FROM THE RECTOR
“O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
“…grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil.” This phrase, part of a prayer from our night prayer or Compline rite, has been one of my favorites for a long time. It may be because of the number of times that I prayed this prayer when my spouse was working the 12 hour night shift. Or perhaps because it is one of the newer prayers in our prayer book tradition, having been written for the 1979 BCP.
But I think that the reason that this prayer resonates so deeply for me is because it articulates a reality that we aren’t always cognizant of––that we are essentially and inevitably interdependent upon others. Whether it is the work it takes for clean water to run through our pipes, for electricity to power our homes, for food to reach our stores, there are scores of people whose work allows our daily existence to simply be.
This truth was one that was particularly revealed to me this past month as I was gifted with Sabbath time. While I was reading, planning, dreaming, staying silent, and pilgrimaging, I was mindful of the work that made this time possible, the work of the faithful body of All Souls Parish.
I know well the effort and the attentiveness it takes for life at All Souls to function. And the work that Liz, Emily, Nettie, Jamie, and the rest of the paid and pastoral staff did to pick up the slack while I was away was significant. In stewardship preparation and small group facilitation, liturgical planning and youth group meetings, internet installation and refrigerator procuring, the sustained attention that they gave individually and as a team was exceptional.
With them every step of the way, including through temporary leases and kitchen door thresholds, were our stellar Wardens, Bob Holum and Maggie Cooke. You may not know this, but as the Senior Warden, Bob held the fiduciary responsibility for the Parish while I was on sabbatical. By all reports he did so with his customary grace, grounded wisdom, and steady presence. And Maggie was present week in and week out as Junior Warden, writing articles, guiding work parties, and replacing door trim.
My time away was what I had hoped it would be. I was able to rest, reflect, re-create, and craft leadership retreat plans to be of used in congregations next year. I come back grateful for many things, but two things in particular: for the common toil that kept this body moving in my absence and that you all are willing for me to return and take my part.
Building up the Realm
I’ve been asked to address how we are giving towards building up the Realm of God, writ large.
The teachers among you may be relieved to hear that I will not be quoting Webster’s definitions of the “Realm of God,” or of the word, “writ.”
Instead, I’ll tell you a story.
One Sunday in September, a few years ago, our Open Door Dinner team had finished serving our signature jambalaya. Our guests were gathering up their bags and backpacks, and heading out the door. The team was putting away the tables and chairs in the Parish Hall and picking up trash in the courtyard.
One guest, a twenty- or thirty-something young man with a cane, approached me to say that his father wasn’t going to make it to All Souls to pick him up. He said he needed a ride to Richmond, and he seemed distressed about how he was going to get there. I couldn’t drive him myself because of a carpool. I turned to one of my team members and asked if he could do it, and he generously said he could. The two of them got into his car and headed north … through the traffic re-routed to avoid, as luck would have it that day, the Solano Stroll.
When they got to Richmond, it turned out that the young man was not expected there, and that the man’s father was actually waiting for him near All Souls! This kind volunteer turned around and made his way back with his charge, across the turmoil of Solano Stroll traffic. After far more than an hour of driving, he was finally able to go home himself…. And when he told me about it later, he didn’t even complain about this wild goose chase.
That’s just one example, among hundreds here at All Souls, of people giving generously of their time and energy to serve others. We live and worship among a multitude of such examples!
Like all of us, I don’t have the time — or the power to be in two places at once — to take part personally on every front where All Souls is building up the Realm of God. However, by recognizing with gratitude how much I’ve been given in this life, and by exercising generosity in making my pledge to All Souls, I am supporting our collective mission of creating that Realm.
In this practice, I’ve found that generosity can be a means of spiritual discipline. Giving generously means choosing what it is that really matters. We give up, we let goof, some other, personal use for the funds we pledge, donating instead to our collective spiritual home.
Further, generosity in giving can lead to humility. Every year we make a sacrifice with our pledge. Maybe we won’t be able to get Philz coffee as often, or take a weekend at Stinson Beach. We do this because we see the good that our sacrifice engenders. We also come to realize the limited nature of our individual pledge, and of ourselves, each as just one“living stone” in the greater whole. My pledge alone won’t pay for a new roof, or cover the staff’s medical insurance. However, when joined together with the offerings of hundreds of others, it will bring us closer to building up the Realm of God.
Humility and the act of letting go teach us to relinquish some control; to let others do their own creative and spiritual work towards our shared goals. We recognize and learn to value the gifts that others also bring to All Souls.
Think of an All Souls potluck: Nobody brings the whole meal. Each person brings one dish — maybe their signature dish — a casserole, a salad or dessert, and we all partake of what others have brought. In the end, we are all better-nourished because of the gifts shared by, and with, others.
As we trust in the gifts and abilities of one another, we learn to trust in one another and in God, and we recognize the need for, and the beauty of, our interdependence. Won’t you join me at this year’s potluck?
– Mary Rees
From the Stewardship Team
A transparent look at our financial context
In this Stewardship Campaign, it is our hope to share more of the financial context in which All Souls operates as you reflect on your 2019 pledge. You may have seen the quarterly updates from our Treasurer Marilyn Flood, but here we wanted to talk more about where we are today and where we would like to be going.
So, a bit of history: In 2011, we received a very generous bequest in the will of a parishioner, Ann Jordan. The vestry made a five-year commitment to invest the earnings from the Jordan gift in the personnel infrastructure of the church to increase our capacity for serving our parish and the broader community. The vestry anticipated that our congregation would grow, that the services provided would expand and that the number people impacted would increase. And they all have.
