May 20, 2021: Regathering in Person

By Kevin LeGrand, Junior Warden (appointed)

The Message: Regathering in Person

As coronavirus cases increased early last year, Bishop Mariann asked churches in the diocese of Washington to follow new guidelines for worship practices and, just two days later as the pandemic worsened, she asked that churches cancel all public worship services. At All Souls, we held our final in-person Sunday Mass of 2020 on March 8. By then, we refrained from hugs and hand-shaking. Other institutions also changed due to the pandemic and so volunteering at Christ House ended. 

All Souls quickly moved our Adult Forums to a virtual gathering over Zoom starting March 15. The following Sunday, I launched a virtual breakfast that continues to this day. A virtual Mardi Gras party showcased our traits of resilience, creativity, hospitality, and fellowship. Other parish activities, such as Poetry Night, EfM, Sunday School, vestry and committee meetings, and social gatherings found new online homes.

The virtual gatherings (including those for our reconciliation process), as well as phone calls to all parishioners several times during the pandemic, helped us remain in touch as a community – even engaging former parishioners now living across the country or abroad. A large team of creative people put much time and talent into producing beautiful, recorded Masses with excellent homilies by our consistent supply priest, Fr. Martin Smith, as well as guest homilists and celebrants including Mother Elizabeth Orens, Rev. Rachelle Sam, and Fr. Shawn Strout.  These services fulfilled, as best we could, the worship needs of most parishioners who chose to avoid gatherings with people outside their households.

Yet, knowing that some parishioners sought to worship together in person and to be inside our beautiful church again, the vestry approved plans for in-person worship, first by projecting the recorded service onto a large screen at the foot of the sanctuary, and then with Mother Elizabeth celebrating the Mass in person.  Parishioners have told me, often with deep emotion, how meaningful it has been to worship again with members of our beloved community in a cherished place.

We’ve hosted five in-person worship services. Screenings of recorded services on March 7 and 21 and on Easter Sunday showed the importance of worshiping fully along with the service rather than simply watching it. At our Eucharistic services celebrated by Mother Elizabeth on April 13 and May 16, we gained insights about conducting the healing rite and the flow of people at communion.

We invite you to join our next in-person service on Sunday, May 30 at 5:00 PM at the Cathedral Amphitheater with Fr. Robert Phillips celebrating. We will continue to provide recorded services for the first two Sundays in June and then to transition to in-person services (perhaps with live streaming) on June 20. Initially, we will celebrate a single service each Sunday at 10:00 AM.

As we continue to evolve to a new normal, including welcoming our interim rector, what new practices or insights of the past year do you want to bring forward? What will help All Souls focus on what Christ calls us to become?

-- Kevin LeGrand, Junior Warden (Appointed).

Last Published: May 21, 2021 3:22 PM
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