From the Associate Rector
What to Say and How to Say It
A parishioner forwarded me an article from The New Yorker this week entitled What American Christians Hear in Church, and I found it completely fascinating. In short, it’s about the art of preaching and the differences in how and what different preachers say in their sermons each week. The article points out that preaching has been a central part of the Christian tradition since the early days of the church; I mean, for starters, Jesus did a lot of preaching, but so did the apostles and others in the scriptures and early church documents as well.
It goes on to compare and contrast data gathered by the Pew Research Center from online church services about sermon length and content. All of that information was highly interesting, and I certainly recommend taking a look at the article if you’re curious about those statistics. However, the truth that the article so clearly outlines is that despite its centrality in Christian worship, there are no hard and fast rules about preaching. There is no agreed upon form, length, or style. If you’ve ever preached a sermon before, you’ll know that that is at one time both the beauty and the frustration of preaching. There is not an easy plug & play formula to use where you enter the themes of the readings alongside current events, and voila! Sermon. At the same time it’s an opportunity to offer one’s own unique perspective on the scriptures and how they are relevant for us today.
It can be really hard to know exactly what to say or how to say it, and yet, according to the article, seventy five percent of survey respondents indicated that the sermon was the part of the worship service about which they cared the most. Nothing like a little pressure, right? What a gift it is, here at All Souls, that we have so many different preachers, each with their own distinct style and unique perspective on the world around us.
I think the point of all of this, though, is that there is something intangible about the experience of listening to a sermon; something that can’t be measured, and that’s how a sermon impacts the listener. Sermons are meant to inspire, challenge, teach, and offer healing. Now, of course, all of these ends can’t be met at the same time, by one sermon, on one Sunday, by one preacher. And certainly, these ends can’t be met without the active participation of the listener.
Of course, preachers have certain education, experience, and training that help them craft a sermon and deliver it during worship; however, at the end of the day, preachers rely on the open hearts and minds of the congregation for that impact to take place. It’s not only the preacher who has work to do on Sunday mornings. It is every listener’s (or at least those 75% who say they care the most about the sermon!) job to take an active role in discerning what is meaningful for their own lives from the sermon, and to respond to the calls to action that they hear in what the preacher is saying.
In other words, we’re in this together. While the preacher may be the one in the pulpit on a Sunday morning, we are all walking the path of following Jesus together, and it takes all of us to discern that path.
From the Vestry
Summary of the September Vestry Meeting
Your Vestry gathered via Zoom for our September monthly meeting, looking forward to being able to gather again in person, hopefully as soon as October. After a spiritual reflection led by Nydia MacGregor, we welcome back Phil Brochard+.
Phil+ enjoyed a restful, working sabbatical, devoting time to his forthcoming book on profiles on high functioning congregations, punctuated by games of Spikeball with his teenage sons and of course restful downtime with his spouse Sarah and extended family. He is deeply grateful for the gift of sabbatical.
The All Souls staff were terrific during Phil’s+ absence. In addition to the extraordinary contributions made by Maggie Foote and Emily Hansen Curran, Michael Lemaire stepped in and preached. Although attendance at Sunday services was understandably lower over the summer, in recent weeks participation has been climbing, with 70 to 80 attending the 9 AM Sunday courtyard service (including musicians and clergy), and a fantastic start to our new 5 PM Sunday courtyard service which is designed to reach out to those who my have left other Chistian traditions, including folks with Evangelical backgrounds. The liturgy of the new service is meant to be explanatory and may feel informal. The service includes a musical lineup with an electric keyboardist and singer with tambourine, leading us in new songs. Resumption of the 7:30 AM Sunday service is on hold until Jordan court is completed.
And Jordan Court is nearing completion! We presently expect a move-in date of mid-November, slightly more than a year after groundbreaking. Phil+ singled out for special thanks Kirk Miller, who has devoted countless hours to ensuring Jordan Court be all that it is becoming, all that it can be. Conversations have been ongoing between our developer partner Satellite Affordable Housing Associates over funding to be supplied by the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Two apartments set aside for All Souls’ use will be available for rent at a substantially reduced rates by people such as those ordained and on sabbatical who agree to provide a service to All Souls such as preaching or teaching classes.
All Souls classes have been running at about 80% of usual attendance, despite COVID-19 and all the attendant challenges.
Richard Lynch then joined us and led a stimulating conversation about stewardship, asking questions such as what motivates us to give of our treasure?
