FROM THE RECTOR
Formed and Re-formed
Now that our parish calendar has sped past Labor Day and our Parish Retreat there is no doubt that the new school year has begun. And along with other annual rites of fall, like Rally Sunday, the Blessing of the Backpacks, and the unveiling of our new Adult Formation Calendar, we have begun welcoming returning and new seminarians at All Souls. Last week you read Annie Jones’ reflection on her summer and return to All Souls, in this week’s Pathfinder you’ll find an introductory reflection from our new seminarian, Will Bryant.
After having served with you now for eleven years, it seems to me that this is an essential charism of this congregation—to help form people for holy orders. In addition to raising many people over decades to be priests and deacons, from the beginning of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific moving over to Berkeley from San Francisco, All Souls Parish has been active in forming people towards the priesthood—seventeen in my time here alone.
What I have learned, both through my own experience, and as mentor to others along this path, is that this process of formation is not about being formed into the Platonic ideal of Priest. Yes, there is a body of knowledge that is essential/helpful to know, and, yes, there are requisite skills that one must learn. But there is something more about being formed to be a priest, something that must come from within, that has to be worked through, sifted, honed. And, that while no one can do it for you, you cannot do this work alone. It takes a community (or, really, communities of people) willing to challenge, support, encourage, inspire, and guide. And for those of us who have received it, I can say that it is an incredible gift.
And one that is ongoing. There’s received wisdom in the Anglo-Catholic tradition (a current of the Episcopal Church that is especially steeped in catholicity) that it takes five years after ordination to “become” a priest. (incidentally, if you work a 2,000 work-year, that would be roughly the “10,000 hours” that some people believe it takes to really learn something) I think that the earned wisdom behind this belief is that we are continually in formation and re-formation. Seminary is an incredible formative time—through study, individual and communal prayer, intensive personal work, and spiritual direction, people often emerge from these years as changed, re-formed humans. And, this is but the beginning of a lifetime of being formed and re-formed.
This is just as true for any Christian. When we use the word “formation” to describe the hour between our 9a and 11:15a services, we do this to signal that this isn’t simply teaching and learning to grow one’s intellect. It is about discerning the motives behind our actions, testing the gaps between what we profess and how we act, finding patterns to help ground us, and intentionally learning about the Christian faith, a body of knowledge wider and deeper than we might ever be able to fully appreciate.
The challenge, as I’ve seen it, is that we sometimes stop our learning somewhere in our Sunday School formation (if we were offered one), maybe the 3rd grade, maybe the 10th. And we then try to engage in what are often incredible complex lives. Or we come up against moral and ethical challenges, unsure of the way forward.
Take it from me, someone who has immersed himself in the pursuit of the art of being human for some time now. I am in constant need of re-formation. By encountering the texts of scripture, readings from practitioners throughout the centuries, learning from the myriad teachers in this parish, and conversing with others trying to live this Christian way, I am learning more and more who God is hoping for me to be.
It could be why I love serving this congregation so much, as this seems to be one of the gifts that we offer to the world around us—a place and a people ready and waiting to walk the Christian path with anyone who wishes to practice and to learn.
From our Seminarian
Hello, All Souls! My name is Will Bryant and I so excited to be your field education seminarian for the next two years. I come from a small town just outside the beautiful city of Asheville, North Carolina. I am currently in my second year at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, where I am in the process of completing my Master’s degree in Divinity. God willing, I will be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church upon completion of my degree in 2021!
I am someone who is driven to go out beyond the walls of the church to speak to people and show people about Jesus. I served as a missionary with the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC), the missionary branch of the Episcopal Church, for two years before I discerned my call to the priesthood. I spent my first year working alongside seafarers in the maritime mission organization, the Mission to Seafarers in the port of Hong Kong. After that transformative year, I was invited to spend a second year in the YASC program working at the refugee center beneath St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Rome, Italy. Both of these years were critical in helping me hear my call towards ministry, and understand that faith is meant to be shared.
This desire to take the gospel message outward has also manifest itself in a recent decision to pursue military chaplaincy. This fall, I will commission as an officer through the Navy’s Chaplain Candidate Program. I have never served in the military, yet I have felt a call to minister to those who serve in the armed forces.
I do have a few hobbies that I like to pursue outside of my studies. My passions include reading fiction, playing video games, binge-watching tv series on any number of online networks, cooking, running, and riding my bike. In the summer of 2019, I was a participant in the AIDS LifeCycle, a 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise funds and awareness to the impact of the HIV/AIDS virus. It was an epic, beautiful cycling pilgrimage that I am still processing today.
I am so excited to be joining the vibrant community that is All Souls. I am so excited to worship and sing with you each and every Sunday. I hope you will come introduce yourself to me at some point this fall so that we can get to know one another.
