From the Rector: Annual Meeting of the Congregation
On Sunday, March 18, the Annual Meeting of the Congregation of Saint Mary’s will be held in Saint Joseph’s Hall after the Solemn Mass. Reports of the Board of Trustees, parish organizations and clergy and staff will be presented. The congregation will elect two delegates and two alternates to serve as our representatives in the convention of the Diocese of New York. In recent years the meeting has lasted just over thirty minutes. Copies of the annual report will be available after the meeting by mail or e-mail to members of the parish who are not able to attend.
Saint Mary’s was organized as a parish in 1868 at the direction of the bishop of New York. It became a parish of the diocese in 1874. Saint Mary’s, however, is not unique in having an unusual parish structure. Across the United States there are perhaps a dozen congregations that are organized legally in unusual ways. It should not surprise any of us that a congregation that built a parish home like ours and which supports a ministry and mission like ours should be different.
Saint Mary’s was organized under a New York statute that provided that we could never do what most nineteenth century Episcopal parishes did to raise money, that is, charge pew rents. “That’s my pew,” in the not too distant past, was a matter of contract, not custom among Episcopalians. The official name of our congregation is “The Society of the Free Church of St. Mary the Virgin in the City of New York.” From time to time in our history some have presumed that the word “free” meant that we were independent of the diocese in some significant legal sense. We are not. The rector of the parish must be a priest of the diocese of New York. When the parish has sold property it has always submitted these decisions to the diocesan authorities. We are “free” because we can’t rent out our pews. Our services are open to all regardless of their ability to pay – again, not a novelty in our day but once a radical and powerful idea.
The parish is governed by its instrument of incorporation and its own bylaws under the canons (church word for “church laws”) of the diocese of New York and of the Episcopal Church. Most Episcopal parishes have a board elected by the members of the parish. This board is called a “vestry” almost everywhere. Saint Mary’s board is called the “Board of Trustees” and our board, under New York’s Free Church Act, elects itself. There are ten lay persons on the board who serve as members along with yours truly.
Members of Saint Mary’s board must be communicants in good standing of the parish – which means that other than the rector all must be lay persons. (Fathers Beddingfield, Mead, Smith and I are members of the clergy of the diocese of New York and we all have the right to vote in diocesan convention. I have a vote as rector in parish meetings only to break a tie.) Like an ordinary vestry, the board is responsible to the congregation and to the diocese for the stewardship of the parish’s money and property and for the relationship of the congregation to the clergy. The canons of the Church make parish rectors ex officio the presiding officer of board and congregational meetings.
Our organization seems especially suited to the life of the parish at the present time. Saint Mary’s is more than a Sunday congregation. Many of our most committed members attend church elsewhere on Sundays but are faithful to Saint Mary’s during the week. This has enabled the board to widen its perspective and to seek out the gifts it needs to do its work from among a larger group of members.
Over the last two years the board has completed a transition from having members who were elected for life to members who are elected normally for one four-year term. Robert Loper, who resigned from the board at our December 2006 meeting, has the distinction of being the last person to have been elected as a life trustee. Now all lay trustees are not eligible for reelection until a year after the end of their terms.
Saint Mary’s continues to grow. The challenge remains as it has been since before I arrived, to grow enough to sustain its common life. I for one don’t think Saint Mary’s needs you or me to “fix” it. Saint Mary’s needs our support and our love. Parishes really are like us human beings. Support and love are needed all of our lives. It’s part of God’s plan for humankind and, I believe, for his Church.
