Our Parish Mission
As a visible sign of God’s presence in the world, All Saints Church is a welcoming Christian community of people of all ages, genders, sexualities, languages, faiths, races and national origins, actively proclaiming and living the Gospel.
All Saints attends to the spiritual needs of individuals through several ministries that provide persistent, sustaining support.
The Rector (Priest in Charge), the Deacon, and lay volunteers conduct monthly visits to bring the Eucharist, comfort and companionship to parishioners who are unable to attend in-person services or are recovering from illness. The Priest and Deacon also make hospital visits and conduct monthly services at two local senior living facilities.
A small group prays regularly for persons who have contact us with a request for healing prayer for body, mind, or spirit. The Prayer Chain contacts these people every three months to check on their status and their need for continued prayer. In addition, the entire parish is invited to pray for these individuals and others who are listed by name in the worship bulletins. In this list, no specific needs are mentioned.
The All Saints Healing Team is a group of parishioners who pray for healing over individuals who come to the prayer desks at either side of the church as they return to their seats after communion. They pray a simple prayer and (outside of the pandemic) perform the laying on of hands, conveying that they are conduits for God’s healing.
Prayer Shawl Knitters
The Prayer Shawl Ministry is dedicated to creating handmade healing shawls and holy blankets for those in need of comfort and support. This group usually met monthly at church. During the pandemic, members continued to work independently to knit, crochet, or quilt items for distribution, and kept in touch via email and Zoom. Prayer shawls may be requested through the church office.
We honor the dignity of each person through our advocacy and outreach efforts. The people of All Saints have worked to assist people in the Greater Worcester area who need help in meeting basic needs. Many of our programs partner with other faith communities or organizations to deliver the biggest benefits for those we serve. This ministry focuses on providing food, housing, support, and encouragement.
“Ending hunger and homelessness is the focus of our work to establish God’s realm here on earth.”
During the pandemic, needs persisted or increased, but people could not gather to do this work. Several of our outreach ministries were significantly impacted. These sections about our ministries describe how we operated normally, how we adapted to pandemic restrictions, and our hopes for the future.
Hope for Housing
Hope for Housing is a program of Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance (CMHA) that links 29 faith communities to raise funds to help families in the greater Worcester area who are at risk of homelessness. The money is used to provide rental assistance, security deposits, or utility payments.
Funds are raised through the sale of gift cards associated with local supermarkets, cafes, and pharmacy chains. The buyer gets the full value of that card and the retailer donates about 5% to the program. In 2020, All Saints sold $11,115 worth of cards, yielding a donation of about $550 to the program. The All Saints Hope for Housing team usually sells cards during coffee hours after Sunday services. During the pandemic our program set up online and phone options for card buyers and now we hope to return to our regular working strategy.
Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) Paper Goods
The IHN is another cooperative project of local faith communities. IHN owns and operates a house in the city that can accommodate about six families who are currently experiencing homelessness. The people of All Saints collect and donate necessary household paper goods for these families, keeping the IHN house well-supplied with these essential items. In 2020 we modified our operations by delivering our donations to prearranged non-contact “drop offs”. (All Saints also contributes Hope for Housing grocery cards for use by families at the IHN house.)
All Saints members bring nonperishable food items to church to be distributed to various agencies such as the Worcester County Food Bank and other food pantries. During the months of restricted access, the Church Administrator consistently coordinated collections and distribution of donated food.
We are a congregation that reflects and embraces people from every family, language, race and nation. We honor the dignity of each person, respect the plurality of experience and opinion in the community, and intentionally learn and grow from our differences.
Thursday afternoons from October through May, All Saints welcomes people who may lack stable housing, the at-risk population, and other guests from our Worcester neighborhoods for food, companionship, clothing, hygiene supplies, rest, and fellowship. The environment is warm, welcoming, and non-judgmental. Thursday Café is a joint program of Worcester Fellowship and All Saints Church that started in 2016.
