January 26, 2012
From the Rector
Winning the Lottery
This past week some unlikely exchanges took place. In one of the many laundromats of Berkeley, as people were busily sorting, stuffing and waiting, one of the patrons approached someone putting their clothes in the dryer and offered them a dryer sheet. Then, a few minutes later that same person offered someone else some detergent. Then, this generous patron offered someone else a dryer sheet. For free. As you might expect, at first those receiving these gifts were wary.
“Why are you giving this away?” they asked.
“Because I go to All Souls, the church up the street.” was the answer.
“Really? For free?”
Then, after realizing that the dryer sheet or the detergent was indeed a gift, offered without expectation of anything in return, those who had received these gifts were amazed. Then, after awhile, people felt they had won the lottery, the gifter said. The space in the laundromat that day changed.
It is not often that we are offered a gift without expectation of return, when someone gives without strings attached. Several years ago Sarah Miles, one of the founders of the food pantry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, was talking with a group of upper-elementary students who had come to serve at the Pantry. Several of the students were trying to come to grips with the reality that St. Gregory’s just gave food away, to anybody. One student in particular was worried about people taking more than was allotted, wasn’t that stealing, he asked? Sarah responded that since they were giving the food away, it wasn’t stealing. Wow, he said clearly coming to this idea in this way for the first time, that kind of makes you invincible.
For the person from All Souls at the laundromat on Shattuck recently, her reason for giving these relatively inexpensive gifts was because of the gifts that she had experienced as a member of All Souls Parish. It was from this feeling of having received that she was able to give, without expectation, in this small but tangible way. Sounds a lot like the Good News to me: a gift freely offered, without necessity of return.
From Seminarian Liz Tichenor
A Strange Cloud of Anxiety Hanging over the Neighborhood
A few weeks go you may have perceived a strange cloud of anxiety hanging over the All Souls neighborhood. Thankfully it wasn’t some Harry Potter-esque curse, but rather the rumblings of a dozen students from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific feverishly writing for the General Ordination Exams. This rite of passage, commonly referred to as the GOEs, is a grueling week that stands as one culminating aspect of our seminary studies. It is made up of seven 3.5 hour essays testing our knowledge on the seven canonical areas: the Holy Scriptures, Church History, Theology and Missiology, Ethics and Moral Theology, Contemporary Society, Liturgics and Church Music, and Theory and Practice of Ministry. Within those categories, the examiners can ask us virtually anything, and questions are not repeated from one year to the next. One of the essays allowed external resources, some were to be completed with a bible, Book of Common Prayer and hymnal, and some of the essays were to be written without any external resources at all. A daunting task indeed!
It was with some degree of fear that I clicked the link to open the first question. Upon reading it, I let out a squeal of joy and immediately gave thanks for All Souls: we were to plan the services for the Paschal Triduum and explain the theological implications of them. The parish’s commitment to both tradition and creative liturgical innovation prepared me wonderfully for this question and I was grateful indeed. Throughout the week of exams, All Souls continued to support the test-takers who reside in the Parish House quite well, through meals, a peaceful place to live and work, and the assurance of many prayers as we speedily typed away. Many, many thanks for all your care and support through this challenging week! If you would like to mull over some of these challenging questions yourself, you can peruse past years’ exams at link to past exams.
A Pilot Project of The Anglican Communion
What is Continuing Indaba?
Imagine meeting a group of young adult missionaries who risk their lives to share their faith in Christ, or a group of Anglicans from across the world who listen to what social justice means in one another’s communities and to their faith. This is part of what I’ve experienced over the past year as part of a three-member evaluation team for the Anglican Communion’s Continuing Indaba pilot project.
Continuing Indaba grew out of the 2008 Lambeth Conference, where bishops had met in small cross-cultural groups called indabas to openly listen to each other, to understand what informs their cultural and religious perspectives, and to find those places where they can talk, pray, and be together despite sometimes painfully different views. Indaba is a Zulu word for a process of mutually listening to one another when concerns affect a community in order to discern what may hold people together despite their differences. Similar to consensual processes used in several cultures, indaba seeks to create a deeper understanding of differing views and interests that may affect how a community moves forward together.
Funded by a grant to develop this pilot project, Continuing Indaba seeks to extend the indaba experience to the grassroots by learning how it might be useful in the lives of everyday Anglicans and Episcopalians and their dioceses. Teams of eight lay and ordained members from 12 dioceses – across Africa, Asia, North America and the Caribbean, and the UK – are participating in the project. Three diocesan teams visit one another’s diocese to learn more about mission, ministry and daily life as an Anglican or Episcopalian there, and to have meaningful conversation on challenges and concerns they face. They are not expected to agree, but the hope is that this might be a way for conversation and for deeper mutual understanding to occur that can help us all find a way forward as Anglicans together. More information can be found at Continuing Indaba.
The Rev. Paula Nesbitt
January Update from the Finance Committee
Each month the Finance Committee reviews the parish’s year-to-date finances. As you’ll see in the accompanying graph, at the end of December (which represents 100% of the year) our total operating revenue for 2011 was over budget. On the expense side, we were below budget for the year. As income was 105%, expense was only 95% – giving us a surplus at the end of 2011. This surplus reflects the commitment and dedication on the part of folks who paid their pledges in 2011, as well as the thoughtful parish and ministry leaders who were prudent with expenses in 2011. Our community is blessed to be comprised of each such generous and dedicated people!
Please be sure to read more information about the 2011 financial results and the 2012 budget in the Finance Committee Report, which will be included in the 2011 All Souls Annual Report. In addition, Fr. Phil Brochard and Senior Warden Michelle Barger plan to speak about parish finances and the 2012 budget at the Annual Parish Meeting on February 5th.
About the Finance Committee: The Finance Committee is accountable to the Vestry for ensuring that All Souls’ finances are managed effectively in support of the parish’s mission and ministries. The Committee’s work centers on review of monthly financial statements and also includes developing the annual budget and considering questions related to fundraising and investment of funds. Committee members include the Treasurer and the Senior Warden, as well as chairs of closely related committees and parish members with an interest and/or expertise in financial matters.
Anne Geiger, Finance Committee Chair