2220 Cedar Street, Berkeley, California 94709

All Souls Welcome.
Visitors Expected!


The Rev. Phil Brochard, Rector

To Beard or Not to Beard

That is a question. And it’s a question that I have asked at several points in my adult life. And, being a part of my face, it’s a question that has had consequences for how people encounter me.

When I was first ordained, and was on my way to my first call as an Associate Rector in this diocese, I was asked to send in a photo for the parish’s photo directory. I chose an informal picture of Sarah and me, one that I felt was indicative of who we were.

A few months later, when we actually arrived at the parish, I was greeted by one of the office volunteers, an octogenarian named Dorothy. She was pleased to see me for more than one reason. You see, in the photo in the directory I had a closely cropped beard, but when I arrived at St. Paul’s I was clean-shaven. This was important to Dorothy, and she felt the need to share it with me.

“Thank goodness you shaved off your beard,” she said. “Really? Tell me why,” was what I managed in return, a twinkle in my eye. “Well,” she replied matter-of-factly, “This is not a beard parish.”

This is not a beard parish. Now I understand some of where this comes from. When Dorothy was formed as a young adult, in the 1940s and 1950s in America, a man growing a beard signified something more than it does today. Rightly and wrongly, having a beard was largely a sign that this person was not willing to abide by societal norms, and hinted at transgressive behavior. Beard ornaments fashioned for hipsters in Brooklyn weren’t a twinkle in anyone’s eye at that time in American history.

And. My experience of Dorothy’s feedback to me about my no longer having a beard also served as bit of projection. The experiences that she had leading up to that point in her life had led her to believe that she wanted no part of a priest that had a beard. Keep in mind that we had never met, and that she was simply considering my personal appearance in her judgment of my capability and propriety as a priest. She was simply projecting experience, thoughts, opinions, and fears, onto my freshly shorn face.

Now, I have come to realize that my having a beard can significantly alter the way that people see me. (This is something that I don’t really have to worry about, as I don’t often see myself) After my sabbatical four years ago I returned with a much larger beard. I had the feeling that given the kind of role that I occupy as a priest, that this might have an impact on others. But I didn’t expect that it would elicit the wide range of responses, some offered as somewhat powerful reactions.

One of the more interesting patterns of response that I received was that many people associate large beards with intense orthodoxy. For some I reminded them of an ultra orthodox Jewish rabbi. For others it was similar to a fundamentalist Islamic cleric. And still others wondered whether I was going to join a Russian or Greek Orthodox Christian monastery. Clearly a modestly large beard was a signal for a narrow spectrum of belief and practice.

And it was also a window for me into the experience of many of my colleagues who are women. It is not unusual for a priest who is a woman to have the length and cut of her hair be the focus of attention, rather than her style of presiding at the Eucharist. I have heard countless stories from my women colleagues about the emphasis of people’s comments being about their attire or their makeup instead of their preaching or pastoral presence. Never mind their competence, skill, and inspirational faith, some people seem resolutely unable or unwilling to see beyond their priest’s physical appearance.

In my case, I get it. When I grow a beard—or in the case of the last eight months, remove a beard—something has changed significantly in the way that I look. And in our collective practice, whether I’m leading worship, or preaching, or being present as a pastor, or leading a meeting, people spend time looking at my face. This kind of a change has effect.

And, it also makes me wonder. What might it be like if we chose to make relationship, to encounter another person, even in the scope of a particular role, looking for the content of their character, or the skill of their craft, rather than the earrings they’ve chosen to wear, or the lamb chops they’ve chosen to rock? What kind of conversation might we have if we looked past the surface of that person’s appearance, and wondered about the deeper meaning of those outward signals?

Truth be told, I just don’t like to shave. It’s one of our cultural practices that I could do without. I realize that this makes a difference for some. As for me, I’m most interested in knowing who you are as a child of God—what you wonder about, why you laugh, and what makes you cry—and being known that way in return.



What’s Happening with the Parish House?

Parish House

You may be wondering how our plans to remove the current Parish House and build affordable housing are coming along. The answer is, surprisingly well!

Our joint project with Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA) is entering the final fundraising stage. After that, it will be time to build.

