A Note from the Ellen, Senior Warden
This coming Sunday will be our final service for 2020. Can you believe it?!
It would be remiss if we ended our time together without showing gratitude in this, the 132nd year for Emmanuel Church, as one of nine seasonal chapels in the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. It is said Emmanuel has been the ONLY Summer Chapel to hold services during this Covid-Tide. How 'bout that! We have so much to be proud of in this time of uncertainty.
At our Annual Meeting this past Sunday evening, both of our Priests, Gideon and John, unbeknownst to the other, selected the exact same scripture to include in their reports to the congregation. For me, coincidences are more than mere chance, especially here, in this moment and in this time in the life of Emmanuel Church.
"proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2
More than generous resources of time, talent and treasure have sustained this historical season for us!
In mid-march March, conversations began with both John and Gideon while they were adapting to the effects of the pandemic and leading their home churches in new ways around worship and fellowship. The Managing Committee's bold decision to open for a virtual season of worship amidst mixed feelings from the surveyed congregation, set the course for lots of activity in May and June. The first act of the Senior Warden was to fill the Communication and Outreach Committee position on the Managing Committee by inviting Bill Raymond to serve and he accepted. The three week on-boarding of our first website was a miracle in itself. Gideon worked mostly with Membership Vision (website developer), and Bill and I created content and provided photos. Our first service was pre-recorded with Gideon on Long Island, John in North Carolina, combined with lectors and organist Bob Englund in Dublin. Bill set up video and audio production inside the church, and the UBER Board went virtual with Anna Ritchie's leadership. Gideon spliced all the content together, uploaded it to the website and at 9 a.m. on Sunday, June 28th, Emmanuel opened its virtual doors.
The decision to open the rectory was another bold move on our part. With virtual services, why was this important? The care of our clergy is part of our work. The Pollach and Branson families returned to the rectory to find it welcoming and restorative. I hear this year after year. Judyth and John experience solace and inspiration. Gideon reports his family is counting the days until their return in 2021. Being in Dublin has become a meaningful ritual in all their lives. Ted Pearre attended to the gardens and winter brush removal around the campus. And, Martha Raymond and her team assured comfort and respite as evidenced by her thoughtful caring for the rectory and the families.
A concern of the Managing Committee was the capacity we had to financially support a virtual season. Relying solely on donations from parishioners and a small return on an investment fund dedicated to annual operating expenses, we launched the annual campaign in the late spring after we made the decision to be open. With prayers and messaging through the priests and encouragement from Bob Hamshaw, Chair of the Finance Committee in the weekly Epistle Newsletter, YOU made it possible to meet our expenses. We were able to continue with our annual $2500 Outreach distribution to 12 non-profits meeting the basic needs and services of Monadnock region residents, and we have funds to cover off-season expenses, as well. What a blessing we have in YOU.
My thanks go to Jack Sands, Ann Conway and Kathy Miner for their steadfast work as Officers. Flowers for each service were lovingly provided by parishioners and Cynthia Chace created silk arrangements to fill in gaps when needed. A full compliment of lectors dutifully arrived at the church on Tuesday mornings to be filmed by Bill. Our thanks also goes to Seth Brenzel, Executive Director of The Walden School and the musicians that provided our Offertory music each Sunday. Their videos were coming in from all over the world to be spliced into our virtual service. Upon Gideon's departure the end of July, Bill assumed the video editor role and I managed uploading the videos to the website for Sunday services and produced the weekly E-pistle Newsletter.
In closing, as Senior Warden it is my true honor to serve the Emmanuel Church community of faith in this way. During the most challenging of moments, I kept thinking of Presiding Bishop Curry's voice saying "What would Love do?" Both John and Gideon offered sound advice, spiritual support, all steeped in a deep, deep commitment to each of us and to Emmanuel Church. We have come out of this experience better for it. Perhaps the best testament was the last sentence in Bill's report at the Annual Meeting, "....and if we have to do this again next year...we are ready."
In faith ~