Vision and Commitment
I don't know very much yet about the life and work of the founding rector of this parish, the Reverend Thomas McKee Brown; but I know I want to know more. I do know quite a bit about the history of the parish where I served before coming here. That congregation built a new church in 1889, not unlike the photographs I've seen of the first Saint Mary's, which was located where Shuberts Alley is today. Of course, there were more statues and lights in Saint Mary's. There was an altar cross and candles in Michigan City - such adornment was generally considered quite advanced, liturgically speaking. There just wasn't anything like Saint Mary's, except perhaps in one or two other pioneering Anglo-catholic parishes.
Then the money became available to build the church we know. The result was one of the extraordinary spaces for worship in our country. Compare the size of the chancel in Saint Mary's first church on the other side of Times Square with this one. It's not just the shape of the building, the height of the ceiling or the size of the altar; here there is space for rite. They built the space and this congregation has always known what to do with it.
I make a point of greeting visitors on Sundays. First time visitors to Saint Mary's who are Episcopalians are very much in awe of this place as I was when I first saw Saint Mary's almost a year ago now. But in 1894 there weren't huge cathedrals in our country that most people could know. Immigrants perhaps brought memories with them of the great churches of their homelands, but the dreams which became the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine here and the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Washington were just dreams at that time. Few churches today are really built for rite. Ours was and it continues to hold its own with the best of them.
Perhaps Father Brown and the first members of Saint Mary's would not have described what they were building in this way - a place for rite - but I think they would be comfortable with this description. And I think they would be inspired by how this parish has continued to grow in its understanding of what it means to be the Body of Christ. In a sense, the rite leads us and always has.
When the builders of this congregation decided to build on this scale they spent every dime they had to build a remarkable space. They trusted that there would be those who followed who would finish the work and continue to provide for the work. Since the beginning of Saint Mary's a faithful congregation has provided sacrificially what has been needed. I have faith that this will continue.
I understand that extensive notes were taken by the members of the Search Committee that called on me in Michigan City a year ago September. Someday I should like to see them to see if my memories match the reality. I do recall quite clearly that during the first part of the interview - perhaps just
after I had spilled my glass of water on the table - great way to make a first impression - I drew the attention of the committee to the five-year financial summary in the parish profile and asked what the congregation was planning to do, how the congregation was planning to change, in order to save the parish. I recall quite clearly that the response was, "We've never talked about it." That wasn't nearly the shocker as how few pledging units there were at Saint Mary's when I arrived, seventy-four if I recall correctly.
I never knew Saint Mary's physically until a year ago, but most of you know I have been a reader of AVE since I met Father Wells as a seminarian. I remember reading over and over again that Saint Mary's depends on the sacrificial giving of her members and friends. This has always been true.
In the course of the next two to three years the budget must balance in order for the parish to survive. The Board of Trustees has begun a conversation about our future and we are making plans about how to continue to discern the focus of our efforts.
What are our values? Is it more important to keep the church open or the church clean when it is open? Is it more important to have fifteen or more Masses offered each week or to have a professional choir? Is it more important to keep the roofs repaired or to have a curate? You can frame questions about our common life yourself in many ways. But framing questions however doesn't mean having to make choices. Framing the questions can help us have direction and to be clear about our commitments, call and values.
My own sense is that Saint Mary's turned a great corner in the early 1990s. Saint Mary's really has met the challenges of being the Episcopal Church in Times Square since its founding in 1868. I have every confidence that we will not have to choose between, for example, music and Masses. I do believe that Saint Mary's is going to offer us the opportunity to grow in giving our lives to Christ in new ways. Saint Mary's has made her greatest contributions to Christ when she has risked moving in new directions with trust and faith in future that is as much in God's hands as was the past.
This Sunday is "Commitment Sunday." No one on the stewardship committee has asked me to write what I've just written. I haven't been here for a stewardship campaign before. I spoke briefly at the "Stewardship Event." I want you to know that I tithe my salary to Saint Mary's. That's where my giving starts. I think you ought to know that your rector does about this.
