From the Associate Rector
Our Life Together
As I prepare to leave for vacation tomorrow, which includes a short stopover in Cincinnati, it occurs to me it has been almost exactly a year since Andrea and I packed up our dogs and loaded into our Subaru and drove from Cincinnati to California. While I didn’t start at All Souls until September, we arrived in California around August first.
So many things have happened in this one year. I feel at the same time that I am still brand new to the church, and also that I have been here for approximately 1 million years. We’ve had wildfires galore, an election that took days to confirm, isolated Thanksgivings and Christmases, an insurrection at our nation’s capital, hundreds of thousands of Covid deaths, the killing of Daunte Wright and many other Black men at the hands of the police, Baptisms, Confirmations, and funerals; an attempt at living life in hybridity, and finally, a slow and tentative reemergence from our isolation.
All that, and we’re not out of the woods yet. It is exhausting to even think about what that might mean.
The fall is approaching, and in our normal rhythms of life this would mean a bustle of activity, a renewed commitment to routine and structure, the beginning of a new program year at the church, and a new school year. All of these things are exciting and life-giving and hopeful, but boy do they ever feel a little bit overwhelming this year.
The truth is that while this may be a return to normal, it’s not a return to the same normal as before. If we’re thoughtful about it, this can be a return to an even better normal than before. If we allow ourselves time to rest and recover, are thoughtful about what programs and traditions we want to bring back, and which ones are better left in the past; we have a chance to build toward a more vibrant and full community of faith.
I came across an article from Forward Movement today that speaks to this moment in which we find ourselves, and I wanted to share it with you all as well. You can find that article below. In the meantime, let’s be gentle with ourselves and one another as we do our best to discern our individual and communal next steps toward the future in our life together. Can’t wait to be back with you all August 11th.
From Forward Movement
Dear friends in Christ,
Last week in Forward Today, I wrote about the opportunity we have as a church through this time of disruption to refocus our mission on making disciples.
Even a week ago, I thought we were mostly headed out of our pandemic crisis, but increasing case numbers – coupled with continued low vaccination numbers – suggest that the pandemic may be approaching another peak, unless our public health response and vaccination rates change.
There are plenty of places on the internet who offer commentary on the pandemic, so I won’t say more. But I do want to say a few things about what it means for disciple-making within the church.
Lately I’ve spent a lot of time speaking with lay leaders and clergy in the church. Several patterns emerge consistently.
Parents of school-age children are exhausted. Many adults are stepping away from ministries or volunteering in the church. Attendance numbers for in-person services have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, even in places where case numbers have been quite low.
I suppose it’s obvious to say, but we need to give up on the idea of returning to a pre-pandemic church. As I suggested last week, I’m quite sure we shouldn’t want to go back. We have the opportunity to chart a new, more vibrant future for the church.
So what do we do about exhausted and more distant leaders? Certainly I hope we begin with empathy, prayer, and compassionate care.
If you are an exhausted person who can’t muster the energy to be part of your church in the way you were two years ago, it’s OK. Rest. Even Jesus needed time for refreshment and prayer, so take the time you need. The church depends on Christ alone; the church will carry on as you rest.
If you are a church leader, the same advice about rest applies to you, too! But also, there’s a gift in all this. If people won’t sign up to continue some ministry or other, maybe that’s the sign it’s time to let that ministry go. If Sunday School doesn’t look like it did in 2018, that’s OK. Maybe it’s time to think about a new way to engage people of all ages in Christian learning and formation. And it doesn’t have to be figured out this month!
I guess what I’m saying is that if your church and your church’s people aren’t “back to normal” that’s perfectly fine. Rest. Be well. Re-examine. Realize that the start of the program year in September isn’t a hard deadline for anything. In God’s time, the church will do what it needs to do.
I really believe that. Our task is to cooperate with the Spirit’s guiding, but also we are human. We won’t always get it right, and we need times of rest. All of the chaos of our church is a detour on our journey of following Jesus, but we can still continue on the way.
If Forward Movement can support you, let us know. We offer lots of resources, and I hope you know that we are praying for the church and the world every day. We’re grateful for your prayers, too.
