From the Rector

Building Energy

 To begin our staff meeting every week, each of us shares a word, phrase, or image about where we are in that moment––what we are bringing into the room, how our work is going, what our home life is like. And then we pray with that, holding each of us and all of our people up to God as we once again begin the work of guiding All Souls parish.

This past week, what I shared was actually a sound. And it’s the sound that I heard when I recently made popcorn. I was using our Whirley-Pop for a home movie night, and as the energy was building in the pot, it was slowly being transferred to the kernels of corn. At first it was only one or two of the kernels exploding into movie night goodness. Then it was three or four. Pretty soon, it was like the finale of a fireworks show. Popcorn was exploding in rapid succession as the energy reached that breaking point and the steaming snack of many a film was close at hand.

The reason why I chose to share it at our staff meeting this week is because in the last several weeks I have had the feeling that All Souls Parish is finally hitting that level of energy once more, and that many aspects of our common life are beginning to take off. Thanks be to God.

Some of it has to do with the new teaching year, and a new curriculum with our kids that is based on series of classes, and a host of new and returning teachers. Our youth group is riding the wave of momentum that emerged from the summer immersion trip to Los Angeles. And the new calendar of adult formation classes has been released and we have begun to practice, learn, and change once again.

The return to the academic year schedule has been also felt on Sunday mornings. We’re seeing more and more people at our morning services, and our new Associate for Music, Dent Davidson, has brought new resources and ways of leading that have energized the worship.

The Sunday night service recently moved into our chapel, and more folks have been entering into that service as word continues to spread. Life is returning.

The world outside of All Souls is also returning to more familiar patterns. For instance, several members of All Souls recently decided that we should be present as part of the Solano Stroll, so this Sunday visit the All Souls booth as we invite people to join us in worship, justice, and the blessing of pets. This in particular was inspired by and led by members of All Souls, with All Souls staff supporting in the form of the Rev. Maggie Foote’s postcard wizardry.

Our vestry has also been gaining in energy, as one of the stated goals has been to review and support the ministry areas of All Souls. Each meeting we spend around half an hour hearing reports from and engaging in spirited discussion about where the life is at All Souls, and how we can help revitalize it. As a result Vestry members are more deeply involved in the life of the Parish and ministry leads and staff are feeling more supported. 

Perhaps the most obvious sources of energy right now are around the Living Waters campaign. As you hopefully know by now, there will be a series of three listening sessions over the next few weeks as we seek congregational input about the prioritization of projects for our capital renewal. The first session will take place Sunday morning September 18th at the Bishop’s Ranch, the second session on September 25th after the 11:15a service, and the third and final session on Monday, September 26 at 7pm over Zoom. For this and other work, the property team has been reformed, is taking on more and more of the maintenance around All Souls, and has begun to reach out to local architects to begin the process of architect selection for our work.

And, we are also launching the Isaiah project. A small team of All Soulsians has been gathered and is organizing and drafting the process over the next three years of how we will discern focus areas towards the broad work of repairing the breaches in the East Bay. Stay tuned in the coming months for more parish listening and conversation sessions as we seek to discern where the Spirit is moving among us and in our community. The experience, courage, passion, and skill of the members of this team is incredibly inspiring.

Our Jordan Court Community Team has been meeting and will soon be ready to train All Soulsians in how we will be providing support to the Jordan Court community in the coming months. The intentionality, grace, wisdom, and persistence of this team has been remarkable and I am looking forward to the ways that All Souls can walk alongside folks at Jordan Court for years to come.

It is becoming more and more clear to me that after a long difficult season of pandemic, energy is once again building. And while we don’t know what the future holds, I am extremely grateful for the life that is emerging as we make church together.



OpEd from the Congregation

Protecting Democracy – A Moral Obligation?

In his address to the nation on January 6, (a date that has a lot of recognition these days) Presiding Bishop Michael Curry laid out three ‘spiritual keys” necessary to gain the strength necessary to see “beyond mere self-interest and behold the common good.”  He invited us to:

“renew our relationship with God,” 

“revive our relationship with each other,” and 

“resurrect our commitment to the ideals we share.”

The first two we at All Souls try to do every Sunday, with increasing enthusiasm as our Covid threat allows.  It’s that third key to which we must pay attention.

As Bishop Curry pointed out, one of the major ideals we all share in this country is democracy. “A near-sacred cornerstone” of this ideal of democracy is the individual’s right to vote.” … “The vote and the collective will of the people must be upheld as sacred and inviolate; it must be respected and protected; the government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”… “Let us be a people of conviction and choose the promise that is before us.”

We must do what is right and what is good.  I think we have a moral obligation.

And I have just discovered an interfaith movement with the goal of promoting “free and honest elections to determine the will of the people.” It is called Faithful Democracy, and the Episcopal Church is a member through The National Council of Churches.  

In the words of Faithful Democracy: ”…It is immoral when …corporations are given the rights of people and allowed to finance campaigns as a form of free expression; there are no protections against voting rules and administrative protocols that create barters to voting; voter disenfranchisement is clearly rooted in racist policies and history;  trust in our democratic systems is dwindling;  and leaders in power manipulate representation in order to retain their power.”

As Episcopalians, and in accordance with Bishop Curry’s invitation, our own Justice and Peace Ministry team, suggests that we lend our efforts to encouraging and supporting voter registration and protecting the right to vote. The most basic of these approaches, of course, is to individually contact friends and family members around the country, reminding them to vote.  Although we may not as a congregation endorse specific candidates or engage in partisan politics, some members of All Souls have participated with Vote Forward which organizes nonpartisan letter-writing drives to a list of unregistered voters or registered voters who do not vote regularly.  Other organizations like The League of Women Voters are also engaged in urging voter registration and participation. 

“It is a Christian obligation to vote, and more than that, it is the church’s responsibility to help get souls to the polls.” – Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

-Margaret Sparks

Listening to Your Life

A Workshop in Writing a Spiritual Autobiography

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is, in the boredom and pain of it no less than in its excitement and gladness. Touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of this life of yours because all moments are key moments and life itself is grace 

-Frederick Buechner

Where are you from? Who are your people? By what convoluted means — in both the physical and spiritual sense — did you arrive here at All Souls Parish, Berkeley, in the Year of Our Lord 2022?  

Is it possible that, given time and energy and continual support, you might begin to write all this down? 

Taking Frederick Buechner’s words as our guide, All Souls will begin offering an ongoing writing workshop this fall. Meeting in person as a small group at church one evening a month, we’ll work to create for one another the loving environment we all need to tell our own stories to ourselves. 

This workshop will be open to writers at all levels of experience, all that’s needed is a pen, some paper and your willing heart.

We will host an information session for those interested in the details and commitment required to be part of this group on October 16th just after the 11:15 service and again on Tuesday, October 18th in the evening. Feel free to reach out to Jane Vandenburgh, the instructor, and Emily Hansen Curran for more information.

Save the Dates

  • September 16-18, All Parish Retreat at the Bishop’s Ranch (register here)
  • October 2, Feast of St. Francis & Pet Blessing

Weekly Worship

Join us for worship this week:

  • 9am, in-person, indoors
  • 11:15am, in-person, indoors. This service will also be live streamed (click here to access the live stream)
  • 5p, Sunday Night Service. In-person, indoors in the Parish Hall.

You can access the live stream through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.

If you miss a Sunday, you can always catch the sermon on our homepage or as a podcast, anywhere you listen to podcasts!

Wednesday 9am Service

Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218.


Adult Formation Classes

There are four class offerings this Sunday:

Reading Between the Lines Bible Study

  • Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Click here to join by Zoom, or join them in-person in the Common Room.
  • Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 10:15a. Click here to join by Zoom, or join them in-person in the Common Room.

Walking the Labyrinth (August 28th, September 4 & 11th)

Join Michael Drell for three sessions exploring Labyrinth walking. Michael will have just completed Labyrinth Facilitator Training with Veriditas and he is looking forward to sharing this learning with you and enriching our spiritual practice through this ancient tool.”

The Lived Experience of People of Color – Vignettes from All Souls Parishioners (August 28th & September 11th) in the Parish Hall and on Zoom 

People of Color (POC) have a ‘lived experience’ that can be markedly different from the white majority, even when they have very similar socio-economic and educational backgrounds. These differences in the lived experience permeate every aspect of daily life – at work, at the grocery store, at a restaurant, at a department store, at airport security, and yes, at church. Many of us (especially those who are committed to racial justice) may be aware of this in the general sense. But what does this actually feel like and look like for someone you know – your neighbor, your colleague, or your fellow parishioner sitting next to you on the pew? The purpose of this 2-session panel discussion is to illuminate the POC lived experience through vignettes shared by a panel of All Souls POC parishioners in a moderated Q&A format.  The panel will explore these lived experiences through the lens of our faith and spirituality.  We hope that participants will leave with a greater appreciation and understanding of the POC lived experience, toward better informing our collective efforts on racial justice. Click here to join this class via Zoom.

Children, Youth, and Family News

Sunday School is BACK!

Ages Pre-K – Grade 5: Join us in the courtyard at 10:10 for the first week of our series about Creation Stories from around the world! We’ll hear the story together, then split in to two age groups for the rest of the time together.

Grades 6-12: Join us on Sunday morning at 10:10 in the youth room for a donut and a check in!

