from the rector

The Rev. Phil Brochard, Rector

What We See

That might have been me in the Ramble in Central Park in New York this past week. You see, like Christian Cooper, I’m a birder too. Nowhere near as accomplished or dedicated as he is, but I too like to meander in the woods, listening for the telltale sounds of birdsong and seeing what new species I can add to my life list.

But one of the differences between Christian Cooper and me is that even though we are both tall, middle-aged men who wander around looking for birds, Christian is black, and I am white. And that made all the difference in this world this past week.

Because as you likely have heard, when a white woman, Amy Cooper (of no relation), saw Christian Cooper and he asked her to leash her dog (as is required in that part of Central Park), her response was to call New York Police because there was an African-American man “threatening her life.”

Which was undeniably false. And incredibly dangerous. And devastatingly common.

And every time that it happens, we deny the fullness of the humanity of the person in front of us. Yes, this happens all the time, we make assumptions, split-second decisions about who is in front of us, what their intents are, and what our response should be. To a degree it’s how our brains work. And, we need to become aware of the choices that we make, for what we see (or don’t see) has dreadful consequences.

This is why it is essential that we regularly check ourselves to see what we might be missing. What we assume without thought, what we anticipate because of fear. Without critically examining our biases, implicit as they often are, we fall prey to seeing the possible worst and little of the fullness of the person in front of us.

Someone asleep in her apartment becomes a drug dealer. A jogger becomes a thief. A bird watcher becomes a mugger. And when these biases intersect with the penal system of this country, people of color, and particularly black men and women, suffer greatly.

Until we choose to look outside of the narrow lenses that we have been given by this nation and by the strands of the cultures that birthed it, we will continue to look at the world in distortion, unable to see the fullness of our fellow children of God.

For what we do not or will not see, can hurt and even kill some of us. And, in truth, whether we choose to believe it or not, this loss of sight destroys us all.



from the vestry

May Vestry meeting

The faithful Vestry of All Souls Parish held their third Zoom meeting on Wednesday, May 20th. Chaplain Priscilla Camp led us in a spiritual reflection on the passage of the First Letter of Peter read last Sunday. One verse in particular caught the Vestry’s attention: “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert.” We shared our thoughts on ways to restore, support and strengthen our faith, and maintain hope as a discipline, and walking with the certainty that God is with us.

In his Rector’s Report, Fr. Phil shared the work that he and the All Souls staff continue to do during this time to ensure that we continue worshiping, learning and serving together through this pandemic. On that note, they hope to create a survey to gather information from parishioners about their experience of All Souls during this time. The hope is to learn and share the different ways in which people are connecting to All Souls, and to use this information as we move forward.

Project: Sandwich continues to grow in scope. We are now bringing a meal to three homeless camps in Berkeley three times a week and are looking to add a fourth day. We have also added another way to give: Full Pantry for All, the weekly collection of non-perishable food from the porches of All Soulsians. Our first collection gathered over 200 cans, for a total of 22 bags of groceries for the Berkeley Food Pantry. Look for more information on our website.

Fr. Phil and staff have also have begun extensive thinking and planning ahead for when the time comes for in-person church to safely reopen. This week, Bishop Marc will meet with clergy and wardens to begin the development of a phased reopening plan for churches in our Diocese. Fr. Phil expressed that the staff and leadership of All Souls continue working hard and faithfully to fulfill the church’s essential mission.

Marilyn Flood joined us on behalf of the Vocations Committee, to present Calvin Payne-Taylor to be endorsed to the status of Nominee in his process towards Holy Orders, specifically the priesthood. Calvin has been a member of All Souls since 2016, and he has been an active in a number of ministries and teams, including being a Sacristan, Youth Group leader, Co-leader of Confirm not Conform and Deanery/Convention delegate, among many others. The Vestry had a heartful conversation with Calvin about his faith and vocation, after which we were excited and honored to unanimously endorse his nomination.

Ed Hahn also joined as part of the Parish House Project team. He offered a brief history of the work of the PHP team for the past 5 years, as we move closer to construction. As of this month, all financial and investment pieces are in place, and cost estimates are holding. The project is still expected to break ground in early August, and the Vestry will meet in the beginning of July to approve the master lease and any other documents needed before construction officially begins.

Finally, Vestry members gathered in small groups to discuss what is it we want to learn from the congregation about life at All Souls during this time, and to brainstorm questions that are important to ask in the survey that Fr. Phil mentioned in his report.