At present Pastor Zack Kerzee and Denise Darrigrand from Worcester Fellowship lead the program and All Saints provides the space, many of the volunteers, and supplies. An average of 10 volunteers (some of them guests, themselves) managed each session, serving food, visiting with guests, and maintaining a cordial and clean environment. A typical Thursday provided food for more than 100 guests each week before the pandemic. Leaders and a few volunteers pose here with donated air mattresses that can be set up to give guests a place to rest for a time.
In October 2020 the program was able to resume modified service curbside in front of the church. Volunteers gave out bag lunches, packets of basic toiletries, and some clothing items. Masks were required and we gathering on the church property was discouraged. Guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will determine when All Saints can reopen the Thursday Café.
Veterans’ Feeding Ministry
A team of dedicated volunteers provides hot meals at the nearby Worcester Veterans Inc.shelter. At least once per month they cook a multi-course meal on site and share expenses with the shelter. This outreach program also has been suspended, but will resume as soon as the food manager allows volunteers back to the site. Team members say they get great satisfaction in serving the people who have made extraordinary sacrifices in service to this country.
Volunteers say, “It is very humbling when they thank us for our ‘service’.”
Projects to benefit children
An annual Advent project at All Saints has been the Giving Tree, a program that delivers a Christmas surprise to about 40 children in our community. We partner with a local child services agency, the Guild of Saint Agnes, to identify children who would benefit from anonymous gifts.
A Christmas tree appears in the nave of the church or Huntington Hall, decorated with paper ornaments that each provide with a child’s first name, age, and Christmas wishes. Participants select an ornament from the tree, shop for appropriate gifts, wrap them, and return the tagged gifts to the church office for distribution in time for Christmas.
In 2020 we tailored the program to pandemic restrictions. The decorated tree stood in the lobby outside the church office. Tags could be selected there or by phone reservation. Even in 2020 we met our gift-giving goal and brought Christmas cheer to children in need.
Bookbags and school supplies
In August the call goes out for donations of back-to-school supplies to fill bookbags for children of school age also identified through the Guild of Saint Agnes. Types of products and quantities are specified so that we can fill at least 25 brightly colored bookbags. The 2021 project already has exceeded our goal.
The African Community Education organization (ACE) is a tenant of All Saints, where it offers educational, leadership, and cultural programming to local children from African immigrant families. Activities are held after school and in the summers. More than 300 participants are involved in ACE annually. Some ACE volunteers are from All Saints.
Uganda Water Project: A Drop in the Bucket
Our Deacon, Beatrice Kayigwa, told our Outreach Committee about a need for school children in a village in Uganda. A school there (her childhood school) had lost its roof in a storm. After many years the roof was replaced with help from other friends in the United States. The school then had a new roof, but the rainwater run-off was weakening the foundation. At the same time, there was no adequate source of clean drinking water for the school. A single solution for both problems was to install a system for collecting runoff from the roof through a system of pipes and cisterns. Then the children would have reliable, clean water all uses at the school.
The people of All Saints raised the $5,000 needed to complete this project through a campaign called A Drop in the Bucket. The costs for the various components involved in the 10,000-liter system were listed, and parishioners were invited to pledge for a pipe, a valve, or even a cistern. Drops in the bucket accumulated rapidly until we were ready to work out a plan to transfer the funds, purchase building materials, and hire local workmen to complete and maintain the project. As long as the building is standing and the rainy season comes, the school administration does not need to worry that the children, teachers, and community will lack water.
The inscription on one completed cistern says it all, “Clean Water—Water is Life”.
Until recently, Fridays during the school year from 6 to 8pm, All Saints welcomed a diverse group of neighborhood kids and adults to enjoy music, art, snacks, and to listen to special guests. The program was open to children from kindergarten through 8th grade. After enjoying a meal, children would “check in” with each other in a sharing circle and then participate in an activity, such as visiting with the Worcester Police K9 units, learning CPR, performing service projects, and doing team building exercises. Students from Afternoon Tunes, which also met on Fridays, sometimes would join this group. (see Music at All Saints). This program also has been suspended, and plans for fall 2021 are uncertain right now.