From the Rector
A Deep Breath
Sometimes in life—if we are fortunate—we are offered the opportunity to breathe deeply. I am grateful and humbled to share with you that I have been offered one of those opportunities, at a time when I did not expect it. And, truthfully, at a time when I could really benefit from it. In this case, this deep breath comes as a month of sabbatical leave to be taken from mid-September to mid-October.
Because it will be challenging to take a full sabbatical for several years and because of the year that has been, a chance to take a deep breath at this point seems wise. And so, after conversation with the Wardens, the Vestry, and other senior leaders at All Souls, I will be taking a month of sabbatical leave from September 17th to October 14th.
Across the conversations that I’ve had with the broader leadership of the parish around this month of sabbatical, I’ve heard a consistent theme—strategic sustainability. What has been stated to me, over and again, is that this congregation believes in, and wants to live by, practices of sustainability. And, in recognition of the challenges of this past year, especially as it has related to the extra time, effort, and attention of the Parish House Project, the leadership of this Parish wanted to invest in my sustained leadership of this body. I cannot express how thankful I am for this trust and care.
So, what will happen while I take this deep breath? Well, first what will be happening here at All Souls. My anticipation is that the corporate life of this body will continue unabated, supported by a broad and deep group of teachers, writers, preachers, pastors, and leaders. Here are some of the areas to which I pay particular attention:
- Pastoral care will continue to be led by the Rev. Liz Tichenor, supported by the assisting clergy and Stephen Ministers.
- Preaching will be shared by several of our preachers, including Liz, Nikky Wood, and the Rev. Michael Lemaire. The teaching and communication I often offer will be shared by many, including the Wardens and members of the staff.
- The Parish House Project group, ably led by Ed Hahn, will continue in their work of guiding the project through the various twists and turns ahead. At this time it will involve the latest presentation with the Zoning Adjustment Board (our preview in July exceeded expectations), and gathering financing.
- The administration of the parish will be shared by the Wardens and the Staff, particularly in regards to the strategy and week-to-week operations.
What will I be doing? It’s my sense that a primary focus of a time of Sabbath is rest and connection. As part of this, during the month away I’ll be making a couple of retreats. One will be the yearly gathering with the clergy of this diocese, the focus of this year’s diocesan retreat being, “Ancient Wisdom + Modern Innovation”, led by the Rev. Mashea Evans and the Rev. Dr. Jay Johnson. The other retreat will be a return to the St. Francis Pilgrimage with nine other priests, this time in the Paria Wilderness of southern Utah, centered on the book, “The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality,” by Belden Lane.
Another foci during this time of Sabbath will be learning and reflection. In past sabbaticals, I have explored facets of an animating force in my priesthood––how and why Christian communities come together and thrive. This time I will reflect on a very particular element of Christian community: leadership retreats. Over my time as a priest, I have seen how leadership retreats (for Vestries, Bishop’s Committees, Boards of Directors, etc). can be an excellent medium for planning, paying attention to the energy and vitality of a group (or the lack thereof), learning about group dynamics, and beginning the necessary work of building trust.
This idea emerged for me this past February, when the Rev. Alissa Newton and I led a clergy retreat for the Diocese of Rochester, NY, called, “Leading Faithfully in Times of Anxiety.” As part of the preparation of that retreat I realized that the four core models of the College of Congregational Development could be excellent foundations for leadership planning. So my hope is to start the work towards four retreat plans that All Souls and other Christian bodies could use to learn how their community can be more faithful, healthy, and effective.
So this is what I will be doing following our Parish Retreat. I cannot express enough to you all how grateful I am to be gifted with this opportunity, for time to, rest and reflect. A time to take a deep breath indeed for the Gospel work that has been and is yet to be.
From All Souls for Climate Action
Many of us know the salient facts about climate change. Here are just a few of the most important statistics, all of which are from the webpages of NASA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
- The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with the five warmest years on record taking place since 2010.
- Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century.
- Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.The Arctic Ocean may become essentially ice free in summer before mid-century.
