From THE RECTOR: MONEY IN CHURCH
Growing up Southern Baptist, I was aware of money in church mostly through the collection. I can’t remember when I first put money or even my own envelope in an offering plate. Looking back, I can’t remember any sermon or teaching about money. But for Baptists, the general expectation about Christian giving was the tithe – giving 10% of one’s income to the work of the church. If for some reason you could not tithe, it was still assumed that was the goal to which God was calling people. Pastors and others talked about it. It wasn’t a secret. Tithing was taught as the biblical standard – not good or truthful exegesis, but it brought in the money to pay the bills, support missionaries overseas, and do good things for those in need.
For lots of reasons, things are different in the Episcopal Church and in many other Christian communities. I remember being surprised by the effort required of the rector and the lay leaders to raise money to run the very large parish where I had been called to work right after seminary. Money was a year-round job for them. The work was crucial. The money they raised made everything else possible – and freed up others to do other things.
There have been attempts over the years to talk Episcopalians into tithing – the canons actually require rectors to teach the tithe as the “biblical standard for financial stewardship” (Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church , Canon III, Sec. 9.5 [b][iii]). A lot of people might wish the Bible taught this, but it doesn’t – and that this is stated in our canons in this way says something about the standard of theological thinking and leadership in our General Convention. (For the record, I give a tithe of my salary to Saint Mary’s.)
That said, the tithe has much to recommend it as a standard for giving. We support what we value. It always drove me crazy that one of the parishioners in a former parish spent far, far more on golf than he ever gave to the Church. Over the years I have taught myself not to think too much about who gives what. I’ve learned that generous, sacrificial giving can come from anyone, from any background, any level of income. In the end, money in church is about what we love.
Let it be said that Saint Mary’s has had a history of generous giving by members and friends, local, national and international, who have been touched in some way by the mission and ministry of this place. For a great deal of its history, and at the present time, the community has lived beyond its means, but it continues to find ways to survive and to matter for others.
One of the first things I learned when I moved to New York was to stop talking to family and friends about why I spent so much on some things, milk for example. In 1999 there was no grocery store in Times Square. After schlepping milk a few times from the then closest store on Ninth Avenue (the rectory is between Sixth and Seventh Avenues), I just bought milk next door at the deli. Expensive, but that’s the way one lived then in this neighborhood. And it’s not just little things. A few years ago, when we replaced the water heater for the plant, the job cost $25,000.00. This summer, the work on the West 47th Street doors looked like a $12,000.00 job when we started. It turned out that we needed to fix the inner doors too – the ones with the stained glass inserts. The total cost to conserve that doorway right – so the job will not need to be done again, one trusts, for another century – is $23,000.00. We have a landmarked facility in the middle of Midtown Manhattan. That’s the cost of doing business here and staying here.
Readers of this newsletter know of the commitment the lay leaders and the clergy here have made to bringing financial stability to the parish. The protracted economic recession has not made this any easier of course. Many in our parish continue to suffer loss of employment and income – and the suffering is material. The Diocese of New York granted a 50% reduction in our assessment in 2008 and 2009 for which we are very thankful – and we have asked for them to consider doing the same for 2010 and 2011. The diocesan leadership wants Saint Mary’s to be a functional, growing congregation – and I am personally very appreciative of the support and interest they have shown in our efforts. Among the things that make our efforts credible to them is the giving of the members and friends who form the congregation. At the end of the day, Saint Mary’s isn’t about the buildings, the music, or whatever; Saint Mary’s is church whose doors remain open daily for all people for refuge and for prayer.
When money comes up, I often find myself turning to words I heard our retired bishop, Richard Grein, once say, “I’ve never met a generous person who wasn’t a happy person.” I think he’s right. There’s something about giving that is connected to joy. Love is not what we say, it’s what we do, what we give.
Saint Mary’s 2012 Stewardship Campaign is underway. There are many ways to give, to love. If you have questions or need another pledge card, please let me know. If you have bags of coins you want to give, we can take them. (And to give credit where credit is due, TD Bank counts money for free in their machine if you have an account there.) Every year a few people give stock to Saint Mary’s – we know how to take it. An increasing number of people make monthly gifts by credit card – we can do that too. Many members, young and old, now bank online. As the saying goes, “It’s all good.”
