The Rev. Phil Brochard, Rector

The Choice to Bear Witness

As you may know, each Wednesday morning at 9am, somewhere between 8 and 12 All Soulsians gather in the Chapel of the Nativity to celebrate the Eucharist together. Most days there is a feast to commemorate a saint of the Church. Often they are someone who has witnessed to the faith in the distant past, say, the 4th or 12th century; and usually in a land far, far away, mostly in Europe.

But this past Wednesday, the Episcopal Church celebrated a feast for a saint of our time and place, St. Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a martyr of the Church who was killed in 1965 in Hayneville, Alabama while responding to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s call to people of faith from across creed and color to come to Selma and environs to support the movement towards civil rights in this nation.

Sponsored by the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity (ESCRU), Jonathan Daniels took part in a demonstration that August with many other members of the civil rights movement, resulting in their arrest. After six days of hot, miserable conditions in the county jail, they were released, and four of them headed for a nearby store to purchase cold drinks.

They were met there by a former Sheriff’s Deputy, Tom Coleman, bearing a 12 gauge shotgun. After cursing at a 17 year-old African American named Ruby Sales, Coleman fired his gun at her. Daniels, who was the valedictorian of his class at the Virginia Military Institute, lunged to the side, pushing Ruby Sales out of the line of fire. He and a Roman Catholic priest absorbed the blast, and Jonathan Daniels was killed instantly. Coleman was later acquitted by an all-white jury (in predominantly black Lowndes County), after pleading self-defense.

In the Chapel of the Nativity, as we absorbed the weight of Daniels’ life and death, we contemplated his action that hot August day in Hayneville, Alabama. What was it that caused Jonathan Daniels to push Ruby Sales out of the way, giving his life so that hers could be spared? Was it instinct or was it choice?

After reflecting on that moment, I wonder if it was both. Yes, Jonathan Daniels had been trained, both at a military institute, and at a seminary. His responses had been honed over years, habituated so that in a moment of crisis, they kicked in, perhaps without even a thought.

And. Jonathan Daniels was clear that his reason for being in Alabama to support the Civil Rights Movement was because of his Christian faith, and particularly Mary’s song of the Magnificat, of, “the mighty being put down from their seat and God exalting the humble and meek.” He had made a choice to pause his formal education and immerse himself in the struggle.

It seems to me that the martyrdom of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, his bearing witness to his faith of how this world needs to be re-ordered, was the marriage of choice and instinct. And it is one that we all can engage in. Few of us will likely be called to stand in the way of a shotgun’s blast, but all of us can choose to respond to the Gospel call to love and serve alongside those who are diminished and de-formed by the powers and principalities of this world.

When we are there, we well may be faced with a moment to offer ourselves, through presence, word, or deed. We may be asked to respond in ways that we have practiced through prayer and preparation. But part of the witness of Jonathan Daniels is that we need to choose to be there first.



vicki vargheseAs you may know, All Souls has agreed to join with Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA), a non-profit in Berkeley, and Temple Beth-El to build tiny houses for homeless youth in the East Bay.Our first building day will be Saturday, August 24 from 9am-4pm at 2116 Brush Street in Oakland. So far we have 27 people signed up, and we need more! Our goal is for All Souls to have at least 40 people participating – maybe you’ll join us?

To sign up, click here. You can also direct people to find more information on our homepage ( on the left hand side under “Coming Up”. 

This is a family-friendly event, with all ages welcome. There will be a painting station, a hammering station, and many opportunities to help with non-technical tasks, including serving food and drinks to workers. One note about children: there will be limited activities suitable for children under 10 years old, but you are welcome to bring your children as long as you supervise them.

One area we need help with – food, drinks and paper supplies! Even if you can’t take part at the build on August 24th, we would LOVE IT if you could help supply some of the items below. Our workers will be hungry! Here’s what we have committed to bring:

Sandwich Essentials: 

  • Lunch meat (14 lbs.)
  • Cheese (pre-sliced, 5 lbs.)
  • Bread (9 loaves)
  • Tomatoes (16, washed and sliced)
  • Lettuce (9 heads, washed and leaves separated)

Vegan/gluten free options:

  • Salad greens (4 lbs. washed)
  • Vegan salad dressing (3 bottles)
  • Vegan wraps or spring rolls (15)
  • Apples (80, washed)
  • Watermelon (5, sliced if possible)

Paper supplies: 

  • 150 plates (compostable)
  • 100 forks (compostable or recyclable)
  • 25 knives (compostable or recyclable)

Coolers with ICE (6)

Please go to the sign-up sheet on our website to indicate what you’re bringing, or email Vicki Varghese at Fruit and non-perishable items can be dropped off at the church office during the week. If you have any questions, feel free to email Vicki at the address above, or see me after church (9 and 11:15 am services) this Sunday – I’ll be near the coffee table with a Tiny Houses sign!

Let’s BUILD together – tiny houses, and a more hopeful future for youth in our community.

