Reflections On Faith from the Administrative Assistant
God is Change
A few weeks ago when I agreed to write this article, I was a couple days away from moving in with my partner. I was feeling the hopeful anticipation of a new start—in my relationship, in a new, light-filled apartment, a new city. Like so many of us, I longed for the freshness of change after a year and a half of domestic monotony.
While my partner didn’t think twice about moving in, for me, the decision was not something I took lightly—it came after months of prayer, discernment, and second-guessing. At times I felt quite consoled by God at the thought of moving in with my partner, and at others all I could see were the countless reasons why we shouldn’t move in together. But when we visited the apartment for the first time, I felt the kind of inner-quiet I recognized from other moments of God’s calling in my life, a sense of closeness to God and to myself and a deep trust that I was on the right path. I knew that moving in together was the right decision. The future was looking bright.
Whatever clarity and energy I felt in those early days leading up to the move was quickly replaced, to both of our surprise, by countless little conflicts when we actually moved into the apartment—about where to place the couch, what shelf to put the produce on, all trivial things that of course were not really about those things at all, and yet—I couldn’t help but wonder, had we just made a terrible decision moving in together? What was all that feel-good consolation about back there? Why, God, is this happening and what does it mean?
At the level of psychology, I’m inclined to say that all of this is happening precisely because we are moving in/enduring a moment of significant transition. But on a spiritual level, the answers aren’t so easy. What I find myself grasping at in prayer is certainty—for God to swiftly deliver an answer about what to do and how to fix this. What I’m given is the sense of God’s immediate presence and care, and, annoyingly, God’s refusal to tell me what to do this time. This has been a new, recent trend in my prayer life—God’s lovingly declining to offer an answer—and it reminds me that the spiritual life is a constantly evolving thing. Just when I think God and I have worked out our whole deal, God takes the shape of something else, shows up where I least expect, greets me in a language I don’t yet understand. That prayer and relationship with God evolves like this—that it changes as we change, that it asks new and deeper things of us—is something I’m always surprised to discover again. When I resist this fact and panic that God’s not showing up just as I expect God to, I turn into a pissy baby and it’s not cute. But when I can let go and trust that God’s evolution is always towards something more dynamic, intimate, and beautiful than I could ever possibly imagine, I re-engage with God and the world around me from a place of mystery. When I can dwell in this place, the insights, paradoxically, are never far off. This time around, as much as I hate to admit it, I can sense that God is inviting me to trust myself, to not lean so hard on a sign or something outside of myself to guide me. It’s a reminder that God lives in me—in my thoughts and in my heart—and that God trusts me.
As I get to the end of this article, I realize that when I can trust myself, and trust that God is working through me, the drama of I Just Moved In With My Boyfriend and I Think it Was A Huge Mistake starts to feel a lot less dramatic—less of a loaded decision to make and more of a patient unfolding to witness. There’s more space to explore what’s actually happening between me and my partner, what I need and want, and what’s drawing me nearer to God.
From The Associate for Ministry Development
Dear All Soulsians,
It is that time of year, once again, when we load up our cars and head off for a weekend full of time together, great thoughts, fellowship, swimming, grass stains, and incredible views up at the Bishop’s Ranch. Jeannie Koops and Tim Ereneta will lead us into this year’s theme, which is called Stories that Heal inspired by a NYT article (here). Throughout the weekend we’ll consider our own stories as well as the story of All Souls as we look to heal and with hope for what is ahead.
As we head into our second year of a Covid-style retreat, we will once again offer multiple ways to attend. The first way is to attend the full weekend up at the Bishop’s Ranch (with some minor tweaks to things up there in order to keep things safe, which I’ll describe below). The second option is to attend the retreat virtually by staying here in town, where we’ll live stream the Saturday teaching time into the Parish Hall so those who need to stay at home can still participate. Register here.
To those considering the full weekend up at the retreat.
