My dear friends in Christ,
It has been too long since my last column here. To say that the past couple of months have been “full” would not be to do justice to the reality. Our incremental process of reopening continues apace, with all the busy-ness that such an undertaking brings. And particularly in the past few weeks, we have had some extraordinary events in the life of our parish. Most recently, we held our first real parish-wide celebration together since Covid first shut us down in March of 2020: we had a formal Celebration of New Ministry, and y’all got yourselves a “new” rector officially installed.
So I am writing today to express my deep, abiding, and truly heartfelt thanks to all of you who worked so very hard to make that celebration so amazing. So many people in this parish stepped up and came together to plan a perfect evening … and then y’all showed up on the day to make sure it actually happened. It was a phenomenal amount of work with, I think, equally phenomenal results. Thank you all so very much—on behalf of my family, who were made to feel warmly and fully welcomed here all over again, and on my own behalf. I am truly delighted that God called me here to become part of your parish family.
In the message I sent out before the Installation, I mentioned that this celebration came at a turning point in our lives together. This parish is no stranger to such turning points, I suspect—at least from the history I’ve learned so far. So perhaps to call this moment, now, a turning point seems a bit pedestrian … like, “Yes, Father, we know. Turning point. We’ve got it.” But a turning point doesn’t have to be earth-shatteringly cataclysmic to be important. For so long, during Corona-tide, we have reflexively looked over our shoulders to the past. We’ve had to! When Covid shut us out of our buildings, we had to figure out how to “do church” in new ways, and one of our main goals (certainly one of my personal goals) was to find a way, during the pandemic, to hold onto as much of what we had, as much of what we’ve always loved about our church, as possible.
I remain in awe of the way the people of this parish stepped up to find creative ways to do just that.
Now, even though we’re not out of the Covid woods yet, we are at a turning point nonetheless—for now we can begin to focus our attention and our energy not only on what we want to hold onto from the past, but also what we want to do and create and become in the future. Please do notice that I say “also” and not “instead of.” Part of the point of being an Episcopal Church is being part of a truly ancient tradition, being the heirs of through Christ of the Truths revealed in Him by God, and having a rich and abundant heritage stretching back thousands of years. We are not at a “turning point” of throwing any of that away—and with God’s grace and help we never will be!
We are, however, at an exciting new point in the life of this particular Episcopal parish: a point at which we can begin looking ahead to what All Saints will be like in three years, in five, in 15. We can start to imagine, and then to implement, new programs, new ministries, new connections with the community and city around us … new ways to be more visible in downtown Appleton, and new ways to invite more and more people to share in our life in Christ here at All Saints.
So stay tuned for what’s to come! There’s a lot in the works behind the scenes at the moment, and we’ll be sharing with you some exciting new opportunities very soon. In the meantime, thank you all once again for welcoming me and my wife and daughters (once again) to this wonderful city, this wonderful community, this wonderful parish family. We have already been so richly blessed by you all since coming here. And we look forward to many more amazing years to come!
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Phone (920) 734-3656 or (920) 249-4147