FROM THE RECTOR: TWO CAMPAIGNS
“Open Doors: The Capital Campaign for the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin” is underway. Bishop Frank Griswold, Bishop Allen Shin, and a large congregation were with us for the Solemn Mass on our patronal feast, the campaign’s official beginning. It was great to be able to announce at the reception following the service that we have received advanced pledges of $2,625,053. The campaign goal: $4,475,000.
The Solemn Mass on Tuesday was exceptionally glorious. During the reception many learned that Bishop Griswold first attended Saint Mary’s as a teenager—see the campaign video on our website. It meant so much that he was with us and could speak about our past, our present, and our future.
We are going to make a real effort to gather all campaign pledges by the Feast of the Presentation, Tuesday, February 2, 2016. Bishop Shin will be back with us that night as celebrant and preacher for the Blessing of Candles, Procession & Solemn Mass. This timing will allow the trustees to plan for the work on the building to begin.
That said, some work has actually begun. In July 2013, Elizabeth Lowell, Development Office of the Episcopal Church (now retired and still a great friend of the parish), Mother Kathleen Liles, rector, Christ and Saint Stephen’s Church, Bishop Charles Jenkins, and Bishop Mark Sisk met with me to help us plan for this campaign. The already completed architectural survey had concluded that the most urgent conservation project was the replacement of the rectory slate roof. The group unanimously and strongly advised that we go ahead and raise money for this project. A couple in the parish heard about the need. They made a very generous gift to make this repair possible. Their initiative and commitment gave me great hope as all of this was beginning.
On Wednesday, December 9, scaffolding went up in front of the rectory so that the terra cotta ornaments that need conservation or replacement can be taken down. No other work on the roof will be done until late March or early April. We hope that the terra cotta elements will be ready as the replacement of the slates begins—so that this scaffolding will come down as soon as possible.
Also on December 9, over a thousand envelopes with campaign materials were mailed to everyone on the parish’s many mailing lists. The parish’s website has a link to our special campaign webpage where one may also make a pledge. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with me or with any member of the campaign team: Clint Best, MaryJane Boland, Grace Bruni, Steven Heffner, David Jette, Clark Mitchell, and Marie Rosseels.
Here’s one question that came my way a couple of weeks ago. A person said he could make a gift of $25,000.00 over a three-year period, but could make a gift of $50,000.00 if he could do it over four years. I hope my smile and my words “thank you” together conveyed my personal gratitude for his love and commitment to this parish.
The Annual Stewardship Campaign continues. We ask that you not cut one dollar from your annual pledge or giving so that you can make a pledge or a larger pledge to the capital campaign. Fundamentally, it’s the operating budget that keeps our doors open.
In addition to the persons mentioned above, there are many people I want to thank by name, but I’m saving that list for next week—hoping I can make my list as complete as possible. Thank you to everyone for this great start to both campaigns. Thank you for your commitment to Saint Mary’s and your belief in this congregation’s future. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dennis, Stephen, Chuck, John, Phillip, Gilbert, John, Walter, Martha, Sally, Sam, Peggy, Maxine, Jean, Quinn, Kenneth, Heidi, Rasheed, Catherine, Trevor, Takeem, Arpene, Phillipe, Magdy, Narges, Hanoo, José, Pamela, religious, Horace, deacon, Sidney, deacon, Horace, priest, Paulette, priest, Gaylord, priest, Harry, priest, and Michael, bishop, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 13: 1876 Martha Susan Long; 1925 Catherine Reichenberg Schnorr; 1934 Caroline Munn Peters.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . This year’s Campaign is going well, but there is still much to do. It is important for us to reach this year’s goal of $425,000.00. We urge all members and friends to return their pledge cards as soon as possible, either by mail or by placing your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass on Sunday morning. You may also call the finance office to discuss your pledge. The staff will be happy to fill out a pledge card for you. If you have questions about stewardship, please ask to speak to a member of the Stewardship Committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels; and please pray for the success of this year’s Stewardship Campaign
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, December 13, The Third Sunday of Advent, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Sunday, December 13, Adult Forum: The class scheduled for Sunday has been cancelled and will scheduled for a later date . . . Wednesday, December 16, The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class has begun its winter break and will resume on January 13 . . . On Saturday, December 12, and on Saturday, December 19, confessions will be heard by Father Stephen Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you so very much to all those who did so much for so many months to make the opening of the Capital Campaign on December 8 a success. It was a wonderful night in the life and history of the parish, and we are deeply grateful to all those who made the Mass and the reception possible . . . There is an easy link to the Campaign website at the very top of the parish webpage. We urge you to take a look at the site to find out more about the Campaign and our parish’s goals . . . If you would like to volunteer to decorate the church for Christmas, please contact Marie Rosseels . . . Dennis Smith, who has been a member of Saint Mary’s for thirty-two years, will celebrate his ninetieth birthday on Monday, December 14. Dennis, who has served faithfully and well as an usher for many years, cannot be with us on Sunday mornings as much as he, or we, would like. We wish him a happy birthday. He is in our prayers . . . Altar flowers are needed for the feast of the Holy Name (January 1; we will use those flowers on Sunday, January 3, as well) and for January 17, 24, and 31, and for February 7, the Last Sunday after the Epiphany. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 203, Conception of Mary 251.
FROM THE ORGANIST & MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . Benjamin Britten (1913–1976) had an ambiguous relationship with the established church, and, like so many European intellectuals of the mid-twentieth century, he moved between positions of unbelief to periods of complete acceptance of Christian principles and theology. He engaged with the texts of the Mass ordinary in two works; one was the mighty War Requiem, completed in 1962, and the other was the Missa brevis of 1959, composed for the treble voices of Westminster Cathedral Choir under their inspirational conductor, George Malcolm, which we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning. In this liturgical setting of the words, a three-voice texture often brings surprising results. These vary from the declamatory and heart-felt antiphonal cries of Kyrie eleison to the jubilant echoes of the opening of the Sanctus, somehow evoking the rich overtones of church bells. Most affecting of the settings, though, is the darkly perturbing music of the Agnus Dei. Here a rising five-note theme in the pedal part of the organ repeats over and over—an ostinato pattern, named from the Italian word for “obstinate” as the theme refuses to move on or develop—and the voices sing an imploring and sighing melody; here is music coming from a dark place, and the invocation for peace (Dona nobis pacem, “grant us peace”) is all the more poignant because of this. The words of the Communion motet, “There is no rose of such virtue,” were also well known to Britten: he set them in his Ceremony of Carols of 1942, but for this week’s Solemn Mass we hear the more ancient setting of the words. This was written by an unknown fifteenth-century composer and is found in a manuscript in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. With its Lydian modality and contrasts of two- and three-part writing this piece still feels remarkably fresh and vital in spite of its ancient origins. —Simon Whalley
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, December 21, Saint Thomas the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Thursday, December 24, Christmas Eve, Music 4:30 PM and Mass 5:00 PM; Music 10:30 PM and Procession & Mass 11:00 PM . . . Friday, December 25, Christmas Day, Mass & Procession to the Crèche 11:00 AM . . . Sunday, December 27, The First Sunday after Christmas, A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols 5:00 PM . . . Monday, December 28, Saint John the Evangelist (transferred), Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Tuesday, December 29, The Holy Innocents (transferred), Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Thursday, December 31, Christmas Weekday, Mass 12:10 PM. The church will close at 2:00 PM . . . Friday, January 1, The Holy Name, Sung Mass 11:00 AM.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class: The class will not meet on December 16, 23, or 30, nor on January 6. The class will resume on Wednesday, January 13 . . . Adult Forum, Sundays at 10:00 AM: December 13, The Adult Forum scheduled for Sunday, December 13 has been cancelled. It will be scheduled for a later date . . . January 10 and 17, Canon Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of General Convention of the Episcopal Church, will lead the class in a discussion of Episcopal polity and governance. (This will be a very useful class for those preparing for Confirmation or Reception, as well as for those who want to learn more about what our church believes and how it works.) In this series, Canon Barlowe will address such topics as the workings of General Convention, legislation passed at this summer’s convention in Salt Lake City, the role of the Presiding Bishop in the Episcopal Church, and the mechanism for electing a Presiding Bishop in our church . . . January 24, To be announced . . . Sunday, January 31 & February 7, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will lead a two-part series entitled Concerning Conversion: Considering Christian Turning and Transformation Through Poetic Texts. . . Six Sundays in Lent (February 14, 21, 28 & March 6, 13, and 20) Father Peter Powell will continue his series on the The Succession Narrative: 2 Samuel 11-20; 1 Kings 1-2. —Jay Smith
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street . . . The Saint Mary’s Book Sale continues on Sunday mornings. All proceeds are used to serve those in need at Saint Mary’s, in our neighborhood, and beyond . . . Need help finding food or know someone who does? Call 1-800-5-HUNGRY (Why Hunger Hotline, Monday–Friday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM EST) or 1-866-3-HUNGRY (USDA National Hunger Hotline, 8:00 AM–8:00 PM EST). —Jay Smith
A VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY . . . The New York City Department of Homeless Services (NYCDHS) is seeking volunteers for its upcoming Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (the “HOPE Count”), which will take place on Monday, January 25–26, between 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM. Volunteers should be eighteen years of age or older, and will be able to choose their volunteer site when they register on the departmental web site. Volunteers will report to their respective sites, where a HOPE Count representative, or captain, will lead volunteers into their selected communities and will provide instructions about how to accurately count the city’s homeless people. If you would like to volunteer for the HOPE Count, please contact Father Jay Smith, and he will register the Saint Mary’s contingent as a group as soon as the NYCDHS has added the registration button to its website. Members of the parish have done the Count in the past and have found it to be rewarding work.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Friday, December 11, 2015, 8:00 PM, New York City Master Chorale, Thea Kano, artistic director: Rheinberger, Der Stern von Bethlehem and other favorite holiday carols, featuring special guest, the Reaching for the Arts Choir. Tickets available only from New York City Master Chorale . . . Saturday, December 12, 2015, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, conductor: Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 9. Annual Benefit Concert. $10.00 admission at the door . . . February 5, 2016, 8:00 PM, Riverside Symphony, George Rothman, music director & conductor: “Trial & Triumph,” Music by Copland, Imbrie, and Handel.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Robbie Wilson and John Doyle, who live in the UK, worship with us when they can while they are here in New York. Robbie has become a regular member of our noonday congregation. John is a well-known theater director, both on and off Broadway. This autumn, John has been in town, in part to work on The Color Purple, the revival of a musical based on Alice Walker’s novel of the same name. The play opened on Thursday, December 10, at the Bernard Jacobs Theater on Forty-fifth Street, and has received an extremely positive review in The New York Times. Tickets for Broadway musicals are not cheap, but the play is extremely powerful and is recommended for those who can find a way to secure a ticket. The spiritual themes in the play are significant. The central character’s relationship with God, with its movement between anger and faith, seems reminiscent of some of the Psalms. The play is also a powerful meditation on African-American history, culture, and faith, an important addition to the conversation at this moment in American history.