- The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing since 1950.
- In the American West, greater heat and drought have increased wildfires. The Sonoma, Carr, and Yosemite wildfires of the past two years have brought this reality home to us in California in very personal ways. Declining water supplies, reduced agricultural yields, health impacts in cities due to heat, and flooding and erosion in coastal areas are additional concerns. The U.S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.
After remaining relatively stable at around 280 parts per million (ppm) for millennia, carbon dioxide (CO2) began to rise in the nineteenth century as people burned fossil fuels
in ever-increasing amounts. This upward trend continues today with CO2 concentrations breaking the 400 ppm mark in 2016. The rate of increase during the past 100 to 150 years has been much more rapid than in other periods of the Earth’s history. The warming effect of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases is well established and can be demonstrated with simple science experiments and satellite observations.
Climate change is serious; climate change is real. It affects the whole planet and especially those living in poverty. When absorbing this information, we all have a tendency to feel overwhelmed and powerless in the face of these global developments. The denial of the overwhelming evidence of climate change by many of our elected leaders in Washington is a further frustration.
As Christians, however, we are a people of faith and hope. Our All Souls community also the good fortune to live in the State of California, which has always been an environmental leader and is continuing to work aggressively to address the threats of climate change. In addition, we are members of a faith community, a diocese, and a national church that are committed to action on climate change. Our Vestry has established climate action as a priority for our parish. Bishop Marc is a climate activist and attended the Parish Climate Conference in December 2015.
If you are concerned about climate change and would like to learn more about how we can respond, the month of September offers a special opportunity. To that end, please consider joining with other members of All Souls in one or more climate activities in the coming two weeks. First, the Climate Action March (“Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice”) is scheduled for Saturday, September 8 in San Francisco, with events starting in the early morning. September 8 at 1:00 p.m. is also the time of the memorial service of our beloved parishioner, Fred Lothrop, which many of us want to attend. Some of us will attempt to make an appearance at the Climate Action event and then leave early to return to the church for the service.
Those of us who would like to attend some portion of the Climate Action activities will gather in front of the main entrance to the Ferry Building (below the famous clock tower) at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. We will then proceed to nearby Ferry Park (right next to Clay Street) where an interfaith service is scheduled for 9:15. After that we can mingle with the gathered crowd and spend some time connecting with other groups. There will also be music and a “choral Flashmob” as part of the pre-March activities.The March itself, which will proceed up Market Street, starts at 11:00. Those of us attending Fred’s memorial service will leave early to take BART back to Berkeley.
Next, a Global Climate Action Summit will be held in San Francisco September 12-14. Governor Jerry Brown is the co-chair for the summit and Bishop Marc has played a leading role in organizing the participation of faith communities. The Global Climate Action Summit will bring leaders and people together from around the world. It will be a moment to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of states, regions, cities, companies, and citizens with respect to climate action. It will also be an impetus for deeper worldwide commitments and accelerated action from countries—supported by all sectors of society—that can put the globe on track to prevent dangerous climate change and realize the historic Paris Agreement.
While the primary location of the Summit meetings is the Moscone Convention Center, Bishop Marc and Grace Cathedral will be hosting many of the faith-based workshops and talks. There will be a Multi-Faith Service at the Cathedral on September 12 at 4:00 pm. .
A number of very interesting faith-rooted workshops – all of which are free — will occur at the Cathedral throughout the days of September 12, 13, and 14. You can see the full schedule and register here. Here are just a few of the workshops being offered: (a) How congregations are leading on climate: success stories; (b) Climate Justice and equitable climate policy; (c)The Christian imperative to protect forests for climate change mitigation and biodiversity; (d) Sustaining Earth Our Island Home – An “App” to Support Climate Solutions; and (e) Act as if everything depends on you and pray as if everything depends on God.
Please think about joining us for one of these events.
— Lewis Maldonado
From the Associate for Music
The English composer William Byrd’s collection of Psalms, Sonnets, & Songs (1588) represented something of a re-launch of the English music publishing industry, over which Byrd then held a monopoly. Well produced, with poetry by stars like Philip Sidney and Walter Raleigh, the volume was quite the statement, particularly following the failure of Byrd’s last foray into the market in 1575.
