My Saint Michael’s Story: Carol Chipman

Posted by on Sun, Oct 17, 2021 in Giving

As a member of the vestry, during the pandemic, I witnessed firsthand the extraordinary efforts of members of the St Michael’s staff and community to keep our church in the hearts and minds of its members and to stay connected with them.  When the pandemic restrictions were announced and St Michael’s had to close its doors for what was then assumed to be just a couple of weeks or so, meetings were held to figure out how to keep the doors open virtually, at least for the time being.   That first Sunday, when the church had to be closed to the public, Anita Donahue brought her laptop in, propped it on a stack of books, aimed its camera at the altar, and with Jason at home courageously livestreaming the service, that first Sunday service was beamed into our homes via something called zoom.  Yes, to the observer watching, the livestream of that first service looked amateurish and wobbly, but… St Michael’s was open, online, holding its regular Sunday service for its parish members, without skipping a beat.  Since then, members of the St Mike’s community have continued to step up and contribute their time, talents and skills to keep our church connected both online, and now, in person again.

A few weeks after the pandemic began, St Michaels reached out either with a phone call or email to each and every one of us, to see if we were okay and if there was anything St Mike’s could help with.

The pandemic newsletter last year invited our members to share some of the creative ways that they were coping.  This resulted in an outpouring of articles on art, crafts, literature, and there were photos, music, essays, poetry, recipes and online games that our members could draw on for ideas while confined at home.

Buddy groups were formed last year as a way for small groups of parish members to check in with each other once a week via email, text or phone.  The buddy group I was in had monthly get togethers via zoom as well, and it was fun to see the faces of some of the people that I hadn’t yet met in person.  We got to know each other pretty well and celebrated each other’s milestones.  I feel fortunate to have made some new friends through that buddy group, and still stay in touch with some of them.

Living in Seattle makes it difficult for me to attend Wednesday Evening Prayer, so when it was offered via zoom last year, it was a special time for me, since I could actually attend — virtually.  For me, it was the time during the week when I could dim the lights, light some candles, and join with Mother Katherine, Kelly, Jason and parish members for a half hour of quiet prayer, meditations and songs.  

About the time the pandemic began, Trish Rafa had started to offer Midday Prayer via zoom.  Every week on Tuesday and Thursday mornings since then, connecting with Midday Prayer has allowed me to rest for 5 minutes during the day to join in prayer with fellow parish members and pray for our parish members and our brothers and sisters across the globe. 

Mother Ann, in one of her sermons, reminded us to be, quote, doers.  Mother Katherine, in one of her sermons, talked about the “intangibles” of giving.     I believe St Mike’s has demonstrated over and over again this past year how many of its members and staff became“doers” and freely gave their time, talents and technical skills to help keep St Mikes open and running during a very challenging time.   Some of the intangibles I’ve witnessed include the many gestures of appreciation shown by the parishioners, the beauty of the altar, lovingly cared for by the altar guild, the warm welcomes I receive when arriving in the church, the brief chats with parish members after the service, and the quiet labors of some of our parish members as they strive to keep the buildings and grounds ready for our use and enjoyment.

It seems like things are slowly coming out of a deep sleep.  St Mike’s has thrown its doors open again to welcome one and all, Mother Katherine is beaming, some of our ministries have resumed, and new ones are forming.  All we need now is coffee!  I pray that will be coming back soon…

Because St Mike’s found a number of ways to consistently reach out to us during this past year, I have had the opportunity to meet parish members that I would not otherwise have had a chance to, and to stay connected with those members that I already know.   As the pandemic dragged on, being given the opportunity to gather with St. Mike’s in prayer virtually, several times during the week, as well as Sundays, I believe has brought me even closer to what the church is all about.  As a result, I feel even more committed to attend a Sunday service every week, to be here with you and to help welcome our new guests, and to help out in any way I can to continue St Mike’s goal of spreading God’s love, not only on the Eastside, but to Seattle and beyond.