From the Rector

A Dinner for the Ages

Is it that time again? Really? It’s an even year, close to Hallowe’en, and the Giants are in the World Series. Which must mean that it’s time for that dinner. That dinner that’s been called many things, the Stewardship Dinner, the Celebration Dinner, the All-Parish Dinner. (But not All Perish Dinner) But recently, in jest, a member of All Souls came up with a new name for the dinner we will be sharing this Sunday evening, October 26th at 5:30 pm, the “begging dinner.”

Now, as you may know, I find humor to be a critical component to living. All my life I have found it easier to make relationships, to encounter difficult truths and make sure that I don’t get too stuck in the weeds through humor. And so, when I heard the new possible name for our yearly dinner, I laughed. And, I began to think. Because while I very much can understand why this could be an experience of that night, it is very different from my own. So, for the last few days I’ve been exploring, remembering why we have this dinner. In truth, we don’t need to have it. We could simply send out the information about what is happening at All Souls and ask people to give. But then our giving, and our understanding about what we have been given and what we are to do with it, becomes just that – information sent, response requested. And my guess is that we all receive several of those kinds of mailings a week.

But that really isn’t why we come together this Sunday. Our dinner on Sunday evening, if we are holding it in the way in which we intend, serves as a reminder of who and whose we are. Why we are here at All Souls. I think we all know that there are plenty of different ways to live our lives, let alone spend our Sunday mornings. The Bay Area is awash with worthy organizations to join, to give to, to participate in. But we have decided to participate in a very specific way, by being part of this wider Body, by worshipping, serving, learning, and praying together. It’s not just a check in the mail. It’s the gift of ourselves, offered together in many ways.

And it is this together-ness that actually makes the difference. And why it doesn’t feel like a “begging dinner” for me. Without a doubt, we will be talking about what we believe All Souls will be doing next year, which will have a cost. But instead of one person (say, a Rector) begging for others to give, instead, this is more like a group of people, perhaps a family, coming together to remember who they are, celebrate what has happened and then, look to each other for how they will each take part.

This is one of the realizations that I return to, over and over again. That, despite our language and some of our structures, my fundamental understanding is that All Souls is not my church. Or the church of the Vestry. Or even of the Episcopal Church. It is an expression of God, made known to people in this place well over one hundred years ago. A way of being, a place, a community, a passed-on love, a touchstone, a gift that has been handed over, year after year, generation by generation.

And right now, this gift has been passed down to us. We are the ones who are holding it, hopefully lightly and reverently. We are the ones caring for it, adding to it, distilling it, carrying it forward to where it hasn’t been before. It is our gift from God, waiting to be passed on to others. That is why we will eat together again on Sunday, because we have something to give thanks for, to celebrate and to take our part in. I beg your pardon, but I can’t wait.


From the Outreach Chair

Deep Hospitality

On Tuesday, October 14, All Souls members Janet Chisholm, Elena Ramirez, and I attended a meeting at St. John’s Presbyterian Church on College Avenue in Berkeley. We were joined by nearly 100 other people from 20 local faith communities (Lutheran, UCC, Presbyterian, Methodist, Unitarian, Catholic, Jewish, nondenominational, and more) who had gathered to learn more about the new sanctuary movement. In the 1980s, hundreds of congregations across the U.S. provided legal, material and financial aid to refugees fleeing political repression and violence caused by civil wars in Central America. On Tuesday, we learned about four local churches (St. John’s Presbyterian of Berkeley, Montclair Presbyterian in Oakland, Oakland’s Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, and Primera Iglesias Presbyteria Hispana of Oakland) who have declared Public Sanctuary, opening their doors and hearts to Central American youth and families who are fleeing new forms of violence that have overtaken their lives and communities.

