Phil Brochard headshot2Ancient Questions

A couple of weeks ago, as I shared in my Pathfinder article, I took the opportunity to travel with my family down to Studio City, CA, for a baptism. It wasn’t just any baptism for me, as in the rite I was taking on the role of godfather for this bright-eyed, smiling, drooling, human named Matthew.

Now, I’ve been present for scores of baptisms: indoors and out, with a wee-bit of waters, and in flowing rivers, as the one being baptized, and the one doing the baptizing, and as one praying and cheering along. But in this baptism, for the first time, I was stunned by one of the more ancient and anachronistic elements of our baptismal rite: the renunciations and affirmations.

Often, when I am leading folks through the baptismal rite in preparation for that celebration, this section of the liturgy is a stumbling block. Because these two sets of questions are not at-ease with some contemporary expressions of Christianity. We believe that these corresponding sets of questions go back to possibly the 2nd century, but certainly the 4th century. So for 21st century ears, sometimes the language about, “Satan and the spiritual forces of wickedness…the evil powers of this world…and all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God” are difficult to place in our context. Over the years I’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about The Tempter, powers intent upon destruction, and desires that undermine our lives.

But this past All Saints Sunday it became real to me in a way that I haven’t experienced before. Maybe it was because of the climate of fear and recrimination that seems to pervade our common life, or perhaps it was seeing this beautiful, light-filled baby. But in that moment, I was over-whelmed with a desire to protect and care for this child, and was compelled to renounce those forces that seek to destroy the children of God, whether through structures of dominance, the use of semi-automatic rifles, or sheer political indifference.

The renunciations are then followed by affirmations, which, at that moment, was of great relief. Because even as the destructive reality of sin is present, we are not alone in our desire to live another way. In the midst of my feelings of godparental love and concern for Matthew, I was even more ready to lean into salvation, trusting in grace and love, and listening to and following Jesus. For the first time that I can remember, these weren’t simply helpful words, but symbols of visceral truth.

And here’s the thing. Those promises that I took with Matthew are actually promises that we all make whenever we baptize. Because after the parents, godparents and sponsors make these vows, all those gathered are asked, “Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?” Whether we have the particular role of godparent or not, as a member of this family, we have been charged with the same responsibility.

That day and in the days since, in a real and present way, I have thanked God for those ancient questions.


Coming up in Adult Formation

017Rest and Reflection: Advent

In adult formation this Sunday November 19th, All Soulsian Madeline Feeley will lead us in reflection on the season of Advent. In this season of preparation for Christmas, we look back to the coming of Jesus in Palestine, we look for the coming of Christ in our hearts and our lives today, and we look ahead to the final coming of Christ. Madeline will help us ponder the meaning of the season, and together we’ll explore practices that prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. We’ll meet in the Parish Hall at 10:10 am.

Looking ahead, these two new Adult formation classes begin on November 26th at 10:10 am.  Join us!

Worth the Wait: Parenting What We Preach

The season of Advent can easily get lost in the whirlwind of activities, pressure to find and buy all the right gifts, travel, get to school plays and holiday parties, and more. This frenzy can create a conundrum for parents in particular: how can we practice slowing down, waiting in expectation, and looking for what is to come with and for our children? Join in a course focusing on just that question this Advent. We’ll explore ways to refill our own well of faith, and connect with both co-parents and friends on a deeper level such that we might have something of greater substance to offer our kids this Advent. Look forward to a time to slow down, be fed, (literally, with good things!) engage your senses, and collaborate with your peers in coming to a place of greater abundance to sustain your parenting. Any and all adults welcome, whether you are raising your own kids right now, supporting friends’ kids or nieces or nephews, or looking to be more engaged in this intergenerational aspect of our community life.

– Liz Tichenor

Conversations on Gender: Science, Culture, and Incarnation

“It’s a girl.”  “It’s a boy.”  From the day we are born, gender is spoken over us.  We sort our diverse bodies into the “female” bin or the “male” bin.  More often, we are sorted.  We are told what it means to be a woman, to be a man.  These names, and all the baggage they carry, follow us from the bathroom to the boardroom, shaping the ways others see us, the ways others treat us, the ways we see ourselves.  We open the Bible, and there we find sex and gender on the very first page: “male and female he created them.”  This thread winds through the pages of Scripture, from the patriarchs and matriarchs to the “her” and “him” of the Song of Solomon to the audacious women and grumbling men of the Gospels.  We hear the meaning of manhood and womanhood not only from friends and family, from TV and movies, but also from the pulpit.  Sex and gender permeate our lives, coloring every aspect.  And yet, we live in a historical moment where we’re increasingly willing to question these categories, to examine this lens through which we’ve seen the world.

