The Angelus

Volume 8, Number 4

From the Rector: Annunciations

The Bylaws of the Board of Trustees of this parish require that there be an annual meeting of the board within eight days of our patronal feast.  This year the board met on Monday, December 12, following the evening Mass, celebrated by the Bishop of New York.  He was here to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the consecration of this second and present church home by the Right Reverend Henry C. Potter, VI Bishop of New York.  This night was more than an anniversary for the board.  It marked a transition in the board’s life.  There will be, of course, a full report to the congregation at our next annual meeting (called for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, March 26, 2006), but some very important things have happened that will shape our common life for decades to come.

Many will remember that Saint Mary’s has an unusual, but by no means unique, form of organization for an Episcopal parish.  We were organized, with the direction and blessing of the Right Reverend Horatio Potter, V Bishop of New York, under a religious corporations act of the State of New York.  Since incorporation in this way in 1868, Saint Mary’s has been a “Free Church” – not meaning that we were independent of the Episcopal Church but that we could not charge rents for our pews (the normal way Episcopal parishes in New York were supported in the nineteenth century).  It also meant that this congregation would have a self-perpetuating board of trustees.  In most Episcopal parishes there is a “vestry” whose members are elected by the congregation.  Since the beginning the Board of Trustees has elected its own members when a vacancy occurred.

My predecessor, a few years after his arrival, asked all new board members to agree to serve only a few years and then to resign in order to broaden and grow the number of leaders within the parish community.  When I arrived, my opinion was that I thought trustees should serve under the terms under which they accepted election.  Again, I think the system has served the parish well.

The board entered a discernment process over its ministry and the direction of the parish in 2004, working with the Reverend Canon Hannah Anderson, one of the canons for congregational development of the Diocese of New York.  There was general agreement that the time was not right for the board to move to a vestry system but that the board should move to fixed terms for all members.  The bylaws were changed last December.  They provided for some transitional terms but all terms of trustees are now normally four years and at least one year must elapse between terms.

Again, there will be much more to say at the Annual Meeting of the Congregation on March 26, but on Monday, December 12, in the presence of our Bishop, three new officers were elected, four members departed the board and three new members of the board were elected.  Robert Picken was elected vice-president, James Dennis was elected treasurer and Robert Loper was elected secretary.  To provide for new leadership, Leroy Sharer, Barbara Klett, Terrance O’Dwyer and Linda Bridges have rotated off the board.  Peter Dannenbaum, Steven Heffner and Susan Miranda are new members of the board.

Space this week does not permit me to begin to write all I want to about the board and of all of our former members and newly-elected.  The annual meeting on the Fourth Sunday in Lent will be especially festive this year as we will be celebrating the ministry and service of Leroy, Barbara, Terry and Linda.  I know many of you will want to be here that Sunday to share in the celebration.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent is about annunciations and Mary.  Last year it was Matthew’s account of Joseph’s dream.  Next year it will be the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.  This Sunday it will be the most famous of the annunciation stories, the annunciation to Mary from Luke’s gospel.  I believe there continue to be annunciations in each of our lives and in the common life of this parish community as the Lord calls us to new work in Christ.  May God always bless us as he has blessed those before us who have called on his name.  Stephen Gerth


PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for John, Francesca, Lee, Clair, Jan, Josephine, Ida, Brian, Emil, Naila, Mary, Michael, Ray, Betty Ann, Mikhail, Deborah, Charlton, Virginia, William, Mary, 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, Joseph, Christopher, David, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie and Derrick . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 17: 1998 Lee Demgem; December 19: 1991 Grace L. Taylor; December 24: 1962 Charles Moran.


CONFESSIONS will be heard on Saturday, December 17 by Father Gerth.  The Rector will also be available for confessions immediately following the 9:00 AM Mass on Saturday morning, December 24.  Reminder: On the Saturdays of Christmastide (this year, December 31 only) and on Saturday in Easter Week the parish clergy sit for confessions only by appointment.


