Worship

Worship at All SoulsSunday worship

Join us for worship on Sunday mornings at 9:30 and 11:15 am (during the summer, one service only at 10:15 am). Composed of inspiring words and stirring music, our services seek to provide spiritual sustenance for our living.

 

Vespers

VespersOur Vespers services take place on the second Wednesday of each month (September through June) at 7:30 pm. Vespers is modeled after the traditional Taizé worship service which uses silence, scripture, prayer, and repetitive singing of short chants and rounds to quiet the mind and promote deep meditation. The Taizé Community, an ecumenical monastic order in France, was founded in 1940 to promote peace and justice through prayer and meditation. This All Souls Vespers service mirrors Taizé-style attention to silence, holy words, prayer, and singing, but has also evolved to include other meditative traditions such as yogic singing and Buddhist chanting. For more information, please contact Michael Milano (michaelmilano@me.com).

Meet our ministers

Senior Minister
The Rev. Dr. Robert M. Hardies

Rob Hardies has served for 15 years as senior minister of All Souls Church Unitarian. Founded in 1821 by John Quincy Adams, All Souls is a dynamic, multicultural congregation in the heart of our nation’s capital.

Throughout his ministry, Rob has been a local and national leader for LGBT equality. In 2004 he testified at Senate and House hearings against congressional attempts to pass a so-called Federal Marriage Amendment to the United States Constitution. In 2009, he helped lead the struggle for the District of Columbia to become the sixth jurisdiction in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. DC’s mayor signed that historic civil rights legislation in the sanctuary of All Souls Church.

Before entering the ministry, Rev. Hardies served as a human rights worker among indigenous refugees in the Guatemalan jungle, where he first worked with grassroots communities rebuilding their lives after a long civil war. Later, Rev. Hardies studied with Father Gustavo Gutierrez of Peru, the leading scholar-practitioner of Liberation Theology. At All Souls, Rev. Hardies has served as a trustee of La Clinica del Pueblo, a community health care provider, and has championed All Souls’ robust English as a Second Language ministry.

Rob’s first career was with Habitat for Humanity building affordable housing. At All Souls he has continued the church’s long-time commitment to this issue by helping lead a campaign for code enforcement in low-income apartments around the church. As a leader of the Washington Interfaith Network, Hardies fought to establish DC’s Neighborhood Investment Fund, which provides millions of dollars annually for affordable housing and neighborhood investment.

After the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in its 2013 Shelby v. Holder decision, Rev. Hardies launched the Reeb Voting Rights Project in honor of All Souls former minister James Reeb, who was martyred in the 1965 voting rights struggle in Selma. Since then, All Souls has worked with many partners, including the Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP, to combat the wave of voter suppression laws in our nation.

All Souls Church has grown and thrived during Rob’s ministry. The church has been featured on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and in the 2005 book Worship that Works (Arnason and Rolenz). In 2005 the Unitarian Universalist Association recognized All Souls as a “Breakthrough Congregation,” and in 2014 Washington’s City Paper named All Souls DC’s “Best House of Worship” and Rev. Hardies its “Best Religious Leader.”

Rob received a bachelor’s degree with honors from Cornell University, a Masters of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry, and a Doctor of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary. He is the editor of Blessing the World (Skinner House, 2006), a collection of essays by the feminist theologian Rebecca Ann Parker, and the author of a forthcoming book about the spiritual practices of Emerson and his circle of Transcendentalists (Skinner House, 2018.)

Rob lives in DC with his husband Chris Nealon, a poet and professor of English at Johns Hopkins University, and their five-year-old son Nico.

