From the Rector
This week marks the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, October 4th. And while one of the more popular understandings of Francis is often represented in lawn statuaries, as he looks lovingly at cement birds, this affection represents only the surface of Francis’ relationship with the Creation.
Because Francis was actually quite radical in how he understood and lived in Creation. Radical, as I’ve written before, as in radix or the root. For the root understanding of Creation is that it is good, that it is not finished, and that we are, in fact, part of God’s ongoing acts of Creation. Because of this, what Francis sought wasn’t simply appreciation, but communion with God, as known in and through the creatures, flora and fauna, of this world.
It’s my sense that we as humans have tremendous capacity for communion with God in this way, but often miss it. Take, as an example the word recreation. Even our pronunciation of the word, rec-reation, as in Parks and Rec, obscures what we really mean.
For the purpose of re-creating is to remember that we are creations of the Holy, and in the process, to recognize our own constant creation. My experience is that when encounter the wild, when we truly pay attention to other living beings, we encounter God around us and recognize the Divine within us. And that when we do this, we come close to the kind of communion that St. Francis so clearly gave witness to.
It is this kind of communion that eight other priests and I will be hoping to encounter on retreat this next week (including the Rev. Helen McPeak, raised up for ministry by All Souls and the daughter of Ross and Doree Laverty). The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, the bishop of the Diocese of Olympia (Western Washington), will be leading a backpacking pilgrimage of sorts through the Cascade Range for five days.
Centered around the feast of Francis of Assisi, we will be reflecting on Richard Rohr’s work on his life, be keeping the hours of the prayer as a body, and attempting to live as Francis so remarkably witnessed. My hope and prayer is that, even if we are exhausted (and aware that we are not as young as we once were), that each of us will be re-created through our encounter with All That Is.
Whether lived night and day on mountain ridges, known through a garden of flowers and fruits, or simply through noticed in the flight of a songbird in our neighborhood, this kind of connection with the Creation is a vital and essential act of being human. It is what awakens us to our relationship with the Creator, and helps us to re-member our fundamental communion with our fellow creatures. So to celebrate the feast of this wild man from Assisi, in addition to having a pet blessed, take some time this week to revel in the Creation, and be re-created in the process.
The Storyteller’s Privilege
Setting: Bishop’s Ranch, church retreat
Time: Sunday morning, mid-sermon
Seminarian to young children: “What is the kingdom of heaven like?”
Child #1: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman put in her flour and it grew and grew.”
Child #2: “The kingdom of heaven is like a precious pearl.”
Child #3 (roughly 3 years old): “Heaven is like a string.” (Whispered consultation with seminarian.)
Seminarian: “Oh, it’s like a string because it holds all the pearls together!”
As a Sunday School teacher, my heart swelled with pride listening to all three of the above responses. Not only are our children listening to and absorbing the lessons of our tradition, they are also learning to think for themselves. As we raise the next generation of Episcopalians, we strive to impart this in Sunday School, since both the Scriptures and independent thinking are important parts of our faith. One of the top 10 reasons I’m an Episcopalian (as explained on the back of my favorite t-shirt) is because I don’t have to check my brain at the door of the church. Each time I teach, I’m struck by the children’s responses, whether they are thoughtful and reflective, intellectually demanding or even just silly! As the children learn from me, I also learn from the children.
Because this may be the first time such young children experience these stories, telling them is a great responsibility. As the mother of a Sunday School graduate, I’ve been reminded how seriously the children take these stories (God forbid you forget anybody’s favorite part of this week’s parable!) Helping these children begin their spiritual journey is a special privilege for those of us lucky enough to work with them. If you feel drawn to this as well, talk to Liz Tichenor and learn more about how you might be able to help.
– Kim Wong
From the Associate for Youth Ministries
Youth Parish Retreat 2017
From September 15th – 17th, twenty-three youth (along with more than a hundred other All Soulsians) played and studied at the Bishop’s Ranch. The youth, a few adults, and I came together for dinner on Friday night. I asked them to make pictures of what they think heaven is. Every picture was different. We closed up the night with evening prayer, a little night swimming, and reading The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis together.
Saturday started off with Morning Prayer. Between that and lunch, the youth talked with each other about their pictures of heaven; played a name game and Capture the Flag; learned what kingdom meant during Jesus’s time; acted out a few parables about the kingdom of heaven; explored how The Last Battle depicts heaven; and searched for references to heaven in an All Souls bulletin.
Things calmed down after lunch. Free time meant homework time, hiking time, and of course many rounds of dibble in the pool. Before the social hour, I asked the youth to share their thoughts on church and youth group. We used a College for Congregational Development model and included flip chart paper and Post-It notes.
The youth joined the social hour and of course the wrestling matches. Some shared their talents at the Talent Optional Show. We stayed for evening prayer and read the very end of The Last Battle before calling it a night.
Sunday morning was filled with Eucharist, cleaning up, kickball, and swimming. I ended the weekend with one last round of dibble.
I sincerely hope the youth had as much fun as I did during the retreat. I had a blast. With Blake Harper, Annika McPeek, twenty-three youth, and I in St. John’s Meeting House, the space felt full. Many, many thanks to Blake, Annika, and Shawn Adderly for helping with the youth throughout the weekend! There were times of laughter and bonding, and there were moments of remarkable quiet. I saw old friendships strengthened and new friendships formed.
I know that we don’t know exactly what heaven is like. As Episcopalians, we have parables. We have scenes imagined by C.S. Lewis. We can guess. I think we can find glimpses of heaven on earth if we look, pay attention, and let them in. I caught a few glimpses on the retreat. I hope the youth, the other adults working with them, and everyone on the retreat also saw glimpses of heaven.
From the Junior Warden
Summary of the September Vestry Meeting
Here’s a summary of last week’s Vestry Meeting, to keep you up to date on what’s being discussed about our common life at All Souls. Meeting was called to order by Senior Warden Tara McCulloch at 7:30 pm, all were welcomed and a spiritual reflection was offered by Co-Chaplain Erin Horne, including Ephesians 4:15-16 which prompted discussion of our various ministries and how through them we build up the body of Christ. On the cusp of Stewardship, observations from Henri Nouwen prompted questions of how we may increase our generosity to be faithful stewards of our community’s resources.
Next, the vestry approved the items on the Consent Agenda; minutes from the August Vestry meeting(s) and August financial and treasurer’s reports.
The Rector’s Report included the ongoing work of the search committee for our Parish Administrative Assistant, the very successful parish retreat at Bishop’s Ranch, and the upcoming Soup and Story series at parishioners’ homes throughout October.
Caroline McCall took us through an exercise to help us explore why we give what we give – it is imperative that we know the answer to this before asking others to consider their giving.
Marilyn Flood expressed the Vocation Committee’s endorsement of, and the vestry unanimously approved, Marguerite Judson as a candidate for priesthood, after deep discussion with Marguerite about her call many years ago and the ongoing discernment process that kept her on this journey.
Ed Hahn provided an update on the work of the Parish House Proposal Group, including presentation and examination of several refined designs from SAHA’S architect, which we narrowed down to a few that we hope our architect-advisors will support from their expert viewpoint. We want to move to our second Community Open House (date TBD) with a clear choice of design.
The outgoing vestry class serves as the nominating committee for the election held at the annual meeting in January. They conducted an exercise to bring forth our ideas of what characteristics and skills we feel strong candidates would possess. Vestry members began filling the nominations box with names of parishioners to consider.
Mark Koops-Elson updated us on the ongoing work of the Compensation Task Force whose mission it is to review wage and compensation trends across the Dioceses so that we can keep up with the times and fairly pay our staff. Recommendations are forthcoming.
Three vestry members offered prayers of thanksgiving, petition, and guidance. As is our custom, we closed the meeting with a prayer and antiphon from BCP Compline, one that I cherish. It’s this one:
“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.”
I want to add that a special meeting of the vestry was held on August 27, and following thoughtful questions and answers about the candidate’s call to ordination, unanimously approved the postulancy of Nikky Wood for the holy orders of the priesthood. Certainly the Vocations Committee has been hard at work with many qualified candidates’ discernment, and the Vestry’s approval of the committee’s endorsements speaks to the mindfulness and thorough soul searching that accompanies such discernment over months and years.
I hope these summaries are providing some glimpse into the workings of the Vestry from month to month. Please don’t hesitate to speak to any one of us if something is on your mind, especially if you may be discerning a call to serve with us.
Thanks be to God.
– Maggie Cooke
THE FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS & BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS
THIS Sunday, October 1st
All pets (and stuffed animals!) are welcome at the 7:30 and 11:15 am services this 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 RETURNS
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.
Stewardship Launch Brunch
Save the Date: Sunday October 8th at 10:10 am
We are going to gather as a community to launch our Annual Pledge Campaign on On October 8th at 10:10 am, during formation hour. You can look forward to a fabulous catered brunch, a chance to learn about how our Annual Pledge Campaign will be different this year, and time to talk and enjoy each other’s company. 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. All of this will happen between 10:10 and 11:00 am. We look forward to seeing you there!
Calling All Miracles
There are so many miracles in the bible that center around food that one might assume the treats that appear in the Narthex after the 9 and 11:15 am services are a modern day miracle. However, this is made possible by generous people signing up to provide snacks and help set up that space each week. So maybe it is a miracle after all! If you’ve been looking for a way to become more involved in serving the church but can’t commit to weekdays or later hours on Sunday, the Sunday morning hospitality team is what you’ve been waiting for! We hope you can join our group. For open time slots, you can view our schedule by clicking this link, or by emailing us at allsoulshospitality@gmail.
Great Opportunity in Archives!
Come join the team finding out about the wonderful and fascinating people who are part of this parish. We have some elders that we see each week on Sunday, and sometimes at lunches, brunches, and meetings. But what do we know? We are organizing a few people to help interview these people, and your results will be published in the Pathfinder. Interested? Contact Phil, Liz, or Dana Kramer-Rolls. It is fun. It is easy. And it will present the stories of those precious elders in our All Souls Parish.