From the Rector

The Rev. Phil Brochard, Rector

Kinship, Revealed

As we were discerning building affordable housing for seniors here at All Souls, one of my initial conversations was with the site director of the preschool that leases space from the parish. Since this project was going to have effect on the preschool, I was seeking to know how they felt about the project, both our intent for it, and how it would be lived out.

I was relieved to hear her response—that they realized that the construction would be challenging, and that they were looking forward to the potential relationship with the elders who would be living next door. Her reason? Since so many of the students don’t have grandparents nearby, this could be an incredible opportunity to foster intergenerational relationships through reading time and art projects.

I’ve been considering that response for some time now. One of the truths that has emerged for me is that we are more scattered than we have been before, especially in the United States. No longer are we certain to live our entire lives in the villages, towns, or cities that we born in. This reality is even more pronounced here in the Bay Area, where it seems odd to find someone that was born and raised here, let alone has been able to afford to remain. So it should not be surprising to hear this response from the preschool’s director, that this might fill in something that is missing for these children.

This past Sunday we continued our streak of saying goodbye to All Soulsians—this has been a season for goodbyes to say the least. But this sending out took a form that we are more accustomed to, recognizing our graduated high school seniors and sending them off to college with God’s blessing.

As often is the case, it was a bittersweet moment, and this past Sunday it had a particular resonance to it, as both young women first walked (or were carried) through the copper doors as toddlers. They quite literally grew up here. We have watched as they entered kindergarten, moved into middle school, then entered (and rocked) high school, all the while serving this congregation in many faithful and creative ways. Now they are young adults, ready to see what their calling will be in this world.

It was a service marked by tears for many gathered there—those staying and those leaving. But it was after the service that something was once again revealed to me, a truth that, considering the preschool director’s observation, I should not take for granted.

Embraces, literal and figurative, surrounded the young women and their parents. Former high school teachers wishing them well. Parents who just last year sent their children off to college commiserating. Elders who sent their children off to college several decades ago coming to give them a hug.

And there it was in front of me once again, the bonds of kinship, of Christian community at its truest—loving each other as sisters and brothers, aunties and uncles, cousins and grandparents. Not related by blood, but with a love that is just as profound and present.

I remembered once again that this kind of kinship, across generation and culture, is found very few other places in our society. And it seems to be to be the very connective tissue that makes us human. Seen, known, held, loved. I realize that this isn’t always how we choose to live our lives, but when we do there is no clearer witness to the Realm of God, here on earth.


Giving thanks and beginning the search

nettie pinellIt is with hearts both grateful and heavy that we share the news that Nettie Pinell, our beloved Administrative Assistant at All Souls, has made the decision to move on from work here. As her younger son, Nicolas, gets bigger and more active, and Lucas is evermore on the run as well, it has come clear to Nettie that working part-time at both All Souls and InnerChange and parenting these wonderfully rambunctious children is simply not sustainable. Nettie has been quite literally an answer to our prayers — when we were last searching to fill this position, our then-seminarian heard Nettie’s name while praying for All Souls — and it has been a joy to work with Nettie these last two years. Her compassion, good humor, creativity, and care for all aspects of this community has helped us to thrive and do so in good spirits. Nettie will be with us through the end of September and we will miss her greatly.

And, this means we are opening the search for our next Administrative Assistant. Do you know someone who is looking for half-time work, experienced in desktop publishing, volunteer coordination and property management? Are they familiar with liturgical Christian communities, are able to be flexible, and have a great sense of humor? Please send the job posting to them, available on our website here. Please note that people who are already active in the All Souls Parish community are not eligible to apply.

Please pray with us as we send Nettie on, and as we look towards this next iteration of our community!

Wildfire Drills in the Berkeley Hills and what I learned

kate stout

I’m not at my best at 2:30 AM. This is especially true when my phone has jarred me awake with an emergency announcement that a wildfire has broken out in Tilden Park and is moving fast. No, this hasn’t happened, yet. On August 4 and 11, I participated in the wildfire evacuation drills by the City of Berkeley, and will again this Sunday.

My mother and I decided to participate in the August 11. We heard the trucks that drove around the area alerting residents, and we packed our backpacks. We showed up at the evacuation area People were nice and appreciated our participation. During this drill, we realized there were more questions to ask ourselves. It is very important to make decisions ahead, before it’s the middle of the night, before the police are driving in your neighborhood and before you smell smoke or worse, see flames. Here is a partial list of questions that I urge you to discuss with family:

  1. What will I pack in five minutes?
  2. When do we abandon our house? Only when told to leave? At the first sign of a fire in the general area? When the weather creates a “fire weather forecast?”
  3. Are there neighbors that might need a ride to a safe place or help to their cars?
  4. If the roads are too crowded to drive out, what is the quickest escape route on foot?
  5. Could I stay with friends in a safe area? Have I talked to anyone about this idea yet?
  6. Do I have a way to carry pets if I am on foot? Can I face leaving a pet to save my own life?
  7. What if not everyone is home when the fire breaks out? Sometimes cell reception does not work. Do you have a place to meetup with family? Do you have one person outside the area to communicate through?

These are not easy questions, but good discussions to have. Rather than making me feel more anxious, talking ahead made me feel more prepared and relaxed. In the event of a disaster, we cannot rely on waiting to be told what to do by officials. Fires move quickly. Choose a route yourselves knowing it could change. Prepare ahead like your life depended on it.

You can find more information about this Sunday’s wildfire drill here.

— Kate Stout


whitney wilson

As I mentioned in my article last week, I spent quite a bit of time during winter and spring listening, watching, learning, and appreciating what happens each and every Sunday (and sometimes even in between) here at All Souls in children’s ministry. There is a dedicated team of volunteers who spend their Sunday mornings creating spaces for children to be able to safely explore their spiritual selves in community with their peers. There is time filled with laughter, sharing, wondering, and learning for children and the adults who get the privilege of sharing the sacred space.

Now how does this all work, you might wonder? Here are some things I learned from my time “downstairs.”

When staff, teachers, and parents were asked open-ended questions – the following themes began to emerge:

– The purpose of children’s formation is coming close to God, being in community, sharing ritual and stories, and feeling God’s love.

– All Souls strives to fulfill this purpose through learning (Godly Play, chapel, worship), community (Retreat, Campout, Mardi Gras, Picnic, playground, potlucks), and service (Camp All Souls, Open Door dinner).

– People see All Souls’ strengths as:

  • Worship, music, preaching
  • A welcoming congregation and a child-friendly place

– What still needs to be done?

  • More volunteers are needed
  • Families desire resources to use at home
  • Attendance can be sporadic for families
  • Better incorporation of children in weekly worship

What do these results tell us? What are the next steps? And why is any of this important?

Next week, I will share with you what steps Liz+ and the Children’s formation team is implementing in the next few months.

— Whitney Wilson


Come this Sunday, 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!


It’s filling up quickly!

Our annual Parish Retreat to the Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg is coming up soon, September 13th – 15th, and there’s a little space left. 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 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!