FROM ALL SOULS FOR CLIMATE ACTION
What then should we do?
During the second week of September, San Francisco witnessed the gathering of thousands of citizens from around the country and the world to share information, ideas, and strategies for addressing climate change. More than 30,000 people participated in a climate march on September 8. The following week, Governor Jerry Brown convened the Global Climate Action Summit at the Moscone Convention Center, hosting environmental leaders from a variety of nations, companies, and international organizations. Many other climate-related events open to the public took place around the city, including at arts and music venues. To make things even more dramatic, Gov. Brown that week signed into law SB 100, which requires that California (estimated to be the world’s fifth largest economy) transition to 100% emissions free electricity by 2045. The Governor also signed an executive order that sets a goal of achieving carbon neutrality for the State’s entire economy by 2045.
The faith community also gathered, marched, prayed, and conducted workshops. On the morning of September 7, our Rector and several of us from the congregation met near the Embarcadero to participate in a beautiful interfaith service, with indigenous peoples, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and others. Bishop Marc was in attendance and in addition to leading us for a portion of the prayer service, took a turn pedaling a bicycle that was powering the sound system! After the service we mingled with the throng of marchers at the foot of Market Street before returning to Berkeley for Fred Lothrop’s memorial service.
From September 12 through 14, while Governor Brown’s Climate Action Summit proceedings were being conducted at the Moscone Center, Grace Cathedral hosted a series of faith-based climate workshops. Phil attended on Thursday and Margaret Sparks and I attended on Friday. Here are a few of the workshops that we attended: How congregations are leading on climate — success stories; Engaging all Christians in Climate Justice (experiences in speaking with Evangelicals about climate change as a moral issue); Act as if everything depends on you and pray as if everything depends on God; Integral Ecology as seen through the lens of Laudato Si’ and other Religious and Indigenous traditions; and The Christian imperative to protect forests for climate change mitigation and biodiversity. Wednesday evening also saw a Multi-Faith Service of Wondering and Commitment, which filled Grace Cathedral and received extensive media coverage.
The growing threats of climate change become more and more evident with each passing month, as our recent fire and hurricane seasons have reminded us. A few weeks ago I wrote in the Pathfinder about the tendency we all have to fall into despair at the magnitude of the problem. In such times I am always moved by the passage in Luke 3:10-11, where the crowd asks Jesus “What then should we do?” Jesus responds simply but forcefully: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” My layperson’s take on Jesus’ words is that we can always start with direct individual actions, the beneficial effects of which will magnify as more individuals practice them.
In this regard, one workshop that particularly caught my attention, and that of our Rector’s, was a demonstration of a new application that can be installed on a computer or a smart phone. The “app” is called “Sustaining Earth our Island Home” and is just being launched this month. According to one estimate, almost 40% of carbon emissions stem from individuals and households. This statistic highlights an opportunity to advance climate solutions at the individual level by helping people make choices that protect our earth and our climate. The new app, a web-based platform developed by Climate Solutions Net, will allow users to measure their carbon footprint, take individual actions to reduce carbon emissions, measure their progress and that of their community, and share ideas with others who are using the app.
The Episcopal Church has endorsed this app at General Convention and the Diocese of California is starting to roll it out this fall and continuing in 2019. Bishop Marc has requested that All Souls be one of several parishes to begin trying it out. We would like to provide a demonstration and begin launching the app for the congregation at the beginning of Advent. The app will be introduced throughout the greater Episcopal Church throughout 2019. Importantly, the app is also being rolled out to the secular world as well. Alameda County will go live later this year and the app will eventually be introduced across the country.
The app is quite easy to use. After creating a user profile and entering some basic information that will give an estimate of your household’s CO2 emissions, you will be given information on steps you can take to reduce your carbon emissions. These range from small steps like switching to LED light bulbs, installing smart power strips, or riding a bicycle more frequently; to medium-sized steps such as replacing a refrigerator or installing an electric heat pump water heater; to big actions like buying or leasing an electric vehicle or installing solar panels. You find the actions that work for you and then track the reduction in your carbon emissions. The beauty of this app is that you also can be part of a community, such as All Souls, exchange ideas and tips with other members of the community, and track the community’s overall progress as well as the progress of larger communities such as the City of Berkeley or the County of Alameda.
All Souls is also looking at ways to continue reducing carbon emissions from its buildings and facilities. We made significant progress when we installed solar panels several years ago. Based on an energy audit that PG&E conducted for us this year, we can make further progress by installing more LED light bulbs, replacing some of our kitchen equipment, and, most importantly, replacing our very old gas-fired boiler with an electric or hybrid boiler that could potentially run on solar energy. In order to realize that possibility, we might also have to install additional solar panels. These ideas will receive further consideration and will be discussed with the Vestry.
Addressing the looming climate crisis will require a combination of strategies: marching and exercising our right of assembly; pressing our elected leaders for policy changes at the macro level; and, as discussed here, making changes in our approach to energy use at the individual and household level. All Souls, through its Justice and Peace Ministry, has been participating in some of these actions in coordination with other East Bay faith communities — for example, working with the remarkable West Oakland Baptist minister Ken Chambers on the No Coal in Oakland campaign, which is still ongoing. I do believe, however, that making personal changes in our daily lives is something that all of us — even those not inclined to activism – can do and it is something our Episcopal Church leadership is asking us, as followers of Christ, to consider.
