A Message from Mother Anne
June 27, 2021
One of the greatest charisms (spiritual gifts manifest in the world) of StGs is building and sustaining community. It is this very gift that drew me, and I know many of you, to come and remain a part of our worshipping community. StGs is at our best when we can be as inclusive and participatory as possible – that’s how we manifest joy and hope, feed people and continue to build community. When the pandemic began, these values led us to choose to worship together live on Zoom (rather than live streaming a “typical” service or pre-recorded service) so we could see each other and have as much inclusion and participation in worship.
Throughout these past 15 months, the StGs worshipping community has continued to thrive, and our worship style has adapted to more broadly include participation by as many people and voices as possible. We have people worshipping from all over the United States (and even England!), participating from home, the car, vacation spots and backyards. We have shared worship with Zion Lutheran and Christ United Methodist, had virtual choirs and fun videos from our children and youth telling stories from Scripture. Many people share how much more connected they feel to StGs and their fellow parishioners as well as how intimate and joyful our worship is online.
Even so, there are people who have not been able to worship with us online or didn’t connect with worship in that way.While our online community grew and thrived, not everyone has been included, and like Jesus, we always seek to include those who aren’t present with us. Our leadership has been praying, researching and discussing waysto hold the community we have gained online and include those who have felt excluded these past 15 months. Focusing on community, inclusivity, and participation we have an evolving plan for moving forward with online AND onsite worship for StGs.
With deep gratitude for a generous gift from Curt Keller’s family, we are adding online accessibility in our worship space that will include: 3 cameras, a new sound system, 1 or 2 screens on moveable carts, and a “command center” to manage it all. This will enable us to have people on Zoom that are visible and audible to people onsite, It will also allow people onsite to be visible and audible to people online. Therefore, everyone (either onsite or online on Zoom) will be able to fully participate in our worship by reading scriptures and prayers and passing the peace.
Due to the pandemic, electronic components for the new audio/visual system are in high demand and short supply. We are working to get this installed as quickly as possible and hope to have it operational by early fall. Until then, we will bridge the gap between onsite and online by having two services each Sunday: 8:00 am onsite and 10:00 am online, starting on Sunday, July 11th.
The 8:00 am onsite service is offered to bring worship and community for those who aren’t able to join us online, and/or who are very eager to be onsite in our worship space. This service will usually be Eucharist, will be spoken (no singing), casual (clergy won’t wear vestments) and will not have coffee hour afterwards. Masks are required for anyone unvaccinated, and optional for those who are. There will be a section of pews designated for those who would prefer to sit socially distanced, and the other seating areas will not be separated. Immediately following the service, in an abundance of caution, everyone will be asked to leave the worship space without lingering. The AC in the worship space is at 50% capacity, so it is sometimes warm, so come dressed appropriately. Please also be mindful that many people are not yet comfortable with physical touch with other people, so we will ask that the Peace be still distanced.
The 10:00 am online service will be the same as it has been: Zoom, livestreamed to Facebook, livestreamed on our website and recordings posted to YouTube. It will continue to have the gorgeous music, variety of worship styles and leaders, and coffee hour breakout rooms we have grown used to.
Beloved, as blogger Courtney Martin says, “we’re becoming something we’ve never been before.” During this time, we have become something new, and continue to do so. Together, we will work through the interim period until we have everything installed in the worship space and people online and onsite can be in the same service together. As always, I, along with your Wardens and Vestry are here if you have any questions. StGs will continue to strive to share joy and hope, feed people, and build community in new and creative ways as we radiate God’s grace, equipping all people to change the world.See you online or onsite soon!
I'm still a beginner in understanding and supporting anti-racism and race relations. I think I always will be. But, as Kathryn Duncan pointed out to me, I do know Jesus. I know Jesus is and was a man of color. I know Jesus is God incarnate - sent to this earth to show us the enormous depth, breadth, and power of God's love for all of us. I know Jesus intentionally sought out the marginalized. I know Jesus made a point to listen to the stories of the people nobody else wanted to listen to. I know Jesus loved even when he did not understand. I know Jesus taught about open hearts and minds and souls to the power of love. And so I try to live that, and I fail every day, and God still loves me and gives me strength to try again.
There is so much to be heartbroken about. Over 100,000 deaths in the United States alone from COVID-19, isolation from people we love, financial ruin for millions of Americans, people of color consistently abused, feared, and killed, and a million other things.
There is also much to give us hope. God's love endures. God's love is greater than fear, sin, and death. God promises the Kingdom where all suffering will end. And we get to do our part to live that out today and every day as individuals, as the worshipping community at St. Gregory's, and as human beings. How each of us lives a life of love will differ, but isn't it a healing grace to know that we are all trying to do that? That we can all share our struggles, failures, and successes with each other? Knowing that we remain in conversation with each other, and with people who think and act differently gives me hope. God's love DOES prevail, and sometimes it even looks like that on earth. Thanks be to God!
Ways to help rebuild and financially support business that have been destroyed on the South and West side of Chicago: