From the Wardens

Warden Vestry Report

On June 17th, our Vestry meeting was full of special guests. First, we welcomed the Rt. Rev. Nedi Rivera from Cincinnati, who will be Fr. Phi’s sabbatical interim from mid-July to September. She introduced herself to the Vestry and shared her excitement about joining All Souls this summer.

From Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA), project manager Carrie Lutjens joined our meeting from Chicago to provide the Vestry an update about the upcoming closing of our Jordan Court project. She went through the final documents that the Vestry will have to revise and approve in the next Vestry meeting to close the project. In addition to the documents for the federal tax credits, state, county and city of Berkeley loans, project investors are in the process of being revised for this project. All the financial pieces are expected to be in place to start demolition and construction in early August.

The next guests were members of the Justice and Peace ministry, Don Gates, Christine Trost, and Lewis Maldonado, who presented the proposal for the new banner that was just installed this week on the Triptych on Cedar St. In their proposal, they explained how Don Gates and Pat Jones reached out to the Justice and Peace team with the idea of having All Souls add to the voices of those working towards racial justice at this time. Their proposal states the importance for All Souls to make visible its commitment to racial justice at this historical moment. They talked to the Vestry about their process of selecting a quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, the importance of including the date on the quote, and including “Black Lives Matter” in the banner. The Vestry unanimously approved the proposal, and thanked them for their work and thoughtfulness in ensuring that All Souls remains visibly committed to the work of racial justice and reconciliation and conversation with our neighborhood.

Finally, Fr. Phil and Toni Martínez-Borgfeldt introduced to the Vestry the creation of the Task Force for Regathering, who will be working to develop plans for regathering for worship, based on guidelines and a template given by the Diocese of California, and recommendations set by the State and County.  The task force is comprised of All Souls staff and parishioners representing different areas of interest and knowledge, who will work on developing a plan for when All Souls determines that we can safely regather for in-person worship in the coming months. As the task force continues its work, we will keep you informed.

In summary, the next few months are full of important work in many areas of our parish, so we ask and welcome your continued prayers for the work of this body.

Toni Martinez Borgfeldt

From the Deacon

Deacon’s Corner

I am constantly inspired by other writers. Nothing makes me want to sit down and craft a poem more than hearing or reading someone else’s work that makes me think, touches my heart, and moves my spirit. Some of the poets that have changed me and changed my work are my friends and the folks I’ve taught, some are more well known, like Marie Howe, June Jordan, Pablo Neruda, and Alice Walker. 

It was a piece by Alice Walker that inspired our current Prayers of the People (the Rev. Julie Wakelee also gave input). When I was writing the prayers I was thinking about questions like: what is really deep in our hearts right now? What are our dearest hopes? What do we critically need? I went looking for something that would speak to the community, and I found my way to a beautiful piece by Alice Walker called the Gospel According to Shug. Here is an excerpt, and you can see how it influenced the prayers: 

The Gospel According to Shug

To bless is to help.

“HELPED are those who are content to be themselves; they will never lack mystery in their lives and the joys of self-discovery will be constant.

HELPED are those who love the entire cosmos rather than their own tiny country, city, or farm, for to them will be shown the unbroken web of life and the meaning of infinity…

HELPED are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception, and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful.

HELPED are those who love the Earth, their mother, and who willingly suffer that she may not die; in their grief over her pain they will weep rivers of blood, and in their joy in her lively response to love, they will converse with trees.

HELPED are those whose every act is a prayer for harmony in the Universe, for they are the restorers of balance to our planet. To them will be given the insight that every good act done anywhere in the cosmos welcomes the life of an animal or a child.

HELPED are those who risk themselves for others’ sakes; to them will be given increasing opportunities for ever greater risks. Theirs will be a vision of the word in which no one’s gift is despised or lost.

HELPED are those who strive to give up their anger; their reward will be that in any confrontation their first thoughts will never be of violence or of war.

HELPED are those whose every act is a prayer for peace; on them depends the future of the world.

HELPED are those who forgive; their reward shall be forgiveness of every evil done to them. It will be in their power, therefore, to envision the new Earth…

HELPED are those who love the broken and the whole; none of their children, nor any of their ancestors, nor any parts of themselves, shall be hidden from them.

HELPED are those who do not join mobs; theirs shall be the understanding that to attack in anger is to murder in confusion.

HELPED are those who find the courage to do at least one small thing each day to help the existence of another–plant, animal, river, or human being. They shall be joined by a multitude of the timid…

HELPED are those who know.”

