Updated: Jan 25, 2022
Annual Meeting – January 23, 2022
The Rev. Sara Cosca-Warfield
2021 was defined by the pandemic, just like 2020, but it was different. In 2020, we didn’t have vaccines. We were kind of resigned to our social isolation—worship on Zoom only, no meetings in the building. We weren’t sure what was going to happen, but we knew that keeping our physical distance would keep each other safe, so that’s what we did.
But in 2021, vaccines were available to a lot of our community in January, and they were widely available to everyone by April. It seemed like we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. But still, even as our community was getting vaccinated, we proceeded with caution. We started with an in-person Easter service outside in April. Which was admittedly a bit awkward but also very wonderful. We finally got to worship in person with each other. We then decided to offer one outdoor service a month. We started this on May 9. And of course it rained.
But then we did a vaccination survey in May and discovered that that 95% of people regularly attending worship had received both their shots. The Vestry voted to start meeting in person for Sunday worship. We didn’t even require masks if you were fully vaccinated. Our first Sunday back, on Pentecost, we gathered, we hugged, and we drank wine and juice for communion! Out of little individual cups, but we did it. And we offered Zoom service for those who were vulnerable or didn’t feel comfortable.
You know how it went from there. With the Delta variant, we started wearing masks, stopped singing, stopped hugging, and stopped offering wine. Since then, we’ve rolled with the waves: new variants, changing guidelines, tweaking our audio system. Adapting, readapting, and then adapting again.
None of this has been easy. Having a hybrid in-person and Zoom worship outside was not easy. It required bringing all our audio and Zoom equipment out and making some sort of a meaningful worship space with an altar, but socially distanced.
Heck, having hybrid worship inside the building isn’t easy. I keep singing his praises, but Josh has taken so much of his time and energy to keep learning how to make our setup better.
I say all this not to bring you down, but to acknowledge just how much effort this has been. Not just for St. Luke’s. I’m sure all of you have some version of this story for your own individual lives. Adapting, readapting, and then adapting again.
In 2021, we’ve all been constantly adapting, constantly managing vacillating hopes, changing guidelines, unending uncertainty. Resurrection has been happening in fits and starts, one step forward, two steps back. It’s been exhausting.
AND YET: Our average Sunday attendance went up for the third year in a row. You all stuck together. You all showed up for each other. You all created welcome, working with and around all the restrictions. Not just in worship, but in all the different gatherings you offered, in all the ways you showed up for people who were suffering or going through major changes.
We are doing something powerful here: we are being the kind of community that people need right now. And part of that is: we’re being really honest about our struggles. Vulnerability is a spiritual gift of this community. You hear it in the community prayers every Sunday. We share our hard things, and we let others hold them with us. We trust this Body of Christ, and it’s beautiful.
And we’ve made space for rest. Ministries took turns taking breaks. Ministry leaders stepped back when their tank was empty and others stepped up as they were replenished.
That’s what being the Body of Christ looks like. And that’s what we did in this really difficult year.
So I’m going to just report on how we broadly created connection, shared in each others’ struggles, and showed up for one another in 2021. I said broadly. For more specifics, please read all the fabulous Ministry Team reports our different leaders put together for you.
Please listen to the full report on the video for the 2021 run-down.
In conclusion: we’re doing alright. In fact, given the circumstances, we’re doing beautifully. I want to extend a very special thank-you to our Vestry. They have continued to do such faithful, prayerful and brave work in discerning how to keep our community safe during this pandemic. Being a leader is always a bit of a burden, even as it’s essential and life-giving, and it’s been especially heavy these past two years.
I want to thank Deacon Laurel Hart, Senior Warden Deborah Dobrenen, Junior Warden Marcy Ross, and Music Director Kathy Douglass. They are each thoughtful, powerful leaders in our community, each in their own unique ways. I want to thank them for their unending support.
And I want to thank every single one of you. Thank you for showing up, either in person or on Zoom. Thank you for taking care of each other. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for living God’s love.
This St. Luke’s community is special, and I’m proud and blessed to be your rector.