The expanded Vitality Team created a survey for the parish to help “take the pulse” of our congregation in this time. Thank you to those who completed the survey. The survey shows a high level of engagement with weekly worship and the other offerings that we have made available during the time the building has been closed. People are evenly split about returning to in-person worship and continuing online. The greatest response was for small, in-person, outdoor worship, which is precisely what our neighborhood gatherings are intended to offer!
A summary of survey results can be accessed here.
Neighborhood Perch Church
The Vitality Team has suggested that “Perch Church” be renamed “Neighborhood Perch Church” to emphasize the neighborhood basis of the worship service. Now that we have the Bishop’s permission for Neighborhood Perch Church and both a coordinator, Fred Weber (to help people find their way into a “neighborhood” and support leaders), and a communicator, Elizabeth Solomon (to facilitate communication between the different groups), I hope we will be able to capture the enthusiasm and expand the ministry. The most important thing we need at this time is people who are willing to offer their backyards or make arrangements in a local park, so there is a place for the group to gather. Interested in finding a Neighborhood Perch Church? Contact Fred.
One question that has been on all our minds has been “When will the church be open for worship?” The answer for the present is “not yet.” The Bishops have now permitted the churches to offer in-person Eucharistic worship, outdoors for small groups. This Eucharistic worship may only be offered on weekdays or early/late Sunday. Both expect that the principal offering on Sunday will continue to be online. After extensive discussions with the Worship Team, the expanded Vitality Team and your Vestry, we plan to offer Eucharist on Wednesday at Noon and Sunday at 5:00 PM.
Our experience with Neighborhood Perch Church has taught us that people will have to bring their own chairs and electronic copies or printouts of the liturgy. We’ve also learned that maintaining physical distancing is more difficult than we expected (we humans are social creatures); therefore, we will begin with 15 people. You must sign up here to attend. In order to enable as many people as possible to attend, please sign up for only one service in August.
At-Home Worship Resources
As the Bishops have directed, we will continue to offer online opportunities for corporate worship on Sunday mornings, Tuesday evenings, and Wednesdays at Noon. A number of you have told me about other worship you have experienced, including the National Cathedral.
For personal devotion, the Daily Office has been the ground of prayer for the church across millennium. The Book of Common Prayer offers “Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families,” which is a guide to praying the Daily Office at four times through the day (morning, noon, evening, and night). There are fuller services for those times in Morning, Noonday, Evening and Night (Compline) Prayer. You can access the BCP online (click here for the online version). There are several sites that offer the Daily Office online including https://www.missionstclare.com and https://dailyoffice.wordpress.com. If you don’t have a physical copy of the BCP, we have several at the church that are too well loved for the sanctuary, but still serviceable. You are welcome to pick one up. Please contact the church administrator to arrange a time.
I commend “Journey with Jesus,” a pilgrimage around the All Saints’ campus as a support to your spiritual practice. This prayer walk uses the many “rooms” of the church grounds as a guide to prayer and an opportunity to connect with God in a different way than stationary worship. My own pilgrimages last summer reinforced the value of this ancient practice. You can also create a pilgrimage in your home moving from room to room or gazing at different places in one room as you pray.
At-Home Christian Formation
There continue to be two online offerings from All Saints’, one on Sunday morning and one on Wednesday evenings. EfM (a four-year intensive exploration of Christian Faith) will start online this fall. If you are interested in this program, the time to contact Sue Gelarden is now!
Foyer Groups During the Time of a Pandemic
In order to expand our small group offerings, Alice Baxter has agreed to organize two different ways for people to gather.
1. Zoom Foyer Groups – A social meeting of eight parishioners for approximately an hour through Zoom as a way to connect with fellow parishioners, who you may or may not know. These groups would meet regularly on a schedule they decide (perhaps monthly or every 2 weeks). To participate in this offering, you need to have a device with a camera, so everyone can see your smiling face. A tablet or computer is ideal, with a phone you will have to “scroll” to see everyone. Alice will help groups with ice breakers and discussion themes to keep the conversation moving.
2. Outdoor Foyer Groups – A social meeting similar to the prior Foyer groups but with many COVID differences. You would meet in groups of about eight IN PERSON, physical distance at least 6-feet apart, wear a mask (unless eating), bring your own chair, bring your own drink/snack/picnic dinner. You could have different hosts or meet in parks as your group decides.
Please sign up here. The deadline for turning in your information is September 10.
Even as we look forward together, this time continues to be very difficult for many. The Vitality Team also facilitated an art project for our children, which helped them to address some of the many emotions they have experienced during the pandemic. The pictures were then sent to elders in our parish, who also need encouragement.
As I reminded our students this week, God promises to be with us always.