FROM THE RECTOR: CHRISTIAN UNITY
What we know as the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” originated with a small group of Episcopal clergy and nuns here in the Diocese of New York in 1908. This group left the Church and became Roman Catholics in 1909. Oddly enough, the decision of the General Convention of 1907 to allow ministers from other denominations to preach in a parish spurred on their departure. Protestant ministers in Episcopal pulpits was not their idea of ecumenism. For them, Christian unity was about submission to the authority of the bishop of Rome. For others of us, Christian unity is to be found in Jesus Christ only and not in any institutional church, confession or covenant. My study and my experience of being a parish priest in Times Square continues to deepen my conviction.
For almost twelve years as rector of Saint Mary’s, I have regularly presided at services where there are many visitors, most of whom are not practicing Episcopalians. That Saint Mary’s is a parish in the Episcopal Church is always announced at any Eucharist celebrated here. It’s on all of our signs. However, “Episcopal” doesn’t really register for a great number of visitors. I’ve stopped letting that worry me. I do want people always to know we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior.
Saint Mary’s has a long tradition of opening its doors to all people. Parishioners, ushers, clergy, and servers all work hard to welcome people to our church home and to help visitors know they can join us in worship. But there are some crazy edges to the experience of being a church community in Times Square.
At Eucharists, a celebrant can never know how many people will receive Holy Communion. For one thing, one can’t always see how many people are in the church. Almost always, there are people who come to Mass but who never receive communion. Some people happen into the church during the ministration of communion, receive and leave. Not long after coming here, I realized I couldn’t begin to police this, and I don’t try, even on occasions when it is driving me crazy. (And don’t get me started on people who try to drink the holy water.)
How visitors participate in worship varies widely. Surprisingly, for many Christians congregational worship is essentially an individual activity. People pray and sing aloud, often very loudly, without regard to anyone else. That’s what they know as worship. There are also visitors who spend most of a Mass praying at a shrine or doing the Stations of the Cross, and then present themselves at the altar rail for communion. There are many factors that go into shaping people whose idea of worship is so individualistic.
Last month someone asked a question I have heard many times: Why doesn’t Saint Mary’s print out the lessons for the Sunday bulletins? This is not a question, one notes, that comes at a weekday Mass or Office. I know my explanation did not satisfy. I’ve continued to think about it. A longer answer that I might give today is that in the centuries when the Christian community forgot how to eat the Bread and share the Cup, the Christian community also forgot how to listen together to the Word of God. (Lessons were being read in Latin when almost no one understood it.) For Anglicans, one of our greatest contributions of our Reformation has been the public reading of Scripture in English. This reading and listening together is as ancient as anything we do.
Church structures in many denominations will continue to prevent deeper forms of sharing among baptized people, even in simple things. When I went to seminary, there had recently been a group of ministers there who were willing to eat the food in the refectory, but were not able to be in the room when grace was said. Crazy. But I follow a Lord who didn’t let the religious leaders of his day stop him from fellowship with all people. Most Christians can listen to the Bible being read together. For me, the Word of God is a place where in finding Christ we might find each other. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Margaret, Carol, Sharon, Perry, Dorothy, Alan, Chris, Rolf, Gert, William, and Rick; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Nicholas and Christine . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 23: 1881 Caroline Smith; 1895 Philip Hone; 1906 Mabel Theresa Lewis; 1915 Mary Anne Adams; 1916 Harriet A. Smithley, Charles Perrett; 1931 Nelson H. Snow; 1964 Walter R. Noe, Jr. 1990 Mary Grantham Adams.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, January 22, 8:00 PM, Concert at Saint Mary’s: The Sequentia Ensemble . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will meet on Sunday, January 23 . . . The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ends on Tuesday, January 25, with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. On this Major Feast Day, Mass will be offered at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, January 26, at 6:30 PM, after Evening Prayer . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, January 22. Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, January 29.