From the Stewardship Committee
Passing the Plate
Passing the Plate is coming back this Sunday! After more than a year of COVID-inspired absence, ushers will resume passing the offering plate this Sunday, August 1 at both the 9:00 and 11:15 services.
Whether you have been seeing the offering reminder as part of the live stream, or the offering container at the in-person services, we’ve not ‘passed the plate’, ‘taken the collection’, or gathered our offerings in this way for more than a year.
Passing the plate is more than a convenient reminder or a quaint custom. The gathering of offerings has been part of worship from earliest Christian times, though the form of the gifts and the manner of gathering has changed. In the early western church, the bread and wine people brought from home was collected at the “offertory”. (What wasn’t needed for the Eucharist was later portioned out for the use of clergy and needs of the poor.) In the eastern church, the deacon(s) stood at the door or an appointed table to receive the gifts as people gathered, and then brought them to the altar before the Great Thanksgiving.
We reflect this as the ushers bring the wine and bread forward at the start of the gathering the gifts, and after the gathering, as we bring the Berkeley Food Pantry basket and/or the bread for Open Door Dinner forward with the collected money gifts. The presider receives and offers these as symbolizing our collective offering of our life energy and daily work to God.
Three kinds of giving converge on the offering plate. Often people will place a pledge payment on the plate. Some people contribute money, check or cash, in a way that lets us identify the giver so we can send them a receipt. These Offerings of Record total about $20,000 per year. Money given anonymously on the plate is called the Loose Collection and adds up to about $15,000 each year.
How we meaningfully participate in passing the plate can be a question in these days when many of us use auto-pay or write a periodic check. Several years ago, a vestry member suggested that each worshipper give a symbolic dollar (or coin) as an act of participation as the plate is passed, even though more substantial giving might be done periodically or even indirectly.
Making the physical gesture to make any offering can be a weekly reminder of all we offer to God for the work of the church, including our presence, our spiritual gifts and our connection.
The Stewardship Committee will soon be starting this year’s pledge campaign, asking for the larger financial support we need to sustain the church next year. But in the meantime, perhaps adding a small weekly offering to your giving practices can help us refresh the practice of giving. And it all starts this Sunday, where there will be a plate passing among the chairs and through the aisles.
-Marilyn Flood & Richard Lynch
Save the Dates
(*see “Other News and Notes” for more info on events)
August 12, 6:30pm: Young-ish Adults Gathering
August 22: Movie Night
September 10, 6:30pm: All Souls outing to the Oakland A’s Game
September 17-19: Parish retreat at The Bishop’s Ranch
Sunday Mornings: Join us at 9am in the courtyard, in-person.
Or (and!) join us for the live stream of Sunday’s 11:15 service, which can be accessed through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Wednesday Mornings: 9:00am PDT
Join us in person in the church, or online!
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
Thursday Night Compline (Night Time Prayers): 8:30pm PDT
The final Zoom meeting until September takes place this Thursday!
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84737698405?pwd=dlh2OXZmblBYTU5hTEw5TGJXUVZNZz09
Meeting ID: 847 3769 8405
7:30am Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Kate Murphy to join that Zoom call.
10:10am Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Daniel Prechtel to join that Zoom call.
If you’d like to attend this class in person, it will meet downstairs in the chapel at 10:10am.
Adult Book Group discussion of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s A Time for Everything
We’ll meet in both the Parish Hall and on All Souls’ Zoom at 10:10 during the Sunday Formation Hour. Here are the dates and page assignments:
July 25 (pp. 7 – 136) August 1 (pp. 137 – 241) August 8 (pp. 242 – 334) August 15 (pp. 335 – 499)
Missed the previous week’s class?? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll be recording all of the Adult Formation offerings and loading them to the Adult Formation page of our website. Click here to get there and access the class recordings.
