From the Rector
Head, Hands, and Heart
The essential purpose of any Christian community is to gather people together, have them be transformed by God, and then send those people back out into their lives. (this distillation is from a model, Gather, Transform, Send, created by the Most Rev. Melissa Skelton) Usually when we think of church, we think of Sunday morning worship. This is for good reason, as prayer and worship form the beating heart of any Christian congregation. But all too often, we stop there, conflating the hour (or more) of worship with the totality of the Christian life.
The model of Gather, Transform, Send, offers us more, though. It posits that there are many, many sources of transformation, and that prayer and worship are just the beginning. One of those reliable sources of transformation is study and learning, and this way of changing our selves and our lives is one that we give a lot of our time and attention to at All Souls.
In fact, one of our six expectations of membership at All Souls is that we learn together. All of us––from age three to, well, we haven’t yet found an upper limit to that expectation. Our belief is that throughout our lives we can come closer and closer to the mind of Christ. So, throughout the year, but especially during the school year, you can find ways to learn about the Christian life with others making this journey.
Now, I think that it’s important to say a word about what we mean by learning and formation. One of the All Soulsians of the Diaspora grew up in an area with where many were part of Scientology. Because of his experiences of indoctrination as part of Scientology, he was wary of practices of learning that simply involved rote learning and had little room for questions or ambiguity.
Learning at All Souls is not about indoctrination, it’s about exploration. At every developmental level our pedagogy involves open-hearted questions––it’s why in our Godly Play classrooms we intentionally begin our questions with, “ I wonder…” It’s not that we don’t have a sense of how to answer them, it’s that we find the joint pursuit of those questions, together with God, to be as important as the place where we land.
Also, thanks to the work of Melissa Skelton, we fundamentally understand study and learning to have three aspects: the head, the heart, and the hands. Being located in north Berkeley, a few blocks away from the university and several seminaries has tremendous advantages. The wealth of teachers at All Souls is astounding. And. Often in this environment we focus our learning solely on the intellect. So, it has been important for us to pay close attention to the other two areas of learning: the heart and the hands. Our intent is that classes at All Souls will also feed your soul and help you practice what you’ve learned. If what you’ve learned on a Sunday doesn’t change your life on a Wednesday we’ve missed our mark.
We’ve come to an auspicious time of year, with the end of summer and the return to school. Join us this Sunday between the 9a and 11:15a services as we have our Rally Sunday festivities and unveil the classes for All Soulsians of all ages. Come and find out what we will be learning in this year to come––the topics cover just about every area of the Christian life and the teachers are often leaders in their fields. Make the space to be changed again––head, heart, and hands.
From the Associate Rector
Doing an Old Thing in a New Way
If you can believe it, we are about to kick off our third program year together, with me serving as the Associate Rector here at All Souls. During my first program year (2020-2021) the church was still closed to most people, leaving only online options for Children’s ministry. That year was about perseverance and showing up. In the spring of 2021, it felt safe enough to begin to offer some children’s programming outside, so that’s what we did, and I was finally able to meet your children in person. What a joy!
At the start of the following year (2021-2022) I, along with the Children and Family Ministries Team, set out to do the long, slow work of rebuilding our ministry with children, namely our Sunday School Program. While I knew we would face many challenges with Covid cases rising and falling, the threat of unclean air sometimes making it impossible to meet outside, and of course, my time away on parental leave, I thought that we would make slow and steady progress toward rebuilding our program and filling our classrooms with children once again.
What happened instead, though, was sort of a scatter shot pattern of attendance at Sunday School. One week in Sunday School we might have 15 kids, the following week we’d have 3. One week we might have no kids show up, and the following week 8. We might go three weeks without anyone showing up, then randomly have 9 kids show up the following week. You get the idea.
It is incredibly challenging to build momentum and excitement in a program when you never know how many kids will be there, or if you’ll have any kids at all, from week to week. This is true not only for the Sunday School teachers, but also for the children themselves. It also makes it difficult to build cohesion and trust within the group and with the adults who give their time to teach them.
I share this with you now, not because I want to place blame or make anyone feel bad about whether or not they came to church every week last year. (That is so not the point here.) I share this now because the stress that that experience put on our Sunday School program led to an idea to do things in a different way, and I’m hopeful that this new way will be exciting and energizing for the children and adults who are involved.
So, this year we are doing an experiment.
We are treating Sunday School the same way we treat Adult Formation. We will have a series of 2-4 week classes, on various topics, with a wider array of leaders from within our church. In and among the classes we’ll have weeks off where we do special activities or join with the rest of the parish for events. Typically (although not always), we will have two tracks, one for grades Pre-K-3 and another for grades 4-5. The topics will correspond to the season of the church year, the adult formation classes, or the time of year.
I am really excited about this new approach, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things go. As we have been, we remain in a season of evaluation and adaptation. This may be the only year we ever do this, or this might be our new standard for the foreseeable future. We won’t know until we try it out. My hope is that by publishing our calendar of classes, bringing in various leaders, and trying out different types of topics, we will learn more about ourselves and our children and what type of programming may work the best for them going forward.
To that end, stay tuned on Rally Sunday when we will unveil the Children’s Formation calendar along with the Adult formation calendar! There are exciting things to come, and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.
Save the Dates
August 21, Rally Sunday & Blessing of the Backpacks
August 21, Safe Church Training for all keyholders and volunteers who work with children (1-4p)
September 16-18, All Parish Retreat at the Bishop’s Ranch
October 2, Feast of St. Francis & Pet Blessing
Join us for worship this week:
- 9am, in-person, indoors
- 11:15am, in-person, indoors. This service will also be live streamed (click here to access the live stream)
You can access the live stream through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Then join us in the Parish Hall at 5p Sunday Night Service for a Eucharistic service.
