From the Rector
A few weeks ago, as I returned from sabbatical I found myself swamped in email and texts and meetings and zooms once again. And COVID was still stalking amongst us, and the economy was still precarious, and the political system was still fractured and polarized, and the fires were still burning. The days leading up to that first Sunday back were not easy.
And that Sunday morning I made my way up the hill, carrying more weight with me than just the saddlebags on my bicycle. It was about 10:15am when something changed. It happened when I walked into the sacristy, put on my vestments, and walked into the sanctuary. And there was lovingly greeted by Ed Hofmann, and Sarita Cannon, and Jocelyn Bergen, and Jamie Apgar. And then took in the enormous banner of a redwood tree, with creatures all throughout its branches.
And then looked out and saw dozens of cardboard cutouts, with faces of All Soulsians, and saw some live ones too, Jim Feeley, and Whitney Wilson, and Toni Martinez Borgfeldt. And saw the Rev. Maggie Foote laughing with Emily Hansen Curran. And tears came to my eyes.
And from deep within, from that still place that I have come to trust over the years, came a simple phrase, “I’m in.” I am in at All Souls to worship God with the people I love, live and in person again. I’m in at All Souls to be remade as a people of justice and mercy. I’m in at All Souls to see Jordan Court rise from the corner of Oxford and Cedar. I’m in.
One of the truths that I have received from congregational development comes from the life of Benedictine communities, particularly as described by Esther de Waal in her book Seeking God. A central belief in Benedictine life is the trust that wherever we are, that God is not elsewhere.
In these times of deep uncertainty it is tremendously tempting to believe that God isn’t where we are. That God will be present when the election has happened, or when I have a new job, or when the kids are back in school. God will be there too, and God is present where we are, without having to go anywhere else.
For me, remembering this that Sunday morning a few weeks ago was a tremendous relief and release of energy. Yes, I still have more emails and texts than I can answer. And, yes, the fires are still burning, and our nation is still in a precarious place with the virus and our economical and the body politic.
And. I trust that even in all of this, God is here and present. And there is no other people that I like to discover and share this with more.
Celebrating St. Francis Day
The best part of my daily routine while I was in seminary at CDSP was taking my dog, Jasper, on a long walk in between classes. I usually had just long enough of a break that I could make it from campus up to Codornices Park, through the trails in the back of the park and up that huge staircase with like 200 steps, and back home to be ready for my next class or event. Jasper lived his first three years of life while I was in seminary so from a practical point of view, he needed a long walk to help get some of his young pup energy out, but what I soon realized was that I needed that time together just as much as he did.
No matter how overwhelmed I felt by my endless reading assignments or having my theological understandings rocked by my professors, I still knew that I had to get out of my head for an hour or so, put Jasper on a leash, and head to the hills. What I found is that time with Jasper grounded me in a spiritual practice of taking time to reflect on what I had been learning and appreciating what it could mean in the larger context of creation and relationship. My responsibility to care for Jasper gave me the time and space I needed to care for myself as well. This is a spiritual practice that I have carried with me since seminary, and my walks and runs with Jasper, and now our younger dog, Kip, often provide me with my biggest mental breakthroughs when struggling with a difficult sermon, thinking of how to respond to a fraught situation, or facing a lack of creativity for new ideas.
This has been the gift of being a dog mom, for me. Jasper and Kip, just by virtue of requiring time and attention, keep me connected to life outside of my own head; my work responsibilities, day to day anxiety, and especially during Covid times, the world outside of my physical house! They are also great cuddlers, have distinct and funny personalities, and are 100% stoked to be around me every day, even when I’m not 100% stoked to be around myself.
I know that having a pet is not for everyone, and there are certainly other ways that we develop routines and spiritual practices that don’t require a four-legged friend, but I can imagine that many of you who do have pets can relate to the joy that they provide.
To celebrate these meaningful relationships, we will be having a Blessing of the Animals this Sunday, October 4th, in honor of St. Francis, who shared a love of creation and animals. We will be in the courtyard between 12:00-1:00pm to say short prayers of thanksgiving for our beloved pets, and give them a blessing. You are welcome any time in that hour, and we’ll maintain a dog’s leash of social distance from you as we bless your dog, cat, hamster, tortoise, lizard, snake, stuffed animal etc.
From the Stewardship Committee
How do All Soulsians give over time?
A year ago, the stewardship team investigated how All Soulsians pledge over time by looking at the nearly 200 households that made a pledge in 2019. Out of those households, we focused on two cohorts: those that began pledging before 2013, and those that joined All Souls between 2013 and 2017. Newer members weren’t considered because there wasn’t enough history. And 2013 was chosen as the cutoff because that’s when the parish received the Jordan bequest and chose to increase staff by making the associate rector full time and adding associates for ministry development and youth.
The resounding takeaway from this analysis was that typical All Soulsians increase their pledges from year to year. The group of households that have been pledging since 2013 or before, over 40% of members, increased average pledges from $3,100 to over $4,700 between 2013 and 2019.he median pledge increased from $1,800 to $3,000. Likewise, the groups of All Soulsians that joined between 2013 and 2017, almost 25% of members, increased their average and median pledges between joining and their 2019 pledge each year. The analysis was clear that the giving spirit of All Soulsians is one of faith and giving out of our respective levels of abundance.
As we prepare to make our 2021 pledges, let’s do our best to continue our spirit of faithful growth and giving in order to grow into the financially sustainable community that we aspire to be.
Senior Warden Report
Your Vestry gathered again recently to continue our work for All Souls. For the first time in as long as anyone could remember, Jordan Court was not on the agenda, a testimonial to the extraordinary work that went into making possible the groundbreaking this week.
We welcomed back Phil Brochard+ who expressed deep gratitude for his sabbatical. As some of you know, life-sized pictures of many of our faces were in the pews when he returned to celebrate his first post-sabbatical Sunday worship service. He was moved, deeply moved, by the pictures, and looks forward to the time when he can see each of us in person.
Your Junior Warden Toni Martinez-Borgfeldt filled us in on the latest developments for
Regathering – celebrating Sunday worship services again in person. We are moving to a place
where on Sundays we will likely have limited, socially-distanced outdoor worship services in the
courtyard at 9:00, streaming formation thereafter, and streaming worship services at 11:15. Stay tuned for details!
Our new Associate Rector Maggie Foote formally joined us, and shared with us stories
about her life and faith. She is now fully on board, and looks forward to getting to know each of
you through our programs and services as well as through pastoral care. She can be reached via
email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to reach out to her directly!
The Vestry at the outset of the year adopted an aspirational goal of enhancing our individual prayer practices. This month Laura Eberly continued a discussion of those practices through the lenses of the Black Lives Matter movement and White entitlement. Our conversations were consonant with the work about 85 of us – yes, 85 – have been doing in adult formation through our Sacred Ground program.
Through everything, All Souls goes on!
From the Parish Retreat
“The Saturday morning session with Father Vincent Pizzuto was inspiring. And Sunday morning’s service in the trees was so necessary and welcome after being apart from the other congregants for these many months. Not having any idea of what to expect, I found the retreat restoring and relaxing.” –Jack Shoemaker
This year’s Parish Retreat was full and exciting (and one we won’t soon forget). About 30 of us went off to the Bishop’s Ranch for the full weekend, about 30 of us gathered for in-person small groups after attending the Zoom talk by Fr. Vincent Pizzuto, and finally about 10 of us gathered in a Zoom small group after attending the talk on Zoom. For those who missed the talk by Fr. Pizzuto, here is a link to the talk. Here are a few pictures (and one epic video) of the retreat in action this year. Until next year…
Sunday Livestreaming News
The livestream of Sunday services can be accessed through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
We have three class offerings this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study. Contact Daniel Prechtel, email@example.com, to join that Zoom call at 9:15 am!
- Imaginal Meditation: Why and How taught by the Rev. Dr. Daniel Prechtel on October 4, 11, 18 at 9:15 am.
