From Father Beddingfield: Do we want to be healed?
One of my favorite stories from John’s gospel tells of the man Jesus met at the Bethesda Pool. Invalids of all kinds, the blind, the lame and the paralyzed, lay near the pool, hoping for healing. Jesus looked at one man and asked, “Do you want to be healed?” While we know that the desire for healing does not always bring healing, this story points to the reality that sometimes we become satisfied with unhealthy situations when the energy for improvement actually lies within. I think of this story of healing with regard to the healing and growth of churches.
At the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2000 an ambitious evangelism goal was set. The 2020 goal aims for the Episcopal Church to double its baptized membership by the year 2020. The question that might be asked of many Episcopal churches around this goal for church growth is the blunt question asked by Jesus: Do you want to be healed? Do you want to grow?
Saint Mary’s has been answering this question in the affirmative. We have been doing well recently. It feels like our trustees, our staff, our congregation, our national friends and even our visitors want to be a part of the vision and mission of Saint Mary’s. As reported at the annual meeting in March, our baptized membership grew by twenty percent in 2004. Holy Week attendance for 2005, across the board, was up by twenty-four percent. Pledging is up and contributions are up. But this is not a time to rest. The active membership of the parish is at 260 right now, and if we want to meet the Saint Andrew’s Guild goal of 400 by Christmas, we have work to do. We have prayers to say, friends to invite, stories to share. It means we have more introductions to make, more visitors to greet, and more programs and classes to offer. Growing as a parish means that every day we choose to grow, we choose to be healed, we choose to follow where God is leading.
If you want to see what happens when we choose not to grow, go to the corner of Sixth Avenue and 20th Street. You will be at the Avalon nightclub. Before Avalon, it was called Limelight. Before that, it was the Church of the Holy Communion.
In 1846 the Reverend William Augustus Muhlenberg, with the help of his sister and money from family and friends, built the Church of the Holy Communion. Muhlenberg was its rector, its champion and in many ways, its soul. Designed by Richard Upjohn, the church was the first asymmetrical Gothic Revival church in the country and in Upjohn’s words, was to be “an oasis of Christian activity in the city.” The parish included a school, a parish unemployment fund, and a ministry that included trips for poor urban children to visit the countryside. Muhlenberg also founded the Sisterhood of the Church of the Holy Communion, whose work led to the establishment of St. Luke’s Hospital in 1858. Muhlenberg wrote hymns, led the Sunday school movement in the Episcopal Church and spoke of himself as an “Evangelical Catholic.”
The Church of the Holy Communion was a spiritual and liturgical powerhouse. Now it is a nightclub. Many variables go into the dissolution of a parish, but the simple fact remains that had there had been a strong congregation capable of growth and change and adaptation, the Church of the Holy Communion would still be saving souls at Sixth and 20th.
Faithful churches grow not because of dynamic rectors, exquisite worship, busy mission programs, or even because of big endowments. Churches grow when they have people in them. They grow as the Holy Spirit fans the flames of the faithful. May we choose daily to grow, to be healed of self-satisfaction and dysfunction, and may we be moved to new faithfulness to the risen Lord Jesus Christ. John Beddingfield
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Tony, Damon, Charlton, Patrick, Eileen, John, Virginia, Mary, Ruth, William, Jane, Thomas, Brian, Deborah, Ibo, Pamela, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Kay, Bart, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Joseph, Brenden, Christopher, David, Nestor, Freddie, Patrick, Derrick and Christina; and for the repose of the soul of John Paul II, bishop.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 8: 1996 The Reverend Donald L. Garfield; April 10: 1993 Edna Isabelle Matthews Craig; April 12: 1975 Violet Carolyn Cadney; April 13: 1958 Earle W. Stevenson, 1992 George Edward Mueller.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 2:14a, 36-47, Psalm 116:10-17, 1 Peter 1:17-23, Luke 24:13-35 . . . Father Beddingfield will be the celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM Mass . . . Father Mead will be the celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Masses . . . Canon Sylvia Vásquez will preach at Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM . . . On Saturday, April 9, Father Beddingfield will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, April 16, Father Gerth will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Father Mead’s Bible Study on the Gospel according to Saint John continues on Tuesday night from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM . . . An anonymous donor has made it possible for the Visual Arts Program to purchase a PowerPoint projector for use in future programs at Saint Mary’s. Very, very special thanks to our donor . . . Attendance last Sunday 227; Annunciation 159.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday’s Sung Mass is played by organist and parishioner Dale Bonenberger. Many thanks to Mr. Bonenberger for always helping out when he is needed! Robert McDermitt, associate organist, will be assisting with the choir’s preparations for Solemn Mass on this day . . . At the Solemn Mass the voluntaries are played by Mr. McDermitt. The prelude is Nimrod from Variations on an Original Theme (‘Enigma’) (1898-1899) by Edward Elgar (1857-1934) and transcribed by William H. Harris (1883-1973). The postlude is Präludium, Fuge und Ciacona C-dur, BuxWV 137 by Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Simile est regnum coelorum’ by Alonso Lobo (c. 1555-1617). Lobo was an important Spanish composer of the generation following Francisco Guerrero, whom he served as assistant at Seville Cathedral. Many years later he was Guerrero’s successor there. His music is similar in style to that of Guerrero, though there are subtle differences, perhaps since he composed in a time just before the emergence of the Baroque period. This “parody mass” is based upon of motet of the same name by Guerrero (interestingly enough, Guerrero composed a Missa ‘Simile est regnum’ upon a motet of Cristóbal de Morales, and Tomás Luis de Victoria composed a setting of the same name founded, like Lobo’s setting, upon Guerrero’s motet). This shows, more than anything else, the respect and admiration that the great Spanish Renaissance composers had for one another. The motet at Communion is Ego sum panis vivus by the great Italian, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) . . . The organ recital at 4:40 this week is played by Preston Smith.
ROBERT McCORMICK IN RECITAL . . . For the first time since he came to Saint Mary’s in 2001, the organist and music director will present a full length organ recital in the church on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 at 7:30 PM. The program features Charles-Marie Widor’s monumental, engaging, colorful and highly entertaining Symphonie I, Opus 13/1 and concludes with an Improvisation on submitted themes. Tickets may be purchased by printing and mailing the form found at www.stmvirgin.org/MusicatSaintMarys, by calling 212.869.5830, extension 25, or from MaryJane Boland after the Solemn Mass on April 10 and 17.
NEW VISUAL ARTS EXHIBITION . . . The Visual Arts Program at Saint Mary’s presents the work of Tanya Torres, “Battle Body: Images of the Battle Against Cancer,” opening in Saint Joseph’s Hall on April 10, 2005. Ms. Torres was born in New York City of Puerto Rican parents. She spent her infancy and childhood in Puerto Rico, and moved back to New York City at age 15. She studied at the University of Puerto Rico, the University of Alcal· de Henares in Spain and The City College of New York, where she obtained a BA in Art Education, and an MFA in Printmaking. Her artwork has been exhibited at Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library, The New York Public Library, Taller Boricua Gallery, the Consulate of Honduras in New York City, Casa de la Cultura Dominicana, Hostos Community College and the Latin American Workshop, among others. Recently, she combined art and storytelling to present children’s stories at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the program “El Primer Contacto con el Arte.” She also teaches voluntary art and poetry workshops at hospitals, community organizations and other institutions that serve their communities.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Third Sunday of Easter
Monday George Augustus Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand and Litchfield
Tuesday Easter Weekday
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday Easter Weekday No Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, The Reverend Matthew Mead, curates,
The Reverend Ian Bruce Montgomery, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.