There’s more, of course, to say about money, about Saint Mary’s, about the challenges of our time. Right now, I ask your help so that the parish leadership can plan the 2012 budget. I ask that you make a giving commitment for next year – not a contract, a commitment – what we call a “pledge” – “pledge” is the church word for what we expect to be able to give, all other things being equal. The love here for Christ, for others, for this tradition, is great. I ask you to join me in committing to 2012. Stephen Gerth
SPECIAL SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19 . . . The diocesan convention will meet on this day to elect a bishop coadjutor, that is, a bishop who will succeed the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk as bishop of New York when Bishop Sisk retires at some point in the future. There will be no 12:10 PM Mass on this day and confessions will not be heard. But I’m delighted to announce that Evening Prayer will be read at 5:00 PM and the Reverend George W. Brandt., Jr., retired rector, Saint Michael’s Church, New York City, will be celebrant and preacher for the 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass. S.G.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dorothy, Richard, Sybil, Betty, Benet, Arpene, Peter, Gilbert, Linda, Mary, Lee, Jeffrey, Maria, Thomas, Jim, Sylvia, Janice, Peggy, Donald, Bob, Julia, Dorothy, Gert, Michael, Andrew, Rick, Carlson, priest, and Paul, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, Mark and Rob; and for the repose of the soul of Jeriel . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 13: 1892 George Washington Bailey; 1898 B. Abbott Lindsey; 1913 Susan Mullins; 1929 Harry Bartlett Morrill; 1957 Alice Bosworth; 1967 Jessie W. Baker.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Jeffrey Buchanan of Washington, DC, and Maria Espinosa of Clifton, New Jersey. If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the third time of asking. James Ross Smith
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
CLERGY NOTE . . . The Reverend Peter Ross Powell is a priest of the diocese of Connecticut. In official terms, he is “canonically resident” in that diocese. In the Episcopal Church, members of the clergy who wish to officiate in a diocese in which they are not canonically resident must ask the local bishop for a license. Father Powell has received this license from the bishop of New York. He will now be able to officiate at the liturgy here at Saint Mary’s. The parish clergy were very happy to hear the news. We, and those who know him and his wife Barbara Powell, are very grateful to them for their commitment to Saint Mary’s and the gifts they bring to our common life. S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, November 13, 10:00 AM, Mission House, 2nd Floor, Adult Education: Bible Studies – A Discussion of Genesis 25:18–36:43, the story of Jacob. Led by Father Peter Powell . . . Monday, November 14, 6:30-7:30 PM, New and Prospective Members Reception, in the Rectory, after 6:00 PM Evening Prayer . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class continues on November 16 at 6:30 PM, after Evening Prayer. The class is reading the Letter to the Ephesians and is led by Father Jay Smith. Newcomers are most welcome . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, November 12.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Congratulations to SMV New York City Marathon runners Julie Jarvis (04:43:08), Robin Landis (04:29:54) and Peter Thompson (finish time 03:43:57) . . . Donors are needed to sponsor the receptions on the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8) and on Epiphany (January 6). Please contact Aaron Koch or Father Smith if you’d like to make a donation . . . The Blessed Sacrament continues to be reserved in the Lady Chapel as we seek a conservator to repair the lock on the high altar tabernacle . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 271.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday is Trumpet Voluntary in D; the author of the piece is uncertain, but scholars have suggested that either Henry Purcell (1659–1695) or John Blow (1649–1708) may have composed the work. Music today is sung by a quartet drawn from the main choir. The setting of the Mass ordinary at the Solemn Mass is Missa ‘Saeculorum Amen’ by Francisco Guerrero (1528–1599). This late work, the eighteenth of Guerrero’s masses to be published, appeared in a collection of motets in 1597. Guerrero, one of the foremost Spanish composers of the Renaissance, spent nearly his entire life in Seville. He served the cathedral there first as a chorister and then, in succession to Pedro Fernández, as maestro de capilla (“choirmaster”). Among Guerrero’s teachers was Cristóbal de Morales, also a famed composer. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet “Lord, let me know mine end” by Maurice Greene (1696–1755). The son of a member of the clergy, Greene was a chorister and later organist at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London. The motet is remarkable for its use of a “walking bass” (a continuously-moving instrumental bass line) . . . On Sunday afternoon at 4:40 PM Matthew Phelps will play the organ recital. Mr. Phelps is the minister of music at the Reformed Church of Bronxville, New York. At the recital, he will play music by J.S. Bach and César Franck. James Kennerley
