From the Rector
Hope for Our Home
In the 2019 science fiction television series Watchmen (based on the 1986 graphic novels by Alan Moore), one of the plot lines involves the use of a pharmaceutical named Nostalgia. The tag line of this fictional drug, a drug that vividly recreates memories is, “The present is a worrisome time because the future is unknown. That leaves only the past to comfort us.”
In our own present time, a time filled with anxiety producing news, it seems to me that the creators of this series have very effectively diagnosed a condition from which many of us suffer. Given the uncertainties of what lies ahead––politically, economically, environmentally––many of us cling to the past, and often a rose-colored version of our past, one that often conveniently elides the confusion and uncertainty of what was actually lived through.
Last week, in my article about the West Coast Convivium, I shared that I emerged from that gathering with a renewed sense of hope. Part of this hope was kindled in a presentation by one of the conveners of the Convivium, the Rev. Dr. Paul Fromberg, as he helped us begin to move from simply surviving the present to also begin to imagine what the Spirit might be inhabiting next.
As part of this act of imagination, Paul taught us that nostalgia, though it is comprised of Greek words, is actually a modern creation of the 17th century. It was coined by a Swiss medical student who observed that many of the Swiss mercenaries, hired to fight wars for various nobles across Europe, experienced intense feelings of disconnection, melancholy, and a visceral longing for their homeland. To describe the condition he was observing he created the word “nostalgia,” combining the Greek word nostos, meaning homecoming, with a form of algos, meaning pain or despair.
At its origin, nostalgia was about the pain and suffering of being separated from one’s home, from the people and the places that give us life and meaning. It was a term created to describe the pain of disconnection. But over the next few centuries, our use of the term shifted, and by the 1900s it had taken on a new, much more positive, meaning. Instead of describing what was left behind as loss, the word now had come to mean a rosy remembrance of what had been. Nostalgia became a practice that alleviates the difficulties of the present by remembering a more optimistic past.
I think that the reason that the Watchmen’s satirical use of nostalgia struck such a chord for me is that is I don’t know that I have much space for retrospective optimism, and especially for the overly-rosy remembrance of a past to assuage and cover over the challenges of the present. In fact, as Paul reminded us, it was the Episcopal monk, priest and author Martin Smith, who said, that optimism is, “a cheap, over the counter substitute for hope.”
Living in hope is a fundamental Christian discipline. It’s hope in the in-breaking of the Commonwealth of God, hope of a renewed sense of God’s presence with us, that allows us meet the moments of this day, as challenging as they may be. It’s the remembrance of a promise made a long time ago, with no drugs required.
NB: if you have not seen the HBO series Watchmen it is stunning. Heads up, though, there is violence in the series, some of it racialized, and several of the scenes are difficult to watch. And, it is one of the most creative and insightful views on structural racism in the United States that I’ve come across.
What Happens When You Lend the Church a Video Camera
I’ve been an Episcopalian for 43 years. I was a chalice bearer and lector in our church in Chicago, and continued the same when we moved to Los Gatos in 1995. We moved to Berkeley in August 2019, shopped around for churches and decided on All Souls in early February 2020. I still remember the welcome we felt at the Shrove Tuesday dinner. We signed up for the soup and story and attended two of those before the Covid lockdown began. We did the new members orientation and welcome virtually; it was odd to be part of a church but not know anyone in it, but 2020 was odd in general. Ann and I did meet Phil early on and I volunteered that I had an HD video camera and I had some skills with video, even if at an amateur level. As we started to livestream, I was locked down in my house, but the church had my camera.
What started with that simple loan blossomed into a set of ever-increasing commitments! The brunt of the video work during lockdown was borne by Jim and Scott; Emily asked me if I’d be willing to be a third person, so you’ve seen me on the platform at the back of the church. From there, I noticed that the remote cameras were not reliable because of the poor network setup at the church. We set up a new WiFi network, that doesn’t require running wires across the floor, which is available everywhere in the building. The name of that network is AllSoulsParish and information/password is on a few placards around the church. It extends through the whole grounds of the church, being strongest under the church and in the parish hall. Most recently I’ve been working on bringing in new laptops for zoom and getting the church network and computing structure in place as the part-time “IT guy” for the church. I’m about at my limit of commitments to the church!
Once things began to lighten up in 2021 I resumed being a chalice bearer, lector, and intercessor. Video duties had me working every night in Holy week from Thursday through Sunday. I’d been to each service individually but never all of them in one year. It was a very moving experience which I recommend that others do if you’ve not before. The dinner with Maundy Thursday was especially meaningful as it centered us all as part of the community.
Ann and I live in North Berkeley, have two children and four grandsons aged from almost 1 to almost 7. Our son in Pinole and two children are the reason we moved from Los Gatos to here; we’re very happy here and enjoy being able to have grandchildren at our house, attend soccer games and more.
