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Sharing Our Stories

The Weekly Message

Each week, one of our parishioners writes a short article for the cover of our weekly announcements, sharing experiences of living out our core principles as we care, serve, and grow. You can read some of our recent Messages below (click the titles to view the full articles).

If you would like to get these reflections in your inbox each week, sign up to receive our weekly announcements via email.

If you would like to offering a brief reflection of your own, please don't wait for us to ask you! Talk to Elizabeth Terry (she's in the parish directory) or email news@allsoulsdc.org.

Perhaps because I was born in Kent, the garden of England, and grew up in a family of gardeners, one of my favorite things about being at All Souls is the chance to get my hands in the dirt. It makes me happy to see a neatly edged flowerbed. Passersby often stop to compliment our gardens, and in some cases go on to attend All Souls.?
A few years back, as I was pondering how to allocate my charitable donations, I realized that for me, some of the most pressing problems in the city are homelessness and poverty. But I wasn’t sure about how best to address these issues. Like many people, when I encounter individuals on the street asking for money, I am conflicted. I want to help my neighbors, but fear that simply giving money will support an addiction that thwarts their efforts to get back on their feet.
Almost 1,000 years ago, the Abbey of St Mary in Jerusalem set up a small hospital to care for sick pilgrims. In 1113, the Pope acknowledged the new Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. The “Hospitallers,” both men and women, took a vow to serve “our lords the sick and the poor.” In the centuries since, the Order flourished throughout Europe.
When working with children, the down time is when big questions come up. I first learned this lesson in my early twenties as a counselor at an Arts and Sciences camp, when I found myself debating cold fusion with a twelve year old boy, while we were just hanging out in the dorm before lights out.
Most Sundays, you’ll spot me at 11 a.m. in a pew near our St. Francis window. I think of it as my window, and St. Francis as my saint. I’m not alone: the humble 13th-century friar is the modern world’s most popular saint. St. Francis’s feast (which we’ll celebrate this Sunday evening with a Blessing of the Animals) leads me to reflect, as an adult, on my passion for animals that started in babyhood. How has it affected me spiritually?
People often ask me how I got into music. The best answer I can give is that there have been a number of events, people, and experiences along my journey that led me to the conclusion that almost every aspect of living is motivated by music in some way for me. It didn't just happen overnight. Indeed, what I find so interesting about my relationship with music is that it is constantly evolving and being reaffirmed with each new chapter.
I hope you received the “Ingathering Letter” that I sent last week! If you have not yet read it, you may find it online at www.allsoulsdc.org/ingathering, and printed copies are available at the entrances to the church. This Sunday I am excited to share with you a new “Guidebook” that outlines our upcoming season of activities. As a first attempt, I’m sure we have missed some things.
Many years ago, a group of my college friends gave me a framed poster with and image of a sailboat plunging into a giant wave and the phrase “MAKE IT HAPPEN” and a quote from Oliver Wendall Holmes that, for them, summed up the energy they said I brought to many of our activities: “Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it—but sail we must, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
Earlier this summer we went on a bucket-list trip, cruising the Alaska Inside Passage on the National Geographic Sea Bird with 66 other passengers and crew, including naturalists and professional photographers from National Geographic.
For more than five years, it has been my great joy to serve you as the Director of Music at All Souls. Together we’ve celebrated meaningful liturgies, created a summer music festival, won a choir residency at Exeter and Chester cathedrals, and seen our choir grow substantially—both in size and ability. I am very proud of what we have built together and the community we all share. All Souls truly lives into the mandate of the gospel—love one another and share that love with the world.
In June, I went on a youth group trip with the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and the Appalachian Services Project (ASP) to Wise County, Virginia. I had done community service projects with my parents through All Souls before, but this was the first time I’d ever done something like this without them.
In January 2015, I went on a trip to southwest India led by a yoga teacher, Gopi, and a musician, Gaura Vani, both lifelong members of the Hare Krishna movement. It was billed as a pilgrimage, not a tourist excursion. I liked the idea of getting a more authentic experience. I didn’t really know what I was signing up for.
