From the Rector

phil_on_boat_2A Time to Return

The last time that I saw many of the souls from this parish was on Sunday, May 17th. Most of that morning is a blur for me. (I have memory traces of smoke and bicycles) That afternoon, Sarah, the boys and I finished preparing our house and packing the necessary food, books, and clothes for our journey. The next morning we were off, heading for wilderness and only God knew what else.

The months that followed were a remarkable gift. There was time for study, there was time for writing, there was time for rest, there was time for play, and there was time for reflection. Through extended times of reading and writing I was able to be in conversation with people who are thinking broadly and deeply about the paths ahead for Christian communities. Some of this I shared in blog posts along the way and my hope is that more and more of this fruit will be born in the months ahead. And at the end of our Sabbath time, it was very clear to each of the four of us that, in the words of one of our accounts of Creation, it was very good indeed.

As the sabbatical was coming to a close, and I was finishing up books and re-reading notes, I came to a curious conclusion: it was time to return. To be sure, I could spend more months on the road––the simplified life we led was very compelling. But after months of studying and reading about practices that lead to and keep congregations vital, I wanted to do them. The congregations that I spent Sundays with along the way were nice enough, but there is a difference between visiting on a Sunday and living this together, week in and week out.

So it is that I am back. Not just by contract, but by intent. And what I have found upon returning has been really exciting. In fact, it was a bit of déjà vu. Because it was in mid-September, almost exactly seven years ago, upon arriving at All Souls Parish, that I had the distinct feeling that was that I was running to catch up to an already-moving train. The same has been true this week.

A successful search for an Associate for Youth Ministries has brought the talented Jess Powell to our shores! The Parish House Accompaniment Program has created a warm and welcoming space and trained folks in this ministry! Our solar panels have been installed and pending the paperwork from PG&E, we will be supplying solar power to the grid! Recruiting and training took place for Lectors and Intercessors! Plans are underway for new “soft spaces” to welcome infants and children to our upstairs sacred space! There was a burst pipe the week of Open Door Dinner and through the valiant efforts of many, Open Door Dinner happened that very Sunday! We are in the final round in the two other staff searches that are ongoing––for a bookkeeper (the phenomenal Maria Baird is retiring) and for our brand-new Associate for Ministry Development! And imagine my shock when I found that our annual pledge campaign has already started!

It is very clear that all summer long the train of All Souls Parish has been moving. And to riff off of Horace Griffin (his leave-taking is hard news to hear) and off of Ecclesiastes, it indeed is time to return. And so I have, with heartfelt thanks for the dedicated work of our staff––those who have stayed and those who have finished their course (for now), the Wardens and Vestry, and the many who gave of themselves mornings, noons and nights. And in particular, I am grateful to this parish for allowing and encouraging this time of Sabbath. Your prayers for the journey, written and prayed daily, were a source of love, humor and support. After a few months of rest, reflection and prayer, it is time to return. Now I just need to make sure that I can catch up.



Faith in the World

Tara_McCulloughA reflection on how the work I do in the world is shaped and informed by my faith.

“Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water. Proverbs 11:24-25”

Work/life integration is a new buzz-phrase that claims to replace the tired old notion of “work/life balance,” which some might say is code for “I refuse to work more than forty hours a week.” Work/life integration seems to be the inevitable shift that has come about due to technology, global business trends, and an increasingly demanding customer base that requires workers to be available 24/7. Checking email late at night, on weekends, and on vacation has become the new normal. For some, no longer is there a solid line separating work from the rest of one’s life. The line has become blurred, porous, and maybe even non-existent!

Personally, I reject this idea—and I am fortunate enough to work for a public institution that still values work/life balance, and even touts this idea in its recruiting literature! When I leave the office, I tend not to take the day’s workload with me: I know it will still be there tomorrow morning.

But, what if work/life integration meant something entirely different? What if I applied this porous fuzziness to my life of faith and to the rest of my life? What if these two things were so interconnected that there were no boundaries between them, and faith spilled out into every crevice of my being, and even into my day job?

