From the Rector
You may have recently noticed something different as you walk up Cedar, approaching the corner of Spruce. Not the exposed irrigation lines, they’ve been there for awhile.
No, parallel to Cedar Street, near the corner of Spruce, is a new sign, one we are calling the Triptych. The word triptych, from the Greek “three layers,” has been used in different ways through the centuries. Originally a kind of bound book of three wax tablets, it has also named a certain form of art, altarpieces that had three panels side by side by side.
It’s this second orientation that I came across several years ago at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, but in a whole new way. Their triptych was outside of their church, on the sidewalk. It had three vertical panels, each panel made in the shape of a stained glass window, but instead of glass, each panel was a chalkboard-like surface. Chalk was available for people to write up prayers and thanksgivings.
In the years since I encountered this medium, I’ve been trying to find a way to make it work here at All Souls. I’ve wanted to engage our neighborhood in a prayerful conversation of sorts, as well as offering a sense of the life that takes place in this parish. For this particular idea, the fullness of time happened to be late 2016. At the same time as our Evangelism team was looking to be more intentional about inviting people to join us at All Souls, our Justice & Peace team was wanting to offer public statements of support and advocacy. And our Communications team was trying to have an informal yet visible way to let the surrounding community know what we are up to.
Enter Force Multiplier Emily Hansen Curran, and over the course of the last few months of 2016, this project took shape. After some initial design, including a review of city code, the firm of Hansen Curran & Curran (otherwise known as Emily and her dad), began the work.
Picking up on the design of the church building and on our existing signage, they constructed a sign able to withstand the wear and tear of the elements (human and weather-related).
In the left panel, our Communications and Evangelism teams are putting up notices about what is happening at All Souls. Informal invitations to classes, worship, and service are found there, in addition to more formal flyers and posters about life at All Souls. In the right panel we will have rotating posters about who we stand with.
At the present, around Christmas and the Epiphany, we’ve had a stunning poster designed by Kieran King, “Jesus Was a Refugee.” The largest panel, the center panel, is a space for people to offer prayers, and thanksgivings. It’s a space that we will be curating weekly, archiving each iteration digitally as we go.
After construction and several coats of chalkboard paint and magnetic paint, the triptych began its life just before the 9:00 am service on Sunday, December 18th. Passersby were invited to respond to the prompt, “I am waiting for…”. We were stunned when we emerged from the service just about an hour later to see that people had already begun to respond. As we were worshipping, people were praying with us, using the triptych to ground their prayer. And it has continued ever since.
Yes, this space has been, and will be, mis-used. As we had expected, some people have chosen this medium to be a venue for vulgar and/or obscene responses. When this happens, we erase them and leave space for other responses to our questions. Our posters have gone missing, perhaps removed by the invisible hand of the wind, perhaps by hands that belong to humans. When that happens, we replace them. Our stand continues.
In just over two weeks of use, something remarkable is happening with this sign and I’m not sure we entirely know what it is. But it seems to have been immediately important to people who walk past this corner, whether it is just that once or several times that day. It has already become part of people’s spiritual practice.
Emily and Liz recently came upon an inspiring conversation between a young mother and her children. This mother and her children were talking about the prayer that the someone else had written up, for the people of Syria. The mother asked her girls what they would like to pray for, and the younger one, asking for help with spelling, added “little kids in Syria.” Just then, an elderly woman walked up the street and engaged the mother and her children in conversation. The elderly woman was Muslim, and she shared how distressed she was that humans are being so cruel to one another. In that moment, Emily and Liz witnessed these strangers finding solace with one another. Somehow, this triptych had facilitated that conversation, holding space for these people previously unknown to each other to interact, to be in dialogue.
Now, I am clear that many of the people who interact with this triptych—by just seeing the posters, or by reading someone else’s prayers, or by offering their own—they may never cross the threshold of our worship spaces on a Sunday. And that’s ok.
Because I am just as clear that by offering this public, sacred space, we are giving witness to our faith, to our trust in the living God. And, that in the witness of these past three weeks, that people are praying with us.
Peace Training for Episcopalians
Will you join us? Creating a Culture of Peace (CCP) training is spirituall-grounded nonviolence training for personal and social change — change in ourselves and in our families, with friends, in churches and neighborhoods and organizations, at work and at school. And it helps us build a sense of community.
Are you interested?
Or, do you worry it isn’t for people like you — maybe, you don’t really consider yourself an activist or a peacemaker in the wider world.
Sometimes I hear misgivings and misconceptions before a training, and I try to respond:
Janet, are you really just organizing a sit-in at the Rector’s office? I probably shouldn’t attend because I’m not ready to go to jail for civil disobedience.
