Reflect, Know, Listen, Respond

Phil Brochard headshot2

I was recently offered a metaphor that has helped me remember why I give. It has to do with the two bodies of water in Israel. In the north of Israel, the Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee teems with life, and supports humans and myriad other creatures. The water doesn’t stay there, however, it continues to move as the Jordan River flows south.

The Jordan becomes narrow and depending on rainfall, shallow at times, but it continues to flow, like a green snake winding its way through parched land, until it reaches a larger body of water. Now this second body of water has no outlet, all the water that enters it does not leave. That is part of why it is called the Dead Sea.

This is just as true for how we live our lives with our resources: our time, our attention, and our money. When we hold onto what we have been given, our lives and our souls stagnate. It is why this year our Stewardship team has been asking all of us to consider the course of generosity in our lives. And yes, each of us will be asked to join in giving to All Souls Parish so that the work that we are doing with God can continue. But before we offer our pledge, we are each being asked to engage in a process of understanding how and why we use our money the way that we do.

To do that, the Stewardship team is offering a simple set of four actions: Reflect, Know, Listen, and Respond.


REFLECT on God’s generous love

KNOW your current financial giving

LISTEN to God’s invitation to generosity

RESPOND with an intentional pledge for God’s work at All Souls


And so, starting with the launch brunch at the beginning of September, we have been considering questions like,

Think about a generous gesture or gift you have received. What made it generous? How did you feel? How did you respond?

How do you make decisions about how much to give to All Souls? How might intentional proportional giving change that decision process?

As Caroline McCall noted in her article several weeks ago, and as Rebecca Whitney talked about in her witness on Sunday that you can read below in this Pathfinder, these questions have made people reflect on how generosity has affected their lives. Madeline Feeley’s story that she shared with us a couple of weeks ago was testament to both giving and receiving, and the unexpected joy that changed her in that moment.

Whether it is because of our hyper-connectivity or the current political cycle, it is very easy to get swept up into feelings of fear and isolation, distrust and insecurity. And yet our biblical witness, and the way we have learned to live as Christians, reminds us of a different way of being. This way is not known by the absence of conflict or hardship, but instead by the willingness to give of ourselves, one for another. Allowing the gift of life to flow through us, rather than solely remain with us.

Consider then today, and in the days ahead, what it is you have received. What has been given to you, both recently and in years past? How have you passed these gifts on to others? What happens for you, when you give to others? How are you giving, knowing what you have been given?




Reflections on Generosity

Rebecca_Whitney_PhotoI’ve been asked to speak about the practice of generosity, so I’ve been reflecting a lot about this topic over the past few weeks. One of the first things I thought about was how my youngest daughter, Gabriella, loves to wrap up random things around our house and give them to her friends. A button, a small toy, some beads on a string. She carefully wraps them in paper with lots and lots of tape, and gives them as gifts to her somewhat mystified fellow preschoolers. And I know exactly why she does it: it is so much pleasure to give. I love the feeling I get when I make a present for a friend, or do someone a favor. When I contribute my time and energy to my children’s school. When I write a check to an organization I believe in and feel connected to the good work it does.

One of the things I value most about my experience at All Souls is that I encounter more opportunities to give beyond my immediate circle. I appreciate so much the chance to bring in a packet of socks for the Advent Ingathering, when we counter the materialism of December with meeting a specific need of an organization in our community. Providing a meal to a guest at the Parish House has given me the chance to do something concrete in the face of the worldwide refugee crisis. On a smaller scale, I love bringing a plate of cookies for coffee hour to make sure that newcomers feel the warmth here that I do.

Something I’ve noticed about generosity is that it makes me more attuned to the generosity of others. I appreciate those who step up to be room parents and team managers because I’ve taken my turn in those roles— and I know that they mean a lot of work. Getting more active at All Souls opened my eyes to how many people it takes to make church happen: before I started helping out in my own small ways, I hadn’t really seen this. It’s partly because being generous to a person or a group makes you more involved with them, but I also think there is something about the act of generosity that opens us up to each other.

In the discussion my table group had at our stewardship brunch, many of us talked about how we don’t want our acts of generosity to be reciprocated directly, that we don’t want it to be a transaction but rather an expression of ourselves. But I think it’s important to remember that we do get something back from these acts, something more than the good feelings of being useful, or even being thanked. I think that being generous is a way that we make ourselves more fully visible to others and see others more fully in return.

– Rebecca


Reflections on the Retreat


A few weeks ago, many All Soulsians enjoyed the annual Parish Retreat at The Bishop’s Ranch. The theme was Sabbath. During the youth program, we wrestled with three main questions: what is Sabbath; why is it important; and how do we make it happen. Naturally, we also included time for Sabbath during our retreat!

