“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for
harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)


A future with hope—that’s what I believe is in store for All Saints’ Episcopal Church. Times of
transition, whether in the life of the church or our own personal lives are opportunities for
self-examination and a re-assessment of goals. Clergy come and go—that’s a reality. This is YOUR
church, not ours. Throughout the years, throughout every search, the people sitting in the pews are the
constant. What do YOU want this church to look like? To feel like? Dream big!

The Rector Search Committee will soon begin undertaking their very important work as they seek to
find that person who will be the “right fit” for this parish. The vestry is hard at work as they
endeavor to develop new programs and projects to grow our congregation as well as maintain our
already strong Outreach program.

One could say that the air is abuzz with lots of activities! Some are old activities and programs that
we’re trying to bring back, others will be new activities and programs born from a contagious
enthusiasm and a desire to grow our community. May we all catch that enthusiasm!

We already restarted the Healing Ministry at the 10:30 am service. The response was overwhelming
and indicated a strong need and desire for this type of ministry. To build community, provide
opportunities for fellowship, and to give members a chance to get to know each other outside of the
church walls, we are restarting the All Saints’ “Out and About” social group. Several activities are already
on the calendar and an upcoming planning meeting will bring more. If you would like to be part of this
planning team, come to the meeting on Sunday, July 14th, at 9:15 am in the Parish hall. Towards the end
of the summer, we will have additional trainings for altar servers and acolytes, Lay Eucharistic Ministers
(chalice bearers), and Lay Eucharistic Visitors (those who take the sacrament to those who are either
temporarily or permanently unable to attend services).

I want to thank the vestry and this congregation for giving me the opportunity to serve as your
Interim Rector. I consider it to be both an honor and a privilege and I am committed to doing what I
can to help make this transition go as smoothly as possible. To that end, in my conservations with the
Bishop, I indicated that I was willing to serve throughout the entirety of the Search Process. Consistent
and committed leadership from both clergy and lay leaders during this time will be especially important.

My “normal” office hours going forward will be from 10 am -2 pm, Monday-Thursday, with the
usual exceptions for meetings, appointments, and pastoral emergencies. I am usually here earlier
and later but try to reserve those times for sermon prep and study. I am also available by appointment.
If you would like to make an appointment, you can call the church office or email me directly at
mothergigi@allsaintsmorristown.org
Peace,
Gigi+

I’m not sure I could have seen this day coming some 30 years ago. Back in 1994 as a newly ordained deacon in the Diocese of Western Louisiana, 30 years in the future was way far beyond my visible horizon. Yet, here I am in 2024 preparing to retire from active parish ministry here in East Tennessee on June 2nd.

There has been so much that has happened over the course of my priesthood these past three decades. I’ve moved from the Diocese of Western Louisiana, to the Diocese of Louisiana, to the Church of Ireland, and now finally to the Diocese of East Tennessee. In every situation I’ve encountered good and faithful people who love and serve Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

There was a time in my priesthood when I really believed it was important for everyone to walk together as one in their faith journey. Now, I have come to understand that each person’s faith journey is their own. Walking together as one body is not nearly as important as it is for us to walk individually in a direction that brings each one of us closer to God. It is a lifelong journey that has no set finish line. Each step we take in faith draws us just a bit closer in our relationship with God.

As I look back on my priesthood there is so much for which I’m truly grateful. I am thankful for the seven Bishops that I’ve served under. I am thankful for the 18 Associate Priests and 3 Deacons with whom I have shared parish ministry. I’m especially thankful for the wise council of the men and women who have served as my Sr. and Jr. wardens during my tenure. I am forever indebted to the highly skilled Parish Administrators who kept me focused on the tasks in front of me. I am eternally grateful for the skilled Organist & Choirmasters who have enhanced years of worship. I’ve loved all of the many Youth Mission Trips of which I was a part. I treasure the work we accomplished together, the laughter we shared, and all the many times we sang the words to “Alice’s Restaurant” together in the 15 passenger vans while traveling down the road.

Our Presiding Bishop has noted, “If it is not about love, then it is not about God.” Truer words have never been spoken. I marvel at a Church that continues to find the courage to move forward opening up our hearts to welcome those who were once considered outcasts. I am amazed at our infinite ability to forgive and be reconciled. I have come to appreciate how the fragile the Church can be and at the same time how resilient people of deep faith really are.