From The Temple of My Familiar -1989

by  Alice Walker

I find that listening is at least as important as speaking, and that listening to wise poets like Alice Walker helps me find the words to pray. Walker’s Womanist theology is so needed in our world today. I have been grateful to be able to pray these ordinary time prayers with you, and I invite any comments or suggestions for what might inspire the next set of prayers!

Compassionate, Full of Faith, Skilled, and Trustworthy, (Tech Savvy?) …

…Those are the core qualities of a Stephen Minister, pandemic or otherwise. We learned about and practiced these qualities in the 2020 Stephen Ministry training class that began weekly sessions in the common room in late February and quickly transitioned to a Zoom classroom to honor the shelter-in-place mandate. 

During my five-year tenure as a Stephen Ministry leader, I have co-taught the training class three times. I would add to that list of necessary qualities: patience, the ability to be vulnerable, adaptable, non-judgmental, and forgiving. All of these were especially needed to get through the training online this year. Our seven trainees endured teachers who were new to Zoom technology, wobbly internet connections, and role-play exercises in a virtual meeting space. 

Stephen Ministry is intended primarily to take place in person, offering confidential, one-to-one lay pastoral listening care for those going through difficulties. The social isolation required to prevent the novel coronavirus means that now, and for some time to come, we all must change the ways we can be present for one another. Training in a virtual classroom necessitated an unusual intimacy as we all met with the closeness of being face-to-face even as we were in reality miles apart. I think this has prepared this class for being skilled listeners over the phone and in video chats, just when that is needed most. 

The Rev. Michael Lemaire, in his reflection during an Evening Prayer service offered on June 11 at the conclusion of this 50+ hour training class, reminded us that at any given moment, or especially right now, life may not be what any of us planned or expected. What we are called to do now is to figure out what life is asking of us. And, as Stephen Ministers, to be present for others whose lives are acutely and painfully not as they planned or expected. 

All are invited to be present with us as All Souls commissions Gert Allen, Jill Barash, Vicki Carlton, Maggie Cooke, Suzanne Siebert, Gina Steele, and Tim Sullivan during worship on Sunday, June 28, to join our team of active Stephen Ministers. At that time, Nancy Pryer will also be commissioned to serve on the Stephen Ministry leader team, with Madeline Feeley, Christina Robinson, and Raymond Yee. It has been my joy to journey with these folks as they embrace their call to be Christ to one another in this way.

—Nancy Austin, retiring Stephen Ministry leader

Here are few of the reflections from trainees on what Stephen Ministry values mean to them (comments have been run together.)

What it means to me to be compassionate: … I have gotten better at listening and reflecting, refraining from judging. I listen better (longer) before speaking. 

What it means to me to be full of faith: … connecting with so many people who are full of faith has helped me to appreciate what a faithful community can do. I have been concentrating on feeling God’s love in the quietude of the shelter-in-place.

What it means to me to be skilled: More silence before offering my words. Trusting God to lead me on this journey.

What it means to me to be trustworthy: Complete confidentiality; that’s important and can’t be taken for granted. I recognize the importance of grace-based acceptance, and see that this is the key to being trustworthy…

About what it means to me to be Christ-Centered: Any gifts I may have to give are given by Christ through me. I see Christ as offering a “way” to be in community that supports each other, and I see the Stephen Ministry as part of the way. By prayer, by thankfulness in even small things, by opening my heart to forgiveness and love.

On Clearing Out The Parish House

After years of planning and negotiating the Parish House demolition was scheduled and it was time to clear out the Parish House.  The clearing out process was and still is determining what could be sold at our yard sale or online, donated and kept out of the landfill. 

We began with the garages.  It was a bit of a horror movie moment as Annie opened the garage door. Instead of monsters there was the large galvanized tub used for Baptisms at Easter.  The contents of the other garage was a curious and extensive collection of “stuff” including a new giftbox of Clinique products on a shelf by the black and decker tools accompanied by golf clubs and kids’ ride on toys.   

The Parish House holds a multitude of stories told by the contents of the closets and cabinets, the abundance of books that fill the book shelves, furniture, art supplies, games, dishes, clothes and Bibles.  Many of the larger items including book shelves and furniture can be previewed on All Soulsians.  The other items from the house and the garage along with their stories will be available at the yard sale. Proceeds from the sale of Parish House items  will go to support All Souls work in the community.       

The Parish House has been home to many people, provided a fun and sacred space for the community to gather, organize activities and tell their stories.  It is still, in its last days, providing a space for All Souls members to  store and organize supplies for the Sandwich Project that  serves  the homeless people in Berkeley.


Sunday Live Streaming News

The live stream of Sunday services can now be accessed through our website (rather than simply on Facebook)! Click here to watch on Sunday morning.