After the false start of 2020, we now feel that we’re part of the community of All Souls. And it all began with loaning a camera.
Our Ministry to Kayakameena
One of the things that has most moved me and deepened my connection to the ASP community has been my participation in our ministry to the Kayakameena nursing home in Berkeley. For over 40 years, All Soulsians have made church with our friends there on the afternoon of the third Sunday of every month. This practice has been suspended since March of 2020, and we are very happy that we will soon be able to be with our friends there again, to make church together with residents and staff, conducting a simple service offering communion to anyone who would like to receive it. We also share personal fellowship with the residents, and pray with and/or for them as requested.
We look forward to welcoming new participants to our Kayakameena team, which has recently included Carol Terry, Elena Ramirez, Marsha Thomas-Thompson, Mary Elgin, and me, Julie Holcomb. Our services are full of music, with Carol or Mary at the piano, joined from time to time by other musical All Soulsians such as Billie Narver on flute, and Suzanne Siebert and friends on recorders, and also a resident who shared his excellent bass guitar playing. It will be easy and wonderful for you to join us in this rewarding ministry of All Souls Parish that we have missed so much. If our services are in the outside courtyard rather than the group activity room with the piano, as seems likely to be the case at first, we will especially need more singing voices and instruments for accompaniment.
Long-time All Soulsian Madeline Feeley recalls that this ministry began in 1981, and she “stood up in church one day in 1984/1985 (?), after hearing a call for volunteers. Our team was led by a seminarian (we had several over the years), assisted by Harriet Ward and Helen Stanley (who are both gone now). Once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, we arrived at Kyakameena to have church in the Green Room. Some residents were already there, watching TV or waiting, while others were rounded up by us or staff. We poked into the rooms lining the hallway to see if anyone wanted to come to church. Once there, we did a shortened form of the Eucharist; highlights were always the hymns (“Holy, Holy, Holy” was a consistent favorite), the Lord’s Prayer, and Psalm 23. Those who attended, from Baptists to Presbyterians to Catholics, had a deep and intimate recall of the parts of the service they loved. One woman always corrected our “Ah-men” with her own loud “Ay-men”. Sometimes we had a piano player, but regardless, we always had hearty singers. When it was time for communion, as we circulated among the wheelchairs distributing wafers and wine, I realized that these older bodies had carried the faith for years and years, and their witness was truly a gift for those of us visiting.”
I would only add that not all of the residents are elderly, and that one of them I’ve known is Buddhist with a Presbyterian background, who told me that our service helped her let go of the anger she felt about her situation. I will always remember this person and the genuine fellowship we shared.
Additional from Madeline
Dr. Bill Donald (parishioner) and Rev. Bill Clancy (All Souls’ rector) were instrumental in the creation of AEMCH (An Episcopal Ministry to Convalescent Hospitals), in 1981, which was run by Deacon Arlinda Cosby and a Board consisting of volunteers from participating congregations. Each of these churches donated to AEMCH, which provided support and guidance to volunteers.
Prior to 1981, All Souls and other churches in the Alameda Deanery had teams that visited nursing homes; AEMCH gave the volunteers training, education, and leadership in the form of seminarians from CDSP. Over the years, Revs. Bill Fay and Alec Blair were active as visitors and supporters.
Save the Dates
- September 16-18, All Parish Retreat at the Bishop’s Ranch (register here)
- October 2, Feast of St. Francis & Pet Blessing
Join us for worship this week:
- 9am, in-person, indoors
- 11:15am, in-person, indoors. This service will also be live streamed (click here to access the live stream)
- 5p, Sunday Night Service. In-person, indoors in the Parish Hall.
You can access the live stream through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
If you miss a Sunday, you can always catch the sermon on our homepage or as a podcast, anywhere you listen to podcasts!
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218.
Adult Formation Classes
There are two class offerings this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:45a. Click here to join by Zoom, or join them in-person in the Common Room.
- Walking the Labyrinth (August 28th, September 4 & 11th)
- Join Michael Drell for three sessions exploring Labyrinth walking. Michael will have just completed Labyrinth Facilitator Training with Veriditas and he is looking forward to sharing this learning with you and enriching our spiritual practice through this ancient tool.”
This class will be offered again on the 11th of September, skipping this coming Sunday because of the holiday weekend.
- The Lived Experience of People of Color – Vignettes from All Souls Parishioners (August 28th & September 11th) in the Parish Hall and on Zoom
People of Color (POC) have a ‘lived experience’ that can be markedly different from the white majority, even when they have very similar socio-economic and educational backgrounds. These differences in the lived experience permeate every aspect of daily life – at work, at the grocery store, at a restaurant, at a department store, at airport security, and yes, at church. Many of us (especially those who are committed to racial justice) may be aware of this in the general sense. But what does this actually feel like and look like for someone you know – your neighbor, your colleague, or your fellow parishioner sitting next to you on the pew? The purpose of this 2-session panel discussion is to illuminate the POC lived experience through vignettes shared by a panel of All Souls POC parishioners in a moderated Q&A format. The panel will explore these lived experiences through the lens of our faith and spirituality. We hope that participants will leave with a greater appreciation and understanding of the POC lived experience, toward better informing our collective efforts on racial justice. Click here to join this class via Zoom.
Children, Youth, and Family News
Sunday School is BACK!
Ages Pre-K – Grade 5: Join us in the courtyard at 10:10 for the first week of our series about Creation Stories from around the world! We’ll hear the story together, then split in to two age groups for the rest of the time together.
Grades 6-12: Join us on Sunday morning at 10:10 in the youth room for a donut and a check in!
Youth Group is back for Grades 6-12!
Join us Sunday evenings from 7-8:30 in the Parish Hall for Youth Group.
Save the date for the Youth Campout, November 11-12!
Email Maggie for more information about Children, Youth and Family Ministries at All Souls.
Other News & Notes
Now that the 9am service has moved indoors, we’re assembling a pick-up choir to sing a simple anthem each week. You don’t need to vest or attend the Wednesday evening rehearsal, just show up at 8:30 on Sunday morning. If you have questions, please write to email@example.com!
Education for Creation Care Church groups begins SEPTEMBER 8.
The Diocese has announced a program called Creation Care 101, which is a free program, toolkit, and community building resource, designed to educate and engage churches in the work of caring for the earth. A diverse group of churches engage online in faith-based conversations for practical applications of environmental healing and justice, in church and home contexts. Church teams simply show up online where leaders from the Creation Care collective facilitate learning, discussion, and the creation of actionable steps for churches and individuals. No need for clergy and lay leaders to prepare programs — just bring a team online.
Developed alongside advisors at Yale’s Forum on Religion and Ecology and Oxford University’s Laudato Si’ Institute, the Creation Care 101 Program connects the dots between faith, science, justice, and creation care. This program is free for churches and welcomes people from all parts of the Christian family. Sign up here for Creation Care 101 – Fall Registration.
How to access staff & clergy in the new Jordan Court Offices
Wondering how to reach us in the new offices? Here’s how:
- Enter on Cedar & Oxford and press “001” on the call box. This will take you to the church voicemail system. Select the number of the person you are trying to reach and it will call their office phone directly.
- For Annie: press 1
- For Phil: press 2
- For Maggie: press 3
- For Emily: press 4
- For Jamie: press 5
- Once on the phone with the person you are trying to reach, but before they buzz the door open, they will give you a code that you need to either write down or remember as you will need it to enter the stairwell or the elevator.
- Once you have been buzzed into the lobby, head towards the stairs or elevator and use the code you were given to get to the 3rd floor.
- After exiting the elevator or stairwell, turn right and the All Souls offices are at the end of the hall! Voila!
- If you are entering from the church building, you can also access the offices through the gate at the courtyard. You can either text or phone a staff or clergy to get the gate code and then may enter the staff offices either by going up the outdoor stairwell or by entering the Jordan Court building and going up the elevator (the same gate code will get you in the Jordan Court building and the elevator).
Church Office Hours:
Staff & Clergy can be reached Sunday-Thursday by phone/text/or email. Tuesday-Thursday from 10-5p you can find staff & clergy in the office. You can reach an on-call clergy at any time by calling our church offices and pressing “8” for the on-call priest.
This year’s all-parish retreat is September 16-18 up at the Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg. This year’s theme is The Stories That Make Us where, following the liturgy set in the Easter Vigil, we’ll retell the stories of our faith that have and continue to shape us. As Cole Arthur Riley says in her book This Here Flesh, “this habit of curating collective memory can not only preserve community but also, in the darkest of moments, resurrect it.”
There will be programming for children, youth, and adults, with free time to hike, swim, lounge, nap, explore the wine country, and enjoy each other’s company. You don’t want to miss this!
Sign-up here to register! And, if the cost is prohibitive, please let us know––there are scholarships available.
From September 3-December 18 BAMFA is running an exhibit on the art and history of incarceration, called Undoing Time: Art and Histories of Incarceration. This exhibit “considers the foundational roots of confinement from philosophical, sociological, theological, and art historical perspectives to better understand the fact that today’s mass incarceration crisis has been centuries in the making. This exhibition traces images from history that contribute to the entrenched cultural beliefs associated with today’s carceral system.” Click here for more info.
Braid Foster Youth Mentors Needed!
The Braid Mission, which uses a team approach to mentoring, is looking for more folks to join mentor youth teams. You can read more about Braid Mission here. And can sign-up to schedule a 20 minute info session by clicking here. If you’re looking to talk to an All Soulsian about what it’s like to be a mentor with Braid Mission, you can reach out to Anne Cockle, firstname.lastname@example.org.