From the Associate Rector
I’m a gardener. I love to grow vegetables and flowers, and my house is full of succulents and houseplants. The first year in our house in Cincinnati, I built raised beds and grew all kinds of vegetables, with varying levels of success. I had a huge harvest of cucumbers that first year, as well as strawberries, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes and even a couple of spaghetti squash. The following year, I was so excited to plant my garden again, and I had been composting all year to fertilize my soil. I dutifully prepared the soil with my homemade organic compost, mapped out each crop, and planted the seeds in perfect rows. When small seedlings began to sprout in no particular pattern, and they all looked the same I was a little confused, but I decided to just let them grow to see what would happen. I also haphazardly planted a rotting potato from my kitchen and a tomatillo from the grocery store that I had cut in half, just to see if they would grow. Well, fast forward a few months, and all of the seeds that I had mapped out and planted were overrun with an entire bed full of cherry tomatoes that had sprung up from my compost, and a healthy crop of red potatoes and tomatillos from my experimental planting. As luck would have it, tomatoes are my favorite food (second only to popcorn,) and I got to eat a LOT of fresh vine ripened tomatoes that summer.
My best laid plans were laid to waste, but they were replaced by the best tomatoes I’d ever tasted. I also learned how to grow potatoes and tomatillos, and how to manage the tomato plants in the future to make sure those other vegetables that I wanted to grow would thrive as well. All in all, I chalk it up to a great learning experience.
This is not at all unlike church planting. Often, the things we dutifully map out and prepare are overrun by the things we never see coming, and sometimes the most fruitful endeavors are the ones we try on a whim just to see what will happen. I bring this up now because last week, the Regathering Task Force had a meeting to begin to map out our plans for outdoor worship. As I sat in the Zoom meeting, and listened to discussions about moving chairs around, preparing our usher teams for some new and different duties, trying to work out every possible foreseeable wrinkle in our plans to transition to outdoor worship, and trying to divine the unforeseeable ones, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my days planting a new church community in Cincinnati. Church planting is a multifaceted undertaking, and not the least of the “other duties as assigned” is a LOT of moving furniture.
Now, we at All Souls are not planting a new church community, but we are being called by this moment to re-plant ourselves. If you’re anything like me, perhaps this season of Covid has left you feeling unmoored and uprooted, and longing for nothing more than that feeling of being grounded once again in a community of faith. With the hope of regathering in person on the horizon, it occurred to me that we may be entering a season like my second year’s attempt at gardening, where I thought I had everything mapped out perfectly, but I was in for a big surprise when it was time to harvest. We have an idea in our minds of what being together again will look and feel like, and the fruits it will bear in our lives.
But we’ve changed. Our society has changed. The way we experience the world has changed. We can’t rely on being together in person to suddenly un-change us. We are being challenged now to be open to the gifts that this new season will bring, even if they are not the gifts we think we want, or think we are signing up for. We are being challenged to adapt ourselves; to figure out what it is about church that gives meaning to our lives, and open ourselves to the ways in which we are being called to look for and welcome those gifts in new and unexpected ways.
Church planting taught me a lot, and I haven’t had enough time and space from it yet to really reflect on all that I’ve learned, but here’s what I know for sure: we are going to make plans, and think that we have thought out every single possible outcome to those plans, and we’re going to be wrong. We are going to try things and they won’t always feel right. We are going to put all the pieces together in a logistical masterpiece and it still won’t work for everyone. This is just the truth. But one antidote to the feeling of frustration and disappointment that comes when our best laid plans fail, is knowing that “learning is more important than getting it right,” as The Rev. Dr. Michael Moynagh, a researcher for Fresh Expressions UK, says in his book, Being Church Doing Life. If we are open to the learning that comes from getting it all wrong, and the whispers of the Holy Spirit that guide us to the next right step, we will, together, be the church that this historical moment is calling us to be, both for ourselves, and as a witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ for the world.
So buckle up people, we’re in for a wild ride, and we’re really only just getting started.
Living on the Fence
A couple of weeks ago, Grace Cathedral shared our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon via Zoom from Raleigh, North Carolina. This was prefaced by a “Forum” between Bishop Curry and Bishop Marc Andrus. In the course of the discussion, Bishop Curry was asked to comment on Sacred Ground. His response was that “when people and God get into conversation and unveil their stories, they enter into Sacred Space”.
Katrine Browne, along with nine fellow White descendants of the most powerful slave-trading family in U.S. history, which was based in New England, initiated the Sacred Ground project for the Episcopal Church. Katrine became the coordinator of a syllabus of readings and documentaries exploring the true history of slavery and colonization of African, Native, Latino and Asian populations.
Through this thoughtfully constructed syllabus and sharing of stories, the focus nonetheless, seeks primarily to bring White people into clear awareness of their inherent racism and how deeply that racism is lodged in the very fabric of our social structure and the laws that bind us.
