So That Was Wednesday

Phil Brochard headshot2Yesterday began for me like many other Wednesday mornings. Got up, kept the boys moving, helped with breakfast cooking, snack making. Ben to his bike, Jonah off to walk. Up to All Souls. Except that yesterday morning was not like most Wednesday mornings. It was also very, very, different. Our nation had elected a new president-elect, Donald J. Trump.

This difference in a Wednesday was seen in myriad ways, globally, nationally, and locally. There were celebrations, there were demonstrations, there was a lot of wondering of what comes next. For me, that morning was then grounded in the practice of the Eucharist. For that, I thank God. You see, most Wednesdays, there are 5 or 6 souls gathered at 9am in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd for the feast of the day. Yesterday, when I walked into the Chapel there were 16 of us. People wanted to come close to Jesus.

Those gathered were in various states: shock, confusion, mourning, anger, despair, alarm, disbelief. We began by acclaiming God, praying for the cleansing of our hearts, asking for mercy, and listening to the readings. As you may know, the schedule of readings follows a cycle. Yesterday there was no feast day, so it was the readings for that Wednesday of that week after Pentecost. And those particular readings from Scripture were hard to hear.

Of all of the epistles, we heard from the letter to Titus––among other things about being subject to rulers, that we should speak evil of no one, be ready for every good work, avoid quarrelling, be gentle, and show courtesy. Truly. From the Gospel of Luke it was the story of the one leper who had been cleansed and returned to give thanks. (the Samaritan!)

As with every Wednesday Eucharist, we gathered in a circle, and I began our Gospel discussion with the question, “What did you hear today?” It should come as no surprise that we had heard, seen and felt a great deal. In the scripture and in our lives. Our conversation yesterday lasted much longer than usual. There were tears, there was lament, there was resolve. We prayed the Great Litany, and followed it with the Peace. It was one of the most heartfelt expressions of Peace that I can remember.

And then, again, I found myself grateful for our practice as Christians––being able to gather together and share a meal around a table. A table that had already been set for us, for as guests we were invited to break bread and share a common cup with Jesus. And we ended by being sent into the world to love and to serve the Lord.

From the start of the day, in that Eucharist, in texts, messages, phone calls, and visits, before, during, and after our evening prayers that night, the same question was being asked: What will this election mean for us? Not being a political scientist or a psychic, I don’t know what the next months or years will bring. Like most people, I have my own projections and fears.

But as a guide for those who are following the Jesus Way, I am clear about this: that I seek to follow Jesus in his boldness, courage and compassion. This past Sunday I quoted New Testament scholar David Tiede, that Jesus’ teaching as part of the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6 is not an ideological agenda or political platform. Loving your enemies, doing good to those who hate you, blessing those who curse you, praying for those who persecute you––this way of being won’t win you many elections.

But throughout the centuries we have witnesses who have followed this way that leads to life: Francis of Assisi, Martin King, Dorothy Day and scores of others, known and unknown, who have lived as lights even as the world around them was failing. We are not alone in this.

The election has taken place. This much is known. What is to come, and what our response as Christians will be is yet to be known. What I am sure of, however, is that it starts with prayer. Prayer for our nation, for ourselves, for those who differ from us, for those who lead us, that we all will be led to justice, respect, and the common good. That our days ahead will need to be grounded in our sacred story––much of Jesus’ teaching is about how to live in times of conflict and challenge. That we will need to confess our brokenness and receive Grace. That we will need to gather around the table for sustenance, strength and renewal.

And, I am sure that then––consoled, held, challenged, nourished, changed––we will be heading back out into our common life, ready to follow this Jesus way.




bishopmarcDear Diocese of California,

I write to you from COP22, the United Nations climate summit, being held in Marrakech.

Like many of you, Sheila and I stayed up through the night following the results of our November 8 elections, especially the presidential election.

First, I want to say I’m grateful for the long, widespread, and continuing effort that allows us to live in a healthy democracy, where people may vote without fear. The repeal of the Voter Rights Act point up the fact that the maintenance of a democracy takes hard, vigilant work, and we must work on to seek a more perfect union, while we give thanks for our great country.

Also, I want to urge us all to pray for the President Elect — may the Holy Spirit shape him to assume the office as one who will lead us to a just society. May Mr. Trump become a president who keeps immigrant families together and creates an equitable path to citizenship for them. May he work in the area of racial reconciliation and to recognize the rights of women. May Mr. Trump become a president who will recognize the peril of our planet and seek its healing.

We also pray in thanksgiving for Secretary Hillary Clinton and her gallant candidacy and the her many-decades dedication to the welfare of the vulnerable.

Today, standing in the public zone of COP22, the Episcopal delegation led worship around the theme of courage. We heard this scripture: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.” (The Gospel of John)

At the end of the service, attended mostly by Moroccan Muslim women, we prayed the following prayer:

Please God, give us courage to lament this loss, and to give our full selves toward a new future. Give us the courage to reject half truths and easy answers. Fill us with courage to speak out and stand up. Empower us to move past divisions and forge new partnerships. Give us courage to name our dependence on all of your creation. And send us forth renewed and inspired to share your love. Amen.

Please pray that prayer with me.

– Bishop Marc


What’s happening with the Parish House?

Parish HouseCome find out November 20th at 12:30 or on Tuesday, November 22nd, at 7:00 pm!

For the past year and a half, All Souls has been living out our areas of focus from our recent strategic plan: Deep Hospitality, Christian Action and Practice, and Redevelopment of the Parish House. For those unfamiliar, the All Souls Parish House on the corner of Cedar and Oxford is used extensively by many parish groups.  Currently the upper floors of the building house our Associate Rector and family and an intentional Christian community of residents in theological study, and the ground floor is used by the youth groups, the immigrant assistance program, various small groups of the parish and other outside groups. At the same time, you may have noticed the building is somewhat ….in need of attention.  While safe to occupy, it needs significant repairs in the near future, and the assessment of architects and engineers is that it is far more cost-effective to tear it down and build a new building than to repair the building we have.

This is an opportunity that rarely arises for a parish, and several committees as well as the vestry have prayed, debated and considered several different options in the past year and a half, options that balance our needs for more space with our call to serve our surrounding community and with financial responsibility.   The proposal endorsed by the vestry is to partner with a non-profit housing development organization to construct a new building that will meet the needs of All Souls and that will also provide affordable housing for a population in need, which at this time most likely low income seniors.  The vestry anticipates entering into a non-binding mutual agreement to assess the feasibility of this proposal with Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA), who have decades of experience providing affordable housing and services in Berkeley and Oakland. As we begin to move further down the path toward realizing this tremendous opportunity for our parish, vestry and committee members would like to provide information, answer questions and listen to input from parishioners.  Please join us immediately following the last service, at roughly 12:30p on Sunday November 20th or on Tuesday, November 22nd, at 7:00 pm in the church.

– Nancy Pryer


Do you slay at karaoke?


The task seemed daunting. Our beloved Christopher Putnam left such big shoes to fill. What kind of fancy prayer would we need to bring a brilliant music leading/ organ playing/ hymnal memorizing/ Gospel enthusing/ washtub bass slapping/ musical cat herding/ overall miracle to our door? At the first Search Committee meeting, I suddenly realized how much we needed our next Associate for Music, and how my expectations were likely to be wildly off-base.

During that meeting, we prayed, “bring someone who will love us.” That was not a fancy prayer, but one that echoed in my spirit. We need a gifted musician, yes, and also one that can tap into the great diversity of musical joy and talent in our congregation. But most of all, we need someone who will love us, dream with us, and build us up as we worship God in song.

I get a little fanciful when writing down my hopes and dreams for music at All Souls. Fortunately, I get to be part of a committee that has been working hard to turn hopes into reality by creating this job posting – please help us reach out to potential candidates by sharing widely. Our window for accepting resumes ends November 15th. Committee members are Fr. Phil, Tripp Hudgins, Maggie Cooke, Ross Laverty, Katie McGonigal, and Jenn Ying.

Also, we all know that parishioners are super talented and enthusiastic when it comes to making music together. To have details ready for the new Associate, we’re asking everyone to participate in this short musical survey/inventory to share your musical abilities, interests, etc., even if you currently cannot join existing groups in the music program. Don’t be shy! I wrote “I slay at karaoke” in my survey response, so anything goes.

– Jenn Ying


Four new Vestry members will be elected at the parish annual meeting on January 29th. The Nominating Committee welcomes your recommendations of persons for this form of service and leadership in the community. Information about vestry qualifications and expectations, together with the form for submitting suggestions, is on the counters in the narthex. Please give this thought and prayer and make your suggestions by December 4. (Committee members:  Madeline Feeley, Thomas Burcham, Kim Wong, Marilyn Flood)


Looking for a way to give thanks to God at the end of this month? Join All Soulsians for Holy Eucharist Thanksgiving morning, November 24th at 10:00 am here in the church.