This Sunday we celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus, which all three of the synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) record and to which some scholars believe the Gospel of John alludes (see John 1:14). It is one of the few feasts of the church that “take precedence” on a Sunday (BCP p. 16). Clearly there is something very important about this celebration!
A young boy stepping on a stone, crossing a bubbling brook in the late afternoon Carolina sun. Perfect light. Click, click. Got it!Two old women on a front stoop chatting on the Lower East Side of New York City. Perfect hand gesture, nice light, aging gray background. Click, click, click. Yes! A beggar in the crowded streets of Varanasi, India, on the banks of the Ganges River. I give money, ask permission. He stares straight into the lens, piercing eyes. Click, click. Nailed it!
I grew up in a Judaic culture where the God of my understanding was vengeful, accusatory, and often cruel. This was a God to be feared, not loved unconditionally. The laws of Judaism were an ever-present reminder of what I was to strive toward, but I rarely seemed to get there...
I was raised to appreciate all types of music, from church hymns and fine classical to jazz, rock and roll, and even “beat” poetry readings. I played in orchestra and band through college, and in our house you will hear WETA classical radio in the background until bedtime. The exceptional music we have on Sundays is not common in every church, and we are very lucky to have such a gift given to us every week...
This week we launch All Souls’ 5th Annual Festival of Music. Each Sunday through the rest of the month will include a Choral Mass at 11 a.m., garden reception at 6 p.m., and undercroft concert at 7 p.m. (There will also be a special choral prelude before each 11 a.m. Mass, so plan to be in your pew about 15 minutes early.) Our festival has become a hallmark of the year, as our increased musical offerings serve as a beacon for those seeking a deeper connection with the Holy through music...
Earlier this year, All Souls formed a partnership with two Georgetown Episcopal churches, St. John’s and Christ Church, to help support a newly-arrived refugee family during their first months in the U.S. ...
Thanks to the generosity of several former members of the All Souls Altar Guild, the sacristy is now undergoing a much-needed refurbishing. Over the decades, now-deceased parishioners have left memorial gifts dedicated to the needs of the guild: purchasing new vestments and altar hangings, linens, and liturgical items; making improvements to the sanctuary and chapel; repairing and restoring silver pieces; and making improvements to the sacristy itself...
There was an incident at the pool last weekend. While I was occupied, my daughters entered the pool without me. Soon thereafter Dilara spied a friend and swam away, leaving her little sister struggling in water above her head. When I arrived Zeren had made her way to the side and was fine; I was not. I discussed with Dilara the responsibility we have not just as family but as Christians to look out for our friends and even those we may not like...
I grew up in a half-Mormon, half-Southern Baptist home. When I moved to DC after college, I started looking for a Baptist church to attend. Ten years into the search I was still unsuccessful. I had one basic requirement: I refused to attend a church where a sermon was preached against another religion or LGBT people. Shockingly, three churches in my journey preached negatively about Mormons. I was disheartened...
I love the fact that All Souls has adopted the dove as its emblem. Our shield has four doves, each facing a different direction. There is also a dove in a very prominent place just in front of our altar, flanked by the classic depictions of the four evangelists. Few symbols have a tradition as long and as rich as the dove. Archeologists tells us that doves have represented some aspect of the divine for as long as we have evidence...
I would like to offer sincere thanks to all those who made last week’s annual meeting a success. As a result of the meeting, we have new wardens and a substantially new vestry. The vestry met after the annual meeting and appointed a new registrar and treasurer, so the lay leadership of All Souls is now in place for the coming year. Congratulations to those who were elected to serve on the vestry and special thanks to those who stood but were not elected...
When I was young we frequently visited both sets of grandparents. My paternal grandfather was a minister, so before leaving his house for the drive home to Detroit we’d gather in the living room, read Bible verses, and pray together. My maternal grandparents, in contrast, would have daily family prayer at bedtime,? ??the frequency of which pained my brother and me such that we would make ourselves scarce in the evenings. But it was no use...
Over the last several months in our various opportunities for conversation I've noticed two important themes among people here at All Souls. Generally speaking, you respond well to the idea that All Souls is a "church family." Biblically, this idea is rooted in Jesus' own response to a question about his family: "And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother'"...
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