From the Outreach Committee

Small Steps on a Moving Way

Some months ago, when my grandson was in a student-written play about the experiences of children coming to this country as immigrants, I sought out a photograph to show him of his mother when she was a few months old. There she was, sitting in her stroller bundled in a blue onesie waving a “Viva La Huegla” flag, and there David and I were in the midst of a demonstration at the state capitol organized by Caesar Chavez. We were surrounded by men and women who had walked 340 miles from Delano to Sacramento after having been deliberately sprayed with pesticide by grape growers angry over a strike threatened by some of the most brutalized and exploited migrant and immigrant farm workers in California.

As I have watched the current struggle over immigration, I have also thought about the sources of the necessities and the luxuries in my life manufactured outside of the U.S.: the clothes I wear, the cell phone I use, the computer I am writing on – all made beyond U.S. boundaries by vulnerable people often forced by circumstances to work long hours in difficult conditions at the cheapest rate.

Recently, NBC local news broadcast a series of investigative reports about the repressive and violent circumstances in Latin American countries that drive desperate families and children to strike out across their own borders and through Mexico to encounter the survival challenge of the American desert and/or the vagaries of the US immigration system. Particularly heart-rending was the story told by a young woman, disguised as “Sofia.” When the marauding gang that controlled her Honduran community demanded a rate of extortion her father could not pay, he reported the threat to the police. Tipped off by the police, the gang returned to the family home, beat Sofia’s father and raped Sofia and her mother. Certain the family would die if they stayed, the father gathered them together and fled Honduras the next day, eventually making it to San Francisco where, as illegal immigrants, they regularly report to the immigration service and are seeking asylum. In the meantime they live on the edge, often dependent on the kindness of strangers.

In Bible Workbench last Sunday we pondered Matthew 25: 31-46, and I found myself focused again on the end of the passage: “And then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”

An hour later I was on my knees in the service confessing the evil that enslaves me and thinking about my undeniable complicity in the evil done on my behalf. What lies behind the cultivation of the food I eat, the creation of the clothes I buy, the production of the digital instruments I am convinced are necessary to stay in touch with family, friends, the world? What about the stresses endured by some of the immigrant children I taught? The boy who wrote fine poetry, frightened, caught up in gang violence, convinced he would die before the age of 20? What cruelty in the world, in U.S., Guatemalan, Honduran, El Salvadoran policy, creates a situation where toddlers and infants are in the S.F. immigration courts right now, unaware and unable to speak for themselves before the law? How do we untangle this global web? What does Jesus mean by “Love thy neighbor as thy self” in this complexity?

The only way I know is with small steps. I can respond to the immediate need of a courageous person who needs a boost to the next step. I can join my actions and voice with others to make a large, collective presence that cannot be ignored by policy makers. Most of all, I can begin my prayers with thanksgiving and gratitude for the accident of my birth, for the abundance and fullness of my life, for my children and grandchildren, and then ask myself, how would I want my daughters treated if they were forced to endure Sofia’s tragedy? My grandsons if they were facing the tyranny of gangs?

During the recent strategic planning meetings, person after person spoke to the growing desire among All Souls members to join with other community groups to do what we can to ease the stress and pain of those in need.

So here is a heartening beginning: at the last Vigil on November 1, at the West County Detention Center in Richmond where over 300 immigrants are incarcerated waiting action in the immigration courts, 24% of the participants were from All Souls.

Even better: next month on Saturday morning, December 6 from 11:00 to 12:00, All Souls hosts the Vigil led by the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers. The Rev. Liz Tichenor will be there along with Christopher Putnam and the Angel Band. The program will offer introductions, an explanation of why we vigil, witness statements, songs, prayers, litany, and blessings. Liz and Elena Ramirez will provide the Spanish translation; others will read, photograph, witness, display posters made by our children – this will be a wonderful celebration of the Holy Spirit concluding with a “joyful noise” loud enough for the detainees to hear us and know they are supported.

Overseeing the Vigil, as she always does, will be the Rev. Deborah Lee, the project director for the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, part of CLUE, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. More good news: Rev. Lee will come to All Souls the first Sunday in Advent, November 30 to speak. That Sunday will also be the first of our Advent in-gatherings. We will be collecting rice (brown or white), beans (pinto, black, black-eyed, lima, cannellini, lentils) and cooking oil for the families of recently released immigrant detainees who are seeking asylum.

