by Susan Russell
Between 7:30 a.m. on Palm Sunday and 1:00 p.m. on Easter Day All Saints Church is the venue for twenty-five services. Bookended by Sundays with hundreds of people packing the pews for the pageantry of Palm Sunday and the glory of Easter Sunday we weave a rich tapestry of prayer and liturgy throughout the week. From a few faithful gathered in the chapel at 7 a.m., Noon, and 7:30 p.m. for weekday Eucharists to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and our Easter Vigils – each and every one is a movement in the great liturgical symphony that is Holy Week at All Saints Church.
And to make it all happen in the room where it happens takes quite literally a legion of unsung heroes working behind the scenes.
In our adult choir program alone between Canterbury and Coventry Choir there are 105 people either rehearsing or leading liturgies – for a total of 1750 person hours. From the 84 acolytes serving at eight services to the 44 altar guild members setting up for 22 services to the 120 children and youth choristers singing in eight services it is an “all hands on deck” week.
Throughout that week members of the labyrinth ministry maintain and monitor the labyrinth set up in the south transept; Gary Leonard leads 20 members of the flower guild in dozens of hours of preparation, and our clergy – staff and adjunct – celebrate at twenty-two Eucharists and preach twenty-six homilies or sermons. Our six vergers will assist throughout the week, culminating with 14 hours of service between them on Easter Sunday alone. Liturgy Director Melissa Hayes will design, staff and print out liturgies for all twenty-five services … and prayers for good copier karma are always in order at this time of year! Ushers, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, members of our Healing Prayer team: the list of those making Holy Week and Easter happen goes on and on.
And undergirding all of it … from the biggest event to the smallest detail … is the extraordinary work of our Buildings & Grounds team. While All Saints is always a bit like a beehive humming with activity, making Holy Week and Easter happen in the room where they happen could not be done without the dedication, competence and flat out hard work of these members of our staff who are truly our backbone. The skill, expertise, experience and commitment they bring to every aspect of their work far exceeds the limits of the term “custodian” – so we have moved to acknowledge that by adopting the language “Buildings & Grounds Staff” (B&G for short) to more accurately describe their centrality to our work and witness here at All Saints Church.
As we continue the countdown in our forty day Lenten journey I invite you to add to your prayers of thanksgiving all those who labor in love to make All Saints happen … not just during Holy Week and Easter but throughout the year as we live out our call to make God’s love tangible 24/7.