ADULT EDUCATION ON SUNDAY . . . On November 13 and 20, Father Peter Powell will be leading a discussion of Genesis 12-50, which includes the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel and Joseph. This Sunday, the Adult Forum will discuss the story of Jacob, Genesis 25:18–36:43. This surprising story of what it means to have God's blessing reminds us that God upsets our expectations. It’s a story of trickery, deceit and duplicity, all by Jacob and his mother, Rebekah. The story is relevant to our faith today. Jacob is blessed and immediately feels threatened. God upsets the standards of society. In a time in which Christianity is all too often seen as supporting the majority culture, this story reminds us of God's radical freedom. If you have a chance, read the story. In any event, come to learn about how God acts on behalf of those the world sees as powerless. Pete Powell
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2012 . . . We have received 52 pledges so far, 6 of them new pledges. Our goal for the Campaign this year is $425,000.00. $153,000.00 has been pledged to date, which is 36% of our goal. We still have a ways to go. We expect, of course, to hear from the clergy and the lay leaders of the parish, as well as from the members of all of the parish’s guilds; but we also depend on all the members of the parish, and our friends in places near and far, to help us reach our goal. Last year, 177 households made pledges to the parish. It would be a wonderful thing if we could increase that number this year by 25, or even 50, pledges. Commitment Sunday is November 20. Pledge cards may be offered at all the Masses on that day. If you have questions about the Campaign or about making a pledge, please speak to Father Gerth, to Father Smith, or to one of the members of the Stewardship Committee: MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner or Marie Rosseels.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Sunday, November 20, The Last Sunday after Pentecost: Commitment Sunday. Pledge cards are offered . . . Wednesday, November 23, Eve of Thanksgiving, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, November 24, Thanksgiving Day, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Sunday, November 27, The First Sunday of Advent . . . Wednesday, December 7, Eve of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM and Legacy Society Reception 7:00 PM . . . Thursday, December 8, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Reception 7:30 PM.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . During November and December, we will be collecting new and gently used coats for the New York Cares Coat Drive. The deadline is December 31. If you would like to donate a coat, please speak to Father Smith or bring the coat with you on Sunday . . . We are also collecting toys and gifts, including gift cards, to donate to the New York Foundling Hospital. The Hospital, located on Sixth Avenue in Chelsea works with children, teenagers, and families in need. The deadline is December 16 . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please consider making a regular donation to the Food Pantry. Look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall. You may make a cash donation as well . . . Father Smith continues his Book Sale on Sunday. All proceeds are used to benefit the Food Pantry and others who are in need.
THE ARTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . American Globe Theatre (AGT), October 28–November 19: Hamlet. Directed by John Basil, AGT’s Artistic Director. Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 PM, Sunday at 3:00 PM. For tickets and information, call 212-869-9809 . . . Saturday, November 12, at 7:30 PM. The Huelgas Ensemble, Paul Van Nevel, artistic director, presents “Medieval Apocalypse,” works by Perotinus, Machaut, Cicona, and Matteo da Perugia, and anonymous works from England, Spain, Italy, and Cyprus. This event is part of Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival . . . Sunday, November 13 at 8:00 PM, Organ Concert, Giampaolo di Rosa, soloist. Works by Liszt and Bach, in addition to improvisation on submitted themes. Admission is free . . . December 1 and December 2 at 8:00 PM, and December 3 at 3:00 PM, Holiday Concert by The Choral Society, John Maclay, conductor. Works by Gabrieli, Bernstein, Pärt, and favorite audience carols.
AWAY FROM SAINT MARY’S . . . The Peccadillo Theater Company at the Theatre at Saint Clement’s presents a revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s classic and very funny play, The Man Who Came to Dinner. Limited engagement, November 25-December 18. Directed by Dan Wackerman. Dan is a good friend of Saint Mary’s and often worships with us on Sunday mornings. For reservations and tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit www.thepeccadillo.com. The Theater has very kindly offered Saint Marians and their friends discounted tickets. When ordering tickets, use the following code in order to get the discount: PTCCH.