From the Associate Rector

Liz Tichenor 2016

The Parish Retreat: a weekend fully alive, together

This week in my house, fervent discussion and planning began among the younger members of my family. The topic? Possible performance numbers for the Talent Optional Night at our annual Parish Retreat.

Sam counts at the retreat

Both my kids recounted, with enthusiasm and detail, what was for them a major highlight of last year’s show: when my son Sam, then three and a half, counted as high as he could. We remembered how one of the emcees, Tim, knelt down next to Sam in order to get the microphone low enough for him. By the time he got to fifteen, the people began cheering. When he bowed out at a proud 21, the crowd went wild!

I remember the moment because it was funny, and sweet, and, well, because it was my own child. And it has also stuck with me because it feels like it points to the essence of who we are as a community, and how we are at our best — a best which is lived out in a particularly delightful way on our Parish Retreat.

Every year, it’s a time when our kids can run a little more feral than they usually can at home, both because it’s a safe and beautiful outdoor space at the Bishop’s Ranch, and also because they are surrounded by this family of families, created kin of every age, all looking out for them. Teenagers teach littles how to toss a Frisbee, older adults help them slosh syrup on pancakes. And it’s a time when adults can rest a little easier too, relaxing into the respite that comes in the form of more relaxed conversation with people who have already trod the challenges of their present season, or wonder together over a game of horseshoes about how we can live with more integrity and joy in this perplexing and often deeply worrisome time in our world.

ranch picnicMuch of the goodness of this retreat comes in the in-between times: the meals, the Sabbath space spent in the pool or on trails or in Adirondack chairs. And there’s some programming each year, too — we gather for prayer to begin and end each day, and on Saturday morning, we split up by ages, with children and adults each having their own programming. (Youth, grades 6-12, will be having their own parallel retreat apart from parents the whole weekend.) This year, our theme for the weekend is Joseph in Three Parts. We’ll be digging into the story of Joseph, found late in Genesis, an involved tale of relationships, betrayal, resilience, and ultimately, reconciliation. It’s messy, confusing, complicated, and in the end, quite hopeful — which seems awfully fitting for the present time.

So come. If you come every year or you’re brand new to All Souls, come. This is one of the most wonderful ways we build new relationships and deepen long-standing ones. Come to connect with what matters most, live in the delight of intergenerational community, and just be really, fully alive together.

The retreat will once again be at the Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg, this year from September 13th – 15th. Sign-ups are live, available online here! If the cost of the retreat is out of reach for you, there are the cheaper options of camping or day use on Saturday, as well as what we call a Partnership Fund, where both the Ranch and All Souls share the cost with you. Please talk to Emily, Phil, or me if you have questions.



White supremacy and gun violence coming to define our era, say Episcopal Church bishops

Bishops against gun violence

A gathering of Bishops United Against Gun Violence

AUGUST 6, 2019—Since last weekend, three young white men—all American citizens, all in legal possession of assault rifles—have murdered more than 30 people in cold blood. Most of the precious children of God who are dead and injured are people of color.

When gun violence makes headlines, politicians supported by the National Rifle Association are quick to call white shooters “mentally ill,” while characterizing black and brown shooters as “criminals” and insisting that guns are not the problem. They choose to remain loyal to the gun lobby and its campaign contributions while denying the incontrovertible evidence that more guns mean more deaths.

Common sense measures like universal background checks, assault weapons bans, handgun purchaser licensing, and restrictions on gun ownership by domestic abusers point the way toward sane gun policy that is well within any sensible interpretation of the Second Amendment. They are necessary and long overdue, but they are not sufficient.

This latest sickening cluster of mass shootings has thrust into the headlines the deadly mix of white supremacy and gun violence that is coming to define our era of American history. Anti-immigrant sentiment is on the rise and our government holds asylum-seekers on our southern border in inhumane conditions. The president of the United States uses racist tropes and inflammatory language to incite crowds against people of color, refugees and immigrants; and hate crime reports have increased for three consecutive years. The hatred and fury that drives mass shootings can also be turned inward, where it fuels the invisible and growing death toll of gun suicides.

As Christians, we must work actively to dismantle the systemic racism that is part of our country’s founding narrative and that continues to fuel mass shootings and urban gun violence today. We must insist that both our fellow Christians and our elected leaders repudiate white supremacy and white nationalism and embrace humane immigration policies that follow God’s command and the Biblical imperative to welcome the stranger in our midst. And we must refuse to participate in scapegoating people with mental illness, a ploy too often used to distract from the urgent yet simple need to enact common sense gun safety measures.

Seven years ago yesterday, six people were murdered by a white supremacist at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. That massacre, one of two events that galvanized the creation of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, (the other was the shooting at Sandy Hook in Connecticut) brought us together across our differences to demonstrate that we believe in a God of life in the face of death. Today we are weary of witnessing the slaughter gripping our country. But we are no less determined to continue speaking, even when it seems our words make no difference; to continue praying in order to gather our strength to act; and to follow Jesus in speaking truth, especially when it seems that truth is out of season.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence is a network of nearly 100 Episcopal Church bishops working to curtail the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. Learn more at and follow Episcopalians United Against Gun Violence on Facebook.


vicki vargheseOn Saturday, August 24th from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm members of All Souls will join with Congregation Beth El and other members of the community to help build homes for homeless youth of the East Bay.  Sponsored by Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA), the goal of this project is to construct 24 tiny homes that will be put together to create a village, where youth will live with adult support.  The village will also feature two community yurts with a kitchen and meeting space, and on-site communal bathrooms.

We need you!  Invite your friends and family – they don’t need to be members of All Souls.  And all levels of skill/experience are welcome – if you can hammer, paint, carry supplies, do roofing, electrical, set up, clean up or help serve food to the workers.  To sign up to work on August 24, click here.

If you are not able to come on August 24 but would like to help on a different day, sign up here and you will be notified of possible alternate dates.

We will also need donations of food and paper supplies to feed all the workers on our build day (we’re hoping to have about 100 people working!).  A list of food items needed will be available next week.

For more information, contact me at or Lewis Maldonado at

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

— Vicki Varghese


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

Jimmy and Alma

We just recently retired and moved to the Bay Area from Los Angeles, CA where we lived and worked for more than 38 years. We have been married for 36 years, and been blessed with two wonderful sons (Aaron and Allan). Our sons have made the Bay Area their home for many years after college, and we moved here to be closer to them and their families.

As newly retirees, we are enjoying exploring the Bay Area, meeting new people, and spending a great time with our grandson Alec. We both enjoy dancing, walking, doing community volunteering, and eating all kind of good food! In addition, Jimmy enjoys playing chess and bowling, and Alma enjoys reading and her new passion for cooking. We are very grateful and happy to be new members of All Souls community, and looking forward to meeting new friends!

— Jimmy and Alma Sahagun


brian koczan

I grew up in northern Indiana and played trombone in the high school bands. I eventually picked up the bass guitar and currently sing and play bass in the choir. I went to a little liberal arts school called
Manchester College where studied math and physics. I went to Ball State University for a masters in physics and went on to teach math in Lafayette, Indiana where I met my wife at a Dungeons and Dragons table. She introduced me to the local Episcopal church where we were married a year and a half later, near the time she started discerning the priesthood. We’ve followed that path and it’s led us to Church Divinity School of the Pacific where Joanna just finished her first year of an MDiv program.  I happen to have fallen into the company of the folks at St. Gregory of Nyssa, SF, where I am their parish administrator. Outside of church related things I enjoy a variety of gaming and playing music.

— Brian Koczan

Double the singers, double the fun!

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 until August 15, after which point 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!