From the Rector
A Woman or Man in Black
I was recently reminded that when I walk our boys to school in the morning, “I don’t look like the Rector of All Souls Parish.” Now, there is some reason for this, as most mornings my dress is a variation on this theme: flip-flops, shorts, hooded sweatshirt, baseball hat. And most of the time that I’m at All Souls, I wear closed-toe shoes, khakis or slacks, a black buttoned down shirt and a white clerical collar.
This has been my practice since ordination over eleven years ago. What you might not guess, though, is that wearing a collar and a black shirt was the last desire that I had coming out of seminary. I didn’t think that this was the way I wanted to be seen, wasn’t sure that this was the way I wanted to practice being a priest.
But my first week in the office, the Rector I was serving said that a black shirt and a collar was the uniform of priests at that parish and that whenever I was “on-duty” I would be wearing it. Exceptions could be made for youth group and retreats, but that it was very important to him that I dress this way. There it was.
At first, I must admit, this order smarted. Really, could there be no other appropriate attire while working? Is that the only way to be seen as a priest? Wasn’t this just furthering what can be a destructive model of clericalism in the church? Why was it so important to wear such uncomfortable, bordering on oppressive, clothing?
To answer those questions in order: Yes, No, It can, and For a few reasons.
To elucidate. Yes, priests can and do work in many sorts of attires, and do extraordinary ministry in them. The clothes do not make the man or woman. And priests can be seen in their role in many ways, their clothes are but one indicator. Clericalism, or the false belief that the clergy are sole sources of authority and leadership in the church, is real, and destructive. We are still re-forming from centuries of “father knows best” through the recovery of our baptism as the primary foundation for all of our ministry. Clergy (deacons, bishops, and priests) do have a role in the life of the Body, but it is one of being set aside for a role, rather than standing above others. There is no doubt that people who wear a collar and a black shirt can and do abuse a sense of trust and authority that can come with wearing it.
So why? Why wear a black shirt and a white collar? Especially in an environment like the Bay Area, which is relatively culturally informal, and specifically in Berkeley, where wearing it can give me two strikes (Christianity, The Establishment) before I can actually engage someone in conversation? It seems to me that at the core of the issue are a couple of questions, “Why should priests stand out, be seen as different in some way?” and “What good might come from standing out?”
I was recently at a meeting of our Diocesan Commission on Ministry (it’s a body that discerns calls to Holy Orders that I’ve served on for a couple of years, and where I was earlier this week, discerning with nominees from around the Bay Area), and we were talking with one of our transitional deacons about wearing a clerical collar. One member of our group, a priest, said, “Well I hope you’ve learned not to wear it on public transportation!” There was general laughter. Then another member of our group, a priest, said, “Phil, you wear yours on public transportation, don’t you?”
“I do,” I said. And this is actually one of the main reasons why I wear a black shirt and collar, the uniform of a priest. And I know why that priest made the comment about public transportation, because when wearing the uniform I am making my role very public. And it serves as a phenomenal screen for projection. Had an awful experience with the church? Here’s a representative. Had a great experience with the church? Here’s a representative.
But that, for me, is the point. I don’t really wear my collar for the people of this parish. It did help several years ago, as when I was first ordained I was 28 years old with a baby face. (a few years before that, on my first Sunday as a field ed seminarian one older member of the Choir whispered sotto voce to her fellow soprano, “Does our new seminarian’s mother know where he is?”) Wearing a collar did indeed signify that while I could be your son or grandson, I was actually there to be a pastor, a teacher, and a priest.
You all know that I am a priest, see me as such and know that you can engage with me in this way. And I have found that there are many, many others who wish to as well. I have scores of stories of standing on Shattuck, waiting for a bus and the conversations that have followed, because I was in the uniform of a priest. Or coming out of BART station on 12th and Broadway in Oakland and having a scary-looking dude approach me, seeking a blessing, because I was in the uniform of a priest. Or having a woman confess to me about the turn her life had taken while under the Transbay Tube, because I was in the uniform of a priest. I really could go on, but you get the point.
