Sabbath: Who is it good for?

Phil Brochard headshot2

Absolutely everyone. For the past couple of weeks I have been immersing myself in studies of Sabbath. From Scripture to history to practice, with an outstanding group of leaders at All Souls, I’ve been preparing for our upcoming retreat at the Bishop’s Ranch.

What has come clear in my preparation is how difficult it is for many of us to keep the Sabbath and how critical it is for to do so. A reminder for the Israelites that has its roots in our foundational understanding of Creation, Sabbath was as essential to whole living thousands of years ago as it is for us in our hyper-condensed, always-on culture.

Our very reticence and reluctance to pause, pull away, and take time for rest, play, feast, liberation, and recreation is itself a sickness. As the sage Thomas Merton taught us decades ago, “The reason why we don’t take time is a feeling we have to keep moving. This is a real sickness. We live in the fullness of time.” I would posit that this sense that we have to continually keep moving has only increased since the time of Thomas Merton. And it must stop.

For those who are going to the Ranch, I’m hoping that in the next 24 hours you might consider what ideas or notions you have about Sabbath. What are you bringing with you? And for those who are going to remain by the Bay, I ask you to consider what practices you have that make you stop. Stop work in all of its forms. And that in that stopping, what allows you to rest and reflect on the goodness that is being created.

Because at its heart, Sabbath is simply about making yourself stop, to recreate. Whether it is because of the goodness that God has created, or because you are removing yourself from the break-neck pace of Pharaoh, or because of a desire to re-connect with your neighbors, the commandment to keep Sabbath (rather than to make it), is fundamental to life in God. As therapist, author, and ordained minister Wayne Muller has written,

“Sabbath time assumes that if we step back and rest, we will see the wholeness in it all. We will naturally apprehend the good in how things are, taste the underlying strength, beauty, and wisdom that lives even in the difficult days, take delight in the gift and blessing of being alive.”

We will be exploring more about this practice of stepping back in the upcoming months, especially in a series about “A Rule for Living”. But this week I invite you to begin or to renew this essential practice of stopping. Because now, as in the end, our lives depend on it.


From the Stewardship Team

Generous Living and Giving at All Souls

Caroline_McCall_2015_125This past Sunday was typical for All Souls. We worshiped at 7:30, 9:00, and 11:15; children participated in Sunday school; a team of volunteers fed hungry people at the Open Door Dinner; and our youth launched the youth group year with a barbeque. In the midst of the energy generated by these forms of ministry, we launched our annual pledge campaign with a catered brunch. Adults gathered in the Parish Hall while youth had their own conversation in the Common Room. All of us spent the time exploring the concept of generosity and how we respond through the decisions we make about our individual practices of giving and of receiving.

The adult conversations were sparked by reflections from two members of our vestry. First, Maggie Cooke shared her experience with generosity – both as a recipient of generosity and as a giver. Maggie noted that her experience of giving as an act of generosity is most meaningful when nothing is given in return. She reminded us that the joy of giving freely is inherently non-transactional; any act of generosity is diminished when something is expected, offered, or given in return.

Nancy Pryer spoke about the importance that she and her husband Jack Jackman have placed on intentional proportional giving throughout their adult lives. Beginning with their years as postdoctoral fellows, Nancy and Jack made commitment to proportional giving. Since those early days, they have been able to increase the proportion that they give, moving gradually to a tithe (10%) and more recently increasing beyond a tithe. Nancy notes that “prioritizing proportional giving helps us make financial decisions that are anchored in our values of gratitude, resulting in a call to share from our blessings.”

Following each of the vestry reflections, we engaged in discussions at our tables. The questions we explored together were:

  1. Think about a generous gesture or gift you have received. What made it generous? How did you feel? How did you respond?
  2. How do you make decisions about how much to give to All Souls? How might intentional proportional giving change that decision process?

If you were unable to join us on Sunday, I invite you to explore these questions on your own or with friends.

Over the next several weeks, we will continue to explore these topics as a community. We invite you to join in common prayer, scriptural reflection, and practice, using materials that will be available each Sunday. Most importantly, we invite you to join us in worship on Celebration Sunday, October 23rd, as we gather together to pledge our financial commitment to the ministry of All Souls in 2017. That evening we will continue our celebration of sharing in God’s mission and ministry at our annual dinner, including second episode of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Call Me!” Be sure not to miss these important opportunities to live and give generously in community!

