From the Rector
Walking the Spiral
Many years ago in a parish I served previously, I invited the Rev. Dr. Louis Weil, the professor of Liturgics at CDSP and the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers’ predecessor, to lead a Lenten series using Holy Week as a lens for the season.
One of the metaphors that Louis shared with us one night was that of a spiral. He reminded us that every year when we come to Holy Week, we come to the same story. In a way, we’ve circled back to the same place we’d been before, in that we once again we begin with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, then encounter the betrayal of Judas, the intimacy of the Last Supper, the denial of Peter, the determined faith of Mary and the women at the Cross, the death of Jesus, his burial, and the shock of his Resurrection. Every year, the same story.
Except that we never come back to that same place, exactly. Yes, the story is the same, but we have changed, so rather than a circle, the path of Holy Week follows a spiral. And there have been few years in my life when I have been more aware of the distance from one year to the next than I am now. So as I consider the week ahead, one of the most intense, demanding, inspiring, and fulfilling weeks of the year, I’ve been taking stock of where I am as we walk this spiral again this year.
And I invite you to do the same. For the themes of Holy Week are the themes of the human condition: triumph, intimacy, sacrificial love, betrayal, grief, loss, longing, promise, hope. And the wisdom of the Church over centuries has been that as we walk this spiral, entering more and more deeply into this story of the Christ, we become more ourselves as we enter more fully into the life of God.
Some of this story we will be able to walk together, in person, some of the story we will be walking together, online. Because our case rates are much lower than they’ve been in a few months we will be able to meet outdoors. So some of our Holy Week services will be in the courtyard. And, because we know that not everyone is ready to be back in person and because our courtyard holds only so many people, our services will be livestreamed (from our site and Facebook) and on Zoom, with all of those links on our site. More information about each service will be in a special Holy Week edition of the Pathfinder early next week.
Whether you are able to be in our courtyard for this week or will be in your home to mark these days, set aside the time now to slow down and enter this story. Join me in trust that the Spirit will once again meet us in these words and songs, in our ancient prayers and practices. And that this turn in the spiral will bring us closer to the Mystery that holds us all.
From the Deacon
Prayers of the People
I wrote a few weeks back about Ash Wednesday and launching “Prayers of the People.” You can read more in Episcopal Cafe.
Over the next few months we’re hoping to grow a prayer ministry with the camps and include neighboring churches. If you’re interested, being mindful of COVID risks, in visiting the camps in a pair to ask for prayer requests please let me know. We will visit once a month to check in on the concerns of the camps. If that doesn’t sound like the right opportunity for you, maybe you would like to sign up to pray for all the requests from the camps?
We will also be delivering donations, but we know prayer is powerful! If you have some time for this ministry let me know.
On Sunday, March 14th, I went with our own Deacon Dani to visit our friends in the 8th & Harrison RV camp to distribute some clothes that had been donated to the church. We met up with Yesica who Dani has gotten to know over the past several months, and she loaded up her grocery cart with the items, and we took off behind her to check in on people and offer up the warm jackets and pants.
As we walked among the RVs and chatted with people, I noticed in myself a deep longing to really know the people we were meeting. To know what sort of things they care about, where they grew up, if they have any siblings. I consider it an honor to hold people in prayer, and find that I feel most connected to the prayers when I know a bit about the people that I’m praying for. For me, this ministry gives me the opportunity to really connect with the people for whom I am praying and, in turn, to be able to hold them more deeply in my heart. I am looking forward to being a part of “Prayers of the People,” and I am so grateful to Dani for their leadership in this ministry.
From the Vestry
Reflection on the March Vestry Meeting
The vestry gathered on St. Patrick’s Day via Zoom for its March meeting. Being on vestry is really like picking up a baton handed over by past All Souls vestries and even The Episcopal Church itself. You run with the baton for a while, doing your best to listen for how God is calling All Souls, until it’s time to pass the baton on to a new vestry. Grounded in a wonderful scriptural reflection led by Nydia MacGregor, the March meeting felt full of baton carrying. Of church work. Of decisions large and small that, in a time of both prolonged anxiety and emergent hope, feel like ballast for the soul.
First, we elected and welcomed Suzanne Siebert as the new clerk for the vestry. She replaces Andy Willis who served in this role for many years and for whom we are grateful. The vestry clerk serves outside the normal rotation of vestry members, maintaining meeting minutes and other vital church documents. The importance of the clerk became clear later in the meeting when we learned about a challenge with some Jordan Court construction issues. Being able to return to carefully recorded meeting minutes from years before allowed Phil and the Jordan Court team to resolve the issues in favor of All Souls.