Adult Formation Class this Sunday

This Sunday join our teaching hour at 9:15a to take part in the first week of our Summer Book Group! This summer we are reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and Distinguished Professor of Environmental Biology at SUNY. Here weaves an invaluable story of how to heal the fundamental bonds borne of our intertwined and often tragic shared history, even as she helps us assess our relationship with the living earth and all that exists upon it. Both the e-book and the audiobook version are available from the Berkeley Public Library via Hoopla ( ).

Each section will be led by a different parishioner or community member with a specific approach to this achingly moving and inspiring book. Click here for the Zoom link to access the class on Sunday.

June 14 Planting Sweetgrass, Through 59
June 21 Tending Sweetgrass, pp. 61 — 117
June 28 Picking Sweetgrass, pp 121 — 201
July 5 Braiding Sweetgrass, pp 205 — 300
July 12 Burning Sweetgrass, pp 304 – 384

Big Sur Camping Trip is on! 

July 17-19 is our annual Big Sur trip, and we just got word from the camp directors down there that they are open and able to host us! There are a few changes we’ll need to make to accommodate safety standards, but we think they are sacrifices worth making so that we can all make this trip together. Sign-up here. $35/person and a $120 family max. More details to come.

Sacred Ground Groups!

If you are interested in joining a Sacred Ground small group, please fill out this very simple form here. We’ll gather more information from you later, but would like to get an idea of how many folks are interested before we get this fully launched. If you’re unable to access the form, you can also just email Annie Rovzar to say that you are interested at

Children & Family News

We will be doing a children’s chapel program this Sunday at 9:30am via Zoom. It should last about 30 minutes. Please email Whitney Wilson for a link so your family can participate. We are hoping that this will give the kids a time together for their own “church” and a time to see their friends as well. Please email Whitney Wilson at if you want a Zoom invite or have any questions.

If you are looking for some current information regarding Children’s Chapel or the upcoming Kids Book Club – check out the new additions to the All Souls website. The All Souls Website has been updated to include some new information and resources(including the links for all the storybook videos) for families. Here is the link:

All Souls After Hours

Our first All Souls Coffee Hour is this Sunday following the live streamed service via Zoom. Emily will host the call and we’ll find a way to mingle with each other and hear a bit about what we’re all up to. Here’s the info for the call: Meeting ID: 897 7729 8030 Password: 204764

Evening Prayer via Zoom

Here is the link for the Thursday night BCP Compline For safety, the password needed to join the call is 329903

All Souls Geek Squad

If you’re having any trouble with technology during this time of tech-only contact with others, we want to help! On the homepage of our website is a box with the words “Technical Help”. Click on that box and you will be taken to a form that you can fill out. Once you fill that out, we’ll have someone get in touch with you to help with your tech problems. You can also click here to access the form directly.


Check out the latest episode of the Soulcast for more parish announcements! 

Ongoing Canned Food Drive

The ASP Food Drive continues to pick up and deliver food for the Berkeley Food Pantry on a weekly basis. Food contributors and drivers participate every other week. Please email Cathy: for more information.

Wednesday 9am Service RETURNS!

Join the Zoom call here:

Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218

New Members! 

Sandra Keith: I moved back to the Bay Area in September 2017, after spending 30 years in Elmira, New York, where my husband taught at Elmira College and I was office manager for two neurologists.  I loved the doctors and the patients.  I did not love the upstate New York winters, the lack of theater and music, or living in what was basically a red state embedded in a blue state.  I always told my husband that, when we retired we would return to the Bay Area, and I am very glad that we were able to make that happen.  We have one child, who was born shortly after we arrived in Elmira,  who now lives in Brooklyn.  I tell folks I have one of the world’s smallest families–I am an only child, married to an only child, with an only child.  Before the pandemic, I was volunteering weekly at Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park, monthly at GRIP (Greater Richmond Interfaith Program), and ushering at Berkeley Rep and Aurora Theaters.  I hope to find ways to help out at All Souls as well.

Michael Marsman is a recent transplant to Berkeley, having moved here to join his partner Manish who relocated from the east coast for work a year earlier.  He was born in Boston and attended college in New York City where he lived for nearly four decades until moving to the Bay Area in November. Michael is a certified Jungian analyst and psychotherapist in private practice in Berkeley who had an earlier career as a financial professional.

Before joining All Souls, Michael was a member of the Congregation of St. Saviour at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan where he was baptized and confirmed.  He began attending mass at All Souls in December and was so moved to find a pound cake waiting for him on his doorstep after his first visit to the church that he couldn’t wait to go back to thank people.  He has felt at home in this loving, progressive and dynamic community ever since.