I look forward to the refreshment of the Fourth Sunday in Lent when rose vestments are worn at Mass and Evensong, flowers reappear and our music is a little richer than the rest of Lent. (The flowers are particularly beautiful this year. They are the gift of the family and friends of Rosetta Miller, whose memorial service was celebrated on March 16.) It’s a good day to have the annual meeting. I hope very much that many will be able to be here. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Andy, Drew, Barbara, Virginia, Selina, Daisy, Chandra, Michael, Charles, Brian, Ana, Kevin, Gert, Harold, Robert, Gloria, Ray, Tony, William, Gabriela, Eve, Virginia, Mary, William, Gilbert, Rick, Thomas, priest, and Charles, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Fahad, Sean, David, Barron, Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher and Timothy . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 18: 1947 Howard Noble Place, 1965 Mary Louise Barreaux; March 20: 1954: Karl Irving Bennett; March 22: 1971 Mary E. Fargher; March 24: 1952 Ida Mary Steifel.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Remember: Stations of the Cross, Fridays in Lent, 7:00 PM . . . Monday, March 19, is Saint Joseph’s Day . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, March 17, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, March 24, by Father Mead . . . Father Mead’s Wednesday Night Bible Study continues to study the Last Supper throughout Lent . . . Ms. Rebecca Weiner and the Reverend Thomas Heard will lead a class on the Diaconate on Sunday, March 25, following Solemn Mass . . . On Saturday, March 31, at 10:00 AM members of the Saint Vincent’s Guild (our altar servers) and the Saint Mary’s Guild (our altar guild) will strip palms for Palm Sunday and polish all of the parish brass for Holy Week and Eastertide. All are welcome to attend and help us . . . Attendance last Sunday 276.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis, Opus 57 by Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989). Berkeley was professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and among his famous pupils are William Mathias (1934-1992) and John Tavener (b. 1944). He wrote this setting for the choir of Westminster Cathedral, London, in 1960. The anthem at Communion is I sat down by Edward C. Bairstow (1874-1946). Because this Sunday is Laetare Sunday, the restrictions on use of the organ are lessened to some degree. Organ improvisation is permitted to cover liturgical action, and a postlude will follow the Solemn Mass. The postlude is Christus, der uns selig macht, BWV 620 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Robert McCormick
WELCOME, CHAD KELLY . . . I am delighted to announce that Chad Kelly will spend approximately two months at Saint Mary’s as a music intern. Chad is a native of Manchester, England, where he has completed studies at Chetham’s School of Music. He is spending the semester in New York with his father Julian Kelly, musical director for the Broadway show The Pirate Queen. Chad, who is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists (an impressive achievement for an organist of his age) is already an accomplished musician and spent a year as junior organ scholar of Manchester Cathedral. He has recently accepted a place at the Royal College of Music, London, where he will begin study in the fall. During his time at Saint Mary’s, he will assist with playing at weekday and Sunday Masses and will help with some administrative projects in the music office. Please join me in welcoming him warmly to Saint Mary’s. R.M.
HOLY WEEK AND EASTER DECORATIONS . . . The Flower Guild invites you to join in preparing the church for Holy Week and Easter. No special skills are necessary. There are jobs that can be done by everyone. We need people on two days: Maundy Thursday, April 5, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and on Easter Eve from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. On Maundy Thursday we prepare the Altar of Repose in the Mercy Chapel and prepare the flowers and greens for arrangement on Saturday. On Saturday we dismantle the Altar of Repose and decorate the church. Many were able to volunteer to help at Christmas and we want to encourage people to join us for Holy Week. If you are interested in helping, or have any questions, please see Dale Bonenberger or MaryJane Boland.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS . . . The Feast of the Annunciation is observed this year on Monday, March 26. The principal service will be Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM, preceded by an organ recital at 5:30 PM. A reception follows in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Palm Sunday is April 1. There will only be two Masses on Sunday morning, at 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM. (This is the only Sunday of the year when it’s simply not possible to have a 10:00 AM Mass.) The 11:00 AM liturgy includes our procession through Times Square to distribute palms . . . On Monday, April 2, the choir of Eton College, Windsor, England, will sing Solemn Evensong here at 6:00 PM . . . On Maundy Thursday the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated at 6:00 PM. The Watch before the Blessed Sacrament is kept through the night in the Mercy Chapel . . . On Good Friday, the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord is celebrated twice, at 12:30 PM and at 6:00 PM . . . On Easter Eve the Great Vigil of Easter is celebrated at 7:00 PM. A reception follows in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . On Easter Day, Saint Mary’s observes a special form of Solemn Evensong at 5:00 PM in addition to the usual services of Easter morning. The full choir sings for this service, and for all the major liturgies of the Triduum.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourth Sunday in Lent: Laetare
Monday Saint Joseph’s Day
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Friday Abstinence
Saturday Weekday of Lent
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. On all Fridays of Lent, Stations of the Cross 7:00 PM.
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