FROM THE RECTOR: MYSTERY OF GIFT
In the Episcopal Church, almost everywhere in the fall of every year, parish lay and clergy leaders begin to get members and friends of a parish to make the financial commitment for the new year. It’s partly practical; churches need plans to stay in business. But commitment for Christians is far more than just business. Commitment is fundamentally spiritual, relational. How we share with others what we have been given and what we earn with others shapes our lives as much as anything else we know or do.
You and I are part of a group of people who have a particular commitment to the life and ministry of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. It’s always been a parish that reached for more than was practical or even very wise in human terms. But that reach has given us a place where the mystery of worship and community nurture us and proclaim Christ in an extraordinary way. Saint Mary’s always needs faith in our future to make this happen and Saint Mary’s needs money.
The nuts and bolts of the current parish budget are detailed in the Annual Report to the Congregation. Even before the “great recession” began, the parish’s board of trustees was resolved to bring us to financial stability. Our fixed building operating and maintenance costs would run a good-sized parish almost anywhere else in the country. Music has always been extraordinary here – so, despite deep cuts in our operating budget for music, gifts continue to appear and the music program continues. For the first time since the parish moved to its present church home, a staff of two priests is managing the great bulk of the worship and pastoral work of the parish.
Christian giving is different than giving to charities. It’s about being thankful for God’s blessings and having faith in God’s providence for our future. It’s an orientation towards life.
I was reared in a tradition, Southern Baptist, where there was a pretty broad consensus that giving ten percent of one’s income to one’s church was the biblical norm. But this was also the church that thought grape juice for Communion was biblical too. Tithes, that is, a gift of ten percent, are mentioned throughout the Bible. In the New Testament, the word occurs in Jesus’ condemnation of the behavior of the Pharisees who are unable to connect their offerings with justice, mercy and faith (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42). It is also used in the discussion in the Letter to the Hebrews about the priesthood of Jesus (Hebrews 7:1-28).
Jesus’ words about money are words which are familiar to almost all people. He talked about money most of the time. But behind his words about money was always his concern for food, for justice, and for right religion.
As the rector of the parish I want you to know my own history with tithing. In my first years out of seminary I wasn’t paid very much and I was still paying off seminary loans. I deducted my loan payment from my salary before setting aside ten percent for the church. As a curate, I was still a good pledge by the standards of the congregation. When I became a rector, I found a way to do ten percent without the loan deduction. I was glad when that loan was paid off. I continue to tithe my income to Saint Mary’s.
Over the years I have come across the whole range of commitment people have to others. One remark by our former bishop, Richard Grein, has always stuck with me. He said once in our pulpit, “I’ve never met a generous person who was unhappy.” Tithing helps me be clear about the goodness of God and the gift of life. Generous giving makes it possible for the doors of Saint Mary’s to be open and its ministries to be strong. As we approach the new year, I hope that even in these uncertain times, many will have faith in their future and in Saint Mary’s. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Mary, Carol, Alan, Pamela, Robert, Thomas, Edward, Larry, José, Sharon, Jessica, Daisy, Gerardo, Cesar, Chris, Rolf, Nicholas, William, Gert, Miguel, Rick, and Emil, religious; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, James, Kayla, Marc, and Benjamin; and for the repose of the souls of George and Charlotte . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 10: 1892 Origen Vandenburgh; 1896 Adeline Dorlan; 1917 Evelyn Knote Cissel; 1994 Octavia Josephine Wenz Wallace.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . George August Leiding, Walter Leiding’s father, died at his home on Friday, October 1. Please keep George, Walter, their family and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers . . . Charlotte da Silva, Gypsy da Silva’s mother, died on Monday morning, October 4. Please pray for Charlotte, Gypsy, and all who mourn.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saint Mary’s Altar Guild meets on Saturday, October 9, at 1:00 PM, following the noonday Mass . . . The Adult Forum meets on Sunday at 10:00 AM . . . Monday, October 11, Columbus Day – Federal Holiday Schedule: the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM, only the noonday services are offered, and the parish offices are closed . . . Father Smith will be away from the parish Monday, October 11, to Wednesday, October 13, attending a Leadership in Ministry Conference in Newton, Massachusetts. He returns to the office on Thursday, October 14 . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class meets on October 13 at 6:30 PM, following Evening Prayer. The class meets in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House and is led by Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., and Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B. . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, October 9. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, October 16.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Our Oktoberfest and Hymn Sing last Saturday was a great success. It was attended by around 60 friends and parishioners. The food was delicious, the music was great and the singing was not only enthusiastic it was often quite good! Thank you to all those who brought food; to the efficient and energetic organizers of the event, MaryJane Boland, Grace Bruni, and Marie Rosseels; to Terry Carlson, who worked his lighting magic and helped to decorate Saint Joseph’s Hall; to Richard Theilmann, who was, once again, our capable and creative Biermeister; and to James Kennerley, for his leadership, playing beautifully, teaching us new things about the organ and providing the encouragement . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for our outreach partner, the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. The Food Pantry continues to serve several hundred households in the Clinton and Times Square neighborhoods. Please speak to Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., or to Father Smith if you have questions or if you would like to volunteer . . . Steven Gonley has left the position of Saint Mary’s building superintendent. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 266.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is Ground for my Lady Neville from My Lady Neville’s Book by William Byrd. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis by Simon Preston (b. 1938). Preston was born in Bournemouth, UK, and was the organist and choir master of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and then of Westminster Abbey. In 1987, he left the Abbey to pursue an international recital career. The Missa brevis, composed in 1967, features a particularly rhythmic Gloria, the main motif of which is based on the familiar plainsong intonation to the hymn. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet O Sacrum convivium by Dan Locklair (b. 1949). James Kennerley