Nope, this is not civil disobedience training! It’s about responding to violence and injustice in creative, nonviolent ways. Peacemaking can take so many forms: feeding people, knitting hats, teaching, creating art, changing laws, building an alternative system, reconciling, praying, and more – in addition to protesting and civil disobedience.
What we really need now is someone like Dr. King to lead us, not me.
Everyone can participate somehow in nonviolent responses to injustice and violence —children, elders, people with disabilities, people who are unemployed, marginalized, or poor. Don’t you agree, WE are the people we have been waiting for. So, why wait?
Isn’t nonviolence really about doing nothing and just being passive?
Nope, we’re talking about active nonviolence here.
But I just want to hear experts lecture on nonviolence – not lead exercises.
Nope, no lectures or text books; however, I can recommend some. We will be learning with and from each other, talking, disagreeing, pondering, sharing stories and laughing.
Are you interested?
Or do you want to become more of a justice and peace activist but don’t know where to start. Maybe there a nonviolent change you want to make by yourself. Or do you want to be part of a working group? Do you want a planning guide?
Would you like to voice your objections more confidently? Do you want your arguments and disagreements to end more constructively? Would you like some tips and practice for engaging opponents with respect?
Many of us are concerned about increasing threats and harassment to certain groups. Do you want to learn ways to support others who are fearful of being victimized? Are you fearful for your own safety and wonder how to respond and how to summon support from others in our community?
Now, maybe you are interested!
The training uses a popular education process designed to respect, share and build upon your own wisdom, knowledge and experience. Through meditation, storytelling, small groups, skill practice, brainstorming, community-building, and planning, you will gain a practical foundation in the principles, practices and power of nonviolence. You will gain new tools, new energy and concrete plans for taking action on an issue you choose.
This is a Formation and Renewal Process in Peacemaking, one that helps us loosen old skins, learn new scripts, and create new selves deeply grounded in the vision, philosophy and practice of active nonviolence.
Creating a Culture of Peace (CCP) training is a 15 year old national program designed for weekend retreats. It has been offered for Episcopal dioceses, churches, seminaries and youth groups and was adopted by the national Episcopal Peace Fellowship.
Creating a Culture of Peace – Nonviolence Training for Episcopalians
A commuter retreat! And you won’t miss church!
Friday 4:00 – 9:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm, Sunday 1:00 – 8:00 pm; 3 dinners + Satu lunch.
Cost: $100. Limited scholarships. Ages 15+. Janet Chisholm, Senior CCP Trainer
Host: St Alban’s, Albany, CA.
Sponsor: Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Registration/Info: Deacon Kathleen Van Sickle, by email, phone at 510-306-7292, or online here.
A new Episcopal Peace Fellowship chapter is born in the East Bay!
We are part of the national Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) which began on Armistice Day, November 11, 1939. Our East Bay EPF chapter is committed to gathering locally with other Episcopalians, practicing ways that support the vulnerable, increase spiritual courage, and build community solidarity, and to learning ways we can respond nonviolently and constructively in the face of violence and injustice. In response to the fears so many people feel in the current political climate, we committed to sponsoring and organizing a nonviolence training program, creating a Culture of Peace. We expect to organize more programs, training, and actions in the future. You are invited to join us. Local contact: Janet Chisholm, by email or phone: 845-641-3648. More information available on the National EPF website.
Parish House Project Update
Greetings from the Parish House Project team! You might have attended one of our two forums in November and heard an update about replacing the Parish House, at the corner of Cedar and Oxford. In case you missed it, here is a summary of what we shared: The new building will provide space for All Souls and create affordable housing for a needy population, which will most likely be low-income seniors. To develop the project, All Souls will partner with Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA), who have decades of experience providing affordable housing and supportive services in Berkeley.
At the forums Eve Stewart, Director of Housing Development at SAHA, introduced SAHA and showed a video of one of their first affordable senior housing communities, Strawberry Creek Lodge in Berkeley. Next, Paul McElwee, Principal at HKIT Architects, presented conceptual drawings of the new building, which would provide office and conference room space for All Souls, as well as two apartments for clergy or parish use, and studio apartments for seniors in a separate wing. The new building would also include underground parking and form a shared courtyard with the back of the Parish Hall.
At both forums we asked attenders to jot down their questions about the project on index cards and turn them in. In a series of articles over the next few months, we will endeavor to answer those questions.
At the December meeting, the vestry approved a non-binding letter of intent that includes the intention to negotiate details for a formal contract with SAHA. Our one firm commitment in that letter is that we will not engage another nonprofit or other developer while SAHA and ASEP are together applying for various types of funding and creating architectural plans.