A leather bound BCP/Hymnal lasts me about ten years. I’ve given the first two to my son and my oldest daughter. I’ll give the last one to my youngest daughter on June 2nd. I’ve purchased a final BCP/Hymnal for my retirement. I want everyone who would like, to write inside a note, a message, or a particular memory you might want to share. This BCP/Hymnal will be the one that someday in the future I will want used at my burial. There is no way I could have envisioned ending my active priesthood here in the mountains of East Tennessee. I’m so glad that All Saints’ is where God brought Liz and I. We have found our forever home here in Morristown, Tennessee.

God’s Peace & My Love,

Mark+

As a child, I can remember watching on TV the launching of the Gemini and later Apollo space rockets. Each launch captured the imaginations of everyone thinking about real live astronauts orbiting the Earth and later landing on the Moon. All the kids in my neighborhood drank Tang instant orange drink because that is what we were told the astronauts drank.

The three major television networks broadcast from Cape Canaveral, later to be called Cape Kennedy, every lift off. The television coverage was meticulous down to the last detail. There were endless checks and rechecks. All of the possible outcomes were openly discussed even possible death and disaster. At last the brave men, (they were all men back then) were loaded into the capsule. Then the digital countdown clock appeared on the lower screen of our TV. Usually, it started at least an hour or two before liftoff. And so we watched and waited patiently listening to more endless commentary.

Finally, when all systems were declared “GO” the final countdown continued to the last minute. Everything somehow felt like it was speeding up. The rocket engines were ignited and huge flames erupted from the tower base. A mechanical sounding voice from NASA mission control came on the air to begin the final count … 10, 9, 8, … 3, 2, 1 and we have lift off. Slowly the rocket began to rise with the astronauts aboard it. Once it reached a certain altitude the rocket would begin to roll according to the computer program. All those years of planning and all the many millions of calculations were taking place right before our eyes. Even today it still makes me tingle with amazement just thinking about watching a live broadcast of a rocket soaring into space.

In a way I’ve been living a new type of countdown in my own life. I announced back in February that I would be retiring from active ministry this June 2nd. I’ve spent the last 30 years of my life as a parish priest. I’ve been part of three Episcopal dioceses. I’ve served in five parishes in two countries. 

It has been a vocation that has been rewarding and challenging. If I had it all to do over, I don’t think I would change a single thing. I know well the joys that come with having a job that allows me to “Hatch’em, Match’em, and Dispatch’em”. My life continues to be transformed each time I preside at the altar during the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup.

 I have now reached that point in my priesthood where I’m keenly aware of the long list of things that I am doing for the very last time. There has been the last Christmas, the last Holy Week, the last Easter, the last Bishop’s visitation. Then there are other lasts on the list as well. My last diocesan convention, my last vestry meeting, my last Stewardship campaign, to name just a few. When you receive this monthly Saints’ Alive, I will have 30 days left before my retirement. We are experiencing together the final countdown of me as your parish priest.

There have been many valuable lessons I have learned along the way. Some of them came easy to me. Others were difficult and painful to learn but valuable nonetheless. Even after all these years nothing gives me more pleasure than walking a new baptized child down the aisle during the passing of the Peace. I am so grateful to have been ordained long enough to the see the day where any two people who love each other can now ask to have God bless their union in Holy Matrimony. It gives me hope for the future Church that the days of a male only clerics have finally given way to more inclusive Holy Orders where both men and women are ordained because each one of us has been created in the image of God. While there have certainly been times when the events in the world have broken my heart, I remain hopeful that Grace, Love, and Mercy, will have the final word of triumph over a world that still struggles with hate and evil.

Now that we are counting down my final days as your parish priest, I also realize this will be my last Saints’ Alive article. On June 3rd our lives will be different. I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for me and Liz as we enter a new and exciting phase of our lives. For all the many times I was able to be present and helpful in your lives, I am truly grateful. For all the many times I fell short or let you down, I am truly sorry and I ask for your forgiveness. For all the many times we were able to see and feel the presence of God’s Love through Jesus Christ in each other, I give thanks for we were truly blessed.

God’s Peace & My Love, Mark+ 

The Cure for Bigotry is Travel

I’m just now beginning to unwrap a few of the insights that I gathered from a three week vacation to the Far East. As you know, Liz and I spent five days in Hong Kong and then two weeks on an Asian cruise that visited various ports of call in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Singapore. It was truly the trip of a lifetime.