The footprint of the new building and grounds will cover the current parking lot  and the current Parish House lot. It will include 34 studios for seniors and an apartment for the resident manager in one wing, along Oxford Street, and two apartments for All Souls’ use, as well as a shared community room and parish offices, in the other wing, along Cedar Street. There will be an underground parking lot and a shared courtyard between the two wings.

Several years ago, after also considering the options of building market-rate housing or simply rebuilding the Parish House for All Souls’ use alone, the Vestry voted to develop affordable housing, in partnership with SAHA, because of the great need for affordable apartments in the Bay Area. Doing so fits best with our mission to “encounter the Holy through Gospel-inspired service, working side by side with our sisters and brothers in the wider community.”

At this point the project’s design is nearly finalized. It has received the necessary approval and permits as well as $6 million from the city of Berkeley and about $5.8 million in Measure A-1 funds from Alameda County. We have about $2.6 million in committed state funds as well, and SAHA is completing the applications, due in August, for federal tax credits of 4%. And SAHA Project Manager Carrie Lutjens fully expects our project to get the full necessary amount in tax credits.

“[T]he tax credit allocation would be formally reserved in October …and we would then identify the tax credit investor for the project. We would then ‘close’ on the construction financing and start construction in March or April 2020,” Lutjens wrote in an email. Move-in is projected for June 2021.

The Berkeley Housing Authority has already set aside 24 federally funded Section 8 vouchers that will go to residents of the new building. Those vouchers allow renters to pay just 30% of their income on rent, and the balance of the cost is paid by the federal government. In donating the land for this project, All Souls is making a small but long-term dent in the Bay Area affordability crisis.

— Mary Rees

From the Treasurer

VimalaThe Numbers Part of the Story…

As we head into summer, this is a good time to consider where we are in relation to our forecasts (budget) for this year. At the end of May, we were approximately 40% of the way through the fiscal year. Income from all sources is a bit ahead of what is expected for the year, and year-to-date expenses are a bit less than our budget.

This is a good situation for us to be in. However, income sometimes comes unevenly and in the beginning of the year. So, all of us should continue with our planned giving for the remainder of the year. Similarly, if you made an authorized purchase for the church and have not yet submitted it for reimbursement, please do so before the end of June.

The balance in Vanguard (Jordan) funds at the end of May was $1,042,207. Of this total, $845,340 is considered principle held for capital needs likely associated with the 2021 occupancy of Jordan House (the joint project with SAHA to provide affordable senior housing and housing/office space for the church). Earnings (unrealized gain) at the end of May were $206,867. We have drawn $10,000 from earnings for mission-related costs this year.

If you have questions about any of this, or would like additional detail, I would be glad to talk with you.

Vimala Tharisayi, Treasurer

From the Junior Warden

Erin Horne

June Vestry Reflection: It Never Ends

Well, I hate to say it but there is even more good news to report for another month in a row from the June Vestry Meeting. One of our Chaplains, Priscilla, started off our meeting with a reflection on the Gospel from Trinity Sunday and led us in a discussion of how we encounter the Holy Spirit. It was said that “the Holy Spirit’s presence equals the absence of fear of the unknown”. This phrase echoed in my mind throughout our conversations over the next two hours as we discussed big ministry programs; their risks, excitements and plans.

After the usual proceedings of role call, approving the consent agenda and minutes of the May meeting, we dived into a topic we have been considering since our retreat in February when Kat Lisa announced that she and Andrew would be moving to Florida this summer. Matt McGinley, Bob Holum and I have had the honor of serving in the same class as Kat for the last two and a half years. I kept thinking that maybe if we didn’t acknowledge her departure, it wouldn’t really happen. But now that the time has come, I can say that I will miss how Kat is always aware of who may be more shy and needing someone to talk to, or what project may not be the bright shiny one and she will step in and do it. Her warm presence and humor have made her a gift to our vestry class. As much as we will miss her, we are excited because the Vestry voted, after a series of discussions over recent months, to invite a previous Vestry member back to fill the twelfth seat for the remainder of the term.

Our first invitation, Toni Martinez Borgfeldt, agreed to stand for election and to serve in Kat Lisa’s stead. Toni recently served on the vestry, including terms as junior warden in 2014 and as senior warden in 2015, and she is eager to contribute to the next steps for the Parish House and capital campaign. When we voted on this proposal at our meeting in June, Toni was unanimously elected! I’m looking forward to having Toni and her can-do spirit join our current configuration as we move into the next six months of work together. It is a relief to see that as one steadfast leader departs for new adventures, an old friend returns as we step forward in faith.

