FROM THE RECTOR
What are you practicing for?
For some of us, this is a relatively easy question to answer. Athletes at All Souls are practicing on a regular basis to improve their disc handling, floor routines, escape maneuvers, free throw shooting, and backstroke.
And musicians at All Souls are practicing their clarinet, violin, piano, trumpet, organ, trombone, voice, and, yes, bagpipes. In order to become gain facility with their instruments they are practicing scales and paying attention to tone and pace.
Actors at All Souls are practicing their lines so that when they hit the stage they aren’t thinking about what the words are, or where they are supposed to stand, but instead are responding with all of themselves as they inhabit that character.
Over the past several years at All Souls, I have often used the language of practice—the ones that we keep as a congregation and the ones that we keep on our own. And some have wondered, as Christians for what are we practicing?
Is it for the By and By, for the Great Reward, for the eventual encounter with the great I AM? Are we practicing for perfection, as Matthew 5:48 seems to be orienting us? Why do we keep practicing if it seems that we will never get there?
Because practice, well, it’s rarely easy. It takes intention, effort, and discipline. We don’t always want to rise in the cold dark morning to swim lap after lap or play that difficult transition until it feels fluid.
My belief is that we aren’t practicing for perfection, but instead for completeness, for the fullness of what we’ve been created to be. (the Greek in Mt 5:48 has to do with the telos, or completeness of something) I take on practices to open my heart, to increase my attention, to curtail my possessiveness, to be grateful for the body that I’ve been given. And while they may not always be easy, I often feel fuller, more myself after I’ve done them. And often I have found it valuable to learn new practices from those who have been practicing them for awhile.
For the next three weeks, in the teaching hour between the 9a and 11:15a services, we will be learning practices that over time can shape or re-form our lives towards completeness. Each week we will be taught by practitioners who have found life in a particular practice.
This Sunday, January 6th, the Epiphany, we will be joined by Dr. Sheila Andrus to learn about practices that we can take to reduce our carbon footprint. Using a mobile platform that counties around the Bay Area are implementing, we will be able to input our current practices—transportation, travel, food, heating, among others—to see what our current footprint is and what we can do to reduce it. While it is true that advocacy for large, systemic change is needed to reduce the effects of greenhouse gases, it is also true that the reformation of daily and weekly practices and patterns is just as essential. Dr. Andrus has been at the forefront of public health and climate change and will be sharing this practice as well as her experience at the most recent climate change conference in Poland.
The teaching about practices will continue on January 13th and 20th. For each week we will explore a couple of centuries-honed practices that have helped countless Christians practice completeness. The four practices are: Silence, Lectio Divina, the Ignatian Examen, and the Benedictine Life.
It’s a new year. Somehow we’ve made one more trip around the sun. For many this is a time to take on a new discipline. Join others for the next three weeks to learn, to experience and to practice. While it may not make you perfect, it just might help to make you whole.
Profiles in Faith
Profiles in Faith is a series of articles on All Soulsians, and particularly our senior old-time members. We need to preserve the memory of these Spirit-filled Christians in our midst, love and respect them while they are with us, and remember them when they rise in Glory (but not too soon, we hope).
