Dear Parish Family,
 
Opening our church for attended worship is a good topic for a direct word from the Rector. Yet, I lift and applaud the efforts of so many others who have done more than I about all that follows. Restarting in-person worship at All Saints is an earnest daily question. Like everyone else, my hope was that we would be meeting in our beautiful building long before now!  We all long and need to be together. The encouragement here is that incredibly devoted and selfless volunteers and staff members are making great progress on the myriad tasks required for us to congregate safely. Here’s how. 
 
I have prayed for decision-making wisdom and direction for many weeks and I can see that the time is nearing. While many people are actively advocating the resumption of in-person worship, the overarching need is to keep us all safe and in unity. Why do I speak about unity? Because among the divisions and divides of people everywhere, even the return to live worship is itself a divisive question. Some think we should already be doing so; others think it premature while there is no vaccine; and some are wary of yet another wave of the virus.  My role as Rector is to be sure we don’t fall into a ditch of division on the road to regathering. By God’s provision and grace, we can all be grateful that technology has allowed us to connect with each other in the interim and to participate in Godly worship, study, and spiritual formation opportunities. The effectiveness of these new tools of ministry has people advocating that we continue their utilization after the shutdown ends and I agree. 
 
Once more for emphasis: We are diligently making progress on the necessary steps to resume some limited measure of in-person worship. That will come “soon” and I’m not being vague or clever by such imprecision. My sense is that we are weeks away, not months, but I could be wrong. We will see, in good faith.  Formally and strategically organized teams of staff, clergy, and volunteers - with the wise leadership of our Verger, David Reeve - have been faithfully working on the logistics of reopening safely so that we may have “worship without worry.”  Take some heart that we have submitted our worship reopening plan to the Diocese and received preliminary approval to proceed, given certain safety protocols and parameters. (As part of that plan, click HERE to read a helpful Covenant for Regathering in Worship that will be required for attendance at in-person worship.)  
 
Additional optimism and progress can be gleaned from an upcoming in-person “pilot service” on Sunday, October 11. The pilot service will allow us to road test all of the required registration, logistics, and safety measures.  Those attending this “dry run” will be staff, Vestry, and a few parish leaders who have volunteered to help us evaluate our readiness to open-up more fully. Getting this right will enable the next step to be taken. 
 
I respectfully request for everyone to continue to show love and godly patience and understanding with me, our staff, and all our clergy. This is hard and complicated and even a thankless task under the evaluation of some observers. It is no secret that ultimately the decision rests with me as the Rector once permission is provided from all proper authorities. In that regard I assure everyone that I am praying and striving to do our very best  in our Lord and for our dear people whom I love so very much.  
 
You will see folks in the Nave on October 11 during the livestreamed service. Please give thanks in your heart for their service and sacrifices to help us get to the next level of worship. Know in your heart that we long to be with you in person.  God willing, it will be soon. There’s that vague but well intended word again!

In Christ, 
Ed Kelaher, Rector
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