If you miss a Sunday, you can always catch the sermon on our homepage or as a podcast, anywhere you listen to podcasts!
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218.
Rally Sunday & Blessing of the Backpacks
Come back next Sunday, August 21st for Rally Sunday! There will be donuts, and time to hang out in the courtyard between the 9 & 11:15 services. We’ll also unveil the Adult Formation calendar for the year, and kick-off children’s formation and youth group for the year. At both the 9 & 11:15 services we’ll bless backpacks (or any other symbol you choose) to send us off into this academic year and ventures.
Photographer for Rally Sunday
Next Sunday, August 21st, we’ll also have a photographer joining us to take pictures of us in action for our new website. We’ll have photo release forms to sign next Sunday prior to the worship service so that folks can opt out if you would prefer your image not be used.
Adult Formation Classes
There is just one class offering this Sunday (due to Rally Sunday activities):
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:45a. Click here to join by Zoom, or join them in-person in the Common Room.
Coming Up in Adult Formation
Our first set of classes start-up on August 28th:
- Walking the Labyrinth (August 28th, September 4 & 11th)
Join Michael Drell for three sessions exploring Labyrinth walking. Michael will have just completed Labyrinth Facilitator Training with Veriditas and he is looking forward to sharing this learning with you and enriching our spiritual practice through this ancient tool.”
- The Lived Experience of People of Color – Vignettes from All Souls Parishioners (August 28th & September 11th)
People of Color (POC) have a ‘lived experience’ that can be markedly different from the white majority, even when they have very similar socio-economic and educational backgrounds. These differences in the lived experience permeate every aspect of daily life – at work, at the grocery store, at a restaurant, at a department store, at airport security, and yes, at church. Many of us (especially those who are committed to racial justice) may be aware of this in the general sense. But what does this actually feel like and look like for someone you know – your neighbor, your colleague, or your fellow parishioner sitting next to you on the pew? The purpose of this 2-session panel discussion is to illuminate the POC lived experience through vignettes shared by a panel of All Souls POC parishioners in a moderated Q&A format. The panel will explore these lived experiences through the lens of our faith and spirituality. We hope that participants will leave with a greater appreciation and understanding of the POC lived experience, toward better informing our collective efforts on racial justice.
Children, Youth, and Family News
Join us on Sunday, August 21st at 10:00am in the courtyard for Rally Sunday, to hear all about the offerings for children and youth beginning this fall!
Email Maggie for more information about Children, Youth and Family Ministries at All Souls.
Other News & Notes
How to access staff & clergy in the new Jordan Court Offices
Wondering how to reach us in the new offices? Here’s how:
- Enter on Cedar & Oxford and press “001” on the call box. This will take you to the church voicemail system. Select the number of the person you are trying to reach and it will call their office phone directly.
- For Annie: press 1
- For Phil: press 2
- For Maggie: press 3
- For Emily: press 4
- For Dent: press 5
- Once on the phone with the person you are trying to reach, but before they buzz the door open, they will give you a code that you need to either write down or remember as you will need it to enter the stairwell or the elevator.
- Once you have been buzzed into the lobby, head towards the stairs or elevator and use the code you were given to get to the 3rd floor.
- After exiting the elevator or stairwell, turn right and the All Souls offices are at the end of the hall! Voila!
- If you are entering from the church building, you can also access the offices through the gate at the courtyard. You can either text or phone a staff or clergy to get the gate code and then may enter the staff offices either by going up the outdoor stairwell or by entering the Jordan Court building and going up the elevator (the same gate code will get you in the Jordan Court building and the elevator).
Church Office Hours:
Staff & Clergy can be reached Sunday-Thursday by phone/text/or email. Tuesday-Thursday from 10-5p you can find staff & clergy in the office. You can reach an on-call clergy at any time by calling our church offices and pressing “8” for the on-call priest.
Whole & Healthy Church Training
It’s that time again when all keyholders of the church’s keys, and all volunteers who work with children are required to take the Diocesan Whole & Healthy Church training. To do this, diocesan staff member, Caren Miles, will join us after the 11:15 service on August 21st to do in-person training! Lunch will be provided, but please RSVP with Maggie Foote (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Emily Hansen Curran (email@example.com). If you miss this in-person training, you will need to complete the training online. We’re also expanding the church keys to include the key fob code to Jordan Court so that keyholders can also access the staff offices.
This year’s all-parish retreat is September 16-18 up at the Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg. This year’s theme is The Stories That Make Us where, following the liturgy set in the Easter Vigil, we’ll retell the stories of our faith that have and continue to shape us. As Cole Arthur Riley says in her book This Here Flesh, “this habit of curating collective memory can not only preserve community but also, in the darkest of moments, resurrect it.”
There will be programming for children, youth, and adults, with free time to hike, swim, lounge, nap, explore the wine country, and enjoy each other’s company. You don’t want to miss this!
Sign-up here to register! And, if the cost is prohibitive, please let us know––there are scholarships available.
Spaghetti Again Men’s Dinner
All men are invited to the August Spaghetti Again Dinner where they will kick off the Fall “semester” on Monday, August 29, at 6 pm in the Parish Hall.
Please bring good appetites, a beverage to share, and ideas for meeting topics and format.
RSVP here (firstname.lastname@example.org)! (For non-French speaking friends, Let us Know if You’re Coming!) (LUKIYK)
-Bob, Kirk, John & George