From the Rector

phil_brochardKindling the Light

It has been my experience as an Episcopal priest that we are drawing close to one of the seasons of the year when people practice their Christian faith in their homes more regularly than any other season. Maybe it’s because dark gathers earlier and earlier. Or perhaps it’s because we have a tangible way to mark time. But there is something about this season that compels us to draw near and to prepare.

From the conversations that I’ve had with folks, as well as what I’ve read and heard in this past week, it is my sense that there are many right now looking to kindle light in a world that can seem very, very dark. And though I realize that the shadows of these challenges loom large against the walls around us, I also believe that real, lasting change can happen and that it must start from within. It is my sense that with our prayers, through our practices, and in our encounter with the Story, we are approaching a season set aside for the very change we seek.

For us at All Souls, this will begin on Sunday, November 29th. The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the Church year, the start of our preparation for the Mystery of the Incarnation, and yes, the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. Our Angel Band is preparing some music to set the space with us, and our corporate act of worship, our Sunday liturgies, will be changed: they will be spare, reflective, anticipatory.

That afternoon, continuing a tradition that began a few years ago, we will gather at 4pm for our Advent Festival. Re-imagined with the whole of our parish family in mind, it will be lit by candlelight as the evening light dims, and offer stories for all (and especially for the children gathered up front), music from the Angel Band, the Parish Choir, the Hearts on Fire Gospel Choir, and rounds that will keep you humming for weeks to come.

Then it will be to the crafts that help us keep this space in our homes: Advent wreaths (bring your forms from previous years if you have them), our yearly ornament to make, and, with God’s Grace, an All Souls Advent Calendar. Sip some cider, sing out in our courtyard around the fire, come close with others as we begin this season together.

This practice of kindling light in our homes will also serve as the centering image for our Advent Series the first three Wednesdays of December. As we have in the past, we will start each evening at 6:30 pm in the Parish Hall with a simple (and always delicious) soup supper. Each week we will explore a different element of one our symbols of the Advent season, the Advent Wreath.

The first week will be about the circular nature of the wreath, and using the “Circle of the Spirit” group process, will have us reflect on various meanings of the circle as a powerful symbol in our lives. The following week we will use the greens of the wreath to learn about practices that can incorporate into our daily, weekly and monthly lives in order to more fully live into our stewardship of Creation. And in our final week we will look to the Light, using lectio divina as a way to have the Scripture of this season illumine our path.

All of these practices––ones we hold on our own, those we hold in our households, and those we hold as a parish––have been handed down, generation to generation, as ways to come close to the Light, even as darkness feels like it is pressing in. Take the time now, a week and a half away from the beginning of Advent to set aside space: in your calendar, in your home, and in your self. The Light is being kindled. It is time for us to pay attention.


Opening to the Challenge

danielle-125Traces of the Trade

In December of last year my family, along with many All Soulsians, attended a Black Lives Matter action led by faith leaders. Part of this action was a die-in blocking University Ave. I am no stranger to protest. I have blocked countless streets, buildings, basically anything that could be blocked. I have been hit with a night stick, arrested, etc. etc. Most often this was protesting racism and police brutality in our schools and communities. But in recent years I have gotten comfortable. I have looked away. It’s easy to do because I am white. Unlike people of color, I have the choice to simply not think about racism and the structures of of oppression that are literally killing our brothers and sisters.

The Black Lives Matter movement has shattered my complacency. The action in December was the third one our family had attended. As my kids lay down on the pavement still holding their hand made signs I felt a lot of things. Mostly I felt proud of them. They are young but they understand a great deal, and they knew what they were doing that day and why. But I also felt scared. Challenging our family’s white privilege is NOT comfortable, as I had let myself become. But it is necessary. It is critical if we are going to move toward reconciliation in this country.

