What a joyful day yesterday was! A church full of children and adults in costume, a witch’s platter instead of an offering plate, trick or treating after church in the Beech Grove. We had more people in church than anytime since the pandemic began. And we had fun. Best costume goes to Lindsey Reece as a unicorn. I’d never given communion to a unicorn before. “I thought people needed a laugh,” she said. She was right. And laugh we did.
Today is All Saints’ Day, the day we remember those we love who are now part of that great cloud of witnesses. On Sunday we will celebrate this day by reading the names of those we love who have died. I already have the names of parishioners who have died in the last year, and of everyone who is interred in the Memorial Garden. If you have others you would like remembered please send the names to me.
Yesterday I preached about where we are in terms of the pandemic (the sermon is attached).
The key word I used was “languishing.” We are so ready for restrictions and protocols to be lifted. In a phone call with Bishop Wright last week I asked if we could lift the mask requirement. His answer was, “Not yet, but soon.” But here are two steps we can now take toward normalcy:
First, beginning Sunday we can have communion “in two kinds” — that is both bread and wine. We can not yet drink from the common cup, so we will be dipping instead of sipping. Here’s how it will work. I will have the paten with wafers and a lay reader will walk beside me with the chalice. I (with washed and sanitized hands) will take the wafer, dip it into the chalice, and give it to you. That way only one set of hands is involved. If you do not want wine just let me know when I get to you. And I will repeat all this on Sunday for everyone.
Second, we are reinstating coffee hour, using what Bishop Wright called the “Delta rule.” If you have flown you know the airlines require masks for everyone, but when you are eating or drinking you can temporarily take your mask down. We’re doing this with the assumption that people who are eligible to be vaccinated have been. If you haven’t, or are uncomfortable with being with others who are unmasked even for a short time, we ask that you put off attending coffee hour for a while longer.
I know that those who used to attend the 8:30 service are wondering when it will come back, and when we can start Sunday School again. My thinking right now is that we will stay with the schedule we have through the end of the year. Then, if the numbers are good are good we can go back to two services and Sunday School after the first of the year. I am going to be away on a photo trip to Yellowstone in early January, so we’ll probably make the switch when I come back.
As with everything the past 20 months, all of this is contingent on what is happening with the virus. Let’s pray that there are no more variants and that enough people have been vaccinated to prevent a winter surge.
When the pandemic first began I had two questions for the vestry: How do we care for one another during this time? And how do we care for those in the community around us who are being affected by the pandemic? Twenty months later we are asking these questions in a new way. As I said in my sermon yesterday, we are looking at ways to strengthen our community after a long separation, and at new avenues of outreach.
Elizabeth Wong Mark and Luis Ottley are helping us look at the first question. Elizabeth has an invitation for you:
Many of us have been active in a variety of St. Dunstan’s outreach opportunities. As Tricia mentioned yesterday, we are taking an introspective look at our own community or “inreach,” and with the help of seminarian Luis Ottley, seek ways on strengthening our parish community ties during a time when our ties have been impacted by separation and isolation caused by Covid.
The first step is to brainstorm and collect comments on what we can do to provide support, sustenance for each other, and a smile. This is an invitation for you to join Luis and me for a half-hour after the November 14 service. We’ll meet in the office area to gather thoughts which Luis will collect and share “findings” before a kickoff in early 2022. We’re lucky to have Luis’ perspective to help move ahead in (almost) post pandemic times.
If you’ve any questions or have something to share in advance, feel free to reach out to Luis or me.
Thank you for your time and talent!
We also have a new source of outreach funds. Parishioner Joni House, who died last December, formed a trust and named St. Dunstan’s as a beneficiary. Every year we will receive a grant to be used for outreach. Joni’s hope was this would allow us to try new ways of helping others. We will meet with the trust’s board (which includes Joni’s partner Alan Toney) in December to make a proposal for 2022. This is short notice, and the board suggested we try something simple this time, then think longer term in the coming years. If you would like to be part of the discussion of what to do please let me know.