We at All Souls come from a variety of places when it comes to gender.  Some of us grew up in a world divided into slacks and skirts.  Other of us grew up in beige nurseries with a choice of Tonka Trucks and Barbies.  Some of us find the phrase “male and female” as familiar and reassuring as the night and the day, as the changing of the seasons.  For others, the words “male and female” give us a sinking feeling in our gut, as we wonder where we fit in.  For some of us, gender roles fit like a glove from day one, and have never really felt constricting.  Others of us have had to blaze our own trails, violating societies’ expectations with our gender identities, the genders of partners, our choice of careers, our choice of dress, or even just our personalities.  Many of us across the board have chosen to wear preferred pronouns on our name tags, in recognition that a person’s physical appearance might not tell you everything about their identity.

As disciples, we ask the question: what does it mean to follow Jesus in our diverse bodies, with our diverse identities, in conversation with these sacred texts, in the midst of this society?  How do we think Christianly about gender?  Join myself, Dr. Sarah Bakker Kellogg, and Dr. Scott MacDougall during Formation Hour on Nov. 26, Dec. 3, and Dec. 10, as we explore sex and gender through the lenses of biology, anthropology, and theology.  We’ll discuss what these disciplines have to say on the topic, swap perspectives and experiences, and wrestle together with what it means to live out our baptisms in a gendered world.

– Rob Johnson

We want you, we want you, we want you as a new recruit!

vestry songWhat is the vestry and why should you consider serving?

Those of you at the no-talent required talent show at the 2017 Parish Retreat may remember the karaoke recruiting skit by four vestry members, using the song by the 70’s band the Village People. And it’s true, we do want you on the Vestry. Here’s why…

The Vestry is “comprised of the Rector and twelve elected lay members and meets monthly to conduct parish business.” Doesn’t sound very lively or Spirit-filled, does it? On the contrary, vestry service is dynamic, great fun and deeply spiritual, and with election of new vestry members coming up in January, I urge you to consider saying “Yes!” if nominated.

Given that the canons of the Episcopal Church describe the role of the vestry as “agents and legal representatives of the Parish in all matters concerning its corporate property and the relations of the parish to its clergy,” one might view the Vestry as akin to the Board of Directors at any nonprofit. The striking difference from a non-profit board is that the work of the vestry is grounded in the Spirit. The vestry functions as community, working in concert with the Rector to discern God’s guidance in our work and in the mission and vision of All Souls.

Putting God first in our meetings means opening with prayer and a substantive scripture reflection led by one of the vestry chaplains, and closing with specific prayers of guidance, petition and thanksgiving. In between these prayers, the vestry discerns, debates and makes decisions that deeply affect the life of the parish, from oversight of the budget, strategic planning activities such as the appreciative inquiry process this year, updates on the various ministry areas, oversight of the Parish House Project, formal endorsement of candidates for holy orders, and much more.

The entire vestry meets monthly in a two-hour meeting open to the parish. Vestry members are also liaisons to a specific ministry area, for example adult education or social justice, and some attend the “4M” monthly Monday ministry meeting. Vestry members typically also lead and/or engage in special projects throughout their term. The Vestry also takes an annual retreat the first weekend of February at St. Dorothy’s Rest in Occidental, which is a wonderful time of fellowship, community-building, and work; it’s generally a deep dive into some aspects of parish mission and organizational development.

Four of the 12 lay members of the vestry are elected every year for a three-year term. Nominees must be active members for long enough to be involved in aspects of “making church” together and active pledgers. You may nominate yourself or be nominated by any member of the parish. Nomination boxes will be placed in the Narthex through Sunday, December 10th.

Please reach out to any vestry member and particularly those of us in the vestry class completing our terms: Tara Horton McCulloch, Mark Koops-Elson, Mary Rees and myself. We would be happy to share our vestry experiences with you.

– Nancy Pryer

Join Us for the Advent Ingathering!

food pantryDuring the Season of Advent, as we prepare for the coming of the Christ child, we continue our tradition of bringing gifts each Sunday for those in need in the community. These gifts will be blessed at the altar and shared with those in need through the organizations below.