Youth Group is back for Grades 6-12!

Join us Sunday evenings from 7-8:30 in the Parish Hall for Youth Group.

Save the date for the Youth Campout, November 11-12!

Email Maggie for more information about Children, Youth and Family Ministries at All Souls.

Other News & Notes

Pick-up Choir

Now that the 9am service has moved indoors, we’re assembling a pick-up choir to sing a simple anthem each week. You don’t need to vest or attend the Wednesday evening rehearsal, just show up at 8:30 on Sunday morning. If you have questions, please write to!

Education for Creation Care Church groups begins SEPTEMBER 8.

The Diocese has announced a program called Creation Care 101, which is a free program, toolkit, and community building resource, designed to educate and engage churches in the work of caring for the earth. A diverse group of churches engage online in faith-based conversations for practical applications of environmental healing and justice, in church and home contexts. Church teams simply show up online where leaders from the Creation Care collective facilitate learning, discussion, and the creation of actionable steps for churches and individuals. No need for clergy and lay leaders to prepare programs — just bring a team online.

Developed alongside advisors at Yale’s Forum on Religion and Ecology and Oxford University’s Laudato Si’ Institute, the Creation Care 101 Program connects the dots between faith, science, justice, and creation care. This program is free for churches and welcomes people from all parts of the Christian family. Sign up here for Creation Care 101 – Fall Registration.

How to access staff & clergy in the new Jordan Court Offices

Wondering how to reach us in the new offices? Here’s how:

  • Enter on Cedar & Oxford and press “001” on the call box. This will take you to the church voicemail system. Select the number of the person you are trying to reach and it will call their office phone directly.
    • For Annie: press 1
    • For Phil: press 2
    • For Maggie: press 3
    • For Emily: press 4
    • For Jamie: press 5
  • Once on the phone with the person you are trying to reach, but before they buzz the door open, they will give you a code that you need to either write down or remember as you will need it to enter the stairwell or the elevator.
  • Once you have been buzzed into the lobby, head towards the stairs or elevator and use the code you were given to get to the 3rd floor.
  • After exiting the elevator or stairwell, turn right and the All Souls offices are at the end of the hall! Voila!
  • If you are entering from the church building, you can also access the offices through the gate at the courtyard. You can either text or phone a staff or clergy to get the gate code and then may enter the staff offices either by going up the outdoor stairwell or by entering the Jordan Court building and going up the elevator (the same gate code will get you in the Jordan Court building and the elevator).

Church Office Hours:

Staff & Clergy can be reached Sunday-Thursday by phone/text/or email. Tuesday-Thursday from 10-5p you can find staff & clergy in the office. You can reach an on-call clergy at any time by calling our church offices and pressing “8” for the on-call priest.

Parish Retreat

This year’s all-parish retreat is September 16-18 up at the Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg. This year’s theme is The Stories That Make Us where, following the liturgy set in the Easter Vigil, we’ll retell the stories of our faith that have and continue to shape us. As Cole Arthur Riley says in her book This Here Flesh, “this habit of curating collective memory can not only preserve community but also, in the darkest of moments, resurrect it.”

There will be programming for children, youth, and adults, with free time to hike, swim, lounge, nap, explore the wine country, and enjoy each other’s company. You don’t want to miss this!

Sign-up here to register!  And, if the cost is prohibitive, please let us know––there are scholarships available.

BAMFA Exhibit

From September 3-December 18 BAMFA is running an exhibit on the art and history of incarceration, called Undoing Time: Art and Histories of Incarceration. This exhibit “considers the foundational roots of confinement from philosophical, sociological, theological, and art historical perspectives to better understand the fact that today’s mass incarceration crisis has been centuries in the making. This exhibition traces images from history that contribute to the entrenched cultural beliefs associated with today’s carceral system.” Click here for more info.

Braid Foster Youth Mentors Needed!

The Braid Mission, which uses a team approach to mentoring, is looking for more folks to join mentor youth teams. You can read more about Braid Mission here. And can sign-up to schedule a 20 minute info session by clicking here. If you’re looking to talk to an All Soulsian about what it’s like to be a mentor with Braid Mission, you can reach out to Anne Cockle,

Spiritual Autobiography Small Group All Souls will begin offering an ongoing writing workshop/small group this fall. Meeting in person as a small group at church one evening a month, we’ll work to create for one another the loving environment we all need to tell our own stories to ourselves. This workshop will be open to writers at all levels of experience. If you’re interested, please come out to the information session on Sunday, October 16th just after the 11:15 service, in the Common Room or October 18th in the evening. Feel free to reach out to either Jane Vandenburgh, the instructor, or Emily Hansen Curran for more information.