From our College for Congregational Development Team
You are warmly invited…
Something amazing happened for one of us at a staff meeting today: we listened instead of talking over each other. We heard each other in new ways, we shared openly and respectfully, we found areas of agreement which opened us to empathy. And for all of those reasons, it felt unusual and a little miraculous. What if every meeting could be this way?
Jesus didn’t convene the Disciples in a boardroom at two o’clock sharp, agenda in hand, and facilitate discussions of healings. But his life revolved around relational encounters and he had a lot on his to-do list. Sound familiar? Whether you engage with groups of co-workers, family members, classmates or fellow All Soulsians, you probably wonder: How can these gatherings be more fruitful and inspiring? How can I be true to my call and faith while engaged in these settings? How do I lead the things I am called to do? What would Jesus do?
As Christians, we bring core values of love and respect to every meeting; every person is made and loved by God and his/her/their opinions matter. But in order to live these values, especially in the face of competing interests – other people and agendas, the marketplace, the world – we need tools and an undergirding of spiritual support.
And so, you are warmly invited, to attend one, two or all three workshops on “The Skills You Need,” offered this spring on life, love and working well with groups.
We all work with groups; in our families, in school, at work, as volunteers, in church. And we are called in and as a community, to be the Body of Christ together. The admonition to be “the hands and heart of Christ in the world,” might inspire us to work together to achieve a common goal, but it does not make our path conflict-free. Sometimes Paul’s detailed description in 1st Corinthians of the faith community as argumentative body parts could make us giggle….except it points to such an important principle of how the very diversity which might trigger misunderstandings is, in fact, essential to the well being of the whole body:
“If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”” (1st Cor 12:17-21)
The Skills You Need offers some ways to identify how the particular groups of which we are part are working together, and how we can work together more effectively. The discussions are being led by All Soulsians who are being or have been trained at the College for Congregational Development (CCD). In fact, last fall we conducted a survey of ten staff or members of All Souls who have completed the CCD training to identify the particular skills and models of community process which might be most important for All Souls to focus on together.
In this course we will explore what inspires us as leaders (each time) along with: tools for how to assess the way our particular group is functioning (March 18); some of the group dynamics that make shared efforts fruitful – or not (April 15); and honing some of our own facilitation skills (May 20th).
Each workshop in the Parish Hall offers lunch and spiritual nourishment at 1:00 pm followed by learning about two different tools on the topic of the day. Workshops end at 3:30. Pre-registration is required (available online here) by noon on the Wednesday before each training so that we can provide the food, childcare, and other tools needed for the day. We’d love you to be with us for all three events, but if you can only participate in one or two we understand.
If you have questions, please contact the coordinators of this series: Madeline Feeley (email@example.com) , Emily Hansen Curran (firstname.lastname@example.org) , and the Rev. Marguerite Judson (RevMJudson@gmail.com) .
We look forward to working together with you and to celebrating the unique skills and perspectives we each bring to build up the Body of Christ in the various communities in which we are knit.
– Madeline, Marguerite, and Emily
A New Practice of Healing Prayer
“With the oil on my forehead… it was almost as if I could feel the prayer in my body.” Last Sunday, a group of healing ministers met for conversation and training. The team prayed for and anointed one another, and then reflected on the experience. We are taking on a new practice at All Souls – having the oil present in a cruet (a glass pitcher) and pouring some into a bowl, then dipping our thumb into the bowl to anoint those who wish to receive it. This blessed oil has always been present and available at the healing altar, but in small metal oil stocks which did not allow the oil itself to be visible. “I am struck by actually seeing the oil there,” the comments continued. “It’s so clear, what it is we’re using.” “It looks so abundant!”
Abundant, indeed. A rich symbol of God’s abundant grace. Human beings encounter God and one another always through our bodies, and it is often helpful to have tangible reminders of this grace and love. Sometimes, what we need goes beyond words. Being prayed for in a way that engages our senses can allow for a deeper kind or another way of knowing.
Each of us suffers, at one time or another, in mind, body, or spirit. Each of us needs spiritual companions who will bear our burdens to God and remind us of God’s presence with us. I encourage you to seek out those All Soulsians who are waiting to pray with you or for you. We will be at the healing altar (in the back on the courtyard side) during Communion at both the 9 and 11:15 services on Sundays. We will pray, anoint you if you desire, and will hold in confidence what is shared.
If you feel moved to join this ministry, please keep a lookout here for the date of the next training or be in touch and I will add your name to the list!
I pray that you may know an overflowing of God’s healing, strength, and comfort.
In Christ’s peace,
WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS
In December, we welcomed 24 new members into the All Souls family. Today and in the coming weeks, we’ll hear from many of them.
Anne is not a stranger to the Episcopal church with several generations of clergy in the family. Anne was born in South Africa, grew up in Connecticut and moved to California almost 30 years ago. Today she leads a creative team for a commercial real estate firm and has her own Feng Shui practice. She is a huge nature and animal lover and also loves to sing. Anne recently moved back to the East Bay from Marin where she had lived for the past 8 years. She lives in Kensington with her dog Frankie.
Humans of Lent
Lent is a season of contemplation, spiritual growth, vulnerability, and intentional practices in our preparation for the mystery of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Lenten season, you are invited to dig deeper into our commitment with each other as we share personal reflections of Lent and Holy Week in a series titled “Humans of Lent.” This series will be in the same format of a photo and a statement like the blog, Humans of New York. Our hope is that this project will facilitate a stronger sense of community through the sharing of wisdom, accountability, and support in our Lenten practices and preparation for Christ’s death and resurrection. We’ll share the photos and responses on our Facebook page, website, and on a bulletin board.
Every member of All Souls Parish is welcome to participate in this project. If you would like to contribute a statement comprised a word, sentence, or paragraph, please consider the following prompts:
– What does Lent mean to you?
– What are your Lenten practices and why?
– It is halfway through Lent, how have your Lenten practices affected your faith?
– How does All Souls serve you in helping prepare for and understand the mystery of the Resurrection?
– What is the significance of Holy Week to you?
– It is Easter; where is your hope in the Resurrection?
– How has your membership in the Episcopal Church influenced your Lenten practice and spirituality?
– Why do you show up on Ash Wednesday/Holy Week? How has it changed you?
– With whom do you keep Lent? How do you walk it together?
To become involved with “Humans of Lent,” please contact our seminarian, Alison Fischer, through private message via the All Souls facebook page or her personal facebook. Alison’s contact information is also available in the church directory.