The vestry also anticipated that the financial contributions from this larger community would increase to meet those new costs. They have not. While our Given Income (the total of pledges, plate offerings and a few special gifts) has increased, it has not increased as fast as expenses have. In addition to the Jordan Gift earnings, several large special gifts were offered to help us stretch into this new staffing structure, but they were time-bound gifts rather than recurring pledges, and have been used in full. We are not currently able to meet the costs of running the parish from donations from the current members of this parish.
If we are to move toward being a self-sustaining, financially robust parish we have to move toward paying our expenses from our own contributions on a consistent basis.
Our common life requires money. To make church together and to welcome our members, neighbors and those looking for a place to find God’s love we spent $754,000 in 2017. The 2018 budget of $836,000 is 40% more than we spent as recently as 2013.
But our Pledge Income has not kept pace. Between 2013 and 2017 our expenses increased by 23%. Our Pledge Income increased by 13%. Since 2013, earnings from the Jordan gift has provided over $325,000 to close the gap between our income and expenses.
But the Jordan Gift was never intended by Ann Jordan to support the on-going expenses of the parish. Her gift includes the request that the gift “not be used for ordinary expenses.” The vestry has formally designated the corpus of this gift to be put towards capital investments, and whatever they specifically choose, the income from the Jordan Gift earnings will phase out. It is likely that by 2021 the Jordan Gift’s support of the daily life of the parish will end and we will have a large hole in our budget.
It is up to us, the current members of All Souls, to meet our budget.
Our need to rely on the Jordan earnings to close our income gap has already had material impacts our community. The pending phase-out of the Jordan earnings was a significant factor in the decision not to fill the Youth Minister position when Jess Powell left it this past Spring. We decided we could not responsibly call someone to make a three-year commitment to us when we could not confidently make the corresponding financial commitment.
We want to be transparent about the needs of the parish and the context in which we ask you to support our life together. If you still have questions, please contact Rev. Liz Tichenor and she can direct your question to the person who can answer it.
Your Stewardship Team
Calling All Soulsians!
Recently during the thanksgivings, I expressed this, “I feel deep gratitude for the life and legacy of Christopher Putnam and for the opportunity to serve his creativity and share his life for nineteen years.” I meant it. Looking after Mr. P required much energy and enthusiasm, a labor of love, and sometimes a creative solution to a problem. Now is the opportunity for our “beloved community” (as Bishop Marc would say) to come together and bring a creative solution, as well as our chance to shine.
The first is the opportunity for hospitality and companionship. Christopher’s mother, Judi Putnam and several other out-of-town guests, will be staying with the Stickneys, and we are hoping that All Soulsians can join in offering delicious meals and come ready with compassionate conversation for the group. You might also be pressed into joining a hymn sing, because one of the guests is David Dehner, Christopher’s former organ student from the cathedral and the Stickneys just happen to have a fantastic parlor organ, a family heirloom. If you would like to offer a meal one night, please sign up here. I’ll join the dinners as soon as I can.
Looking ahead to the memorial service, please take note and plan ahead, as the church will be quite full and parking will be difficult — plan to arrive early! I encourage you to be sensitive to our wise-generation parishioners, reaching out to offer a ride, or connecting with one another to plan carpools. Our All Soulsians Facebook group will also be a helpful way for folks to coordinate rides with one another. Since we anticipate that Christopher’s service will be very crowded and that we’ll be welcoming in many guests from beyond All Souls, we ask that our community pay special attention to friends who may have a harder time getting around or need particular seats, and that we work with the ushers to help everyone find a comfortable space. Childcare for infants and toddlers will be provided in the nursery during this service.
For Christopher’s reception, there are further opportunities to serve. I would be grateful if you would sign up here to bring food or drinks to share. After the service, everyone will be invited to get refreshments and then watch a slideshow of Christopher’s life in the church. After the slideshow, Elvis’s band, Kool with Class, will play for Christopher’s memorial reception in the Parish Hall. The music will be well-known 40’s swing jazz classics. Everyone, your job is to dance!
On Saturday, November 3rd at 1pm we will celebrate the life and legacy of Christopher Putnam with joy. If you open your Book of Joy to page 166, you can read this: “…there is a profound teaching by an ancient Tibetan master: the true measure of spiritual development is how one confronts one’s own mortality. The best way is with joy. The next best way is without fear. The third best way is at least not to have regrets.”
Christopher gave us 35 years (of a life of 51 years) of amazing music. Soon it will be time to dance!
— Caroline De Catur Putnam
Stewardship Celebration Dinner
Sunday, October 28th, 5:30-7:30
Please sign up here or on the clipboard in the back of the church!
The dinner party of the year is fast approaching. It’s a fabulous potluck by table, with youth enjoying their own banquet table at the back of the nave and kids eating and playing with fabulous childcare providers in the Common Room. 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? Really, truly, 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. Please sign up by Wednesday, October 24th!
ARE YOU NEW TO ALL SOULS?
If you’ve been coming for a few weeks now and are interested in diving deeper, here are a few next steps! The first is to sign up for a name tag. You can find the sign-up sheet on the foyer (Narthex) counter or on the Welcome table in the back of the Nave in front of the sound booth. The second is to attend one of our Adult Formation classes. This is a great way to get to know other folks here and engage in good dialogue. The third way is to show up to one of our newcomer classes scheduled for mid-November. That’s a little ways off, but it will come soon enough—promise. Thoughts? Questions? See Emily Hansen Curran, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know that we have an online directory? If you or your family are not yet in our directory, please see Emily Hansen Curran to add your name and your picture! Or, if you do not currently have a picture associated with your name, also please see Emily to have your picture taken.