From the Vestry
Moved to Give
“Strengthened by our common devotion, we strive for the reconciliation of a broken world through our daily practices, our mutual ministry, and our struggles for justice.”
As a member of All Souls’ vestry, I was asked last spring to lead in an effort to close the gap between income and expenses in our parish’s annual operating budget. Of course I said “yes,” without fully knowing what all I was signing up for.
All Souls Parish is growing. Since we began our visioning process in 2014, we have made steady progress toward realizing the key themes that we had set out to embrace, namely offering radical hospitality, re-envisioning the parish house, and expanding our outreach efforts. Since that time, our parish has undergone some major changes, including the hire of a new, full-time associate rector, a new youth minister, and an associate for ministry development who focuses on welcoming newcomers and supporting the growth of our ministries. We have also made significant progress in discerning a bold new direction for the Parish House to serve All Souls’ mission. And since last fall, more than 70 people have joined our newcomer process, making their way into our parish.
Indeed, this growth is wonderful and inspiring! However, it comes with growing pains in the form of a gaping hole in our operating budget. To put it simply, our annual projected expenses exceed our annual projected income by about $74,000 this year. This is the “budget gap” that you’ve been hearing so much about these past few months.
Closing All Souls’ budget gap turned out to be quite a labor-intensive project and included many steps, including the following: brainstorming with Father Phil; organizing a working group; planning strategy and tactics; preparing communications; planning an event; addressing the parish; meeting with individuals; incorporating feedback; analyzing data; summarizing results; and thanking our parishioners for their generous responses.
Efforts to close the budget gap occupied much of my time and energy this past summer, and at times I felt a bit cranky about how much work was involved. But, now that this mini-campaign is over and we have since entered the season of stewardship, I have a moment to reflect on what we had set out to do, what we have accomplished, and what it all means.
For those of you who appreciate numbers and data, All Souls parishioners contributed a total of $23,215 to help close the budget gap as of September 6, 2016, representing 31% of our $74,000 goal. 27 parishioners responded to the appeal, with 14 making one-time gifts and 13 increasing their pledges. 83% of the vestry responded to the appeal by making additional contributions.
At the same time we were asking parishioners to give more to the parish, the Finance Team was looking at how we might find economies in using the various operating funds that we have. Since this work involves ministries that continue to draw from funds, the fruits of this effort will not be known until the end of the year.
For me, the most challenging, yet meaningful moments in this effort to close the budget gap were the individual conversations I had with a handful of parishioners who already give generously. One of my conversations was with a parent of two children who are actively engaged in our youth program. We met for coffee at Peet’s and we spoke about what motivates us to give to All Souls, and how our youth program provides a safe space for our kids to discuss difficult topics that they might not want to talk about with their parents. I also broached the topic of proportional giving, and how making regular contributions to our parish, based on a percentage of our own family budgets, can be a spiritual practice. We talked about many other things, too, and when we parted ways, this parent promised to prayerfully reflect on the conversation and consider how she might respond.
A few weeks later, this parent was seated at my table at the Stewardship kick-off brunch in the Parish Hall. When it came time to discuss the concept of generosity, she shared that it was her conversation with me that inspired her to practice proportional giving to All Souls for the first time. And she had decided to increase her pledge based on this new model of giving as a spiritual practice.
Upon hearing this parent’s story, I found myself so moved (to tears, actually) that I, myself, decided to increase my pledge this year. And through this interaction, I realized how true it is that giving expands us, rather than depletes us. If we give without expecting to receive goods or services in return, and give from our hearts, such giving transforms us.
On behalf of the Vestry, I wish to offer our heart-felt thanks to all who responded with faith and generosity to our appeal to close the budget gap this year. I also wish to thank our clergy and staff, Sr. Warden of the Vestry Mary Rees, Thomas Burcham, Marilyn Flood, Mark Koops-Elson, Sherry Markwart, Caroline McCall, and Vimala Tharisayi for their faithful participation, attention and support of this effort.
