensus of the Episcopal Church. What he cannot do is use his position to unilaterally impose his views to deny the dignity, integrity, and wholeness of those he has been called to serve.
His words at the close of the missive to the contrary, I found Bishop Love’s pastoral letter to be littered with condescension and witness little compassion. Throughout the letter he writes as if anyone who knows LGBTQ Christians to be fundamentally holy in the eyes of God are ignorant of scripture. Throughout the letter there is little evidence of his willingness or desire to “suffer with” others, particularly those who have been systematically demeaned and degraded by the Church for centuries.
I read and follow the same scriptures as Bishop Love does. I also know firsthand the ways that we all miss the mark. I share the belief that the Opposer or the Adversary sows division as a way to prevent wholeness and unity. Which is exactly why I find his words and actions to be so painful, misguided, and contrary to the Gospel of the Lord we both attempt to follow.
And his letter has had me considering another letter that Bishop Love did not quote. It was written by the Apostle Paul as part of his letter writing campaign with some of the earliest Christians. In his first letter to the Christian community in Corinth, Paul addresses a group of Jesus followers involved in a conflict that seems to have been as divisive as what we are experiencing in our own time. To counter the belief that we can simply choose to cut off relationships in the midst of conflict, Paul uses the image of the body, that the eye cannot say to the hand, nor the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
This is a challenge for all of us, but one particularly faced by those vested with the authority and responsibility. Beginning with the witness of Jesus, in Christian community power is given in order to support and protect those without it. My hope and prayer is that Bishop Love will abide by the vows that he took, which are to the order and discipline of this part of the Body of Christ. For the members of the Body, essentially connected to one another and inevitably in need of each other, deserve nothing less.
From the Stewardship Team
We are off and running! The initial response to the Stewardship Campaign has been inspiring. Through last Sunday, 150 pledges have been made, totaling over $560,000. Thank you!
Many pledgers have really stretched and renewed their commitment to All Souls at a much higher level. And there is still time to join them!
On our current path we are going to be able to put a big dent in the gap between our expenses and our income. But we can do that only with your support. If you have not already made a pledge please take a moment today to support All Souls.
We will soon be reaching out people who have not made a pledge and asking them to join in the shared responsibility of supporting for our community financially. Some of those contacts will be to first-time pledgers, others to people who have pledged before, but have not submitted a pledge this year. We need everyone to contribute if we are to move to financial sustainability.
The 2019 pledge campaign is wrapping up and the Finance committee will soon need to make budgeting decisions based on our pledge total. If you are able to, please consider making a pledge by this Sunday.
You can use this online pledge form, find the pledge cards in the narthex, or you can email your pledge to our Giving Secretary, Maggie Cooke, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It has been inspiring and humbling to see so many supporting All Souls work so strongly.
— Richard Lynch, Stewardship Team Co-Chair
From the Stephen Ministry Leaders
So [Jesus] told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:3, NRSV)
Fires. Refugees. Mass shootings. At this moment the world around us is sobering. In such circumstances, it is easy to look at our own troubles and think: What’s bugging me is nothing to complain about! Consider, though, what Jesus’ parable suggests: we are each important and worthy of being found and loved. There are so many ways to become lost: discomfort at work, anxiety about the holidays, family or health concerns, or friction in a relationship…
We all want to be effective care-givers to the world—it is what Jesus calls us to do—but we are less effective when we are troubled or confused about our own circumstances. A Stephen Minister can help us to sort through those circumstances. A good listener, one who does not judge or direct us, can allow us to let go of the dam that is holding back all our own difficult feelings–just get them out. And in the midst of that spillway gush we can begin to see that while there is a great deal of “ouch” or “ick,” we also each hold inner wisdom that can emerge to help us find direction and offer us hope.
Over the last ten years, more than one hundred people in our parish and community have received individualized care from Stephen Ministers at All Souls. Stephen Ministers are trained lay people who provide confidential, one-to-one care and support for anyone experiencing grief, loss, transition, or any other kind of trouble. We are regular folks who are committed to showing up for you, hearing your concerns with a caring, compassionate and non-judgmental ear and providing a safe space for you to share the bottled-up feelings. We can pray–or not–but we will be there every week to help you work through any issue, big or small. We know that we cannot prevent suffering, but we can do our best to keep people from having to suffer alone. Please give us the privilege of walking with you in your hard times.
If you feel that you could benefit from having a Stephen Minister, please contact Rector Phil Brochard, Associate Rector Liz Tichenor, or Nancy Austin: (510) 407-0037, email@example.com
— Nancy Austin, Christina Robinson, Judith Lothrop, and Raymond Yee; Stephen Ministry Team Leaders
A Show of Support
On Friday, November 2, a group from All Souls walked with a banner to Congregation Beth El on Spruce. We were small in number, but an important expression of support to our Jewish neighbors. The sign said, “The All Souls Episcopal Parish Community Stands with YOU!” Several people had been able to arrive early to help paint the sign too. As folks arrived for a Shabbat service of comfort and care, we were standing near the entrance to the synagogue. Many people stopped to thank us and express how much our presence meant to them. It was a warm and connected time for all of us.
This action was also important as a move against the mechanism of anti-Jewish oppression that is used time and time again when those in power are threatened. Jews often are identified as one of the groups who is “other.” Having personal connections with our neighbors at Congregation Beth El helps remind us that no one is “other” or “them,” they are just people we have not connected with, listened to, learned about or worshiped with.
I decided to organize this show of support for our neighbors because I am often frozen with the feeling of not being significant. Each one of us, each action is important and significant. Let’s leap forward together with one small action after another. This is the work that we are called to do.
— Kate Stout
Support for Fire Victims
All Soulsian Cindy Townsend’s son and his family lost absolutely everything in the fire. Thank God that they are all alive and well and even have a place to move into in Oroville this next week, but they are suffering the loss of all of their possessions. Cindy is especially concerned about her granddaughters, ages 2 and 4. We are looking for any children’s clothing you might have in sizes 4T and 5, children’s shoes sizes 7 (extra wide) and 9, or children’s books and small toys. Gently used items would be greatly appreciated! Please drop your donations off in the church office or call Nettie for more information!
Supporting the Diocese of Northern California’s fire relief efforts
Our dear friends in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, our neighboring diocese based in Sacramento, continue to reel from the impact of the fire in Paradise and surrounding areas. Please consider donating to a disaster relief fund for that diocese. Your donation will go directly to assist victims in the first stage of the disaster and later during long term recovery.
To donate online to disaster relief, go to:
Want to send a check?
Please make checks out to EDNC put “Disaster Relief” in the memo line. Mail checks to:
The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California
350 University Avenue, Suite 280
Sacramento, CA 95825
Continuing THIS SUNDAY
Theodicy: Good God What the Hell is Going On?!
Led by the Revs. Michael Lemaire and Liz Tichenor, meeting at 10:10 am in the Parish Hall, November 18 and 25
If God is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-good, why is there senseless suffering in the world? It’s an age-old question. Countless scores of theologians and philosophers have tackled it, pulled their hair out over it, and striven to create clever acrobatics to get around it. The theological riddle is interesting, but equally so is how we live the questions that follow. How do we live our faith in the midst of suffering? Is suffering an occasion for despair or deeper faith? How do we practice and prepare to live it out? Join us as we dig in, as we look to the stories of those who have tried to live it well before us, and as we try to find the way forward together.
If you are new to All Souls, have never been to a newcomer event, or are curious about becoming a member here at All Souls, you are invited to this next round of newcomer events. It’ll continue this Sunday, the 18th, with a Meet & Greet with Phil in his office. Then, on November 25th, those of you interested in membership are invited to the home of Margaret Sparks after the 11:15 service (1-3p), to meet with Phil, Liz, and Emily for lunch and a brief class on membership here at All Souls. If you have questions about any of these events, please reach out to Emily, firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
In order to be prepared for emergencies and disasters, large and small, we ask each parish family to complete an Emergency Form. These forms will be These forms will be available in the Narthex on Sunday. We invite those of you, who have already completed the form a couple of years ago, to check to make sure that there are no changes. We also ask that those of you who have already completed a form, check to make sure that there are no changes. You may also download the Disaster Preparedness Form here, complete and return it to email@example.com.
THANKSGIVING DAY SERVICE
All are invited to join for a simple Eucharist in the sanctuary on Thanksgiving day at 10:00 am — hymns, homily, and time together as kin.
Need some good news?
There’s more than enough suffering to fill the news cycle. Here’s something else: enjoy this great piece in Berkeleyside on our affordable housing project’s latest progress!