INTRODUCING FATHER JIM PACE . . . The Reverend James Pace is a priest of the Diocese of Tennessee and has been professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. He has just moved to New York to take a position at the New York University College of Nursing. Father Pace has academic degrees from the University of the South, Florida State University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Vanderbilt University. He was ordained priest in 1989. In addition to faculty positions, he has served as chaplain in hospice and in pastoral care programs at the Vanderbilt Medical Center. He is also a nurse practitioner. Jim was a concelebrant last Sunday at the Solemn Mass – and I confess I forgot to introduce him formally during the announcements. I will not fail to do so this Sunday. A number of people met him at coffee hour last Sunday. Jim has a great love and commitment to his nursing profession, to the priesthood and to Saint Mary’s. This semester, it looks as if he will be able to assist us on Sundays and sometimes on Saturdays – with the great thanks of Father Smith and myself. Jim is the father of three sons. His partner Quentin Swain is still in Nashville until the end of the academic semester. Please join me in welcoming Father Pace to the parish. S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . There will be an acolyte rehearsal to prepare for Candlemas on Sunday, January 30, from 12:45 PM to 1:15 PM . . . Parishioners Ricardo Miranda and Julia Heard were married here on Saturday, January 15. Father Smith was the celebrant and the Reverend Dr. Clayton L. Morris was the preacher. Please keep Rick and Julia in your prayers as they begin their married life together . . . Thank you to all who helped make the wedding a special celebration: to our acolytes MaryJane Boland, Charles Carson, Daniel Craig, Clark Mitchell, Marie Rosseels, and Sharon Singh; to our ushers Jim Dennis and John Delves; and to organist Mark Peterson, who played the service and conducted the choir . . . As we go to press, James Kennerley has received the appropriate employment visa from the American Embassy in London. We expect him “home” on Friday. Many thanks to parishioner Mark Peterson for stepping in . . . Parishioner Kenny Isler has been at Saint Mary’s this week mixing his latest version of Saint Mary’s very special blend of incense. Kenny lives in Paradise Valley, Arizona, but returns to the parish periodically to perform this very important ministry. We are very grateful to him for his creativity and hard work; we look forward to this latest blend and to his next visit . . . Altar flowers are needed for February 13 and for March 6. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish January 25-28 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 222.
CPR TRAINING: ONE MORE PERSON IS NEEDED . . . As we go to press, seven people have signed up for the CPR training to be conducted on Saturday, January 29, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. The course will be held at Emergency Skills, Inc., 350 Seventh Avenue (at 29th Street) Suite 504. A minimum of eight trained persons is needed for Saint Mary’s to have a permit. If you can do this, please let me know ASAP. S.G.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . At the Solemn Mass on Sunday, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa cuiuvis toni by Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1410–1497), an important Franco-Flemish composer of the generation between Guillaume Dufay and Josquin Desprez. His output included fourteen Masses, and this setting is able to be sung in any of the four primary church modes (the precursors to our modern major and minor keys). During the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Videntes stellam by Francis Poulenc (1899–1963). On Sunday at 4:40 PM, the organ recital will be played by Josiah Armes, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. James Kennerley
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2010-2011 . . . As of January 17, we have received pledges from 171 households. $423,731.00 has been pledged to date. We are still 8% short of our goal and have received pledges from 80% of the households that pledged during last year’s campaign. We still have some significant work to do, but we think that we are going to make it. We are so very close! Every single gift, no matter its size, brings us closer to our goal! Thank you to all who have pledged during this year’s campaign.
SAVE THE DATE . . . Super Bowl Sunday is February 6, and, once again, our Super Bowl party and potluck dinner will take place in Saint Joseph’s Hall, beginning at 6:00 PM. Grace Bruni has agreed to organize the event. We hope that many Saint Marians and their friends will be able to join us for what is always a fun evening and a good opportunity to spend time together. This is a wonderful way to introduce your friends to the parish. (And, if truth be told, you can have a good time even if you don’t know anything about football!). If you are able, please “bring a dish” for the potluck. For more information, please speak to Grace Bruni. J.R.S.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class has resumed. The sisters are leading the group. It meets in the Arch Room from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM. Newcomers are most welcome! . . . The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, January 23, when parishioner, Professor Robert Picken, will lead the second part of his three-part series (January 16, 23, and 30) on the history of Christian mission. The title of the series is “Matteo Ricci and The Great Encounter.” Professor Picken will discuss the following topics: the arrival of Western intellectuals in China, when Jesuit missionaries went to that nation at the end of the sixteenth century; the initial success of those missionaries; the Chinese-rites controversy; and the failure of the China mission in the eighteenth century. The implications for a modern-day theology of mission will be discussed . . . Father Jay Smith will lead a five-part series on The History of the Bible in English (February 6, 13, 20, 27, and March 6) to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Concert: “Beethoven for the Indus Valley”: A Concert for Life and Renewal in Pakistan after the 2010 Floods. Carnegie Hall, Monday, January 31, 2011, 8:00 PM. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Call CarnegieCharge 212-247-7800 or www.carnegiehall.org. J.R.S.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Wednesday, February 2, the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ (“Candlemas”), Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM. The preacher will be the Right Reverend Peter James Lee, XII Bishop of Virginia. A reception follows the Solemn Mass in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Thursday, February 3, is the Feast of Saint Blase. The Blessing of Throats will be offered at the 12:10 PM Mass and after Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, February 6, 6:00 PM, Super Bowl Party in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Saturday, February 12, ordination of our seminarian Thomas Remington Slone to the diaconate at the annual convention of the Diocese of Georgia to be held in Valdosta, Georgia . . . Monday, February 21, Washington’s Birthday, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . March 9, Ash Wednesday . . . Sunday, May 15, AIDS Walk. Speak to MaryJane Boland about registering for the Walk and to begin fundraising efforts.
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