From the Rector
A School for Courage
One of the gifts of the Benedictine approach to the Christian life comes to us as a metaphor. St. Benedict saw Christian community as a school, a school for the service of Christ. I have often found that metaphor helpful, as it means that learning essential to the Christian life, that we will have companions to practice with, and that there will be mentors and guides along the way.
There are many courses that this school can teach––awe, compassion, trust, love, adoration, service, and many, many more. But the attribute or characteristic that has emerged for me most recently, and one that I hope we can learn and practice at All Souls, is that of courage. In fact, it is my hope that we can become a school for courage.
Often courage is linked to the battlefield, to the willingness to put one’s self in the line of fire, especially in defense of one’s fellow soldiers. This is true, and what I would like to suggest is that there is more to the understanding and practice of courage, and it comes from a source that you may have heard me reference it before, but I believe that at this moment it bears repeating.
The sociologist Brene Brown in one of her seminal TED talks about vulnerability looks to the root of the word courage and traces it back to the old French, coeur, or heart. Brown reminds us that the original definition of courage is to have heart, to live with a full or a whole heart. I find this to be completely consistent with the Way of Jesus and is a way of living in community that I find tremendously compelling.
Earlier this week I gave an interview with a local newspaper reporter who was researching a story about the challenges that faith communities have faced in coming through this pandemic. And I shared with her that it was my experience as a pastor that we are at a point in this shared experience of disruption and destabilization when big feelings are emerging. We’ve gotten past a primary crisis, yet stresses abound––fears of recession, a potential escalation of war, growing inequalities, political fracturing, reckonings around racial injustice––and the cumulative effects are being closely felt. Tempers are shorter. Cynicism is rising. Trust is harder to come by.
And, it is my sense that Christian community, while not being immune to these stresses, has been built over centuries to be an intentional Body to work through them. And this takes courage. The kind of courage that allows us to stand up to give voice to difficult knowledge, and the kind of courage that demands that we stand alongside each other even when it is hard to do so. It takes courage to enter into difficult conversations, to hold the other person’s well-being alongside our own, to seek to forgive, even as we are forgiven.
In my experience, it takes practice. Lots and lots of practice. But when it is learned and lived by this kind of courage has the potential change the world. Together let’s continue to take heart and have courage.
All Saints/All Souls Day Potluck
I remember her, my father’s mother. Mamacita, he called her. In their kitchen, when he was a boy, she taught him how to make frijoles Mexicanos. But she didn’t call them that, they were simply beans. And it was simple. Without undue ceremony, she was passing down a recipe that her mother had given her as a child.
“Hijo, first you sort through the dry frijoles like this,” she said and, with her narrow Native hips, pressed the caste iron pot against the worn front of the low wooden table and slid the pinto beans, a few at a time, into the vessel in which they’d soon boil. Clink, clink, clink, at first, until the mound at the bottom grew large enough to dampen the rattle.
It was father to son, some thirty years later, when this scene was repeated. We still found, and rejected, the small rocks, bits of earth and beans that were too shriveled and didn’t “look good”. We soaked them until they drank the water, added more water, and salt, and bay leaves, and boiled them just like she instructed (for ninety minutes on low heat). Later, when the beans were cooked and ready to be mashed (refried), we’d fry and add some chorizo. Or not.
Certainly, some of these beans would be enjoyed immediately. Tortillas heated on the stovetop comal, avocado sliced, the Pico Pica hot sauce pulled from the fridge. Sabrosisimo!The rest remained in the pot, and waited. They’d accompany breakfasts of huevos con chorizo or machaca, become the filling of taquitos that we’d take to school or A’s games in the summer.
We shared them with our friends and neighbors.
This last brought us as much joy as eating it ourselves. Sharing. Which means so much more than just feeding. It’s about welcoming, teaching, learning. Remembering. Loving. Every pot of beans that I’ve made since contains the legacy of this love, passed through earth, hot Mexican sun, and small brown hands. And every smile they bring says that that love has come home again.
So, please, come out on November 6th between the 9 & 11:15 services to celebrate this All Souls/All Saints Day with your church family, and please bring with you a dish from someone or that reminds you of someone you love but see no longer. If you are able, feel free to write a brief word or two about this person and this dish on a paper to leave next to your dish for all to share in the love you have for them.
Reflections From Stewardship
Six years ago, our family began the search for a new spiritual home.
We had been attending a church, the one in which we were married, baptized our two children, and even taught Sunday School as a family…. but we had come to a point where church felt less like nourishment, and more like a chore on our weekend to-do list.