These conversations would never have happened if I wasn’t somehow recognizable for the role that I quite literally inhabit. So that is why I wear the uniform (more in another installment about why it’s always black). It is because I believe being a guide to borders of the Holy really matters, and to many, many more than come to the corner of Cedar and Spruce. There multitudes who are hungry for reconciliation, Good News, and a window to the Presence. It may be sometime before find their way into a church, but they are seeking along the way. And I’ve found that it is much, much easier for people to find a guide when you are wearing a uniform.
From the Associate Rector
No, we shouldn’t talk about that!
The experience was common enough to garner chuckles and knowing nods: “no, my family never talked about that” … “gasp – how rude!” … “I have no idea what my parents did. It wasn’t discussed.” While this wasn’t the only memory of families and money, it was certainly prevalent at a recent discussion facilitated by parishioners participating in the College for Congregational Development. Our leaders invited us to reflect on the assumptions and habits we inherited from our parents about money, and how those early lessons – both unspoken and explicit – continue to influence our actions and beliefs. What struck me was not just the pervasive theme of silence, but also the result that so many of us felt we were left to mull over these puzzling questions on our own.
Having crossed the threshold into parenting, I find myself confronted with the same question from a new angle. Just three years old, my daughter already finds money fascinating. She loves selling food, swiping “credit cards” and playing with her wallet. She is clearly trying to make sense of how all this give-and-take works, how value is assigned, and how we make these choices. How can we respond to our young people’s curiosity, both as a community and as parents? While financial choices may seem like a rather advanced conversation topic for someone still learning to count or do basic math, I’m convinced that once kids understand the concept of possession, they are also ready to start thinking about how to share and care for their belongings.
An excellent resource for guiding children in their relationship with money is the model of share, save, spend. While the general framework was been used in many settings, this particular version of it has been developed and taught by Nathan Dungan, a financial advisor who left work at a Fortune 500 company to focus on helping families reimagine their shared financial practices. At its core, it’s a simple concept: upon receiving our earnings, whether an allowance or salary, divide them into the three categories of money to share, money to save, and money to spend. Dungan is confident that even very young children are ready for this discipline and benefit from taking it on as a weekly practice, connected directly to receiving their allowance. He encourages kids to decorate the three containers, perhaps to reflect who or what they want to share their money with, what they are saving for, and what they think is worth spending money on right now. Dividing the allowance into the three containers each week also gives parents an easy, regular time to talk with their kids about money and how they want to live out their values. A simple children’s book on the same practice that you may find useful is Three Cups by Tony Townsley and Mark St. Germain.
If your child needs help thinking about where to share their money, the Outreach Committee at All Souls has already done lots of fabulous research for them! Perhaps they would be excited about helping other children by saving for a teddy bear to give away through Family Paths, Inc. during our Advent in-gathering next month. If they have a recent memory of how hard it is to be sick, maybe they would be motivated to share their money with the Nets for Life program, to help protect kids and families from malaria. If your kids are excited about the fun they have at church, they can still join the community in pledging to All Souls for 2015. Special pledge cards are now available for kids and youth, and can be found online here: Youth_Stewardship_Card.pdf.
Finally, our kids would benefit by hearing more play-by-play commentary from us. Recalling the conversation on family norms around money with the CCD team, it was clear that many of us simply had no idea what our parents thought or did with respect to sharing their resources. Especially in a time when so much of our engagement with money is done online, it may be helpful to go out of your way to narrate your sharing, saving and spending habits to your kids. Let them know what you’re doing, and why. Try to engage some of the practices as a family, whether by choosing a favorite charity together, brainstorming how you want to approach gift-giving for the holidays, or by including your kids in dropping a check in the plate to fulfill your pledge. Not only will your children gain a greater awareness and set of tools for how they use money in their own lives, but their wonderful questions may challenge you to examine your own practices more deeply as well!
Excitement Around the Diocese
There are all kinds of wonderful opportunities to enjoy in the Diocese of California and our wider church: art exhibits, special services, events at the Bishop’s Ranch, and chances to develop new skills for service in the church and the world. Check out some of the wonderful things happening in the coming weeks and months!
Opening Today! Gallery 1055 reception: Sunday Morning — What Remains
Bishop Marc, Gallery 1055, and diocesan staff invite you to a reception for photographer Bill Van Loo: Sunday Morning — What Remains. Van Loo’s images of San Francisco pose a question: After six days of labor, what remains? Van Loo’s process begins with discovery during early morning Sunday runs. He uses an 8″x10” view camera, and successful images are scanned from negatives and digitally printed on archival paper. All are shown as diptychs and triptychs that invite the viewer to engage with — through color, composition, and content — the contrast and comparisons of wealth and poverty.
When: Thursday, November 6, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Where: Gallery 1055, Diocesan House, 1055 Taylor Street, San Francisco
Contact: Francesca Pera, Gallery 1055 coordinator, email@example.com, 415.869.7811
Capacitando de la comunidad amada / Equipping the Beloved Community, St. Paul’s, Oakland
¿Qué es el Comité de Obispo y cómo pueden servir como líderes de tal? ¿Qué sucede en el campamento de verano Episcopal para los jóvenes? ¿Cómo pueden facilitar un estudio de la Biblia? La experiencia de los latinos en la Iglesia Episcopal es el tema del evento “Capacitando a la Comunidad Amado,” que tendrá lugar en St. Paul’s, Oakland, y se lleva totalmente en español. Talleres para explorar las preguntas anteriores y otros se ofrecerán en dos sesiones de dos horas cada uno, por la tarde y noche de noviembre 15. Rev. Dr. Maurcio Wilson dará la presentación inaugural, “ser episcopal en el contexto latino” entre las sesiones del talleres. Nota: todas las sesiones se impartirán en español.
Cuando: Sabado, 15 de Noviembre, 14:00 – 20:00
Lugar: St. Paul’s, 114 Montecito Avenida, Oakland
Registro: Eric Metoyer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Costo: Libre albedrío ofreciendo ($5 sugerido)
Fecha: 12 de Noviembre
NOTE: This event will be held in Spanish, no English interpreter will be provided.
Program offerings from The Bishop’s Ranch
Contact: Shannon Reilly, email@example.com, 707.433.2440 ext. 106
Winter Creative Camp
Saturday, December 6, and Sunday, December 7
Silent Days in Advent
Friday, December 12, to Friday, December 19
Wisdom of the Heart
Friday, December 19, to Sunday, December 21
Epiphany Reflection Day with Bishop Marc
Saturday, January 3
Monday, January 5, to Friday, January 9
The 3rd Act: A Retreat for Couples
Monday, January 5, to Friday, January 9
Royal British Legion Service of Remembrance
Sunday, November 9, 2014, 3 pm
Royal British Legion Service of Remembrance
This annual service commemorates and honors all those who have lost their lives in armed conflict. The men and women of the Cathedral Camerata sing, joined by local military bands and color guards in moving, solemn pagentry.
See more information online here.
Input invited for 2016–2018 triennium preliminary draft budget of the Episcopal Church
[From the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Episcopalians across the church are invited to review and comment on the preliminary draft 2016–2018 triennium budget as it is prepared for approval by the Episcopal Church Executive Council in January 2015. From there, Executive Council will present the draft budget to Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance (PB&F) in February, which will then prepare a final budget for approval at General Convention next summer. The preliminary draft budget is available here.
