This Sunday All Angels’ has the joy of hearing a word from pastor Will Ford, a minister and author who is passionate about cultural transformation. Will travels throughout the U.S. speaking on intercession, reconciliation, awakening, and reformation. He’s the co-author of The Dream King, an amazing story of faith, racial reconciliation, and going deep in prayer. Please join us as we welcome Will and sit back and enjoy a special message from our new friend! More information on Will Ford can be viewed at his website here.
This Sunday we commemorate the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, and Jordan Wesley will be preaching a sermon entitled, “Sometimes There Are Angels”. This particular day is our “patronal feast day”, which really just means it’s like All Angels’ birthday! Come and celebrate with us (you’ll see some special guests joining in videos that you won’t want to miss).
In my mind’s ear, this letter is delivered via the voice of Vanessa Redgrave to the Call the Midwives tune. I binged watched seasons 7 and 8 during the lockdown. Something like this: We are reminded a church is its people, gathered by Love and gathered in love for one another, their Creator. The thousand acts of kindness shown, even in the darkest times become the Light, the light that binds and nurtures us. In our questions, our concerns, our disappointments, we find we are given an ability to stand even though the ground appears obscured.
Hey! That does sound like Vanessa! I’ve told my own kids a thousand million times, you become like your friends. You start to sound like the people you hang around with. So choose your friends wisely. Knowing this phenomenon to be true, I am finding every conceivable way to come close to God through scripture during this tough season. The circumstances around Nate’s resignation are challenging. That it falls at this time, embedded between one national and global disaster after another, gives it an unreal quality. To be honest, Vanessa Redgrave isn’t nearly enough. I need the full amour of God; I need to bathe in God’s Word so that my prayers, thoughts, words will fill, heal and guide my spirit. I’ve moved my “Pray As You Go” app to the front page of my phone to make it easier to click…often. I’ll Zoom attend the Wednesday night prayerled by Carolyn Carney. Coming close to so much scripture, next time I write an email, I’ll probably sound like Paul himself.
On the children & youth ministry front, Jack and I have lovely fall plans to roll out with a weeknight senior high zoom meeting, young youth women’s prayer time, Sunday morning Children’s Worship with breakout groups for various ages. We’ll have more to say about that in the coming weeks. This coming Sunday, our priests, John and Jimmy, will visit Children’s Worship via Zoom. And then, at 10AM, in our communal worship service we will have Blessing of the Backpacks. What started in 2014, has quickly become an annual tradition. When we bless the students among us, we are empowering these young people as leaders in the intersection of faith and work. Their receiving of the blessing proclaims there is no part of our lives that is hidden from God.
God bless you, All Angels’. With love, Mary Ellen Lehmann Director of Children & Youth Ministry
This coming week, we begin a new Wednesday evening class entitled: “Worship in the Anglican Tradition.” As we experience a new liturgy on Sunday mornings, and as we discern how God is calling us to worship this Fall, we want all that we do to be grounded in the Anglican tradition. Thankfully, the Anglican tradition is broad, and holds space for a variety of different expressions of faith.
This past Sunday, I announced our intention to start using the office of Morning Prayer as our principle Sunday morning worship service. This will begin on Sunday (August 16) and continue for the next four weeks until the end of the summer (September 6). During that time, we will also host a series of conversations to help deepen our understanding and appreciation, both for worship in the Anglican tradition generally, and Morning Prayer in particular. Through these discussions, we hope to hear from many of you about your hopes for worship at All Angels as we launch into a new program year on September 13.
As I said on Sunday, the question of whether to continue celebrating the Eucharist has been discussed at length since the beginning of the pandemic––both at our church and in the broader Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, for example, reminded us early onthat the Eucharist normally depends on physical and social realities not duplicatable in a virtual world. So, he suggested that “online worship may be better suited to ways of praying represented by the forms of the Daily Office [like Morning Prayer] than by the physical and material dimensions required by the Eucharist.” The Bishop of the Diocese of New York also invited all the parishes in his Diocese (which includes us) to share in a “fast” from the Eucharist. As he wrote on March 27: “…we will wait in vigil, accepting the self-denial it requires of us. Allowing the space to be filled with our sorrow, our desiring, and our prayers.”
