FROM THE RECTOR
Do You Know Your Number?
Several years ago, as the life and pace of All Souls Parish was growing more than I was prepared for, I asked a group of parishioners to help me to look at the ways that I was spending my time as Rector of the congregation. I was hoping that they could both help me to see something that I was unable to see, and help me change some of my practices to better meet where the parish was heading.
One of the ways that we did this was an exhaustive study of where my hours each week went. I categorized every hour of every day, down to 15 minute increments, in an effort to recognize patterns that I was having difficulty seeing. Aided by the members of the group, a few things became clear—that not all hours of work are created equal, that structuring creative time was critical, and that I didn’t spend as much time on specific tasks as I had thought.
The numbers told the story. One of the revelations for me was around time spent communicating via email. If you had asked me before I looked at the numbers, I would have told you that it took a lot of my time. In fact, when looking at the numbers, despite how challenging it felt, I wasn’t actually spending as much time as I thought. Armed with that information, I started to change my practices around email, in approach and in practice. I am continually trying to match my practice with my stated values.
This week our Stewardship team is inviting us to take a similar approach to giving, to know the proportion of what we each give away. We all give a percentage of our income away, but we aren’t all aware of what that number is. Last year, we were invited to do the same, and it was revelatory for some. As you read this, do you know what that percentage for you is? Is it 2%, 5%, 10%, 19%, 46%?
Last year, at least one All Soulsian was a little set back by the request of the Stewardship team to give proportionally and to know what that number was. When they realized that something about the invitation to proportional giving bothered them, they decided to dig out their 1040 tax return. They jotted down how much they gave away, and divided it by their income. And they were surprised that the percent of their income they gave away, and specifically to All Souls, was lower than they had thought it was. They then revised their pledge to All Souls and increased it to reflect their core values.
This invitation to “know your number” remains. Not as a “gotcha,” but as a way to make sure that the values that we believe are evidenced in the ways that we live. My overriding concern, a concern that Jesus has for those who follow his teachings, is that we, you and I, are giving people. That an essential response is to share from what we have been given. For the sake of those in need and for the health of our own souls. To be clear, this is not about rote giving. Jesus has been unambiguous that we are to give from the heart in these past several months of Luke’s Gospel. It is about an intentional way of using the resources—money, time, attention—that we have.
For the past several weeks, the Stewardship team has offered a booklet as we prepare to pledge what we will give in this next year to continue our work of the Jesus Movement. The pages in the booklet for this week include scripture, questions for reflection, and space to work out what your number is, to All Souls and to the greater good.
Set some time aside. Talk with the people who household with you. Do the math. And consider. Does that number reflect the ways that you want to give?
From the Music Department
The search is on!
The members of the committee are Katie McGonigal, Jenn Ying, Maggie Bilder Cooke, Ross Laverty, Tripp Hudgins (chair), and The Rev. Phil Brochard (ex officio). The committee represents what we hope is a broad swath of perspectives on music making in our community.
The person we’re looking for will need to be a team player in all senses of the term (from organ to piano, collegial staff member, and possible kickball coach). It is a position with incredible room for creativity as we all know. Of course, following in Christopher’s footsteps will be difficult. But we feel that this position is a great opportunity for the right person. The staff change is also an opportunity for the entire parish community to grow together. You can read the listing on our website. Please feel free to share it.
Our time line is somewhat flexible, but we anticipate having the position filled no earlier than after Christmas. We appreciate everyone’s hard work in the mean time, especially Joe Rosenmeyer, Carol Terry, and Ed Hoffman as well as our other musicians. They are doing a great job at keeping us all singing.
Do you want to participate in the musical ministry at All Souls? We want to know about you. As part of our work as a committee, Ed Hofmann has created a survey for anyone who wishes to fill out. Think of it as a musical inventory survey for the new person coming in. Deadline for responding is October 31.
From the Associate Rector
This reflection was originally published as part of a series curated by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, celebrating the 40th anniversary of General Convention’s vote to open the priesthood and episcopate to women.
Preaching at my ordination, Gene Robinson was proposing that people need clergy “to be the God person in their lives” when my young daughter, exhausted and hungry, interrupted. Wailing.
Gene was unfazed. He assured me that it was fine, to take my time. I took Alice and began digging through the layers of my alb. “Talk amongst yourselves!” he told the congregation, chuckling. “I’ll give you a topic. The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” To me, “that should keep ‘em going for a little while.”
Alice happily nursing, Gene continued. “To be the God person, remember that it’s not you, it’s what you represent.”
That charge, and the memorable context in which I received it, stuck with me. And I’ve kept nursing at church as a priest. Why? Because my babies are hungry.
And it’s deeper than that, too. For ages, women were required to act like men in order to lead. I’m tired of it. More than forty years on, I want to be a priest just as I am.
My hope resides in this lived experience: when I’m not in the pulpit, I listen to the sermon in the front pew and nurse my third baby. And it’s fine. My breastfeeding is tolerated by all, and even encouraged by most. As I look out with babe in arms, as both an incarnating mother and this church’s priest, I find hope. I don’t have to check part of myself at the door.
It gives me hope that I am welcome at the table — indeed, at the altar — as my whole self. I am convinced that when we welcome all of our bodies, fully, we see God more fully also.
What can I represent, then, as clergy? In recent weeks two young boys have confused me with God — not an unusual question for male clergy, especially our white, bearded elders. But for these boys in this church, God could just as well be a nursing mother.
Such is our hope. God takes us, hungry, exhausted and wailing, and nurses us. She comforts us, and gives us strength.
Social Justice Resources at All Souls
Our Outreach Committee at All Souls is working hard to gather more resources for the congregation to learn and take action around important issues of social justice. The team is gathering resources of many forms: books, online sources, groups and events to join, and more. Here is a selection of some of the resources now available:
Lending Library, in the Narthex
Take home a book! Some of the books currently available include:
America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, by Jim Wallis
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
Wall tappings: An International Anthology of Women’s Prisons Writings, 200 to the Present, edited by Judith Scheffler
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- All Souls for Racial Justice Facebook group, for news, events and connections
- Showing Up for Racial Justice
- Standing Rock
- Interfaith Council of Alameda County (new; in formation – stay tuned!)
- Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, with Rev. Deborah Lee
Resolutions to be voted on at the Diocesan Convention this Saturday
- DioCal.org (search for Convention and Resolutions: free speech about Palestine, human trafficking and slavery, ending the death penalty, gun violence, and light bulbs)
All Souls Families!
New Adult Formation Classes
‘This Fragile Earth’: The Church responds to climate change
This Fragile Earth is a day for both laypeople and clergy who are active in environmental ministry and want to explore new opportunities for reflection and Christian action on behalf of the planet. Speakers will include former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is the current St. Margaret’s Visiting Professor of Women in Ministry; Bishop Marc Andrus of California; CDSP President and Dean W. Mark Richardson; and Professor Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, professor of theological and social ethics at CDSP and Pacific Lutheran Seminary of California Lutheran University. The day will culminate with a liturgy to bless CDSP’s new installation of solar panels led by Bishops Jefferts Schori and Andrus.