From the Rector
A Feast of Food and Story
Two primary ways that Jesus taught his students about the Kingdom or Realm of God were with food and with stories.
Often when he was asked about this Reality of the Eternal Now he would tell a story: about a woman who had lost a coin, or a sower sowing seeds, or a merchant in search of a pearl of great value. There is something elemental about story telling. Stories enter a different part of our brain (scientific studies now back up millennia of practice), lodge deeper into our memory, and shape us more profoundly than facts or statements alone. Jesus, like other teachers of his time, knew this. And the stories that he told, along with the story of his life, were powerful enough to be remembered for a couple of decades before being written down as we know them.
And food. Many of the stories about Jesus take place around a table. There are stories about who he eats with (mostly the wrong people) and how he eats (a lot––reportedly some called him a glutton and a drunkard). The last of his essential teachings are delivered in the final meal that he eats with his disciples. And one of the ways that his followers recognize him after his resurrection are during a breakfast by the sea and in the breaking of the bread at Emmaus. Something changes when we eat with each other. And not just when we consume calories and nutrients, but when we truly feast together and leave space for the Spirit, something shifts.
This is why when we come together on Saturday, May 21st from 5:30p-8p to celebrate the conclusion of our Living Waters capital campaign, we will be telling stories and eating food. These two practices are fundamental to our faith. We will begin in the Jordan Courtyard at 5:30p (for the first time as a congregation!), for a bit of food and drink. Then we will travel up Cedar to the Church where we will hear stories. The kids will hear a story about how communities come together over food and the rest of us will hear about All Soulsians past, present, and future. My sense, having talked with those who will be sharing their stories with us, is that we will be hearing stories of deep connection, the potency of transformation, and the sustaining power of hope.
Dinner then follows in the Parish Hall and in the All Souls Courtyard. Because this will be a catered dinner, it is critical that you sign up for this meal at this link. Many of us have been yearning to be together once more as a parish family, to be able to tell stories and to feast. For far too long we’ve been isolated and separated from one another. So please join me in setting aside the evening of Saturday, May 21st, from 5:30p-8:00p. Come hear the stories of All Souls, break bread together, and welcome Jesus among us once more.
From the Living Waters Campaign
A Reflection by David Cooke
Most of us will remember the famous advertising campaign by the California Milk Processor Board that featured the tagline “Got Milk?”
When you think about it, it is a strange slogan, and it’s grammatically incorrect, but somehow it worked. They started that campaign in the 1990s and ran it for about 20 years.
Those of you who were here in the 2000s may remember that we cribbed that slogan, bad grammar and all, here at All Souls. This happened in 2004 or 2005 during a brainstorming session of a committee that had been charged with coming up with a strategic plan for the parish. We were talking about the nature of the All Souls community, which was and still is full of hyper-educated seekers who couldn’t be expected to set aside their doubts and accept the Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection just because someone in a robe and vestments told them they were true, or even when some part of them deep inside wanted to believe these things to be true.
For our committee, of course, there was only one solution to this problem – embrace these doubts as an essential element of our faith journey.
This was on our minds as we moved on to the next item on our agenda at that meeting, which was essentially about marketing. At that point All Souls was coming up on its 100th birthday. As many of you know, All Souls started out in 1905 as an adjunct mission of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. We wanted to leverage that milestone to help sell the strategic plan to the congregation. So we started looking for a slogan. I offered: “A Century of Doubt” – not really very good. Someone else who had evidently read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece suggested a better variation: “One Hundred Years of Doubt.” But it was Bob Cross who just nailed it when he said: “How about – Got Doubt?” That ended the marketing discussion. Forget about the 100 year milestone. We had our slogan. And our rector at the time, Andrew Walmisley, made it official when he authorized production of Got Doubt t-shirts and baseball caps. And so it was that we became the Parish of Doubt.
Fast forward to January 2020.
That was the month when we formed the capital campaign committee and named the campaign “Living Waters – Renewal For Our Second Century”. At our first meeting, the campaign consultant had us write down on secret pieces of paper our tentative pledge amounts. I wrote down a high five-figure number and told myself that was pretty impressive. At that time it was clear – and it still is – that we were going to need lots of gifts that big, and bigger, plus more or less universal participation throughout the congregation, to have what we could call a successful campaign and prepare our facilities for the coming decades. But I figured that with the number I had written down, my wife Maggie and I would be doing our bit, and maybe even a little more than that.
