From the Rector
All Souls Parish Will…
All summer we have been listening. We have meeting in groups, praying together, hearing the words of our vision statement and imagining how they might come to life. Scores of us, teenagers to octogenarians, just-arrived to been-here-for-years, all of us have been offering where we believe God is calling this parish at this time.
And, remarkably, our offerings have been consistent, regardless of age or experience. Sure, there were outliers here and there, but as the Strategic Planning Group (thank God for David Rolf, Katie McGonigal, Don Strange, Sharon Roberts, and Marilyn Flood) sifted through the reams of information, clear and compelling themes emerged. It was with these themes, and the concrete ideas that came from them, that the Strategic Planning Group asked our Vestry to consider.
For the past several weeks, the Vestry has done just that. Read, marked, inwardly digested. And prayed. And last night, after all of this contemplation, I am thrilled to share the fruits of our consideration. We discerned three initiatives that we will give ourselves to in the next two years (though if history is a guide, a third year might be helpful), initiatives that will be multi-dimensional, will unfold over time, will likely be long-term elements of our culture and ministry and will become a part of our implicit and explicit identity. As a body, we sought to finish this statement, “In the next two years, All Souls Parish will…”
First, there was a resounding response to the words of our vision statement about daily practice and struggles for justice. And so our Vestry discerned that in the next two years we will, “be a center for Christian practice and action for all ages.” There was a strong sense that action in the world must begin with contemplation. And so we are looking to strengthen our daily practice, adopt a parish rule of life, for instance. If praying does shape believing, we need to start living our Sundays everyday, at every stage of life. Concrete steps in this direction will be to discern an area or two to give ourselves to, whether it is disparity in education, or human trafficking, or immigration. And when we have found this focus, to search other groups to partner with––churches, agencies, non-profits––that share our values and are meeting the needs of the vulnerable among us.
Alongside this initiative, our Vestry discerned that in the next two years we will, “develop deep hospitality that invites discernment and provides opportunities to know who and whose we are, with others.” It was clear to us that while many find us to be a warm congregation on Sunday mornings, we have to spend more of ourselves in inviting, welcoming, integrating––in all, knitting our community together. One of the reasons for the existence of Berkeley is for people to come to know their vocation. At All Souls we believe this to be a life-long calling and we want to be the place where people come to know this and live from it. It will be seen in classes and other ways to discern and release gifts, an intentional effort to invite those not yet here, and a clearly defined structure for how we welcome people into this family of families.
Finally, a third initiative emerged, one that is distinct in nature. Last night our Vestry discerned that in the next two years we will, “do the exploration and preparation necessary to start re-purposing the Parish House to support the mission of All Souls.” As you may know, we were blessed to be able to purchase the building on the corner of Oxford and Cedar four years ago from the Order of the Holy Cross. In the four years we have been stewards of the building, it has served as living space for Franciscans and is now meeting space for the parish and an intentional community for seminarians and a member of our staff. What was clear to the Vestry was that while this has done much good in the past four years, the time has come to re-purpose the building so that it more closely supports the vision that we have discerned. This will mean that several components are to follow: information gathering about the structure, conversations with our neighborhood and the city of Berkeley, financial exploration, and perhaps a partnership with another non-profit.
I find this all to be tremendously exciting, if a bit daunting. You may be feeling this way as well. And yet I am very hopeful for what is ahead. In the next few weeks we will be gathering people of the parish to do the initial legwork for these three initiatives, much as we did with the mutual ministry review five years ago. Each of these initiatives will call upon the varied gifts and skills that have been gathered here at All Souls over many decades. In all of this I am reminded of the truth spoken at All Souls before––a truth of the Kingdom of God––that we have all that we need.
Please consider how you will give yourself to these efforts over the next several years. At the first, please begin by keeping them and all who will touched by them in your prayers. My sense is that these efforts will take boldness, courage and compassion, gifts that we have been given in abundance. I, for one, cannot wait to see where we will be led next.
Adult Formation Offerings this Fall
Sign up for Classes this Sunday!
Three sessions of classes will be offered this fall, beginning the week after Rally Sunday and continuing through Advent. Here are descriptions for the first set of classes which will meet September 14, 28, October 5, 12, and 19 (hiatus on September 21 due to the parish retreat). Sign up on Rally Sunday!
Bible Workbench: a lectionary-based Bible study practice designed for small groups. The Bible Workbench material invites us to explore scripture in a broader context; learning to see how the texts relate to what is going on in the world, and to our own lives. Facilitators: Stephen Southern, Reed Loy, Jennifer Boehler, Sharon Roberts.
All Souls for Beginners: Designed especially as an introduction to people new to All Souls, this course explores how we make church together (both as a parish and as Episcopalians): our place in Christian history and polity, our view of scripture and its interpretation, the role of sermons and music in liturgy, our creeds and communal prayers, the importance of the Eucharist, the meaning of membership and the importance of giving, and much more. This course will be led by The Rev. Phil Brochard.
Naming and Releasing Your Gifts: Our Gifts are diverse and numerous. We know these abilities by the joy we experience when offering them to our community and to God, and Christianity teaches that the Holy Spirit empowers us in this offering. Together we will explore what the Bible says about gifts and giftedness, and learn to name our unique gifts. We will celebrate the gifts we already recognize, name and affirm gifts we had not noticed before, and discover together how to use these gifts joyously to the glory of God, both at All Souls Parish and beyond. This course will be led by Reed Loy.
