Rector's Report to Vestry
28 June 2020
This past month has seen the gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions as we entered the ‘yellow phase’ of the province’s recovery plan. This has been encouraging in many ways. At St. Paul’s, it has meant we can once again welcome parishioners into the building for worship and Bible study. While many have expressed their happiness that St. Paul’s is “re-opening,” in actual fact St. Paul’s never closed! Over the past months, many people have put tremendous time, energy and talent into carrying on the worship and ministry of the church in new and creative ways. I would like to commend our team of staff and volunteers for the extra hours they have punched so that we might stay connected as a church family.
Resuming Public Worship
A great deal of careful thought and planning went into preparing St. Paul’s to welcome everyone back into the building for worship. Operational Plans had to be written so that we could detail exactly how we would function within the regulations set out by the province. On May 13th we welcomed the first parishioners for worship since March 15th. Weekday services for up to 10 people were held nearly daily until we were permitted to gather in groups of up to 50. St. Paul’s was open for Sunday Eucharist for parishioners on June 14th at the usual times of 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Our worship experience is different in several ways these days. Things like signing up to attend worship, masks, distancing, etc. have become a part of the new way we gather. I would like to extend my appreciation to everyone for their patience and understanding through all of this. Even though things may look and feel a little different, the important thing is that we are back together worshipping God and receiving the Blessed Sacrament.
Significant investments of time and skill continue to be put into online communications. Our parish website is updated nearly daily with relevant information and ministry resources. Our Facebook page is also kept current. Emails are distributed to our mailing list 1-2 times a week. With the assistance of our communications team, we were able to refresh our print bulletin to incorporate our new logo. Our team is working on a strategy to continue employing all these tools effectively and sustainably moving forward.
Calls continue to be made on a daily basis, with an emphasis being placed on connecting with those who are sick and/or shut-in. This is a ministry of which we can all be a part.
Since moving into the yellow phase, we have resumed regular office hours. Spring Lake is now working on-site at the office. We are currently on Summer hours, which are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. As both Sexton and Secretary, I am very thankful for Spring’s attention to detail as we have sought to keep St. Paul’s operational during these past months. Thanks to her, St. Paul’s is the cleanest and safest place around!
Mission Church Congregation
As you may know, the Mission Church congregation has been meeting for their weekly Eucharist at St. Paul’s on Wednesday’s at 7 p.m. Their usual worship space is at the men’s shelter – Outflow – in Saint John. Because of physical distancing regulations, the shelter has needed more floor space, so Mission Church generously offered up their worship space as long as needed. In the meantime, we are pleased to welcome them to St. Paul’s. Father Stuart Allan, one of our honorary assistants, is providing interim ministry to that congregation. He has extended an invitation to any St. Paul’s parishioners who would like to join them to feel free to do so. Since they are a smaller group, advance sign-up is not necessary.
Parish Hall Users
Once again, we have been able to welcome various user groups back into the building. Narcotics Anonymous are back to meeting weekly. Taekwondo meets twice weekly. In addition, we have Kidsing Summer day camp booked to use our facilities for several weeks this Summer. As part of COVID-19 precautions, we are now requiring all users to provide us with a copy of their operational plan which needs to be consistent with our own plan and, of course, the provincial regulations.
After School Program
I am pleased to share the news that Leah Doiron has been offered and accepted the role of St. Paul’s ASP Director. Leah brings many gifts and much experience to this role, having served as assistant director of our program for several years. I am also pleased to tell you that Hannah McEvoy has been offered and has accepted the position of ASP Assistant. Many of you will know Hannah and her family, who are parishioners here at St. Paul’s. Hannah brings many gifts of her own to our program and she has also spent several years with us as a substitute ASP leader. I wish them both every blessing in these roles. They will make a great team! We are hopeful that the program will start up again in September after having to close in March. Our program liaison, Sandy Bonnycastle, and I have been working with Leah and Hannah to think through the logistics of running the ASP in our space with the current provincial restrictions. We are all very optimistic that this will be possible with a few small changes.
I am grateful to everyone for their diligence and generosity in continuing to make their financial offerings to the work and ministry of St. Paul’s. Much has changed in the way we do our ministry here, however our expenses remain much the same. Throughout the lockdown period, our ministry staff have continued to work hard to ensure the ministry of the church continued. It has required creative, innovative thinking and much planning. We want to make sure St. Paul’s remains an active and vibrant centre of Anglican faith and that we can continue to minister to our congregation, community, and beyond as we have always done. To do that, we will need to count on our good people giving prayerfully and sacrificially, as they have always done, out of love for God and his church.
Even though we can now gather for in-person worship on Sunday, the reality is that many are still not comfortable returning just yet. In order to continue to support them, we are going to continue the livestream of our Sunday 10 a.m. Eucharist. Jeff Porter and Pastor Jeremy have been key to the technical side of the process. Charles, Madeline, Liz, and several other lay readers are to be commended for their dedication in making this work so well. This ministry has proven to be a valuable means of providing spiritual nourishment to our own congregation as well as to those beyond the bounds of our parish.
Many church committees continue to meet online. Vestry, Finance Committee, Mission Beyond, Tabitha’s Mission, and Mission Within have all met to check in with each other and to respond to the crisis and its effects on the life of St. Paul’s. I have also had regular meetings on a diocesan level to stay current with Bishop David and how he sees our diocese navigating through this time.
Archbishop-Elect David Edwards
On June 17th it was announced that our bishop, David Edwards, was elected Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada, which includes the dioceses of Montreal, Quebec, Fredericton, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Western Newfoundland, Central Newfoundland, and Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador. The roles of archbishop are to chair provincial synods, call provincial meetings, consult with other archbishops across the country and with the primate, and be involved with the discussions surrounding the future of the Anglican Church of Canada. Upon his election, I wrote to Bishop Edwards to extend the congratulations and assurance of prayers of the Parish of Rothesay. Once he commences his duties in August, he will be known as The Most Reverend David Edwards.
With the relaxation of regulations, it is now possible for us to gather and catch up with one another. I am pleased that our Mission Within committee is coordinating ‘Coffee on the Common,’ which is our usual coffee time, but relocated onto the Rothesay Common so that appropriate distancing measures can be more easily observed. We hope to offer this following our 10 a.m. service from time to time.
As always, if there is any way in which I can support you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Fr. Paul Rideout