Letter from the Rector
Shall We Gather at the River?
Every year for the past 83 years (and for 23 years before that, when All Souls was a mission of St. Mark’s, Berkeley), members of All Souls Parish in Berkeley have been meeting annually to reflect, discuss and vision for the life of the community. In the midst of war and relative peace, in the midst prosperity and deeply felt adversity, in the aftermath of earthquake and devastating fire, we have come together as a body to engage in the practice of following God’s will among us. And every year we have gathered to hear about the life of the parish in the last twelve months, to discern leaders, to make sure of the financial and physical soundness of All Souls and to plan for what we believe will come in the next year.
Too often, though, annual meetings of any church can sink slowly into the muck of numbers and figures, committee reports and property requests. In and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with these necessary components: we need to stay solvent and be faithful stewards of what we have gathered, we have to be aware of the work that happens week in and week out in this community and it is critical that we care for the physical structures that we have been entrusted with. And yet, when these necessary tasks are the sum total of our time gathered as a body, something is missing. Maintenance of what we have been given is important, but for many groups this is all too often a place of comfort to retreat to, and for churches, it often becomes a place that insulates us from the necessary risks of the Gospel life. The vision turns inward and vitality and spirit slowly but surely diminishes.
We as members of the Body of Christ will be meeting at All Souls Episcopal Parish, Berkeley, on Sunday, January 23rd, following the 10 am service. Make no mistake, discernment of leaders of All Souls will happen, both for Vestry and for Deanery and Diocesan representation. And there will be a report on our finances, both where we ended in 2010 as well as the financial commitments that members of the Parish have made for 2011. But my sincere hope and for our coming together on the 23rd is that in the reports of the life of All Souls of this past year, in the recognition of the leaders who have served on our Vestry, in the presentation of our budget for the upcoming year and in the vision for the coming year, the movement of the Spirit is evident. Leading us in our risks, guiding us in our difficulties and drawing us closer to the reconciling love of God. If not, our sights are set from the crystal tide, and the shining river.
So please come to worship on the 23rd, put together a plate of food in the Parish Hall, and take part in a long-standing tradition of this place, the gathering at the river, where we gather with the saints, mark the passage of this past year and discern where God’s current will take us this next year.