1. Our Love and Embrace of All God’s Children. So many of us have heavy hearts over the tragic divisions among God’s people – with race, nationality, and religion being just three of many ways we have found to discount, diminish, and dislike one another. Grievous sin, all of it. If we are to be a Kingdom Church, we are to adopt God’s Kingdom definition of “race.” And to that there is but one race only, in God’s image. We are all of “one blood” (Acts 17:26). We are all descendants of Adam and Eve who were created in the very image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). And Eve was “the mother of all the living,” not just some (Genesis 3:20). Thus, to diminish any human being is self-destructive, if not self-nihilating. It is something akin to reverse-xenophobia – as I confess no knowledge of any precise word for “hating one’s own people.” Even more, hating another person is to hate God Himself, in whose image each of us is made and who is mystically a part of every soul. For the years I have been in Chevy Chase, the vicious divide between so many groups has been a prayer burden for me and I have sought out and nurtured relationships with pastors of congregations that don’t look like ours. Most recently, I find myself with upcoming encounters with three pastors who are graciously accepting me to come to them to open my own heart and that of our congregation. The hope is that we might together develop long lasting relationships and bonded affections in Jesus. All the recent calls for greater conversation and joint displays of unity are good to me, but I know that the King of the Kingdom requires far more. Nothing less than actual relationship, holy love, and genuine fellowship are commanded and required of us. If anyone has a like passion for this, I would be blessed to hear from you as I seek whatever the Lord may be calling us to do or sacrifice for Him. Stay tuned for upcoming developments. There is nothing optional about this vital Kingdom concern.
2. Our Superlative Office Staff. Did you know that All Saints is blessed with one of the finest staff rosters one might find in any church anywhere? The experience, education, certifications, faith, devotion, and overall strength of our staff members are exceptional and equal to most any profit making corporate staff one might encounter. Such qualities explain how our staff is able to provide for the incredible volume of ministry of All Saints Church, while still being understaffed and considerably underpaid. They are an inspiration to me every day, and I could not be more grateful to the Lord for their sacrifices and selflessness.
3. New Additions and Promotions! By the grace of God, private anonymous donations, and the financial sacrifices of our new hires, the Parish has been able to add sorely needed positions without breaking our limited bank. I suppose I should have added in “smoke and mirrors” among the hiring dynamics! We have been struggling a long time with the challenges of volunteer recruitment and oversight, new member welcoming and assimilation, parish vitality and fellowship, and a half-dozen related needs. In response to these needs, Liz McReady was promoted recently to a Director-level position as our first ever “Community & Connections Director,” and her impact has been immediate, exciting, and meaningful. Her levels of energy, innovation, and spirited faith have instantly injected new life and vision into a church that was at a high level of activity already. This is a huge relief to me as Rector because these needs have been weighing on me heavily. Having Liz to work with is a tonic and balm for what ailed me and us. Likewise, Shireen David recently joined us from The Falls Church Anglican as our new Director of Mission and Outreach. She has immediately and expertly injected vision, enthusiasm, and a new sense of mission consciousness and awareness. Our Local Missions, Global Missions, evangelism, and related ministries suddenly have new life and vitality, and we find ourselves thinking of possibilities we never considered before. Welcome Liz and Shireen to your new ministries in Jesus! How grateful to the Lord we are for you and how proud we are of you!
4. Most Valuable Player Nominations. With the baseball season drawing to a close, some are foisting the names of Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Max Scherzer as Washington’s MVP candidates. Others of us are championing the case for our Building and Grounds Manager, Bill Garner. What Bill has done this year is nothing short of heroic. He has partnered with our magnificent Building and Grounds Committee to oversee our once-in-a-century roof replacement project. He has overseen the renovation of our “Bride’s Room” entry to the church, made possible by a donation from the Pelesh family. He has overseen the complete renovation of the entire top floor of our Parish House, made possible by an anonymous donor. Following intrusions and thefts, Bill responded by coordinating a critical safety and security upgrade plan providing new surveillance cameras, controlled entrance glass doors for our preschool, new alarm features, and more. He is integrally involved with our Junior Warden, Paul Bradley, and our Preschool leadership regarding the installation of our new “Tot Lot” playground for our one and two-year-olds. He has worked with our HVAC contractor to alleviate excessive moisture conditions around our building. He has worked with parishioners and our landscapers regarding our tree and landscaping schemes, together with Village officials for the necessary permits and approvals. He has worked to alleviate flooding conditions and related clean-ups. And he has done all of this while doing his regular and ordinary maintenance, repair, and daily response work. Prepare yourself to be further impressed: Bill is only a part-time employee, or at least that’s how he is inadequately compensated. Amazing and wow! When it comes to the MVP race, the smart money is on Bill Garner, Washington’s 2017 Most Valuable Player.
5. Our Generous Giving Appeal. Jonathan Stroebel and our devoted Generous Giving Team blessed us last year with the best annual pledge campaign in the 119 years of All Saints Church. Amazing! As a result, our deficits and insufficiencies were decreased significantly, yet the Parish still operates in the red. Our Generous Giving Team needs help. They need open hearts and volunteers to help inspire gifts for the spread of the Kingdom of God. New gifts assist our mission by better providing for our parishioners in financial crisis, by increasing mission to those who don’t know the Lord, by greater outreach to those in need, by better meals for those who come to our door each day, by increasing our ministry to our elderly and infirm, and by improved resources for troubled marriages, the unemployed, and those in mourning. There are so, so many things that could be listed here. Please write or give us a call if you will join us!
6. Our Sunday Meal Program. For a few years running, we enjoyed a magnificent ministry of food service from Chef Glenn Jahnsen, who left our part-time gig for a full-time position at a shelter in Northern Virginia. We celebrated Glenn’s new position, but lost the very special ministry he provided for us. Financially, I suppose it was a good thing the program ended because it did not pay for itself through contributions and there were logistical challenges. It has been at least two years since Glenn’s departure. In the interim we created a top-notch Continental Breakfast offering, brilliantly and sacrificially overseen by Sandi Rothwell, Liz Senior, and Tom Johnson (all heroes!). What a truly special ministry they provide for us each Sunday! This has been a most gracious successor to the full-brunch format we enjoyed under Glenn. Yet we note that most people don’t seem to stay and fellowship as long as they once did. Our crowds have thinned without the full buffet. Many have come to me, our staff, and our Vestry leaders over the past months urging a renewal of the full-brunch concept to give a jolt toward deeper fellowship. Last week, our Vestry challenged the Rector to coordinate with Sandi, Liz, and Tom to envision what a second-generation food service might look like. The hope is to capture the depth of the first full-brunch concept, but do it in a way that it might pay for itself. I need help. Of course, my first step is the good counsel and vision of Sandi, Liz, and Tom and I will reach out to them right away. But beyond that I and we surely could use your help. Would you please volunteer to be a part of our Sunday food program, whether it remains as a Continental Breakfast or returns to a full-brunch concept? Please write or call the church office, if you would be so good. We need help!