Flowers at All Souls
Every Sunday, except during Lent, beautiful flowers or greens (Advent) adorn the altar in the church and the chapel, thanks to the work of our sacristan flower team and the donations of parishioners to the flower fund. A contribution to the Flower Fund is a meaningful way to honor someone special, give thanks for a special occasion, or remember a loved one.
I am on the flower arranging team and am responsible for purchasing and arranging the flowers about every six weeks or so. I admit that it can sometimes feel like a chore, but then I see that the flowers for that Sunday are given in memory of a departed loved one, or on the occasion of someone’s wedding anniversary, or to honor a graduation, and it’s no longer a chore. It becomes a prayer for the giver and those being remembered or honored and I am grateful.
I often give the flowers in loving memory of my husband, Frank, on the Sunday closest to May 12, his birthday. I am grateful to the flower team member that week who takes my gift of remembrance and turns it into a beautiful arrangement for the glory of God, and who, I am sure, prays for me and Frank while doing it.
Anyone can make a contribution to the flowers for any Sunday desired by signing up on the Flower Chart located in the narthex. More than one gift can be made on any given Sunday, so if your desired date is already taken and you can’t squeeze it onto the chart, just call the church office. The donor (s) and the occasion or remembrance will be listed in the bulletin for that Sunday.
You can put a check for your donation in the offering plate or mail to the church office. Please note “Flower Fund” on the memo line. You may donate whatever amount you wish, but, for reference, the average weekly cost for flowers is $75. All donations go into the fund and are disbursed throughout the year as needed. Multiple donations are very welcome, especially at Christmas and Easter when many more flowers are used.
Also, if you would like to join the flower team (no special skills required) and be part of this prayer-filled ministry, I’d be glad to talk with you.
Scenes from the Ranch
This past weekend, 136 All Soulsians made the trek up to the Bishop’s Ranch, an Episcopal Camp and Conference Center in Sonoma County, for our annual Parish Retreat. It was a glorious weekend: hot enough to warrant many hours in the pool, cool enough in the evening to lounge in the grass together. The retreat tends to look like a small slice of the Realm of God: all ages together, playing and laughing, singing and talking about what matters most. Here’s a glimpse of that sweet, thin place we shared:
The place itself is just beautiful:
There was art to be made!
And then, there was the Annual Talent Optional Night…
It is just very good to be together.
This Sunday and Monday!
Taizé Evening Prayer, with Brothers from Taizé
Join us on September 22nd, during Formation Hour, and then again on Monday evening, the 23rd, when Brothers Emile and John from the Taizé Community in Burgundy, France will lead us in a Taizé Evening Prayer service. For more information contact The Rev. Peggy Patterson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
STEWARDSHIP LAUNCH BRUNCH
Please join us on Sunday, September 29th at 10:10 am in the Parish Hall for our annual Stewardship Launch Brunch. There will be a delicious spread of food, the Stewardship Team will be sharing out about where we are now financially and where we hope to be going, and collectively, we’ll be talking with one another about what matters most. Sunday School will still be in session, and childcare for babies and toddlers will be available in the nursery, as always. Come, one and all!
BLESS THIS MESS: DIGGING INTO PARENTING AND FAITH
Conversation with the author + playdate and potluck
Parents, mark your calendars! On Saturday, October 5th, 4:00 – 6:30 pm, we’ll be coming together for a special event. Rev. Molly Baskette is the senior pastor at First Congregational Church, just on the other side of the Cal Campus. She is also the co-author of a brand new book — Bless this Mess: A modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World. In it, Molly tackles the thorny questions of parenting we all wrestle with at one time or another, from the perspective of a progressive Christian. Alongside this perspective, her co-author Dr. Ellen O’Donnell offers her wisdom as a child psychologist, helping us to understand more of what is going on developmentally at these different stages, and what might actually be helpful to our children.
So! We’ll have childcare on the playground from 4-5:15, while the parents have time to hear from Molly and crack open this rich topic together. Her book will also be available to purchase if you don’t yet have it. Then we’ll enjoy a laid-back potluck together. Please sign up here by September 30th, so we can be sure to have sufficient childcare!
JOB OPENING: PARISH ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
The search is open for our next Administrative Assistant. Do you know someone who is looking for half-time work, experienced in desktop publishing, volunteer coordination and property management? Are they familiar with liturgical Christian communities, are able to be flexible, and have a great sense of humor? Please send the job posting to them, available on our website here. Please note that people who are already active in the All Souls Parish community are not eligible to apply. Our hope is that by all of us sharing this posting far and wide, we’ll be able to find a great fit… thank you for your help!
FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS & BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS
Sunday, October 6
All pets welcome! Stuffed animals, too! Bring your favorite beasts to either the 7:30 or 11:15 services. The main Blessing of the Animals will be after the 11:15 service, around 12:30, in the courtyard. All are welcome… but please keep predators leashed.