First, if money is stopping you from considering attending, please do not hesitate to ask for a scholarship to help out with the costs! Just email me (email@example.com) or Maggie (firstname.lastname@example.org) to talk about those options. Then, second, covid-safety. You can read more on the Ranch’s website about how they have changed some of their practices to keep people safe, but the biggest thing is that everyone will lodge as pods or family units with their own bathroom available to them. There will also be public bathrooms available for day-trippers and for those pool-side potty breaks, but each pod or family unit will also have access to their own bathrooms (unless you decide to camp, in which case you’ll have access to the shared [well-ventilated] pool-side bathrooms and showers). Additionally, the Ranch will keep up their shade tent over the parking lot/basketball court just off the Refectory (in addition to their few outdoor dining tables) so that we may dine outdoors for every meal. Masks are currently required for all indoor activities, however, it is most likely that we will hold our Saturday morning session at the Ranch outdoors, so that we keep this event as safe as possible. And again, unlike last year, this year day-tripping is permitted.
For those unable to attend the day retreat or full retreat up at the Ranch.
Assuming we get at least 10 people who would like to/need to choose this option, we’ll live stream the programming from Saturday morning into either the Parish Hall or the courtyard at the church. After the programming portion, we’ll do a BYOL (bring your own lunch) lunch in the courtyard before heading off to our days here in the bay.
No matter which option you choose, you’ll need to register (here) so that we know what to plan for. Once I’ve received your registration, I’ll email to discuss housing options or to let you know we fare in terms of numbers of those who would like to attend the virtual version of the retreat.
You can read more about the schedule of the retreat on the registration form, which, again you can find here. We know that it’s often tough to get out of town and drive up to Healdsburg for a weekend, and some of you might not know a lot of All Soulsians yet, but please consider attending. The retreat offers a wide range of experiences––to time alone, time with others, and time getting to know others. We’re headed for what is likely another year with unknown challenges and our hope is that the retreat will be a touchstone for you and/or your family as we launch into this wild unknown. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Emily. I’ll be glad to talk.
Hope to see you up at the Ranch!
EmilyRegister here for this year’s fall retreat!
New Mask Mandate from the CDC
Due to the new CDC mask mandate, masks are required for all indoor gatherings regardless of vaccination status.
(Pictured: All Soulsians in masks in 1918 during the Spanish influenza)
Save the Dates
(*see “Other News and Notes” for more info on events)
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 (sign-up here!)
Sunday Mornings: Join us at 9am in the courtyard, in-person. At this service masks are not required, but we do ask that you keep 3-4’ of distance between you and others who are not in your family or pod.
Or (and!) join us indoors for the 11:15 service or on the live stream at 11:15a, 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. At our 11:15 service, masks are required.
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218. Masks are required for this service as it is indoors.
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
We have three class offerings this Sunday: (masks required at all groups if meeting indoors)
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Contact Kate Murphy,
email@example.com to join that Zoom call.
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 10:10a in the Chapel, or contact Daniel Prechtel, firstname.lastname@example.org, to join that Zoom call.
Summer Book Group @ 10:10a in the Parish Hall or on Zoom (here), with the book A Time for Everything by Karl Ove Knausgaard. July 25 (pp. 7 – 136), August 1 (pp. 137 – 241), August 8 (pp. 242 – 334), August 15 (pp. 335 – 499)
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 (email@example.com) for more information.
Other News & Notes
Soulcast: Our Weekly Video Announcements
Check out Season 4: Episode 4 of the Soulcast!
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.
AA Groups Have Resumed
If you or someone you know is interested in AA Groups that meet here at the church, check out our calendar for the times.
Applications for Jordan Court go live this week!
Here’s the latest from SAHA: “Applications will be due within one week of going live. If you know of specific seniors who have been interested in living at Jordan Court, please make sure they have subscribed to SAHA’s housing interest notification list so that they get an email when the application goes live (if they haven’t already.) This is the same process that has been posted in all the FAQs associated with the project since we started, so neighborhood stakeholders should already be subscribed. When the application goes live, all of those who have subscribed will get an email from SAHA with instructions on how to apply, including a link to the streamlined County portal. A lottery will be used to select eligible households with a preference to those who live or work in Alameda County.” Applications will go live here.
If you’re interested in joining a small group, we’re hoping to launch a few this fall! One will be a general small group, for journeying together/alongside others. The other group will be more specific: for parents who are currently raising teenagers. Look to next week’s Pathfinder for more info, but for now, if you’re interested, reach out to Emily (firstname.lastname@example.org).