This Advent, we invite you to bring gifts for Nueva Esperanza / New Hope, the UC Berkeley Food Pantry, Braid Mission Cards of Hope, and the Berkeley Food Pantry. These organizations are described below, followed by a chart listing suggested gifts for each.

Nueva Esperanza / New Hope
Nueva Esperanza is a collaborative led by the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity to support newly arrived migrant youth and families in transition. Nueva Esperanza brings together organizations, congregations, and trained volunteers to serve as accompaniment teams / familias de apoyo. The teams are matched with new migrant families or individuals, and support them in attending legal and court appointments; accessing health and dental care, and legal services; securing housing, food donations, job leads, and education; and providing a network of care.

The Post-Release Accompaniment Project (PRAP) helps immigrants detained by ICE at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond to get home safely or join loved ones when they’re released. Volunteers are recruited from faith communities to provide rides, clothing, food, and short-term shelter. For more information, see

UC Berkeley Food Pantry
The UC Berkeley Food Pantry responds directly to the need for resources to fight food insecurity––malnourishment and the lack of nutritious food. With rising fees, textbook costs, and living expenses, it is increasingly difficult for students to balance their cost of living with the expense of earning a university degree. Many students are faced with the need to choose between essentials like food and the costs of college. Part of the campus-wide food security efforts, the UC Berkeley Food Pantry was established to provide emergency relief for students striving to successfully earn their degrees from the University of California. For more information, see

Braid Mission Cards of Hope
All Souls is again partnering with Braid Mission, a ministry of the Diocese of California reaching out to youth in foster care. Through the Cards of Hope program, All Souls helps provide holiday cards to foster youth, ages 7–13. These cards let individual children know that they are remembered, loved, and cared for. Co-directors Chris Chase and Rebecca Edwards emphasize the deep meaning of these cards; says Chris: “It continues to be hard for us to believe but we cannot express enough to folks how transformative these holiday and birthday cards are for the youth. When we visited the group home in Modesto, youth had their cards hanging on the walls above their beds and around the room. These cards are experienced by the youth as something relational; that is, the cards indicate to them that there is someone out there who feels that they are special and is willing to take the time to tell them so. We hear again and again about how these youth treasure their cards and read them over and over, not only the sentiment expressed but also the name of the person who signed them. It is still hard for us to fathom how cards give these youth the sense that they belong, that there is a community for them, a community that has not forgotten them. Please appreciate how important a role All Souls has played in making these youth feel loved through your participation in Cards of Hope.” For more information, please see 

Berkeley Food Pantry
The Berkeley Food Pantry provides healthy food to people in need in Berkeley and Albany.   Since 1969, it has provided families in need, especially those with children, with enough nutritious emergency groceries to help them through times of financial difficulty when they can be overwhelmed by bills for food, rent, health care, and other items. The Berkeley Food Pantry has continuously increased its capacity to distribute emergency groceries to meet growing needs in our community. All Souls collects food donations for the Berkeley Food Pantry throughout the year, and it is our tradition to devote the final Sunday Advent ingathering to them, when they often have a great need and low reserves. Please see

Suggested Gifts for These Organizations

December 3: Nueva Esperanza / New Hope; Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity
·  Gift cards (for example, from CVS or Target) to purchase supplies and household essentials
·  BART tickets

December 10: UC Berkeley Food Pantry
·  Canned soups
·  Canned tuna or salmon
·  Shelf-stable milk, soy milk, or almond milk
·  Low-sugar breakfast cereals or hot cereal / oatmeal
·  Rice, grains, or beans

December 17: Braid Mission Cards of Hope
·  Holiday card(s) with a message to foster youth wishing them well and letting them know you are thinking of them
·  Make a holiday card at home or during the 10 am Formation Hour
·  Gift cards (for example, Target, Toys R Us, Amazon)

December 24: Berkeley Food Pantry
·  Peanut butter
·  Canned soups
·  Canned beans
·  Gluten-free grains and pasta
·  Low-sugar breakfast cereal

Thank You!

You’ll find reminders in the Pathfinder and in the pews during Advent. And if you have questions, please speak with a member of the Justice and Peace committee — a list will be posted in the narthex. It is a joyful season for sharing and we thank you!

– Stacey Alexeeff and Cynthia Clifford


berkeley-half-marathonThis Sunday, November 19th, is the Berkeley Half Marathon. The good news is that many All Solesians will be out racing! In addition, many of our regular routes to church will be more complicated because of the road closures, though it should be much easier to get here in time for the 11:15 service, as the road closures will be opened up on a rolling basis as the race progresses.

