From the Rector: New Gifts for 2005
At various points in my younger life I worked in retail sales. It was customary to thank a customer as you rang up an order or handed a package to him or her. As years have passed I’ve come to realize that there’s a new generation of sales clerks in most stores. My guess is that the method a store uses to pay its employees is what creates a distinction between employees who say thank you and those who have an attitude that they are doing you a favor by taking your money.
Rarely have I shopped at the department store Nordstrom. My non-black wardrobe is not particularly extensive. My casual clothes are pretty ordinary and Nordstrom is not an ordinary store. But I like shopping there. Everyone works on commission. It’s amazing how pleasant the environment becomes. People are happy to see you – and even more delighted when you buy something. They say thank you. I don’t live in a Nordstrom world, though. I live in a Duane Reade world. I don’t know that a sales clerk there has ever thanked me on his or her own initiative for any money spent there.
I believe we Christians are called to live lives of thankfulness. Most of the time we don’t need to have opinions about the world as much as we are called truly to enjoy the reality of the lives we have been given by God and by others. The God who gave us life also gave us a commission to share the good news of God’s love and life to those who do not know him. We do this with our time, our talents and our treasure.
In Bowen Family Systems Theory – a small branch of psychological thinking that I work with and study – a distinction is made between our “real” self, that is, who we really are, and our “pseudo” self, who we pretend to be or who we think we would like to be. When you and I aren’t fundamentally thankful to others and to God daily for the gift of life we are not living truthfully. As hard as we may work and as much as life may demand from us, life is a gift. One of my oldest friends, the Reverend Kenneth Dimmick, is on a mission trip with a group from a Houston, Texas parish to Bolivia. I’ve had a short e-mail from him. He reminded me how lucky I am to have been born where I was born – and not born into the grinding poverty of a country with a social and economic structure left over from another age. It’s something I’ve been thinking about.
Saint Mary’s was founded to be a place that depended on the offerings of its members and friends – and not on pew rents. (That’s the main reason why our corporate name is “The Society of the Free Church of St. Mary the Virgin in the City of New York.” We are a “free church” because pew rents can never be charged by this community to support itself.) There are days when I sinfully think it would be nice if we did charge pew rents. But Saint Mary’s is founded on the belief that we are here to be thankful to God and to others.
Reality: Most people give away very little of their income. Reality: The less people have the more they tend to give. Reality: Giving is up at Saint Mary’s for 2005 but we’ve got a ways to go to cover the budget for the year. On July 31, 2004 pledged gifts received totaled $130,924. One year later we’ve received $220,850. We only have in hand in signed pledges. But to meet budgeted needs we still have to receive $48,000 more for 2005. Reality: I believe we can do it. Saint Mary’s is growing in so many ways and I don’t believe it’s going to stop. One new sign of growth is coming: Children’s Ministries at Saint Mary’s.
Beginning in October there will be a staffed nursery on Sunday morning. It’s not in the budget for 2005 but children are already at Saint Mary’s. The nursery is going to cost $70.00 per week. Yesterday someone learned that the Board also approved an additional $1,800 for a Sunday School program to begin here in October too. This morning my e-mail inbox had a note in it from this person that a check for $1,800 is already in the mail. The donor doesn’t have children but he’s committed to making a place for them here at Saint Mary’s.
Forty eight thousand dollars is not that much money in this city. It’s only that much money in this congregation because for too long we have thought that we couldn’t grow, couldn’t take care of our building, couldn’t give money away, couldn’t survive. I mentioned in the sermon on Assumption the story of the mission director for Apollo 13 who refused give to the President his opinion on the odds that the astronauts would return safely. He refused to consider that they would not return. I refuse to consider that Saint Mary’s can’t grow and sustain its mission. If you haven’t made a gift to the 2005 pledge budget, I ask you to consider doing so – especially if you are new to this community, local or national, member or friend.