Children, Family & Youth News
Believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about the fall and Children, Youth, and Family programming at All Souls! In order to help us plan the best and most holistic programming for children, youth, and families, it is important to know a little bit about the children, youth, and families we’re hoping to serve. To that end, please fill out this form to help us get to know you and what sorts of programs you and your family may be interested in. Please submit one form per family, and all families with children from babies through high school age are encouraged to participate using this same form. Not only will this help us get some feedback about the types of programs you’d like to see, but it will also serve as a sort of registration for fall programming, so the contact information you provide here will help us get information to you in the fall about upcoming programs and events.
If you’d like to receive updates about this, but do not subscribe to the Family Bulletin, please email Maggie Foote (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Other News & Notes
Soulcast: Our Weekly Video Announcements
September 10, 6:30pm: All Souls outing to the Oakland A’s Game
We’re heading to an A’s game together and tailgating before the game on September 10th. Sign-up with Don Gates (email@example.com) to get a spot for the game. Sign-up soon as we need a head count sooner than later.
People needed to “Make Church Happen”
Consider joining the Usher and or Greeters teams!
During the week the musicians practice and the sacristans ensure the altar linens and other things necessary for the service are in order for the service. They arrive early on Sunday and set up for the service. These preparations enhance our experience of Church. When we arrive on Sunday morning there are people who greet us, hand us a bulletin, and make note of newcomers then distribute wine and juice during the service. They answer our questions, help us with a chair and place to sit. They welcome us and want us to feel at home.
Does this sounds like something you’d like to do? If so, contact Renae Breitenstein.
Lectoring & Intercession on Sunday Mornings
If you are interested in becoming a Lector or Intercessor (the folks who read the bible passages and lead the prayers during the Sunday morning services), come to our Lector & Intercessor training next Sunday, June 13th between the 9 & 11:15 services. Dr. Scott MacDougall will lead a short training for anyone interested. For more information, see Emily, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday Morning Tech Help
If you are technically inclined and looking for a way to help out on Sundays, we can use the help! Mostly we’re looking for a sound tech or two, and perhaps another person or two to learn how to operate the camera. All roles come with training and great company :). See Emily for more info, email@example.com.
Stephen Ministry: Christ Caring for People through People
That’s the motto of Stephen Ministry. The Stephen Minister’s role is to bring God’s love into the lives of people who are going through a difficult time or experiencing a crisis. What do Stephen Ministers do? They listen, care, support, encourage, and pray with and for a person who is hurting. And in the midst of this confidential, one-to-one, caring relationship, God’s healing love comes pouring through.
If someone you know is facing a crisis—large or small—and could benefit from the caring presence of a Stephen Minister, talk to Rev. Maggie Foote (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Stephen Ministry Leader Madeline Feely (email@example.com). Our Stephen Ministers are ready to care for you!
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
In the before times, bringing a can of vegetables or a jar of peanut butter to church was the practice of many, and every few weeks all this would add up to three or four bags of groceries that I would deliver to the Berkeley Food Pantry. Obviously when in-person church services stopped, so did the influx of food. All Souls Parish made quick and creative adjustments; without missing a beat, folks had signed up to put a bag on their porch every other week for a driver to pick up and bring to the pantry. There were perhaps two dozen households contributing, and four or five drivers so that on any given Friday, between five and 10 bags of groceries were delivered to the pantry. More than a year later, we need wider participation. Drivers have had to make adjustments , and perhaps having the same folks providing the groceries every other week is not sustainable. Please consider offering a bag of groceries for pick up every other week, and/or sign up for any every other week driving shift to pick up from 5 or so households. Contact Cathy Goshorn, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are able to help provide some meals for parishioners in need, please contact Cathy Goshorn to help out! We are in great need at this time to help care for each other––please consider helping other All Soulsians in need by providing meals or gift cards for meals. You can reach Cathy at email@example.com.
Housing the Bay: Can we make the Bay Area truly affordable for all?
Episcopal Impact Fund and Eden Housing present a two-part webinar series examining the post-Covid housing crisis, how we got here, and what we can do to achieve a better future for all residents of the Bay.
- Part Two: What we can do about it! August 19, 7:00-8:00pm PT
Our very own Ed Hahn is a panelist for Part Two! Read more and register here to attend!