Our first few months at All Souls…. we sat in the back row, trying this place out, seeing if it was a fit for us. We found the music, the sermons, the commitment to social justice, and the formation for all ages, compelling. And importantly for us at the time, we found families with children at all ages and stages participating in the life of the church. So we decided to become members.
Around that time, I experienced my first stewardship launch. And I admit, I was confused. Not because we were being asked to pledge. I expected that. But because we were being given an entire month to reflect on the meaning of generosity and how giving could be part of our spiritual practice. That invitation was a challenging ask.
To be honest, that first year, we did not do much reflecting. We looked at our checking account balance and came up with a number, and we checked the pledge box off our to-do list. But over time, as we got to know you all, in the pews and in formation, and at picnics and retreats and youth group and choir, over coffee and soup and story: it became clear that our family was not just attending a church, we were making church together, with all of you.
And coming to that realization that we’re doing this together, meant that when the topic of stewardship came around again, our reflections on gratitude and generositywere less abstract. They were grounded in our time spent with all of you.
I am grateful that our family has the time and the means to offer some support to this parish. And mostly I am grateful that together, we have the opportunity to be stewards of this parish of All Souls.
From the Vestry
Are you called to be a Vestry member?
Practically speaking, the vestry is the board of directors of our Church. Members serve for a term of three years, with a time commitment of monthly meetings (2 hours plus), a 2-day retreat in February, and supporting an area of ministry by liaising with ministry team leads. Vestry members should be members of All Souls who regularly attend worship and have been part of the community for a year or more.
The Vestry is seeking volunteers interested in collaboration and prayerful discernment, as well as the capacity to connect with, guide, and hold responsibility for the financial, spiritual, and strategic well-being of our shared community. Over the next three years, the vestry will not only nurture and guide our shared work of keeping the parish going, but also oversee the continued implementation of the Living Waters Capital Campaign, as we move into planning and construction.
If you have any questions about what Vestry membership entails, please don’t hesitate to contact any of the four outgoing Vestry members, who form this year’s Nominating Committee: Melissa Deveareaux, Toni Martinez Borgfeldt, Irina Wolf Carriere, or myself.
The Nominating Committee welcomes your nominations, of yourself or others. If you wish to nominate someone else, please check with that person first! You may do so only with their permission. Please submit your nominations via this 1-question google form. Thank you for being part of our shared discernment of God’s call for the ones who will lead us next.
Vestry Meeting Summary
The Vestry met twice in October: a specially called meeting was held on October 9th for a conversation about the Living Waters listening process and our regularly scheduled October meeting took place on the 19th. To start the special session about the Living Waters listening process, we heard and reflected on the parable of the blind men and the elephant. In the parable, a group of blind men each encounter a different part of the elephant (tusk, trunk, ear, leg, side, and tail) and each reaches a different conclusion about the nature of an elephant (it’s like a spear! a snake! a fan! a tree trunk! a wall! a rope!). Everyone is surprised that the others’ perceptions are so different from their own and in some versions of the parable, disagreements ensue. By listening, cooperating, and sharing information, the blind men came to learn that each was partially correct and partially wrong and only by gathering their individual perceptions together was true understanding achieved. Thus inspired, the Vestry committed to listening from the congregational input from the Living Waters listening session. Each member of the Vestry then proceeded to share his or her ‘piece of the elephant’ discerned from the Living Waters listening sessions and conversations with Parish members. The range of questions, emotions, and feedback ran the gamut from “we have empowered the Vestry, why are we being asked” to “I want to pick the tile;” from grief around anticipated changes to surprise that even with all the funds raised we may not be able to do it all, to excitement about all we have been blessed with the opportunity to do; from projects that were surprisingly popular (the mechanicals) to proposals that drew strong responses both for and against (changes to the Nave). The congregation has had several opportunities to express their preferences for the various projects and Richard Lynch was kind enough to compile the results into a feedback project report available here: http://www.allsoulsparish.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Living-Waters-Project-Feedback-Report-221006.pdf.
The theme threading through both meetings was listening and holding the concerns of the congregation and one another with care and careful consideration.