There are a wide range of prayer practices that are part of our Christian spiritual tradition. Some are reflected in public liturgical prayer; others are expressed in personal ways of praying and meditating. In this course we will be looking at, and practicing, a form of prayer and meditation that is deeply personal, inter-relational, and uses our creative imaging capability.
Zoom link for Daniel’s class: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81964989924
- Gender, God, and the Church Today taught by the Rev. Dr. Paula Nesbitt on October 4, 11, 18 at 9:15.
God has been described extensively throughout the Bible and in Christian worship as Lord and Father. But how might other gendered and gender-neutral understandings deepen our knowledge of God and our faith, and help us to live affirmatively in a changing world? This 3-week series will explore feminine and other biblical images of the Divine, gender inclusive leadership and worship, and how feminist and similar forms of ethics can be used for social and spiritual justice.
Zoom link for Paula’s class: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86982368811
Children & Family News
We will be doing a children’s chapel program this Sunday at 9:30am via Zoom. It should last about 30 minutes. We are hoping that this will give the kids a time together for their own “church” and a time to see their friends as well. Please email Rev. Maggie Foote at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want a Zoom invite or have any questions.
If you are looking for some current information regarding Children’s Chapel or the upcoming Kids Book Club – check out the new additions to the All Souls website, which has been updated to include some new information and resources (including the links for all the storybook videos) for families.
All Souls After Hours
This week’s After Hours will be a pet blessing in the courtyard from 12:00-1:00pm to honor the Feast of St. Francis. See the article by the Rev. Maggie Foote for more details!
Stephen Ministry: We’re here for you!
2020 has been a challenging year, right?! Most of us have been struggling and overwhelmed. You are not alone. Stephen Ministers understand and are available to listen, support and pray for you. We can offer you a confidential caring relationship or an occasional phone call to help you through these ever-changing times. Contact Maggie Foote at (513) 309-1079 or Madeline Feeley at (510) 495-4512 so we can be there for you.
Evening Prayer via Zoom
Here is the link for the Thursday night BCP Compline https://schoolmint.zoom.us/j/7124066649?pwd=d0Z4c1RHeld0QllOLzdlS1IxK3FKZz09. For our safety online, the password needed to join the call is 329903.
All Souls Geek Squad
If you’re having any trouble with technology during this time of tech-only contact with others, we want to help! On the homepage of our website is a box with the words “Support Desk.” Click on that box and you will be taken to a form that you can fill out. Once you fill that out, we’ll have someone get in touch with you to help with your tech problems. You can also click here to access the form directly.
Check out Season 2, Episode 4 of the Soulcast!
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
The ASP Food Drive continues to pick up and deliver food for the Berkeley Food Pantry on a weekly basis. Food contributors and drivers participate every other week. Please email Cathy: email@example.com for more information.
Wednesday 9:00am Service
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tiny Home Project
Hi there! We are Youth Spirit Artworks, a local nonprofit based in South Berkeley that offers homeless and low-income youth job training and empowerment programs through art. We are currently in the process of building the first Tiny House Village for homeless youth in the U.S.! Right now, we are in the final stretch of getting the Village finished – but, we need your help to get there! We have volunteer builds happening every Saturday at our Village site at 633 Hegenberger Road in Oakland. Builds start at 9:30 am and end at 4:00 pm. We ask that volunteers come wearing masks and ready to socially distance – there’s lots of space at the site! Builds can involve a variety of projects for those with and without construction experience, including building yurt floors, erecting yurts, painting planters and fence planks, completing Tiny House construction (ie., caulking, trimming, etc.), cleaning the site, and so forth.
St. Columba’s Autumn Poetry Salon
Tomorrow, Friday, October 2nd, join St. Columba’s in Inverness for their Poetry Salon featuring Bob Hass, Brenda Hillman, Tom Williams, and Christine Merritt at 7:00 pm on Zoom. Click here for information and for the Zoom link.
Art on the Reredos
Here’s a little video with close-ups and a picture of the final mural at the back of the Quire.