We then moved into the visitors part of the meeting with a time to talk with the chairs of the Stewardship Team, Eric Legrand and Richard Lynch, and the Parish House Project, Ed Hahn and Kirk Miller. Both topics carry much to consider as we move forward into funding for the Parish House project while maintaining all of our excellent other ministries. However, given the current iteration of the Vestry, each of us come with particular gifts and charisms which allow for the Spirit to move in ways which leave me awe-struck the next morning.

The design process is coming along nicely for the Parish House Project. Ed and Kirk walked us through the next steps of having the Wardens sign off on each design step from the architects. A great bit of grace has fallen into our laps which is that the City of Berkeley has awarded our project Section 8 vouchers for residents to be accepted into the Parish House upon opening. This is yet another way we can live out our call from the Gospel!

It was good to plan ahead with Eric and Richard about the upcoming Stewardship season so that we could all be on the same page about our goals. This will be a pivotal year as we look towards funding the general budget as well as addressing the needs of the Parish House. Stewardship involves all of us. In fact, this August or September, vestry members will be connecting with your ministry chairs to find out from you what each ministry team could benefit from or contribute to, in terms of stewardship. This is not a time to rest on the resources we already have (aka the Jordan Fund). Perhaps we can follow the lead of the majority of our new members over the last year and pledge even if we do not have enough money to tithe or think we what we can offer will make a dent?

It is making a commitment to the community that is the important part. If we enter this new time of construction and growth together, it will be less scary and we will most certainly be reminded by the Holy Spirit that we are in fact bound together with the Holy.

— Erin Horne, Junior Warden

Summer Book Group

Our Summer Book Group starts this Sunday, June 23!  Please join us at 10:10 am to start our discussion of Searching for Sunday, by Rachel Held Evans.

Sunday, June 23, we will discuss Part 1 (Baptism).
Sunday, June 30:  Parts II and III (Confession and Holy Orders);
Sunday, July 14: Part IV (Communion);
Sunday, July 21: Parts V and VI (Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick);
Sunday, July 28:  Part VII (Marriage) and Epilogue.

You are welcome to join for any or all sessions.


A group of 20s/30s-ish folks are meeting monthly this summer to break bread together in each other’s homes and explore different prayer practices. Expect tasty, dietary restriction-friendly potluck, equally attractive non-alcoholic beverages, and real talk about church, prayer, and our shared life together in 21st century Bay Area. Meetings are June 18, July 16, August 20, and September 17, 7-9 pm. Come once, come every month, you are welcome. For more information please contact Jane Thomason jane.thomason12@gmail.com.


It’s been a wonderful year of learning and exploring in Sunday School, and we want to celebrate! There’s no Sunday School this week, June 23, but all kids are invited to join in an end-of-year party on June 30 at 10:15 downstairs. We’ll also be sharing about the fun in store for this summer!


It’s time for our annual All Souls group outing to the ballpark:  Saturday August 3, Oakland A’s vs St. Louis Cardinals, 4:30 pm start for the tailgate gathering in the Coliseum parking lot, 6:05 pm game time. Cost is $33/person including the hearty tailgate spread. Please RSVP to don.a.gates@gmail.com as soon as possible, and no later than July 7. We hope you can include this fun evening in your summer plans!


Sign-ups are Live

Mark your calendar for the annual parish camping trip to Big Sur, July 19-21! This is always an amazing weekend of relaxing beside the river with favorite people, of skipping stones in the water, 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 — sign up here!


All Souls is blessed with an impressive music library boasting over 500 choral compositions. About one percent are by women. Given this, the Music Department is seeking 15–20 sponsors to add compositions by women. Depending on the composer and the length of the piece, a set of 25 scores for one piece will usually cost between $40–$70, or more for larger works, but if you agree to sponsor a composition, you may have your name, and/or the name of someone you wish to memorialize, featured in that week’s bulletin. Music composition remains an extremely male-dominated field, and purchasing and performing music by women is a small way to help fight that inequity. To learn more, talk with Jamie Apgar.