From the Stewardship Team
Nearly 20 years ago I was part of a small group at an Episcopal church that worked through Richard Foster’s book, “Celebration of Discipline”. The group’s structure was firm. Participation in weekly meeting was expected and the conversation was to remain in confidence. Each week we not only read a chapter of Foster’s book but we tried each practice: prayer, meditation, fasting, service, etc. and reported our experiences to the group.
For me, the experience of sharing each other’s stories in this context was transformational. For the first time in my adult life I witnessed a group of people work through daily concerns, large and small, using a spiritual discipline as a guide. Personally, I was seeking to understand my faith in context of early career struggles and with my sister’s rapidly declining health. Listening to others stories and trying different spiritual practices helped my faith transform from what one could call an assent in the belief in God to a faith of daily constant trust.
While the discipline of generosity or stewardship was not one of the disciplines that the small group tried during our sessions of working through Foster’s book, the rector at the parish regularly preached on and taught about how giving to the church is a spiritual discipline similar to worship and prayer. Through teaching and practice I came to believe that giving a meaningful amount of our incomes to the church is an essential part of what it means to be a Christian.
Last Sunday we kicked off All Souls’ stewardship season. Every stewardship season is special, but this one is notable because we are both acknowledging the significance that giving has in our spiritual lives as well as taking a serious look at our parish’s financial situation. As you may already know, in 2011 All Souls received a large gift that was used to help support the positions of a full-time associate rector, an associate for ministry development and associate for youth ministry. This investment in our community has helped All Souls grow at a time when many parishes in the diocese have struggled. At the same time this investment has also created a gap between our current giving and current expenses that needs to be filled with additional pledge income.
Over the next few weeks you will hear many stories about how God is at work in our community and the communities we serve. I encourage each of us to listen to these stories and to practice the discipline of generosity, knowing that our giving is actively bringing about the Realm of God.
– Eric Legrand
Welcomed As I Am
Jen graciously shared this reflection this past Sunday at church. In case you missed it, or are hoping to chew on her wise words again, here it is.
Whether this is true or false, here is a list of 5 things that I assume are impossible until my kids get older:
– I will sleep past 7 am
– I will have dinner past 7 pm
– I will see Europe again
– I will write a book
– I will have a fitness routine designed around acquiring Michelle Obama arms.
My days of early parenting are sometimes spent dreaming of times when parenting is not a liability, but rather a simple and true detail about my personal life.
Two years ago, my personal life needed a lift. To be specific, my spiritual life needed a lift.
The reason that I was even looking for a church in the fall of 2016 is a deeper story that I’m always happy to share over good coffee or good drinks, but today I will keep things short and say that I was looking for a feeling. Outside the specifics of denomination, I found myself in the market for a place where people had real conversations about life and death — specifically, what happens after you die.
I did not want wooden words that were empty from recitations through glazed eyes.
I did not want political words that saved me one way or another.
I did not want academic words that replaced feelings with prestige.
I wanted people to speak to me – from pulpit or pew – with curiosity, with questions, convictions and confusion, with wonder and humor and attentiveness.
Like I said, I was looking for a place with a feeling.
So one day I’m driving up the hill and I notice a church called “All Souls.” That was the name of the Unitarian church I attended periodically in Manhattan. I had been church shopping since our move to Berkeley and the name coincidence plus a random free upcoming Sunday morning brought me and my older son, Noah, to the 9am service.
That day, I experienced two things of note:
First, I saw a priest who nursed her son during the service. THIS WAS MIND-BLOWING. Parenting a young child was not a liability here — so much so that the LADY in the FANCY OUTFIT was doing it in the front row. I did not have to wait until LATER to attend this place… I could start today, before my kids were in school, before seeing Europe again, before Michelle Obama arms!
And second, mere hours after we got home, a man in this congregation brought banana bread to our house. NOT EVEN INSTACART IS THAT FAST! The humility and generosity of this gesture convinced me of All Souls’ attention to detail and that my presence at their service that morning had mattered.
Time went on and we kept coming. When my multitasking game was strong, I brought BOTH kids to church. Once in a while, my agnostic husband even attended with us and – SPOILER – this year we even got him to Bishop’s Ranch.
Eventually I was no longer the person receiving banana bread – I joined the Meal Train committee. I’ve made many friends with the folks who have received my sloppy cooking with tired eyes in their doorways.
