A Full Circle

Phil Brochard headshot2

This morning I received the following email in my inbox:

From: Kristin Krantz

To: Phil Brochard

Subject: September 8, 2013

The day All Souls moved to three services on Sunday.  You’re welcome for the reminder.

peace out,


And I smiled. Not simply because it was good to hear from Kristin, or because it was Facebook’s list feature, “On this day,” that had alerted her to this anniversary. I also smiled because it is hard for me to believe that it has actually been three full years since we added a third Sunday morning worship service at All Souls.

For the scores of those who have come to All Souls in the past three years—believe it or not, Sunday mornings haven’t always been this way. In 2012 and 2013 we came to realize some good news: that the parish had grown. But the bad news was that there wasn’t enough space in the pews for all the new folks to fit in. So, after myriad hours of study and preparation, on Sunday, September 8th, 2013, we went from an 8:00 am/10:00 am Sunday worship schedule to a 7:30 am/9:00 am/11:15 am worship schedule.

And so now, after three years and a complete cycle of the lectionary, we have come full circle. And in that time we have learned a great deal. We have learned, for instance, that it can be hard to make a change like this. Some All Soulsians have missed seeing their friends on a regular basis because they usually come to the 9:00 am, and their friends come to the 11:15 am. (all the more reason to come to the Pledge Campaign Launch Brunch on Sunday at 10:10 am, to see folks you haven’t seen in awhile) We’ve also learned, sometimes the hard way, that it takes more energy, time, and attention to make a third service on Sundays.

We’ve also learned that some things become easier. It was huge relief, for instance, that first Easter after the change, when we realized that rather than pushing to a 12 noon service, our schedule was already custom-made for two large services in the morning. And since we were clear that the added service was going to be different in schedule but not in style, some have joined All Souls because the 9:00 am service fits their kid’s nap schedule. From other people I’ve learned that our 11:15 am service is one of the latest starting service times in town, so when they were late getting up that morning, they came to All Souls, and have stayed ever since.

To be sure, there is more to be learned. The next circle will likely teach us more about how to welcome newcomers in, both in services and in the rest of parish life. We have more to learn about music and how to sing and play our breadth and depth every Sunday. But today, three years later, I am thankful for what has been. Even in the stretch and the challenge, the intensity and the uncertainty, I have learned at least one thing once again: that when we show up, with welcome and prayer, word and silence, sermon and song, newcomer and old-timer, God will be there, no matter the hour. Phew.



All Souls is the place to be this Sunday September 11th!


Not only will we be worshiping together at 7:30, 9:00 and 11:15, at 10:10 am, during formation hour, we are going to gather as a community to launch our Annual Pledge Campaign.

Why you should join us at this event:

Food! Muffins, scones, frittata, stuffed mini potatoes, and more! All from Ann’s Catering.

Information! Our Annual Pledge Campaign is going to include common prayer, scriptural reflection and shared exploration of how God’s love sows generosity in our lives. We will be inviting you to join us in these formational and communal activities.

Fellowship! We will be seated at our wonderful round tables in the Parish Hall and will have opportunities for small group discussions and fellowship. These discussions will be led by members of the vestry and the stewardship team.

Our regular adult formation programs will not take place this Sunday so that everyone can be part of this event. Sunday School will meet as usual;Youth are encouraged to attend their own discussion in the Common Room where they will also receive brunch treats from Ann’s Catering.

Louisiana Flood Response

cindy-townsendLast Sunday, September 4th, one verse from the Gospel reading evoked images in my mind of the loss experienced by flood victims in Louisiana. Luke 14:33 records Jesus’ words, “So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.” While those affected by the flooding did not choose to give up their possessions, their response to the loss of all they owned bore witness to the ways in which a disciple might react.

Last month I was one of more than 3,400 Red Cross volunteers who responded to bring relief efforts to the affected people in over 30 parishes (counties) in Louisiana. Sleeping in a staff shelter my first night in Baton Rouge, I had a slight indication of what it is like to lose control  over one’s environment – the noise, lighting and temperature created temporary discomfort. Complaining about the absence of pillows and towels, I had to question how I would respond had I lost all of my possessions, as thousands of affected in Louisiana had.


One family’s possessions.

As a Disaster Mental Health worker, I spoke to residents in one of the dozens of shelters and along rural roads where the Red Cross delivered hot meals. I saw countless single story homes like the one photographed above which had experienced loss of all contents – furniture, appliances, everything. I heard stories of those who had moved out of New Orleans after Katrina to avoid flooding, and those who had just finished reconstructing their homes after the most recent flood in March. What struck me was my own sense of despair, which was in sharp contrast to the response of the resilient folks I met.

I witnessed men of retirement age responding in the only way they know, engaging in physical labor, working in extreme heat to assist those who had come to help gut their homes. I met women and men who expressed gratitude – for the hot meals, financial and other assistance Red Cross had provided. I encountered several families who had lost multiple homesteads – upward of eight – on their family land, taking care of one another. My own sense of hopelessness was not reflected in the stories of those I sought to comfort. It was through their responses that I learned how a disciple might look in responding to such loss.

– Cindy Townsend


stacey-alexeef In June, we welcomed new members into the All Souls family. Today and in the coming weeks, we’ll hear from many of them.

I have been coming to All Souls for about one year now, since I moved to El Cerrito. After moving every few years for school and a job and more school and a different job and then more school again and then another job – in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Colorado – it has been wonderful to finally move back to California, where I am originally from! In fact I grew up in nearby Walnut Creek and my mom still lives there. I am also married, and my husband and I have two black cats. We bought a house and I am trying to become more of a gardener in my spare time outside of work. For example, this morning I was outside attempting to prune our giant rose bush which has far outgrown its current spot in the yard, sending its long shoots every which way so that its pink blooms seem to come out of the hedge on the other side. Clearly I have more to learn, and I welcome any tips from other gardening parishioners.

I am so happy to be at All Souls after thirteen years of having no church home. Besides all the moving, it is an unfortunate truth that grief brought me back to the church. My dad was suddenly diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer just when I had decided to move back to California, and he passed away two months later. Luckily I was able to be with my dad for those two months, and during that time the priest of my parents’ church would come every Sunday for church in our backyard. Sitting on our patio chairs in the garden, we would have a mini service where we would all participate, alternating readings and prayers, sometimes a hymn, a recap of the sermon, and of course communion. It felt so authentic and meaningful. I realized how much I had missed that connection with God, and how core it felt to my very being. I also started to realize that my relationship with God was also part of my relationship with my dad. And not just through all the memories of those Sundays going to church with my parents and my sister growing up. I realized my dad and I had a deep connection through God. I knew that I wanted to find my own church to be part of my life. I thought I would have to go to many churches to find a good fit, but instead, All Souls was hand picked for me by a friend, a seminary student at CDSP knowledgeable about the different Episcopal churches in the area. One of my main criteria was that my new church have a feeling of authenticity and energy in striving to connect with God, rather than that dreadful feeling in some churches of just going through the motions. I recall that my friend also made sure that I was ok with an “experimental” or “non-traditional” style of liturgy and music before sending me here. Luckily, it was a good fit. I am grateful to have found my church home at All Souls.  

– Stacey Alexeeff

Celebrating Christopher!

Ever found yourself singing a spiritual from an HBO show about vampires? Have you ever started humming Russian polyphonic chant? Have you come to know God in the twang of a washtub base? We have many things to celebrate about our life with Christopher Putnam in leading our liturgy and music. Christopher and Caroline will remain here at All Souls as parishioners, but this will be our chance to thank him and celebrate his service among us for nearly 12 years.

Save the Date: Sunday, September 25th, at 12:30 pm. Stay tuned next week for information about how to contribute to the festivities.


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.


The youth kick-off potluck BBQ is Sunday, September 11th from 5:00 – 7:00 pm. Meet at the Parish House. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and buns will be provided. Contact Jess Powell to RSVP including what you will bring by Wednesday, September 7th.