From the Rector
Sitting to Stand
A couple of weeks ago, my guess is that most of the United States would not have been able to name the presumed backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. As of today, however, there is no doubt that millions Americans have an opinion about Colin Kaepernick.
Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the national anthem before preseason professional football games because of continued injustice and oppression in our nation has clearly struck a cultural nerve. There have been myriad articles and editorials written about his stance, he has been praised and vilified through social media. At this point in the news cycle, you may be taking a break from these stories, but if you haven’t encountered them already, an article that I have found interesting and helpful is this editorial by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about patriotism and athletes.
What has come clear to me is that Kaepernick’s actions have struck a nerve because like many powerful symbols, the flag of the United States and our national anthem are multivalent, as in they can represent many things at once. This makes them complex and filled with risk of misinterpretation, because I can look at a powerful symbol like the flag or the anthem and see one thing, while you can look at it and see something entirely different. For some, those iconic symbols stand in for our military and those that serve and sacrifice their lives, while for others they stand in for hard-fought civil liberties. Those are just two of the beliefs that the flag and anthem occupy, but for some reason there seems to be a prevailing notion that there can be only one way to understand these symbols. Instead, they represent the multiplicity of life in this nation.
People see a similar multivalence in Kaepernick’s action to sit while the anthem is being sung by those gathered facing the flag. Some see disagreement, others see disrespect. This, of course, is not new. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, sprinters from San Jose State at the 1968 Olympics, also faced tremendous backlash because of their actions of raising their fists (among other actions) during the playing of the national anthem following their placing first and third in the 200 meter dash. The silver medalist, a white Australian named Peter Norman, also endured criticism and isolation after he stood with Smith and Carlos in their protest. Because of the power of our symbols, the wide-spread popularity of sport, and the injustices that remain, the intersection of sport, patriotism, and protest is as potent today as it was nearly 50 years ago.
This past Sunday, I preached about Jesus entering the home of a Pharisee for a meal and offering a parable about what it means to come to the table—where you should sit and who should be invited. As with many sermons, this encounter between the Gospel of Jesus and the life I am trying to lead has continued to reverberate with me. And, as I have engaged more and more with Colin Kaepernick’s decision—why he has made it, and what he hopes will come of it—I have been thinking Jesus and the table.
In an interview at his locker following a football practice earlier this week, Kaepernick shared why he felt compelled to take this limited, but clearly powerful action. First, whether you find yourself agreeing with his decision or not, I recommend reading his words in total, as he offers context for his stance and often speaks with a humility that can easily be absent in this conversation about race, power, privilege, and what it means to be America.
For Kaepernick, this action was necessary because people of color are targets of sustained, systematic, unjust treatment by law enforcement in this country. He is not sitting during the anthem because he is dismissive of the sacrifice of soldiers of this nation, nor because of a lack of love for this country. To quote Fannie Lou Hamer, it seems Kaepernick is “sick and tired of being sick and tired” of the ways that people of color are systematically mistreated. And so, with little fanfare (he had done this before without notice), Colin Kaepernick began to manifest his protest by sitting down while others stand.
At the very least, it has once again forced into our national discourse a conversation about the state of this country, what it stands for and how it lives up to those remarkable self-evident truths. And, at the same time, questions remain. Is his action easily misinterpreted because of the diversity of ways we experience our national symbols? Yes. Do I find that some of his words are poorly chosen, inaccurate, or lack a broader perspective? Yes. Is he speaking a truth that some people in this country do not want to acknowledge? Yes. Could his action be more strategic, as it is unclear what cultural response will need to happen for him to stand for the anthem once again? That is my sense. Are some of the virulent reactions a result of our country’s difficulty in admitting that we are not living up the collective ideals we proclaim? I believe this to be the case.
For this Christian, it seems to me that Colin Kaepernick is engaging in the uncomfortable, complicated, sometimes painful work of Gospel living. He has come to the table and found that some who should be at the table are missing. And, he is using his place at the table, a high place as a professional athlete, to call our attention to those who are not fully invited to the feast.
By sitting down at a powerful moment, he is choosing to take a righteous stand. Amen.
WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS
In June, we welcomed new members into the All Souls family. Today and in the coming weeks, we’ll hear from many of them.
Glenn, Carol and Melody moved to the Bay Area from Chicago last December and are thrilled to have spent their first snow-free winter. Glenn is a Software Engineering Manager for a company in Oakland. Carol is a Medical Social Worker and Melody, 4, is now experienced enough with the Childrens Fairyland Amusement Park that she could likely land a job on their staff!
They started attending All Souls the Sunday after Christmas and were quickly taken by just how family friendly All Souls is. Glenn, a seminary student in a former life, is now active on the Adult Formation committee. Melody is the blur you will see running between the treats table and the playground after the 11:15 service.
Standing with Foster Youth
In 2015, after competing a parish-wide discernment process, All Souls’ vestry members identified responding to the needs of foster youth as one of four areas of “Christian Practice and Daily Action” to develop over the next few years (along with developing faith-based responses to climate change, providing accompaniment and advocacy for immigrants, and working towards racial justice).
In the spring of 2016, Raymond Yee and Laura Shefler took the first step in developing this initiative by leading an adult formation hour entitled “Standing with Foster Youth.” The sessions featured the voices of foster youth along with allies who work alongside them. The final session was dedicated to the question of how we as people of faith might respond to the needs of foster youth.