But things weren’t only happening in the kitchen. Last year Liz texted me and asked if I was up for something crazy. (Beware these texts from Liz Tichenor, by the way…) Next I was a performer! I had a part in the Christmas pageant, a space-time-continuum bonanza that featured glow sticks and a live baby Jesus.
My kids have All Souls babysitters, our family goes on weekend trips with All Souls friends, I enjoy friendships with women who are my older sisters in parenting, who shepherd me through these early years by reassuring me when the boys are a little loud in church.
I have found a feeling here. My family has received so much from being part of this community that I can barely remember life in Berkeley before All Souls. And as my boys get older every day, I see new lights at the end of new tunnels, the ability to give back and give intentionally, to support the amazing foundation this place has brought to my personal, parenting and yes, even spiritual life.
– Jen Dary
Building up the Realm of God, here at Cedar and Spruce
During the Stewardship Kickoff Brunch on Sunday, the Rev. Liz Tichenor asked the brunchers to call out ways or places in which we have seen the Realm of God being built at and through All Souls. There was a lot of energy in the room, and an incredibly wide range of responses. Here are some of your answers:
- Open Door Dinner
- The Parish House/Affordable Housing Project
- Formation Classes
- The Sign on Cedar (#signoncedar)
- Parish House Accompaniment Project, offering hospitality for recent immigrants seeking asylum
- Soup + Story
- Advent In-gathering gifts
- Feeling welcomed by the community
- Commitment to justice
- Outstanding preaching
- Ease of helping here: being able to join in efforts others have already researched well and organized
- Children and Youth Ministries
- Ashes on the Way
- Prayer Chain
- Excellent music
- Many years keeping vigil with other faith communities for immigrants held at the West County Detention Center
- Music from so many different traditions
- The communion service and connection at the Kyakameena Skilled Nursing Facility each month
- Hearing the weekly thanksgivings of All Soulsians
- Openness to Inter-faith Collaboration
- Sharing Sunday with other people walking on their own journey during the rest of the week.
Where do YOU see God’s Realm being built at All Souls? We will have a poster in the Narthex starting this Sunday where you can share moments that reflect God’s work. The poster will be available throughout the Stewardship Campaign to add to, reflect with, see and build on these glimpses of the Realm of God coming a little bit closer, here and now.
Celebrate! Feast! One and All!
October 28th, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
The dinner party of the year is fast approaching. No, seriously, this is not your ordinary jello-mold, bottomless-casserole kind of church potluck. Please save the date — October 28th, 5:30-8:30 pm — for this year’s Stewardship Celebration Dinner. It’s a feast by table, and holy cow are there some fine cooks and/or acquirers of delicious treats among us! Not only that, but there is good entertainment in store this year: among other things, we’ll be unveiling a new game for the parish: Who Wants to be a Millionaire… Pledger? Seriously the night is hilarious, it’s fun, it’s a wonderful way to come together and pack the church and celebrate this amazing life we share together. Mark your calendars and sign up here or on the clipboard in the back of the church!
Please join us in giving thanks for the life of Christopher Putnam, who served as the Associate for Liturgy and Music here at All Souls twelve year, retiring in 2016. You can read his obituary here. His memorial service will be here at All Souls on November 3rd at 1:00 pm, when we will come to give thanks for the life and work of this remarkable human being, sing our hearts out, and celebrate our hope in the resurrection. It will surely be a packed service, so please stay tuned for various ways you can help, which we’ll be sharing out soon.
ADULT FORMATION CLASSES
Our newest round of classes start this Sunday! In the Parish Hall, Sarah Bakker Kellogg will be teaching Constantine & the Cathedral: Church-State Relations in Christian Tradition (and Phil will be joining in teaching this class in the coming weeks) and in the Common Room (downstairs) Tripp Hudgins will be teaching Music as Soul Craft. Both classes are taught during the Formation Hour (10:10 – 11:00 am). You’ll not want to miss these!
Children’s Choir meets this coming Sunday, October 14th. We’ll start in the Parish Hall at 12:45 for food, fellowship, and then move to rehearsal at 1:15 in the Quire. It’s a great time to join, as we’ll just be starting to learn our music for the Advent Festival.
COFFEE HOUR SNACKS
Looking for an easy way to help out around church? Bring some bought or homemade snacks for coffee hour on Sundays! All snacks can be dropped off in the kitchen before the service begins.
Interested in baptism?
Great! The next baptism will be on November 4th, All Saints and All Souls Sunday, our Feast of Title. If you are interested in getting baptized, or have a child or infant ready for baptism, please see Phil or Liz to begin the preparations for baptism.