– Tara McCulloch
Beginning this week in Adult formation
Discerning Gifts: a start
Earlier this week I, Liz Tichenor, had the joy of sitting down with Emily Hansen Curran, our Associate for Ministry Development, to learn more about the Adult Formation course that she has developed and will begin leading this Sunday, September 25th, at 10:10 am in the Parish Hall. Here is some of the wisdom I gleaned, with much more to be shared and discovered in the coming weeks.
LT: What do you mean when you talk about spiritual gifts?
EHC: I realize the term “spiritual gifts” is explicitly mentioned in the Bible – at least in the NRSV, but it’s not a term I’d like to use if I can help it, only because it pigeonholes gifts into a few roles, and I’d like to think about them more broadly. I want to teach a course on discerning gifts. I’d like the focus of this class to be more about gifts of the Spirit, rather than spiritual gifts, and focusing more on the Holy Spirit’s movement in our lives, rather than just the list of spiritual gifts in 1st Corinthians 12, for example.
With that in mind, I understand spiritual gifts to be gifts of the Spirit, keeping in mind that a gift is unearned, given freely, and is sometimes surprising. I’d like to focus on moments where we see these things come upon us.
LT: What’s your background with spiritual gifts – or gifts of the Spirit?
EHC: I’m going to start the class with talking about my own experience with gifts, in the Assemblies of God, which are tongues, being slain in the Spirit, and baptized in the Spirit. I remember once being knocked down by Tim Story, slain in the Spirit. I was reluctant, but I did go down, namely because all the kids around me were going down, and I realized that if I don’t go down, something might be wrong with me. As a result, talking about spiritual gifts is sometimes a little scary for me. As a kid going to church (especially church in the evenings) the fear was always – “is the Spirit going to move tonight? Is the Spirit going to fall, are we all going to go into fits of laughter, are we all going to be slain in the Spirit? What’s going to happen tonight at church? I don’t know.” It was terrifying as a kid. It was this wild unknown. I’ve been, obviously, trying to shed that idea of things as I consider what gifts of the Spirit are now.
LT: What shape does your understanding of gifts take today?
EHC: It obviously doesn’t have to be all this wild stuff. Scripture is contextual. This class is going to focus on gifts holistically – as our personalities and abilities, our passions, our heart for the world, and our past experiences. Each week, we’ll be focusing on one of these facets of spiritual gifts. My hope is that it will be a space for personal exploration and experience. I don’t think we get a lot of opportunities to do that, and especially not in community. Our time will be grounded in prayer, inspired by a storyteller, and explored in small groups, with continuity week to week.
LT: Why do you think discerning gifts is relevant in Berkeley in 2016?
EHC: In the corporate world, there are many opportunities to get discover what we’re good at, but I think that it’s as important that we as a spiritual community know each other’s strengths and gifts. One of my greatest hopes for this class is that people really get to know each other. We’ll spend time in small groups, talking about intimate things – who we are and what we care about in the world. I would hope that these conversations go beyond coffee hour conversations, and that they go beyond this hour. I think this is important in Berkeley in 2016 – that we spend time knowing each other, and knowing ourselves.
From our Bishop
Water, wealth, and Standing Rock
This was originally published on Bishop Marc’s blog on September 20th.
Turn the tap in Birmingham, Alabama, where I became a bishop in The Episcopal Church and you get grade-A water. In 2006 I was elected Bishop of the Diocese of California, and we moved from Birmingham to San Francisco. There’s a lot different between these two great American cities, but at least one thing stayed the same: when we turn the tap in San Francisco we get abundant, pure water – grade-A.
With climate change, we in California have been living with drought for the last five years. As of last week, nearly 60% of the state is experiencing severe, extreme, or exceptional drought. It is no accident, however, that in our suffering state, we in San Francisco can live day-to-day without worry about either how much water we have or how clean it is.
There is a contentious, tangled history behind the water status of San Francisco, tied up with race, environmentalism, entrepreneurship, and frontier mentality — among other factors. But the stunning fact that California has more billionaires than any country in the world besides the United States itself, and China, and that half of those California billionaires live in the Bay Area is a salient fact related to our abundant, clean water – we can afford clean water, which is arguably a basic human right. (Natia Shavik, Forbes, March 2015)
According to water.org, a water-rights advocacy group, 1 in 10 people on the Earth do not have access to clean water: 663 million people. One group of people. You can be sure that the vast majority of these people who suffer from lack of access to clean water are poor people.
