FROM THE RECTOR
Why I Go Back to College
In a couple of days I will be flying up to Seattle for the Diocese of Olympia’s College for Congregational Development (CCD). As many of you know, we have been involved with the College for several years now, sending a couple of teams to CCD in western Washington, and as I write, a team with Emily Hansen Curran and Madeline Feeley are at CCD in the Diocese of Northern California, at the Bishop’s Ranch.
As I’ve shared before in other venues, I found my seminary training to be excellent in the areas of theology, liturgy, and the craft of the priesthood. And, at the same time, little time and attention was given to group process, change, and leadership––critical components of parish ministry. For the first decade or so of my priesthood, I learned through trial and error, instinct, and from intentional work with colleagues. This worked ok, but I knew that there had to be a better way.
Then, several years ago at a conference known as the Gathering of Leaders, I heard about this nascent College of Congregational Development in Seattle. Four of us All Soulsians soon found our way there and I was stunned to find a dedicated group of people teaching a curriculum that pulled from the best in the world of Organization Development (OD), and had created models that gave insight into how church works well. To me, an admitted church development geek, it felt like Disneyland. I soaked up as much as I could (the 12 hour days felt like drinking from a fire hose), and was enthused to come back for more.
Our participation in CCD that summer led me into further study on my sabbatical of 2015, considering congregational development generally, and what it means for us at All Souls Parish specifically. Then, last year, I joined the team of trainers to teach, excited to both delve into greater depth with the material, as well as learn from the assembled group. It was an illuminating experience, and one that I am looking forward to doing again next week, as the re-engagement with this material never fails to illicit ideas and possibilities for how All Souls can continue to be a healthy, vital and engaged community.
The teams that will be attending next week’s College in Olympia predominantly come from within that diocese, though there will be participants from all over the Episcopal Church (including our own Martin Elfert and Ken Powell from Grace Church in Portland, Oregon). As well, the trainers come from a variety of contexts and from around the country: in addition to trainers from the Diocese of Olympia, we are from the dioceses of Spokane, Alaska, Oregon, Rochester and California. As much as I enjoy teaching and engaging with people from the various congregational contexts, I’m also looking forward to learning from the assembled trainers and their experience as engaged leaders in their communities.
In all, I am so very grateful to you, All Souls Parish, for the shared commitment to learning and developing, both as a community and for us as guides and leaders of this parish. To be able to learn and grow as part of one’s profession is a great privilege and joy.
God only knows what ideas and possibilities will emerge during this trip to college.
From the Adult Formation Team
All Souls’ delightful and wise summer reading: The Book of Joy
In April 2015, Archbishop Desmond Tutu travelled from South Africa to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness’s eightieth birthday. With them was Douglas Abrams, a writer and editor, who helped create a record of their historic conversations over the next week. In The Book of Joy, they trade intimate stories, tease each other continually, and share their Buddhist and Christian spiritual practices. Together, they looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: how do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?
All Souls begins its communal reading of The Book of Joy after the 9:00 am service on June 18th in the Parish Hall, with the discussion led by the Rev. Michael Lemaire. Please come whenever you can. Each week will have a different leader and will focus on a different section of the book, but the questions and ideas are so engaging that the discussions will be easy to join.
Copies are available at the Berkeley Public Library and in paperback and as an e-book for about $14. Contact Stephan Quarles if you’d like to borrow one of the copies the parish has purchased for our use.
All Souls are welcome to any and all of the book group discussions. This is a great chance for the whole parish to learn and talk together about how to cultivate a more joyful, compassionate, and loving approach to life.
– Sheryl Fullerton
From the Associate for Music
Why the new Sanctus?
If you’ve been worshipping with us these past two Sundays, you might have noticed that we mark transitions into a new liturgical season partly by changing what is called the “ordinary” service music, the pieces we sing every week (as opposed to “proper” texts, which, like scripture readings, change according to the particular day). One of these “ordinary” texts is the “holy, holy, holy,” or Sanctus in Latin, which comes during the Eucharistic prayer, and the version introduced on Pentecost (June 4) was a new one that I adapted from the hymn tune Nicaea. But just as important as the source of the melody is the simple structure I gave the piece: it is responsive—choir, congregation, choir, congregation. Although this structure is used in many kinds of music, it has a particular significance in a setting of the Sanctus, and since this is a topic I address in my Ph.D. dissertation, I’d like to explain.
The Sanctus is a song of praise taken from Isaiah 6:3, where the prophet sees God’s throne attended by beings called seraphim (in the Christian tradition, these are a type of angel): “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” This verse of scripture was important even in the Church’s first few centuries, and orthodox writers like Augustine read it in several ways. Perhaps the most common was to view the threefold “holy” as a symbol of the Trinity, something you won’t soon forget if you were with us this past Sunday (Trinity Sunday). But Augustine also noticed that scripture, in addition to reporting what the seraphim sing, mentioned how they sing it: “one called to another.” He likened this reciprocal exchange to the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, which respectively present and fulfill prophecy.