A rat infestation at All Souls has caused some damage to our organ that will require repairs. The vestry’s passionate discussion about this topic made clear the importance of music to our community. We seem to be longing for the day when we can return to the church and sing at the top of our lungs accompanied by an organ with all its stops in proper working order. We’re inching ever closer to this reality, and while we won’t be able to sing at the top of our lungs just yet, we may be able to hear Jamie pull out those newly repaired stops in the very near future.
The repair was approved. And yes, the rats have been excommunicated from the pipes.
The Episcopal Church has its seasons – Advent, Epiphany, Lent…. The Episcopal Church also has the annual Parochial Report. This is a form each Episcopal church submits to the national church that tells the story of a parish’s life during the previous year. Taken together, these Parochial reports from around the country tell the larger story of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement. We can be proud of all that All Souls offers to this movement – a healthy membership, outreach to our brothers and sisters in need, and insights from the pandemic year about how church life might evolve in the future.
All Souls also provides the larger Episcopal church with many of its future leaders. Postulants for the diaconate or the priesthood who are sponsored by All Souls must be endorsed by the vestry at each stage of their discernment journey. Hearing from these future priests and deacons is one of my favorite parts of being on vestry, and truly feels like a profound bit of baton carrying. This month we endorsed the postulancy for the priesthood of Ethan Lowery, and he will be ordained this spring. Ethan’s reflection on the diaconal call (or call to be in direct service) of the priesthood was really meaningful, and made me feel like the church is in good hands.
This year, your vestry is also attempting to honor the need for deep sabbath rest for those who work full-time for the church. Emily Hansen Curran will start a six-week sabbatical after Easter, and the vestry heard a little about how she hopes to use her time. Please join the vestry as we pray for Emily’s sabbatical to be restful, playful, and generative.
New priests, rats in the organ, sabbaticals, and reports. March was another month of good, hopeful baton-carrying in the life of All Souls Parish in Berkeley.
From our Bishop
Pastoral Letter Issued March 24th, 2021
The New Life in Christ
I appeal to you, therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Dear Relations in the Beloved Community,
I am writing you as we approach Holy Week and Easter to both thank you and encourage you. As I hope you have heard me say, I will always be grateful for the remarkable witness you have given in servant leadership, within your congregations, and within the wider community of the Bay Area during this time of pandemic. You have kept many safe, you have saved people from unnecessary deaths.
“This time of pandemic,” though, has not passed. Would that the graph of the pandemic’s course could be confidently expected to move smoothly down to a normal state. Two factors make such a smooth course to normalcy less than certain: human behavior and the biology of the virus. On the one hand, we all are experiencing a double pull in our hearts and minds. We see more and more people being vaccinated, we see the tiers moving into safer zones, and we see more and more people moving about in ways that we would have agreed even a few weeks ago were unsafe. We are also feeling the intense longing to be back in the presence of friends, co-workers, and those who simply move through the same social space as we do. And we may be feeling the ill effects of isolation – depression in its many manifestations.
With respect to the biology of the virus, the variants are presenting alarming dangers, even within a vaccinated population.
In light of the above, and while there is still a bit of time, I write to urge you to stay on the course which I must describe as holy. As I readily acknowledge, I cannot prohibit you, in most cases, from gathering in our beloved church buildings for worship, following the guidelines established by county authorities. Rather, I am simply asking you to hold back. If you have planned indoor worship for Holy Week and Easter, please reconsider. Worship outdoors, on your own church grounds, or in parks or other convenient gathering spaces is not only appropriate for Easter celebrations, it is about 20 times safer than indoor worship.
And moving beyond Easter, my request to you is equally simple, though not easy, I realize — please refrain from indoor worship until the beginning of June. If Covid-19 cases continue to decline, and the rollout of vaccinations continues at its current pace or even better, then I will be among the first to say, “Blessings on you as you regather.” In the meantime, if you chose to celebrate the Eucharist with your congregations outdoors, please refrain from using a common cup. Consecration in real-time is acceptable; however, please follow the face-covering guidelines and other social distancing protocols outlined on Page 21 of the following document from Ministry Matters: Click here for the English version, Click here for Spanish. Please also keep all gatherings that include singing, chanting, or use of wind instruments outdoors-only.
I chose the passage from Paul’s Letter to the Romans for the epigram for this Pastoral Letter in order to say that I feel that Paul has described the actual life of the Diocese of California during the pandemic thus far – you have lived in accord with the mind of Christ, sacrificing for the safety of all. As Paul would also say, “Let us run with patience the race.”