I’m not saying that challenging racism and white privilege requires civil disobedience. But it does require being willing to challenge ourselves, to engage in difficult conversations, to look at racism from different perspectives. Come to the Traces of the Trade screening. Join us as we see one family’s journey to understand the legacy of the slave trade. Join us to discuss what healing the wounds of racism in this country and in our community might look like. It is a step in a long journey.

– Danielle Gabriel

The Big Gain Lineup!

calcanterburyThe Bay Area’s prime rivalry between Stanford and Canterbury is just around the corner! Each year the two universities field an intense competition at which more than just honor is at stake. Oh…and there is a football game too.

That’s right – once again it is time to think about the Canterbury Big Gain. Canterbury at Cal meets Stanford Canterbury and the team that raises the most keeps the ACTS (it’s more than a near homophone, it’s also a big heavy plaque that proclaims victory and it looks like that other near homophone).

No team goes on the field without a strong strategy and a good crew of boosters. Campus ministry in the diocese has a good team but we need your help with the strategy. This is your chance to get in the locker room (though you might call it the sacristy)!

Why should you give? Campus Ministries in California provide a vital link to faith in secular university environments to undergrads, grads, faculty, and staff. With great heart and minimal resources we provide bible studies, dinners, courses on purpose and vocation, worship services, speakers, and retreats. The Bay Area is known all over the world as a place of innovation and creative leadership. Your support keeps campus ministry in scoring position on that competitive playing field.

Be a team player for the Big Gain! How does it work? Both campus ministries will accept donations online or as checks. Checks should be made out respectively to Berkeley Canterbury Foundation or Stanford Canterbury Foundation with a memo line reading Big Gain 2015. Checks should be mailed to Logan Rimel 2425 College Avenue, Berkeley, 94704. Parishes may collect checks and send them all at once. To donate online go to All donations received at 4th quarter 00:00 on November 21 will be counted.

Adult Formation

Scott_MacDougallAdvent Classes

Our new session of classes begins on November 29th at 10:10 am. In addition to these two wonderful offerings, Bible Workbench continues at 8:30 and 10:10 am.

Faith and Politics, led by Dr. Scott MacDougall, a visiting professor at CDSP.
Meeting in the Common Room

December 6: Faith and American Politics: Friends? Enemies? Or Frenemies?  Brief presentation on what the “separation between church and state” has meant, the role that Christian faith specifically has played in U.S. political history, and—by looking at Robert Bellah’s concept of civil religion—what it is at stake for both civil society and faith by a too-close or too-distant relationship between the two, followed by discussion.
December 13: Liberating the Political: Did Jesus Act Up?  Brief presentation on Jesus’ intersection with the political realm, looking at scripture, using Gutiérrez’ analysis of Jesus as a deeply political figure who radically transcended the political sphere, as a frame for imagining participating in the mission of God in a political mode (lightly using ideas from various public theologians, like Jim Wallis, etc.), followed by discussion.

A Prayer Clinic – Learn to Use Your Imagination, led by the Rev. Dr. Daniel Prechtel.
Meeting in the Parish Hall

Our church experience schools us in forms of prayer that emphasize the verbal, sacramental, and musical. There are other prayer and meditation practices that we can easily learn but are not as likely to be modeled in our formal public worship. Daniel will provide a hospitable environment for you to experimentally practice some of these forms that use the power of your imagination to encounter the Holy. Bring a mat or blanket if you want to use the floor for meditation.
November 29:  A Visit to Holy Wisdom’s House.  Take an imaginative journey to visit Holy Wisdom at her/his house and learn what Wisdom has for you.
December 6:  Your body as God’s messenger.  A depth prayer that helps you deeply listen to your body and receive the wisdom from God that it has for you.
December 13:  An Encounter with John the Baptist.  You will be introduced to an Ignatian-style form of meditating on scripture using today’s gospel lesson.
December 20:  Lending your eyes to Christ.  We will enter a prayerful state and then “let go” into sharing our eyes and its vision with God.  This is a very simple exercise but can be enormously profound.


