From the Rector
Surrounded by Saints
Today, November 1st, we mark the mid-point of a three day festival of the church year: the feasts of All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. These three days, a Triduum of sorts, are set aside for prayer, reflection, and worship, as days spent in contemplation about death and life.
Depending on where in the world this Christian festival is lived out, you’ll find a wide variety of practices. Many of these practices precede Christianity in a particular region, and either because of a recognition of a common belief, or because of a desire to preserve a meaningful tradition, often a culture’s prior practices around remembering the dead were often woven into that local expression of Christianity. Simply put, no matter where on earth we are, we as humans find it important, essential even, to remember the dead. And so we do.
Because of the many kinds of practice throughout the Christian faith, at All Souls we have found different ways to celebrate this festival. For many years we followed a Latin American practice, creating Day of the Dead altars in our Chapel and in the Church. More recently, we have anchored our expression of longing and connection in the Celtic symbol of the Tree of Life.
This Sunday we will engage another way to remember and connect with those we love and are no longer with us, surrounding our Chapel and Church in a metaphoric Cloud of Witnesses. As you may have read in last week’s Pathfinder, last year when I completed a preaching exchange with St. Michael’s and All Angels in Portland, I was stunned and inspired by their remembrance of the dead.
When I entered their worship space I was deeply moved by what surrounded me—hundreds of photos. Photos of cousins and grandparents, children and siblings. Photos of friends, saints, and spouses. And photos of those who had died that year by violence, in that year, the photos of those murdered in Las Vegas at a country music concert. It was a profound experience to take it in, to quite literally be surrounded by. There was a palpable sense of love and longing.
I am hoping that for the next four weeks, or All Saints Sunday until the start of Advent, that this practice will help us make manifest a core belief of the Christian tradition—that those who precede us are all around us, and that our remembering them helps to bring them close.
The Arts at All Souls team will be hanging fabric with ribbons in our sacred spaces, and before, during and after services for the next several weeks we will all be invited to add our paper photos to the growing cloud of witnesses. To do this, photos will need to be out of frames and it is always helpful to write your name on the back of the photo so that you can pick it up at the close of this season.
As we come to remember the thin veil between death and life, who will you remember this Sunday and for the weeks to come? Who would you like to invite to surround us, reminding us of the ever-present love of God?
From the Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Team
Christ’s Hands and Feet…Are We Ready?
As The Rev. Martin Elfert created a very real time line down the center aisle last Sunday, he cited All Souls’ response following the devastating fire of 1923. The Church was not in the fire, but its doors opened and both spiritual and physical help was quickly available.
My mind immediately jumped back to the evening of September 11, 2001.
All Souls was packed to the rafters, …not only with All Soulsians. One of the most impressive services we have ever had was in progress. Who was responsible for putting together such an ecumenical service on such short notice? How did we notify the neighbors? How did we round up enough participants and notify the parishioners?
Yes, the event took place three thousand miles away from Berkeley, so that the neighbors were not consumed with their own families and dwellings. But, the need to seek emotional and spiritual comfort is universal, and we were there for all who came to our doors.
Since then, disasters everywhere are more devastating and frequent than ever. And we must be prepared.
When the only speaker at the beautiful service for Fred Lothrop strode up to podium in full police garb, most of us realized that the subject of his presentation was going to be a bit unusual, and so it was. For Fred was surely an unusual person. It was Fred’s dedication to the safety of his community in the event of a disaster that inspired the police chief to make us aware of Fred’s vital service in designing their entire disaster/emergency response program.
Fred, of course, was the major informational member of our hearty Emergency/Disaster Team at All Souls, and as such, presented us with a complete outline for an All Souls’ program. We are now bringing Fred’s plan to fruition.
During our meetings, the Group has determined All Souls its own list of priorities: 1) to identify emergency contacts for our parishioners, as well as their needs and strengths, 2) to resume worship services after a disaster as soon as possible, 3) to make sure that all ministries are able to continue their work, 4) to make sure that the preschool and all other building functions are functioning as soon as possible, and 5) to make the All Souls Disaster Preparedness Program known to the community.
One of our first acts a few year’s ago was to distribute Emergency Preparedness Forms to every family. During the past few years, we have been blessed with many new families, who we invite to complete the forms. These forms will be available in the Narthex beginning Sunday, November 2. We also ask that those of you who have already completed a form, check to make sure that there are no changes.
We shall also be inviting each ministry to consider its role, before, during and, most especially, after a disaster.
Yes, we will need the heavy lifters, the medical help, and the CERT trained, but we shall also need Stephen Ministers, Hospitality, Greeters, Ushers, and everyone who wants to offer sustenance.
When the next fire or earthquake hits Berkeley, and yes, there will be at least one…there will be so much more for which we should be prepared. Will we be ready to leap into action and provide what is needed, not only for ourselves, but the community around us?