We next continued our ongoing conversation on the state of our ministries. Vestry members reported on the state of their assigned ministries, asking and answering such questions as who is participating; who is leading; does a ministry charter exist, and if so, does it need updating? Are Vestry members acting as liaisons to ministries they feel passionate about? Phil+ asked that each Vestry member have a goal during their term, such that when they rotate off at the completion of their term, they can reflect on what they have been able to accomplish.
Tim Ereneta, Irina Wolf Carrière, and Nydia MacGregor offered final prayers and petitions, and Phil+ closed with his blessing.
Save the Dates
(*see “Other News and Notes” for more info on events)
October 24: All-Church Stewardship Celebration
October 31: Halloween Festivities and Trick-or-Treat at All Souls
November 7: All Souls/All Saints Day with tours of Jordan Court between the 9 & 11:15 services and Sunday Night Service Official Launch at 5:00pm
Join us at 9am in the courtyard, in-person. At this service masks are not required.
Or (and!) join us indoors for the 11:15 service or on the live stream at 11:15a, which can be accessed through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning. At our 11:15 service, masks are required.
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218. Masks are required for this service as it is indoors.
Due to the new CDC mask mandate, masks are required for all indoor gatherings regardless of vaccination status.
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
We have four class offerings:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Contact Kate Murphy, email@example.com to join that Zoom call.
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study at 10:10 in the Chapel (and on Zoom). Contact Daniel Prechtel for the Zoom link, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Repairing the Breach: Addressing Racism Locally on Zoom (click here) and in the Parish Hall
- A Practice of Prayer in the Common Room (and on Zoom)
Children, Family & Youth News
Sunday School meets on Sundays at 10:10am for children in Pre-K through 5th grade! Read the Family Bulletin for more information! If you’d like to receive updates about this, but do not subscribe to the Family Bulletin, please email Maggie Foote (email@example.com) for more information.
Youth Group continues Wednesday, October 13th at 7:00pm! Also, each Sunday at 10:10am, stop by Maggie’s office for a donut and a check-in with one of our youth leaders. If you are (or have) a young person between 6-12 grade, and are not a part of the google group for youth group updates, please email Maggie Foote (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information and to get added to the list!
Other News & Notes
Soulcast: Our Weekly Video Announcements
Halloween at All Souls!
On Halloween, the All Souls young adults crew will be hosting a gathering at 5pm in the church courtyard to carve pumpkins, before handing out candy to local trick-or-treaters from 6-8. We will have some pumpkins and candy, but would encourage you to bring a pumpkin to carve, candy to pass-out, or goodies to share. Pizza will be provided, and we will watch Hocus Pocus to get in the Halloween spirit. All are welcome, and parents, we would love to see your kids’ costumes! Contact Lorena for more information!
Giving to All Souls via our mobile app
The platform we have been using for mobile app donations is changing from Give+ to Vanco Mobile Faith Engagement. You can find this (Vanco Mobile Faith Engagement) in your app store, and login with the same login you had with Give+. Once logged in, search for “All Souls Episcopal Parish” and it comes right up.
Stephen Ministry: Christ Caring for People through People
That’s the motto of Stephen Ministry. The Stephen Minister’s role is to bring God’s love into the lives of people who are going through a difficult time or experiencing a crisis. What do Stephen Ministers do? They listen, care, support, encourage, and pray with and for a person who is hurting. And in the midst of this confidential, one-to-one, caring relationship, God’s healing love comes pouring through.
If someone you know is facing a crisis—large or small—and could benefit from the caring presence of a Stephen Minister, talk to Rev. Maggie Foote (email@example.com) or Stephen Ministry Leader Madeline Feely (firstname.lastname@example.org). Our Stephen Ministers are ready to care for you!
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
You can always bring food on Sundays and place it in the “Berkeley Food Pantry” basket in the Narthex (or in the courtyard for the 9am service).
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 email@example.com.
Rain and Air Quality Index Protocol for In-person Events
In the case of rain, the 9:00am worship will move indoors to the sanctuary.
Following the lead of local school districts, All Souls has outlined the following protocol for high Air Quality Index:
When the Air Quality Index exceeds 150, all in-person events will be canceled at the church. Due to the need to have windows open to increase ventilation for Covid-safety, it is unsafe for us to be inside the church without ventilation, and it is unsafe for the windows to be open, which leaves us with only online options.
In the case of AQI higher than 150:
- 9:00am Sunday Worship will move to Zoom at this link.
- 11:15am Sunday Worship will be Livestreamed on the All Souls Facebook Page, and the website.
- 9:00am Wednesday Worship will move to Zoom at this link.
- Adult Formation will move to Zoom at the link specified for that class.
- Sunday School will be canceled.
- Youth Group will be canceled.