2220 Cedar Street, Berkeley, California 94709

All Souls Welcome.
Visitors Expected!


Phil Brochard headshot2

What God Wants

Pastor Paula White-Cain, of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida has recently been in the news, partly because of her role as a spiritual advisor to President Trump and partly because of the proclamations that she made on televangelist Jim Bakker’s show a few weeks ago, about God’s role in the election last November.

If you’re curious about her appearance on Jim Bakker’s show, here’s a link to a Newsweek article about their conversation that also contains a youtube link to that section of the show. I think that it’s fair to say that Paula White-Cain’s comments have elicited praise from some Christians, as well as rebuke from others. In short, Paula White-Cain, and then later Jim Bakker, stated a firm belief that the election of Donald Trump was providential, and could not have taken place if this outcome were not the will of God.

There’s a lot to unpack with what they both said, just from those 4 minutes. But today I’d like reflect on this notion of the inevitability of the will of God. For there are those (and this is not restricted to Christianity) who place their trust in an understanding that every act on this earth (and beyond) has been pre-ordained be God, and therefore reflects the will of God. Now, when the action that you are hoping for takes place—you get the job, or the parking spot, or your preferred Presidential candidate—it is easy to believe this.

But what if the action you have witnessed or endured or caused is hurtful or even catastrophic? Does that mean that this too was the will of God? These questions have been asked by humans for as long as we have been contemplating our lives, our deaths, and what takes place in between. While there are no easy answers, we cannot avoid the questions.

And so it was in a recent conversation with my spiritual director about the nature of will—as in our will and God’s will—that I was stunned by the simplicity and truth of one of his statements: that God doesn’t always get what God wants. While we may wish this to be different, we need only consider Auschwitz, Cambodia, or Rwanda from this past century to see human actions that are profoundly at odds with what we know of God’s desire.

Whether in terms of presidential elections or Super Bowl victories, just because something happens does not necessarily mean that it is consistent with the will of God. I understand, though, where part of this instinct comes from­—a desire to have God on our side. And yet, human history across the centuries has shown that this desire often leads to tremendous suffering.

My sense is that rather than trying to get God on our side, we should be paying our attention as to whether or not we are on God’s side. As our Bishop, Marc Andrus, has articulated, that always means looking out for the vulnerable. In biblical terms it’s the widow, the orphan, the destitute. This is where our prayer, personal and political, of attention and of action, should be.

It may well be that God takes part in the political affairs of the United States of America. But before we declare a particular result to be illustrative of God’s will, we must allow that results alone cannot tell us whether God is getting what God wants. For what God desires and how we respond often answer two very different questions.


Stewardship Launch Brunch: Building up in Love

Save the Date: Sunday October 8th at 10:10 am

building up in loveBut speaking truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. – Ephesians 4:15-16

What’s so special about this date?  Not only will we be worshiping together at 7:30, 9:00 or 11:15, but at 10:10 am, during formation hour, we are going to gather as a community to launch our Annual Pledge Campaign.

What you can expect at this event:

Food!  Ann’s Catering will provide something for everyone regardless of dietary restrictions (vegetarian, gluten-free, non-dairy etc) You will find plenty to fill your plate!

Information! Our Annual Pledge Campaign is going to be different this year. We want to tell you about Stewardship soup & story program, what to expect over the coming weeks and reflect on the many ways we engage in Stewardship at All Souls.

Formation! Our Stewardship Team begins each meeting with prayer and scriptural reflection, and we will be inviting you to join us in similar formational activities.

Fellowship! We will be seated at our wonderful round tables in the Parish Hall and will have opportunities for small group discussions and fellowship.

Our regular adult formation programs will not take place so that everyone can be part of this event. Sunday School for children will continue as usual during the program.

And all of this will happen between 10:10 and 11:00 am. We look forward to seeing you there!

At the Ranch

This past weekend, a record breaking 134 All Soulsians journeyed to the Bishop’s Ranch for our annual parish retreat. Reflection, hilarity (see the lyrics below), fellowship and renewal were all shared in abundance. Take a look at some of the beauty and joy that took place:

parish retreat, whole group

A great gaggle of All Soulsians

bishops ranch trail

A foggy morning on the trails

retreat kids and teens

Four year olds living the dream: wonderful attention from teenagers.

retreat youth

Youth unpack the realm of heaven

retreat youth posing

Youth, strike a pose!

parish retreat hike

The 10 year olds set out towards the orchard

10 year old retreat art

The 10 year olds create a tapestry depicting heaven out of foraged art materials

retreat kickball game

The ball flies high in the Kickdom of Heaven

retreat kickball fans

Fans look on during kickball

ranch chapel at night

Night, after a gorgeous day

On the Vestry

On Saturday night at the retreat’s Talent Optional Show, our outgoing vestry members wowed the audience with this remarkable song and dance number. Inspired? Talk to Mary Rees, Tara McCulloch, Mark Koops-Elson or Nancy Pryer about nominations for next year’s vestry. Many thanks to Derek McCulloch for writing these amazing lyrics!

vestry song

If you’ve got a yearning
Want some churchy learning
Maybe meet a nice trustee
If you love your parish and you want to cherish
Spending time on charity
Draw upon your passion
In a Christian fashion
Work collaboratively
Time to make your mind up
Time for you to sign up
Make yourself a nominee

On the vestry
You get an annual retreat
On the vestry
Where you can always find a seat
On the vestry
Come on now, help us get things done

CHORUS: (On the vestry, On the vestry)
LEAD: It might always be this fun!

On the vestry
Where you can welcome everyone
On the vestry
Where we’ve got vision by the ton
On the vestry
Come on now, help us get things done
On the vestry, On the vestry, On the vestry (On the vestry)

vestry dance 1

We want you, we want you
We want you as a new recruit

If you’d like to dicker
To help fund a vicar
This might be the board for you
Speak up if you please
Advise the diocese
On how the tithing might accrue
Spiritual welfare
Always your affair
For each and ev’ry congregant
Could be an elector
If we pick a rector
Could be you’re a confidante

On the vestry
Hey, you can park all day for free

On the vestry
And you can even get a key
On the vestry
Write a parochial report

CHORUS: (On the vestry, On the vestry)
LEAD: Then take a rest in this resort!

On the vestry
Come on, there’s programs to support
On the vestry
And if your patience getting short
On the vestry
Just sing along like a good sport
On the vestry, On the vestry, On the vestry (On the vestry)

We want you, we want you
We want you as a new recruit

On the vestry
Yes, you can follow Robert’s Rules
On the vestry
That’s just one of many tools
On the vestry
Come on now, help us get things done

CHORUS: (On the vestry, On the vestry)
LEAD: It might always be this fun!

On the vestry
Where you can welcome everyone
On the vestry
Where we’ve got vision by the ton
On the vestry
Come on now, help us get things done

vestry dance 2


Please join together in giving thanks for the life of Georgia Becker, long time member of All Souls. There will be a memorial service for her in the church on Saturday, September 23rd at 2:00 pm, with a reception to follow in the Parish Hall.

The Feast of St. Francis & Blessing of the Animals

Sunday, October 1st

All pets (and stuffed animals!) are welcome at the 7:30 and 11:15 am services Sunday October 1st, and will be blessed during the 7:30 service and in the courtyard after the 11:15 service, around 12:30 pm. If you or your kids have especially animal-loving friends, this would be a great time to invite them to join you! It’s a joyful, silly, and fairly chaotic experience, praying with animals. If you know someone who might be curious but a little wary of church, this is a perfect time for them to try it out!


Soup & Story is our house group series, and is coming back for the month of October. Whether you are new or have been coming a long time, these small groups provides a great opportunity to get to know other folks and families in the church. Low commitment—just four weeks. You pick the night and location that works best for you and/or your family, and dinner is provided! Sign up in the Welcome Area just in front of the sound booth or online here. See Emily Hansen Curran for more details.


Please join us for a bi-weekly guided contemplative practice in the Christian tradition of Centering Prayer. We will gather with a trained facilitator from 7:30 – 8:30 pm for instruction and silent contemplative prayer, meeting in the chapel here at All Souls. While there will be a focus on the emotional challenges particular to working for peace and justice in difficult times, we hope that everyone in need of a restorative contemplative practice will join us!

Coordinators:  Terry Trotter and Sarah Bakker Kellogg
Schedule: September 18th, October 2nd and 16th, November 6th and 20th