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History, Stability, Dedication and Education Welcome Newcomers to All Saints Episcopal Church

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

There is a rich Episcopalian history with roots going back to 1884 in the Lakeland area for All Saints Episcopal Church. Located right in the heart of downtown Lakeland, All Saints' Church came in just as the citrus industry was gaining ground in Central Florida. Adapting well to change over the years, the Church is still going strong over 100 years later and welcomes newcomers.

In over a century, All Saints has only one vicar and six rectors providing stability to its parishioners. According to Director of Communication Donovan Dolde, "Dedicated clergy and lay leadership have lived the Great Commandment and the Great Commission." Dolde explained that the Rev. Dr. L. Reid Hensarling has been at the Church since 2003 and is currently serving as our Priest-in-Charge following the retirement of The Rev. Dr. Al W. Jenkins in December 2015 and while another is sought to take up the leadership baton.

Expansions occurred in 1992 and again in 2012 to build on the campus and All Saints' growing ministries. Dolde mentioned many outreach ministries, saying, "The Church is involved with close to 20 local agencies that feed, clothe, shelter and care for those less fortunate in our community." A new team is being set up to address the huge need for aid outside of All Saints' campus working with such charities as Habitat for Humanity and Hurricane Assistance.

"We are proud of our emphasis on education with classes for all ages on Sundays and Wednesdays," states Dolde. There are two services on Wednesday, along with four weekend service options: (1) Saturday at 4 p.m. (Eucharist Rite II) where the service is small and cozy with around 50 in attendance and includes an organist for music; (2) Early Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. has a smaller crowd and includes a short service with no music following Eucharist Rite 1; (3) Sunday service at 8:50 a.m. has a more contemporary feel with a pianist and song leaders, organ, traditional hymns, and Eucharist Rite II liturgy; and (4) The 10:50 a.m. Sunday service is more traditional, following Eucharist Rite II, and may feature their adult choir. All services use the Book of Common Prayer (red/1979).

The Church's 400 families are provided with active programming for parents, teens and youth from birth through grade 12. Dolde specifies these activities, "Our children and families are involved in serving our parish through ministries that support our worship services, such as the acolyte ministry, children's church leadership, altar guild, musical ensembles, lectors, stewards, vergers and altar servers."

Families also do visits to area senior-living homes, volunteering for KidsPACK, ministries to mothers and summer mission projects. Continues Dolde, "Kathy Hulin serves as our Director of Family Ministries, and she is eager to welcome new families to our parish."

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