202.332.5266 ext. 104
Minister of Adult Spiritual Development and Pastoral Care, and Theologian-in-Residence
Rev. Rebecca Parker

The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, All Souls' Minister of Adult Spiritual Development and Pastoral Care, and Theologian-in-Residence, has initiated All Souls’ new series, the UU4Core, helps guide covenant groups, preaches and leads worship, and supports our shared ministries of pastoral care and our commitments to multi-racial, multi-cultural Beloved Community. An influential feminist theologian, theological educator, social activist, and a seasoned minister and musician, she previously served for 25 years at president and professor of theology at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California, at the Graduate Theological Union. She was named President Emerita and Professor of Theology Emerita in 2014.

An ordained United Methodist minister who holds dual ministerial fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association, Dr. Parker has long been engaged with LGBTQ issues, racial justice and countering white supremacy, eco-justice, resisting sexual and domestic violence and protecting women’s rights, and more. Her books include A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the 21st Century, co-authored with John Buehrens (Beacon, 2010); Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, co-authored with Rita Nakashima Brock (Beacon, 2008); Blessing the World: What Can Save Us Now (Skinner House Books, 2006), edited by Rob Hardies, and Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us, co-authored with Rita Nakashima Brock (Beacon, 2001).

When she became president of Starr King School for the Ministry in 1989-90, Rev. Parker was the first woman appointed the permanent head of an accredited theological school in the U.S. and Canada. She led the school to forge a distinctive commitment to counter-oppressive, multi-cultural, and multi-religious theological education with a multi-racial faculty; increased its endowment seven-fold; initiated a pioneering degree program for spiritual activists; and transformed its educational model to embrace non-residential learning and a growing enrollment. With her advocacy and that of Provost Ibrahim Farajajé, with whom she worked in close collaboration, the school provided an academic home for progressive Muslim scholars and teachers from North Africa, Pakistan, and the U.S., including women Quranic scholars. Starr King is a premier educator of UU ministers and spiritually-based justice advocates. Its graduates serve transformative ministries throughout Unitarian Universalism, often at the forefront of ministries that unite spirituality and social justice. Today the school hosts a woman-led mosque as well as a thriving UU learning community and continues its commitments to counter-oppressive, multi-religious, Unitarian Universalist theological education with the leadership of Parker’s esteemed successor, Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, the first African American woman to lead a Unitarian Universalist theological school.

A frequent keynote speaker for conferences and events, nationally and internationally, Rev. Parker’s essays have appeared in the Union Seminary Quarterly Review; the American Academy of Religion series on religion, literature and the arts; the Journal of Religion and Abuse; Open Hands magazine; Alive Now!; The Unitarian Universalist World; and Tikkun magazine. She has contributed chapters to Christianity, Patriarchy and Abuse (edited by Joanne Brown and Carolyn Bohn), Walk in the Ways of Wisdom: Essays in Honor of Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza; Soul Work: Anti-Racist Theologies in Dialogue, edited by Marjorie Bowens Wheatley; Women Church, ed. by Rosemary Radford Reuther; My Neighbor’s Faith: Stories of Interreligious Encounter, Growth, and Transformation (Orbis Books, 2012); The Unitarian Universalist Pocket Guide, new edition, ed. by Peter Morales; and For Our Common Home: Process-Relational Responses to Laudato Si (2015).

Rev. Parker’s denominational and public service has included serving as the minister of Wallingford United Methodist Church, in Seattle, Washington, one of the first “reconciling congregations” to pro-actively dissent from United Methodist exclusionary policies and affirm the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons. She served on the United Methodist Study Committee on Homosexuality (1988-1992), the board of the Center for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence (now the Faith Trust Institute ), the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship, and the Executive Committee of the Association of Theological Schools. She has chaired the Advisory Committee on Women in Leadership for the Association of Theological Schools, been convener of the Council of Presidents at the Graduate Theological Union, served on the Board of Trustees of the Graduate Theological Union, co-chaired the Islamic Studies Task Force at the GTU, and been an ex officio member of The Panel on Theological Education of the Unitarian Universalist Association. She is a founding board member of Faith Voices for the Common Good, an interfaith think tank; and the Soul Repair Center Advisory Board of Brite Divinity School; and an officer of The Braxton Institute for Sustainability, Resiliency, and Joy.

An accomplished cellist, Parker regards the arts as fundamental to life and spirituality.

On her work as a theologian and minister, Parker says “Legacies of violence, terror and trauma continue to bring anguish into the world. Now more than ever, people of conscience and love need to do the hard work of theological thinking that deconstructs religion that sanctions violence. We need to re-dedicate ourselves to the creation of life-giving theologies, justice-making religious communities, and joy-infusing spiritual practices. This is the calling to which my life is devoted.”

Parker is married to her beloved friend and heart’s joy, Joanne Braxton, and they are the proud parents of one daughter.

Praise for Parker’s books

Proverbs of Ashes (co-authored with Rita Nakashima Brock)

Poignant and provocative . . . a book of both sorrow and hope, and a blueprint for deeper thinking about the things that matter most. - Rosemary Bray McNatt, author of Unafraid of the Dark

[with] courage and vision… these two women boldly propose that human sacrifice has no place at the heart of Christianity. Their gospel of presence and restoration is good news for everyone. – Judith Hermann, author of Trauma and Recovery

I hope many will read [this book] and be enlisted in the campaign to combat the social evils that have been so movingly and thoroughly exposed. Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Blessing the World (edited by Rob Hardies)

Parker’s thinking is rooted in her total honesty about her lived experience. To read her book is to see our world and the Christian heritage with new eyes. We cannot do that without pain. Yet her way of challenging our habits of thinking and even of feeling is so gentle that we are drawn into new perceptions, not driven into them. Her writing integrates story and doctrine until we can hardly draw a line between them. - John Cobb, theologian

Saving Paradise (co-authored with Rita Nakashima Brock). Named a Best Book in Religion, 2008, by Publisher’s Weekly and Beliefnet

Powerful, unprecedented, and compelling…brings real Christianity out of the shadows. – George Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics, University of California at Berkeley

With passion and literary grace … [Brock and Parker] recover the beauty of an earth-loving Christianity lost for a thousand years beneath dry creed and formulae and poisonous myths of sacralized violence. -- Daniel McGuire, Catholic social ethicist

This humane and often beautiful study of faith, loss and hope straddles the boundary between historical discovery and spiritual writing. — Publishers Weekly, starred review

A House for Hope (co-authored with John Buehrens)

This is a must-read for any religious liberal looking to engage with timeless theology questions: what is the nature of God? What is the human relationship to God? Why is there suffering? What brings us together? What is the nature of evil? Parker and Buehrens explore these questions thoughtfully and with an understanding that the answers have urgent implications for our suffering world. Rev. Sharon Wylie, Unitarian Universalist minister.

202-332-5266
Minister of Social Justice
Rev. Rob Keithan, Minister of Social Justice

Rev. Rob Keithan (aka, “RK”) is the half-time Minister for Social Justice Ministry at All Souls, meaning that he supports the church’s many issue groups and works to bring effectiveness and spiritual depth to the social justice ministry overall. In his other consulting, RK specializes in reproductive health, rights and justice, intercultural communication, and congregational social justice programs. He recently worked as a consultant on faith engagement with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Director of Public Policy at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Director of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations Washington Office. RK lives with his wife and their daughter in Washington, DC. He is half-time and typically works Tuesdays, Wednesdays, at least two Sundays a month, and other times as needed.