We heard from members of three of these families who recently left their homes and all of their possessions behind, due to having experienced horrible violence directly (the wife and daughter of a Honduran small business owner who refused to pay extortion money to a local gang) or the threat of violence (a teenage girl from Honduras, afraid to walk home from school due to recent kidnappings of school-aged girls and the murder of one of her friends). We also heard from the faith leaders of these four congregations, including Rev. Pablo Morataya, pastor of Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana on High Street in Oakland. Pastor Morataya told us that even though 60% of the members of his congregation are undocumented with few resources, the congregation decided three years ago to become a sanctuary for all refugees in need of protection and healing. He described the actions taken by his congregation as not a political movement, but a movement of faith in the tradition of the compassion shown by the Good Samaritan. Rev. Max Lynn of St. John’s Presbyterian spoke about his congregation’s decision to support and extend sanctuary to one refugee family, explaining, “The answer to evil is love.”

One of the three key initiatives that emerged from our summer discernment process and will soon be put into practice at All Souls is “to develop deep hospitality that invites discernment and provides opportunities to know who and whose we are, with others.” As I listened to the pastors of the four sanctuary churches describe their congregations’ reasons for taking this bold step and urge others to do the same, I wondered to myself, is this what deep hospitality means? I also wondered about the risks involved in assuming responsibility for providing material, financial and spiritual support to a family traumatized by violence, who live with the fear that deportation may result in their death. The family members who spoke are currently known to immigration authorities as they await asylum hearings. The United States, like most countries, has laws and processes in place to grant refugee status and asylum to individuals who are fleeing persecution in their native country. But what happens if these families’ applications for asylum are denied? Will these churches continue to protect and support these families, and at what cost? Is this what Bonhoeffer meant by “the cost of discipleship”?

On Saturday, December 6th All Souls will lead the monthly prayer vigil outside of the West County Detention Facility (5555 Giant Highway, Richmond, CA, 11am – 12noon), which now holds more than 400 undocumented immigrants awaiting asylum hearings or deportation – many have been there for months on end without legal representation. We look forward to sharing parts of our Episcopal tradition with all who are gathered, as we stand in solidarity with those held inside the facility and bear witness to their suffering. As we prepare for the prayer vigil and learn more about the new sanctuary movement, let us ask one another, how are we called as the Body of Christ in the world to provide deep hospitality to the stranger in our midst, and what form might this take at All Souls?
– Christine Trost

Stewardship Reflection

Living Stained Glass Windows

We’ve often heard that stained glass windows in churches and cathedrals were used to teach bible stories to people who couldn’t read. Priests taught lessons that were reinforced by looking at the corresponding window.

When I look around All Souls, I see living stained glass windows. Stained glass windows made of members, who live the gospel every day in real and tangible ways.

I’m relatively new to All Souls compared to many of you, but I’ve heard enough stories to know that this church has a rich history of living windows. Through ups and downs, times of change and periods of stability, the gospel message has remained in the forefront and the living windows have held the church in their hands.

I do know that teaching has been a constant at All Souls. This church makes quality, relevant and theologically sound teaching a priority. Lay people like you and me do much of this teaching. It has been such a gift to have the opportunity to lead a class, to work with Bible Workbench and to co-lead a small group. I’ve also been given the opportunity to be involved with the College for Congregational Development. Having the support of the leadership and the community to do this has been a real blessing in my life.

Sherry & I support All Souls with our time, treasure and talents. Wholeheartedly. God gives us good gifts so that we can serve others. Wholehearted living = wholehearted giving. This year, as in the past, we will think and pray about how best to support what we believe in. Let me encourage you to do the same by making a pledge or increasing your pledge to All Souls.
– Stephen Southern

Stewardship Celebration Dinner

October 26, 5:30-7:30p

It’s not too late to sign up! Join us this Sunday for our annual Stewardship Celebration Dinner! This will be a fabulous opportunity to savor the abundance of our life together, laugh and tell stories, and reflect on how we can give back with our whole hearts. But that’s not all! There will be magnificent door prizes, including the opportunity to have your own glamour shots taken in our glorious gold and purple cope, (modeled here by our fearless rector) homemade jam, a trip to the Cal Academy of Sciences, an evening of childcare, hand-crafted wine, bicycle repair, and more! The evening will be rounded out by wonderful music, the chance to learn unusual trivia about our community, and general merriment. Please sign up online here ASAP, via email to, or at the coffee hour station in the narthex on Sunday.

