From the 2020 Ministry Narrative
Evangelism encompasses all that goes into presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. In its own way, each one of the five ministry areas outlined in this document supports this goal. Therefore, part of our evangelism includes informing others about the way we do things at All Saints. Activities such as the Pet Blessing, Shrove Tuesday pancake supper, and even our ministry fair help to tell our story.
One silver lining to the pandemic has been that many mainline churches have been forced to experiment with social media, video conferencing, and live-streaming platforms in a way they had resisted until now. All Saints has been posting videos of sermons for a while, though we purchased some new technology and licensing in April so that we could broadcast entire services during the shelter-in-place order. Not only has this allowed us to give those who are “church-shopping” a sense of who we are, but it has extended our liturgy’s reach to former parishioners and guests from California, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, and as far away as South Africa! Though poor cell reception and lack of high-speed internet access on campus has made for some shaky broadcasts, an anonymous donation allowed us to lay down fiber optic cable from Conn that will greatly improve the quality and consistency of our digital offerings and meetings.
We’ve also refocused attention on our Facebook page by adding regular content throughout the week. Since last October, we have nearly doubled our number of followers, from 157 to 279, thereby extending the reach of our posts and advertisements.
While Jan Rayford continues to edit the monthly E-Letter we send out via email or hardcopy, we’ve begun to email a weekly Constant Contact message called “For All the Saints” (affectionately known as FATS). FATS contains announcements and opportunities that need to be communicated on a shorter timetable. It also consolidates the links to all of our digital offerings, such as worship, Bible and book studies, the rector’s ZOOM office hours, etc… While FATS is a slightly more internal communication, both newsletters tell much about who we are and what we are up to.
Presenting the church to the upper Flathead Valley also involves making All Saints campus an inviting and attractive place for worship, solace, and rest. Therefore, you could think of our newly-renovated worship space as an impressive theological statement about who we are: A sacramental church, espousing a comprehensive theology, and grounded in ancient liturgical tradition. With our bucolic campus, as well as the additional space and light, we will be far better equipped to welcome visitors into the sacramental life of All Saints, whether for Sunday worship or special events like weddings and funerals.
In tandem with our building’s improved aesthetics, we’ve also shifted our visual identity in terms of our “branding”. While we will continue to use the shield that identifies us as an Episcopal Church, we’ve unveiled a more modern and understated logo that identifies us as All Saints. The design is a mix between a Tudor rose (a nod to our Anglican heritage) and a snowflake. Accompanying the logo is a unique typeface that won’t be associated with default word processor fonts or those of other organizations. Good design or distinctive branding won't do much to make up for lack of theological substance or intentional formation, but it may make the difference between whether a person comes through the door. As we continue to develop our public visual identity, we’ll be able to develop effective signage and advertisements that will draw seekers to our campus.
The Diocesan Assessment is 19% of our operational budget (excluding designated and restricted offerings) and also supports evangelism efforts. Most of this assessment goes to help finance and support the ministries of the Diocese of Montana. From that money, the Diocese contributes to program efforts throughout the eight dioceses of Province VI, The Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. This money also supports special ministries like the UTO (United Thank Offering), Episcopal Relief and Development, as well as other special church agencies that work to address the continuing humanitarian crises at home and abroad. Similarly, local concerns such as supporting the programs and oversight of the diocese, including Camp Marshall, rely on the Diocesan Staff. The assessment from churches all over Montana is the major income item in their budget. A stunning amount of human service takes place in this diocese and around the world because of our assessment, and the same thing can be said about the ministry of our parish. Were it not for our staff and dedicated parishioners, most of what we see in outreach, worship, and pastoral care could not take place.
We can do so much more in this area of telling God’s story, and our broken, torn world is yearning for the Good News. While there are many unknowns about how we can continue to gather and invite new members into our community, this unconventional time is a great opportunity to explore more fully how to live out our core values as Christ’s body in the world.