– Caroline McCall

Celebrating the Ministry of Christopher Putnam

christopher_putnamOn Sunday, September 25th, we will celebrate Christopher Putnam’s wonderful ministry as our Associate for Liturgy and Music at All Souls. We are delighted that Christopher & Caroline will be continuing in our community as parishioners, musicians and friends, but we want to mark this significant transition with a celebration of Christopher’s many gifts to All Souls in his 12 years of service. There are a few ways for you to express your appreciation and contribute to the celebration.

If you are not Christopher or Caroline Putnam, please click here to learn more about how you can join in and contribute to the festivities!

Please join us to recognize and honor all the gorgeous music and enriching liturgy that Christopher has brought into our lives!

Outreach Committee Hosts Graduation Dinner for Options Recovery Services, Berkeley


Faces. Happy faces, taking a first glance at the bountiful spread in front of them.

Cookies. Hundreds of cookies, fresh and homemade, bringing instant smiles.

It was a day for celebration, as 14 graduates were honored as they completed a year-long program in addiction recovery at Options Recovery Services in Berkeley. Established in 1996, Options provides treatment and support to people suffering from alcohol and drug dependency. The program has expanded collaboration with the courts, district attorneys, police, and probation department to promote an alternative sentencing approach for substance abuse-related offenses. This model program, serving more than 600 clients annually, has been a catalyst for changing the way the courts deal with drug offenders, to achieve more effective and lasting results. In fact, 90 percent of clients remain clear of crime and courts.

Options has developed collaborative relationships with area providers, social services, and institutions to promote state-of-the-art treatment and recovery, in a person-centered holistic model of care. In 2002, to respond to the need for sober housing for clients, Options purchased a home in West Oakland; in 2004, it opened the Options Mental Health Clinic. In 2006, a group of clinicians led by Tom Gorham, current Executive Director, worked inside San Quentin developing the Addiction Counselor Training Program—which has expanded to California State prisons around the state to provide peer-led substance abuse treatment to inmates.


Graduate and Board Member Michael Lyles welcomes Cynthia, Sharon, and Christine. Photo credit: Lewis Maldonado

Again this year, All Souls Parish hosted the reception following the graduation, which was standing room only at the Veterans’ Memorial Building in Berkeley. Titled “A Celebration of Sobriety,” it was led by Executive Director Tom Gorham and featured remarks by Special Guest Monica Lam of KQED Public Radio/Television. This was followed by special awards—scholarships recognizing special achievement—presented by YMCA partners. The highlight of the celebration was the very moving remarks by the graduates themselves, who spoke candidly and gratefully of how this program, the staff, and their classmates have transformed their lives. The reception concluded with the Serenity Prayer, led by Dr. Davida Coady, Medical Director and Founder of this vital program.

Thanks to the creative and prolific All Souls cookie bakers, led by Mardie Becker: Jill Churchman, Sarah Crawford, Betsy Dixon, Madeline Feeley, Kieran King, and Cathy Thompson. And special thanks to Sharon Roberts for taking charge of this effort and leading the team: Cynthia Clifford, Madeline Feeley, Lewis Maldonado, Christine Trost, and Valerie Dhanens, Christine’s mother-in-law, who moved here in June from Santa Maria—and hit the ground running at this event.

In closing, Sharon’s email sent after the dinner says it so well: “Of the connections we have had with Options, somehow the Friday night graduation struck me as a very special event.  The palpable love in the auditorium, the strong bonds graduates acknowledged with one another made so very visible the power of supportive community we read about over and over in scriptures.  I am grateful to be a part of such a willing and helpful All Souls team and thank you all for stepping forward and quietly making the dinner a success…I wish you all many blessings.”

For more information, please contact Sharon Roberts.

– Cynthia Clifford


This month the Vestry meeting is being moved from the third Wednesday to the fourth Wednesday, which is September 28th. As always, we’ll meet in the Common Room from 7:30 to 9:30 pm, and visitors are welcome.


Join us for our annual parish dinner to celebrate the pledge campaign and the generous gifts we receive from God and from one another, Sunday October 23rd, 5:30-7:30 pm. This is a fun event for all ages! There will be signups soon but please save the date!