Collective small steps gathered equals a significant large step: some rice, beans, and oil, a presence at a vigil, listening ears, open hearts, willingness to step forward in prayer. A moving way, in many senses of the word to begin a holy Advent.
– Sharon Roberts

All Soulsians praying at the Interfaith Immigration Vigil

Kids sharing their art and enthusiasm at the Vigil

Oh, Come, One & All!

Advent Festival

Our parish does a great job of observing the liturgical calendar in meaningful and delightful ways. It’s certainly one of the things that drew our family to All Souls. We have a long-standing of kicking off Advent with a beautiful service of Lessons & Carols and by crafting Advent wreaths together. Last year we brought these pieces together in a new way with an Advent Festival on the afternoon of the first Sunday of Advent. It was such a success that were bringing it back and continuing to grow the tradition. On Sunday, November 30 we will gather at 4pm for a gorgeous, non-traditional service of Lessons & Carols that is family-friendly – about 45 minutes, featuring poetry, favorite carols and some new ones. Then we will spill into the parish hall for more festivity with mulled cider and wine, and the first Christmas cookies of the season. Every family will get to make their own Advent wreath to mark the days of preparation for Christmas and you’re invited to craft a second annual special All Souls ornament for your tree. You may want to help start a batch of Advent Ale with the Ale Souls Brewers.

This will be an accessible and fun event that is an easy invitation to friends and neighbors, a natural way to widen the reach of our community and the depth of our hospitality. Take some of the fabulous postcards announcing the Advent Festival home with you this weekend to spread the word. And this is just the beginning! This Sunday, look for a full schedule of events from Advent through the twelve days of Christmas, including the Wednesday night supper series, Christmas services, the New Years Day/12th Night activities, and more!

Please join us on the road to Bethlehem. Bring friends, be family!
– Jeannie Koops-Elson

From the Senior Warden

The Numbers Part of the Story…

October Sunday morning attendance reflected, I think, our settling in to Fall life patterns. Our average Sunday attendance was 243, with 9 am services averaging 101 and 11:15 services at 118.

After unusually robust pledge fulfillment in July and August we trailed in September, and now again in October. This is not a ‘sky is falling’ message, just a ‘we need to attend to this’ reminder.

As you think toward the end of the year and find that you have remaining charitable giving to disburse, do consider All Souls as a possible direction for that. The parish stewards its funds carefully and does valuable work. In Biblical times there were both tithes and offerings, perhaps roughly analogous to pledged and other giving. Whatever our individual/family and parish situation as we approach the end of the year, Reed reminded us again last week in his sermon that we will have what we need to do what God is calling us to do.

Advent In-Gathering

During the Season of Advent, as we prepare for the coming of the Christ child, we have the privilege of bringing gifts each Sunday to be blessed and shared with those who are in need of care. This Advent, we invite you to bring the following gifts for the organizations listed below:

Nov. 30 – Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (ICIR), supports migrant refugee children and adults seeking asylum in the U.S.)
• rice (brown or white)
• beans (pinto, black, black eyed, lima, cannellini, lentils)
• cooking oil

Dec. 7 – Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP), assists homeless families seeking shelter, food, clothing and support
• new pajamas (men, women and children of all ages)
• unused toiletries

Dec. 14 – Options Recovery Services, provides treatment and support for men suffering from alcohol and drug dependency
• new underwear and socks for the men

Dec. 21 – Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE), a Berkeley High afterschool program for at-risk and low-income immigrant youth
School supplies:
• line, graph, construction, printer paper;
• rulers, protractors, compasses, scissors, pencils, pens, markers, electronic pencil sharpener, paper clips, glue sticks, Elmer’s glue

Please join us each week of Advent during the 10:10 a.m. formation hour when leaders of these organizations will speak about the need that their organization seeks to address, the difference that our gifts will make, and other ways that we as people of faith can become involved.

New Formation Classes Coming!

