The Rev. Phil Brochard, Rector

Knowing When

Recently one of our assisting priests, the Very Rev. Don Brown, asked for some time to meet. As we sat down to talk, Don, in his inimitable way, asked me, “Do you know that old Kenny Rogers song, ‘The Gambler’? The one that goes, ‘You gotta know when to hold em, know when fold em, know when to walk away, know when to run?’”

I did, and I do, that’s how Don shared with me that his time practicing as a priest in a Christian community was coming to an end. After serving parishes across three states and five decades, Don felt like it was time to set aside the role of priest. And it is a decision that I greatly respect.

So that you know, there was no precipitating incident that forced this decision—no diagnosis or mishap. And that’s part of why I find Don’s discernment to be so admirable. Often in life we hold tightly to those things that have given us meaning, purpose, and identity. So tightly, in fact, that when they no longer serve us, or we no longer serve them, we are unable to set them down. In the course of my ministry I’ve come across several priests for whom this was incredibly difficult.

Knowing when to let go of something that has formed a substantive part of your reality—be it a home, a relationship, a school, a job, or a calling—is one of the more profound challenges of life. The Anglican author Esther de Waal likens these transitions to little deaths. Even if they seem small at first, they carry weight with them. And while they can bring new joys and possibilities­­—another place to live, new friends, more learning, a job that fits better, or a chance to rest—being willing and able to engage the loss that comes with them is critical.

For Don, who was a beloved and successful priest across parishes and cathedrals, on scores of boards and a sought-after consultant, a mentor and trusted adviser, this was not an easy decision. The decision to let go of something as integral as this rarely is. And, it was a decision that he knew he wanted to make with purpose, prayer, consideration, and intention.

So thank God for Don Brown. For his wisdom, his wit, his clear thinking, and his hard-earned faith. And especially today, his knowing when to give thanks and to let go. May we all have the grace in our lives to do the same.




diane haavikEveryone attending, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, had a strong sense that something powerful was taking place, with a mixture of eager anticipation and some awkward insecurities. We wanted to be politically correct and not offend, but we also wanted to speak our truth and honor our proud traditions.

Around 80 people came together for three lunches, beginning at St.Paul African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E) church, and then at All Souls Episcopal, and finishing a month later at Congregation Beth El. We sat at round tables with three people from each congregation, enjoying an abundant meal and talking about everything from Steph Curry to the Book of Deuteronomy.

It seemed like our gatherings loosely followed a pattern. First, we emphasized our desires for peace, justice, mutual respect, and unity. Are we not more alike than different? But wait a minute. During the second lunch, we began to admit that there were profound ways in which we were different. Your beliefs do not exactly align with mine. In fact, sometimes my religion steps on your proverbial toes. And maybe you’ve experienced bias and prejudice coming from my neighborhood.

One guest at our table did not believe in God. Another guest thought for a minute, and then tried to change his mind. Someone asked about being a chosen people. Am I not chosen as well? Who gets to claim the truth?

We began a dialogue which was rich and challenging, but could only slightly skim the surface of the debate. We have yet to tackle the hardest questions of racism, antisemitism, homophobia, politics, Israel and Palestine, and the workings of our most personal vulnerabilities.

Our last meal was a time of creative suggestions for continuing the conversation and for practical steps forward. We mentioned participating in community projects like the Tiny House Village Program, voter registration, as well as inviting guests from the Muslim and other communities.

May we continue on this journey to which all are invited, breaking barriers through radical listening. Loving one’s neighbor means letting go of strongly held securities, and seeing God’s love in the face of a stranger.

“The essence of religion is love.” —AL-GHAZZALI (1051-1111)

— Diane Haavik

From Adult Formation

Summer Book Group: Searching for Sunday

searching for sundayThe Summer Book Club book has been chosen, first in a field of four terrific and spiritual books. And the Winner Is Rachael Held Evens, Searching for Sunday. The New York Times in their obituary called her the Wandering Evangelist. Her vocation was to be a voice to wake up the conservative churches of her childhood, reminding them of Jesus as he was, loving, healing, inclusive. She sowed and we all reaped her harvest, Jesus’ harvest.

Why a Summer Book Club? Because fellowship and the love we have for each other at ASP doesn’t end with the school year. But we do tend to scatter, travel, visit, and this is one way we can share something to uplift us and invite us remember who we are. The great seasons of the year will be upon us soon enough, but now is a time of reflection, and this is one book to share with each other in our All Souls family. Join us on June 23, June 30, July 14, July 21, July 28   (skipping the weekend of July 4).


Sign-ups are Live


Mark your calendar for the annual parish camping trip to Big Sur, July 19-21! For many years now, a big group of All Soulsians have headed down to Big Sur for a parish camping trip each summer. We stay at the Santa Lucia campsite, owned and cared for by a nearby Episcopal church. It’s right on the banks of the Big Sur river — close enough to hear the water burbling from your tent, and excellent for a dip, tubing down the gentle rapids, and, depending on water levels, the excitement of jumping off of big rocks into deep pools. The campsite is also just a short drive from the beach and close to great hiking trails.

There is very little programming on these days — we pray and sing together in the evening, have one big communal meal, and have a laid-back worship service together on Sunday morning. Mostly, we play, talk, see how dirty the kids can get, and head out on adventures together. Sweet, delightful, relaxing time together, living in community — it is simple and good!

Get excited and plan it into your summer — sign up here!


The Spirit blows big on Pentecost at All Souls and we like to celebrate. There will be no formation classes for children or adults on June 9th and we will continue (or begin) to celebrate the feast of the table with a festive brunch between services. Take advantage of the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new connections! Brunch will be between the 9:00 and 11:15 am services in the Parish Hall. Bring food to share and think RED (strawberries, tomatoes, red velvet cake, watermelon, … ?) or whatever the Spirit moves you to bring!


Bake Sale this Sunday

Five of our high schoolers are heading to Dulac, LA this summer on an immersion trip. This Sunday between the 9 and 11:15 services, the youth will be hosting a bake sale in the courtyard, will all proceeds going to fund the trip. Come with cash, check, or ready to Venmo. Thanks in advance for your generosity!

Parish Picnic

Next Sunday!

Church in the park and then some! We’re looking forward to bringing our 11:15 am service to a beautiful spot at the Padre picnic site in Tilden next Sunday, Sunday, June 16th. Here is the exact location on Google maps. After an open-air Eucharist we will continue the feast with a potluck picnic lunch, games and fun… especially a big kickball game! There will also be 7:30  and 9:00 am services at All Souls. Check out all the details here.


Looking for a way to serve? Come this Sunday afternoon, June 9th, to help with our Open Door Dinner. We offer a delicious meal of homemade jambalaya to anyone who is hungry. Come at 2p to help prep, 4p to serve, or 5 to clean up. Contact Mary Rees if you plan to come, or with any questions. Thanks!