FROM THE RECTOR
A Round, Again
This time last year at All Souls Parish, Sundays at 9:00 am and 11:15 am changed. The worship space upstairs, a space that had remained relatively static for fifteen years, was shifted. The altar and ambo (or lectern) came down from the elevated platform and was on the side of the nave, and the pews were re-arranged into a diamond formation around it. For some this experiment was trying, for others it was enlivening, for all of us it was different.
And then, at the end of the roughly two months of practice, people offered their feedback, in response to several prompts: “The part of this arrangement that surprised me was…” “The aspect of this arrangement that challenged me was…” “They way that I most easily came close to God in this arrangement was…”
In general, I find feedback to be very valuable, and in this case, it was really interesting to have people offer their experience alongside each other. In this way, we all came into contact with the ways—challenging, surprising, and helpful—that others experienced the change of liturgical space.
In addition to the practical elements of change (for some being able to hear was hard, for others it was the first time they “saw” our stained glass), one of the insights for me over the course of those Sundays was how differently people experienced worship. I was reminded that the ways we most easily access the Divine—through transcendence and through immanence—are rooted in physical experience. The most commented-upon aspect of this shift was that people were looking into each other’s faces. For some, this turn towards each other was distracting, or felt like a fishbowl. And for many others, seeing other people during worship allowed for greater intimacy, closeness and community. And so I’ve wondered. Could it be that for those who experienced this way of worshipping as more challenging, that knowing God as transcendent (or experiencing God as beyond the range of human experience) is primary? And perhaps that for those for whom the Immanent (or experiencing God as inherently within) is primary, that the worshipping while seeing each other in the “round” was enlivening?
In all, because of the words that people shared on those sheets, and through the conversations that I had with many over the course of the summer, it has seemed to me to be both a valuable practice for our congregation, and one that would bear repeating. An unexpected insight from this experience was that being able (and sometimes pushed) to stretch was a valuable experience for many last summer. And so, starting this Sunday, and continuing through August 20th, we will once again gather in a different pattern for the course of the summer at the 9:00 and 11:15 am services.
Thanks to our learnings from last year, and the work of many (including Rob Johnson, John Love, Anne Cockle, Liz Tichenor, Emily Hansen Curran, Blake Harper, Jamie Apgar, Jess Powell, Will and Annie Boutelle, Ed Hofmann, and Jesse Tichenor) we were able to reset the space in half of the time that it took us last year. And so what you will find this Sunday (but just at the 9:00 am, since the 11:15 am will be up the hill at the Padre picnic ground in Tilden Park) is roughly similar to how we practiced last summer.
Once again, the altar is on the Cedar side of the nave, with pews in a diagonal formation around it. This time, however, we have placed the ambo (or lectern) on the opposite side of the space, so that the Word and the Table might be along the same axis, in conversation with one another. And, both as an understanding of the centrality of baptism in our lives, and as an anticipation of the baptisms we will be participating in on Sunday, August 13th, our baptismal font will be at the center of our worshipping space.
There is one experience that I myself am expecting—that this will change the ways that I experience God, both as a participant and as a leader. This will likely be the case for you. The place you sit, the way you pray, how you lead as an usher, or offer the chalice as a Eucharistic Minister; there will be shifts. Some of them will be subtle, others obvious. But in all of them, I ask you to join me in the surest form of prayer—paying attention. Pay attention to what senses are engaged, what feelings arise, and where the Wholly Other might be in it.
As usual, I trust that God will be there. And, that no matter the shape or form of our space, we will be present too.
THIS SUNDAY! PARISH PICNIC IN TILDEN PARK
Celebrating the truth that God is everywhere, and most especially in creation, our 11:15 am Eucharist will be in Tilden Park this Sunday, June 11th. We will roll right into potluck picnic, games and fun… especially a big kickball game! There will be 7:30 and 9:00 am services at All Souls as usual.
Let’s all pitch in to make the picnic glorious!
• Bring food to share—either grillables (including buns) or a side dish
• Bring a picnic blanket and/or chairs
• Sunscreen (we hope!)
• Balls or games
We also still need some willing souls to drive carpools and help with set-up and clean-up. Talk to Jeannie Koops-Elson for the details.
Padre picnic site on South Park Dr. in Tilden. If you are coming from the Berkeley side, turn right up South Park Dr. just after the Brazil Building. Padre is on your right on South Park Dr. about halfway up to the Steam Trains. Here is the exact location on Google maps.
If you would like a ride to Padre, gather in the All Souls courtyard at 10:30 am.
