From the Rector

The Gathering

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week marked the annual gathering of deacons, priests and the bishop of our diocese. We prayed together, listened to each other, studied alongside each other, broke bread together—in general, we made community with one another other. As the retreat was ending I began wondering about what makes these retreats so important for me as a priest and as a person.

Sometimes it’s the program, though often it’s only the extremes, good and bad that resonate for long. The setting at the Bishop’s Ranch is remarkable—the Dry Creek Valley, Mt. St. Helena in the distance, the Chapel, Ranch House, the Swing Pavilion, and now the new pool are touchstones of beauty and hospitality each and every visit.

But what I am reminded of each and every year, the reason why I feel so fortunate to be able to attend, is that in this gathering I am able to re-connect with this body of people who know me so well. Some of them have known me since I was a child, others were chaplains for me as a teenager, many of them were part of my discernment to the priesthood as a young adult. When I gather in this space, with these people, I am seen and feel whole in a way that makes me feel deeply grateful.

And it has reminded me of the power of gathering, and specifically gathering as the family of families. It is what makes our annual parish retreat, coming up at the Bishop’s Ranch next weekend, so powerful for so many at All Souls. Again, the setting is extraordinary, but what sets this time apart is the rare opportunity for octogenarians to play badminton with ten year olds, people in their 50s to bake bread with five-year-olds, teenagers and toddlers to wrestle together.

When we gather—and are present to all there—it fundamentally changes us. We are connected to the whole in ways that are life-giving, healing, holy. This happens as well in times that are joyous and in moments of trial. And even though we only go on retreat to the Bishop’s Ranch as a parish once a year, it is this feeling, this encounter that we prepare ourselves for each and every Sunday.

Often, this glimpse of the gathering is seen for me at the table or in our approach to the table. When people approach to give thanks—for new jobs, for years of marriage, for the life of someone loved but seen no longer—and then when we gather to break bread and share wine I have a similar sense of the family gathered around the table, seen and known as whole. For when we do this, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to hold up our lives to be seen by others—our imperfect, sometimes broken lives—we allow ourselves to be held up by the Family and in the process can be made whole again. It is a gift that is offered whether we feel ready or worthy, or prepared. And, remarkably, all we need to do it is to show up.



From the Associate for Children and Youth

Young People of All Souls Parish!

My Name is Carolyn and I’m hecka excited to be the new Youth Minister at All Souls.

3 things you should know about me 1) I am really tall 2) I like sushi A LOT 3) I know the best whale joke you’ll ever hear. Ask me to tell it when I see you.

I’m really looking forward to getting to know you all. I want to know what you want out of Sunday School and Youth Group. Here’s some things I was thinking:

Stuff we might talk about:
*How Jesus was a rebellious radical dude
*Exploring doubt and asking tough questions
*There are 40k Christian denominations and a zillion world religions. Why are we Episcopalian?
*The Bible. What’s up with that?
*How does all this church stuff apply to my real life?
*What do I want and need from my faith?

Stuff we might do:
*nature hikes
*bike rides
*other amazing adventures

Stuff you need to know:
*Sunday School starts this Sunday! Join us with YOUR ideas in the youth room from 10-11!
*Youth Group starts September 28th.
*Parish Retreat is coming up: September 19th-21st. Fun youth activities + swimming, games, campfire and so much more! Let us know if you need a ride.

What do YOU think we should do in Sunday School and Youth Group?
email me @, come by my office (I have snacks!), or call me (510) 485-9014.


From the Parish Archivist

Happy 90th Birthday to our Parish Hall

August 2014 marked the 90th birthday of our Parish Hall. Following the great North Berkeley fire of 1923, the parish (which was still a mission of St. Mark’s) quickly decided to go forward with the plan to build a new Parish House, for which subscriptions had been raised before the great fire. Everyone understood that some parishioners would not be able to pay their original pledges for the new building because of the fire, and that other pledges would be delayed. Nevertheless, the parish went forward. The new building was designed by Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr. Walter’s father was an Anglican priest who had immigrated from England with his family when Walter was twelve and finally settled in Berkeley in 1898. The picture may not be clear enough to read the sign over the work building, but the building contractor was John Bartlett, who was the brother of Louis Bartlett, the mayor of Berkeley from 1919 to 1923, and the uncle of my former neighbor on Indian Rock Avenue, Ruth Bartlett Thomas.