And then Covid happened and everything got put on hold for two years, and construction costs in the Bay Area went up by about 20%.
So what now?
I have to confess that, since that brainstorming session back in 2004, the only thing that’s changed definitively in my own very rocky faith journey is that I can’t fit into my Got Doubt t-shirt anymore. I still have the same doubts I always did. I may always have them. Maybe I just can’t help myself – I’m a lawyer by profession, and that means I’m trained to question everything.
But what I’ve learned recently, since we restarted this campaign a few months ago, is that the process of finding and building faith has at least one thing in common with the process of becoming a lawyer. If you want to be a lawyer, it’s a given that you have to work hard, but, beyond that, you have to act like one. You get the briefcase, you get the pinstripes, you try to carry yourself in the courtroom like a real lawyer, you try to project authority with clients like one, and, over time, you discover that you are one.
Same thing – sort of – with a journey towards faith. Despite all the doubts, you show up on Sundays; you volunteer; you take in the sermons; you intone the words of the liturgy even when you’re not feeling it or when they seem out of touch with what’s going on in the world, or in your life. Doing all this doesn’t erase the doubts – they’re still there – but, for me, every now and then it enables me to set them aside, and the feeling is exquisite.
And there’s one other thing you do in this process of confronting doubts and finding faith: you give to the church.
For me what sets the church apart from every other charitable cause my wife Maggie and I support is the fact that we do so while I still have doubts. We also give to the San Francisco Symphony, for example, and to our collegiate alma maters and other charities, but we’d stop giving to them if we had any doubts about their ability to deliver what they promise. But the church is different. I am all in with the Episcopal Church, and with this parish as my spiritual home, and with this capital campaign, not because I am free of doubt, or in spite of my doubts, but because of them.
Our buildings may be made with wood and steel and concrete – the same materials used to build a shopping mall, or a prison – but this church is a sacred space. You can just feel the decades of prayers and celebrations and mourning that have happened here. For me, it’s the only place – and this is the only community I have – where I feel that I might be able to confront my doubts with a chance of success. What could be more important to support than that?
So, then, the next question is, how much to give to this campaign?
St. Paul might have been the original capital campaign consultant when he said, in 2d Corinthians:
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Along these lines, our present-day campaign consultant , Marc Rieke, suggested that, in addition to the nuts and bolts of considering income and assets over the next three years, we should each think about a gift we might have made to a loved one that really required a stretch, and about the joy we felt when we gave it, and try to replicate that joy when pledging to the Living Waters campaign.
When you think of it that way – and when you consider that these campaigns come along only once in a generation, or even less often than that – you may find that the gift you make to All Souls in this campaign is the biggest charitable gift you make in your lifetime. That’s what it’s going to be for Maggie and me, and by a multiple of the number I wrote down on that piece of paper in January of 2020.
Maggie and I are able to do this primarily because we’ve accumulated a lot of birthdays, and because, for once, I was paying attention a few years ago when someone recommended buying Tesla stock. When we settled on our final number, my doubts didn’t magically go away, but they didn’t seem as important, either, and the joy is real. The right number, of course, will be different for everyone. But the process for finding the number that unlocks the true joy of giving may well be the same for all of us.
One last thing. There have only been three major capital campaigns in the history of this parish –
- in 1924, when the congregation built the Parish Hall;
- in 1954, when the congregation built the church building itself;
- and in 1999, when we remodeled the nave, put in the foyer restroom, and made some other improvements.
In each of those campaigns, particularly the first two, the congregation dug really deep and they “paid it forward” with an investment not just for themselves, but for future generations.
Now it’s 2022, and the generations here at All Souls today are the ones they took care of all those years ago, and we are in their debt. We can’t repay them directly, nor would they want us to, but we can repay them by “paying it forward” again.
Let’s do that together, and make a little All Souls history of our own.
To watch this talk from the service on May 8th, click here.
Coming up: Save the Date! All-Parish Celebration on May 21st 5:30-8p at All Souls. RSVP online allsoulsparish.org/celebration or by calling the church office (510-848-1755).
Don’t forget that you can find all the information about the Living Water Capital Campaign on our homepage (or click here).