It also included an unusual item in its front-matter, a list of “reasons briefly set down by the author to persuade everyone to learn to sing.” The list claimed singing brought physical, intellectual, and spiritual benefits that could promise Elizabethans an untapped source of religious and social advantage. But arguably the most memorable words on the page came in the form of the couplet that followed the list: “Since singing is so good a thing, I wish all men would learn to sing.”
Putting aside the misogyny built into the language and culture of early modern England, we might recognize in this couplet an attitude that, even 430 years on, holds tremendous currency. In many religious traditions singing is a way of elevating praise, pouring out thanksgiving, or expressing sorrow; one does not have to look far to find music scholars writing about bodily discipline, or about the formation and maintenance of communities. I’d be willing to wager that most All Soulsians would agree with the assertion that singing is good.
Like Byrd, I would love for everyone to learn to sing, but several generous volunteers and I are devoting special attention right now toward the musical engagement of our elementary-school-aged children. More specifically, we are working toward our own re-launch, this one of our Children’s Choir, to give it more consistency and cohesion. Under the leadership of Tess Taylor and Toni Martinez-Borgfeldt, we’ll be rehearsing Sundays following the 11:15 service, on a near-weekly basis, and hoping to begin instruction in basic singing and reading skills. Tenysa Santiago is helping organize other parent volunteers.
So bring your child of age 7-12 to our Children’s Choir Kickoff in the Parish Hall this coming Sunday (9 September), immediately following the 11:15am service (at roughly 12:45pm). Food and fellowship will be followed by a brief introduction and rehearsal. For further information, please contact me at email@example.com. “Since singing is so good a thing,” please come and “learn to sing!”
One of the quieter but more remarkable things we do together as the Body of Christ is gather to mourn, give thanks, and collectively look towards the hope of the resurrection when someone among us dies. In our present age, memorial services often tend to be smaller affairs, a gathering of close family and friends — though as we’ve seen recently, they can become quite elaborate for celebrities or national leaders. These services take on a particular nature when the person who has died was a pillar in our community though. It is a chance to remember how we’ve arrived at this place we have come to call home, and take time to give thanks for the people, and specifically this person, who made it possible for so us for so many years. It is a time to pay attention to how and why we are knit together, and to what end we form this community. It’s also a time to think about how we want to live, focused through the lens of how we will all leave this world. To that end, I hope you will join with many other souls this Saturday at 1 pm to celebrate the life of Fred Lothrop. For decades, he gave of himself quietly, consistently, and with great love, all towards building up the realm of God here on the corner of Cedar and Spruce. Come — learn from a life well lived, love each other, and give thanks.
To read more about this remarkable life, you can find his obituary on Berkeleyside.
In peace and gratitude,
USHERS, GREETERS, & SOUND TECHS, OH MY…
We are in need of more help on Sunday mornings in these specific roles above. If you are looking for ways to dive deeper here at All Souls, or new ways to be here, we’d love to have you jump into a new role! Please see any clergy or staff for more information or to say “yes!”.
Formation for All Ages
Classes begin this Sunday at 10:10 am!
Preschoolers through third graders meet in our two Godly Play classrooms in the basement, and 4th and 5th graders meet up in the Crow’s Nest – follow the back stairs all the way up, it’s right above the Parish Hall. They’ll be working with a brand new curriculum called Seasons of the Spirit, which connects with our lectionary and leans heavily on art and justice. Youth are welcome to come enjoy informal hangout fun and conversation in Emily Hansen Curran’s office.
Living by the Book: The Book of Common Prayer as a Spiritual Resource
For Episcopalians, worship with the Book of Common Prayer is central to our identity. In this series, we’ll explore the treasures of our prayer book, looking beyond its use in Sunday worship to consider its resources for Christian life, including daily prayer and the seasons of our lives. Taught by the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers in the Parish Hall.