This trip was the first time for either of us to visit this particular part of the world. It was certainly an eye opening experience for us. As Mark Twain once wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

For the most part Americans have a fairly limited understanding of cultures beyond our boarders. We make big assumptions that may or may not be grounded in truth or fact. It turns out that Asian cultures are way more diverse than I ever thought. It was common to see evidence of multiple religious traditions on display as you walked the streets of every country we visited. Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Muslims, and Christians, all lived and worked beside each other. This brings a whole new dimension to the basic Christian understanding of loving your neighbor as yourself.

Our last stop was in Singapore. This small city-state nation has figured out the secret to making room for a multitude of religious traditions. Everyone celebrates and honors everyone else’s religious holidays. Christians take part in celebrating Chinese New Year. Muslims observed the Hindu celebrations and parades with appropriate respect. Hindus made room to respectfully embrace the basic traditions of Islam. You can freely wear the unique clothing of your religious tradition that easily identifies who you are without any fear of suffering or retribution.

I know there are those here in the US who believe, “It is my way or the highway”. I know there are those who believe in an artificial purity of belief as a prerequisite for belonging. For me it was refreshing to see “freedom of religion” a founding principle of the United States, being practiced with such grace and purpose. There are so many things that we do well here in America. Yet there are certain lessons in life that we can take away from other cultures in foreign lands.

Fr. Mark +

A few years ago the Miller Brewing Company had an ad campaign out that touted the virtues of its Lite Beer. One school of thought said Lite Beer was better because it tasted great. The other school of thought said Lite Beer was better because it was Less Filling. Passions ran high on both sides. Soon the ongoing debate gradually escalated into a loud shouting match as to who was more right. It didn’t matter that both sides were talking about the same can of beer. Owning the label meant more than the contents inside the can. 

This caused me to reflect on the age old question concerning personal Lenten disciplines. Do you give something up for Lent or do you take something on? There are those who firmly believe it cannot be a real Lent unless there is a measure of self-denial involved somewhere in the spiritual equation. Then again, there are others who passionately believe that true spiritual growth comes from taking on new disciplines. Keep in mind we are still talking about the same individual here. 

In classic American thinking it’s an us against them world. It’s our side against their side. It’s good versus evil. It’s light versus darkness. It’s a constant battle for the triumph of the American Way! But is that really how things are? Is the world irreconcilably divided into two camps? Is it always right against wrong or are there various shades of grey in between? 

One of my favorite memes frequently seen on the internet reminds us of the folly of this form of dualistic thinking. The question is posed: “What if I were to tell you that the left wing and the right wing, both belong to the same bird.” Now I realize for those who want to divide people into opposing forces that categorize our neighbors into Red or Blue this is an easy and convenient path to take in life. It is considered heresy to entertain the possibility that both Left/Blue and Right/Red, might not contain all the truth or answers for our complicate problems. It’s also entirely possible they both sides might be wrong. 

This is where doctrine and dogma will get us all into to trouble. If we allow doctrine and/or dogma to have the final say over our right relationships, then we have totally missed the message of Jesus Christ: We are to love God and love one another as he has loved us. The world is seldom either/or. More often than we realize the world is actually both/and. 

So maybe it doesn’t really matter if Lite Beer tastes great or is less filling. Maybe it really doesn’t matter if we give up red meat, chocolate, and alcohol for Lent or if we choose to read a chapter of the Bible every night and walk 30 minutes every day. As long as we are striving to live better lives and helping others are doing the same, we might actually be happier if we encouraged each other regardless of our political persuasion. 

One thing is for certain. If the left wing and the right wing absolutely refuse to cooperate with each other, then the same bird to which they are both attached, will never be able to fly. That sadly enough would be our great shame.  

Peace, Mark+ 

Charles Dickens in his Tale of Two Cities once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That would not be the case here at All Saints’ Episcopal Church. By any measure, 2023, would have to be counted amongst the best of times. 

We started out the year with a bit of anxiety and some trepidation. The year 2022 had not been a good one as far as our endowment was concerned. We lost money in 2022 with the Foundation. True All Saints’ finished the fiscal year 2022 in the black, but having a down investment year meant there would be no help in 2023 for the budget coming from the Foundation. 

Thus we started the year with a projected budget deficit of $42,000. Ouch! To be sure there were more than a few concerned looks on the faces of vestry members. We cautiously moved into 2023 hoping that somehow the deficit could be addressed and reduced. For my part, I told the vestry to stay focused on the mission of the church. 