The Vestry had a full meeting agenda on the 19th, including updates regarding the ministries of the Finance Committee and Personnel Committee, both of which are in good health, along with a look back at the ministry of Pastoral Care, which was explored in depth earlier this year. Maggie Foote shared that one question motivating the renewal of the Pastoral Care ministry is to ask how do we make sure that pastoral care doesn’t just have to be done by people wearing a collar? We received an update about the Isaiah Project from the committee, which is contemplating giving a few large gifts with the goal of funding the gifts over the three-year Living Waters pledge period. The committee shared its goal for making community grants with the hope that they will be transformational for recipients, will help to further embed All Souls in the broader community, and will create the opportunity to foster long term relationships between All Soulsians and the recipient organizations. The Isaiah Project committee requested a longer timeline than originally anticipated to facilitate listening sessions to gain input from the congregation and communicate with the community. The Property Committee reminded us of the four overarching goals for the Living Waters projects established by the congregation: accessibility, flexibility, carbon neutrality, and continued vitality. The Property Committee sought the Vestry’s blessing on two items: 1) scope of work, 2) short list of architects. The Vestry had charged the Property Committee with selecting architects with a preference for a local presence in the East Bay and particularly experience in Berkeley, complex renovations, including installing an elevator in an existing building, experience in working with community organizations that use a consensus based decision-making process, and women and minority owned businesses. The Vestry discussed how to ensure that as we select the various companies to work on the Living Waters campaign, we are creating processes that foster diversity, equity, and inclusion to the greatest extent possible for a volunteer-led project. Members of the Vestry shared a strong expression of trust in the Property Committee and its processes as it makes decisions in the best interests of the Parish. At the end of a very long session, I felt that I had made my best effort to listen, to attend with an open heart as my fellow vestry members and I each described our own particular piece of the elephant. My hope is that each of us was able to leave the meeting feeling ‘my voice was heard, I trust the process that followed.’
Save the Dates
- October 29, Parish Garden/Clean-up Day
- October 30, Ingathering Sunday + Stewardship Celebration Dinner
- November 6, All Saints/All Souls Day with potluck between services!
- November 13, Isaiah Project Listening Session
Join us for worship this week:
- 9am, in-person, indoors
- 11:15am, in-person, indoors. (click here to access the live stream)
- 5p, Sunday Night Service. In-person, indoors in the Chapel.
You can access the live stream through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
If you miss a Sunday, you can always catch the sermon on our homepage or as a podcast, anywhere you listen to podcasts!
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218.
Adult Formation Classes
There are four class offerings this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Click here to join by Zoom, or join them in-person in the Common Room.
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 10:15a. Click here to join by Zoom (Meeting ID: 811 8105 6561. Passcode: 516358), or join them in-person in the Common Room.
- Deep Listening: Life Skills From Stephen Ministry (in-person only)
- Newcomer class
Deep Listening: Life Skills From Stephen Ministry (in-person only)
This is a three-part, interactive skills training designed to help you become a better listener in every area of your life. We’ll be using materials from Stephen Ministry to guide our conversations and interactions. Please join us as we practice offering a listening ear to one another.
In our first class (October 30), we’ll explore why listening is important and practice some key behaviors that anyone can learn and use on a daily basis. We’ll reflect on how it feels when someone really listens to us – especially in an era of technology-frazzled attention spans.
Our second class (November 13) will focus on active listening skills: How is this different from just hearing someone’s words? How can listening be called an active process, when we’re letting the other person do all the talking? Again, we will discuss and practice together.
Our final class (November 20) is about reflective listening, a technique that helps the listener to stay engaged and the speaker to feel heard. We’ll practice together, and conclude by considering how we can best use our new strategies to really listen to those we encounter in our daily lives.
Are you new or relatively new to All Souls? Then you are invited to join us for our next round of our Newcomer Class. The Rev. Phil Brochard and Emily Hansen Curran will lead this four week class for folks who are looking to learn more about All Souls and what it means to be a member at All Souls. If this is you, please join us in the Common Room on October 30th, November 13th and November 20th during the Adult Formation Hour (10:10-11:10a). We’ll also offer this class via Zoom (click here to enter the call).
Children, Youth, and Family News
Sunday School Children Pre-K-Grade 5 are invited to join us in the courtyard at 10:10am to celebrate Dia de los Muertos with Toni Martinez Borgfeldt!
Youth Group is cancelled for this Sunday. Please join us for the Stewardship celebration!
Family Movie Night: Encanto is coming up on November 4th at 6:00pm! Save the Date!
Email Maggie for more information about Children, Youth and Family Ministries at All Souls.
Other News & Notes
Help Wanted: General Contractors
As you may know, now that we have raised funds for the Living Waters project, have surveyed the congregation over the summer, and recently held several listening sessions to discern where the energy is for the many projects before us, we are now interviewing firms to help us bring our hopes to reality.