Here are directions for how to make your way to church with ease from any direction. Most of them should be smooth, but it would be wise to give yourself an extra 10-15 minutes in case you hit other race day traffic. A full map of closures is available here. Folks coming to the 7:30 service shouldn’t be affected.

From the North:

Your best bet is to stay north of Marin, avoid the circle, and climb all the way up to Spruce. Figure in an extra 10 minutes.

Off of 80, take the Buchanan St. exit.
Continue up Marin
Left on Peralta
Right on Thousand Oaks
Left on Arlington
Right on Santa Barbara
Left on Northampton
Right on Spruce, and cruise on down to All Souls!

From South Berkeley:

Stay south of Channing, take Ashby up to Piedmont, looping above campus. Figure in an extra 10 minutes.

Staying south of Channing, go to Ashby.
Take Ashby east
Turn left on College
Turn right on Dwight
Turn left on Piedmont, continue onto Gayley
Continue straight onto La Loma
Turn left onto Le Conte
Turn right on Euclid
Turn left on Cedar, and cruise on down to All Souls! 

From the East and South

Take Tunnel Road to Claremont, stay above campus. Figure in an extra 10 minutes.

Take 24 to Tunnel Road
Continue onto Ashby
Turn right on Claremont
Turn left on Derby
Turn right on Warring
Continue onto Piedmont, then continue onto Gayley
Continue straight onto La Loma
Turn left onto Le Conte
Turn right on Euclid
Turn left on Cedar, and cruise on down to All Souls!

From the West:

Get off at Ashby, and loop above campus. Figure in an extra 10 minutes.

From 80, take the Ashby exit
Continue east on Ashby
Turn left on College
Turn right on Dwight
Turn left on Piedmont, continue onto Gayley
Continue straight onto La Loma
Turn left onto Le Conte
Turn right on Euclid
Turn left on Cedar, and cruise on down to All Souls!

From Central Berkeley

[South of Marin, Santa Fe and Page, East of 4th Street, North of Bancroft/Channing, and West of Shattuck/Telegraph]To get to the 9am service, your best bet is to take side streets (avoid University!) and park on the west side of the race course, near the corner of Cedar & Shattuck and then walk the couple of blocks up to All Souls. Bonus points if you see an All Solesian running while you cross Shattuck! You may get lucky crossing Shattuck at University and then continuing to Oxford, though it will likely be quite slow as they let cars across intermittently. University should be fully open at Shattuck after 9:45 am.


All Souls is planning to offer a Stephen Ministry training class beginning in February 2018.  If you have ever thought about becoming a Stephen Minister, please come to the information session this Sunday, November 19th at 10:20 a.m. in Liz’s office.  If you cannot attend the information session, you can call Tom Reilly at 510-528-7832.

More than Three

Children’s Choir Forming

The Benedicite, one of the canticles in the Book of Common Prayer, is also known called the Song of the Three Children, but we here at All Souls figure we can do better than that. We are forming a Children’s Choir to sing at the Advent Festival on December 3rd at 4:00 pm, and on occasional Sunday mornings in the New Year! Rehearsals for the Advent Festival will be on November 22nd and 29th (Wednesdays) from 5:45 – 6:45 pm, and at 3pm on the day of the Festival. Beginning in January, the aim is to sing on Sunday mornings every couple months during the academic year, with rehearsals from 5:45 – 6:45 pm on several Wednesday evenings leading up to our performances. For more details, and to be put on the mailing list, contact the Associate for Music, Jamie Apgar, at


Looking for a way to give thanks to God at the end of this month? Join All Soulsians for Holy Eucharist Thanksgiving morning, November 23rd at 10:00 am here in the church.


December 3rd, 4:00 pm

2015-Advent-festivalstoryIt’s time to get ready! Come at 4:00 pm December 3rd for a short service of carols, poems, and a great story for all ages. Then stay to make Advent wreaths, ornaments, and Cards of Hope with Braid Mission for foster youth. We’ll eat cookies, sip hot cider and mulled wine, and sing around a fire in the courtyard. Bring your first batch of Christmas cookies and cider or wine to share, and invite friends! This is an easy time for new folks to find their way into church. Yes, it takes a lot of energy to go to church in the morning and come back again, but Advent is such a short season – you’ll be glad you came, or your money back.

Ordinations at Grace Cathedral

All are invited to join in celebrating the ordination of Marguerite Judson to the priesthood on Saturday, December 2nd at 3:00 pm at Grace Cathedral!