From the Rector: Looking Forward
We have in the parish archives the first page of a letter from Edwin S. Gorham, a member of the Board of Trustees, addressed to Howard Dohrman, another member of the board. The first two paragraphs are about the actions of another member of the board, Elliott Daingerfield. The letter is dated October 10, 1914. I quote the first two paragraphs in full, after which the letter continues with a different subject:
Some time about Easter, Mr. Louis C. Craig, #36 West 49th St., signed the usual document to become a member of the parish. You signed him to Pew 38. Mr. Daingerfield promptly ordered him out of the pew. Mr. Craig failed to say that he was a colored man.
He has been coming for several years, and is willing to sit anywhere. He has been sitting, without much disturbance to anyone in pew 56, in the center aisle. If you care to sign him to a pew on the Gospel side, second from the end, where there is another colored man, it would be alright, or I advise returning his envelope and letting him sit where he has been accustomed to, until further change may be necessary. At any rate, he would like to send his weekly offering. Quite a decent man, behaves himself, and has been enclosing his offerings each week, I believe.
The Board of Trustees never collected pew rents, something our incorporation under the Free Church Act did not permit. But regular members were assigned seats. The parish records from the 1870s indicate that some members of the parish were “colored.” Dick Leitsch, our parish archivist, is not sure when the practice of making this kind of notation stops – and I hope that there has never been a period when African-Americans were not a part of the parish. There is a note on Mr. Gorham’s letter that seems to indicate that Mr. Craig was moved from pew 38, on the main aisle in the body of the church, to pew 102, on the side aisle, very near the back. My sad guess is that the letter from Mr. Gorham reflects accurately the character of one of the more progressive parishes of the day.
When I was interviewed in November 1998 by the Board of Trustees for the position of rector, the question was asked whether I would hire a priest who was a woman to be on the staff of Saint Mary’s. I remember my reply. I said quite clearly that at the end of the twentieth century I didn’t want to be a part of any community that discriminated against anyone on the basis of gender, race or sexual orientation. One of the reasons I most like Saint Mary’s is that it is one of the few places where the accidents of biology really don’t matter. We are never entirely free from the concerns and sin of the world in this regard, but as pastor of the parish I have heard over and over again that people come to Saint Mary’s because everyone is welcome here, in every pew, in every place in the community. There is another notation on Mr. Gorham’s letter by some unknown person, “Disgusting. Thank God that cannot happen now.”
In some ways it’s amazing that Mr. Craig and other African-Americans remained loyal in the decades when racial discrimination was almost normative in the Episcopal Church. I know we still have a long way to go. Almost no Christian denomination publicly discriminates on the basis of race, but it is still normative for the vast majority of Christians not to want women in their pulpits or homosexuals even in their pews. The largest Christian denomination refuses Communion to its divorced and remarried persons. I’m weary of it all. I am thankful that I am a member of a parish that is clear about its call to evangelize and make disciples of all. There are many hopeful signs that our Episcopal Church and most of the wider Anglican Communion are moving to a place we’ve already come. It’s hard for me to conceive of Christianity apart from this inclusiveness, although I really do know how rare and precious it is. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Narvel, Natasha, Doreen, Fred, Gert, Virginia, Ana, Kevin, Gloria, William, Gilbert, Rick, Suzanne, Carl, priest, Thomas, priest, Bruce, priest, and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Andrew, Steve, Patrick, Brenden, Christopher and Marc; and for the repose of the soul of Curtis, religious . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 15: 1957 Lynda Beatrice Roberts, 1971 Florence F. Scheftel, 1987 Harold Polit; October 19: 1993 Jerome Branch Terrell.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Damian-Curtis Kellam, a member of the Brotherhood of Saint Gregory, died on October 9. Please pray for him, for the Brotherhood of Saint Gregory and for all who mourn. S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminder: Marian Hymn Sing & Oktoberfest this Saturday, October 13, 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, October 18, is the Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist . . . We have received Letters of Transfer for Grace Treiman and Kathleen Fuller. We are very happy to be able to welcome Grace and Kathy as members of the parish . . . The Wednesday Night Dinner & Bible Study continues on Wednesday, October 17, at 7:00 PM, in Saint Benedict’s Study, following the evening Mass. We are studying Saint Paul’s life and writings . . . The Introduction to Christianity Series continues on Sunday at 12:45 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study, following the Solemn Mass. This Sunday, Father Mead continues the Introduction to Christianity with a session on the Holy Eucharist . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, October 13, by Father Smith and on Saturday, October 20, by Father Gerth. . . . Attendance last Sunday 334.
