From the Rector
A New Hope
Earlier this week I was grateful to be in Portland, Oregon among a dozen priests from California, Oregon, Washington and New Mexico taking part in the most recent West Coast Convivium. A Convivi-what? you might be asking? The West Coast Convivium is a somewhat regular gathering (this was our third Convivium) of Episcopal leaders serving congregations across the West of the United States.
The origin story of our group goes back five years, when my family and I were driving down I-5, having camped and explored in North Cascades National Park. As we crawled our way through Seattle traffic and then Portland traffic I noticed a couple of repeating phenomena in each city, ones that were startling reminders of the Bay.
The first was massive construction cranes, over a dozen dotting the horizon in each city––tech capital was pouring into these cities just like it was in the San Francisco Bay Area. The second phenomenon, related to the first, was the number of tent encampments––the crisis of housing was as challenging in these two metro areas as they were for us. The more that I realized what we had in common along the coast, the more that I wanted to gather congregational practitioners to compare notes, learn from each other, and share our learnings with others.
From that realization the two other conveners, the Rev. Cn. Alissa Newton of the Diocese of Olympia and the Rev. Dr. Paul Fromberg of St. Gregory of Nyssa of the Diocese of California, and I have gathered leaders to teach, eat, pray, listen, and wonder about how the Spirit is moving in the West. Seeing as much of the ethos and structure of the Episcopal Church has been formed and imprinted on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, we have convened to see what our unique context––born of migration, boom and bust economies, a colonial and pioneering mentality, and a spirit of entrepreneurship––has allowed for and/or inhibited.
This year, we particularly were asking ourselves what it is like to make church now, as we begin to emerge from pandemic, and to do that in the West. With this end in mind we began our time together considering the effects of trauma, grounding ourselves in the work of Dr. Kimberly George. Recognizing that trauma is event, experience, and effects, we reflected on how trauma has been present in our own lives and in the lives of those we pastor. We made room to remember, to lament, and to release. Exploring stories of trauma in scripture, we settled on the story from Genesis 21 when Hagar and Ishmael are expelled into the wilderness from the camp of Abraham and Sarah. It is a story of a trauma, and not an easy story to tell, but it is one that allowed us to recognize both some of the pain of the last couple of years as well as some of the promise of God that is also present.
Then turning to case studies from our own congregations, we engaged in conversation and wondering about the role of anxiety in communal change, the balance of grief and hope, and where God is in the give and take of conflict and possibility. The conversations were robust and generative. It was inspiring to encounter the creativity, persistence, faithfulness, and vulnerability of congregations and leaders over the past couple of years.
As in many a retreat, one of the gifts of this Convivium was the opportunity to take a step or two back from the minutiae of day-to-day congregational life to gain more perspective on what church is now, at this moment, and in this rapidly changing environment. And, in a practice counter to our broader Episcopal culture as well as our wider American culture, there was little cynicism or defeated story-telling. We took into account the reality of the world, and still saw the potential for change ahead.
This gathering offered me a tangible sense of hope, as I looked around the room and saw leaders doing creative and faithful work guiding congregations. But rather than a sunny optimism, I was offered of a hope that has space for sorrow, for longing, and for hardship. And, even in the confusion, pain, and uncertainty, a hope that reveals new life, here and now.
All Souls at the A’s Game
This past Friday I attended the Oakland Athletics game against the Seattle Mariners with my friend Robert and about 50 All Soulsians of all ages. While sitting in the stands with the group after having enjoyed a yummy tailgate supper in the Coliseum parking lot organized by Don Gates, Maggie+, who was sitting just in front of me with her family, learned that this was my first time attending a professional baseball game. It caused her to reflexably laugh (as did Sarah Brochard sitting next to me). Here I was, pushing 80 years old, and I had never watched a professional baseball game?
Well, this is true despite the fact that my Father (a High School science teacher) had also coached football, golf and tennis (but not baseball), despite the fact that I was in the marching band for high school and first year college–playing at football games, not baseball–and that I myself had played softball in grade school and high school PE so I knew at least the basics of the game.
And so, baseball fans, you might ask, how did I enjoy the game?
¨Very much¨, I reply (despite the fact that the A´s lost). I was amazed at the skill of the players, and found the convivial presence of the All Soulsians around me very relaxing and enjoyable. I did have to ask occasional questions about some game rule details (what constitutes a foul ball, etc.), but I do commend the experience, and likely will attend with the group again.
Maggie+ asked me why I had gone (after so many decades of my life not having ever done so). Well, my friend Robert is a fan, but even so I had resisted when he had made suggestions of attending with him. However, the lure of joining an All Souls group of all ages (recall, for example, that Maggie and Emily´s children are quite young but were happily included in the stands), eating with them in an organized, informal setting, and then joining in a happy, exuberant group was irresistible. Thanks go especially to Don Gates who has been organizing these events for about 20 years!