With my blessings,
Maundy Thursday Prayer Vigil
Immediately following our Maundy Thursday live streamed service we will begin the Prayer Vigil, marking one of the events that happened in the Garden of Gethsemane. In pairs, watching for one hour shifts through Good Friday morning, we will remain in quiet contemplation, prayer or observation. This year, since the restrictions for indoor worship are less, people may come to the main sanctuary (not the chapel, so people can effectively distance) for their shift. People also have the option of praying from home. Please sign up for a one hour slot using this sign up sheet. Ideally, there will be two people each hour, whether at home or in the church.
Sunday Mornings: Join us at 9am in the courtyard, in-person (masked and holding a 4’ distance between you and anyone outside of your pod or family). Attendance is limited for outdoor services, so please sign-up here!
Or (and!) join us for the live stream of Sunday’s 11:15 service, which can be accessed through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Additionally, you can try out live streaming our 11:15 service to a Zoom call, so that you can participate in church with fellow parishioners. Click here to get into the 11:15 Zoom call, and please send us a note this week about your experience with this new mode of virtual church!
Wednesday Mornings: 9:00am PDT
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
Thursday Night Compline (Night Time Prayers): 8:30pm PDT
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/78630294068?pwd=cmdoenJYRWUwR2J6QkhxSHNsakt0UT09
Meeting ID: 786 3029 4068
Holy Week Worship
Here is the worship schedule for Holy Week 2021: more information regarding these services will be in next week’s Pathfinder.
You can register for in-person Holy Week Services using this link. In order to allow for the most amount of people to participate in an in-person Easter service, we ask that you only sign up for either the Saturday Vigil OR the 9:00am Sunday morning worship. As always, you are welcome to check the registration link on the evening prior to the service and take any open spots that remain.
Maundy Thursday: Agape Meal via Zoom at 6:45pm followed by worship at 7:30p via live stream & Zoom
- 8-10am and 3-5pm the sanctuary is open for personal prayer
- 12-3p Contemplative Service in-person in courtyard (broadcast from the indoor service) + live streamed
- 4:00pm Holy Week worship for families in the courtyard
- 7:30p live stream & Zoom
Holy Saturday: 7:30pm Easter Vigil in-person in the courtyard, live streamed & Zoom
- 9:00am in-person in the courtyard
- 11:15 live stream & Zoom
7:30am Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Kate Murphy to join that Zoom call.
10:10am Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Daniel Prechtel to join that Zoom call.
Intro to Holy Week at 10:10am on Zoom with the Rev. Phil Brochard. Come to learn not just what or how, but why we hold the practices we do in this most important week to come.
Missed the previous week’s class?? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll be recording all of the Adult Formation offerings and loading them to the Adult Formation page of our website. Click here to get there and access the class recordings.
Children, Family & Youth News
In-person, outdoor Children’s Formation resumes this Sunday, March 28th, in the Courtyard at 10:10am! If you’d like to receive updates about Children and Family Ministries, but do not subscribe to the Family Bulletin, please email Maggie Foote (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Kid’s Book Club meets Wednesdays at 4:00pm on Zoom. We’re reading The Magic in Changing Your Stars by Leah Henderson. Hope to see you there!
Youth group meets this Sunday, March 28th, at 3:00pm at Tilden Park. Hope to see you all there, and if you have a young person in your household in grades 6-12, and do not receive updates about Youth Group events, please email Maggie at email@example.com to be added to the list!
Other News & Notes
Soulcast: Our Weekly Video Announcements
Check out Season 3: Episode 6 of the Soulcast!
Lent 2021 Practices
Click here to learn about what we’re up to this Lenten season and to participate with the daily Lenten reflections that our fellow parishioners are writing for us!
Stephen Ministry: We are here for you!
2020 was a challenging year, right?! Most of us have been struggling and overwhelmed. You are not alone. Stephen Ministers understand and are available to listen, support and pray for you. We can offer you a confidential caring relationship or an occasional phone call to help you through these ever-changing times. Contact Maggie Foote at (513) 309-1079 or Madeline Feeley at (510) 495-4512 so we can be there for you.
Summer Book Group
During the summer, All Soulsians select a book to read together and devote the 10:10 Sunday adult formation hour to discussing that book. The Adult Formation Committee requests your nominations for a book for Summer Book Group. Books may be fiction or nonfiction. After nominations are gathered, we will put nominees up for a parish-wide vote. Beginning in June 2021, all are welcome to join us in discussing the book during formation hour at 10:10 am. Help us pick the book by submitting suggestions either here or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com for more information.
If you are able to help provide some meals for parishioners in need, please contact Cathy Goshorn to help out! We are in great need at this time to help care for each other––please consider helping other All Soulsians in need by providing meals or gift cards for meals. You can reach Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org.