Senior Warden's Report
By Ray Warren
I was overjoyed this week to learn that Charles “Chuck” Hammond may soon be able to come home from a rehabilitation center in Miami. For those who cannot place Chuck merely by name, you will undoubtedly remember him as one of the stalwart ushers (along with Don Curry) for many, many years prior to the pandemic.
Chuck is a Key West and St. Paul’s treasure. In addition to being probably the most reliable and steady usher in church history, he was the lead teller (for counting, classifying and depositing contributions), head of the Damascus Fund, and a former vestry member.
Chuck had a serious fall in his home in January and was transferred to Miami for treatment. Thankfully that appears to be successful. We will all look forward to his return. Please keep him and his partner/companion and co-conspirator in good works (Joseph Lyles) in your prayers.
I was also very happy to see another of our long time parishioners for the first time since the shutdown last year. She has received her second round of the Covid-19 vaccine and felt comfortable enough to attend the noon Ash Wednesday service. (The one that featured open windows for full ventilation.) I certainly don’t want anybody coming to in-person services unless she or he is comfortable. But seeing Linda was a reminder that there may be an end to the pandemic – hopefully at some point this year.
Speaking of Ash Wednesday - and open windows, we are constantly looking for ways to provide opportunities for safe worship and connection with the church again. On the one hand our large church structure allows for significant social distancing. (With a few slightly open windows on Sunday, I feel we provide as safe a place for the current Sunday service.)
On the other hand, our very urban location limits us in ways the other churches in the Keys do not encounter. The “fully open window” service on Ash Wednesday was even safer, but between loud motorcycles, airplanes and at least one vehicle intent on sharing its music with the world, parts of the service were completely drowned out.
Having large services outside is not really an option for us as it is for our sister churches on other Keys. In addition to noise, our memorial garden (which does have a very nice outdoor altar) isn’t as large as it appears. Based on proper social distancing guidelines, we could seat far fewer people there than it might seem at first glance. (And, there is the issue of rain.)
I am acutely aware that those who treasure Rite I have been left out in the current situation. I am also aware that some might attend if we can open all windows fully. (This was evident at the noon Ash Wednesday service when several people who do not feel comfortable at the regular service attended.) And, I realize that the weekday healing service was an important part of the life for some.
When the new Rector arrives, the timing of services will be much easier to manage. (She or he will certainly be able to hold multiple services and will not be constrained by equally important duties at St. Peter’s as Fr. Haughton is.) Some of the service offerings will, if the pandemic endures, almost surely include things we haven’t been able to offer in the emergency.
But, in the short term it appears we need to keep the 8:30AM service (with windows only partially open) to reach our Facebook audience. As an interim measure I will be checking with other supply clergy (and with Fr. Haughton) to see if we can supplement that with more open air (windows open) options, perhaps incorporating Rite I and even a weekday healing service. Whether we can do this before the new Rector arrives, know it will surely happen at some point. Please keep the faith in your parish.
Speaking of faithfulness, I am really asking each of you to do two things this week.