Incumbent’s Report, January 24, 2021
Messy Church on Friday, January 15
As I write, I sincerely hope that we are currently in the darkest days – literally and figuratively – of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the second weekend in January, Quebec is subject to a stricter lockdown than ever, including a 9-hour overnight curfew. In anticipation of this situation, we sent the following announcement to the parish:
As you have no doubt heard by now, a new lockdown is being imposed by the government of Quebec starting on Saturday, including a curfew, and lasting through February 8 (as currently planned, anyway). The staff and volunteers at All Saints have been extremely scrupulous ever since the pandemic started about going above and beyond the current regulations to ensure that everyone is as safe as possible. Hence, for the duration of these new policies, the building and office will be completely closed. Staff will be working from home and those with keys to the building are asked not to use them. We will suspend collection of food donations and other items for St. Michael’s Mission. The church voice mail will be checked regularly, and of course, as always, if you need to contact Grace, you can call 438-334-0610.
I want to acknowledge that the longer this goes on, the harder it gets. The All Saints’ community has been heroic in its response to the pandemic and the associated difficulties, and now is the time to be gentler than ever with ourselves and with each other. Especially as we approach the time of the Annual Vestry meeting, with its torrent of reports and details, we may not be able to meet our usual standard of efficiency and organization. Nevertheless, as the saying goes, it will all be OK in the end – if it’s not OK, it’s not the end. We can continue what is genuinely essential in our common life – worshiping and praying to God, caring for each other, and doing what we can to reach out to the world – even in the midst of the ongoing chaos.
We pray fervently that the case numbers will drop, the vaccination numbers will continue to rise and that this lockdown will be the last one needed. In the meantime, your patient endurance is greatly appreciated, and as always, do not hesitate to get in touch with questions. You are all continuously in my thoughts.
In December, we did our best to celebrate Christmas despite social distancing. In addition to regular Advent services, we had a very successful Zoom Lessons & Carols, two Christmas Eve services, and a virtual Christmas pageant on which numerous parish households collaborated, and which was then skillfully edited by Ian Klempan. On the Sunday after Christmas, we streamed a service prepared by the ecumenical group of West Island churches, and on Wednesday, January 6, we held an additional service for the Feast of the Epiphany.
Our virtual Christmas Bazaar and Christmas outreach plans went very well, thanks to many enthusiastic volunteers who drove all over the island on November 28 delivering baked goods, masks, and Advent Care Packages. Unfortunately plans to repeat the distribution with shortbread two weeks later had to be cancelled, but we did manage to hold a drawing on Zoom after Lessons & Carols.
While we hope and pray that the 4-week lockdown will have the desired effect, that case counts will continue to fall from their scary early-January peak and that vaccination will ramp up, we have to acknowledge that we are approaching Ash Wednesday and are only a couple of months from coming full circle and entering into our second consecutive pandemic Holy Week and Easter. To be honest, this is hitting me hard. I only had one Easter in person with you all before this started, and now here we are looking at a second one on Zoom! In some ways, it feels like we started Lent in February of 2020 and never left.
Messy Church has continued to meet by Zoom (with a few weeks off between December 10 and January 8), and astonishingly, our group has actually grown significantly during the pandemic, as current members invite their friends to join – and we can’t wait to be able to actually meet our new friends in person as soon as we can! It continually warms my heart to watch the authentic relationships building among this group of busy, plugged-in young professional parents who nevertheless find real community and meaning in the deeply uncool activity of gathering to eat casseroles and listen to Bible stories in a church basement.
The Corporation has continued to meet weekly and to supervise the building projects that we are getting done during this period of waiting. The tunnel project has wrapped up and the elevator is about to go in!
I sound like a broken record, but once again I want to thank from the bottom of my heart Jennifer, Chris (and Dion), and Tim, who have had to continually adjust to new rules and new challenges; Raymond and Laura, who will be thanking everyone else in their Wardens’ Report, but without whom there is no way I could have done my job for the past year; Yvonne Bayne, as she prepares to step into Laura’s shoes as People’s Warden after the Annual Vestry; all the parish leaders who have pitched in; and everyone who has kept us solvent and connected since March.
As always, please reach out if you have questions, need support, or just want to chat!