FROM THE RECTOR: CLOSED DOORS
While making two pastoral visits early last Friday afternoon, I walked by one Orthodox cathedral and four Protestant churches. The doors of all five were closed. Two of the churches were Episcopal parishes, the others were a Presbyterian and a Hungarian Reformed congregation. The cathedral was Greek Orthodox. These days many churches are simply not able to keep their doors open throughout the day; and so I can think of no more important ministry for us than the witness and opportunities our open doors offer. Our doors are open not just for ourselves, but also and always for others.
I think that open doors matter not only for persons of faith, but even for those who think there is no God. Saint Mary's building is a gentle witness to faith. I'm happy when anyone comes into the church, even if it's just to look around. Saint Mary's is a holy place and a welcoming place. One will find people at prayer, homeless persons resting, and others just being quiet-and nowadays people often checking their phones for messages. It's all good.
Although I met my predecessor, Father Edgar Wells, in the fall of 1980, when he was serving on the board of trustees of Nashotah House, I never visited Saint Mary's until I came for an interview in November 1998. However, Father Wells put me on the mailing list for the then-monthly bulletin from Saint Mary's, Ave. After my curacies in larger congregations in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Saint Mary's common life helped me think I wasn't crazy to give leadership to our congregation's life around the "regular services appointed for public worship in this Church" (The Book of Common Prayer , 13). With the help of committed lay persons, we brought back the Daily Office-Morning and Evening, Monday through Friday-and yes, I was there if I wasn't away. We were able to add one regular weeknight Eucharist, and we had Masses on all Prayer Book holy days-on the right day. I'm not sure I would have had the courage to do this if I had not known about the common life of Saint Mary's through Ave.
As the new civil year begins, I am very aware that our witness and work for the Lord depend on the generous giving of those who know and love this parish. The final numbers are not in, but if I've printed the summary reports correctly, 398 households contributed $563,747.86 to the operating budget and $595,508.36 to the Open Doors Capital Campaign during 2016. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but I'm sure our draw on our endowment for 2016 will be about eight percent-a number that should actually be five percent (5%).
The board does have a good idea of the arc, as it were, of our operating expenses. But every year there are new areas of expense for our congregation. One recent example is that we now have an employee handbook to bring our personnel practices in line with federal, state, and city labor laws-and that means we had new and not insignificant legal expenses to do it right. (Many, many thanks are due to Board Vice President Marie Rosseels, a recently retired human-resources professional who was willing to give weeks of work to the project. Marie, thank you!)
I am very proud of the work that Sr. Monica Clare, Clint Best, and Father Smith are doing with the homeless who seek our help. (You can read more about their clothing project in this newsletter.) That said, there is a new violent aggressiveness among a small, but significant, number of the homeless who come to us. This reality demands a response, for the safety of the staff and of all who visit the church. We have postponed taking certain actions for the past year, in part because we have been doing research and trying to figure out the best response. However, we are unable to put things off any longer. So, we are working with the Times Square Alliance to identify providers who can give us the help we think we need at this point-a security guard for weekday mornings. Stay tuned.
If you haven't yet made a pledge to the operating budget, I ask that you do so this week. The budget committee will be meeting on Wednesday afternoon, January 11, to draft the 2017 budget for the board's meeting on Monday, January 23. It's been the board's practice for a number of years to do our budgets in January after the books are closed for the prior year and the Stewardship Campaign is complete. I conclude by saying that I'm very proud that Saint Mary's doors remain open and open to all every day of the year. Thank you for helping to make that possible. -Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Andrew, Jerry, Alexander, May, Claudette, Rocco, Krystal, Robert, Nicole, Juliana, Heidi, Barbara, Jean, Catherine, Sharon, Donald, Linda, George, Burton, Takeem, Toussaint, Dennis, Abraham; Sidney, deacon; Horace, Hamilton, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, and Carl, priests; all victims of war, poverty, famine, and disaster; and the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 8: 1882 Martha Manelly Cody; 1886 Robert McKinley; 1897 Mabel Pauline Stevenson; 1937 James H. Gorham, OHC, priest; 1939 Mary Morse Clarke; 1943 James E. Johnston; 1949 Christine J. Palmer.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEARare observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Friday abstinence resumes this week on January 13, 2017.
LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD VOLUNTEERS . . . Though it may be hard to believe, we have come to the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and it is time to "un-decorate" the church. The members of the Flower Guild will gather on Saturday morning, January 7, at 10:00 AM. Though this task is not as glamorous or as creative as decorating the church, still it is a job that needs doing, and it has its own rewards. Spending some time with some very friendly Saint Marians is one of those rewards. Dress casually, bring work gloves and clippers, if you have them. "Many hands make light work!"
SUPER BOWL PARTY . . . Super Bowl 51 will take place on Sunday, February 5, 2017, beginning at 6:30 PM EST. Once again, we will mark the occasion with a party in Saint Joseph's Hall. Beverages will be provided. Dinner is potluck. Please contact Father Smith or Grace Bruni if you are planning to come to the party and are able to bring a dish to share. We will not have an oven available for warming dishes up, so we would ask you to plan accordingly. Cash donations at the door will be accepted in order to cover the costs of food and beverages. Please be generous! The hospitality budget needs your help! Remember: you don't need to know anything about football to come to the party. Come for the fellowship, the comfort food, and the half-time show!
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Adult Forum: The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, January 15, at 10:00 AM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will resume on January 11 at 6:30 PM in the Nursery.
HOSPITALITY MINISTRY . . . The Budget Committee and the Board of Trustees expects that we will need to raise around $4,000.00 in 2017 in order to supplement the funds allotted in the budget for hospitality. Our hospitality efforts include Sunday Coffee Hours and Evensong receptions, holy-day receptions, and special events such as Quiet Days, Oktoberfest, the Super Bowl Party, and birthday and anniversary celebrations. Since we welcome so many visitors to the parish, the hospitality ministry is crucial to what we do and who we are. If all our members and friends were to make a regular donation to this ministry, we would easily cover our shortfall. No donation is too small! If you make a donation by check, please include the words "Hospitality Ministry" in the memo line. We are grateful to all those who continue to support this ministry.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The art exhibit, Water, Light, City: Paintings by Ricardo Mulero, continues in the Gallery in Saint Joseph's Hall. For more information, contact curator José Vidal. . . Saint Mary's has good neighbors. We are very grateful to the law firm of Duane, Morris, LLP; For Five Café; Forever 21; and the honors class at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School here on Forty-sixth Street for their recent gifts in support of our homeless ministry and the Saint Clement's Pantry. Please keep them all in your prayers . . . Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will be away from the parish until Ash Wednesday and then will be with us through Eastertide . . . Father Jay Smith will away from the parish on retreat from Thursday evening, January 12, until Sunday, January 15 . . . Attendance: Holy Name 97.
FROM DR. DAVID HURD . . . The musical setting of the Mass on Sunday is Messa a quattro voci da cappella by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643). Claudio Monteverdi, the great Italian madrigalist, was one of the most important composers to flourish at the juncture of European Renaissance music and the emergence of the Baroque musical art. He was one of the legendary musicians to have directed music at San Marco, Venice, and later in his life was ordained a priest. Monteverdi is considered a founder of opera as we know it today with his L'Orfeo (1609), and his Vespro della Beata Vergine of 1610 may well have provided a model and inspiration for the great Passions and oratorios of the later Baroque composers-notably Bach and Handel-that would also stand as monumental pillars of sacred music even to our own day. Monteverdi's Mass for four voices was published posthumously in 1650 in a collection that also included psalms and a litany to the Blessed Virgin.
The motet sung during the administration of Communion at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is What Ruler Wades through Murky Streams. It is a choral expansion, in four to six unaccompanied voices, of David Hurd's original hymn setting Water of Baptism, which was composed by the music director for The New Century Hymnal (1995). The text is a three-stanza poem by Thomas Troeger (b. 1945) reflecting on the baptism of our Lord. Troeger is an Episcopal priest and is professor emeritus of Christian Communication at Yale University.