Being an employee of a public institution, I firmly support the separation of church and state. And, I acknowledge the inherent danger in suggesting that one’s faith be so intertwined with one’s work that there is no delineation. However, my idea of integrating faith and work is more like incorporating a spiritual practice into one’s job where one’s deeply rooted values can inform and shape common interactions and processes. For example, a seemingly insurmountable problem with a coworker becomes an opportunity to practice deep listening and compassion. Fierce competition for resources among colleagues becomes a way to practice adopting a culture of abundance, rather than one of scarcity. Giving my time and energy to committees and task forces that benefit the greater good becomes a way to build a community. And the fundraising work that I do is a way to engage joyfully with supporters who are deeply connected to my institution. These are just a few ways that I integrate my faith into my work. For when we give of ourselves, we ourselves are increased, and not diminished.

– Tara McCulloch

New Adult Formation Classes

Mark_RichardsonAdult formation classes reconvene this Sunday, September 13. In addition to Bible Workbench in the Garden Room of the Parish House, these classes are scheduled for the first session (9/13, 9/27, 10/4, 10/11, 10/18- parish retreat 9/20):

Science and the Spiritual Quest – The Rev. Dr. Mark Richardson, CDSP President and Dean
Parish Hall
This series will first explore assumptions we hold about the relationship between contemporary science and long held beliefs in the Christian tradition. How do we find integrity at this interface?  The following two weeks will consist in case studies of this relationship of science and Christian faith, first by considering Christ in the context of evolutionary theory, second, by looking at the Pope’s encyclical on the natural environment in the context of applied sciences and human moral values. This course will meet for three weeks: 9/13, 9/27, and 10/4.

Stories of All Souls – The Rev. Phil Brochard
Common Room
Designed especially as an introduction to people new to All Souls, this course explores how we make church together (both as a parish and as Episcopalians): our place in Christian history and polity, our view of scripture and its interpretation, the role of sermons and music in liturgy, our creeds and communal prayers, the importance of the Eucharist, the meaning of membership and the importance of giving, and much more.

The 7:30 Service

chapel_icon_125An experience of our earliest liturgy

Sunday morning we arrive at All Souls and park in one of the spaces in the lot, then walk around to the “lower room” (chapel) where the early morning service is held. The greeter hands us our name tags, and we exchange friendly chatter before entering. It takes a while, but the room often becomes nearly filled with people, most of the faces familiar, but sometimes a new one.

The room is fairly dark, adding to the “sub rosa” atmosphere. It puts me in mind of early Christians meeting secretly to practice their faith, although there is nothing secret about the greetings exchanged with passers by before and after the service.

Participation in this spoken service is different from in the larger setting upstairs—the altar is closer, intercessors speak from where they are in the congregation, thanksgivings are candidly shared. There is an intimacy to praying and sharing the Eucharist in this space, which makes it easier for even an introvert to feel a part of this smaller community within the community of All Souls.

Sharing of “goodies” and an opportunity to discuss scripture in the Bible Workbench sessions follow the service.

– Charli Danielsen


Neighbors talking to Neighbors about why #BlackLivesMatter – Lawn Sign Canvassing with First Congregational Church of Berkeley
Join others from All Souls in going coming together with other East Bay Christians around #BlackLivesMatter. First Congregational Church of Berkeley will host a lawn sign canvassing in our Berkeley neighborhood on September 13th 2015 at 2:30 pm. Part of the training and sending will include Christian blessings, but the resources included on the handouts for the neighborhood will be secular. People of any or no religious tradition are welcome to join and participate in the canvassing. Contact Danielle Gabriel to learn more.

Youth Group begins this Sunday!
Middle School Youth Group will meet in the Youth Room of the Parish House from 4:00 – 6:00 pm. High School Youth Group meets there from 6:30 – 8:30 pm.

Phoenixes Taize service
Tomorrow, September 11 at 7:00 pm in the Chapel on Cedar Street. 20s and 30s are welcome to join us for short meditative singing with gorgeous harmonies, silent prayer and conversation afterward. Bring snacks if you feel so inclined!

Loaves & Fishes
The next Loaves & Fishes meal is Saturday, Sept 12 at 4:00 pm at Vimala & George Tharisayi’s home, please RSVP to Gloria Bayne. All are welcome to come share in a fun potluck meal and enjoy the time to connect with old friends and make new ones!

Parish Retreat, September 18-20
Registration is full for our annual parish retreat at the Bishop’s Ranch, September 18-20! It’s quite possible that some people will have to change their plans though, so you can get on the waiting list by emailing Caroline DeCatur Putnam.