If you don’t know what a pledge is, I can help. Quite simply, a “pledge” is a promise to give a certain amount of money by the end of the year. The trustees count on pledges to know how we are going to pay our bills. It’s a budgeting tool. A pledge can be increased or decreased without penalty of any kind at any time. Let’s make budget for 2005. You can help. I can help. Let’s give thanks in a way that matters. Let’s give more money. Let’s be sure all of our friends know the need to serve the gospel in Times Square is real. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Patty and Betty Ann who are gravely ill, for Derek who is hospitalized, for Kamil, Donna, Lloyd, Mikhail, Deborah, Anita, Erika, Rosemary, Luis, Rich, Lou, Michelle, Charlton, Virginia, William, Mary, Virginia, Tony, Ibo, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Henry, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Marc, Joseph, Timothy, Christopher, David, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie, Derrick and Christina, and for the repose of the soul of Roger, religious . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 22: 1947 Mattie Myrtle Jones, 1997 Charles Bertram Harmon; August 24: 1959 Mabel Lenora Heyny; August 25: 1983 Albert Atkinson III, 1990 Eliphal B. Streeter; August 27: 1961 Leslie Evans Roberts.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Ave maris Stella from Le tombeau de Titelouze, Opus 38/11 by Marcel Dupré (1886-1971). The postlude, also by Dupré, is the first Antiphon from Les vêpres de la Vierge, Opus 18 by Marcel Dupré (1886-1971). This piece was inspired by the text from the Song of Solomon: “While the King sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth out the perfume thereof.” The cantor this Sunday is Ms. Ruth Cunningham, soprano. The solo at Communion is O süßer, o freundlicher from Kleine geistliche Konzerte, SWV 285 by Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) . . . ORGAN MAINTENANCE. . . . One of the realities of maintaining a large pipe organ (even one as superb as our Aeolian-Skinner Opus 891-A, which consists of almost 6000 pipes) is that nearly constant maintenance, in addition to regular tuning, is required to keep it in good condition. A pipe organ contains literally countless parts and mechanisms, beyond the pipes themselves, which must all function properly. The primary reason for our organ’s current brilliance and excellent working order is the talent, dedication and hard work of Lawrence Trupiano, our devoted organ curator, whose many good deeds surely are recounted in the Book of Life. Earlier in August, the leather components in one of the two Great division windchests failed (finally showing their age after 30 years of use), causing over half of the organ’s primary division not to work. Larry was gracious enough to make a temporary repair so that we could have full use of the organ on the Assumption. He removed the reservoir for full repair this week; it will return in a couple of weeks in perfect condition. In addition, Larry’s presence at the Solemn Mass on Monday saved us from having to hear a constant cipher (stuck note caused by the humidity) throughout the liturgy. I cannot express enough my gratitude to Larry for his generous service to our parish. Robert McCormick
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Congratulations to the Reverend Clare Nesmith who has been called to be curate at Saint John’s of Lattingtown Church, Locust Valley, New York as of September 1 . . . Many thanks to everyone who made so many efforts for our Assumption celebrations . . . It’s Movie Night again! Join us Friday, August 26 after the evening Mass for The Princess Bride, a classic fairy tale adventure that is inconceivably funny. Please bring a few dollars so we can cover the cost of food and beverages . . . The Rector will be away Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21 and on vacation from Thursday, August 25 through Thursday, September 8 . . . On Saturday, August 20, Father Beddingfield will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, August 27, Father Mead will hear confessions . . . Attendance Last Sunday 209 Assumption 424.
SAINT MARY’S WILL HOST HOMELESS CONNECT NYC . . . On Tuesday, September 13, Common Ground Community and the Times Square Alliance are bringing together city agencies, housing organizations, service providers and hundreds of people like you to volunteer their time and services for a one-day mobilization to help Times Square’s long-term homeless population connect with permanent housing, medical care and social services. All kinds of volunteers are needed. Please see on of the flyers in church, read more about the event or sign up to help at www.homelessconnectnyc.org. During Coffee Hour on Sunday, August 28 and Sunday, September 4, a DVD about Homeless Connect will be shown in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
ON ACTIVE DUTY . . . We continue this series to tell the parish community about the men and women for whom we are praying . . . Marc Hendler is a colonel in the National Guard. He is serving in Iraq and is based in Tiqrit. Marc has been Father Jay Smith’s dentist for the past ten years. Colonel Hendler has been active in the National Guard for many years; he also donates his services in a variety of community settings. Active in his synagogue in Westchester, Colonel Hendler always has a new priest/rabbi/minister joke for Father Smith when he has his check-ups.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Eve of Saint Bartholomew’s Day 6:00 PM
Wednesday Saint Bartholomew the Apostle
Thursday Louis, King of France, 1270
Friday Weekday 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.