From the Rector
In Praise of Wardens
Just over ten years ago I attended a gathering of Episcopal priests known as the Gathering of Leaders. Begun by a retired Episcopal bishop about 15 years ago, the purpose of these gatherings has been to bring together priests (and now lay people and deacons) who are leading vital congregations to learn from one another and find new ways to be church again.
In the early days of these gatherings the bishop who launched this initiative, the Rt. Rev. Claude Payne, held an optional workshop on parish leadership. As can sometimes happen in life, that ninety-minute workshop had an outsized effect on me––particularly on how I work with lay leaders, and specifically wardens, at All Souls. Those ninety minutes resulted in lifelong practices for me, our Vestry, and the Parish.
Bishop Payne challenged us to fundamentally share our leadership with the lay leaders of our congregations, particularly our Senior and Junior Wardens. I know that this sounds obvious to many of you. But at the time (and even now), as the church emerges from patterns of intense clericalism, this is a radical teaching. He encouraged us to have weekly meetings with our Wardens, so that together we could collectively plan and strategize, listen and support. He compelled us to use the Episcopal canon that allows the Senior Warden to chair Vestry meetings, so that the primary leadership body of the congregation was led by a member of the congregation.
For me these weren’t just functional shifts––I rather enjoyed running effective, enlivening meetings for instance––but they were also critical to our belief that we make church together. While I have a distinct role as a guide in this parish, it’s the people of this parish who ultimately are the ones who live out the liturgy, the service-work of the people. And while some of this shift is new, this belief has been practiced in different ways here at All Souls for many, many years. For instance, one of my predecessors, the Rev. Bill Clancy, had a practice that the legal agreements of All Souls were signed solely by the lay leaders of the parish, especially the Wardens. Consequently, when you look through the documents of the parish going back over decades you’ll see the names of Sharon Roberts, Suzanne Siebert, and Ross Laverty, among others.
This has been a practice that I have kept as well. It is essential to me that those with whom we are in contractual agreement know that they are in partnership with the people of this parish, not with me as the priest responsible for it. To this end, as you look through the documents of the past decade––and there are many because of the complexity and long-lasting nature of our work with Jordan Court––you will find the signatures of Mary Rees, Tara McCullough, Bob Holum, Laura Eberly, Joe Garrett, Toni Martinez Borgfeldt, Melissa Devereaux and others.
Because of these and other responsibilities it should not go without saying that the work of the Wardens of this parish is a sacrificial gift of service by all those who have served in this capacity. Hours and hours of time and attention are given––seen and unseen––every week. Strategic initiatives are planned, agreements honed, challenging situations held close, direct support offered. If indeed a sacrifice is a good given for an even greater good, it is my sincere hope that this has been the case for those who have served All Souls Parish in this particular and intensive way.
Over the years I have been blessed to serve alongside such gifted, humble, faithful people. They have held this parish (and me) in prayers, shared the load, and led with grace. So on behalf of this parish I’d like to offer these words of deep appreciation and gratitude to all those who have served this parish in this way. And, from my own experience of companionship, my heart remains with those whom I have served with over these fourteen (and counting) years: Marilyn, Jack, Tom, Grace, John, Michelle, Caroline, Nancy, Lewis, Toni, Kim, Mary, Maggie, Tara, Bob, Laura, Erin, Joe, Kaki, Melissa and Irina.
I can’t imagine being a priest of this parish without you all. And it is impossible for me to see the faithful roads that we have without your leadership, guidance, trust, and hard work. Thank God, and you all, that we do not walk this path alone.
NB: I also would like to offer thanks and praise for all those who celebrated with the Rev. Cn. Alissa Newton and me last night for our book launch party for Vital Christian Community. It was a very sweet and joyous time. I am grateful to all those who brought food and drink, helped set up and break down, made BINGO cards, sold books, bought books, made temporary tattoos, roasted authors via introduction, interviewed said authors, and generally celebrated this book. As I said last night, I could not have co-written this book without the faith, witness, and generosity of this parish. Thank you.
From the Associate for Ministry Development
Report from Denver
For those who were looking for me just after the 11:15 service on Sunday, there was a reason you couldn’t find me––I was on Bart headed to the airport to catch a flight to Denver, CO for a gathering of post-evangelical pastors and leaders.
Since launching the Sunday Night Service almost one year ago, I have sought out help from other Christian leaders and pastors, both locally and across the country, who have been doing this kind of church work for some time. But before I get too far in, for those who are reading this and don’t know what the Sunday Night Service is, here it is in a sentence: it is a new worshiping community, launched out of All Souls, to reach out to folks who might be coming out of the non-denominational or evangelical churches, who are looking for something with liturgy, expansive theology, and a church community that is inclusive of the LGBTQIA community.