From the Archivist
Writing this brief on All Saints’ Day, my mind is drawn to another special day – Veterans’ Day. Originally established as “Armistice Day” in the U.S. in 1919 by a proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson, it became a legal holiday in 1938, and was renamed “Veterans’ Day” in 1954. In Britain, Armistice Day became “Remembrance Day” after World War II and is taken much more seriously by the Brits than by Americans, possibly because the British loss was a great deal heavier. I remember my first visit to Pateley Bridge, an out-of-the way village on the River Nidd in the North Riding of Yorkshire in the early 1960s. My old 1963 Automobile Association The Illustrated Road Book of England and Wales lists the population of Pateley Bridge as 2,375, so it would have been much less some 50 years before, but its cenotaph contains so many names that my first reaction on seeing it was that the entire village had been killed in the “Great War”.
Remembrance Day is also called Poppy Day, because the traditional red poppy is worn in Britain, not just on Remembrance Sunday, but for a week or more around that date. If you ever see Brits in the news, you will see what I mean. I wear my “buddy” poppy every week at All Souls’ on my name tag, to which I have recently added a Canadian poppy to remember of our neighbor and ally to the north, and I encourage everyone to wear a poppy in remembrance of those who “gave the last full measure of devotion” in all wars.
On Veterans’ Day, I especially remember two young men who are part of All Souls’ history, but whose names are not recorded in All Souls’ burial register.
The first is Second Lieutenant Edward Herbert Pepper, a pilot whose airplane literally fell out of the skies on August 23, 1918. Killed at age 22, he is buried in Mazingarbe Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. We have a memorial plaque in our Chapel. 2LT Pepper went to Victoria, B.C. to enlist in the 72nd (Seaforth Highlanders) Battalion, but transferred to the 2nd Squadron, of the Royal Flying Corps. During a flight over the German lines in Belgium, he and his observer were wounded by anti-aircraft fire, but, in order to prevent his new type of airplane falling into enemy hands, he managed to set the controls so that they crashed within British lines.
The second is Chief Radio Technician (CRT) Benjamin Franklin Rogers who was active in the Sea Scout program sponsored by All Souls’. He was aboard the USS Seawolf (SS-197) which was sunk by mistake by the USS Rowell on October 3, 1944. The Seawolf lies at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean entombing the remains of CRT Rogers along with over 100 other Americans.
– Thomas Burcham
Fun with Stewardship – it’s not too late!
Really, the fun is only just beginning – just think of all the amazing work that will result from our combined efforts and resources! If you have not already done so, please drop your 2015 pledge card in the offering plate this Sunday or return it to the parish office. Thank you!
This Sunday, November 9th you may want to leave extra time to get to church and consider alternate routes, as the Berkeley Half Marathon will be closing down many of our streets. You can find a map of the affected areas online here.
Loaves and Fishes
Want to have a fun evening with fellow All Souls parishioners? Come to Grace Koyabashi’s home at 5:30 pm, Saturday November 8 – it’s another Loaves and Fishes meal and an opportunity to chat and eat with newcomers and those who have been in the parish for a long time. Please RSVP to Gloria Bayne at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will give you the address.
Memorial Service for Bob Kaiser: Saturday, November 8
Please join us for a Eucharistic liturgy of the resurrection as we celebrate the life of Bob Kaiser on Saturday, November 8th, 10:30 am, followed by a reception in the parish hall. In lieu of flowers, Nancy Snow and the Kaiser family have requested that donations be given to music at All Souls, where Bob served for many years as a choir member.
Memorial Service for Charlie Weigle: November 11
The memorial service for Charlie Weigle will take place on Tuesday, November 11 at 4:00 p.m. at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley Street, Palo Alto. The service will be followed by lamb dinner and peppermint ice cream. The dinner will be partly pot luck, bring a salad, casserole or side dish to share. Charles’ wife, Mattie Scott, was a long time member of All Souls.
In observance of Veterans’ Day, the parish office will be closed on Tuesday, November 11.
Continuing the Feast
Our next Continuing the Feast parish-wide potluck will be Sunday, November 16, following the 11:15 service. Try out a new recipe! Catch up with friends, meet newcomers, enjoy the luxury of more relaxed time together!
There will be a Holy Eucharist at All Souls at 10am on Thanksgiving Day.