From the Rector: For the Future
During the reception after the Solemn Mass on All Saints’ a newcomer asked me with wonder and amazement in her eyes, “How do you manage to do this?” I said, “We have faith in the future.” She was talking about money and so was I.
Every generation of this parish has had its challenges. It began with a group of laypersons and a very young priest, the Reverend Thomas McKee Brown, who had faith in congregational worship. That may seem to be a startling point of departure, but by the middle of the nineteenth century Christian worship was something done for people which they then observed. I don’t know what they read or where they had traveled, but something was planted in their hearts that would lead to the building of one of the extraordinary places for worship in North America, the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in the City of New York.
When I became rector of this parish in February 1999, I first hoped that the real estate resources of the parish might provide the basis for financial stability. After an enormous amount of work the Board of Trustees and I realized this could not happen. We had an unbalanced budget. The choices were basically either to be open on Sunday mornings with very meager resources (one priest, one janitor, one part-time musician) or to believe that we could grow.
My response to the former course was and remains, “Why bother?” New York does not need another Episcopal parish whose doors are closed most of the time. The course we chose is full of anxiety but I think I speak for the Board and for so many others when I say we believe we have a future. We believe there can be a place where our worship can sustain and convert us more deeply into the people of God. We believe that means open doors, great music and a mission to others.
Over the last twenty years Saint Mary’s has gone through an extraordinary forward movement. Because our focus has always been on worship and mission, for the most part we have missed the turmoil that has torn apart more than a few Episcopal congregations. Yes, some have left over one issue or another but the forward movement has continued. We are actually doing more services and the church is open more now than was possible when I first came. Saint Paul said the last enemy to be conquered is death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). For our future, the last enemy to be conquered is money.
In 2005, only ten individuals and families gave more than ten thousand dollars a year to Saint Mary’s, another seventeen gave more than five thousand dollars, another eight gave more than four thousand, another nine more than three thousand. In 2005 there were 590 givers of record. All donations are important but if the number of givers and the amount of gifts do not continue to increase our future can only mean closed doors most of the time. Again, I ask, “Why bother?”
At the end of August 2006, the total endowment stood at $3.14 million, of which $2.67 million was unrestricted. It costs about $1.2 million dollars a year to run Saint Mary’s. Our 2006 pledges for the operating budget, from exactly 200 individuals, families or households, stand at $452,006. That number needs to go to $600,000 in 2007 for us to continue our growth to financial stability, to financial responsibility.
I can’t begin to explain why some people give so much and others give so little, any more than I can explain so many things in life. I do know that my own life has been shaped by worship and that I choose to belong to a Christian community where worship shapes, guides and renews mission every day. I want to be a part of a community whose doors are open to all every day of the week. I want us to be as useful to others in God’s name as we can possibly be. In the next few days 2007 Stewardship Campaign materials will be in your mailbox. I hope all who read this, share my love and faith in Christ and in Saint Mary’s, and that all of us will act on our love and our faith. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Bob, Eleanor, Arturo, Elwood, Audrey, Andrew, Carolyn, Mary Ellen, Ana, Gert, Chip, Harold, Robert, Gloria, Ray, Tony, William, Gabriela, Eve, Roy, Virginia, Mary, William, Gilbert, Rick, Thomas, priest, Louis, priest, and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Fahad, Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie, Dennis and Derrick . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 6: 1988 Beatrice Emily Clark; November 7: 1986 Bruce Taylor; November 8: 1992 Edna May Chaney.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Tuesday Night Bible Study is reading Genesis. This week we will begin at chapter 25 . . . The Mission Trip to Honduras meeting at Saint Mary’s is on Monday, November 6 at 7:00 PM. The dates for this trip are January 15 through 21, 2007 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, November 4, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, November 11, by Father Smith . . . Attendance last Sunday 321, All Saints’ Day 361.
THIS SUNDAY SAINT MARY’S: THE INKLINGS . . . Join us at 1:00 PM on Sundays, November 5 and 12, as the Reverend Anne Richards leads a gathering on The Inklings, the famed literary discussion group formed by Oxford dons C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams, among others. We will discuss the friendships formed in the group and read excerpts from their work. We will also discuss the group’s theological orientations. Please contact the Father Mead if you would like reading materials for this class in advance.
SUNDAY SCHOOL . . . What do children do in Sunday School? At Saint Mary’s we learn about Jesus! Sunday School meets Sundays from 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM in Saint Benedict’s Study. If you would like more information please contact Father Mead.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the Gregorian propers are sung by Ms. Elizabeth Baber, soprano, and the Mass ordinary is sung congregationally. The full choir returns next Sunday, November 12. The prelude before Mass is Adagio C-dur für Glasharmonika, KV 356 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). The postlude is Von Gott will ich nicht lassen, BuxWV 220 by Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707). The music during Communion is Litanei auf das Fest Aller Seelen, D. 343 by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) . . . The organ recital at 4:40 is played by Roger Castellani. Robert McCormick
LAST FOUR SUNDAYS OF THE YEAR . . . One of the most famous and a successful committee that has ever worked was the committee that produced the Authorized Version of the Bible when James was king of Britain. Another committee that did very good work was the committee that proposed the general shape of Western Christian worship to Pope Paul VI. He supported increasing the amount of Scripture to be read at Mass, a three-year cycle of readings and some changes to the Church calendar. The leadership given in this area by the Roman Church has been one of the great ecumenical gifts to other Christian denominations in the last fifty years.
There are four Sundays left in “Year B.” On the First Sunday of Advent, always the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, the Church begins “Year C” of the three-year cycle (see the Prayer Book, pages 888-931). Beginning this Sunday we are in Chapter 12 of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus is already in Jerusalem for the last time. On the final Sunday of the Church year, this year on November 26, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, a commemoration initiated in 1925 for the last Sunday in October by Pope Pius XI. The Feast of Christ the King found its place at the end of the year. If there must be a feast of the kingship of Christ apart from Epiphany (remember the gifts brought to the infant Jesus?) and apart from the ordinary proclamation of Sundays, this is a very happy one.
On December 3, we will begin the last year of use of the present Prayer Book lectionary. Luke is the primary gospel for this cycle. There are a number of technical problems with the legislation proposed and then adopted by the General Convention last summer to alter our lectionary to that of the Revised Common Lectionary. (It was poorly drafted and as a result there are many unresolved conflicts. We await word of what actually has been adopted and how we will cope with it.) That’s not something anyone needs to worry about – we will always have something to read at Mass! S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Parish Requiem
Tuesday Parish Requiem
Friday Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, 461 Abstinence
Saturday Martin, Bishop of Tours, 397
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