by Carolyn Ash
An ongoing series spotlighting the amazing individuals who make up the “we” in We Are All Saints.
As you walk around the lawn on Sunday morning, you may run into Dan McCarrel. You will know who he is because he will be wearing his red and white Greeters name tag. He will welcome you with his warm smile and friendly demeanor and invite a bit of conversation. If you ask, Dan might tell you about why he is deeply engaged in our church and about how his participation in the Welcome Ministry flows from his appreciation for All Saints—for the radical inclusion, the teaching, the contemplative aspect, and the energetic social action.
Dan’s road to All Saints began with his upbringing in the United Methodist church in the Midwest. Then followed a period of doubt and absence from church in his college years and, later, a time of steeping in Buddhist teaching and practice. Dan and his wife, Abby, found their way to All Saints in the late 1990s when their daughters, Kyla, Carmen, and Kenzie were young. Dan and Abby desired to give the girls spiritual grounding, hoping they would develop their own experiences of God and faith as they grew up. After visiting, they chose All Saints because of its reputation for being open and inclusive and because of the excellent children’s music program.
As soon as the kids were old enough, they joined Minisingers. Years passed, and each of them progressed through the children’s choirs and joined the youth program. Abby volunteered with the choirs and coordinated the Wednesday night youth suppers. Dan became a loyal customer of Bob Shull’s tape ministry so he could keep up with sermons and Forum presentations on his long commute to work. He reflects that his Buddhist background helped ease his transition into Episcopal liturgy from his Methodist roots.
One Sunday morning Dan experienced one of those moments when something routine unexpectedly quickens and comes dynamically alive. As he listened to the phrase he had heard so many times—Whoever you are and where ever you find yourself on your journey of faith, you are welcome here—the words shimmered in a new way, and he felt drawn into deeper involvement and commitment to All Saints.
It wasn’t long before Dan became a greeter on the lawn and a host of the Welcome Coffee. He enjoys welcoming those who visit All Saints and hearing their stories. Some visitors come hesitantly because they feel rejected or harmed by the church of their youth. Others come because of the current political tensions. “Here,” he tells them, “you can find hope and acceptance wherever you are on your journey of faith. Here you can participate with others in social action. We are at the leading edge of inclusion.”
The Welcome Ministry, which Dan co-leads with Stephanie Herrman, extends hospitality to all who come to All Saints whether long-time members or first-time visitors. This ministry invites people into our community and helps them connect with the life of the parish in whatever ways they want to become involved. Dan encourages everyone to consider joining the Welcome Ministry and becoming a greeter to help extend the All Saints radical welcome.
Each fall Dan and Abby make their pledge to All Saints. “Pledging is more than giving,” Dan states. “It is part of spiritual practice, an offering, and it is sacramental, like the bread and the wine.” His offering is a ritual: he prepares his envelope with care and places it into the plate with intention. On the practical level, their pledge helps the church budget for its operations. On the personal and spiritual level their offering connects them to the history of All Saints, to those who came before and built and nurtured the community. “Over time, others gave for me. Now we make our own claim,” Dan says.