Dearly Beloved,

It has been four days since we had to shut down our worship together. I have always viewed Lent as being a time of spending 40 days in the wilderness, as our Lord did, but, honestly, I find this all a bit trying. As a desert wilderness implies a somewhat barren landscape, I think the picture of our altar above certainly reflects that. OK, enough depressive ranting!
 
As cases of the COVID-19 virus continue to rise in our area (no cases here at All Saints!), it is time for us to step up and be counted as Christians in the face of this uncertainty. Let’s be the light of the world! First and foremost, keep on praying. That is our primary duty. You know who to pray for, so please keep it up. Secondly, we must reach out in love to those who need our help. Here are two ways you can do so:
 
Food Banks
Our local food banks are experiencing a sharp increase of those in need. During this time, we will be sorting and sending our gathered supplies where the highest needs are being reported. You can help us by bringing in those items that are currently in high demand. We will be putting our collection containers outside by the front door Monday—Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., so those who are self-distancing can drop off offerings without concern. The primary needs requested are:

  • Non-perishable food items—canned meats, pasta, pasta sauce, cereals, peanut butter, canned beans, etc.
  • Personal items—soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes (adult and child), deodorant, and shampoo.

 
Interfaith Assistance Ministry
Many of the usual volunteers at IAM in Hendersonville are folks who are in the high-risk category for COVID-19 and so cannot be there. They could really use your help right now. They are currently operating from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. They will take whatever time you can give. If you can, I urge you to do so. IAM can be reached at (828) 697-7029.
 
We Are Open!
I may have not been clear in my email to you last Saturday. Just because we are not allowed to have organized, public worship, that does NOT mean the church has shut down! Dss. Cynthia and I are keeping our normal office hours, which means the church is open for those who would like to come by and pray. If you are looking for something to read, our library is open for business, unlike the public library! You may come by the church anytime Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. And the church will also be open from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Sundays until this crisis abates.
 
Fish Fry
Our Lenten Fish Fry can only be described as an unparalleled success when you consider what is happening around us. We served over 150 meals for people to take home. All those who came out happily followed all of our “distancing” provisions, apparently glad to get a freshly cooked fish dinner. There were several folks that told me they were extremely appreciative that we made this available and it gladdened their hearts to get a break from “The Virus!” I cannot possibly express my thanks to everyone from the parish who helped out. It was such a pleasure to have everyone working together to shine the light of Christ to the world on Friday!
 
Basket Raffle
One of the things we put in place to help in the costs for our national church’s synod this summer (which we are hosting) was to hold a basket raffle, as the Ladies do with their Craft Market in the fall. Unfortunately, as soon as we started to sell tickets, this corona virus thing happened, so ticket sales have been thin! But we have a solution! We have posted all the baskets online with pictures and the ability to buy tickets. Now is your chance. Click here to buy your tickets now! And please be sure to share this with your friends in the area and get them to join with us. The baskets are absolutely awesome and we will deliver them to you before Easter, even if we are all still in “lock down!”
 
It’s a Girl!
Sally and Glen Blackburn welcomed their first grandchild, Evelyn Lanier Guju, into the world on March 14. Their daughter Lizzie and her husband Mike are the proud parents. Mother and child and everyone else are doing absolutely fine! I have it on good authority that we may well be having a baptism here in the future. Personally, I can’t wait, especially since I was blessed to preside at Lizzie and Mike’s wedding! There are some pictures below.
 
News of Note
Carolyn Pugh’s daughter Mary Catherine remains in critical condition. We ask that you continue to pray for Carolyn, Mary Catherine, and family during this difficult time. Carolyn is currently unable to be at the hospital, as they are on lockdown. She is staying with her sister about an hour away from the hospital in Virginia. If you would like her current mailing address, please call Dss. Cynthia at (828) 275-7654.
 
Do You Need a Mask?
Anne Batherson, one of our new members, was asked to make fabric masks for the ER at Mission Hospital. She has offered to provide some to us. If you are at risk in the present crisis, immuno-compromised in some way, or are in the medical or some other field in which distancing does not work, please let me know and I will forward on your request to Anne. We will get them to you as soon as she can make them. Thanks so much to Anne for this generous gift! This is what they look like.

Livestream of Worship
With the help of my son Peter, I am working on getting us wired up to begin livestreaming our worship. The vestry “sprung” for some equipment to help make this happen. The plan is to be able to livestream on Facebook, and also on our website, beginning on Sunday morning (Mar. 29) with the 11:00 a.m. Holy Communion. I have a pretty steep learning curve on this but, as I told Brian today, my hope is that the feed will not look like some teenage slasher movie! I will, of course, let you know when we get it running. The system will use an integrated broadcasting software program, a high definition camera, as well as microphones, with the hope we can all have a pleasant experience worshiping together, yet separate!
 
Giving During Crisis
One of my responsibilities as your rector is make sure that our treasurer Dave Brauner does not develop a bad case of acid indigestion over the next few weeks as we remain apart! As you know the mission of the church continues, despite any crisis that may happen in our world. I encourage all of you to please send in your offerings and try to stay current. Obviously, you can send us a check through the mail. I find it easiest for me to send it through my bank’s bill payment system. We have also set up the ability for you to use your debit or credit card on the church website. You will note on the front page there is a “DONATE” button. We use PayPal as our online payment gateway. You don’t have to have a PayPal account to use it, nor do you have to sign up for it. Once you click on DONATE, the PayPal page will clearly say “Donate with a Debit or Credit Card.” Just click on that to do so.
 
Church Website Upgrade
We are also upgrading our church’s web presence. We actually have two web addresses: www.allsaintschurch.us and www.allsaintsmillsriver.org. The Mills River.org address is the one being upgraded, while the church.us site is staying the same for now. Once the Mills River.org one is complete, both addresses will get you to our new site. For now, you can click on either one to donate, read news, etc.
 
I know this is a lot of news to digest this week but I do hope you have found some of it encouraging and uplifting, despite my “grumpiness” at the outset. God bless you all and thank you for soldiering through all of this with us. And, please, feel free to give me and Dss. Cynthia a call at the office and, if you feel so inclined, drop by and say Hi.
 
Yours ever in Christ Jesus,
Fr. Erich

It’s a Girl!

This Week in the Parish

Wednesday, Mar. 25
• 9:00 a..m., Office & Doors Open

Thursday, Mar. 26
• 9:00 a..m., Office & Doors Open

Sunday, Mar. 29, Passion Sunday
· 8:00 a.m., Doors Open
· 11:00 a.m., Livestream Holy Communion
· 5:30 p.m., Livestream Evening Prayer

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