There are over 400 churches in Berks County, so what makes All Souls different? Many who experience our community for the first time sense that there is something unique here because we are inclusive, we are welcoming, we are affirming, we are hospitable, and we are a family of faith. We are small enough that you will not get lost in the crowd. Our members are part of our church because they WANT to be, not because this has been their church from their childhood.
- We believe that church should be less about rules, than about relationship. We are made up of people who desire to come together as a “family of faith” because we share a common vision—not because this was the church that we grew up in and not because we feel we “have“ to go to church out of some sense of obligation.
- We believe God is the creator of diversity and affirm the dignity of all human persons regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religious affiliation, social or economic status, gender, age, sexual-orientation, or physical ability. We want to be a parish made up of women, men, seniors, children, couples, singles, straight and gay.
- We are intentional about building a community that is transformative. We especially welcome those who have traditionally been hurt, marginalized or discounted: women, people of color and GLBT folks. We seek to celebrate the love of Christ in all people. To the outcast, we offer inclusion; to the rejected, acceptance; to the afflicted, comfort; to the sinner, forgiveness; to the despondent, hope; to the troubled, peace.
- We believe women and men are equals. Our denomination affirms the place of women in all orders of ministry and at All Souls, we actively encourage women’s participation in all aspects of parish life. We want to be clear: if you are a woman, you too have a place around God’s altar.
- We believe that God will provide the gifts we need to grow into the parish God has in mind for us. Those gifts reside within the people who come to be part of us. We honor the gifts and talents God has given you and hope you will consider using them in this place and among this parish family.
- We are Catholic, but not Roman Catholic. Like the Orthodox, Anglican and Old Catholic churches, we Catholics who are not under the jurisdiction of the Pope. When we claim to be “catholic” we do so using the original understanding of the word. Catholic simply means “universal” or “all-encompassing.” Thus we are catholic because we are part of the world-wide Church. We are also “catholic” because we adhere to a Trinitarian theology, continue in the teaching and lineage of the apostles, we affirm the Nicene and Apostles Creed as the basis of our faith and are sacramental.
- Our worship style can best be described as ‘traditional’ but being a new parish with members who come from various denominations, we tend to change things up from time to time. In the summer, for instance, we move to a more relaxed worship style.
- We affirm the concept of “generous orthodoxy. We are “contemporary” in our theological outlook—believing that each successive generation must, using sound scholarship and study, seek a fresh understanding of scripture in its own day. Yet at the same time we practice a faith and worship tradition that is rooted in the ancient church.
- We are ecumenical, because we see value the relationships we have with other Christian denominations and peoples.
- We affirm the importance of working cooperatively with our sisters and brothers in faith. We are proud members of the NW Reading Ministerium and participate regularly in ecumenical services. In our ecumenical stance, we follow the ancient wisdom of the Church as expressed in the words attributed to St. Augustine, “in essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
- We are also ecumenical because we affirm Church’s first seven ecumenical councils in which both the Eastern and Western Church participated.
- We recognize our primary outreach as being to the following people:
- first, to those who are seeking and searching for something that is missing in their lives.
- second, to people who believe that the sacraments need to be valid in terms of historical Christian belief and apostolic succession, but who are no longer willing to attend a church that does not understand human brokenness and limits access to God;
- third, to the increasing number of Christians who have no single tradition background from childhood and who feel they can comfortably be neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant;
- fourth, to the gay and lesbian community who routinely feel unwelcome, disenfranchised or excluded from their former church home.
- fifth, to those, who because of divorce and remarriage or other reasons have not been allowed to have their children baptized or receive the Church’s sacraments; and
- lastly, to those who want to be part of a church that is welcoming and inclusive.
- We welcome all to join us and receive the sacraments of the church. If you are looking for a parish home—please consider making your home with us.
- We were founded in April 2009.