It’s a Fall Celebration, featuring the Hearts on Fire Gospel Choir
Friday, November 20th at 7:30 pm, right here at All Souls. Celebrate the very best of the season with a truly uplifting night of music, friendship and great food… and more music! Come join us — grab a friend and get your joy on!

Racing and cheering and rerouting, this Sunday!
This Sunday, November 22nd, is the Berkeley Half Marathon. Driving through Berkeley will be challenging for many of your regular routes that morning, but you can learn more about road closures and suggested alternate routes here. More importantly, this is a wonderful chance to come and cheer on fellow All Soulsians – or rather, All Solesians. More than thirty of us, ranging in age from four to… a lot more than four, will be taking to the streets to run the 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon Races. The Half Marathon course even goes right up Shattuck, crossing Cedar, making it very easy for you to walk down the hill and join in the fun.

New to All Souls?
You are invited to a Newcomers’ Luncheon, Sunday, November 22nd, 1:00 – 3:00 pm, at the home of Margaret Sparks in Berkeley. Look forward to sharing good food, connecting with other newcomers, longtime members, and All Souls staff, and the chance to ask Phil and Liz your most puzzling questions about the church! Please RSVP to Margaret: (510) 524-6106;

It’s not too late!
We know you were thinking about applying to become a Stephen Minister but you zoned out on the informational sessions November 15th. But we can help! Please contact any of the Stephen Ministry leaders to find out what you need to do to apply by Sunday, December 13th.

Nancy Austin:  510-407-0037 or
Judith Lothrop:  925-284-2354 or
Tom Reilly: 510-528-7832 or
David Wight:  510-525-4344 or
Time is short, but you’ll be glad you took the time to get on board.

Advent Ingathering
During the Season of Advent, as we prepare for the coming of the Christ child, we have the privilege of bringing gifts each Sunday to be blessed and shared with those who are in need. On the first Sunday of Advent, we will support the All Souls Parish House Accompaniment Program, which assists migrant adults released from detention. On November 29th, please bring:
– $10 Safeway grocery cards
– $10 BART cards
– new, travel size toiletries: toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, disposable razors, hair brushes/combs

Rekindling Advent
Advent is coming! As we prepare for this holy season, we often think of the beauty of the Advent wreath and what it represents—the circle of prayer and ritual, the candlelight, the winter greenery. For three Wednesdays starting December 2nd, we will join together for a soup supper and a time of reflection on the meaning of Advent in our lives using the wreath as our symbolic starting point and going deeper with scripture, story, and song. We’ll begin with a soup supper at 6:30 pm and end with Compline at 8:00 pm. Watch for more details in upcoming Pathfinders and blue sheet announcements. Please join us—these Wednesday night programs are favorite events in our parish life!

Soup for Our Advent Suppers
We will need five people each week to make soup, bring bread, and help set up for our soup suppers December 2nd, 9th, and 16th. It’s always a treat to taste the variety of soups made by our wonderful parish cooks. So if you’re willing to participate by bringing a pot of soup for 12 or picking up a loaf of bread or helping to get ready for the supper, please sign up at the Google spreadsheet or contact Sheryl Fullerton.

Traces of the Trade
December 5, 5:00 – 9:00 pm.

What does it mean to grapple with the rac­ism that surrounds us? How does the past inflect the present? In Traces of the Trade, Episcopal divin­ity student and film producer Katrina Browne tells the story of her forefa­thers, the deWolf family, the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. The film follows Browne and nine fellow family members as they retrace the triangle trade together- and begin to think about how to address legacies of racial violence in the present. This December, Dain Perry, who made the journey with Browne, arrives at All Souls to offer a screening and discussion. This will be a rich, unforgettable night. Join us for dinner and a movie as we discuss both the problem of racism- past and present- and our hopes for reconciliation and repair. Food, film, and discussion to follow.