The organ prelude is an extended setting from the third part of J. S. Bach's Clavierübung, which is based upon the traditional melody for Luther's text on the baptism of our Lord, translated "Christ, our Lord, to the Jordan came." The melody is played on the pedals of the organ, sounding in the alto register, while consistent scale-wise motion of the left hand suggests the flowing of the Jordan river, and the right hand provides additional rhythmic and harmonic texture.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, January 15, 2017, with Dr. Charles Morgan leading a three-part series (January 15, 22, and 29), Dealing with the Hard Stuff: Talking about Anger. Charles is a member of the parish and a practicing psychiatrist. Last season he led several sessions on dying, death, and grief in the "Dealing with the Hard Stuff" series . . . Coming Up: On February 6, Father Smith will lead a session, following up on Dr. Morgan's series on anger. After that, Dr. Matthew Jacobson will teach a series of classes on the development of hagiography-the lives of the martyrs and other saints-in the early church. In Lent, Father Pete Powell will continue his class on the Acts of the Apostles; and during Eastertide, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will present a series of classes entitled "Rising/Rose/Risen: Readings on Resurrection from Scripture into Poetry."
HOMELESS MINISTRY AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Plans are moving ahead for our first Drop-In Day. The plan is this. On Friday, February 3, two or more volunteers will greet our homeless guests in the Mission House, and two or more volunteers are needed also to accompany them downstairs to our clothes closet. They will then have the opportunity to receive needed clothing items, as well as a bag with toiletry items, our recently designed book of prayers, as well as some information about the parish. At some point, if not in February, we hope to have a social worker or two present on these Drop-In Days to discuss other services. We hope also to have a chance to talk to our guests to hear more from them about the struggles they face in the Times Square neighborhood and to discover ways to shape our ministry based on the actual needs of the homeless in our area . . . Our Wish List: as the weather grows colder, we are looking for donations of socks, blankets, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, toothpaste, toothbrushes, coats, backpacks, gloves, winter hats, earmuffs, rain ponchos, and, most important, gift cards for McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts. If you'd like to volunteer to help distribute clothing and other items, please contact Sister Monica. We are grateful to all those who have been supporting this ministry so generously. -Members of the Homeless Ministry Committee
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, January 21, 2017, 8:00 PM, Miller Theatre at Saint Mary's, New York Polyphony, Palestrina's "Marcellus Mass." Tickets may be purchased online . . . Saturday, February 4, 7:30 PM (doors open at 7:00 PM), The Trident Ensemble presents "Crossroads: Music from Georgia." From the ensemble's website: "Surrounded by the Black Sea, situated between Europe and Asia, the nation of Georgia lies at a meeting point between West and East. Having survived occupations by the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire, Iran, and even annexation by Russia in the 1800s, the country maintains a completely unique language, alphabet, culture, and musical practice. Join Trident as we explore the rich history and polyphonic tradition of Georgia, from folk music to contemporary classical a cappella repertoire." Tickets may be purchased online . . . Saturday, February 11, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra. Program includes music by Pfitzner, Ravel, and Bruch. Admission is free. A donation at the door is encouraged. More information is available online.
ORGAN RECITALS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Thursday, February 2, 5:30 PM, Gregory Eaton, All Saints' Episcopal Church, Austin, TX; Friday, March 24, 5:30 PM, Richard Robertson, Church of the Holy Ghost, Denver, CO; Sunday, April 16, 4:30 PM, Timothy Pyper, Williamstown, MA; Thursday, May 25, 5:30 PM, David Hurd, organist and music director
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Wednesday, January 18, The Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins . . . Wednesday, January 25, The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ends . . . Wednesday, February 1, Eve of the Presentation, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, February 2, The Presentation, Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM and Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Friday, February 3, Saint Blase, Blessing of Throats 12:45 PM.
CLICK HERE for next week's schedule