By Sally Neel
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church
One of the many downsides of being sequestered by COVID-19 has been the hiatus of Sunday Night Unplugged, a monthly service of music and meditation at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church. Though the church is offering limited-attendance Sunday morning services of morning prayer (no communion), the meditation service has not yet resumed.
However, Fr. Doug Neel, retiring rector of St. Patrick’s, determined that it was important to have a videoed documentation of the service before leaving his post.
“Although there are no guarantees as to the direction the parish will go with new leadership, it is the hope that Sunday Night Unplugged will remain a part of the church’s ministry,” Neel said. “The service has reached many in our community that do not attend regular church services or who attend church elsewhere.”
Sunday Night Unplugged is designed as a nondenominational service. It includes beautiful music, scriptural and secular readings, and prayers. The entire service is punctuated by periods of silence. The altar area is adorned with candles and other visual designs that offer a focal point of peace and an aid in prayer. Candles are also available to be lit by those who attend to symbolize specific prayers.
The video includes music provided by violinist Heidi Tanner and pianist Sally Neel, two friends and musical colleagues who have played together for many years.
“It is only fitting that I conclude my music ministry at St. Patrick’s with my friend, Heidi, who has so willingly offered her talents to us, both in our church services on Sunday mornings and at Sunday Night Unplugged. She is a wonderful artist and a special friend,” said Sally Neel, retiring music minister of St. Patrick’s.
Sally Neel and Tanner are part of NightSong Trio that includes the very talented flutist Jessica Peterson. Due to the pandemic, the trio has not been able to play together over the past months, but they hope to resume their weekly rehearsals and occasional concerts as soon as it is possible to do so.
“We hope the community will enjoy the recording of Sunday Night Unplugged,” Doug Neel said. “I would recommend that when you listen to it, that you find a quiet place where you can enjoy it without interruptions. There are spaces for silence on the video that are indicated by a bell. If you want to create your own time span for silence, I suggest you pause the video and resume whenever you choose. Though doing the service online is experimental, I feel it is a successful attempt. I hope that during this time of pandemic that you will refer to it whenever you feel the need or desire.”
The video is posted on the St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church Facebook page and on the website www.stpatrickspagosa.org.