In doing this work now for almost a year, two networks have become important to me: the first is a local group called the Bay Area Ministry Starters, composed of about 8-10 churches from Hayward to Berkeley. This group had begun meeting pre-pandemic, and only just started meeting back up again, but is composed of churches who either have recently launched, restarted, or just recently became inclusive of the LGBTQIA community. We gather once per quarter around the bay to check-in and take care of each other.
The second group is one called Launchpad. This is a group that acts as a national hub and “launchpad” for pastors and leaders of spaces that are both Christian and progressive, but who mostly exist outside of denominational affiliations. Earlier this year, I hired Launchpad to be my coach for the Sunday Night Service. As part of their coaching, they gather all their clients a few times per year, hence the trip to Denver. This particular Denver gathering was in collaboration with another group called the W/Collective, a non-denominational hub for folks launching and building progressive, post-evangelical, faith spaces.
This all might be a lot of jargon-y sort of words, so I’ll break it down, here’s why all of these groups are important, and important to me. As you all know, here in the Episcopal church, have been ordaining women, and have been inclusive of the LGBTQIA community for some years already, so much so that it might not quite be on your radar that there are tons, and I do mean just.so.many.churches who hold to very particular translations and interpretations of Paul’s letters to the early church which can be interpreted as excluding women in leadership and calling anything other than hetersexuality a sin. In fact, other than the mainline churches, there are only a handful of churches (most of which are in this Bay Area Ministry Starters group with me) IN THE BAY AREA who are affirming of the LGBTQIA community. If you think too hard about this, your brain might hurt, because this is 100% nuts.
And so these umbrella groups are incredibly important because they offer support, finances, and a spiritual home to folks who are creating new church communities with a more expansive theology, who live outside of a denomination––where, by the way, church growth is on the rise––see graph below and also this article in Christianity Today.
As an Episcopalian, I want to be in those spaces because this is the exact outreach that I am hoping for the Sunday Night Service: our aim is to give what heals about Episcopal liturgy, theology, and politics to folks who were raised in the non-denominational world. This is also why I am partnering with groups who are affiliated with non-denominational spaces, rather than hiring coaches who are Episcopalian––I want to be part of the offering of this denomination to the non-denominational world, and I want to learn from the non-denominational world and be part of how this denomination transforms in the future. I went to Denver, yes, to be with “my people” but also because I believe that what we are offering in this Episcopal church has immense value in these spaces, and that we have a lot to learn to get out of our own way in welcoming in new folks.
If you find all of this interesting, you might enjoy checking out some of the other churches who were present at this gathering: The Table, DC; Highlands Church, Denver; City Church, SF; City Church, Long Beach; Watershed, Charlotte; Forefront, NYC, Cascade Church, Portland, and our very own Sunday Night Service, Berkeley.
Thank you for the opportunity to go to Denver and for the opportunity to continue forward with this Sunday Night Service. I feel energized to do this work, and I feel that I’m in good company––both in this Episcopal world and in this post-Evangelical one.
From the Stewardship Committee
I first learned about the concept of tithing when I was in a campus ministry in grad school. I took to heart the idea of giving away 10% as ‘first fruits’. At that time, I was earning $800/month as a grad student stipend. So my tithe had to be $80 and I had to figure out what to cut back on. So I canceled my cable subscription, which was hard initially because I was a news-aholic and really hooked on CNN. But over time, I did not miss it as much. I came to realize that by making this tithe, I was also giving myself a gift.
Ever since then, I’ve always tithed just over 10% of my gross income – some to my home church and some to various charities. I’ve come to actually enjoy my monthly ritual of writing checks, of being just one small instrument of generosity to help build and sustain God’s ‘beloved community’.
Having said all that, I cannot claim that my giving to ASP is an act of generosity because I actually get something in return: ASP serves my spiritual needs in VERY tangible ways.
I’d highlight just three: 1) the remarkably incisive sermons and classes that help me to make sense of the world and my place in it; 2) music that moves me – sometimes literally to tears; 3) sharing of life stories from all of you, my fellow sojourners, helping me to know that I am not alone. From a purely secular perspective, the Sunday service is a philosophy lecture, a music recital and group therapy session all rolled into one! In a certain sense I give to all souls not out of generosity – but simply as a free-will offering for spiritual services received.
So, as a member of the stewardship committee, I’ll close with the following: as you think about how much to pledge, I invite you to thoughtfully consider the value of ASP to your spiritual growth and sustenance. And give accordingly.
Save the Dates
- October 16, Spiritual Autobiography Information Session
- October 23, Jordan Court Volunteer Training
- October 29, Parish Garden/Clean-up Day
- October 30, Ingathering Sunday + Stewardship Celebration Dinner
- November 6, All Saints/All Souls Day with potluck between services!