Fast forward to seventh-century Spain. One marker of liturgical development in the Christian West around this time is the first unambiguous description of what would remain a daily practice throughout the Middle Ages, and is still used in some contexts: the singing of psalms alternatim, Latin for “alternately.” (This means that one verse is sung by one side of the choir, and the next verse by the other side. We speak the psalms in a similar way at our 7:30am Sunday Eucharist, and you can still see the choral version by attending Evensong at an English Cathedral.) The author of this earliest description of choirs singing alternately was Isidore of Seville, who proceeded to channel Augustine in the further observation that the practice was “like the two seraphim and the two testaments calling to one another.” Thus, Isidore understood the back-and-forth of mortal choirs as imitating an angelic manner.
Fast forward another thousand years, to England around 1600. The connection between the seraphim and choirs singing alternately was still being invoked. Some defenders of the Church of England, like the theologian Richard Hooker, were even beginning to make broader claims that other kinds of liturgical “answering” (such as “the Lord be with you…and also with you,” which we still say) might also mirror the reciprocations of angels.
I argue in my dissertation that this sort of support for alternate singing and responsive prayer drew together several strands of thought. First, medieval theologians had insisted that the Sanctus in particular was the moment of the Mass at which heaven and earth came into closest contact. The plainest evidence of the continuation of this belief in our own tradition is the preface to the Sanctus that we hear every Sunday, which is always some variant of the language found in the original Book of Common Prayer (1549): “Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the holy company of heaven: we laud and magnify thy glorious name, evermore praising thee, and saying…” Independent of this theology of liturgy, the promise of joining the choirs of angels—especially after death—was and remains central to Christian devotional rhetoric. Thus, those who argued that alternate singing was an earthly manifestation of angelic practice were merely advancing a particular version of a basic and attractive belief—that the earthly and heavenly churches came into alignment, indeed united, in worship, and especially during the singing of texts “authored” by angels.
Second, supporters of the Church of England who extolled alternation and response in worship were developing their own theory of vocal performance: the idea was that exchanges of praise, thanksgiving, petition, and comfort between the people and their minister would act as a sort of devotional teamwork, causing a mutual escalation of piety. In Hooker’s words, responsive acts would “stir up others’ zeal to the glory of that God whose name they magnify.” Some theologians explained that the seraphim who called to one another were ideal examples of this. The name “seraph” is derived from the Hebrew verb saraph, meaning “burn,” and was understood to symbolize exceptionally ardent devotion; imitating their mutual cries could thus be conceived as a path toward supremely pious worship.
Because of all this, a responsive Sanctus can present a special opportunity for meditating on the choirs of angels, and for engaging in some devotional teamwork. By singing the words of angels who burn with love for God, and by following their manner, maybe you’ll even experience a bit of heaven on earth.
– Jamie Apgar
Pride in the Church
A brief rainstorm earlier this week offered an illustration of what we as a community strive to live. A rainbow seemed to end right on All Souls’ Episcopal flag, a timely celebration of the truth that all are welcome here, no matter who you love. As throngs gather around the globe to celebrate Pride this month, here is one great way to come together with Episcopalians in the Bay.
Christians at the San Francisco Pride Parade
One of the things that has inspired me, heartened me and given me pride to be a member of All Souls is the support, welcome and love extended to members of the LGBTQ Community. With the political climate becoming alarmingly intolerant and even hostile, now is a good time to stand together and show that we – not only but especially as Christians – truly do seek to lovingly and compassionately “respect the dignity of every human being” and love our neighbors as ourselves.
The San Francisco Pride Parade is June 25th and the Diocese of California Oasis group will participate in a walking contingent … will you join me in representing All Souls, stand up for and walk with your lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer brothers, sisters and neighbors in Christ?
Please contact me for details or to sign up: firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 207-9955 .
– Ari Wolfe
SUMMER SUNDAY SCHOOL: JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
Beginning this Sunday!
This Sunday, June 18th we will begin our summer program for kids in preschool through 5th grade. This year, Summer Sunday School will be an experiential adventure through many different aspects of life in Jerusalem around the time of Jesus: looking at food, dress, architecture, ways of life, art, and more. Join us whenever you are here!
Family Playdate and Potluck
Parents with young children! Come join for a fun playdate and potluck June 24th, 4:30 – 7:00 pm, at the Legrands’ house. The goal is fun, not fancy. Parents, bring your kids, some food or drink to share, and have a laid-back time of fun and connection with other All Soulsians who are in the midst of the adventure of parenting right now. There’s a new (small) trampoline to enjoy, and we will fire up the BBQ. You can RSVP here or email Julie with questions.
BIG SUR CAMPOUT, JULY 14-16TH
Mark your calendar for the annual parish camping trip to Big Sur! This is always an amazing weekend of relaxing beside the river with favorite people, of endlessly skipping stones in the water, of great conversations with new friends, soaking in natural beauty, getting dusty and getting clean, eating great food, counting stars, singing and praying around the fire… in short, making church away from church and building the beloved community. Please join us! More information here
. Sign up here
, or talk to Emily Hansen Curran.