I spent my entire childhood at All Angels’, but now find myself in that “I’m-in-college-and-don’t-attend-church-regularly” kind of phase. Still, All Angels’ has always felt like a home to me. My faith probably doesn’t look the same as other parishioners, but I still always feel welcome and loved. When COVID happened I, like many others, suddenly lost my source of income. I was hesitant to apply to the Psalm 91 relief fund—I felt like I didn’t fit the requirements. But then I was reminded that All Angels’ will always be my home, and when my request was granted a huge weight was lifted both financially and spiritually. It was a wonderful reminder that at All Angels’ everyone is known and loved, no matter what your individual faith journey looks like. I am so grateful to All Angels’ for being there during this crisis both by helping me financially, and reminding me that there is a place where I am truly known and welcome, even after all these years.
Where are you seeing the encouragement of God’s presence? Tell us your story in writing or video and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12: 28-29)
It was the third week of March––chilly temperatures, the wind still whipping along the Hudson, darkness falling on the city and the palpable fear of a pandemic bearing down on us––when Nate called.
“I need you to think about something with me.”
Soon after, I received a note from Mary Ellen introducing me and Abigail to Sarah Baggs Eastwood and her husband James. Sarah and James had already begun to give a lot of thought to the virus and the tsunami of potential chaos, panic and pain it was about to bring not only to this city, but to our church.
“There is going to be an absolutely overwhelming amount of need coming at us fast…”
was the opening line of Sarah’s message. We needed to think. We needed to organize. We needed to respond. We needed to do it quickly.
So, the three of us got on the phone with Nate and the COVID-19 Response Team was born. God brought the leaders––Jeanette Larson, Ann Kosmerl, Carolyn Carney, Ariana Bellanton, Sarah Baggs Eastwood, James Baggs Eastwood, Mary Ellen Lehman, Chelsea Horvath, Abigail Hartley and myself. A team of absolute All-Stars.
The COVID – 19 Response Team’s distributive leadership model
Our mission was to, as best we knew how, form a “web of care and concern” around the church body, so that amidst the fray and fear of a pandemic, no one was lost, no one was forgotten, no one slipped through the cracks. We organized into seven teams, a distributive form of leadership–––data collection, communication, prayer, creative support, house church coordination, COVID-19 education, and a central team to pull it all together.
Our first task was to figure out how to connect with every member of All Angels. House churches were an invaluable resource. But, of course, not everyone is connected to a house church. Chelsea helped coordinate our outreach to our friends in Community Ministries. We sent out a survey to all the email lists we had, we promoted the link through on-line services. Jeanette and her team began work on a massive database, with e-mail addresses and phone numbers. We set up our own email address. We tracked down and connected with every possible member of our community that we could.
As we got organized, we also got to work. We contacted house church leaders to learn who was in their house group, what needs they might have, how we could help. We coordinated volunteers. We established prayer pods for people to connect through prayer. We had a magic show. We sponsored a two-part seminar on preparing for and finding work. We coordinated more volunteers. We added a page to the website with tons of helpful information. And we continued to pray for and elevate the most vulnerable among us––no one lost, no one missing, no one falling through the cracks.
Two weeks ago, we decided to pause. We needed to catch our breath and thought this would be a good time to do it. The pandemic has slackened in the city. We have found our rhythm. The needs have shifted. The winds have died down.
We also know this is far from over. So, it’s a pause. It’s also a time to worship and give thanks. Our God is a “consuming fire!” He has been faithful. He has been near. He has been merciful. He has given us strength, endurance, confidence, courage, resilience, power and protection. We needed to pause to rest, and to worship––with reverence and awe.
We also wanted to give thanks––for each of you, for our amazing house church leaders, for our pastors and staff, for our vestry and leaders, for Chelsea and the Community Ministry Team, for our worship leaders, for each person on this team and our opportunity and privilege to serve.
WE TOGETHER HAVE RECEIVED A KINGDOM THAT CANNOT BE SHAKEN!!!
We are grateful for you and remain in your service.