A Match Made in Heaven: All Saints Moline

July 17, 2013

Hungerford_Photo.jpgWhen the Rev. Roger Hungerford was called to be the rector at All Saints Episcopal Church in Moline in December 2012, it was like—well, like a match made in heaven.

Hungerford was newly ordained and looking for an opportunity to help plant or transform a congregation. All Saints was a four-year-old mission of the Diocese of Quincy, looking for someone to help it live up to its name.

“Hiring Roger was a major step for us,” said Mike Eddy, a member of the bishop’s committee that governs All Saints and a member of the Diocesan Council for the Diocese of Quincy. “We felt we needed a full-time rector, and I think Roger felt he could make a difference. I think we needed him more than he needed us. We’re awfully happy with him.”

All Saints Episcopal Church was formed in February of 2009 by a group of lay people from Christ Church, Moline, and Trinity Parish, Rock Island, who wanted to remain loyal to the Episcopal Church after its former bishop and about 60% of its members broke away to become founders of the conservative Anglican Church of North America. In June 2013, Episcopalians in the dioceses of Chicago and Quincy voted to reunify their dioceses after 136 years of operating separately. The reunification will be final once it receives the consent of a majority of bishops and standing committees of other Episcopal dioceses.

Until Hungerford was hired, the retired rectors from both Christ Church and Trinity Parish and a former deacon from Christ Church who became a priest ministered to All Saints.

“In regards to the congregation, you know their history,” Hungerford said. “They are the remnants of two that came together as a new family and started a new church. They’ve gone through the genesis phase. They realized that in order to really grow and reach out, they needed to hire and call a full-time clergy person. Their prayer is not only to continue to be a presence in the Moline area but to discern the needs of the community and see what our calling is and to match the two together. Now we are in a discernment process and we’re trying a lot of different things. We’re trying to get ourselves organized as a program-sized church because that’s where we plan to be.”

Hungerford’s first call to ministry wasn’t to the priesthood but to the Norfolk police department, where he served for 20 years before going to seminary. As with the church, it was a call, he said, to help provide people with peace and hope.

While on the police force, he became very involved with his church and found God calling him to parish ministry. He graduated from the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, in 2012.

After seminary, Hungerford said, “My heart was leading me in the direction of a community that was actively involved in the process of becoming something new. As it turned out, All Saints Episcopal Church fit where I thought I was being called. And Bishop John Buchanan (provisional bishop of the Diocese of Quincy) was the interim bishop in Southern Virginia when I started the ordination process. I thought I’d put my name in the hopper for this. When I came here and did the interview process, there seemed to be a fit as to their hopes and dreams.”

His first Sunday at All Saints was Feb. 3, Super Bowl Sunday.

All Saints worships in space rented from the Riverside Methodist Church's Life Center in Moline. Average attendance on Sunday mornings is about 55.

“We are primarily an aging congregation, and that’s one of the things we want to change. How do we hold on to a beautiful Episcopal liturgy and attract the younger population? We are trying to partner with different entities outside of our church, so we partner on the outreach programs.”

Most of All Saints’ outreach has been collection programs, such as collecting food, personal hygiene items and books.

“We’re down at the bottom, providing the day-to-day needs,” Hungerford said. “We want to move into a Ed_Day_footwashing.jpgtransformative kind of outreach and, for example, have parishioners actually go to the shelter and serve. Our congregation has a great calling to reach out and meet the needs of the world. We want to incorporate our older members and we want to include younger people as well.”

Hungerford is working to develop more lay leadership and “start taking advantage of the gifts of the entire congregation.” He said members are eager to be involved in the life of the parish.

“In larger places you have 20 percent of the people doing 80 percent of the work,” Hungerford said. “This parish, because it is so new and people realize they have to step up, we probably have the reverse. We have a lot of people doing a lot of work.”

Eddy, who is active in the parish and the diocese, said he is hopeful about the future of both.

“It seems like every Sunday we have one or two additional guests,” he said of All Saints. “We seem to overwhelm them because we’re so happy to see them.”

And about the reunification of the two dioceses?

“We don’t have a lot to offer them (the Diocese of Chicago) at this point, but they still want us, overwhelmingly,” he said.

But as Bishop Jeff Lee said in a sermon during the Diocese of Chicago convention in June, Quincy already has offered a lot.

“In the face of years of fearful theological obsessiveness and the inevitable divisions that result from that kind of scarcity thinking, our sisters and brothers there have been daring to practice a radical trust in God's overflowing goodness,” Lee said. “Their commitment to Christ and to the fellowship of this church is an act of sheer, foolish, godly trust. Today we stand with them and we pledge to join them in learning to sow the seeds of God's love for this world with absolutely wild abandon.”