Dear Friends in Christ,
You might have noticed a new fixture in our parking lot last month. It is a section of curb painted in safety orange and covered with a traffic barricade. The concrete below the barricade has crumbled and a large piece of rebar is now exposed. According to the stamp in the concrete, the sidewalks around the church were poured in 1958 by the Arizona Sand and Rock Company. For 65 years, they have been there week in and week out – literally the foundation beneath our feet. After decades in our extreme environment, the weak points are starting to show some wear and they need our help, a little bit of TLC from those of us who call this place home.
I think our sidewalks are perhaps a good metaphor for where we are as a parish. We have been here in the heart of North Central Phoenix for 75 years, and in just a few months, we will formally celebrate our 70th anniversary of being recognized as an independent parish with a candlelight Evensong. The core of who we are and what we do has not changed and our foundation after all these years remains strong. But some weak spots that are emerging, places where years or decades of deferred maintenance is causing things to crumble.
Here are some examples of the kinds of things we’re looking at:
* Facilities: Our facilities are showing their age and maintenance is an ongoing challenge. This past year, we’ve replaced four heating or air conditioning systems—all of them decades old—and more will need to be replaced in the years to come. We’ve also had to make repairs to broken water pipes, remove dead trees, and upgrade our fire safety equipment. These are all areas where we’ve allowed our maintenance to lapse and we are playing catch up right now.
* Formation and Education: If you look around, you’ll notice that the composition of the congregation at All Saints’ is starting to look a little different. More young adults and young families are visiting our church…and they’re coming back! Children, youth, and young adults are looking for a place to belong, a place where they can learn and build community. Offering the kinds of programs needed to have successful ministries for young people takes an investment in the future from the whole community. And we are looking to expand our Sunday afternoon formation opportunities with more guest speakers and more social events (receptions) on a regular basis. Guest speakers like to be paid!
* Outreach: Many of our outreach programs went on hiatus during the pandemic, but they are coming back and looking to (re)build for the future. Deepening our work with Nourish Phoenix and the Prison Ministry is a good start, but there are opportunities for us to become involved with other community groups doing good work in our neighborhood and across our city.
* Salaries: They say the first rule of fundraising is not to talk about salaries, but here’s the truth: When you give to All Saints’, you’re financially supporting people you know and love, and they are the best and hardest-working staff in the Episcopal Church. Period. Annual cost of living increases are not part of the employment package offered the staff at All Saints’, and the reality is that several staff members have worked for years with only a modest pay increase along the way. We all love and appreciate the hard work our staff does on a weekly basis, and we need their presence and assistance to perform our ministries in and outside the church. We should pay them fairly.
* Music and the Arts: The choir is growing both musically and numerically, there are more kids in choristers now than we’ve had in almost a decade, and our visual arts displays are returning to the galleries in the Barbara rooms. And we are just getting started. We want to host more concerts and showcase more artists and bring opportunities for our community to explore its creative side.