From the Associate for Youth Ministries
Playing Towards God
Play has the power to shape who we are and who we become. At All Souls, I see play in our celebrations and laughter. Just this past Sunday, we said our goodbyes to Joy Shih Ng through a game show. We are a joyful and playful congregation. It’s marvelous.
I see that spirit in All Souls as a whole, but especially in youth activities. We play many games that take many forms. This past week, we used M&Ms to spark conversation. Middle school youth group closed with Sardines. It’s sort of a reverse version of hide-and-seek. One person is “it” and hides, and everyone else has to find them. Each player who finds “it” then hides with them. The goal is to not be the last person to find “it.”
I think recognizing the voice of God can be a bit like playing a game of Sardines. Sometimes the Holy One’s voice is easy to hear. Sometimes it’s tucked away and hidden from us. In those times, persistence is key. We need to be alert and keep our eyes wide open, consistently searching.
The youth do this with their friends. They are relentless as they look, and they search in different ways. For the most part, they run. But sometimes they have to slow down. When they do find “it,” they stay with them. What might it look like to search for the voice of God as relentlessly as the youth do in Sardines? What would it be like to run after the Holy One?
Some rounds of sardines last much longer than others. The youth don’t give up. Even when it’s hard, even when they’re stumped, they keep going. What would it be like to have that attitude towards finding the voice of the Holy One?
In Sardines, once you’ve found “it,” you’re supposed to wait with them silently. That didn’t happen on Pentecost. Finding “it” was accompanied by shrieks of laughter. I couldn’t keep from laughing with them. Their excitement and joy were contagious. How marvelous would it be to react that way when we finally hear and understand the voice of God?
Of course, there are significant differences between Sardines and listening for God. But we learn through play. In youth group, and I think in our larger All Souls community, play is a way of building community and finding the Holy One in it.
WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS
On May 21st, we welcomed 21 new members into the All Souls family. Today and in the coming weeks, we’ll hear from many of them.
I was born in New York City to a Jewish family at the beginning of WWII. An early memory was of collecting clothing for the displaced persons, especially holocaust survivors. I did an undergraduate degree in botanical biology, and a summer internship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. I wrote my senior thesis on lichens as bio-indicators of pollution (1960), and coauthored a paper on phytoplankton metabolism (1960). Taking a break, I traveled to Europe and lived in Germany for several years. On returning to the U.S., I migrated to the West Coast. I was baptized at All Souls in 1965. After getting married, I moved to Davis for more graduate work. I returned to the Bay Area, where I was a director for the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and Dickens Christmas Faire. I also became active with the Society of Creative Anachronisms, specializing in medieval armored sword and shield fighting, attaining the rank of Knight. Active again in the Episcopal Church, I began a study of theology at the Graduate Theological Union, earning a master’s degree in systematic theology, and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies, writing my dissertation using anthropology, folklore, and history to explore the utility of Mary legends in the late middle ages and early modern period. I am also an author of several fiction and nonfiction books, among which was a Star Trek novel and the non-fiction, The Way of the Cat, an exploration into human/non-human communication. My current project is a theological study of Christianity as a foundation for an ecologically integrated way of life. I have three grown children and two grandchildren. Widowed, I live with several cats. I am glad to be back at All Souls.
– Dana Diana Kramer-Rolls
ORDINATIONS AT GRACE CATHEDRAL
All are welcome to join the diocesan ordinations this Saturday, June 10th at 3:00 pm at Grace Cathedral. (Please note that we incorrectly announced the service time last week.) Among the ordinands will be Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, who has been sponsored by All Souls through the ordination process, and Marguerite Judson, who will be serving at All Souls during her transitional diaconate.
ALL SOULS READS ABOUT JOY TOGETHER!
On Sunday, June 18th in the Parish Hall, the Rev. Michael Lemaire will lead the first of eight group discussions of The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World during formation hour, beginning at 10:10 am. The book begins with thoughtful conversations between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama about what keeps us from being joyful, then moves into explorations of the attitudes and practices of heart and mind (such as humility, humor, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, gratitude) that can bring more joy into our lives. This delightful book and its ideas are suitable for All Soulsians of just about all ages—no doubt we could all use a little more joy in our lives!
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 e-books for about $14. Contact Stephan Quarles if you’d like to borrow one of the copies the parish has purchased for our use, one of which is in large print.
Please join us!
SUMMER SUNDAY SCHOOL: JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
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. Think lots of hands-on explorations, hopefully a big collaborative project, and plenty of time outside. If you are interested in helping to lead, please let Liz Tichenor or Lenore Williamson know.
SHOW YOUR PRIDE!
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