STEWARDSHIP 2010: WHY I LOVE SAINT MARY’S . . . As the Stewardship Committee prepares to launch the 2010-2011 Stewardship Campaign, we continue our ongoing series “Why I Love Saint Mary’s.” We hear this week from parishioner, Steven Heffner. Steven has served on the Board of Trustees and as the parish treasurer. He writes: What draws one to Saint Mary’s is not always the same as what keeps one here or makes one truly love it. When my wife Mary and I moved to New York twelve years ago, we knew about Saint Mary’s by reputation – beautiful space, great music, sophisticated liturgy with a smidge of incense – and it certainly lived up to it. Almost everyone reading this knows how transporting and ethereal an experience a solemn mass at Saint Mary’s can be! However, I’ve grown over the years to love Saint Mary’s not for the mystical, aesthetic experience but rather for how real the place is – as real as the water that soaked our feet when it sloshed from the font as the ministers prepared for our daughter Agnes’s baptism, as real as the priest’s hand that gripped mine in the hospital waiting room, as real as the welcoming smiles of friends when we return after an absence. Is there great worship here? Of course. Anything worth doing is worth doing right after all. But Saint Mary’s is not an abstraction or just a reputation – “the Cathedral of Anglo-Catholicism” or “Smoky Mary’s”; rather it’s a real place, a parish filled with real people actually doing their best to live a life in Christ. I feel truly blessed to be a part of it. Steven Heffner
BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION & RECEPTION . . . Bishop Sisk will be with us for the feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Wednesday, December 8. He will celebrate and preach at the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM. The sacraments of baptism and confirmation will be celebrated at that time. If you have been thinking and praying about baptism or confirmation, or if you think that you would like to be received into the Episcopal Church, please speak to Father Gerth or Father Smith.
CATECHESIS OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD . . . Formation for younger children begins on Sunday, October 3. The children will be meeting in a new space this year, the former parish office, now the “Atrium of the Good Shepherd.” Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins is our catechist and seminarian Rem Slone will be assisting during this academic year. PLEASE NOTE: The Catechesis meets from 9:45 AM to 10:45 AM.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION THIS FALL . . . The Adult Forum meets on Sunday, October 10, at 10:00 AM, in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. Grace Bruni will begin her four-part series, The Church in England during the Middle Ages through the Lens of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales . . . Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians: Father Peter Powell will lead a three-part series on 1 Corinthians this fall (November 7, 14, and 21). The series is designed to be an introduction to this very important letter. During Lent 2011, Father Powell returns and will do a close reading of 1 Corinthians 15. The fall series will be good preparation for the Lent series, but is not a prerequisite . . . The Adult-Education Class will not meet on Sunday, November 28, the Sunday after Thanksgiving Day.
CHILDCARE . . . Children are always welcome at Mass at Saint Mary’s. The Rector encourages families with children to sit at the front of the church – so the children can see easily and clearly. Childcare is in Saint Benedict’s Nursery & Playroom which is open and available every Sunday from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM.
MORE DONORS NEEDED . . . The evening receptions following Solemn Mass on Holy Days are made possible by the donations of generous parishioners and friends of Saint Mary’s. We have received one generous donation for the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8 and we need a few more gifts for the reception on that day. The Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, bishop of New York, will be here to celebrate and preach. We expect the Bishop will receive new members. And, it’s our patronal feast! If you would like to make a donation, or if you would like more information about how this works, please speak with me. Jay Smith
ALTAR FLOWERS are needed for Sunday, October 24, and for two Sundays in November. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the finance office. A special word of appreciation to all who give. Thank you. S.G.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Monday, October 18, Saint Luke the Evangelist, Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Saturday, October 16, 2010, 8:00PM, The Early Music Series of the Columbia University’s Miller Theatre presents In Paradisum, a concert performed by the ensemble Stile Antico. Memorials and swansongs by Byrd, Dufay, des Prez, Lassus, and others . . . Thursday, October 28, Saint Simon & Saint Jude, Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Monday, November 1, All Saints’ Day, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM . . . Tuesday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, November 7, 2:00 AM: Daylight Savings Time ends (clocks are set back one hour) . . . Saturday, November 13, 1:00 PM, Meeting of Saint Mary’s Guild . . . Sunday, November 21, Commitment Sunday: Offering of 2011 Pledge Cards . . . Tuesday, December 7, Solemn Evensong and Legacy Society Reception . . . Wednesday, December 8, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, the Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk, XV Bishop of New York, celebrant and preacher . . . Saturday, December 11, 10:00 AM-3:00 PM, Advent Quiet Day, led by Father John Beddingfield . . . Saturday, December 11, 2010, 8:00 PM & Monday, December 13, 2010, 8:00 PM Voices of Ascension Christmas Concert . . . Saturday, December 18, 2010, 8:00 PM, The New York Repertory Orchestra: Annual NYRO Benefit Concert...and the 100th birthday of Samuel Barber.
The Parish Musicians
Mr. James Kennerley, organist and music director
Mr. Lawrence Trupiano, organ curator
The Parish Staff
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager
Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons