One spring dusky evening in 1988, I got lost looking to meet Mary Brennan who was the chair of a group sussing me out as a candidate for the “outreach priest.” Well I fooled them that night and became one of the Saints, and all these years later I still get lost around All Saints’ —in wonder, love, and praise.
Here’s Mary remembering our first Mission Sunday and a saint named Ann Walker, a joyful sign of God’s power even in our weakness
“Before the days of the creative, 3-D, flashy signs we love seeing sweep down the center aisle on Celebration of Ministries Sunday, we celebrated just plain ol’ Mission Sunday—the original being September 11, 1988. Nothing real fancy. The ministries financially supported by the All Saints’ Mission Committee marched in and out of the services, then met and informed folks about their work at tables set up in Ellis Hall. All Saints’ own Boy Scouts, Camp Fire, and Night Shelter were represented because the committee budget helped support them, but the main idea was to give a little publicity to the organizations outside the parish. So none of the All Saints’ committees, events, chapters, choirs, or range of ministries we highlight now were included.
Still, the array was impressive. Our little budget supported ministries for the elderly, the homeless, addiction and mental health, innovative educational opportunities, interfaith and ecumenical efforts, and more. Honoring the work of these groups and giving the parish a chance to learn more about them was our Mission Sunday goal.
It was a big undertaking in those days. Those of us planning the event soon realized that if we wanted to make an All Saints’ impression we’d need something fabulous for the worship processional. Signs! We needed signs!
Well, the good Lord always provides, and our needful prayers were answered by parishioner and artist, the late great Ann Walker, who stepped up to create just the flair and flash we needed for our Mission Sunday signs.
I gave Ann the list of our ministries, and she gave me a shopping list for lots of foam-core and paint pens. As I recall, it took us several weekends to work our way through the list and art supplies. Ann did the hard, artistic stuff, while I was the hold-that-board-steady-and-hand-me-another-pen helper. Her creativity and hilarious spirit made what could have been a boring job much easier.
What I want you to know is that Ann was very sick at the time. But with great, dry wit, she persevered, using her artistic gifts to do justice to each of our ministries. Everything I know about paint pens and strength of spirit in the face of death I learned from Ann Walker.
So. Look at us now!
Our little annual mission showcase has grown into wonderful Celebration of Ministries Sunday and an almost never-ending procession of the many ways All Saints’ folks live and love church.
Ann Walker died in September 1989, about a year after our first Mission Sunday effort. But whenever I see all the cool, glorious signs bobbing up and down the aisle at our Celebration of Ministries, I remember that Mission Sunday almost 30 years ago and Ann, the sign-angel, whose grace, humor, talent, and courage laid an impressive foundation for us to build upon.”
Thanks Mary. And a warning to the rest of you. Mary Brennan served as Mission Committee chair while serving on the All Saints’ Vestry from 1987-1990. And now she is the Communications Officer for Mission on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s staff. No telling what happens when that sign -waving Holy Spirit gets ‘holt’ of you.