And the First Question is, “Why are we doing this?”
The Parish House was built in 1905 and has had multiple uses, including housing religious communities. Currently, the upper floors of the building house our Associate Rector and her family and an intentional Christian community of residents in theological study, and the ground floor is used by the youth groups, the immigrant assistance program, various small groups of the parish and other outside groups. While safe to occupy, the Parish House will require significant repairs in the near future. Architects and engineers who have assessed the structure believe that it is more cost-effective to tear it down and build anew than to repair the building we have. This is an opportunity that rarely arises for a parish, and the vestry prayed, debated, and considered several options that balance our fiduciary responsibility with the parish’s need for more space and with our call to serve our surrounding community.
Because the building is registered as containing two residential rental units, the city of Berkeley requires that the replacement also include at least two units of rental housing; it was clear that housing had to be part of the plan. The vestry ruled out a building project fully owned and operated by All Souls, due to insufficient financial resources and the large volunteer time commitment that would be required to build and manage it.
While the opportunity to partner with a developer to build market-rate housing and secure a modest income flow for All Souls was attractive, the vestry concluded this was inconsistent with our mission, and that we are called to invest our resources in affordable housing. Housing is rapidly becoming beyond the means of many people in the Bay Area. This new building will be a visible and tangible statement of how we live out our mission in Berkeley.
Affordable housing is consistent with several sections of our mission statement:
- We confront barriers to inclusion within our hearts, our practices and our facilities.
- We encounter the holy through gospel-inspired service, working side by side with our sisters and brothers in the wider community.
- We engage in this transformative ministry in communion with the larger church and in collaboration with all who share our vision
Please watch these pages for more information as things develop over the next several months.
– Nancy Pryer
WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS
JESUS WAS A REFUGEE
Let’s announce who Jesus is! These stickers are in the Narthex, please put them on everything!
These stickers were designed by the amazing Kieran King and produced by the Evangelism and Peace and Justice Committees.
Bring your form!
We would be so grateful if you would bring back your Advent wreath forms this Sunday! There is a basket for them in the narthex. Thank you!
Church Divinity School of the Pacific Hosts:
A Service of Prayer and Action for the Health of the Nation
On the eve of the inauguration, in the aftermath of a bitter and divisive election, the community at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Episcopal seminary a few blocks up the hill from All Souls, gathers to offer prayer and Communion for the health of the Nation.
While it is a custom of our church and seminary to pray for the nation and its leaders, the gathering on Thursday has added significance on the eve of the inauguration of a new president, especially in the aftermath of a divisive and often unpleasant election. We pray for a healthy society and the conviction to do our part as faithful citizens.
We are honored to have Mr. Ernesto Cortes as our guest preacher. Ernie is co-chair and executive director of the West / Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation, and he has been instrumental in building over 30 grassroots organizations known for developing and training community leaders. Cortes is the recipient of numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant” and honorary doctorates from several universities, including the School of Law at Princeton.
CDSP All Saints Chapel, 2451 Ridge Road, Berkeley California Thursday, January 19, 6:00 pm
Community Dinner: All are welcome to join Ernie, our students and faculty for dinner following the service. Reservations are required, and the cost for dinner is $12. Reserve a seat by Tuesday noon by contacting Alissa Fencsik at 510-204-0727 or by email. No reservations needed for the service.
Resourcing our Resolve
Are you ready to make a difference in 2017? Hungry to be present with and guided by marginalized communities, but not sure where to start?
Join the All Souls Stewardship Team and Justice and Peace Committee on January 22, from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm in the Welcome Area of the nave for a resource fair with our many partner organizations serving immigrants, foster youth, people of color, and others on the edges. We will have a chance to hear what they need and start learning how to take action alongside them.
You can also access the take-home materials for reflecting on your stewardship of time and power here.
ONE BOOK, ONE PARISH
In summer 2017, All Souls members will read one book and come together each week to discuss it from different perspectives. During January and February, the Adult Formation Committee invites your nominations for the book we’ll all read. Books may be fiction or non-fiction.
Nomination forms and a box for submissions are available at the back of the chapel and in the narthex outside the main worship space. Or submit your nomination online here.
Nominations are due Sunday, February 26.
Join us on Sunday, January 29 at 10:10 am for All Souls’ 113th Annual Meeting of the Congregation. Come and find out what we’ve been up to the last year: our people, our parish, our joys and celebrations. We’ll gather for a time of light refreshments, elect our new vestry and deanery representatives, hear interesting historical facts from the rector, and honor those who have gone above and beyond in service this last year. All are welcome.