Dearly Beloved: What is Christian Marriage Anyhow? Led by The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers and the Rev. Phil Brochard
Since 2012, an Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage has been exploring marriage through the lenses of scripture, Christian tradition, and reason. Using materials developed by the task force, we’ll explore what it means to be married. What does the church have to say about marriage? What makes a marriage Christian? What is the role of the church in marriage? In a rapidly changing culture in the United States, what values does the church hold as indispensable to marriage? How can the church continue to speak to people about relationships, faithfulness and life in Christ?

Preparing the Way, Sharing our Gifts: All Souls Advent In-Gatherings, led by Christine Trost
Every Advent, as we prepare for the coming of the Christ child, we gather offerings for members of our community who are in need of care. This course will feature leaders of the organizations we have selected to receive our gifts, who will share with us the need that their organization seeks to address, the difference that our gifts will make, and other ways that we as people of faith can become involved.

Bible Workbench also continues faithfully at 8:30 and 10:10:
A lectionary-based Bible study practice designed for small groups. The Bible Workbench material invites us to explore scripture in a broader context; learning to see how the texts relate to what is going on in the world, and to our own lives.


Phoenix Garden Work Party
Saturday November 22, 9 – 11am
Join our 20s and 30s group as they bring order and beauty to some of our jungle! Come ready to get dirty and have fun.

Loaves and Fishes
Come share a meal and connect with friends, new and old! Saturday November 22, 6p at Tess Taylor and Taylor Schreiner’s house in El Cerrito, RSVP to Caroline McCall at

Join us for a simple Holy Eucharist at 10am on Thanksgiving.

Christmas Pageant Rehearsals
Families, mark your calendars! Rehearsals for this year’s Christmas Pageant will be held at the following times:
December 14th 12:30-2pm
December 21st 12:30-2pm
December 23rd 12:30-2pm

Wednesday Advent Series
“Be Still, Come Close”
December 3, 10, 17
Led by Daniel Prechtel and Stephen Southern
6:30 soup supper, 7 – 8:30 p.m. program

Explore the fascinating, deeply personal and also communal, Christian practice of spiritual discernment. We all face major life decisions and questions of direction. What foundation and movements help us do this faithfully and prayerfully? Each week, we will focus on a particular setting for seeking God’s desire and direction: personal situations, family and community issues, and the larger social/global context.

Interfaith Immigration Vigil
Join the faithful from around the East Bay as we hold vigil at the West County Detention Facility, 5555 Giant Highway in Richmond, on Saturday December 6 from 11am – Noon. All Souls is leading the monthly vigil in December, in which we sing, pray, and hear testimony from family members and friends of those held inside, or from recently released immigrants awaiting hearings. The Angel Band will be present and children are most welcome to join. For help arranging for carpools, contact Margaret Sparks at

Big Gain: one great day of giving for campus ministry
Episcopal campus ministry changes lives, and your contribution anytime before — or on Big Game day — is a win for everyone. On or before the day of the game (Saturday, November 22) simply go to http://www.universitychapelberkeley.orgor and click on the donate button. Results will be tracked throughout the day and regular updates will be made. After the game the winning campus ministry and the winning congregation will be announced, and the name of the campus ministry that raises the most money will be engraved on The Acts (a plaque with a large Book of Acts mounted on it) along with the name of the congregation that raises the most money total. Ten percent of all funds raised will also benefit campus ministry at San Francisco State University. There will be a Tailgate Party at University Chapel Berkeley, 2425 College Avenue, on the day of the game beginning two hours before kickoff. Drop by to celebrate.
When: Now to Saturday, November 22 (Big Game day will be the final day to donate)
Where: University Chapel Berkeley, 2425 College Avenue, 2 hours before kickoff (Tailgate Party)
Contact: Tom Poynor, Cal chaplain,
Donate: or

Disaster Preparedness/Emergency Forms
Thanks to all who have completed their Emergency Forms! For those of you who have not, it is never to late (unless of course the disaster or emergency strikes first). Just in case your dog ate your form, we can provide new ones. Forms will be available Sunday morning in the Narthex. The form may also be accessed here: Disaster_Emergency_Form.pdf. Please return your form to Margaret Sparks or to the parish office. Let’s make it 100%!
– Margaret Sparks