From Justice & Peace
The Law, Criminal Justice, Race, and our Christian call to Justice & Mercy (Matthew 23: 23-24). All are welcome to join us for a 3-session Monday night online discussion series based on the documentary series Philly DA — May 23, June 6 & 20 at 7:30p. You watch episodes on your own then join the conversation with other All Soulsians.
Philly DA is a deep dive into crime, punishment, law enforcement, and the racial equity issues that come into play. The series follows the efforts of the reform-minded outsider Larry Krasner and his team as they take on the daunting issues of changing the culture and the outcomes in a large urban district attorney’s office.
Each episode surfaces different aspects of the justice system through richly personal stories. In our three discussion sessions we will explore the topics raised such as mass incarceration, police accountability, community safety. And we will look at the ways in which our faith informs our approach to law and justice. This is not a continuation of Sacred Ground per se, but in the same spirit.
To get a sense of what the series brings up, watch this 2.5 min trailer.
Email with questions or to sign-up: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Adult Formation
Shifts in Adult Formation
This June a relative newcomer, Anne Yardley, plans to take over the leadership of the Adult Formation team. Because Anne is fairly (Covid makes time weird, as we all know) new to All Souls, I asked her a few questions so that we could get to know her more. Enjoy her responses!
Emily: Anne, you’re a professor, right? What have you studied? What have you taught?
Anne: I taught musicology/music history at Drew University in Madison NJ for many years. For about 20 years I taught church music in the Theological School (associated with the Methodist Church). From 2001-2011 I served as the academic dean of the seminary. I taught courses in hymnody, music of the world’s religions, Christian liturgical music and other related topics. I’ve published on medieval music, especially music in medieval English nunneries and on topics in 19th century Methodist music.
Emily: What’s your current hobby? or what are you studying or learning about right now? What’s currently got your attention?
Anne: After retiring in 2011, I trained to become a life coach and I have been working as a coach since 2012. I coach between 8-12 people each week, many of them clergy or academics. I continue to work on medieval manuscripts and write articles. Jim and I love to travel and hike and spend time with our 5 grandchildren (ages 3, 6, 8, 9, and almost 13!)
Emily: How long have you and Jim been part of All Souls? Have you always been in the Episcopal church? Where were you before you were in Berkeley?
Anne: Jim and I joined All Souls in the fall of 2020. We moved to Berkeley from New Jersey in August of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. We live in the Laurel District of Oakland a block away from our daughter. Growing up in church was an important part of my family’s life and we attended non-denominational, Methodist and Congregational churches at various points. (Admittedly the churches were often chosen for their music program!) I became an Episcopalian my first year in graduate school at Columbia University, attending the church in Oyster Bay, LI where my parents lived at the time. I’ve been one ever since. Jim’s family was alternately Methodist and Baptist so he too came to the Episcopal Church as an adult. We were at St. Peter’s Church in Morristown NJ for over 40 years, both of us singing in the adult choir. I also directed a 3rd-8th grade girls’ choir at the church from 1987 until 2003.
Emily: You’re taking over as the chair of Adult Formation, from Cara Jobson who has been leading the team for the last three plus years, what made you want to join this team to begin with? And (last one) why did you say yes to chairing this team/what excites you about leading this team?
Anne: Cara Jobson invited me to join the AFC this past fall probably because I attended the adult formation classes regularly over zoom. I thought it sounded like a good way to get involved in the life of All Souls so I said yes! One of the things that I love about All Souls is that so many people like to learn. And there are so many great teachers among the members of the church as well as in the surrounding areas. I look forward to facilitating the tradition of excellence in this ministry.
Look for our Summer Book Groups to start towards the end of June and run through August, and then for the new Adult Formation calendar to be published on Rally Sunday for the 2022-23 academic year!
Save the Dates
May 21, All Parish Living Waters Party 5:30-8p (RSVP here)
May 22, Guest speaker Dr. Russell Jeung presentation during the Adult Formation hour
June 5, Pentecost
June 12, Parish Picnic in Tilden
July 15-17, All Parish Campout
Join us at 9am, in-person, outdoor service in the courtyard. This service will move indoors if the weather is below 40 degrees at 8:15a, if the AQI is over 150, or if there is rain.
Or (and!) join us indoors for the 11:15 service or on the live stream at 11:15a, 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. At our 11:15 service, masks are optional.
Then join us in the Parish Hall at 5p Sunday Night Service for a Eucharistic Service.