At this time, The Property Committee is asking the congregation for suggestions of General Contractors who may work with ASEP on the Living Waters Project. We are looking for these qualities as we evaluate the pool of General Contractors.
- Local East Bay presence
- Experience in renovations of this building type.
- MBE / WBE or Minority Owned or Women Owned firm
- Experience working in Berkeley
If you have suggestions for a General Contractor please submit them to Patrick Tahara (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Sunday, 11/6/22.
Stewardship Ingathering & Celebration Dinner
Sunday, October 30th is our annual Ingathering Sunday & Celebration Dinner. Sunday morning is our ingathering, where we will get the chance to commit our pledge to the parish for 2023. Then, come back in the evening (5:30-7:30p) for dinner and a fun evening of games and laughs (honestly, you don’t want to miss this event!). RSVP through this form (click here) and then wait to hear from your table host to see what kinds of dishes will be needed for your table.
Church Office Hours: Staff & Clergy can be reached Sunday-Thursday by phone/text/or email. Tuesday-Thursday from 10-5p you can find staff & clergy in the office. You can reach an on-call clergy at any time by calling our church offices and pressing “8” for the on-call priest.
All Saints/All Souls Day Potluck
November 6th is the day we will celebrate our Feast of Title, All Souls/All Saints Day. Please bring a dish to share for our potluck (which will take place between the 9 & 11:15 services in the courtyard). This year, as in years previous, please bring a dish that reminds you or was introduced to you by someone you love, but see no longer. Feel free to write up a small story or note about the dish to go along with it on the table so others can share in the love for these souls who have gone before us.
Emmaus Groups/Small Groups
This fall, we’re launching a new round of small groups, which we call Emmaus Groups. These are spiritual journeying groups that meet bi-weekly for 16 weeks at a time with the goal of journeying together in order to deepen our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. They are mostly free-form(ish) and are a fabulous way to create and build community with others here at church. If you are interested, please contact Emily, email@example.com.
Save the Date – Parish Cleanup Day
Autumn is upon us, and hopefully the rainy season too. We have some work to do to prepare the All Souls Parish campus for the upcoming winter: gutter and drainage cleanout, trimming of trees and bushes, leaf raking, sweeping of the courtyard, and general cleanup of the outside of the church buildings. Please join us Saturday, October 29th for a day of rigorous outdoor work with your fellow parishioners. Start time is 9:00 am, with a break at around noon for pizza lunch (provided) and completion in the early afternoon. Bring your yard tools, gloves, and dress for outdoor work.
Contact Kaki Logan (Landscaping Sub-Committee Chair) or John Cockle and Martín Ortega (Property Maintenance Sub-Committee Co-Chairs) with ideas and/or questions.
Podcast: “Sacred Earth: Growing Beloved Community”
Click here to register for the Zoom link.
Join Bishop Marc Andrus for a new podcast in a new series entitled “Sacred Earth: Growing Beloved Community.” Each month introduces a new environmental leader discussing their work and the spiritual practices and learning that have shaped them and undergird their work.
Join in with the Episcopal Climate Advocacy at the United Nations Climate Conference
- Tuesday, November 1st at 12 PM ET: Episcopal Climate Advocacy at the UN: COP27 Kick-Off with the Presiding Bishop’s Delegation *Public event – invite your community!* Register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMtce-hqjgrGNF4n1NyZPiJMONE1rSl8C6E
- Wednesday, November 30th at 12 PM ET: Episcopal COP27 Closing Event and Report Back from Delegates *Public event – invite your community!* Register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIrfuGrpzgqHNLTymlNpkHFXNa6naMZLeO7
If you are looking to set up your pledge for 2023, there is a super easy way to give to All Souls––for either a one-time donation or for your ongoing pledge––that is through an app called Vanco Mobile (what used to be called GivePlus). You can find this app through the app store on your phone. Once downloaded, search for All Souls Episcopal Parish and you’re in! If you’d prefer not to download the app, you can just as easily give online through our personalized online donation page by clicking here.
This weekend is the Diocese of California’s Annual Diocesan Convention! There are lots of interesting resolutions up for discussion and vote this year covering a wide array of topics including disability sensitivity training, active shooter training, ministry with young adults and clergy housing, among others. There will also be elections for various teams and positions around the diocese as well as DioCal’s delegates to the next General Convention. You can read more about the proposed resolutions, the budget, the nominations and more here: https://www.diocalconvention.org/
All Souls will be represented by:
If you have any input you’d like to share with them as your representatives, please reach out!