Last year I recall hearing more than a few genuinely helpful comments about the parish's tradition of having a bishop present to be celebrant for the Great Vigil of Easter. We didn't have one because I was too new to get it organized in time. This year we are honored that the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, will be with us to celebrate and preach. But I don't want you to think that it seems normative to me that a parish church, even Saint Mary's, should have a bishop present for the Easter Vigil - although it is splendid when it can happen.
I cannot recall, however, anyone being concerned about what I believe should have been of the greatest concern to our parish community, indeed, to any parish community. Last Easter, in this city of millions, the greatest city in the world, our community did not have one person to baptize. It's one thing not to have a bishop; it's another not to have Easter. Easter is Jesus Christ dying and rising still in the people he has brought to the font. It is not about lilies, candles, music or bishops. It's about God's chosen ones coming to faith and rising to new life in Christ.
I believe it is absolutely more important for us to be concerned clearly and positively about evangelization and to desire to be evangelists and a community of evangelism more than to be concerned or desirous of an episcopal presence. In Matthew's Gospel the final dominical injunction to his followers is for them to make disciples and to baptize.
On the first Sunday of Advent Angela Allen was admitted to the parish as a catechumen, that is, someone preparing for Baptism. On the first Sunday in Lent and on all of the Sundays in Lent the Solemn Mass will be focused on the preparation of our community to prepare us and Angela for her death and resurrection in Jesus Christ.
On my office door and in every church staff office there is now a sign that says, "Job One is Parish Growth." Since the time of my coming to visit Saint Mary's the parish leadership have been very clear with me that it is essential for the parish community to grow or Saint Mary's as we know it will become a shadow of itself. The numbers are there for all to see. Basically, the parish community needs to triple in size and in giving in four years for the current shape of its life to be sustained. (If you need to review the numbers they are available in the Annual Report and will be published in the next issue of AVE.) The only other way to stay in business is to eliminate several areas of our common life - for example, to eliminate the music program (choral and organ), the curate, the assistant, and to close the church during the week would balance the budget.
Members of the parish community often ask me what they can do for Saint Mary's. Sometimes I respond with a specific opportunity. I am tempted to say - and it would not be wrong, "Help Saint Mary's grow." Perhaps it would be better to say in the words of Saint Paul, -words Carol Pepper reminded me of- "Have an open heart." Words for me and for you.
A year ago, at my first meeting as rector with the Board of Trustees I told them that I believed Saint Mary's would grow, but that the cost of that growth would be that at one time or another, everyone - including Stephen Gerth, was going to be very unhappy with the changes that would be necessary to respond positively to the challenges that would present themselves to us. If you want to do something to help Saint Mary's grow, I ask of you to ask the Spirit what I am asking the Spirit to help me to do, "widen your heart" (2 Corinthians 5:12).
I believe "Job One is Parish Growth." All are welcome at Saint Mary's, but I hope it will also be God's will for us to grow by bringing to faith people who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a convinced Episcopal Christian in the catholic tradition. Evangelism is the life blood of all Christianity, including and especially the catholic tradition. I believe that this parish community has the opportunity to embrace this call and heritage in a way that few communities could. How the Holy Spirit will work among us will be directed in some ways by what you and I do with our hearts. May our hearts be wide. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST…Your prayers are asked for Carol who is recovering from eye surgery, for Olga, Helen, Jack, Margaret, Margo, Shirley, Clara, Samuel John, Hannah, Keith Yamily, Dawn and Gloria and for the repose of the soul of Cheryl and Pasquelina.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 15: 1967 Nina Gay Dolan; 1973: Dorothy McCormack; 1978: Carrington Raymond; February 16: 1955 Mary Brettman; February 17: 1983 Helen Petersen Harrington; February 19:1958 Harry Osmond Weed.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: 2 Kings 5:1-15ab, Psalm 42:1-7, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Mark 1:40-45 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Shin, Preacher: Mr. Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: The Rector, 5:00 PM Celebrant and Preacher: The Rector . . .. On Saturday, February 12, Father Gerth will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, February 19, Father Shin will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Carol Pepper had emergency surgery on her eye on Monday, February 7, for a detached retina. She is home now and her physicians are very pleased with the results of her surgery. We hope to see her Sunday. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Many thanks to all who helped with the Catechesis course last Saturday. Twenty-seven were in attendance including six students from the General Theological Seminary . . . The Board of Trustees meets on Monday, February 14, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict's Study . . . Kevin Farley has begun work on a new "Register of Baptized Persons" - one of the canonical registers of the parish. In the Episcopal Church one now becomes a member of the Church parish by being baptized in a parish or by having the fact of one's baptism elsewhere recorded in a parish's "Register of Baptized Persons" . . . Father Curate and the Father Assistant are planning to offer a Bible Study group on Sunday mornings in Lent on the Book of Genesis . . . Music Search Committee questionnaires have been mailed to those who pledge. Additional copies of the questionnaire are available for all on the ushers table in the church or by mail if you call the parish office . . . Candlemas Thanks: To Robin Landis for polishing the silver sanctuary lamp, to Chuck Carson and all of the altar servers for a splendid job, to Howard Christian for the beautiful altar decorations, to Jim Dennis, Barbara Klett, Howard Christian, Jon Bryant, Charles Walsh, Sean Cassidy, Pat Higgins, Clint Best, Robert VanVleet, Herb Kirschner, Dale Bonenberger, Dean Driver, Rick Miranda who helped with the reception . . . Altar Servers: We will meet on Friday, February 25, at 7:00 PM in Saint Joseph's Hall to work on Holy Week and to plan the parish brunch we will be serving following the Solemn Mass on Sunday, March 5 . . . AVE is going to press this week and we hope to have it in your hands by March 1 . . . We are pleased to announce that we will be doing Stations & Benediction on alternate Fridays with the Church of the Transfiguration, except on Friday, March 24, Annunciation Eve, when Bishop Taylor will be here for the Solemn Mass . . . Attendance last Sunday: 151.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION THIS WEEK . . . On Sundays the Rector's Class meets at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict's Study. The class is studying Aidan Kavanagh's The Shape of Baptism. You are invited to join us . . . "Journey in Faith," our adult formation group meets with Father Shin from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM in Saint Benedict's Study . . . Father Breidenthal's Christian Ethics class will not meet this week on Wednesday, February 16, as Father will be at a meeting of the Board of Theological Education of the Episcopal Church. The class will resume on Wednesday, February 23.
COMPUTER NETWORK AT SMV . . . One of our building manager's big projects right now is getting a computer network for SMV up and running. The goal is to have the parish clergy and staff networked and online by May 1. The parish clergy and staff will then all have straightforward e-mail addresses as in firstname.lastname@example.org (and perhaps we will be able to be stmvirgin.org instead of a dotcom!). The purpose of the network is to increase the productivity of the church staff and of the whole parish community in order to help the parish grow.
The Collect for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Worship at Saint Mary’s
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM. A Solemn Mass is offered at 11:00 AM. Monday through Friday Mass is said at 12:15 PM and 6:15 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:30 AM and Evening Prayer at 4:45 PM. Monday through Friday Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM, the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM. On Saturdays the Noonday Office is offered at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM.
The Reconciliation of Penitents
Confessions are heard on Saturdays between 11:30 and 12:00 and between 4:00 and 5:00. Appointments can also be made with members of the parish clergy for the Reconciliation of Penitents at other times.
The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
The Calendar for the Seventh Week after the Epiphany
Monday Cyril and Methodius, Bishops
Tuesday Thomas Bray, Priest
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Allen Shin, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison,
The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.