With 23 youth and four adults eating dinner together on Friday night, there were both familiar and unfamiliar faces for many. We used face paint to learn and remember names. We established our community covenant, joined other All Soulsians for night prayer, and briefly went swimming before listening to bedtime stories shared by Fr. Phil and Tripp Hudgins.

Saturday morning was a medley of activities and discussions. We found occurrences of Sabbath in the Bible, dove into the definition of Sabbath, and explored where our beloved screens fit into our personal forms of Sabbath. Games were a piece of this as well! If any of you were at the retreat and happened to look outside at the volleyball court or the lawn by the pool, you may have seen 23 middle and high school students and 5 adults running around.

We enjoyed time at the pool and around the Ranch as well. Several games of dibble were played as folks jumped into the pool racing to get a golf tee in the water. Some youth joined the all-parish kickball game. Many participated in the yearly wrestling match between dinner and the talent-optional show, and a few participated in the talent-optional show itself. We closed the night with more swimming and more stories.

Sunday morning was a medley of meals, family time, cleaning up, swimming, and the Eucharist. We all said goodbye to the beautiful Bishop’s Ranch and headed back home.

Throughout all of these activities, I watched the youth bond, laugh, play, and learn together. I saw new relationships forged and old ones strengthened. I saw youth fit in with the rest of the All Souls family seamlessly, and I’m sure I’m not the only one grateful for that. I watched, as did all of us at the talent-optional show, the youth show their wonderful acting skills in their skit. I saw the youth work together to clean up our spaces so we had extra time to swim. I watched them encourage each other. Those who were new to All Souls or our youth community fit in seamlessly, welcomed by the others. All voices were heard, and all shared thoughtful comments and ideas.

Youth, I pray that you remember what you learned and have carried it into your lives now, whether in small or large ways. Adults, I hope you get to hear the wisdom of our youth. All of us learned about Sabbath. Many of us played together. I pray that we can remember our senses of Sabbath, share them with others, and live into them.




The Beginnings of All Souls, Chapter 3


To put the early days of All Souls into perspective, think back to when All Souls celebrated its first services in the Chapter House in 1905 and 1906. There were only 47 states in the Union -Oklahoma was still a territory which, along with Indian Territory, were combined on November 16, 1907 to become the state of Oklahoma. New Mexico and Arizona would not be admitted to the Union for another five years, and it would be many decades more before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union.

In the last chapter, I reported that noted the interior of the “new” All Souls Chapel was a pretty bare bones place. The picture below is the earliest one we have of the interior of the old chapel. I believe it may well have been taken at that first Christmas service in the newly completed chapel in 1907.


In 1906, All Souls choir had three members: Miss Elma Macdougall, Mrs. Gurdon Bradley, and Admiral Whiting. The only one of those I have been able to identify with clarity is Mrs. Gurdon Bradley, who lived at 1494 Euclid in 1907, and who played piano for the choir. In 1909, after the “new” chapel was built, Miss Elma Macdougall asked a newcomer, Miss Kathleen Luke, who was just was only 21 years old to join the choir. Kathleen, as noted in Sketches of All Souls Church, [published on All Souls Day in 1944 in celebration of the liquidation of the mortgage on the property,] “with a girl’s desire to attend the ‘big church’ across the campus, demurred momentarily and then replied, ‘I’ll come in the choir, but I won’t promise to be very faithful!’.” In the long run, Kathleen was more than “very faithful” as will be reported from time to time in future chapters of All Souls’ history.

– Thomas Burcham


Please join your All Souls Parish family for Celebration Sunday, October 23rd, 2016. RSVP here  for both which service you plan to attend on this special Sunday, and also for our Celebration Dinner, 5:30 – 7:30 pm. We will welcome a fabulous guest preacher at all services, the Rev. Stephen Crippen, Deacon currently serving at St. Paul’s Seattle, in the Diocese of Olympia.

Our Annual Celebration Dinner promises fellowship, fun and surprises in Wait, Wait Don’t Call me, including another exciting celebrity caller. There will also be programming for children and youth.

Please RSVP here by October 16th.


As part of the Sunday Streets fair, on Sunday, October 16th, 17 blocks of Shattuck Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic from 11am to 4pm in the afternoon, from Rose Street to the north all the way to Haste Street to the south. If you are driving to All Souls that Sunday, plan a route accordingly. Or, make this a Sunday that you walk, scoot, bike, or BART to All Souls, then head down the hill and stroll along.