From the Rector
Everyone We Meet
Many years ago, in the receiving line after the 7:30am service outside the Chapel of St. Paul’s, Walnut Creek, I was knocked back on my heels by a comment from someone wanting to talk about my sermon that Sunday. Something in that sermon had resonated deeply for Tom that morning and so he shared the mantra that he carried daily with him,
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
This quote, which originally comes from a Scottish pastor at the end of the 19th century, has other versions, like this one, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.” (for a fuller story behind this quote, and how it has changed over the last century or so, read this post)
What this saying points to, and what Tom himself wanted to keep in front of him, is that while we often only encounter the surface of those around us––their words and actions––there is a world of anxiety and struggle, heartache and burden, underneath that surface. And can be it is easy to judge them for a harsh word or a callous act, not knowing the burdens that exert tremendous pull within. It’s important counsel to keep with in any time, but right now it feels especially critical.
From the conversations that I’ve been a part of with All Soulsians and others in the last week, it is clear to me that we have come to the time of quarantine when the cracks have begun to appear. And depending on where you are, and what you’ve had to endure in the course of your life, the cracks can take different forms. From the surface, the outside looking in, it’s hard to know.
It could be financial stresses brought on by this crisis. Perhaps it’s the stress of previously existing health challenges. It might be the unrelenting nature of parenting/home schooling/working. Or fear for loved ones living in a nursing home. There are myriad reasons why we are stressed out as the days have turned into weeks and now into months.
So I write today with a simple hope. That as we encounter family and stranger, friend and foe, we do so bearing this truth in mind, that there is more to the person in front of us, as well as within ourselves, than meets the eye.
And, that the burden within those we meet is real and it is hard, more so than at almost any other time in living memory. So, as much as it depends on you and me, let us be kind, compassionate, merciful, for someone’s battle may depend upon it.
From the Deacon
The Berkeley Food Pantry
When the crowds were hungry, Jesus told his disciples “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” (Matthew 14:16). Sharing food is core to who we are as Christians, in the Eucharist, in the other ways we create community together, and in the ways we serve our neighborhood. When I was an intern at St. Alban’s, I decided I wanted to focus on food related ministry. One of the reasons I did this is because it’s really personal to me: my family was food insecure as a kid, and participated in a local food program. The sense of shame and fear I felt about it really stayed with me. I wanted to see what we could do in terms of food ministry that would be more loving, that would promote the dignity of all involved, and that would feel positive to those participating. In the course of my work I visited the Berkeley Food Pantry. It was awesome. The folks there are friendly and genuine. I felt right at home and I think the people who were requesting food did, too. It was a real community affair. All Souls has a long-standing relationship with the Pantry, and has collected food for them for years. I was excited to see the work they were doing and spend an afternoon there.
This is how the Pantry is described on its website:
The Berkeley Food Pantry is a non-profit organization providing monthly bags of nutritious and delicious emergency groceries to Berkeley and Albany residents in need. Through the combined efforts of two paid part-time staff, a core of 50 dedicated volunteers, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, community members, local businesses, and the USDA Emergency Food Assistance Program, we are able to provide enough emergency groceries for 3 days or 9 meals to over 2,000 Berkeley and Albany residents monthly. The Berkeley Food Pantry operates under the fiscal sponsorship of the Berkeley Friends Church, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and is governed by the church’s Food Pantry Oversight Committee.
Unfortunately, in this pandemic unemployment and hunger are increasing. So, as we were looking for more opportunities for volunteers from All Souls to offer support to our neighbors who need food, Phil suggested a can drive for the Berkeley Food Pantry. I can’t think of a better way to continue to broaden our reach and tackle hunger in our neighborhood, with a program that really has respect for participants at the core of what they do. Here’s what you need to know:
Start collecting canned goods of all varieties!
Wednesday May 20th from 12-2 volunteers will be picking up your cans.
Signup here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1F6T4u8j5c4hmCI5GnqHgMSD01Hi_3xvPB2XbqKpmNmg/edit
You will receive instructions in the next few days.
Thanks for all your generosity!
The Ways We Make Church Together
The ways that we do church haven’t had to change this much in a very long time, and it hasn’t happened at All Souls for 100 years. So, we thought we’d check in with a couple of All Soulsians to see how they have connected with All Souls and redefined for themself what it means to be and do church right now. And, because the ground beneath us seems to be ever-changing, we’ll do this a few times during this season to learn with each other.
–Emily Hansen Curran
When Emily asked me to write a reflection on my experience worshipping online via the livestream on Sundays, I first declined. For me, the online services have disappointed. On Easter Sunday, I could not get the Facebook service to work. Several weeks later, I joined via the livestream for an Eastertide service, but tuned out after the sermon. The broadcast reminded me of the importance of human connection and the feeling of community that I was missing.
The lockdown, however, has brought me closer to the All Souls community. Just before the shutdown started, I was selected for training to be a Stephen Minister at All Souls. Through the training, which leapt from the church basement to Zoom, I have grown connected to talented and amazing people deeply committed to service to the Christian community and those in need. As part of the training, we also commit to prayer, and through prayer and contemplation (which is not my forte), I experience the Christian community and its way of life.
During the lockdown, I also coordinate for one of the All Souls Connection Groups, and check in with everyone every few weeks. I follow Emily’s online Soulcast (at http://www.allsoulsparish.org/about-all-souls/soulcast/), where Phil’s and Emily’s spirits shine through the internet.
So, for me, lockdown has led me to a different spiritual place. These activities have kept me connected, but I wait in anticipation of rejoining the community irl (in real life) at church.
In times of change and uncertainty, they say a great leader should communicate first what is constant, then what is changing, and finally, what is unknown. In our current times, what is changing and what is unknown are obvious: almost everything. And yet we all need the constant. We all need to be able to rely on something.
That something for me right now is Sundays at 10:30 AM. I know I will find community. I know I will see the space of calm and godliness that is so important in my full life. I know there will be smart and compassionate people who want to do good in this world. I know there will be beautiful music. I know there will be humor. I know there will be deep caring. I know there will be a sermon that makes me think. I know I will come closer to God.
It’s hard to get the whole family there right now, but I also know the space will be there when we “get back.”
–Irina Wolf Carrière
Sunday Live Streaming News
The live stream of Sunday services can now be accessed through our website (rather than simply on Facebook)! Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Newcomer’s Class this Sunday!
Phil+ and Emily will be teaching our regular Newcomer’s Class this Sunday at 9:15 on Zoom. If you are new to All Souls or have never attended a newcomer class, please join us! Click here for the call link. Meeting ID: 869 9662 1202 Password: 223128.
Children & Family News
We will be doing a children’s chapel program this Sunday at 9:30am (and every Sunday afterwards, as needed) via Zoom. It should last about 30 minutes. Please email Whitney Wilson for a link so your family can participate. If you have not used Zoom before––it is pretty user friendly in that I send you an invitation that you can log-in to at the appointed time. You can log-in with video so we can see each other’s faces or on your phone so we can hear each other. We are hoping that this will give the kids a time together for their own “church” and a time to see their friends as well. Please email Whitney Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want a Zoom invite or have any questions.
Vote for a Summer Book!
Vote for Summer Book Group! Beginning on June 14, all are invited to take part in a summer book discussion group. In anticipation, let’s choose the book. Please review the following descriptions and vote for one book here. We will announce the winning book on May 21!
- Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. In this bestselling “meditation on meaning” (NPR) Krista Tippet delves into the questions raised in her award winning podcast and radio program. The book focuses on five concepts: words, flesh, love, faith and hope.
- Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Author Robin Wall Kimmerer is a botanist, professor of environmental biology, and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation who embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers in this bestseller that has been called the “Best Essay Collection of the Decade.”
- Just Mercy is the powerful true story of attorney Bryan Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative, the organization he founded to assist the poor and wrongly condemned. “The message of this book…is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made.” (The New York Times) Just Mercy has been made into a feature film starring Michael B. Jordan and Jaime Foxx.
Evening Prayer via Zoom
Here is the link for the Monday night BCP Compline, to take place each Monday at 8:30pm PST: https://schoolmint.zoom.us/j/7124066649
Here is the link for the Thursday night BCP Compline https://schoolmint.zoom.us/j/7124066649?pwd=d0Z4c1RHeld0QllOLzdlS1IxK3FKZz09. For safety, the password needed to join the call is 329903.
All Souls Geek Squad
If you’re having any trouble with technology during this time of tech-only contact with others, we want to help! On the homepage of our website is a box with the words “Technical Help”. Click on that box and you will be taken to a form that you can fill out. Once you fill that out, we’ll have someone get in touch with you to help with your tech problems. You can also click here to access the form directly.
Berkeley Canterbury Summer School
All are invited to join Berkeley Canterbury for a series of talks designed to inform and encourage during this time of pandemic. Each week, beginning next Wednesday the 20th, Tom Penoyer will host a speaker on a different topic. Although participants will be muted when they sign on, there will be a time for Q&A at the end of each chat. Tom will send out the zoom link on the morning of each talk. Email him for more information: email@example.com.