What you might ask is that mission? Simple. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul, then love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. After nearly 30 years in Holy Orders, it still amazes me that so many churches are still fighting over who is worthy of being included, and why so many other people are deemed unworthy and thus excluded. The Jesus I know and love, accepted everyone and left nobody out of the reach of Grace, Love, and Mercy. 

And so the weeks slowly passed. With each passing month the financial reports were better than we had projected. So in the summer we revised the budget and reduced the deficit by $12,000. The Spring BBQ gave us a glimpse of what was to come. It blew away our expectations. Attendance on Sundays has returned to pre-pandemic numbers. New folks kept finding us and checking us out online. We now see an average of 30-40 at the 8:00 service, and 80-100 at the 10:30 service. In addition, there are over a hundred folks who follow us each week on line. 

As we moved into the fourth quarter our financial situation no longer seemed so dire. The projected deficit continued to shrink. We had another record fall BBQ under our belts. We even reopened the nursery this past year. Things were all moving in the right direction at the same time. We finished the year erasing our deficit. How did this happen? It all happened with God’s help. 

I’m grateful for the leadership of our Sr. Warden, Colleen Andrews, and our Jr. Warden, Dan Dickens. I’m truly grateful for Marylou Mauney, our Treasurer, and to Skeet Jernigan and the members of our Foundation. Thank you all for your faithful service. 

Next week, on February 1st, I will mark my seventh anniversary as your rector. It really doesn’t seem possible to me. Somewhere along the way, the Shepherd of this flock, fell in love with the sheep that make up this quirky parish. I can tell you from the experience of some of my peers, this is not always the case. I am truly blessed. 

I recently preached a sermon that spoke about change being the only real constant in the universe. This past year All Saints’ has experienced our own share of significant changes. Lynne Ann Anderson retired after faithfully serving the Church for 37 years as the parish administrator. I can’t begin to tell you how many parishioners asked me, “What are you going to do? How will you replace her?” My response, “Stay focused on our mission. God will provide.” 

It turns out God did indeed provide. Kathlyn Wender was moving back to Morristown after serving two Episcopal parishes in Chattanooga. We both saw the potential for her being the right fit for our needs. She joined the staff in March and hit the ground running. She possesses the skills and the passion to keep All Saints’ moving in a positive direction. 

In addition, Dr. Ryan Garber departed the staff after a 14 year tenure with All Saints’. Here again there were voices wanting to know how would we replace him. My response, “Stay focused on the mission. God will provide.” And God provided us with Dr. Henry Selby to be our interim organist/choirmaster for a bit over a year for which I am eternally grateful. Here again, God heard our prayers. I followed up on a suggestion to contact Dr. Jonathan Richardson over at First Baptist here in Morristown. I asked if he might be interested in talking with us about our music program. It turns out he was. It also turns out that he was the answer to our prayers. I still remember what Jonathan said to me after his first couple of Sundays. “I think I needed you at All Saints’ more than you needed me.” Wow! 

In a post Covid Pandemic World the church is in the midst of tumultuous changes. Just because we have traditionally done something in the past doesn’t mean we will continue doing it in the future. There is a time for every season.  

However, there are some things we will always do. For instance: – We will feed the hungry. – We will care for the poor and homeless. – We will welcome those who were once outcasts. – We will continue to respect the dignity of every human being. – We will seek out Christ in all persons loving our neighbors as ourselves. – We also will continue with our prayer and the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup. 

As a community of faith we have a responsibility to watch out and care for each other. We really are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves. Even if they might make it difficult for us to love them. We are all God’s children, rich or poor, black or white, male or female, gay or straight: just as long as we remain focused on the true mission, God will hear us and God will provide. 

Peace, 

The Rev. J. Mark Holland+

A new year is here. It has become tradition for many of us to declare New Year resolutions. There are all the usual suspects that go along with this tradition. Get fit and lose weight. Hence the local gyms will be filled to capacity for a couple of weeks before things get back to normal. People will also try to read more instead of getting on the internet. So many homes will have partially read books next to them on the nightstand for many months to come. 

There is something hopeful about anything new. A new baby in the home is a game changer to be sure. Parents are given charge over a tiny human being without so much as an owner’s manual. The excitement of a new child is only surpassed by the terror of being a parent without a clue. 

