Dear Friends,

When I told one of my colleagues recently that I was serving my fourth church in the last four years, she quipped, “Can’t hold a job, huh?” With friends like that, who needs . . . But I take her point. We intentional interim clergy don’t stay in one place for very long.

Since 2017, I’ve moved frequently, usually every 12-18 months, since that’s typically how long it takes for a parish to move through the transition to their next rector. Even though All Saints’ process was delayed a little because of the pandemic, your Search Committee has done a great job of moving things right along. As they shared last Sunday during their presentation at Brewed Awakenings, they should be ready to post the rector position later this month. When the committee reaches that milestone, I’ll begin to think about church #5, since you are likely to welcome your new rector sometime in the spring of 2021. It sometimes takes a while to find the next interim gig, and it helps to start well in advance.

Your input through the CAT (Congregation Assessment Tool) and the small group meetings has let the Search Committee know what qualities and skills you are looking for in your next spiritual leader. These criteria will be included in the Parish Profile so candidates can discern whether they might be a good fit.

What are my criteria for my next position? I have a few, of course:

  • It would be wonderful to serve a place as engaged and vibrant as this one is, although that will be hard to find!
  • I’d be happy if the commuting time – either by plane or car – is short enough that Terry and I can see each other frequently.
  • And it will have to be a church that will welcome my Labrador retriever, Bernie. Bernie spends every work day with me in the office, makes sure I get the exercise I need, and, especially during this COVID time, has been a welcome companion – breaking the isolation of what is, on most days anyway, an empty and quiet church.

Will Rogers once said, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” Cat owners undoubtedly feel the same, as do others about their animals, birds, reptiles, and fish.

Whichever of these different creatures brings you joy, you will especially appreciate this coming Sunday when we will bless “all creatures great and small” here at All Saints’. Many of you have already sent photos of your pets to be featured in our 9:00 am virtual service. If you haven’t sent your picture yet, send it ASAP to rutledge@emilyr66.sg-host.com. We’ll do our best to include it.

For those who prefer an in-person blessing for their pets, come for the Pet Parade and Blessing to be held – rain or shine – at 11:00 am (in place of our normal service – this Sunday only). Participants are invited to gather at 10:45 am along North Hermitage in front of the church. We ask that humans wear masks and maintain social distancing. If your pet is anything like Bernie, having them on a leash is highly recommended! The 8:00 am service will be “pet free,” as has been All Saints’ tradition.

What a wonderful thing to have Pet Blessing Sunday fall on October 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi – whose love of God’s creatures is legendary! He supposedly even preached to the birds! (I wonder what kind of a congregation they were. I can imagine crows and starlings might be a tough crowd. Flamingos, toucans, and peacocks? Certainly colorful! Parrots? You’d need to watch what you said!). I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Blessings,
Stephen