A Tale of an Earthquake, a Fortune Cookie, and the Holy Spirit
Grace Yukiko Kobayashi just turned 95 years old, but 95 years young would probably best describe her. I have sung hymns with her on the way out of Sunday services, and seen her dance a happy dance. Who is this irrepressible woman with the biggest smile? Grace was born in Tokyo in 1923, the year of the Great Kanto earthquake, measuring 9.0 by some accounts, and the fire that leveled much of the city. Grace’s mother told her about the help which was sent from San Francisco (“food, lumber, everything”). After WWII, in 1945, Grace went to the Japanese Women’s University, studied English, and worked as an interpreter. She met a young woman named Eileen Porter at an Allied Hotel for Women, a meeting that would later change her life, but that comes later. In 1948 she enrolled in St. Paul’s University (now Rikkyo U.), a private Anglican university in Tokyo, majoring in social work. They had chapel services, which she attended so Grace asked what difference would it make if she were a Christian. Her priest told her that the salary scale was better for Christian students, and as Grace was already working there, she agreed to be baptized. She tells this tale with a laugh and twinkle in her eye. The Rev. Goto baptized her October 29, 1950, practically All Souls Day! She was confirmed two weeks later. Remember Eileen Porter? Her father, who was saddened by the death caused by the A bombing, wanted to choose a student to bring to the U.S., and Grace was picked and was whisked off to Seattle Pacific University, a private Christian school, all expenses paid. So far we have seen the earthquake, and the work of the Holy Spirit. What about the fortune cookie? Students being students then as now, ordered fortune cookies with messages and invitations to an engagement party, and Grace was tasked to bring them to the University of Washington where the festivities were to be held. At the party there was a handsome Japanese man who was doing graduate work in mathematics. Yes, this was to be Grace’s future husband. Grace got her degree, and Shoshichi finished his PhD. Then as now, newly minted PhDs move around a lot, but despite this, they were married. Grace laughed when she told me how she had received an ironing board for a wedding present, but she didn’t have an iron. They moved to Berkeley in 1962 when Shoshichi joined the Math faculty at U.C. Berkeley. While he didn’t attend church, he brought Grace to All Souls and picked her up after services every Sunday. They had two daughters, and two grandchildren. Her husband died in 2012, a pretty good and long marriage for an introduction via a fortune cookie! Grace became a U.S. citizen in 2013. And she is still here, smiling, singing, and even a twirling in a happy dance or two, 95 years young, faithful to the Church, filled with the Holy Spirit, and we pray she is with us for many years to come.
From the Junior Warden
Vestry Reflection – December Meeting
Happy New Year, everyone! While Advent at All Souls Berkeley provided many opportunities to slow our roll, listen for the Spirit, and experience anticipation in a reflective way, here we are post-holiday season in what seems like a twinkling of an eye. But it’s been just a tad over two weeks since the December Vestry Meeting. So let’s talk about that!
It’s been a privilege to be able to host this year-end meeting in our home for the past few years. The Vestry traditionally provides a pot-luck dinner for all in attendance, and this year, there was one adjustment. In keeping with the recently crafted All Souls Alcohol Policy, it was fitting that we started with the business meeting, accompanied by finger food and choice of sparkling or still water. Dinner followed with a few bottles of wine opened, accompanied by the policy’s Equally Attractive Non-Alcoholic Beverage, which for the occasion was a sparkling cranberry citrus Christmas punch. It felt right to be intentional about this policy at a church related event, taking very seriously the responsibility that really must accompany social drinking in any setting.
One of the most significant items on the agenda at this meeting was approval of the 2019 budget, carefully tended and tweaked by the ever faithful finance team over the past several weeks in tandem with the unfolding stewardship campaign. Because of the positive response from close to 200 parishioners, many of whom stretched to increase their pledge, the Vestry was able to unanimously approve a budget which will shrink our existing shortfall to about half. If you have not had a chance to renew your pledge (or pledge anew), this is a very exciting time to be onboard, so feel free to reach out to me or fill out this online form. It’s never too late.
Representatives from SAHA, Carrie Lutjens and Cristi Ritschel, along with Ed Hahn, updated us on ongoing applications for funding the Parish House Project. Funding sources are frequently tied to a specific population to be served in the units of a proposed housing project, and while our target population is low-income seniors, more specific variables are yet to be determined and will likely reflect the intention of the funding source(s) from which we are successful in obtaining financing. SAHA is diligently working on applications in succession as opportunities arise, and we are continuing to support their decisions as to appropriate applications.
Marilyn Flood, for the Vocations Committee, presented postulants Dani Gabriel and Nikky Wood in turn for the Vestry’s endorsement of the Committee’s recommendation at this stage of their ordination process. Dani is doing her field work at St. Alban’s; Nikky has just completed her Clinical Pastoral Education at Travis Air Force Base and Good Shepherd. It’s wonderful to see them at this point in their journey; they are growing into their roles with noticeable grace and clarity. It came as no surprise that we unanimously endorsed both Dani’s candidacy to the Diaconate and Nikky’s candidacy to the Transitional Diaconate on the path to priesthood.
Following our closing prayers and the meeting’s adjournment, we set out our buffet. Opie the Vestry Dog remained in the living room keeping watch over the Christmas tree, and David selected music for him that we were able to hear from the dining room. We sat down to a fashionably late dinner (was it 9:30?) enjoying homemade tamales, freshly baked cornbread, and assorted casseroles, side dishes and desserts. No one left hungry. I’ve come to realize that throughout the year, our vestry meetings without pot luck supper also nourish and satisfy; serving this parish with all its many ministries leaves me (and I suspect others) feeling filled with the Spirit that moves among us year round.
– Maggie Cooke, Jr. Warden
Ways to Connect
If you are newer to All Souls, or are just looking to connect in new ways with the community here between Sundays, consider some of these possibilities for finding each other and making community on the other 6 days of the week. And, if you have questions about how to connect, get involved, or become a member, you can always reach out to Emily Hansen Curran: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know that we have an online directory? It is a super handy website and app, making it a quick thing to get in touch with other All Soulsians. If you or your family are not yet in our directory, please see Emily Hansen Curran to add your name and your picture! Or, if you do not currently have a picture associated with your name, also please see Emily to have your picture taken.
Centering Prayer for Social Action
This open group meets on the first and third Mondays of every month, where we first gather with a trained facilitator from 7:30 – 8:30 pm for instruction and then silent contemplative prayer. While there will be a focus on the emotional challenges particular to working for peace and justice in difficult times, we hope that everyone in need of a restorative contemplative practice will join us! See Sarah Bakker Kellogg or Terry Trotter for more information.
Connect on Facebook
Facebook offers an easy digital space to find out what’s going on and share photos, questions, and make plans to connect in real life. Find us on Facebook at All Souls Episcopal Parish and “like” the page to get updates, and request an invitation to join the All Soulsians group, a closed group for the people All Souls to check in and share together.
Did you know that we have two midweek Eucharistic services? In addition to Sunday services, all are welcome to drop in on Wednesday mornings at 9am or Thursdays at 12p in the Chapel for Eucharistic services with thoughtful reflections and conversations. Added bonus: there’s Lunch Bunch following the Eucharist on Thursdays, a feast that typically spans four generations!
CLIMATE APP PRESENTATION WITH DR. SHEILA ANDRUS
This Sunday, January 6, please join us in welcoming Dr. Sheila Andrus, who will speak to the congregation about a newly released climate action carbon tracker application. Dr. Andrus will do a demonstration of the app in the parish hall between 10:15 and 11:15. The new app, called “Sustaining Earth our Island Home,” is a web-based platform that will allow users to measure their carbon footprint, take individual actions to reduce carbon emissions, measure their progress and that of their community, and share ideas with others who are using the app. The Episcopal Church has endorsed this app at General Convention and the Diocese of California has begun rolling it out this fall. Bishop Marc has requested that All Souls be one of several parishes to begin trying it out. The app is quite easy to use. After creating a user profile and entering some basic information that will give an estimate of your household’s CO2 emissions, you will be given information on steps you can take to reduce your carbon emissions. For more information, see Lewis Maldonado’s September 27 Pathfinder article, or talk to Glenn Brown, Terry Nicol, Paloma Pavel, Lewis, or Phil.
Save the Date: Annual Meeting
January 27th, 10:10 am
Please come together for our Annual Meeting: a time to hear about the budget, to listen to stories from this past year and many years past, and elect our new leadership. Please bring food to share! Childcare will be available on the courtyard; Sunday School does not meet this day.