Having grown up on Eastern Long Island where our high school experienced race riots following the 1969 assassination of Martin Luther King, and having been an ancillary member of a multicultural student group that forced community change, largely through our Episcopalian Church, this was something that was of particular interest to me. What I found deterring, however, was the realization that each culture would be separately cushioned into protected groups, each representing a particular culture. As such, I was being forced to choose which culture I “most identify with”. This was not acceptable to me as a bicultural woman, born to a Peruvian mother and a father from Alabama. To chose one culture would be to negate the other, and by doing so, disrespect the ingredients that formed me.
The People of Color group came together when several of us who could not be viewed within a monocultural setting came together. We cannot be viewed in a binary way. Not only are we not part of a great “Melting Pot”, we are distinctly proud of our cultural origins. The ingredients that each one of us is made of are distinctive and necessary in understanding who each of us is and how we as a population group have experienced racism, both as recipients and inflictors.
Our Sacred Ground group, comprised of Wendy, Toni, Joseph, Raymond, Vimala, Tara, Kim and myself, have that rare and delicious opportunity to really dig into this journey together, sharing solidarity through our stories and collective insight.
Through this exploratory, we are discovering an ever deepening fraternal throughline of understanding and shared experience of what it has been like living on the fence as bicultural people and contributing to a new vision of where we go from here in community healing.
New member: Tom Varghese
I’m Tom Varghese and am relatively new to All Souls. I was married to an All Souls parishioner – Vicki Varghese – who passed away recently in May.
Although my family hails from the south Indian area called Kerala, I was actually born in Ethiopia where my parents were teaching. My family immigrated to the Bay Area in the mid-1960s. Years later, I met Vicki while I was studying at Cal.
Vicki and I married in 1986 and attended St. Mark’s in Berkeley for ten years. Eventually, we moved to Alameda, where Christ Church became our spiritual home for the next 20 years. When our children went to college, however, Vicki and I felt restless and sought a new parish home. We visited several Episcopal churches in the East Bay over two years. During that time, I started to attend my parents’ Indian Orthodox church, primarily on the pretense of spending time with my 80-year-old parents. But soon, I was taken by that church’s long-standing traditions, which have been embedded in my Indian family’s life for many generations.
Vicki, meanwhile, found All Souls in 2019 and, after accompanying her to some services, I recognized why she loved All Souls so much. I now plan to attend All Souls more often, to honor Vicki’s great affection for the parish and maintain her past support to All Souls.
Stewardship with Anna Gustafson
I first became interested in budgeting during my second year of teaching. I went to a teacher retirement workshop and learned that my pension was only supposed to cover half of my retirement income! This was news to me, and I started learning about budgeting and saving so that I could maximize the amount I was putting away each month. I put all of my donations and spending on a regular monthly plan, and it ended up being way easier to understand where everything was going. It simplified my life while allowing me to save more and spend without guilt.
Although All Souls has a bigger budget than I do, the principles are the same. Our programs need to know how much room they have to plan and spend for the upcoming months, and they get this information through our pledges. Pledges make up the vast majority of our planning money each year—when we have a solid idea of how much we have coming in, our programs can focus their attention on growing our amazing ministries at All Souls.
This year in particular, we may not gain as many new members as we usually do during in-person church. We typically lose about 11-19% of households each year, which is normal. This year has shown us much of the same. On the flip side, we usually gain slightly more households each year- 33 on average! This is how All Souls has grown so much in the last 10 years—welcoming newcomers and keeping them engaged. This year, while we’ve been creating online church together, we haven’t seen that influx of newcomers like we normally do. It’s a little harder to wander into a Facebook Live than it is for visitors to wander in off Cedar to the sound of the prelude. We want to be at full strength and ready to welcome newcomers when we can open in person again, so it’s even more important that we all plan ahead a bit more this year.
Most people increase their pledges year-over-year, but even if your pledge amount doesn’t increase it still helps the church a lot to know what our parameters are for the upcoming season of ministry. I may be the only person I know who’s passionate about budgeting, but it ultimately gives me a deep sense of peace and serenity when I know that the ends and the means match up. For my All Souls pledge, I consider how much I could donate each month, and multiply that by 12 to create my total pledge amount. If you’re a monthly budgeter, you could try this, too. Discover the peace of budgeting, and pass that peace on to our beloved community so we can feel firm in our foundation as we minister to the world. Please join us in pledging and planning as we look forward to 2021 together!
Update from the Regathering Task Force
Regathering for Worship
As Fr. Phil announced last Sunday, we are now in compliance with the city of Berkeley and approved by the Diocese of California to regather for outdoor worship. With this great news, we are set to have the first outdoor service on Sunday, October 25th at 9 am.
We will share details in the coming weeks, but here are some of the major points for you to consider:
– It will be a contemplative service, with no distribution of Communion, and with instrumental music only, as group singing and recitation are currently not allowed.
– The maximum capacity for the courtyard is 50. There will be a sign-up/reservation system done through Eventbrite. This will be shared in our next Pathfinders and on the website.
– We will strongly encourage attendees to bring their own chair. However, folding chairs will be available for anyone who needs one.
– All are welcome. Anyone who wishes to attend is welcome to come. We trust everyone to make their own responsible and calculated decision on whether to attend or not.
– Air quality or weather conditions might force us to cancel any given Sunday. People will be notified in advance.
