Introduction the the RECTOR’S ANNUAL REPORT – Parish Annual Meeting 2009
I want to begin this year’s report by quoting excerpts from a letter I received last year. It was from one of our parishioners who had moved from San Diego, and had been looking for a local Episcopal Church.
“I always knew All Saints’ was special…. I didn’t realize, however, just how unusual the parish is. Here we are still looking for a church home. We spent the past couple of months attending one church…..and we realized that while the people of that church were incredibly friendly, and the parish programs were numerous and active, we felt nothing during the service. There was no holy heart of worship – rather, the church seemed like simply a place for like-minded people to gather in order to participate in social programs and carry out good works.
Please know that you, Fr Krulak, all the church staff and Vestry, and the congregation, have created an amazing, blessed church. After hearing so many seemingly casual and/or ill-educated preachers here, and seeing almost no one who seems to have a deep reverence and worshipful regard for the Eucharist, I appreciate you all more that ever before.
Those of you who have attended other Episcopal churches will understand the sentiments expressed in this letter. I do not share these words with you to boast, but to highlight why our parish is happy and growing, in contrast with many other churches. The contrast is even more evident when compared with the atmosphere of division, decline and unpleasantness that seems to be the mark of our Episcopal Church nationally. Many think we are just old-fashioned – but from the Bishop down it is acknowledged that, yes, there is something special and unique about All Saints’.
It is not just the fact that we use Rite 1 – for that could be celebrated in just as careless or irreverent a way as Rite 2. The secret is really the anglo-catholic tradition which this parish is based on and celebrates. In our faithfulness to catholic tradition and worship, emphasis on the sacraments, and the centrality of the Eucharist, we are proclaiming Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. At All Saints’ every Eucharist is another Christmas and the altar is another Bethlehem.
The letter I received also highlights what contributes to the atmosphere that gives All Saints’ a “holy heart of worship”. It is the combination of clergy, staff and congregation which creates this “amazing, blessed church”. And it is not just about a beautiful building, vestments and ceremonial.
The whole of our liturgy and its ritual at All Saints’ is there to emphasise things that words alone can not fully express. Also, our former parishioner said that good preaching is part of it, too. And although it was not said, at the heart is the feeling of community.
As I said, many of you know this to be true. However, we often forget how special and unique All Saints’ is. So it is good to be reminded of this. To use trendy jargon – I want to affirm our tradition. It is also good to note that the things All Saints’ stands for are a concern for no less a person than Pope Benedict. He may not be successful in calling the Roman Catholic Church to a new awareness of traditional liturgy and devotion – but how nice that he shares our priorities!