Still Making Church Together

Phil Brochard 2016

These past couple of months have shown us just how interconnected our world is. And, this past week in particular has shown us that this interconnectedness can be both frightening and beautiful. The speed at which this virus has transcended political borders and the far-reaching effects that it is having on public health, economic vitality, and political systems has been profound and stunning. It has been a chaotic, dispiriting, and destabilizing week.In short, just the kind of week that church was made for. Not that we would ever ask for what we have received, but that in the history, theology, and practice of the Christian faith we have been given everything that we need to meet this moment. It’s just going to look different than it did last week.

As you may know, in consultation with members of the Department of Public Health, our Bishop, Marc Andrus, yesterday requested that all Episcopal churches in the Bay Area suspend public services through the end of the month of March. In addition, he has asked that congregations consider live-streaming a service with a small group of participants.

With this in mind all worship services, midweek and Sunday, will be suspended, at least until the end of the month of March. Beginning yesterday evening and continuing throughout today, members of the staff and broader lay leadership have been working to prepare for our worship to be live-streamed to our public Facebook page ( this Sunday morning at 10:30am.

Because we need church now more than ever––the hymns and chants, the prayers and preaching, the silences and sounds. To do this we have been recreating our worship service so that it is participatory for those <streaming> along at home as well as the crew gathered on the corner of Cedar and Spruce. The pdf will be posted on our website tomorrow, I encourage you to print it out to be able to follow along at home. Another email will follow on Saturday with all the links you’ll need, and for those who are unsure about the technology we will be creating a simple tutorial to follow, as well as having people standing by to call on Sunday morning to get you up and running.

In addition, in the next several days, members of All Souls will be reaching out to every household in our parish to invite you into Connection Groups, groups of 6-8 households of All Soulsians. The hope is that each group will check in daily via email, text, or phone to let the group know how everyone is doing, let folks know of any needs you might have, and pray with and for each other. Leaders of each team will then connect with the staff to let us know how people are faring.

Lastly, the work of All Souls will be continuing in many ways, though few of them in person. Our ministry groups have already started meeting online through zoom and Google hangouts, and our Soup + Story groups will continue their path through Lent online and through social distancing with a curriculum that is providential––daily prayer practices.

In short, we are still making church together. Sometimes by learning and sharing remotely, sometimes by checking in on each other regularly, sometimes by streaming our service on Sunday. But I believe that it will all be marked by acts of kindness and steadfastness and beauty, showing up with and for each other even amidst tremendous uncertainty.

I’d like to finish this reflection with a gift that has been handed down to us over centuries, the witness of St. Julian of Norwich. As Mary Veronica Rolf so beautifully reminded many of us several years ago, the courageous and inspiring witness of Julian was given at the time of one of the fiercest plagues that humanity has known.

And even in the midst of it, perhaps especially because of it, Julian received a vision of Jesus the Christ that has encouraged Christians ever since. In it she wrote,

But Jesus, who in this vision informed me of all that is needed by me, answered with these words and said: ‘It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

These words were said most tenderly, showing no manner of blame to me nor to any who shall be saved.

Despite what this virus has wrought––suffering and death and uncertainty and fear––Julian’s vision of the Christ remains true. For us this day, in the days to come, and in the life eternal.

In short friends, keep making church together.


Men’s Dinner – Spaghetti Again

BART and Bay Area Mass Transit: Parishioner and rail expert, John Cockle, with a power point presentation, will walk us through the features, woes, and future of BART, as well as touching on Caltrain, and San Francisco Muni. When and where: Monday, March 30th at 6 pm, Parish Hall.

Spaghetti Again is a gathering of All Souls’ men for focused discussions
before, during, and after dinner. We will be focusing on a wide range of topics. Ideas may be suggested by readers of this column and by further discussion at Spaghetti Again. Examples include:

The Future of Religion in a Changing and Contemporary Society.
China: The Pros and Cons of an Authoritarian Regime.
Doping in the Tour de France (bicycling) and Other Sports.
How Do We Self-Identify and Why?
California Housing Crisis.

All the men of All Souls are welcome to join us at dinner on the last Monday of the month. The meal is prepared by a volunteer and the menu varies. Costs are shared. Beverages are brought by attendees to share.

More information is available from Bob Cross, George Tharisayi, Kirk Miller, or John Cockle (contact info in the Church Directory). Please sign up as a head count is necessary to have food for all. A sigh up sheet is posted the Sunday before Spaghetti Again night on the Parish Hall entrance bulletin board or you can email John to RSVP (

— John Cockle

New Building at All Souls Now Fully Funded

After what might seem a prolonged odyssey of biblical proportions, the project to build affordable housing on the All Souls campus is now fully funded!

In February we learned that the new building will receive the last remaining in California tax credits for construction of affordable housing. This is the last piece in the $26 million funding puzzle, which also consists of city, county, and federal funds.

Entering our sixth year of partnership with Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA), All Souls is planning to build affordable studio apartments for seniors and additional space for the parish on the two lots currently holding our parking lot and the Parish House. The Oxford Street side of the L-shaped building will have 34 studios and a manager’s apartment. The Cedar Street wing will contain Parish offices, a community room to be shared with the resident seniors, and two three-bedroom apartments for clergy use. A labyrinth open to all-comers will grace the inner courtyard. Please see the attached drawings for three different views of the new building.

Construction, beginning with demolition of the current Parish House, is expected to start no later than August 15th.