Sometimes things that are new are connected to fond memories. When I was a young boy I remember the smell that accompanied opening up a brand new box of 64-Crayola crayons. It was a new school year and the smell of a new box of crayons told me that anything was possible. I remember those wonderful times when my parents brought home a new car. The unique smell of a new car has always put a smile on my face. I couldn’t wait to get on the road with my family and discover new places and adventures. 

The real problem with all of this is that newness slowly fades away and eventually becomes ordinary. Children grow up and become teenagers. Enough said about that. Things that were once new soon lose their luster. Crayons get used. Points get worn down. Some get broken in two pieces. Cars start to take on the smell of whatever was last eaten by their occupants. It won’t be long before petrified french fries and fallen Skittles candies work their way down into the crevasses of the seats. 

All material things eventually age and lose their novelty of being new. Yet our Christian faith reminds us that God continues to be at work in the world creating new things for us to behold. Every morning we wake up to a new day with new possibilities. Each and every day is a gift for us to enjoy and share. 

We tend to look for and only see the big things. We miss the small things that really make a difference in other people’s lives. That is really unfortunate. Very few of us are in positions where we can make the big things happen. All of us are in a place where we have the power to do the little things that have the potential to touch another person’s life for the better. 

A kind word of encouragement can really make someone’s day when they are struggling just to get by. A simple act of forgiveness given or received, can restore that which was once broken beyond repair. Hold the door for someone following you into a building. Let another car into traffic when it is backed up. Double a recipe and share it with someone who lives alone. Write a handwritten thank you note to someone who graciously helped you out when you were down. 

Maybe a better way to approach a new year is just to resolve to be kind. In a bitterly divided world kindness is a much needed commodity that is in short supply. Kindness is the healing balm our souls for which our souls yearn. Start with something small. Do one random act of kindness and then step back and take note of it. Then increase the dosage to two random acts of kindness and see what a difference you might make in the world. It’s a new year and a new day. Be bold enough to try something new that might make others take note. Perhaps they will even join you. It’s the small things in life that have the power to change the big things in our world. 

Mark+

Hurry up and wait. That was the constant driving force behind everything I used to do when I worked as an engineer offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Time was money and thus time was an expensive commodity and it was always in short supply. Everyone working on a drilling rig is ready and essentially standing by waiting for another person to get their job done so that we can start our own. Of course this meant that there was someone else who was waiting on us to finish whatever we were flown out by helicopter to the rig to do.  

Everyone was always in a hurry. Everyone was waiting for their turn to do what nobody else could do. The pace was fast and it was furious. It was also relentless. I’d no sooner finished the job that I was doing before it was time for me to catch a flight back to land only to fly out the next morning to Another rig somewhere in the Gulf. 

Most of us understand what it feels like when the pace of our lives is running at light speed. The faster we go the more likely we are to make a mistake. When we find ourselves ensnared in such a system we look for an exit off-ramp or a way to step away and simply catch our breath.  

Think about the culture we find ourselves living in today. The Christmas decorations have been out in places like Lowe’s since Labor Day in September. Retailers are well aware that the number of shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are fewer than usual. Hence the artificial sense of urgency to try and cram even more into the short Advent Season.  

Feeling overbooked? Don’t think you could find room on your social calendar for another party? Haven’t sent out your Christmas cards yet? Still have gifts to buy, stockings to fill and a house to decorate? Looking forward to having dinner with family members who want to pick political fights? Don’t forget about putting up all the many outdoor lights so you can rival your neighbors and double your electric bill.  

What if you could actually get away from it all even for just 30 minutes? What if you could do something that would feed your soul instead of sap your energy? Along with my clergy colleagues at First Methodist and First Presbyterian, we are offering you such a spiritual respite. You don’t have to do anything but show up. You don’t need to buy a new party outfit. You don’t have to bake or cook anything to share. You just have to come and be still for thirty minutes.  

At 6:00 PM on the first three Mondays in Advent, December 4th, 11th, and 18th, our three churches will offer you a time and a place to step back from the hurry up and wait syndrome. As Psalm 46 states, “We are to be still and know that God is God.” So come and join us and just be still. Let the sounds of the choir soothe your weary body. Let the quiet of three houses of worship open you up to welcoming the presence of God during the Season of Advent. Allow the words of the prayers that will be offered open you up to more than the chaotic rush of the world.  

I invite you to join us and give yourself a gift and be still to know that God really is God.  

God’s Peace, Mark+ 

By the time you are reading this in early October, I will have returned from making a family trip down to New Orleans. This trip is both personal and professional for me. You see, I have the honor of baptizing my grandson on the 29th of September.