Some of the ideas that emerged from this discussion included:
- Develop a team of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) volunteers
- Partner with Braid Mission to develop a team of youth mentors and perhaps a Braid outpost in the East Bay
- Partner with a group home to fill their mailboxes with holiday (made during the Advent Festival?) and birthday cards for youth residents
- Gather and donate supplies (through an Advent in-gathering?) for First Place for Youth, Alternative Family Services, or another organization that serves foster youth
- Partner with California Youth Connection to assist with advocating for public policy that will improve the lives of foster youth
The next step is to form a leadership team to work on developing one or more of these (or other) initiatives that support foster youth and engage the All Souls community.
Are you interested in being part of this leadership team? If so, please contact me.
– Christine Trost
From the Archives
The Beginnings of All Souls, Chapter 2
Three days after the Rev. Mr. Hodgkin was installed as vicar of All Souls, (and 131 years after the midnight ride of Paul Revere), the great San Francisco earthquake and fire changed the San Francisco Bay area forever. More than half of the residents of San Francisco were homeless – between 200,000 and 300,000 out of a population of just over 400,000. Half of these homeless refugees from the 1906 earthquake and fire fled to the East Bay. When they recovered many remained to build new homes in north Berkeley, and some began to attend worship services in the Guild Hall of All Souls.
As more families moved onto the land north of the University campus, more space for worship services as All Souls became necessary. A new chapel (the old church building) was designed by Percy R. M. Jenkins, who served for many years as the Sunday School superintendent and a leader of All Souls Boy Scout troop (one of the first in Berkeley). [All Souls also sponsored a group of Sea Scouts in the 1940’s.] The new chapel was completed in time for Christmas services 1907. During that first Christmastide, All Souls received its first episcopal visit from the Right Reverend William Ford Nichols, Bishop of California. Again, the funds for the new building were raised from individual parishioners of St. Mark’s, of which All Souls was a mission.
Keeping with the philosophy of the time, the outside of the new “old chapel” was weathered brown shingles designed to blend with the brown hillside. The newspaper report described the building as “one of the most artistic edifices in Berkeley.” After a three year campaign to clear the debt for the new building, the new chapel was consecrated by Bishop Nichols on October 27, 1912, and parishioners of St. Mark’s who lived north of Hearst were encouraged to attend All Souls chapel, rather than making Sunday church attendance an all-day affair of packing a lunch and traveling by foot or carriage to St. Mark’s for the eleven o’clock service.
In its early days, the interior of All Souls Chapel was a pretty bare bones place – no altar, no pews (only bentwood chairs), no organ, no pulpit, no crosses, no windows, and no rood screen (only added later with the inscription “All Souls are Mine Saith the Lord”). On the other hand, it did have, and we still regularly use in the current chapel, a missal stand inscribed “All Souls’ Chapel – 1907″.
– Thomas Burcham
Last chance to order t-shirts!
Order by tomorrow, September 2nd!
We have four different designs, “God Loves You. No Exceptions.,” “If this were your church you’d be home by now,” “All souls welcome. Visitors expected!” and “Balm not bombs.” The designs are white and maroon on dark gray shirts. Each shirt is available in “men’s” and “women’s.” “Men’s” are $15.20 and “women’s” are $12.56. They are American made shirts printed in a Union print shop. Thanks to Jocelyn Bergen for the designs! Contact Danielle Gabriel with questions.
Order your shirts online here.
Note: Our store is ONLY active until September 2nd, so get your shirts now!!! Your shirts will be delivered after that date.
FAMILY GATHERING SEPTEMBER 3RD
Come connect with other kids, youth and parents at Codornices Park, Picnic Area 1, on September 3rd at 4:30 pm. Look forward to laid back fun, time to catch up after summer adventures, meet new folks, and share in some end-of-summer games. We’ll have the grill going, bring food to share! Contact Liz for more information, or RSVP here.
PARISH RETREAT REGISTRATION
Registration is nearly full for our annual Parish Retreat, happening September 16th – 18th at the Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg. This year our theme will focus our attention on Sabbath: A Time Apart. We will have time for fellowship, feasting, learning and resting, fun and adventure. Our middle and high school youth will be embarking on a parallel youth retreat, largely enjoying their own adventures and sometimes joining the rest of the community. There will be separate programming for kids and adults on Saturday morning, and also plenty of free time to explore and take advantage of all the Ranch has to offer.
You can learn more of the details and sign up here, or by talking with Emily Hansen Curran on Sunday. Please note that you will need to receive confirmation from Emily Hansen Curran and pay in order to be officially registered.
2016 Pledge Campaign Launch Brunch
Sunday, September 11th, 10:10 am, Parish Hall
Where do you see God’s generosity at work in your life and in the world? How do we respond to that generosity? Join us for a fabulous catered brunch in the Parish Hall to consider these questions and launch the 2016 pledge campaign. Vestry members and the stewardship committee will guide table conversations to help us delve into new experiences of giving as a spiritual practice and response to God’s abundance.
COME ONE, COME ALL — BUT COME ON THE RIGHT DAY!
This month the Vestry meeting is being moved from the third Wednesday to the fourth Wednesday, which is September 28th. As always, we’ll meet in the Common Room from 7:30 to 9:30 pm, and visitors are welcome.
YOUTH GROUP KICK-OFF BBQ
The youth kick-off potluck BBQ is Sunday, September 11th from 5:00 – 7:00 pm. Meet at the Parish House. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and buns will be provided. Contact Jess Powell to RSVP including what you will bring by Wednesday, September 7th.