Saint Mary's is growing again. I hope we have one hundred or more pledges for the new year; there's no reason why we shouldn't. There is an extraordinary expression of Christianity here at Saint Mary's, unique in so many ways. I don't think God is going to let us be satisfied with giving him anything less than our best love.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Margaret, Warren, Myrian, Katherine Rose, Margo, Nettie, Shirley, Thomas, Rich, Maureen, Julia, Clara, Daniel and Owanah . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 7: 1986 Bruce Taylor; November 8: 1992 Edna May Chaney.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Amos 5:18-24, Psalm 70, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Shin, Preacher: Mr. Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: The Rector, 5:00 PM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin . . . On Saturday, November 6, Father Gerth will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, November 13, Father Shin will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Pledge cards for the Stewardship Campaign 2000 may be placed in the offering basins this Sunday at all Masses. Of course, extra cards will be available on Sunday . . . The parish requiems conclude this week with the Masses on Monday and Tuesday . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday evening, November 8, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict's Study. Members of the parish are always welcome at the meetings of the Board . . . The Rector will be on vacation from Tuesday, November 9, through Thursday, November 18 . . . Attendance last Sunday 182 . . . Attendance on All Saints' 214 . . . Attendance on All Souls' 162.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION THIS WEEK AT SMV . . . On Sunday morning, November 7, the Rector's Class meets at 10:00 AM, Sunday School for the children is at 11:00 AM and Journey in Faith meets at 12:45 PM . . . On Tuesday evening, November 9, a second session of Journey in Faith led by Father Shin begins. This class is appropriate for persons who want to join the Episcopal Church and for members of the Church who want to reaffirm the Baptismal Covenant . . . On Wednesday evening, November 10, "Marian Devotion & Christian Spirituality" continues following the evening Mass. This week Father Breidenthal will be speaking on "Theological Themes."
THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH ON BROADWAY . . . There was a great deal of reverent worship on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of this past week at Saint Mary's. Many people helped to make Sunday, All Saints' and All Souls' very special indeed. Music in particular was beautiful for these three days and called for a special effort from our parish musicians. It was wonderful. There are few places where the great festivals of the church year can be observed with such richness and even fewer where they actually are. And it's not just the worship that makes SMV so special. The warmth of this congregation is not a surprise to those of us who come every Sunday, but it is remarkable how many of our guests tell us how unusual it is. The grand reception following the All Saint's Mass - for which four people provided leadership, John Delves, Jim Dennis, Barbara Klett and Robert VanVleet - was especially appreciated. Tuesday night the All Souls' Mass was immeasurably enriched by the musical memorial to Phil Burgess' mother which Phil and John Schultz made. Phil, John, thank you so very much. And thanks to Andrew Adams, Dan Fannon, the parish musicians and our many guest musicians. Of course it is easy to overlook so many things and to fail to say thank you to so many whose extra efforts make all the difference. There were hundreds of extra bulletins to fold this week. Three major liturgies, each distinct, required purposeful attention from a large group of servers. The high altar was beautiful on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. And worship on this scale also means extra effort from the parish staff for which the Rector is very grateful.
Worship at Saint Mary’s
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM. A Solemn Mass is offered at 11:00 AM. Monday through Friday Mass is said at 12:15 PM and 6:15 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:40 AM and Evening Prayer at 4:45 PM. Monday through Friday Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM, the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM. On Saturdays the Noonday Office is offered at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM.
The Reconciliation of Penitents
Confessions are heard on Saturdays between 11:30 and 12:00 and between 4:00 and 5:00. Appointments can also be made with members of the parish clergy for the Reconciliation of Penitents at other times.
The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
The Calendar of the Twenty-fifth Week after Pentecost
Monday Parish Requiem (N-R from the All Souls' Day list)
Tuesday Parish Requiem (S-Z from the All Souls' Day list)
Wednesday Leo the Great, Bishop
Thursday Martin of Tours, Bishop
Friday Charles Simeon, Priest
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Allen Shin, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison,
The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.