All Saints and All Souls Festivities with Ana Hernández

Friday, October 31, 7:00 pm: All Hallow’s Eve
Come to a beautiful and rare singing workshop led by Ana and Kate Munger, founder of the Threshold Choir, titled “Singing about the Dark Time, Going Within, and Honoring the Dead.” Cost is a “generous, affordable, and personally significant donation.” Space is limited, so please email to reserve your place.

Saturday, November 1: All Saints Day and Vigil of All Souls
All ages welcome for all of these activities!

3:30 pm – Building the Ofrenda and Telling our Stories
Gather in the Parish Hall to fold paper marigolds, make picture frames, and build our Ofrenda where we place pictures and other mementos to remember the dead from our own lives.
4:45 pm – Potluck Supper: Break bread as we make preparations for the Vigil liturgy.
5:30 pm – Vigil of All the Souls: The church will be bathed in candlelight and music as we make our own pilgrimage to remember those who have gone before. The reading of the names of those of have died in the last year is a central focus of this brief liturgy, bringing all those on our hearts to be present in prayer and song. The evening will conclude by 6:30 pm, early enough for our youngest parishioners to make this a part of their spiritual journey.
(Ana will be leading a workshop earlier on Saturday at St. Clare’s, Pleasanton. Please email Christopher Putnam to learn more.)

Sunday, November 2: All Saints Sunday and our own “Feast of Title” for the Parish
Our usual schedule of Sunday liturgies at 7:30, 9:00 and 11:15 will be among the most festive of the year. The later services will feature Ana leading us in song as a community and collaborating with our own musicians.


New Formation Classes Begin This Sunday, October 26th
Daring Greatly, Daring to Pray: How can we dare greatly enough to grow a practice of praying with our whole selves? In this course, we will explore Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability, shame, connection, and wholeheartedness as different doorways to prayer. Together we will unpack Brown’s research and experiment with new ways of opening ourselves to the Holy, both as individuals and as a community. Facilitated by The Rev. Liz Tichenor.

Gospel Economics: Whether we recognize it or not, economics has a major impact upon all of our lives, often determining when we get up, what we do with our time, with whom we interact, what foods we eat, and more. Economics was also a major focus of Jesus’ life and teachings. In this course we will consider the relation between the modern economy and the Christian faith, especially considering how the latter might shape our understanding of the former. This course will meet for three weeks 10/26, 11/9, and 11/16). Facilitated by Dr. Bradley Burroughs.

Bible Workbench continues. It is 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.

Memorial Service for Bob Kaiser: Saturday, November 8
Please join us for a Eucharistic liturgy of the resurrection as we celebrate the life of Bob Kaiser on Saturday, November 8th, 10:30 am, followed by a reception in the parish hall. In lieu of flowers, Nancy Snow and the Kaiser family have requested that donations be given to music at All Souls, where Bob served for many years as a choir member.

Loaves and Fishes
Come break bread, meet new friends, and connect with the different generations of All Souls! There will be a Loaves and Fishes potluck dinner at Caroline McCall’s house this Saturday, October 25th at 6p. Email Caroline at to RSVP.

Interfaith Immigration Vigil
Join members of All Souls holding vigil at: West County Detention Facility, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond, CA on November 1st, (and the first Saturday of every month) from 11 am – noon. This is one of 250 facilities across the country that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses to house undocumented immigrants awaiting hearings or deportation. Immigrants picked up in one part of the country can be sent to a facility anywhere in the nation, sometimes hundreds or thousands of miles away from family. At each vigil, we sing, pray, and hear testimony from family members and friends of those held inside, or from recently released immigrants awaiting hearings.