From the Rector: Growing this Parish
A lot of people have been noticing our weekly reports of increased attendance at Saint Mary’s. It’s pretty easy to find the starting point for this growth. It comes in the wake of a decision made by the Board of Trustees in July 2003 to have two full-time assistant priests. It was not an easy decision for the Trustees to make.
Earlier that same year the Trustees had learned the full implications of the sale in 1987 of certain development rights. From the beginning of my rectorate it had been hoped by me and the other parish leaders that the use or sale of our remaining development rights would provide a base for the financial stability of the parish. Many probably do not realize that even after the sale of some of these development rights in 1987, the parish did not balance its budget. The extraordinary gains of the American equity markets masked a continuing and unsustainable deficit. Again, when the complete results of the 1987 transaction were understood, I told the Trustees that I believed we would need to add a priest to our staff whose job would be to focus on growth.
It has turned out through God’s grace that the right people were already here in the summer of 2003. Father John Beddingfield had just become curate and Matthew Mead, then a student at Yale Divinity School, was a summer intern. A week after Father Matthew Weiler told me he was leaving Saint Mary’s to return to school at Yale, Matt Mead came into my office and said he realized Saint Mary’s would probably need to hire someone before he finished school but if the job were still open in 2004 he would like me to consider him for it.
Sometimes I am really slow to follow the promptings of the Spirit, but I think it was the next week that Matt accepted the job and the Bishop of New York gave his permission. It meant though that we had to wait. It has turned out to be the right move in so many ways.
I have realized that in some ways Saint Mary’s finally has just enough staff really to be a growing parish. We are blessed with a rich, demanding tradition and ministry. Saint Mary’s began its journey away from being an ordinary neighborhood parish almost as soon as its present church home was built in 1895. We are a metropolitan and national church with a particular mission and witness. It takes a certain number of people to staff a really good restaurant; then we should not be surprised that it takes a certain level of staff in all areas of this congregation and its building, to maintain our traditions and to continue to grow into the future.
We need to have a minimum number of sextons to keep our building open and clean. It is one of the great religious spaces in America and the only religious and public space of its kind in Times Square. For its doors to be shut would be unthinkable.
We also have one of the great organs and spaces for Church music in the world and a liturgical tradition that speaks of Christ with power and love. We have extraordinary and gifted organists and singers. Small music cannot be heard in this church. Among the many gifts of our music director Robert McCormick is hiring a group of some of the finest solo and ensemble singers in our city.
We aren’t the only church in this city that has faced financially difficult challenges. Too many of our Episcopal parishes, however, have balanced their budgets by closing their doors most days of the week. It’s never been easy for Saint Mary’s to do what it does. It has always invested its gifts in its mission. Our doors are open. Our parish is at prayer. Our mission is growing.
I didn’t realize it at the time but the addition of a second full-time curate was a “tipping point.” The previous “assistant” priest was expected to give the parish twenty hours a week. Well, full-time priests at Saint Mary’s work fifty to sixty hours per week. That additional margin of “priest” time has made the growth possible. But it can only exist with support from our local and national community.
In 2004 the parish invaded its modest endowments (currently valued at 3.4 million) by $531,000. In 2005 we have cut this invasion to $315,000. To cut this invasion in half again, that is, to stay in business, to continue to keep our doors open, and to have the kind of staff that has enabled us really to grow, we need to increase our gifts from $400,000 in 2005 to $600,000 in 2006.
Giving materials are in preparation for mailing. Commitment Sunday will be the Feast of Christ the King, Sunday, November 20. I don’t know where the increased giving is going to come from but I have faith in Christ, his mission and this parish community. It is so exciting to be at church here these days. Every Sunday, every feast day, and every day something wonderful and unexpected happens. Your gifts make it possible. Your gifts will mean a future for Saint Mary’s. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Peter, Emil, Arnold, Naila, Mary, Will, Michael, Ray, Betty Ann, Mikhail, Matthew, Donna, Lloyd, Deborah, Charlton, Virginia, William, Mary, Tony, Ibo, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Henry, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest, 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 Jack . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 6: 1988 Beatrice Emily Clark; November 7: 1986 Bruce Taylor; November 8: 1992 Edna May Chaney
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On All Saints’ Day Cheryl Griffin and Henry Goodrich were baptized. Rebecca Weiner was confirmed. Justin Crane reaffirmed his faith and Kyle Babin, Kevin Claiborne, Ken Cross, Rafael Martinez, Elizabeth Nisbet and Dale Reynolds were received into the Anglican Communion and the parish of Saint Mary’s . . . Look for the new art exhibition by Erica Mapp in Saint Joseph’s Hall this Sunday . . . On Monday, November 21 at 7:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall, the Saint Mary’s Mission Team to Honduras will lead a discussion about the upcoming mission trip, January 16 through January 22, 2006. There is still time to add additional missioners. Canon Sylvia Vasquez from the Diocese of New York will also join us for the discussion. Come if you’re interested in making the trip or if you’re simply interested in learning more about Saint Mary’s mission in Honduras . . . The November meeting of “High Hopes and High Worship” has been postponed due to scheduling conflicts with the fall home gatherings. The discussion will next meet on Sunday, December 11 to discuss the life and work of Archbishop Trevor Huddleston . . . Sunday School for children meets in Saint Benedict’s Study from 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM . . . The Tuesday Night Bible Study meets in the conference room on the third floor of the Parish House on November 8 at 7:00 PM. The class will study the Gospel of John, chapter 12 . . . Flowers are needed for Sunday, November 20. Please contact Sandra Schubert, email@example.com . . . Attendance Last Sunday Attendance 304, All Saints’ 405, All Souls’ 240.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 731 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is Lobet den Herren mit Pauken und Zimbeln schön, Opus 101/5 by Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933). Our professional parish choir will not sing for the Solemn Mass this Sunday. Due to budgetary constraints, it was necessary to select one fall Sunday to go without the choir. Ms. Mellissa Hughes, soprano and member of our choir, is the cantor for the Mass. The solo during Communion is Ich folge dir gleichfalls from Bach’s Johannes-Passion, BWV 245 . . . The recital at 4:40 is by Mario Duella of Portula, Italy . . . Many thanks to all who helped make the concert by the choir of Gloucester Cathedral a great success. It would not be possible to undertake such concerts without the support and assistance of many generous persons. Robert McCormick
HILDEGARD OF BINGEN LECTURE . . . The Visual Arts Program will sponsor a lecture on Thursday, November 10 at 7:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Dr. Caterina Pierre will be speaking on the 12th century illuminations and music of Hildegard. Not only will you get a chance to learn about this remarkable woman, but you will see her illustrations and hear her music! More information is available on the ushers’ table at the back of the church and on the Saint Mary’s website in the Visual Arts section. There is a $10 suggested donation which ensures the quality of future presentations.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Parish Requiem (Last Names S-Z)
Thursday Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, 461
Friday Martin, Bishop of Tours, 397 Abstinence
Saturday Charles Simeon, Priest, 1836
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass,
5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & 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. The 12:10 Mass on Wednesday is sung.
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