We could very much use some help from members of the congregation, both on the rollout of the app and on the follow up steps regarding All Souls’ energy usage, including investigating boiler options and adding more solar panels. Tech or home improvement skills are a plus, but not at all essential. An interest in participating in climate solutions is all that really matters. If you have such an interest, please contact me, Liz, or, when he returns from sabbatical, Phil.
– Lewis Maldonado
From Our Postulant
It’s off to the races over here at CDSP as I kick off my second year of seminary, and it’s a little wild to realize that I already have a whole year of this under my belt. As y’all’s postulant for the priesthood, here’s a little update about what’s going on over at Holy Hill [literally just around the corner.]
The second year curriculum tends to the slightly more practice than the first and frankly, it’s just more difficult. I’m taking Systematic Theology 1 which is a broad overview of the history of every sort and kind of Christian doctrine—about God, about creation, about the Trinity and the eschaton (the end of days #spooky) and just about every facet of the faith. It’s intense but it’s so, so good. So far (only four weeks in), my biggest a-ha moments have been really grappling with how, like, the breadth and depth and immensity of God when we say that God is “transcendent” – so much bigger than we could possibly think about. [I can hear Scott MacDougall’s voice saying “God isn’t BIG because God doesn’t have a SHAPE or SIZE. God is TRANSCENDENT.”] I’m also taking Contemporary Anglican Theologians where we’re, basically, seminar-style reading some of the great modern-day theologians and talking about their work. I’m flirting with the idea of writing my final paper for that course on John Polkinghorne, a British physicist-turned-priest and working on some personal spiritual reconciliation of my own physics background to my current vocation. And I’m in Post-Modern Christian Education, which if we got to pick majors in seminary would be mine. Mostly, the class consists of one major project and I’m thinking about applying adolescent developmental theory to the task of coaching parents on how to better engage their children in the Sunday morning liturgy.
Second year is also when seminarians begin their field education placement, spending eight to ten hours a week in a ministry setting, learning how to do what they do and spending class time reflecting on that experience. Because I’m still working as a youth minister out in Orinda, I opted for a non-parish placement with a community organizer in Oakland. So far, the experience has been fantastic and, similar to the congregational development work that I know All Souls is so familiar with, I’m taken with the Community Organizing methodology as a set of practices, tools, and beliefs that strengthen the life of the participating parishes, in addition to strengthening the community.
All in all, it’s been a good time so far as I’m cruising to the end of the fourth week of classes. It’s turning out to be, funny enough, an All Souls-heavy semester. Scott MacDougall is my professor for both my theology and Anglican theologians classes and Laura Eberly is in my Anglican theologians class; Caroline McCall is my field education professor; Stephen Quarles is my Christian ed TA. And my dear friend Annie Jones is y’all’s new seminarian!
And of course, I remain grateful for all the support I continue to receive and feel from my sponsoring parish. I’m glad to still be so close to home during the course of my seminary formation, even if that means only sneaking in for the occasional Wednesday morning Eucharist or running into some of y’all around town.
– Ethan Lowery
The Pentecost Challenge
As we gathered around the fireless fire pit at the Bishop’s Ranch last weekend, the serenity and peace provided us with the perfect setting for reflection on stories Parish members provided from the past few months.
The stories inspired by the Pentecost Challenge ranged far and wide from personal recollections of nearly broken relationships to disagreements about the myriad of issues that have caused divisiveness in the country. Each story, some actually quite brief, was treated with equal interest, respect and understanding.
We were not there to rail against anyone or any institution; we were there to find positive support and common ground upon which to build relationships and address problems, and all in great good humor.
There were stories about the similarity of church congregations in other parts of the country and All Souls in their dedication to serving their communities; there was a story of a unique perspective on acceptance of homosexual marriage. Then, there was a delightful story depicting the answer that, quite frequently, comes out of the mouths of babes.
This Sunday, September 30th after the 11:15 service, a second gathering of storytellers will take place. Everyone who is interested in sharing his/her story, or just simply wants to listen, is urged to join us. (Even though your story may be older than the Pentecost Challenge, we want to hear it!)
Michelle Barger and Jeannie Koops-Elson will once again be providing their incomparable leadership. Will the atmosphere be the same serene scene as was the Bishop’s Ranch? Of course, we can make it so! And there will be ample sustenance to take the place of just lemonade!
