Dear Ascension Family,
During this time of pandemic, you all are especially in my thoughts & prayers. You are very dear to Nicole and me, and we are delighted to worship with you and to be on this journey beside you!
The past six months have presented us with unique challenges and also new opportunities. COVID-19 has prevented us from meeting in person for worship, a real challenge for many of us. The act of gathering together for worship - greeting our church family members, praying and singing side-by-side, and receiving the Eucharist at the altar - are deep pieces of our spiritual life and practice. Not being together in person presents challenges.
We have responded by holding worship online: shifting services, Bible studies, book groups, outreach ministries, etc. to the internet. This is a new and valuable opportunity. I have been reviewing our attendance numbers for last year (2019) and this year (2020):
2019 was a typical year for us in a lot of ways, including how many people we welcomed and served through worship. By this point (early September) last year, we had held services seven days a week and served approximately 5,000 people: a great thing!
So far in 2020, we have held services seven days a week and have served nearly 20,000 people: a truly amazing and blessed opportunity. People who we would never have served in person - people who live in Frankfort as well as in other cities, states, and countries, and people of other (or no) faith communities - participate in our online worship. We are living in the midst of what Jesus talked about in John 4:35-38:
...I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already...gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.
We did not pick these circumstances, but we are listening to the Spirit and joyfully following where the Spirit leads us. It is an amazingly powerful time to be at Ascension: in these turbulent and challenging times, we serve as a quiet, loving haven where people of differing beliefs, opinions, creeds, and colors can kneel together and find peace.
That being said, the Vestry and I continue to work on reopening plans for our parish. We had hoped to reopen our building this Sunday (September 6), but continuing high rates of infection clearly make this a dangerous idea. We remain closed at this time.
Sunday, October 4, is St. Francis Sunday. This is the Sunday where we traditionally bring our pets to church and bless them on the front lawn. My hope is that we can have an outdoor, in-person service (or series of services, if infection rates are still high) on the front lawn on this Sunday. We have a very talented, dedicated, and experienced group of leaders working on reopening our parish safely, and we will continue to keep you updated on this process via this eWeekly newsletter.
Again, please know that you and your families are in my thoughts and prayers. I know that this is a difficult time for all of us: please feel free to reach out to me or to our other wonderful Ascension clergy if you need to talk, ask questions, etc.
Please also keep Ascension in your daily prayers: we are truly blessed by God at this time to be serving so many people. Please pray that this will continue and please pray that we, your parish clergy, vestry, and other leaders, will be attentive to the Spirit's direction and follow where God calls.
With Love and Joy,