Hello St. Paul’s,
Three years ago at this time we were coming down from the excitement of our 150th anniversary Gala. We had experimented with removing the pews from the church and were actively discerning whether to make the change permanent. I was making final arrangements for pastoral and liturgical coverage during my upcoming sabbatical month of March. A month after Christmas we started to hear reports of a new virus, and life started to change in unexpected ways. You all know what unfolded: the lockdown, illness, loss, disappointments and cancellations galore, the longest Lent ever … We kept the hymn board up in the nave with its selections for the Second Sunday in Lent, the last Sunday with in-person services for many months. On that Lenten Sunday the children sang Evensong as usual, deposited their vestments as usual, and went home, expecting to return as usual, but it was not to be.
We have not stood still in the intervening months. We created Circles of Love, I wrote hundreds and hundreds of letters, we learned how to broadcast services and do meetings via Zoom. We did backyard baptisms and minimalist funerals. And each time we thought the pandemic might be coming to an end, we cautiously took a few steps back towards the old normal, always ready to retreat again but keeping our community intact and continuing to move forward. We did replace the pews with chairs; we remodeled the chancel to accommodate a greater variety of events; and we moved into our new space. We are still exercising caution as the Covid 19 virus and other viruses continue to be a threat, but we are coming back.
Two and a half years after that last Evensong in 2020 I gathered up the children’s choir vestments and recruited a group of kind parishioners to launder and mend them, in anticipation of the new beginning of our chorister program. Next month we will welcome a new batch of young singers to begin rebuilding the ministry, and the vestments will be ready for them. I am deeply grateful to Canon Martin Green and our music staff for their dogged determination to restore this ministry, and also to all those who support the music through donations, volunteering, participating in worship, and of course laundry.
As we approach the end of 2022 we are in a strong position, and I want to invite you to help us to maintain that strength and to keep moving and growing. The new building presents some additional expenses, and we are anticipating a deficit budget. You can help us to start 2023 strong, by making a Christmas donation, by completing your 2022 pledge, and by making a pledge for 2023. We have yet to receive renewed pledges from some 50 households: those pledges will enable us to close some of the budget gap in a sustainable way. I am confident that the generous people of St. Paul’s will do everything you can to support our ministries and keep us serving and growing into 2023 and beyond.
I hope you enjoy a holy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
See you in church!
Your sister in Christ,