202.517.1468
Consulting Minister
Rev. Dr. Joanne Braxton

Beginning July 2018, the Rev. Dr. Joanne Braxton is a half-time consulting minister at All Souls, with responsibilities for pastoral and spiritual care and adult spiritual development. Dr. Braxton is a published poet and a scholar, a gifted pastoral care-giver, spiritual director, and a student and teacher of contemplative traditions and spiritual practice. She is a long-time meditator who has studied mindfulness with Saki Santorelli and narrative medicine with Rita Charon. Fresh from the completion of a unit of clinical pastoral education in 2015, Dr. Braxton started attending All Souls Church regularly during her 18 months as David B. Larson Fellow in Spirituality and Health at the Library of Congress John W. Kluge Center, where her research centered on African-American well-being. She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University and advanced degrees in Spirituality and Ministry from the Pacific School of Religion, and from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. Both Unitarian Universalist and an ordained United Church of Christ (UCC) minister, she joined the Unitarian Universalist Church in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1989. Dr. Braxton has been a staff minister at The Great Awakening United Church of Christ in Portsmouth, Virginia, and an interfaith campus minister and distinguished professor of the humanities at the College of William & Mary, from which she retired emerita in June 2018, after many years of honorable service. She also founded and directed the William & Mary Africana Studies Program Middle Passage Project  from 1995-2018. Dr. Braxton is no stranger to the All Souls pulpit, and she has preached at Cedar Lane and at the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalist Church as well as the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, California, among other churches and William & Mary’s historic Wren Chapel. Dr. Braxton has spoken on her original concept of “Organic Universalism” at the UU General Assembly, powerfully impacting younger UU scholars. As her current research and writing bridges spirituality and health, she continues her relationship as community faculty at Eastern Virginia Medical School, where she occasionally co-teaches with medical faculty. Her consulting clients have included not only All Souls Church, but the University of Virginia Nursing School, Duke University, NIH, NEH and the Unitarian Universalist Association, among others. From time to time, you might even hear her on National Public Radio or CSPAN.

In 2012, together with a group of professionals who had once been her students, Dr. Braxton founded the Braxton Institute for Sustainability, Resiliency and Joy, an organization that “fosters physical, emotional, and spiritual sanctuary for those building a more just, joyful and sustainable world” and moves the voices and experiences of women of color from the margins to the center of public dialogue. In September 2017, the Braxton Institute co-sponsored a national advanced training on Moral Injury and Collective Healing for 100 caregivers in collaboration with Volunteers of America and the Soul Repair Center of Brite Divinity School. Local projects include the Braxton Institute Dialogues on Surviving and Thriving, which occur quarterly at the Potter’s House on Columbia Road. In addition to her work with the Institute, Dr. Braxton is a member of the Moral Injury and Repair section steering committee of the American Academy of Religion, a member of the American Society for Bio-ethics and Humanities, and a member of the Society for the Study of Black Religion and other professional ministry-related organizations. Dr. Braxton’s books include Sometimes I Think of Maryland (1977), Black Women Writing Autobiography: A Tradition Within a Tradition (1989), Wild Women in the Whirlwind: Afra-American Culture and the Contemporary Literary Renaissance (1989), The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar (1993), Monuments of the Black Atlantic: Slavery and Memory (2003), Black Female Sexualities (2017), and other books, articles, and essays. She was also editor for the influential Praeger-Greenwood Women Writers of Color Biography series, editing the following works by authors she recruited:

  • Alice Walker: A Woman for Our Times, by Deborah Plant, 2017.
  • A Joyous Revolt: Toni Cade Bambara, Writer and Activist, by Linda Janet Holmes. 2014. 
  • Louise Erdrich: Tracks on a Page by Frances Washburn. 2013.
  • Nikki Giovanni: A Literary Biography, by Virginia Fowler, 2012.
  • Sandra Cisneros: Crossing Borderlands, by Carmen H. Rivera, 2009.
  • Zora Neale Hurston: A Biography of the Spirit, by Deborah Plant, 2007.
  • June Jordan: Her Life and Letters, by Valerie Kinloch, 2006.
  • Lucille Clifton: Her Life and Letters, by Mary Jane Lupton, 2006.

Dr. Braxton also wrote the Daily Practices section of the extensive UCC “Honoring the Body” curriculum. She is married to her soul-mate and friend of more than 30 years, Rebecca Ann Parker, and she is the mother of one adult child, a proud UU.

202-332-5266