The new Parish House (now our Parish Hall) was built in the summer of 1924, and was blessed in the early evening on Friday, August 15, 1924. The blessing was followed by the first parish dinner in the new building. Because the new “Parish House” had a light-colored stucco finish, the Women’s Guild undertook a project to raise funds to have the exterior of the Chapel refinished in stucco to match. The new building provided classrooms for the Church School and for adult Bible classes as well. Adult classes included a series on the gospels and one on the life of St. Paul taught by the Rev. Dr. Herbert H. Powell, dean of C.D.S.P. from 1923 to 1933, and the locum tenens for All Souls while the Reverend W. R. H. Hodgkin was away during World War I. You will note that roughly two-thirds of the original Parish Hall remains—it was cut down in order to accommodate the new church in the mid-1950s. Can you find the other modifications?

—Thomas Burcham

From the Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Group

Disaster strikes! Are we ready?

Whether shaken by a 7.2 earthquake, threatened by wildfire, or assisting a parishioner fallen over during a Sunday service, All Souls would like to be prepared. What are our responsibilities in the event of a disaster? What will the needs of this congregation be during an emergency? The All Souls Emergency &Disaster Preparedness Group, chaired by Malcolm Plant, has been meeting regularly since early June to address these issues.

Our work began by studying the US Disaster Response Program of Episcopal Relief and Development, which sets out the following goals for congregations following a disaster:1) to mitigate the damage to our church buildings and belongings, 2) to resume the business of the church as soon as possible post-disaster, 3) to support our parishioners during the time of crisis, and 4) to provide assistance to our vulnerable neighbors after an emergency.

During our meetings, the Group has determined All Souls own list of priorities: 1) to resume worship services as soon as possible, 2) to make the All Souls Disaster Preparedness Program known to the community, 3)to make sure that the preschool and all other building functions are possible, 4) to make sure that all ministries are able to continue their work and, 5) to communicate to the public the status of the church and its activities.

A key step in preparedness is to compile an inventory of resources. John Love has a near-complete inventory of the church property. In addition, we are developing a roster of staff and lay people able to assist in various types of emergency.

Where do you belong in this plan? We can begin to figure that out with your help. Last Sunday, Disaster Preparedness/Emergency forms were distributed. These forms will also be available on upcoming Sundays and can be accessed online soon. The Disaster/Emergency Forms request information, including emergency contacts, both inside and outside of our member households, and regarding each of our personal physical needs as well as our skills and equipment available to assist others.

With the information you provide regarding personal physical needs, skills, and equipment, we will be able to develop more comprehensive plans for caring for each other. Please help us in our effort to prepare for the worst and return a completed form to the church office, or to a Group member (Malcolm Plant, Ray Conception, Bob Cross, Fred Lothrop, John Love, Margaret Sparks, Rick Sweeney).

—Margaret Sparks

Opportunity for Serving the Community

You Can Help to Build a Playground!

Join Kim Wong and others from the community Oct 4, 8 am to 3 pm to build a playground for kids in an underserved neighborhood in San Francisco. This project is sponsored by Family and Child Empowerment Services (FACES SF), KaBOOM! and and they are looking for 100 volunteers, no special skills or tools needed. This is a wonderful opportunity for folks from All Souls of all ages to come together to work with our neighbors in the wider community. You can come on your own or put together a team, but you must register in advance. There will be opportunities for people to come work on Thursday, October 2nd from 8:00-4:30 if that works better for your schedule. Food, music and fun for all! Contact Kim Wong at to sign up.