One group of people, here in the United States is acting to seek to preserve their access to clean water – the Sioux People of North and South Dakota on the Standing Rock Reservation. I first visited the Standing Rock Reservation back in the 1990s. I remember looking out from St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church, located about a mile from where Sitting Bull was born, over the silver shine of the dammed headwaters of the Missouri River, the very area where the planned Dakota Access Pipeline would go under the river.
The many tribes of the Sioux Nation have banded together with the people of Standing Rock to block the construction of the pipeline — which would transport over 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day — under the Missouri. The solidarity of the entire Sioux People around this issue is inspiring. With the intervention of the Obama Administration the Sioux have achieved a temporary victory in their struggle to maintain their access to clean, abundant water – in other words, to have eco-justice.
It is a little-known fact in The Episcopal Church that the only diocese of our Church where a minority population is the majority of the diocesan membership is South Dakota. As with the on-going struggle to keep oil drilling out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a struggle led by many Episcopalians from the Gwich’in People (including my friend, Princess Daazrhaii Johnson, who was part of the Presiding Bishop’s delegation to COP21 in Paris in 2015), Episcopalians from around our Church are standing in solidarity with the people of Standing Rock.
This weekend, our Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, will join the Bishop of North Dakota and the Rev. Canon John Floberg among many others to continue the protest of presence over the pipeline construction. Here in our own diocese, California, the people of All Souls’, Berkeley, (which has been in a relationship of shared mission with the Episcopal Church on Standing Rock) are organizing to donate money, offer their prayers, and work on policy advocacy.
Causes of eco-justice are moments when we are given the opportunity to manifest the Beloved Community, the Body of Christ created by our shared faith. As St. Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” Let us all act together for the justice our sisters and brothers are praying for at Standing Rock.
We are delighted that Steve Zimmerman joined the staff at All Souls as our bookkeeper this summer. He’s generally in the office on Mondays and Tuesdays, and you can reach him by email as well.
Steve has lived in the Bay Area since 1968 with the exception of two years in Stockton while attending the University of the Pacific and two years in New York finishing his undergraduate degree at Syracuse University. He was born in Johnstown Pennsylvania and is a life-long Steelers and Pirates fan. Steve has two adult children, and four wonderful grandchildren living in Pittsburg (CA). Steve is an avid cyclist having completed numerous 100 mile bike rides. In addition to cycling, Steve enjoys kayaking and hiking, and of course spending time with his grandkids.
Steve has prior experience with church finances and has also been hired by the Diocese to be their internal auditor.
CELEBRATING THE MINISTRY OF CHRISTOPHER PUTNAM
This Sunday, September 25th, we will celebrate Christopher Putnam’s wonderful ministry as our Associate for Liturgy and Music at All Souls. We are delighted that Christopher & Caroline will be continuing in our community as parishioners, musicians and friends, but we want to mark this significant transition with a celebration of Christopher’s many gifts to All Souls in his 12 years of service. There are a few ways for you to express your appreciation and contribute to the celebration.
If you are not Christopher or Caroline Putnam, please click here to learn more about how you can join in and contribute to the festivities!
Please join us to recognize and honor all the gorgeous music and enriching liturgy that Christopher has brought into our lives!
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.
ANNUAL PARISH CELEBRATION DINNER OCTOBER 23
Join us for our annual parish dinner to celebrate the pledge campaign and the generous gifts we receive from God and from one another, Sunday October 23rd, 5:30-7:30 pm. This is a fun event for all ages! There will be signups soon but please save the date!
Mayoral Forum on Homelessness with Berkeley Public Library
The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence
Sunday, September 25th, 8:00 pm at St. Albans, 1501 Washington Ave, Albany
Music for this concert is provided by HOOT!
Visit concertacrossamerica.org and faithsunited.org for more information.
Suggested donation $15
Join friends at St. Alban’s for the local edition of a nationwide event bringing together organizations, activists, artists and faith-based communities with the dual goals of keeping guns out of dangerous hands and making the issue of illegal guns top priority for members of Congress, the presidential candidates, and the American people as they go to the polls in November.