The State of the Parish for the Pandemic Year of 2020
The Very Rev. William H. Terry, Rector
As we all know this year has been fraught with great challenges. We as a World, Nation, Community and Church have face the most significant health challenge by way of epidemic in the past 100 years. We have weathered hurricanes and the threat of hurricanes. We have watched with shock the wildfires in the west. We have seen our country polarized in politics and powerful marches against hatred and bias. Yet, we have discovered many things:
- We have rediscovered those in our community that are so very often overlooked and yet are so important – Sanitation workers, truckers, nurses, linemen, firefighters, housekeeping in health facilities, doctors, EMS personnel and yes even our own humble volunteers here at St. Anna’s.
- We have developed new ways to teach and engage children tendered to our care alongside of teachers to insure the best for our children.
- We have discovered new and innovative ways to “do church” and to attempt to keep our family connected.
Yes, this has been a year of challenges and so I want to thank only a few of our partners and allies that have helped our missions and our community. I am reminded of the “hot plate ministry” that was started in the early days of the pandemic. Volunteers who delivered delicious meals to our shut-in community. Our very abundant restaurant partners:
- Silk Road Restaurant in the Marigny
- Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop in Metairie
- Café at the Square in the French Quarter
- W. FINS also in the French Quarter
- Councilmember Palmer’s Office arranging for sandwiches and plates.
Even today, as Brianna Carr and Darryl and the whole Anna’s Place Team develops new ways to address the needs of our students G. W. Fins continues to supply wonderful dinners for our children. We offer thanks to Trinity Loaves and Fishes for also helping with our children’s dietary needs. Even then we received support for technology and other teaching tools from the likes of Episcopal Relief and Development, The Bishop’s Fund, The Gaudet Scholarship Fund, and Big Fish Entertainment. Our supporters and benefactors and literally answers to prayer.
Our homeless and feeding ministries have actually thrived due to the generosity of so many. Food collections by Misti Gather, St. Paul’s Church, and dozens of individuals have allowed us to more than double of capacity to offer some form of food security to over 60 families representing over 150 persons. In this same umbrella Brother Don and others have tended to the needs of the homeless distributing over 150 blessing bags per month, over 2,000 socks in partnership with Bombas Socks, and most recently distributing 500 MREs provided by N.O. Department of Homeland Security. Our work is boundless and is our hope to cloth the naked, feed the hungry, help the sick, and to care for one another.
Our worship is developing into something new. Not always what we want. We so want to sing loudly, we want to embrace, we want to share coffee together, we want to catch up with each other. Yet, we equally must maintain the highest health practices so that someday, likely in 2021 we can gather fully again. We are still a family of hope during this season. We have, by virtue of our newest develop “virtual church” invited people from several states, from the bayou, from suburbs and from farms to join us in prayer and worship. Hearing the Word and remembering Eucharist. The time of hope is now because there is hope on the horizon in a new vaccine. It is a miracle of God’s will and humanities science working together. As the old Gospel Hymn says, “Soon and very soon we are going to see the Lord”…together. Be vigilant and mask and we will gather as a family again.
So many are out of work or perhaps find themselves filled with anxious moments. These are not easy economic times. Many of us live day to day, some must be frugal in all things, some still enjoy full employment but for most this time is a time of economic challenge. This has shown itself in our continuing pledge drive. Of over 120 in average Sunday attendance before the pandemic we have received only about 10% of that number in pledges. Can we do better, can we hope into the future about our church, about this small place on Esplanade that means so much to so many? I believe that we can. I ask this community to pledge to make some sign that this kind of place, this kind of worship, this kind of inclusivity, this kind of Jesus Movement is worth a commitment; is worth an investment … an investment from our heart. Matthew reminds us, “For wherever your treasure is there your heart is also.” How will our church chart its course and rebuild its fellowship after this pandemic is passed? That question now is before us. If Saint Anna’s matters and this quiet safe space matters please vote yes by making even a modest pledge.
This year has seen the loss of some of our revered elders. Some of whom we still await a time to celebrate. We remember Fr. Dan Hanna, Miss Mary Dodwell, Mr. Stewart Butler we also remember all who have succumbed to the virus.
Yet, we have continued our work as a church. We have continued work on the Dodwell House Project which faces challenges of escalating building costs and drafting and implementing a robust capital campaign to do that work. We have dedicated volunteers and contractors working hard on this project. Someday we hope to see an anchor in this community that is open to diverse groups and that serves many populations that need hope in a changing city culture.
We will see two of our community members ordained Allison Reid to the Deaconate this month and next year priested. We will all join one way or another when Luigi Mandile is ordained Deacon in the late spring of 2021. We have rejoiced in supporting religious life among us in the person of Brother Don Dubay a Franciscan friar.
There is so much that we can do together in 2021. We have weathered this current storm we can move forward with love, graciousness, and harmony into this new year. We will be seating new members of the vestry with their passion and thoughtfulness. We will be offering Christian Education class on-line. We will continue to develop our strategies for Anna’s Place. We will continue to support LGBTQ+ community in many ways. We will continue being the church that walks the walk not just talking the talk. But we need you, yes you to be engaged to find a bit of time to center on our faith and by our faith our works. It is a blessing to serve here and to be allowed to be a part of all of this and for that I remain grateful to all of you.