One of the themes that I heard repeated time and again during the interview process in January was that All Saints was experiencing growing pains. It is pretty amazing to see how far the parish has come since those early days in John Simmon’s living room, and while growth in the church is always a wonderful thing, it usually presents new challenges as well. During my first month as Rector I have tried to sit back and get a sense of things, and I have discovered that while All Saints is really moving into the “large church” category, in many ways we are still operating like a small church. It reminds me of a teenage boy who keeps hitting his head on things because he is trying to figure out how to move around in this larger body. Sure, it may hurt at times, but it is all part of the process of growing up.
To that end, there are a number of things that we have done already or will be doing soon to help our church transition into this new reality. You may have noticed that our Sunday morning bulletin format has changed, and we are hoping that the larger format and cleaner design will make it easier for visitors and long time members alike to follow along with our services. We have also recently launched a brand new website and are making greater use of our Facebook page. These are two very important tools for attracting new members and communicating with current members. When people today start looking for a church, the first place they go is the Internet. I would venture to say that 90% of the people who attend our church have been to our website and looked at our Facebook page before ever walking through the door, so it is imperative that we have a website that is clean, fresh, and easy to use and update. If you haven’t seen the new site, I encourage you to check it out at www.allsaintsspringfield.org.
In addition to our print and digital media, we will be working over the coming months to update and integrate our communication systems. Our goal is to have an integrated, cloud based system that will give us the ability to communicate with each other more easily and efficiently. It will allow parishioners to access an online directory that can be quickly and easily updated, securely access individual giving statements, and effortlessly send emails to different groups within the church. All of this will be accomplished from your desktop computer or a mobile phone app, so you will have all of the information at your fingertips.
Rest assured that not everything is going to change. Our liturgy will continue to be straight forward, Prayer Book Anglicanism at its best. You will still hear Darla’s friendly voice when you call the office, and printed directories will always be available for those who prefer a physical copy. We will continue to pray for and support each as we always have. These are exciting times for All Saints, but there are bound to be some growing pains along the way. I pray that we would all extend extra grace to each other during this time, and hopefully we won’t hit our head too much in the process.
Father Eric is a 3rd generation Anglican and the Rector of All Saints Anglican Church in Springfield, MO.