Join us for worship this week:
- 9am, in-person, indoors
- 11:15am, in-person, indoors. (click here to access the live stream)
- 5p, Sunday Night Service. In-person, indoors in the Chapel.
You can access the live stream through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
If you miss a Sunday, you can always catch the sermon on our homepage or as a podcast, anywhere you listen to podcasts!
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218.
Adult Formation Classes
There are three class offerings this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Click here to join by Zoom, or join them in-person in the Common Room.
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 10:15a. Click here to join by Zoom (Meeting ID: 811 8105 6561. Passcode: 516358), or join them in-person in the Common Room.
- Toil & Teleology. On October 2, 9, 16, and 23rd in the Parish Hall and on Zoom. What is work for? Why does it matter for us Christians and as a Christian community? Join Dr. Scott MacDougall and the Rev. Phil Brochard as they explore the demands of Pharaoh, vocation, statements of ultimate value, the meaning of economy, the Protestant work ethic, and what it means for each of us to labor as an element of Christian practice.
Children, Youth, and Family News
Children Pre-K-Grade 5 are invited to join us in the courtyard at 10:10am for the third of our four week series on Animals, Monsters and Spooky Stuff in the Bible!
Youth Group continues this week! Office hours in the Youth Room at 10:10am and Youth Group meets from 7-8:30pm in the Parish Hall on Sunday.
Email Maggie for more information about Children, Youth and Family Ministries at All Souls.
Other News & Notes
Jordan Court Volunteer Training
Are you interested in building relationships with our new neighbors over in Jordan Court? Then come out to our volunteer training on October 23rd from 1-4 in the Parish Hall. Our very own Wendy Calimag and Emily McDonald, will lead us through topics such as building an intentional community, approaching trauma when you don’t know it exists, and racism as trauma; power as privilege. This is mandatory training for anyone hoping to volunteer. Lunch will be provided, so please RSVP to the team (Cathy Goshorn, Kaki Logan, or Emily McDonald).
Spiritual Autobiography Emmaus/Small Group
All Souls will begin offering an ongoing writing workshop/small group this fall. Meeting in person as a small group at church one evening a month, we’ll work to create for one another the loving environment we all need to tell our own stories to ourselves. This workshop will be open to writers at all levels of experience. If you’re interested, please come out to the information session on Sunday, October 16th just after the 11:15 service, in the Common Room or October 18th in the evening. Feel free to reach out to either Jane Vandenburgh, the instructor, or Emily Hansen Curran for more information.
Emmaus Groups/Small Groups
This fall, we’re launching a new round of small groups, which we call Emmaus Groups. These are spiritual journeying groups that meet bi-weekly for 16 weeks at a time with the goal of journeying together in order to deepen our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. They are mostly free-form(ish) and are a fabulous way to create and build community with others here at church. If you are interested, please contact Emily, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save the Date – Parish Cleanup Day
Autumn is upon us, and hopefully the rainy season too. We have some work to do to prepare the All Souls Parish campus for the upcoming winter: gutter and drainage cleanout, trimming of trees and bushes, leaf raking, sweeping of the courtyard, and general cleanup of the outside of the church buildings. Please join us Saturday, October 29th for a day of rigorous outdoor work with your fellow parishioners. Start time is 9:00 am, with a break at around noon for pizza lunch (provided) and completion in the early afternoon. Bring your yard tools, gloves, and dress for outdoor work.
Contact Kaki Logan (Landscaping Sub-Committee Chair) or John Cockle and Martín Ortega (Property Maintenance Sub-Committee Co-Chairs) with ideas and/or questions.
“Sacred Earth: Growing Beloved Community”
Tonight at 7p (and then monthly) Click here to register for the Zoom link.
Join Bishop Marc Andrus and the Rev. Dr. Ambrose Carroll for our inaugural podcast in a new series entitled “Sacred Earth: Growing Beloved Community.” Each month introduces a new environmental leader discussing their work and the spiritual practices and learning that have shaped them and undergird their work.
We begin this new podcast series with the Rev. Dr. Ambrose Carroll, the founder and president of Green the Church. He is an Atlantic fellow, visiting faculty at Berkeley School of Theology at the Graduate Theological Union, and pastor at Church by the Side of the Road, Berkeley, CA. In the last decade, Dr. Carroll has combined theology with ecology and challenged the church universal to embrace its mantle of creation care. He created Green The Church, a national non-profit charged to educate the Black Church and lead in the creation of sustainable programs to undergird the work of creating green and efficient church buildings.
Our guest musician is Benjamin Mertz who was raised in the Episcopal Church and has served as music director in many congregations. He is the Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute (BECI), on the board of directors of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, and the founder/director of the Joyful Noise! Gospel Singers. Benjamin is a composer, performer, and song leader who specializes in music of the Black Spiritual tradition. He can often be found leading songs at benefit concerts, vigils, protest actions, sacred services, and workshops.