We face another large hurdle before breaking ground: sorting through the things currently stored in the Parish House. After the last Parish House residents relocate in mid-April, the work of deciding what to save and store, what to throw out, and what to give away will begin. Parishioners Anne Cockle and Jill Churchman have agreed to lead this effort. If you want to contribute in a hands-on way, please volunteer to help sort and move things.

The Parish House Project Group also recently decided upon a name: Jordan Court, in honor of the late Ann Jordan, an All Souls parishioner who left a large bequest to the parish upon her death. Over the last several years, the All Souls budget has relied on interest from those invested funds to supplement the giving of the congregation, while the invested capital was reserved for making capital improvements. Now, money from the Jordan capital will pay for improvements in the Parish wing of the new building. No money raised through the capital campaign will go towards the new building. The Vestry is expected to vote on approval of the name “Jordan Court” at its meeting later this month.

— Mary Rees

Stations of the Cross

“What are the Stations of the Cross, anyway?” asked a friend last week as we were walking out by the bay. “Is it a Catholic ritual? Is it a way for you to feel bad about Jesus getting crucified?” I suddenly realized that the Stations of the Cross are somewhat of a mystery, and not all that easy to understand.

The Stations of the Cross, or The Way of the Cross, is a tradition as old as Christianity itself. The 14 images portray the events in the last days of the life of Christ, from his condemnation by Pilate to his being placed in a tomb. The tradition began with worshipers walking the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem on that solemn journey, and continues throughout the world every Good Friday. It has lasted through the ages because it is profound and prayerful, a way to abide and share the passion of Christ with a crowd of witnesses.

For the past thirteen years, All Souls Episcopal has created unique, thoughtful interpretations of the Stations of the Cross as a way to deepen our communal experience of these events, and enter into the transforming message of Easter. In the stillness of the sanctuary, we can allow an image to reach beyond the intellect and touch our hearts and souls, places that can’t often be understood directly. It might be a way of seeing an aspect of ourselves in the story, at the nonverbal, more personal core of our being.

This year we are using the medium of collage, which allows the transfer of images from one familiar narrative to enter a new and challenging interpretation. The fragmented, reconstructed pieces are seen as a metaphor for dissonant parts of life experiences. In these collages, we are asked to find and unify a new and more individual relationship to the traditional account found in scripture.

We share the experience together. Alone we may lean toward the depictions of Jesus’ suffering with despair and cynicism, but in community we discern the face of the crucified man through the lens of those gathered around the foot of the cross. The communal dimension of this type of art allows the beautiful to shine through the most tragic of human experiences. The promise of Lent and Easter is not that we shall escape the hard things, but that we shall be given grace to face them, to enter into them, and to come through them. The promise is not that we shall not be afraid, but that we are never alone. In the final images together, what we share is hope.

––Diane Haavik

All March Meetings

For all March meetings, check with the team leader to see about digital options for meeting. Some groups will continue to meet but many groups will meet either digitally or blended (in-person and digitally), so check with your leader for the plans for your team.

Update: The Rev. Liz Tichenor’s Celebration of New Ministry

Due to Contra Costa County’s restrictions on gatherings, this celebratory event is postponed. We’ll keep you posted on the new date once we know!

Living Waters Capital Campaign Informational Coffee

If you are unable to attend Soup & Story this year, we encourage you to attend one of several small-group gatherings for our Living Waters campaign listed below. These meetings will offer fellowship and information, with time for dialogue and questions. No financial commitments will be asked for or received at these gatherings. Signups will be available at church, starting March 8, and by mail/phone invitation. Contact Cathy Thompson for more information.

• Sunday, March 22, 1:00 pm, All Souls with childcare provided
• Tuesday, March 24, 7:00 pm, Albany
• Saturday, March 28, 4:00 pm, north Berkeley hills
• Sunday, March 29, 4:00 pm, El Cerrito
• Saturday, April 4, 4:00 pm, Berkeley hills
• Tuesday, April 14, 7:00 pm, Oakland hills
• Saturday, April 18, 2:00 pm, north Berkeley
• Sunday, April 19, 4:00 pm, Kensington

Save the Date—All Souls Blood Drive!

A blood drive is a great way to support others in need and build community. Not everyone is able/allowed to give blood, but there are other ways to contribute. The need for blood is constant and only volunteer donors can fulfill that need for people in our community. Nationwide, someone needs a unit of blood every 2 to 3 seconds and most of us will need blood in our life. To secure our date, the Red Cross needs to determine that All Souls can have at least 30 donors on that date to give blood. Please click on this link to indicate that you will either give blood or volunteer to help with the drive on June 13. Look for more details once we have secured our registration with the Red Cross.

Join All Souls’ Caring for Creation team

* Planning Adult Forum Series: Thursdays, 7pm, Mar 5, 12, 19 & 26 at All Souls.
* Forum on Religion and Ecology: Friday, March 20 at CIIS in San Francisco there will be a day-long forum on Indigenous Lifeways, Cosmologies, and Ecology. See the CIIS website for more information. Cost ranges from $75-100. All are welcome!

Summer Book Club

The Adult Formation Committee requests your nominations for a book to read this summer for Summer Book Group. Summer Book Group takes place from June to August. The parish selects one book to read through nomination and voting and then comes together each week during the summer to discuss the book. Books may be fiction or non-fiction, but we’re hoping for books that brought you into some encounter with God.

Nomination forms and a box for submissions are available at the back of the chapel and in the narthex outside the main worship space. Or submit your nomination online here!

Nominations are due by Sunday, March 15.