So, stay tuned, friends. Your Vestry wants to hear from you, and we continue praying for your wellbeing and that of and your loved ones.

In Christ,

Tonantzin (Toni) Martínez-Borgfeldt

Junior Warden

Confirm, not conform

If you’ve been in the Parish House Garden room this year, you’ve seen evidence of youth confirmation class: a timeline of the early Church; a paper mitre; remnants of snacks (oops); poster pages stuck to the wall with columns full of reactions, opinions, working out ideas. Confirm not Conform, or “CnC,” has been meeting twice a month since the beginning of the school year, gathering during Formation Hour to uncover our tradition bit by bit.

The four students attend faithfully, often during stressful periods of work and activities (and running back and forth from class to serve as an acolyte), as Calvin Payne-Taylor and I teach the curriculum and endeavor to convey the core of our shared faith.  Our classes have been responsive to the students, sometimes meandering, negotiating the prescribed content based on our context.  What is consistent is that each week the kids bring wisdom and hope into our conversations, and explore ideas with honesty and curiosity.

When we moved our gathering online, we decided to check in more often. Every week, we check in for at least 10 minutes or so just to hear from each other about the week though of course sometimes we all text that we are “zoomed out” and cancel. I find comfort in the bit of stability of meeting, and in the lively spirit the kids bring each week, regardless of how exhausted, sad, worried, or bored they might be. Not only are they committed to being together, but they also take for granted in a wonderful way that the wider church is also committed to being together. They have adapted to our current situation gracefully and seem to see very easily that the Church is made up of people, and that they are the people.

Unsurprisingly, all four of these students have chosen confirmation for themselves. It is not always the case that all of the students would choose this at the end of the course and it is not something we have pushed. To that point, I represent the part of our church body that is not confirmed. One thing I love about All Souls is the built-in value for a varied experience of Christianity, so much as to allow an unconfirmed non-member to co-lead the confirmation class! Thankfully, Calvin has the BCP as his first language of Christianity, and the two of us have found ourselves inspired in our planning meetings as we challenge each other’s assumptions and open up for discussion what might otherwise be left closed. Phil recently described the sacraments to me as a moment to name a thing that already exists.  So while we will not be celebrating the confirmands in June as originally planned, we recognize each of their belonging to this community, and look forward to a party with the bishop this fall ☺

––Megan Hansen Curran


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.

 Adult Formation Class this Sunday

This Sunday join our teaching hour at 9:15a to take part in a conversation with local author and retreat leader Veronica Mary Rolf. You may remember Veronica from her teaching at All Souls around her then-new book Julian’s Gospel, a ground-breaking exploration of the context and meaning around “shewings” of Julian of Norwich. Since then she has written two additional books and has just launched a podcast about Julian in a time of pandemic, “Life, Love, Light.” Phil will be in conversation with Veronica for the first 35 minutes, with question and answer for the final 10-15 minutes. The link for the Zoom call will be on our site, under “Virtual Formation.”

 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.

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!

Tiny Homes Collection

Last August under the leadership of Vicki Varghese, many in the All Souls community donned hardhats and tool belts or made sandwiches to help construct some of the small houses that currently homeless youth will move into in July.  (see Happily, they are all built and ready to be furnished. In memory of Vicki whom we miss, please help us stock the new homes with the following:

-24 clocks

-19 desk lamps

-24 wall mirrors.

If you would like to give an e-card please make it out to Gift cards are welcome, as well!

Please click on this link if you have some of these items to donate. A few of us will come by to collect them ( contact-less) and deliver them to the tiny house project on Alcatraz Avenue. Pickups will happen on Friday June 5 or Saturday June 6. Or you are welcome to leave items on the front porch of 2423 Woolsey Street. (Please leave out of view of the street). Either way, fill out the spreadsheet and thank you! If you have questions, call Jenny Kern at 510-684-6445.

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.

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

Justice & Peace

Back by Popular Demand – Encore! Save the date. “The Human Element”, watch for free (June 8-17 anytime through Interfaith Power and Light) then meet with filmaker James Balog (5 pm June 17) and Diocese of California parishioners for community dialog.” See Paloma Pavel ( for more information.

Good News Garden: Two webinars to get you started Feed the Hungry. Grow a Sustainable Future. The Diocese of California has joined the Good News Garden Movement. If you’re longing to grow some of your own food this summer, and you like the idea of creating a sustainable food system post-pandemic, join with us as we build a regional movement in the Bay Area. Both webinars are offered by the Commission on Creation Care of the Diocese of California.