It’s always an honor for me, as Rector at St. Columba’s, to join with our summer friends to preach and preside at the first Sunday service of the summer season @ All Saints by-the-Sea Chapel.
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This year, everything has changed. Due to public health guidelines during the pandemic, we cannot in good conscience be together in our church buildings, both at All Saints Chapel and St. Columba’s Church.
This changes how we gather for prayer in profound ways. The biggest change, with guidance from Bishop Thomas James Brown, is that we are not offering a virtual Holy Eucharist. We believe it takes all of us being fully present in person to celebrate and receive Holy Communion. So, during “CovidTide” we wait expectantly for the time when we all can celebrate our joyous return to weekly Holy Eucharists.
Meanwhile in good faith, we turn to our Anglican tradition of offering our daily prayers. Morning, noonday, and evening prayers have long been prayed in our churches and in our homes. On Sundays we can offer up our common prayers which we’ve prayed from generation to generation.
Through the magic of collegial collaboration, weeks of online planning has been done by Ron Ross, Virginia Sheay+ and Kit Sherrill+ along with the Governing and Preaching Committees of All Saints Chapel, Google drive, and lots of technical help from Nancy Miner Adams. We’re excited to launch into a new season of virtual Sunday morning prayers @All Saints Chapel, offered from the chapel and from a variety of locations.
All of us, at St.C’s and All Saints Chapel, are on a steep learning curve as we put together and build up our online worship offerings. Many emails and phone calls pass back and forth. Music, preaching, and prayers are pre-recorded separately over the course of several days either from the chapel or, in the case of the preacher/presider, from a different location. Then a sound/video editor ( Guy Scott for St.C’s or Nancy Miner Adams for All Saints) downloads the separate video or audio/music files which are uploaded into the “cloud.” The clips are edited together and then full-length services are uploaded onto the websites and YouTube channels. Finally, Lynne Homburg Rayl or Maria Hoecker or Jerry Homer pushes the prayer services out to people via social media and group emails. Ultimately, the viewers must be online to access the links to the services, but the videos or podcasts can be played anytime.
These are changing times for all of us. For safety reasons, we are not yet gathering together again on Sunday in our worship spaces, not even those of us who are doing the recordings. Our order of morning prayers has changed. What hasn’t changed is our love for God and for our neighbors. We are called by Christ to be in our neighborhoods, even in the cyber-world. The Holy Spirit gifts us for these changing times.
St. Columba’s Church has also been online and offering weekly services of podcast prayers, videos, and music since March, learning quickly as we go. We too will be expanding our video-streaming, as we get better at managing all of the tech details and equipment. Our weekly services can be found here:
All Saints by-the-Sea Chapel’s services are here:
The Episcopal Diocese of Maine: https://www.episcopalmaine.org/
We’re also connected as Episcopalians to Washington National Cathedral which offers a Spiritual Communion service every Sunday at 11:15 a.m. Their daily services can be found here:
Slowly we’re learning how to gather together and pray in new ways. The Holy Spirit has more in mind for us all. It’s been a gift for me over these past few weeks to create something new with our dear friends at All Saints by-the-Sea Summer Chapel.
I’m grateful also to the faithful People and Vestry @ St. Columba’s Church. We are fully dedicated to growing our mission to provide safe harbor in Christ, both online and at home in our neighborhoods.
Together we can proclaim, to God be all Glory!