Co-Presidents' Monthly Column

April 2020



“Keep calm and carry on” is now reduced to a cliché, and with dozens of variations, still it seems so appropriate in these times.

According to Wikipedia: “Keep calm and carry on was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British public, threatened with widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities. Although 2.45 million copies were printed, and although the Blitz did in fact take place, the poster was only rarely publicly displayed and was little known until a copy was rediscovered in 2000 at Barter Books, a bookshop in Alnwick.”

The current crisis in which this admonition is applicable is, of course, the pandemic related to Covid-19. Everywhere you look or listen, it’s the topic du jour. Early on, All Souls made some changes to how we interact with each other including replacing handshakes with elbow bumps, and hands held replaced with hands in the air. At the time that seemed enough but as the situation rapidly changed, we talked about other adjustments like not passing the offering baskets. Within a matter of days, as the increasing evidence of the importance of social distancing became too much to ignore, we made the difficult decision to suspend in-person services. The staff jumped into action and with Perry and Jesse’s expertise, pulled together a beautiful service on our own YouTube channel.

The board met via Zoom and continued doing the work of All Souls, all the while acknowledging all of the uncertainties. How will meeting our expenses be impacted (note: there are several ways to give to All Souls online – please keep up with your pledges as best you can). The building team continues to meet, also with many questions looming. (How will this impact our project and timeline?) There is so much unknown. But there is so much that we do know.

We know that All Souls is a community that cares for each other. This is evidenced in how we continue to connect, by phone, by chat, by email. Our ministers, staff and caring committee are reaching out to each and every Soul to offer support. We know that we have dedicated and creative ministers and staff who are figuring out ways to continue to offer the spiritual sustenance that All Souls provides. Our commitment to social justice continues to be demonstrated through the offers of Souls to help others in need.

And I know that through these and other actions we will continue to witness our mission in action.

The song fragment that is persistently playing in my head is from Hamilton, The Schuyler Sisters, in which the sisters sing, “How lucky we are to be alive right now.” Yes, and without a hint of irony. These times are unprecedented, and Souls are rising to it. How good it is to be a part of All Souls.

Laurel Holmes, Co-President