We will continue to livestream the Sunday Eucharist at 11.15 am, returning somewhat to our pre-pandemic service schedule: 9 am and 11.30 am services (no 7.30 am service) with formation hour at 10.10 am.
We hope that in the coming weeks you can prayerfully consider whether you want to attend, and also pray for the Regathering team, as we finalize all the necessary components to offer a safe and meaningful service.
Last week, to celebrate St. Francis Day, we had a wonderful, socially distant, pet blessing in the courtyard after church. St. Francis is one of the most beloved figures in Christian history, and it was a joyful celebration of his commitment to seeing creation as a mirror of God that, if we listen, can teach us something new about the divine every day.
Sunday Livestreaming News
The livestream of Sunday services can be accessed through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
We have three class offerings this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study. Contact Daniel Prechtel, firstname.lastname@example.org, to join that Zoom call at 9:15 am!
- Imaginal Meditation: Why and How taught by the Rev. Dr. Daniel Prechtel on October 4, 11, 18 at 9:15 am.
There are a wide range of prayer practices that are part of our Christian spiritual tradition. Some are reflected in public liturgical prayer; others are expressed in personal ways of praying and meditating. In this course we will be looking at, and practicing, a form of prayer and meditation that is deeply personal, inter-relational, and uses our creative imaging capability.
Zoom link for Daniel’s class: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81964989924
- Gender, God, and the Church Today taught by the Rev. Dr. Paula Nesbitt on October 4, 11, 18 at 9:15.
God has been described extensively throughout the Bible and in Christian worship as Lord and Father. But how might other gendered and gender-neutral understandings deepen our knowledge of God and our faith, and help us to live affirmatively in a changing world? This 3-week series will explore feminine and other biblical images of the Divine, gender inclusive leadership and worship, and how feminist and similar forms of ethics can be used for social and spiritual justice.
Zoom link for Paula’s class: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86982368811
Children & Family News
We will be doing a children’s chapel program this Sunday at 9:30am via Zoom. It should last about 30 minutes. We are hoping that this will give the kids a time together for their own “church” and a time to see their friends as well. Please email Rev. Maggie Foote at email@example.com if you want a Zoom invite or have any questions.
If you are looking for some current information regarding Children’s Chapel or the upcoming Kids Book Club – check out the new additions to the All Souls website, which has been updated to include some new information and resources (including the links for all the storybook videos) for families.
Selfie Thanks from Kate and Cynthia
Thanks to everyone who submitted a selfie to celebrate the return of Father Phil from his sabbatical and to welcome our new Associate Rector, the Rev. Maggie Foote, to All Souls—on a day when most of us could not be present in the church because of the pandemic.
And special thanks to Meredith Stout, Kate’s mom, who Photoshopped and printed 100 photos(!) for the pews—as well as thumbnails, which were used for a card for Bishop Nedi Rivera from all of us. It read:
Thank You, Nedi!
May God be with you till we meet again—
with love from the people of
All Souls Episcopal Parish, Berkeley
Stephen Ministry: We’re here for you!
2020 has been a challenging year, right?! Most of us have been struggling and overwhelmed. You are not alone. Stephen Ministers understand and are available to listen, support and pray for you. We can offer you a confidential caring relationship or an occasional phone call to help you through these ever-changing times. Contact Maggie Foote at (513) 309-1079 or Madeline Feeley at (510) 495-4512 so we can be there for you.
Thursday Compline via Zoom
Here is the Zoom link for BCP Compline at 8:30pm each Thursday evening. The meeting ID is 786 3029 4068. For our safety online, the password needed to join the call is “Compline.” We hope you join us in prayer!
All Souls Geek Squad
If you’re having any trouble with technology during this time of tech-only contact with others, we want to help! On the homepage of our website is a box with the words “Support Desk.” Click on that box and you will be taken to a form that you can fill out. Once you fill that out, we’ll have someone get in touch with you to help with your tech problems. You can also click here to access the form directly.
Check out Season 2, Episode 4 of the Soulcast!
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
The ASP Food Drive continues to pick up and deliver food for the Berkeley Food Pantry on a weekly basis. Food contributors and drivers participate every other week. Please email Cathy: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Wednesday 9:00am Service
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
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.
Tiny Home Project
Hi there! We are Youth Spirit Artworks, a local nonprofit based in South Berkeley that offers homeless and low-income youth job training and empowerment programs through art. We are currently in the process of building the first Tiny House Village for homeless youth in the U.S.! Right now, we are in the final stretch of getting the Village finished – but, we need your help to get there! We have volunteer builds happening every Saturday at our Village site at 633 Hegenberger Road in Oakland. Builds start at 9:30 am and end at 4:00 pm. We ask that volunteers come wearing masks and ready to socially distance – there’s lots of space at the site! Builds can involve a variety of projects for those with and without construction experience, including building yurt floors, erecting yurts, painting planters and fence planks, completing Tiny House construction (ie., caulking, trimming, etc.), cleaning the site, and so forth.
Art on the Reredos
Here’s a little video with close-ups and a picture of the final mural at the back of the Quire.