Creation and Climate Change: This course will examine ecosystem disruption due to human activity, focusing on climate change. How can we interpret and respond to climate change from a Christian foundation, both individually and as a community of faith? Course content and discussion will unfold over five weeks through the following themes: creation, destruction, time, hope, and transition; led by Mark Koops-Elson.
Future course offerings this fall will include: Gospel Economics, Christian Marriage, Sharing Our Gifts, and more.
Join a Small Group for Spiritual Companionship
Now is the time to contact one of our group leaders to join a spiritual companionship-type small group for this Fall term! We are excited to offer continuing groups and new short-term groups to provide a rich opportunity to deepen our spiritual lives in a supportive Christian community.
Listening Through Scripture—Join with us as part of a small group who read, listen, and apply God’s Word and uphold one another in prayer. As we gather, we’ll briefly share our concerns and thanksgivings, and then using the Lectio Divina approach, open the Gospel and read and discuss it. Before leaving, we will pray for the concerns raised and give thanks for our blessings. Bring the Bible translation of your choice. Meeting Saturdays 4:00-5:30 approximately every other week in the Fireplace Room, Parish House. Space for 3 new members. Contact leader for drop-in possibilities. Leaders are Sharon Roberts, firstname.lastname@example.org, (510)527-4181 and Stephen Southern, email@example.com, (510)684-8007.
(Noonday) Silent Prayer and Meditation—In the Aramaic language of Jesus, to pray means to “open oneself and listen to the Divine Presence”. Silence creates the climate of interior stillness in which God’s voice can be heard. We enter quietly and sit for 20 minutes, followed by a brief reflection and shared discussion. Meeting Wednesdays Noon-1:00pm starting September 17 (currently on Tuesdays) in the Chapel of the Holy Nativity. Up to 8 members. Drop-ins welcome. Leader is Diane Haavik, firstname.lastname@example.org, (510)280-5234.
New Group beginning September
(Evening) Contemplative Prayer and Meditation—For one hour a week, put aside your everyday thoughts, relax breath deep, be silent and give God a chance to get in. Through prayer and meditation we will pray to open our minds and hearts to a conscious contact with God. Meeting Tuesday evenings weekly at 7:00-8:00pm from September 23 – November 25 in the Preschool Classroom. Up to 6 members. Contact leader for drop-in possibilities. Leader is Lenore Williamson, email@example.com, (510)841-6165.
New Groups beginning October
Mystical Hope (book) and Walking Meditation—Join us for a reading of Mystical Hope by Cynthia Bourgeault combined with a quiet walking meditation in the sanctuary on early Saturday mornings. We will use a simple form of reading, walking and creating space to reflect. This is a time to come together, be ‘surprised by joy,’ and consider what opens us and what challenges us. Meeting Saturday mornings every two weeks (Oct 11, Oct 25, Nov 8, Nov 22, Dec 6, a total of five sessions) 7:45-9:00am in the Common Room and Sanctuary. Up to 6 members. No drop-ins after start. Leader is Rebecca Ghanadan, firstname.lastname@example.org, (510)385-6792.
Monasteries of the Heart (book) – Exploring Benedictine Spirituality—The Benedictine way of life has lasted for over 1,500 years because it has adapted to the times. Working with the book Monastery of the Heart by Joan Chittister, we will gather to explore and reflect on how Benedictine life and spirituality has something to offer in today’s search for community, spirituality, meaningful work, care of creation and peace. Meeting 1st and 3rd Tuesdays 7:00-8:30pm from October 21st through December in the Common Room. Up to 8-10 members. Contact leader for drop-in possibilities. Leader is Renae Breitenstein, email@example.com, (925) 381-1680.
Important information to know about joining one of our parish small groups:
– Join a small group by directly contacting the leader. There may be a wait list.
– The groups are not restricted to All Souls members or to Episcopalians. Feel free to invite friends beyond the parish community.
– If the group is reading a book you should order your own copy as soon as possible after you contact the leader and are admitted as a member.
– All small group leaders have completed leadership training to better serve you.
For further information about All Souls’ small group ministry please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-724-6561.
—The Rev. Daniel Prechtel
Fair Trade Coffee Comes to All Souls
In August the congregation voted on two coffees to be served at coffee hour, and the results are in. Coffee “B” is the winner, having surpassed Coffee “A” by over two to one. Both coffees are fair-trade and organic. Coffee “A” is Bishop’s Blend, from Pura Vida, which donates 15% of sales to Episcopal Relief and Development. Coffee “B” is from a company called Grounds for Change; the fields where that coffee is grown are owned by women, and the coffee is less expensive than the Bishop’s Blend.
With the purchase of coffee from Grounds for Change, we are supporting “global fair trade economics, organic farming, forest conservation and tree planting in coffee-producing countries around the world. ” (information from Grounds for Change). We will provide information on purchasing for your own use at a later time.
Beginning this Rally Sunday, September 7th, we will begin serving Fair Trade coffee. You have spoken and we listened.
—All Souls Hospitality Team
Blessing of the Backpacks
THIS Sunday, September 7th, at the 9 and 11:15 services.
As many members of our community dive into a new school year as students, teachers, and faithful supporters, we invite you to celebrate with the Blessing of the Backpacks! Bring your backpack, or whatever learning implement you like, (iPad? Suitcase full of textbooks? Godly Play parable box? Your grandmother’s quill pen?) to be blessed. Life-long learning is an central part of who we are as the All Souls family, and we are excited to celebrate all forms of education with joy and prayers!