– Margaret Sparks
When Church is Like Therapy
When I first began seeing a therapist, my goal was to love God, others and myself more fully. I entered the therapy-client relationship not knowing how I would reach that goal but trusting the process. So I just kept showing up every week to that corner office at an intersection in Berkeley, feeling dragged down by the events of the week or whatever thoughts were whirling around in my mind. I would make my way through the door as I also attempted to de-clutter my mind and heart to be present for the next hour. Week after week, without fail, it had become clear that if I show up with my authentic self, run down and all, be present to the sacred space and conversation, and be uncomfortably honest with my insecurities, dreams and troubled spots, I would leave refreshed. Somehow, every week, after that hour as I would stand to leave, I felt lighter; as though I could handle whatever lay before me. Not only could I handle it, I could embrace it with strength, humor and remain present. Life did not feel overwhelming but instead felt promising and exciting. As I step out the door of that safe, sacred space, God’s grace seems to envelop me back into the world.
This experience of therapy, week after week, is exactly how I feel when attending Sunday services at All Souls every week. Not always knowing how we are being transformed and being made new by God, we keep showing up to this corner church at an intersection in Berkeley. As I bustle into church saying quick hello’s to friends in a hurry to get to whatever task I am signed up for that Sunday, I am thinking about all the things I still need to get done before getting back to work the next day, or wishing I had time to call and check on my sweet friend to see if she’s feeling any better. It is not until the first notes of the procession hymn start that I snap into reality that it is time for church and I have been longing for this hour to feel present and let go of all the things. Throughout the service, I feel my body loosening up as I breathe deeper, letting go of each stress and worry. As we hear the ancient words, come together in prayer and silence, become fed with God’s nourishing love, I am reminded that even though I have fears, insecurities and feel overwhelmed, I am held by this community and wrapped in God’s loving arms. I have the strength to handle whatever may come. Then, at the end of the hour, we are sent out with a benediction and reminder that God goes with us. We take that strength, joy and grace of God with us into the world. The day lays before us full of hope and possibility.
When I realized this deep comparison between church and therapy, how they are both sacred spaces of safety, strength, renewal and reminders of God’s love, I began to become so grateful for both! Being in therapy has saved my life and All Souls has enriched and given my life meaning. So, what if we paid for church like we pay for therapy? If therapy is not your scene, what else in your life gives you that sense of renewal, strength and reminder of God’s grace? Perhaps yoga, a nice meal with friends, a hike in nature? Well, what if we paid the same amount that we paid for those activities (including gas and hiking shoes expenses) in our pledging to All Souls? On Celebration Sunday, when I prayerfully complete my pledge card, I will be taking into consideration how much I spend on therapy, which brings me the same healing and quality of life as All Souls does, when I make my commitment to continue to support the ministries of this community. Both provide an invaluable service and both should be equally appreciated.
– Erin Horne
Parish Work Day — this Saturday!
Come one, come all, to tackle some of the more over-grown and under-tended parts of our gardens and buildings! There are plants to trim back, bits of paint to patch, signage to assess, litter to collect, and surely more to be found. Many hands make light work — the last time we did this it was incredible how much we were able to do together!! Please let Maggie Cooke know if you plan to come, for an hour or several, between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm this Saturday, September 29th.
Please join us in giving thanks for the life of Christopher Putnam, who served as the Associate for Liturgy and Music here at All Souls twelve year, retiring in 2016. His memorial service will be here at All Souls on November 3rd at 1:00 pm, when we will come to give thanks for the life and work of this remarkable human being, sing our hearts out, and celebrate our hope in the resurrection.
ARE YOU NEW TO ALL SOULS?
If you’ve been coming for a few weeks now and are interested in diving deeper, here are a few next steps! The first is to sign up for a name tag. You can find the sign-up sheet on the foyer (Narthex) counter or on the Welcome table in the back of the Nave in front of the sound booth. The second is to attend one of our Adult Formation classes. This is a great way to get to know other folks here and engage in good dialogue. The third way is to show up to one of our newcomer classes scheduled for mid-November. That’s a little ways off, but it will come soon enough—promise. Thoughts? Questions? See Emily Hansen Curran, email@example.com.
SAVE THE DATE: Stewardship Launch Brunch
October 7th at 10:15 am
Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house
— 1 Peter 2:5
You are invited! Please join the Stewardship Committee for a catered brunch to kick-off the 2019 pledge campaign. With good food, fellowship, stories and important information, this brunch will provide an overview of the ways our stewardship and giving support the work of All Souls, both within our walls and out in the larger community. Adult formation classes will not meet this week. Sunday School will meet, and childcare for infants and toddlers will be available in the nursery.
FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS & BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS
All pets welcome! Stuffed animals, too! Bring your favorite beasts to either the 7:30 or 11:15 am services on October 7th. The main Blessing of the Animals will be after the 11:15 service, around 12:30 pm, in the courtyard. All are welcome… but please keep predators leashed. Also note that this is a rather full Sunday, since the Stewardship Launch Brunch is happening the same morning. As much as some of our animal friends might enjoy sharing brunch with us, please wait to bring them until the 11:15 service, or consider coming to the 9:00 service and brunch, and them running home to get your pet the later blessing to follow. Thank you!
ALL SOULS KICKBALL
We’re in our 3rd season! Come join us or cheer for us on Friday nights at Ocean View Park in Albany. The season lasts approxiately 6 weeks and just kicked off. Contact David Gutfeld to sign up or to get more information, firstname.lastname@example.org.