If you miss a Sunday, you can always catch the sermon on our homepage or as a podcast, anywhere you listen to podcasts!
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218. Masks are required for this service as it is indoors.
Living Waters: Renewal for our Second Century Capital Campaign
All-Parish Living Waters Celebration
Come out on May 21st at 5:30p for a party! This is an event for everyone (including families with kids!). We’ll have some remarks by the Living Waters team, and food and drinks, and perhaps even a game. Don’t miss this, our first all church party since Covid hit us two years ago (and since our Stewardship Celebration dinner had to be canceled because of Covid + the atmospheric river that came our way that night). RSVP here.
Adult Formation Classes
We have three classes being offered this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Contact Kate Murphy, email@example.com to join that Zoom call, or join them in the Common Room!
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 10:10a. This Bible Study meets in the Chapel downstairs or on Zoom. Contact Daniel Prechtel, firstname.lastname@example.org to join that Zoom call.
- Christian Mystics Explore the breadth of mystical experiences in Christian faith communities, and ponder some of the ways the Sacred breaks through into your own life. Co-taught by the Rev. Daniel Prechtel and the Rev. Marguerite Judson, this four week drop in class introduces a wide variety of ways we draw closer to the Holy. There will, of course, be a substantial bibliography provided! click here for the juicy bibliography 🙂 The classes will be held in the Common Room, and on our Zoom link [HERE] between 10:15 and 11:05 am.
- May 15 – Contemporary mystics speak from a wide variety of traditions, including Anglican Evelyn Underhill; Quaker Thomas Kelly; and civil rights activist the Rev. Howard Thurman. What might all the mystics discussed over the four weeks teach us about how the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives and in the world?
Children, Youth, and Family News
This Sunday, May 15th: Sunday School for all ages takes place at 10:10am. Meet your teacher in the courtyard, and join them for class!
Youth Group: Youth group meets this Sunday, 7-8:30pm in the Parish Hall!
Coming Up! May 22nd: Last day of Sunday School, and Acolyte & Sound Board Training [Click here for more information, and to register!]
Other News & Notes
Conversation about the 7:30A Service
All are welcome into a conversation with Phil and a representative from the Vestry about the future of the 7:30AM service. We will meet on May 15th between the services in the Common Room. As you know, this long-time service was cancelled during the pandemic and has yet to return. As we emerge from this troubled time and take stock of where we are now, we want to think together with long-time 7:30-ers and those with an interest in this service about how to move forward. No decisions have been made. We hope you will join us for this conversation.
There is a super easy way to give to All Souls––for either a one-time donation or for your ongoing pledge––that is through an app called Vanco Mobile (what used to be called GivePlus). You can find this app through the app store on your phone. Once downloaded, search for All Souls Episcopal Parish and you’re in! If you’d prefer not to download the app, you can just as easily give online through our personalized online donation page by clicking here.
A Great Way You Can Help a Hurting Friend
Do you have a friend, neighbor, coworker, or relative who is going through a difficult time? Here’s a great way you can help them—tell them about our Stephen Ministry! Stephen Ministers are members of All Souls who have received special training to provide high-quality, confidential, one-to-one, Christian care to people who are grieving the loss of a loved one, coping with a cancer diagnosis, going through a divorce or separation, battling a chronic illness (or caring for a spouse or parent who is chronically ill), experiencing a great deal of stress, facing the loss of a job—or encountering any of countless other life challenges.
Stephen Ministers meet weekly with their care receivers to listen, care, encourage, and provide emotional and spiritual support. The caring relationship lasts for as long as the person needs care. It’s free, and it’s a powerful way you can help a hurting friend.
To learn how to connect someone you know with a Stephen Minister, talk with Rev. Maggie Foote (email@example.com) or Stephen Ministry Leader Madeline Feeley (firstname.lastname@example.org). Our Stephen Ministers are there to care!
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 email@example.com.
From Justice & Peace
Racial Justice Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, Dr. Russell Jeung will be with us on May 22 during the Adult Formation Hour (10:10-11:10a) to give a talk called, “Be Like Water: An Asian American Christian Response to Racism”. His talk will document the racial trauma that Asian Americans currently face, and what God’s been teaching him about how to heal individually and to effect social change institutionally. By integrating Taoist philosophy with a Christian perspective, Dr. Jeung develops a holistic approach towards racial justice. Check out his latest article in the Christian Century