From the Vestry
August Vestry Meeting Summary
The Vestry of All Souls gathered for their monthly meeting on the evening of August 17th, at 7pm in the Common Room as well as on zoom. Chaplain Tim Ereneta facilitated a discussion around Luke 13, focusing on how and why we keep the Sabbath holy. The vestry spoke about how the Sabbath is a cathedral of time, a space of creation and recreation with those around you.
This month, Toni Martinez-Borgfeldt informed the vestry on the health of the ministries that lay under hospitality and evangelism. Currently, there is a call to continue to strengthen the orientation and incorporation done by the newcomers/greeters team. This team is up and running in person, and is determined to do more newcomer identification and recognition in church and revamp the newcomer packets. The Usher team is doing a great job with a smaller team coming back after the pandemic, but would appreciate more volunteers to serve with them. This would be even just once a month.
Toni also spoke to a new frontier in evangelism in All Souls, by merging it with communications. In doing so this adapts to the changing congregation and will broaden our ability to reach all members of the community through multiple modes of communication. Toni and Maggie are brainstorming different strategies currently, and will soon reach out to anyone passionate about providing our message to the outside community through mediums such as social media and so forth.
Next, There was a discussion around the preliminary schedule of the All Souls capital improvements process (update from the property committee), hoping for the construction to be done by 2024. If you wish for more opportunities to share your input around these next steps, please add them to the posters in the back of the Narthex before or after the service. There will also be structured time to discuss the Living Waters Capital Campaign both during the retreat and a following Sunday to be determined. The vestry wants to make sure the All Souls Community has plenty of opportunity for constructive conversation around the improvements and growth of the congregation to occur during the Living Waters Capital Campaign.
Shelley Altura, the treasurer, shared a financial spreadsheet she prepared with details for the Jordan Court finances. She noted the money which had been received in 2011 from the estate of Anne Jordan, and brought the vestry up to date with the Capital Campaign commitments now included.
Phil shared some pain points along with some exciting news. To start out, he asked us for our prayers for those in the community who still have not come to accept the expansion of our community through the launching of Jordan Court. He asked us to take pause and reflect on how to show support for our new neighbors. In other news, Jordan Court and All Souls were the subject of a news piece on KQED that ran on 8/17 and talked about the role that faith based communities can play in alleviating the housing crisis, and how Jordan Court is an example. Our next project with Jordan Court will be to promote the sabbatical apartment, and bring people to stay there and be in community with us.
There was discussion around the fast approaching release of Father Phil’s book: Vital Christian Community: Twelve Characteristics of Healthy Congregations. The book comes out on September 20th, 2023. Naturally, we will have a book Launch at All Souls on Wednesday, October 12th. More details to come soon!
Lastly, the first meeting of the Isaiah Project planning team will be August 31st,
to review the charter, propose a calendar and delineate action steps. This is an exciting beginning of conversation within and outside of the parish, for example with the Episcopal Impact Fund, in funding important work to support the outer community.
Vestry meetings are typically the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7 pm in the Common Room, and meetings are open to all. The next Vestry meeting is on August 17th.
Save the Dates
September 16-18, All Parish Retreat at the Bishop’s Ranch (register here)
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)
- 5p, Sunday Night Service. In-person, indoors in the Parish Hall.
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.
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.
Adult Formation Classes
There are four class offerings this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:45a. Click here to join by Zoom, or join them in-person in the Common Room.
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 10:15a. Click here to join by Zoom, or join them in-person in the Common Room.
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) in the Parish Hall and on Zoom
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. Click here to join this class via Zoom.
Children, Youth, and Family News
Sunday School is BACK!
Ages Pre-K – Grade 5: Join us in the courtyard at 10:10 for the first week of our series about Creation Stories from around the world! We’ll hear the story together, then split in to two age groups for the rest of the time together.
Grades 6-12: Join us on Sunday morning at 10:10 in the youth room for a donut and a check in!
Youth Group is back for Grades 6-12!
Join us Sunday evenings from 7-8:30 in the Parish Hall for Youth Group.
Save the date for the Youth Campout, November 11-12!
Email Maggie for more information about Children, Youth and Family Ministries at All Souls.
Other News & Notes
Update from the Living Waters: In Case You Missed It
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.
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
From September 3-December 18 BAMFA is running an exhibit on the art and history of incarceration, called Undoing Time: Art and Histories of Incarceration. This exhibit “considers the foundational roots of confinement from philosophical, sociological, theological, and art historical perspectives to better understand the fact that today’s mass incarceration crisis has been centuries in the making. This exhibition traces images from history that contribute to the entrenched cultural beliefs associated with today’s carceral system.” Click here for more info.
Braid Foster Youth Mentors Needed!
The Braid Mission, which uses a team approach to mentoring, is looking for more folks to join mentor youth teams. You can read more about Braid Mission here. And can sign-up to schedule a 20 minute info session by clicking here. If you’re looking to talk to an All Soulsian about what it’s like to be a mentor with Braid Mission, you can reach out to Anne Cockle, email@example.com.