Early on in my priesthood I had a wise retired priest point out to me how blessed we are as clergy because we get to be included in the most significant moments in our parishioners lives. We are present soon after a child is born when we baptize them into the Body of Christ. Later we are present when they are adults, often young newly independent adults, when we officiate at their weddings and they become one flesh. Finally, we are present whenever they depart this world to enter into God’s Kingdom, and we say goodbye to them at their funerals. I’ve had the privilege of being present at these important times in life more times than I can begin to count.

Now, almost 30 years into my priesthood, I am discovering how truly blessed I am that I can also be present to Hatch’em, Match’em, and Dispatch’em, as a priest for my own family. Twelve years ago I was asked to officiate at both of my fathers’ funerals. A couple years later it was my mother’s funeral. Over the past few years I have officiated at my niece’s wedding and also at two of my own children’s weddings. Thirty years ago I baptized my niece. And now, I have been asked to baptize my almost one year old grandson.

These are indeed important moments in life. As a priest, I’ve baptized over 600 people. I’ve officiated at the weddings of over 400 couples. I’m grateful that I am no longer prohibited from doing so based on the gender of the two people getting married. I have also officiated at nearly 500 funerals. There have been so many times where I’ve been allowed to be present when God has also been present.

Now that I’m older, I can better appreciate what it means to be part of a circle of life. God continues to create and bring new life into the world. God finds a way to bring together parents that will perpetuate love by nurturing new life. Finally, God will welcome home our souls when our physical time here has ended.

When my bishop ordained me into Holy Orders and thus set me apart for ministry, my elderly and wise priest friend was right, I might not have realized it at the moment, but I was blessed.

God’s Peace, Mark+

The past few years of us dealing with the COVID pandemic has created a much bigger
disturbance in my life that I originally thought that it did. So many aspects of my life had their own
unique rhythms and now I’m discovering they are all out of sync. Certain things in my world once brought me dependable comfort because I could depend on them. Now it seems the loss of them can be a source of great distress. This was made abundantly clear to me during my own recent bout with COVID.

Like so many of you I have taken all the shots. After two and a half years, I was confident I had
been spared the worst. This turned out not to be the case. The deadly respiratory virus found me and
punished me with a vengeance. I woke up on a Saturday morning and instantly knew something was
very wrong. My body was aching. I had a low grade fever. My head was congested and I felt as if I had
been run over by a truck. So, I took an at home test and watched it quickly turn positive.

For the first time in my priesthood, I missed two consecutive Sundays because I was sick. Then
the virus spread from me to my wife. Next it went to our daughter. We were officially living in a
quarantine zone. For a week we didn’t leave the house or go anywhere. Life was turned upside down.
I finally saw firsthand what so many millions of others knew about COVID. It has been a slow recovery
process to get back to whatever is the new normal in life.

Churches across the country have learned how to overcome the COVID disruption and find a
rhythm once again. Social gatherings that were cancelled are starting to return. There was no
in-person worship for over a year. Now people are coming back to church along with those who found
us online. Gone were the first Sunday morning breakfasts with mountains of bacon. Bingo and other
outreach offerings were postponed. We had to discontinue the nursery on Sunday mornings. All these
things are returning in September.

Here we are almost three years into a post COVID world, and we are having to find new ways to
live together. Some of us now work from home. Students understand that the wearing of masks might
come back in a moment’s notice. We are just starting to come out of forced isolation.

A new rhythm in our common life is emerging. We have let go of some traditions that no longer
have meaning nor relevance in our lives. We can once again embrace those things we have missed and
now we want them back. As our BCP reminds us, “Life has changed, not ended.” COVID is not going
away anytime soon. So be it.

We the Church will focus on what the new 21st Century Church can and will be. We will learn to
adapt and overcome any and all obstacles, some that we couldn’t even imagine before. We accept that a
church in 2023 and beyond will need to have a regular online presence. New opportunities to witness
the mission of the church, like the Blessings Box outside our parish offices will now become part of us.
We will double down and reinvest in human relationships because our hearts are heavy over the loss of
over 1.3 million souls as a result of this pandemic.

Pre or post pandemic, the basic mission of the Church remains the same. “Love the Lord your
God will all your hearts, all your minds, and all your strength.” The second part is like unto it. “You will
love your neighbor as yourself.” So, let’s get busy and rediscover what that new rhythm is.
Peace, Mark+