CHRISTMAS SCHEDULE . . . Saturday morning, December 24: Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Mass (Last Mass of Advent) 9:00 AM.  Saturday evening, December 24, Christmas Eve: Christmas Music 4:40 PM, Sung Mass of the Nativity 5:00 PM.  The Rector is celebrant and preacher.  Christmas Music 10:30 PM, Procession & Solemn Pontifical Mass of the Nativity 11:00 PM.  The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, is celebrant and preacher.  Sunday, December 25: Solemn Mass and Procession to the Crèche 11:00 AM.  Father Beddingfield is celebrant and preacher.  For full details please for all of these services, please see the parish web page at


HELP HONDURAS THIS CHRISTMAS . . . You can sponsor a season of Sunday school for a child (providing supplies, biblical materials and a snack) for $25, provide for a bunch of cinder blocks with $50, supply a family with water for six months for $75 and provide one year’s worth of hot meals for a child for $100.  Gifts can be purchased in the Saint Mary’s Gift Shop and by e-mailing Father Beddingfield at  We have already received a very generous challenge grant of $1,000 toward the hot meal program—let’s match that and more!


NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Wachet auf, ruft uns die stimme, Opus 67/41 by Max Reger (1873-1916).  This tune is found in The Hymnal 1982 as Hymn 61.  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa in simplicitate (1953) by Jean Langlais (1907-1991).  A French organist and composer, the blind Langlais was admired as an improviser and teacher.  Much of his music is based upon Gregorian chant (though this piece is not) and frequently employs old-fashioned modal harmonies, which give it a distinctive sound that might be described as “ancient yet modern.”  This setting for unison voices and organ (hence the name of “simple mass”), sung today by sopranos and altos of our choir, communicates a sense of grandeur and solemnity through the assertive vocal line and robust organ part.  There are, however, sections of quiet lyrical beauty, such as Benedictus qui venit . . . The organ recital at 4:40 is played by Michael Zadig, associate choirmaster and organist of the Church of the Advent, Boston, and a long-time friend of Father Mead.  Robert McCormick


AROUND THE PARISH . . . The “O Antiphons” – from which the verses of O come, O come Emmanuel are taken, are used with the Song of Mary at Evening Prayer beginning December 16.  In addition, there is an article about this by Father Beddingfield in this month’s The Episcopal New Yorker . . . On Sunday, December 18 the group meets in Saint Benedict’s Study to continue discussing Henri Nouwen’s Seeds of Hope, particularly focusing on chapters 3 and 4.  A belated thank you to George Handy, Dennis Smith, Eileen Whittle and Esther Kamm for taking care of the Christmas mailing last week. The postage rates increase January 8th. Consider receiving the Angelus by email or view it online at . . . The Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle is Wednesday, December 21.  It is the Rector’s twenty-second anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.  He will be celebrant for the 12:10 Mass that day . . . Sister Deborah Francis CSJ invites you to join her for a brown bag lunch in St. Joseph’s Hall following the 12:10 Mass on Wednesdays  She enjoys meeting people and making new friends.  This is not a class, nor a formal program, no agenda, just eating together . . . Attendance last Sunday 343.


HELP VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL IN HONDURAS . . . On the January 16-22 mission trip to Honduras, a part of our work will involve a vacation bible school at the Church of San Juan Evangelista.  We may have one hundred children for activities.  As art supplies are a luxury item there, what we need we must bring with us.  Especially useful are crayons, watercolor markers, colored pencils, plain pencils, pens, paper (lined and unlined), including construction paper. Some glue sticks, school scissors in packages, fun stickers/stars, a stapler/staples and bright pocket folders will definitely be useful.  One roll of paper, about 36 inches wide, suitable for cutting into banners /murals is also needed.  The more portable and lightweight these materials are, the better, as all will be transported in a suitcase along with other donations for the church.  Please bring your supplies to Saint Mary’s and place them in the bin in Saint Joseph’s Hall.  Rebecca Weiner


CHRISTIAN FORMATION . . .  This Sunday at 10:00 AM on the 2nd Floor of the Mission House, the Father Jay Smith will lead The Incarnation in New Testament and Patristic Thought.   . . . At 1:00 PM, also on the 2nd Floor of the Mission House, Father Pete Powell leads an Introduction to the Gospel according to Mark.


The Calendar of the Week

Sunday                The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Monday                     Advent Weekday

Tuesday                     Advent Weekday

                                    Eve of Saint Thomas the Apostle

Wednesday              Saint Thomas the Apostle

Thursday               Advent Weekday

Friday                        Advent Weekday                                                         Abstinence

Saturday                   Advent Weekday

                                    Christmas Eve



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