As you read this month’s Epistle, we are headed toward many of the anticipated returns of Autumn. School is beginning for many, and the back-to-school sales are in full swing. Our annual St. Paul’s Homecoming is scheduled for September 19th. And with that, plans are in development for the annual Stewardship program and the Advent season.
In March 2020, given Covid-19 restrictions, the Choir was suspended, and the exact return was unknown. Throughout the last 18 months, we have stepped our way back to a full return, from music-only to music with soloists, and steadily moving towards the joyful return of the full St. Paul’s Choir at our Homecoming on September 19th.
Another change at St. Paul’s, in August we mandated the use of masks at St. Paul’s again, given the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant. At the beginning of Summer 2021, we were released from many COVID restrictions as new exposure cases and hospitalizations were decreasing. But as we know to always expect and plan for the unexpected, the trend reversed, and cases increased at an alarming rate. We ask that you join us in prayer, asking that as more people become vaccinated and receive the booster vaccine, that the numbers will once again decrease.
On a personal note, Jeff’s granddaughters all begin new adventures in school this year. Kylie begins 4th grade, Abby 3rd grade and Emma begins Pre-K! Jeff and Mary Jane get so much joy from being a part of their lives and sharing in the school preparations, including shopping trips for new clothes and school supplies! It is amazing to look at the photos of their first days of school through the years and to realize how quickly time has gone by. Of course, even at their ages the grandkids are ahead of Jeff in programming the remote control and resolving issues with his iPad and iPhone.
Kelly’s family is growing up fast too. Erin and Pierce are in high school. And this past month it was bittersweet to say “until we meet again” to Jake Dalton, as he heads off to Western New England University to begin the next chapter in his life. At St. Paul’s, Jake has grown from a new baby who did not know God, into an adolescent who watched those around him at St. Paul’s share in community and prayer, respect and support for one another. We know that the experiences Jake has had at St. Paul’s has helped put him on firm ground, ready to start college. Jake has been part of the Building & Grounds team, the Liturgical staff, Stewardship and has interacted with many members of St. Paul’s. The whole St. Paul’s community should be proud of their part in helping Jake grow into the young man we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on the alter on Sundays, who is now ready to challenge the world!
As it says in Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” We can look at Kylie, Abby, Emma, Jake, Erin, Pierce, and all the children of St. Paul’s in the same way. It’s a blessing to see them each develop into their own person, helped by their parents, family, friends, and the members of St. Paul’s family. They take with them what they’ve learned from us and pass it along to others in their life’s travels.
On a different note, there is a burning question for St. Paul’s during these COVID times. Are our children seeing enough of the community we at St. Paul’s are so proud of? Are we doing enough to be examples for our children and our parish, to help those in need in our community? Times are so different now, with everything virtual and behind masks. Is there more that St. Paul’s can do?
We are called in Matthew 10:8 to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Though most of us are not positioned to perform these miracles, with Jesus’ love in our hearts we can share the gifts that God has given us for the benefit of our neighbors. It is time for St. Paul’s Church to increase our parish activities… in-person bible study, youth events, shared meals (safely), more outreach to our community and to our city. We feed the hungry through our monthly soup kitchen Saturday, the collection of supplies for the local food pantry, and the donation of fresh produce from our FOCUS garden. But can we do more for those who may already have enough to physically eat? There are many people in our community hungry for spiritual food, to feel the love that St. Paul’s has to offer them. We are open to all people in every walk of life, but what are we doing to support them right now? Are there additional programs we can run or support to help our LGBTQ neighbors, or our community of racial diversity? In 1 Peter 4:10, it states “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Now is the time. St. Paul’s is the place. Please come forth with your talents and offer to help, not only on Sunday morning but throughout the week, to help our church to support our community and to bring them to the love of Christ. Please bring your ideas along with your organization and assistance.
The Fall is quickly upon us. What should we be planning for St. Paul’s? How can we continue to teach our children and help our neighbors?