HONDURAS MISSION TRIP 2008 . . . A group from Saint Mary’s and other parishes in the diocese has gone on a week-long mission trip to the Church of San Juan Evangelista, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for the last few years. This year’s trip is scheduled for January 14-20, 2008. On Sunday, October 14, at 2:00 PM, there will be a presentation in Saint Benedict’s Study for all those interested in learning about the trip, lending support from home, or just finding out what this is all about. Please contact Rebecca Weiner Tompkins (email@example.com) for more information.
RECEPTION FOR NEW AND PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS . . . On Monday, October 15, at 7:00 PM, following Evening Prayer and Mass, there will be a reception in the Rectory for the parish’s new and prospective members. Invitations were mailed out last week. If you are new to the parish, but did not receive an invitation and would like to take this opportunity to meet others Saint Marians and hear some of what’s ahead, please call Father Smith at 212-869-5830, ext. 17.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Intermezzo from Troisième symphonie en fa dièse mineur, Opus 28 (1911) by Louis Vierne (1870-1937). The postlude is the last movement, Final, from the same work. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis C-dur, KV 259 (Orgelsolo) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). An early work, this setting was composed in Salzburg in 1776. It is quite brief with a condensed setting of the text, as is the case with several of Mozart’s other masses of that period. This may be due to the views of the prince-archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg, who preferred simple and straightforward music during the liturgy. The anthem at Communion is The heavens are telling from The Creation, Hob. XXI:2 by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) . . . The final hymn at the Solemn Mass may safely be considered “ecumenical” because of its wide use through many denominations and Christian traditions. The text of Stand up, stand up for Jesus (tune: ‘Morning Light’) are by American George Duffield, Jr., and is often noted for its militaristic tone. The Hymnal 1982 Companion notes that the anti-slavery mood in the northeast, just before the Civil War, inspired a number of such militaristic hymn texts, including this one. It quickly became popular in this country and overseas . . . The organ recital at 4:40 PM is played by Eugene Lavery . . . For those interested in joining (or are just considering joining!) our new volunteer choir, which will debut in January 2008, there will be a meeting and brief rehearsal on Sunday, December 2, at 3:00 PM (beginning in the choir room). All that’s needed is an ability to match pitch and a willingness to learn! E-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information or to express interest. Robert McCormick
MAKE YOUR OWN ROSARY . . . On Sunday, October 21, at 2:00 PM, Michael McNett and Mary Robison will offer a rosary making workshop in Saint Benedict’s Study. Participants (limited to 8 people) will be able to make and take home their own rosary. If you are interested, please call the parish office to register 212-869-5830. Class fees: $15 for materials; $10 for optional tool.
CENTERING PRAYER WORKSHOP . . . Sister Deborah Francis will offer an “Introduction to Centering Prayer” on Sunday, October 21, at 12:45 PM. Centering Prayer is an ancient way of praying popularized by a group of Cistercian monks in the 1960s, in which one sits quietly in the presence of God. It is a form of contemplative prayer available to everyone. The name of Centering Prayer was taken from a phrase by Thomas Merton, and the practice is related to Orthodox meditation and to Prayer of Quiet mentioned by Saint Theresa of Avila. D.F.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Teresa of Avila, Nun, 1582
Wednesday Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, and Martyr, c. 115
Eve of Saint Luke’s Day
Thursday Saint Luke the Evangelist
Friday Henry Martyn, Priest, and Missionary, 1812 Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Sunday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong and Benediction. Childcare from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Monday – Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 6:00 PM Evening Prayer, 6:20 PM Mass.
Saturday: 11:30 AM Confessions, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 4:00 PM Confessions, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass.