From the Rector

The Rev. Phil Brochard, RectorCans Once Scattered

One of our earliest documents that describes the practices of the nascent Christian Church is known as the Didache. Scholars place it as early as the end of the 1st century and it gives us a glimpse into what mattered most to these first followers of Christ.

The opening section is a catechism about the basics of the Christian life. The document then turns to descriptions of Baptism, Fasting, Daily Prayer, and the Eucharist. It’s in this section on the Eucharist that we have received one of the most beautiful images of the Christian tradition. A portion of the Eucharistic prayer reads,

“Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom; for yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.”

I’ve been thinking about this prayer from the Didache in the past few weeks as we’ve been organizing to collect cans for the Berkeley Food Pantry. The metaphor of the grains once scattered (also the grapes once dispersed in the English prayer book Common Worship) is especially powerful for me in this moment when we are scattered in our homes across the East Bay, unable to gather together with bread and wine on the corner of Cedar and Spruce. But we have learned that the meal around the altar is not the only way to gather sustenance for the life of the world.

It was in conversation with Yessica Prado at the Harrison camp that the idea of porch gathering came to mind. In this time of shelter in place our movements are significantly limited, and with good reason. But one place that we are able to go, or to receive shipments from, is the grocery store. And the food that we purchase, whether a lot or a little, when picked up from our porch and gathered all together is enough to feed many, many more.

Just this past week, in our first gathering, over 200 cans and 22 bags of groceries were delivered to the Berkeley Food Pantry at the Friends Church on Sacramento. Can by can, home by home, bag by bag, this action was fundamentally Eucharistic––offering to God, through our neighbors, the gifts that we have received.

If you took part in this gathering this past week and would like to do this again, you will hear more soon. If you would like to join in giving some cans in the weeks and months to come, email our deacon, the Rev. Dani Gabriel, at Our hope is to collect every week, and to have enough homes on our routes so that each household would give once or twice a month. And, as an added bonus, you’ll get to wave to an All Soulsians from six feet away or more!

The need now for food is great and growing week by week. And, at the same time, I believe that our capacity, when gathered across these hillsides and flatlands, is just what is needed to help meet it.



From the Deacon

In this time when service to our neighbors has become ever more critical, an understanding of the diaconate is really important. This article follows up on a piece from Episcopal Cafe that I wrote that we shared in the Pathfinder some weeks ago. In this interview, also from Episcopal Cafe, Bishop Curry gets at some key points. You can check out the rest of the project here:

 Here is the link to part 2 of this interview:

 –The Rev. Dani Gabriel

All Souls After Hours

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Seeger, told my class something that has stayed with me to this day.  I suppose it must have sounded so strange to me at the time that I remembered it years later.  You see, we had just finished reading a book, “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster.  If you aren’t familiar with this book, it is a story of a boy Milo who goes into a fantasy world, learning life lessons on his quest to restore the kingdom to its exiled princesses.  When Mrs. Seeger finished reading the book to us, she said “When you all are adults, you should read this book again because you will understand it in an entirely different way.”  And that comment stuck with me.

I did read the “Phantom Tollbooth” again as an adult (in fact more than once) and shared it with my children.  And as much as I gained from the book, I learned even more about stories.  I learned that you encounter a story differently every time you hear it.  The simple reason is that you are not the same person you were the last time you heard that story.  The “Phantom Tollbooth” is a pretty dramatic example of this but the same can be true for the scripture readings we hear on Sunday morning.  The last time you heard that scripture, you might have been in a different place in your life – personally, professionally, spiritually, etc.  You heard that story as the person that you were and you are hearing the story anew as the person you are today.  This truth has been shown to me again and again when I tell Godly Play stories.  And I’m not talking about the kids – although they sometimes have this experience as well.  I’m talking about adults encountering a story they might feel that they already know yet hear it again and hear something completely different with the experience.

This Sunday, May 24th I invite you to listen to a story anew for the All Souls “After Hours” programming.  When the 10:30am service wraps up, I will begin a live-stream for a Godly Play story called “The Exile and the Return.”  I picked this story for a very important reason.  I have to admit – it is not one of my favorite stories.  It is usually told in the Fall with many of the Hebrew Scripture stories but often gets left off because we run out of time leading into Thanksgiving and Advent.  I think I also have never really liked it because it never spoke to me – at least before now.

I got to thinking about this story during Holy Week.  The experience of not being physically in a church for the Triduum was jarring for me and I had trouble at times, feeling fully present for the liturgies that I was watching but not really participating in.  On Easter morning, Phil said something during his opening welcome that suddenly opened something inside of me.  Where do I find God, when I can’t be at church?  I will tell you in a rational way that I know God is everywhere and not confined to a certain building or place but I felt almost a physical aching being absent from church on Easter Sunday.  I thought about times that I had felt disconnected from God and I suddenly understood “exile” in an entirely new way.

So I invite you this Sunday to join me in encountering this story in these days of Covid-19.  Children are of course welcomed to join but I imagine that adults will find a new meaning in these age-old stories.  You are not the person you were the last time you encountered these stories – I wonder what you might hear in them on Sunday?

–Whitney Wilson


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 the final class in 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 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.

  • 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 Thursday night BCP Compline 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.


Check out the latest episode of the Soulcast for more parish announcements!

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. Tom will send out the zoom link on the morning of each talk. Email him for more information:

Here’s the lineup:

  • May 27: Dr. Travis Stevens who will be offering various writings of wisdom from the mystical tradition that might offer us encouragement.
  • June 3rd: Dr. Kathryn Barush who will be discussing labyrinths and pilgrimage that can be undertaken in quarantine.
  • June 10th: Dr. Jacob Sherman who will be speaking on the importance of the imagination as a practice of resilience.
  • June 17th: Mr. Jared Ladesma who will be talking about how art offers consolation and meaning in times of crisis.

Spaghetti Again Men’s Dinner via Zoom

Our “regular” Zoom meeting is this Monday, May 25 at 7 pm. After we finish paying well-earned tribute to all veterans (who besides Capt. Kirk, Capt. Cross, and Sgt. Major Laverty?) John Cockle will give us a timely presentation on the topic: “BART, will anybody (besides the homeless) ride it now?”

Here are the Zoom call details:

Meeting ID: 777 284 3173

Password: 081497

See you Monday on the tiny screen!  (PS, let us know if we’ve missed anyone who might be interested)

–Bob Cross, Kirk Miller, George Tharisayi & John Cockle

All Souls Children’s Virtual Library

We have reached out to a few people to ask them to make some videos for the All Souls’ kids but realize that many of you might be willing to help us as well. It is very simple and a pretty fun project:

  1. Pick out a children’s book with bright colorful illustrations. (If you don’t have any books at your house email Whitney and she will drop one off at your house!)
  2. Make a video recording on your phone of you reading the book making a special point to show the illustration.
  3. The video needs to be less than 15 minutes long.
  4. Email the video at
  5. We will then add your video to the virtual library so the kids can watch it and enjoy hearing your voice reading a story.

And by the way, the video is not for public viewing so it doesn’t come up in any kind of search.  You would only be able to access it if you have the direct link.

Questions?  Email me at