If you are interested in our preparedness project and would like to participate in the planning, please let us know. We need your help
– Margaret Sparks (7:30 Service)
Team Members: Malcolm Plant, Chair (7:30 Service); John Cockle, John Love, Mary Rees, and Raymond Yee (9:00 Service… all four!) We need you sleepyheads…11:15 ers…!
From the Associate for Music
Enriching Our Worship
At All Souls we are blessed not only with a small army of talented volunteer musicians but with a few remarkable professionals who beautify our worship in obvious and subtle ways. But the church year has a handful of major feast days that demand something even more special. I’m thus delighted to say that this Sunday—when we celebrate All Saints’ Day, our parish’s feast of title—we will be joined by soprano Tonia D’Amelio.
Called “extravagantly charismatic” by the San Francisco Chronicle and praised by Fanfare Magazine for her “rapt vulnerability,” Toniahas sung with opera companies, orchestras, chamber ensembles, and vocal consorts across the U.S. and abroad. A versatile singer with a repertoire spanning five centuries, she particularly enjoys premiering opera and concert works. She created the role of Celia Brooke in Allen Shearer’s Middlemarch in Spring for the world premiere in San Francisco and the revival with Charlottesville Opera, and sang in the first performance of Ryan Brown’s Mortal Lessons at the Switchboard Music Festival. Tonia also sang featured roles in the modern stage premieres of Rameau’s The Temple of Glory (1745) with Philharmonia Baroque, and Pallavicino’s The Amazons (1679) with Ars Minerva. Other favorite credits include Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte), Musetta (La Bohème), and soprano solos in Bach’s Johannes-Passion, Mozart’s Requiem, and Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang.
Tonia will be soloing on a lovely setting, composed by Harvard Divinity School’s longtime music director Harry Huff, of the saintly text Take my life; duetting with our extraordinary soprano Sarita Cannon on a Baroque setting of Psalm 24 (which they’ll sing in Swedish!), and leading the second sopranos of our Choir on William Byrd’s gleaming O quam gloriosum. Add to that the Angel Band’s Just Over In the Gloryland, some favorite hymns, and a fiery organ postlude by Nicolaus Bruhns, and our feasting will engage every bit of your senses!
NEW CLASSES BEGINNING
Check out these next offerings in Adult Formation, beginning November 11th at 10:10 am and continuing through the end of the month. Come for one, or come for all!
Theodicy: Good God What the Hell is Going On?!
Led by the Revs. Michael Lemaire and Liz Tichenor, meeting in the Parish Hall
If God is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-good, why is there senseless suffering in the world? It’s an age-old question. Countless scores of theologians and philosophers have tackled it, pulled their hair out over it, and striven to create clever acrobatics to get around it. The theological riddle is interesting, but equally so is how we live the questions that follow. How do we live our faith in the midst of suffering? Is suffering an occasion for despair or deeper faith? How do we practice and prepare to live it out? Join us as we dig in, as we look to the stories of those who have tried to live it well before us, and as we try to find the way forward together.
If you are new to All Souls, have never been to a newcomer event, or are curious about becoming a member here at All Souls, you are invited to this next round of newcomer events. It’ll all kick off next Sunday, the 11th, with a Meet & Greet with Emily Hansen Curran in her office. Then, on November 18th, we’ll host a Meet & Greet with Phil in his office. Finally, on November 25th, those of you interested in membership are invited to the home of Margaret Sparks after the 11:15 service (1-3p), to meet with Phil, Liz, and Emily for lunch and a brief class on membership here at All Souls. If you have questions about any of these events, please reach out to Emily, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Solidarity with Congregation Beth El
Stewardship Campaign Update
This past Sunday at All Souls was tremendous. The remarkable generosity shown by a great many people in our parish community has already brought us a long way towards enacting the work we are called to do in 2019. This initial response has been inspiring and we hope you will join in sustaining our shared ministry: we aren’t there yet, and we really need your help.
If you weren’t here on Sunday, you’ll receive your pledge card in the mail soon. You can also make your pledge to All Souls by using the secure online form, learn more about this year’s stewardship campaign, and listen to recent sermons — all available here. Thank you!!
DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME
THIS Sunday, November 4th is Daylight Saving Time. Enjoy the hour of rest!
Please join us in giving thanks for the life of Christopher Putnam, who served as the Associate for Liturgy and Music here at All Souls twelve year, retiring in 2016. You can read his obituary here. His memorial service will be here at All Souls on November 3rd at 1:00 pm, when we will come to give thanks for the life and work of this remarkable human being, sing our hearts out, and celebrate our hope in the resurrection. If you can bring food to share for the reception, please sign up here.
ALL SOULS AND ALL SAINTS SUNDAY
Continuing the Feast Brunch – November 4th
We’ll celebrate All Souls and All Saints Sunday, our Feast of Title, with a festive brunch! Please bring something tasty to share between the 9:00 and 11:15 am services, roughly 10:15. This would be the perfect time to break out the favorite, signature recipe of someone you’ve loved who has passed on — what a feast that could be.
Also, please note that there will be note that there will be incense at the 11:15 service this week.