— Vicki Varghese

From Children’s Formation

whitney wilson

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

I have often found this quote by George Bernard Shaw a welcome reminder of why Sunday School and children’s ministry is such a vital piece of the health of a church. A vibrant children’s program is of course a source of growth and development for the children participating but it is also a source of revitalization for the adults that support it; both directly and indirectly. An invitation to play in its many forms can be a life supporting and sustaining practice.

With this in mind, I welcomed the chance last Fall, to discuss with Liz+ and Phil+ the programs at All Souls. They asked me to spend some time observing and reflecting on where All Souls had grown in the children’s ministry programs. Five years had already passed since the Sunday morning worship had moved from two services to three services with a formation hour (including Sunday School) between the 9am and 11:15am services. They felt that five years would be a good benchmark to take a general pulse about how things were working.

Over the next several months, I attended five different chapel programs, observed four different Godly Play classes, attended four Children’s Formation Ministry meetings, and worshipped at both the 9:00 am and 11:15 am services on multiple occasions. I met with staff, teachers, and parents asking them questions and observations on how they felt about the children and family programs at All Souls. I took lots of notes and eventually compiled my findings to present to Phil, Liz, and Emily.

My thought process was that if I only used my own observations, the information gathered would be biased. I expanded my sources to include Phil, Liz, and Emily as their thoughts would give be a better idea of what things looked like from the “inside” and perhaps what was the original intention of certain programs. Discussing children’s ministry with teachers and chapel leaders gave me a new insight as to what it looked and felt like from the people who spend time with the children every week. And discussing with parents, what their impressions were of the weekly and yearly programming gave me insight into what was carried home. All of this made for very interesting results and gave me great hope for the children of All Souls. More about these results next week…

— Whitney Wilson


Paul Mathew photoEarlier this summer, we welcomed many new members into the All Souls parish community. Today and in the weeks ahead, you’ll hear from them.

I’ve lived in Berkeley since 2006 and love it here! I work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where I do applied research on energy efficient buildings. I often walk home from the lab, enjoying the views of the bay as I unwind from my workday. In fact, I frequently walk by All Souls and was always intrigued by the building and the chalkboard outside.

I was born in India and grew up in Uganda, Kenya, and Bahrain – so a bit of cultural mutt. I enjoy travel and have visited 33 countries. I came to the US for graduate school 30 years ago and have lived in Pittsburgh (where I went to grad school), Houston (where I worked for a large energy company that famously went bankrupt with the “smartest guys in the room”) and the Washington DC area before eventually moving to Berkeley.

I have identified and practiced as a Christian almost all of my life. I was raised Catholic and my spiritual journey has included practicing with various other denominations including non-denominational evangelical, Mennonite, and now Episcopalian. I think I’ve learned from and been enriched by all these faith traditions. Diversity is good and necessary in natural systems, social systems and spirituality! I’m especially interested in the intersection of spirituality and society and how we as a faith community can help create a world that is more just, fair and compassionate for all peoples.

My favorite social activity is spending time with friends around a table with good food, no pesky electronic devices, and real conversation (ok, good libations certainly don’t hurt!). I look forward to getting to know members of the All Souls community, breaking bread and collaborating on making this world just a little better than we found it.

— Paul Mathew

Parish Retreat Sign-ups

Our annual Parish Retreat to the Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg is coming up soon, September 13th – 15th. It is a glorious time of fellowship, relaxation, intergenerational hilarity and reflection. Sign-ups are live, available online here!


Mark your calendars for Sunday, September 1, when our Choir will be joined by the Choir of St. Paul’s Oakland, at both the 9:00am and 11:15am services. We’ll be singing, among many other things, William Byrd’s spectacular setting of Sing joyfully. An event not to be missed!



The shop to purchase All Souls t-shirts is now open for orders again! All proceeds, after the cost of the shirt, will go to support the High School Immersion Trip. You can order the t-shirts online here, pay online, and they will be mailed to your house! They’re printed by a fantastic local unionized shop. The online All Souls store will be open through today, August 15, after which they will print the shirts and mail them to you. The three designs this time are “God erases no one,” “Jesus was a refugee,” and “Banjos for Jesus.”


The 2019-20 Youth Group Kick-Off is August 25th! If you are (or your youth is) headed into 6th-12th grade and are interested in youth group this year or have questions about the year ahead, write to Emily for more info ( Also, set aside September 13-15 for the Parish Retreat when we have our own youth retreat alongside the adults!


Come August 25th where at all three services we will bless backpacks (and other sorts of bags) for those heading back to school, new jobs, etc. Then, between the 9 & 11:15 services we’ll kick off the new academic year with sign-ups for ministries, Youth Group, Children’s Chapel/Sunday School, and we’ll unveil the new Adult Formation class schedule for the year. And, of course, there will be fun treats in the courtyard — Sundaes for Sunday School has become a lively tradition. Don’t miss it!


A group of 20s/30s-ish folks are meeting monthly this summer to break bread together in each other’s homes and explore different prayer practices. Expect tasty, dietary restriction-friendly potluck, equally attractive non-alcoholic beverages, and real talk about church, prayer, and our shared life together in 21st century Bay Area. Meetings are August 20 and September 17, 7–9 pm. Come once, come every month, you are welcome. For more information please contact Jane Thomason