Change for Growth
Beginning Sunday, October 1, the 10:00 AM Sunday Mass will be celebrated at the high altar instead of the Lady Chapel. It will be a simple sung Mass. It must start at the stroke of 10:00 AM. It must finish no later than 10:45 AM. Fathers Shin and Breidenthal and I will be in the sanctuary for this Mass every Sunday. The three of us will take turns as celebrant and preacher. This will be a Rite II service. Some of the readers of this newsletter will already know of this change from the new issue of AVE. They will also know the reason: Parish Growth.
"How many members does Saint Mary's have?" This question comes up more frequently than you may think and when I respond people always look shocked, always. Most people think Saint Mary's must have more than 160 active members, but we don't. We are a small parish, but we have a great history, a great tradition and, I believe, a great future.
The first night I was in New York to be interviewed by the Board of Trustees about becoming the ninth rector of the parish I had dinner with Gerald McKelvey, the vice-president (senior warden) of the parish, and Linda Bridges who was chairman of the search committee. The first question Gerald asked me was, "What are you going to do to save Saint Mary's?" My response was, "What are you willing to change in order to survive?"
Readers of this newsletter know that the general trend at Saint Mary's is positive. We are growing slowly in numbers, not as fast as we would like, but we are growing. Perhaps more importantly is the excitement I see in the faces and hearts of all of our new members. For them Saint Mary's is very much the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45). Saint Mary's has enough money in the bank to support significant deficits for maybe three more years. But if Saint Mary's doesn't grow the parish will be faced with making radical changes in its common life or investing the balance of the endowment to generate enough growth.
Growth comes to congregations for many reasons. Lots of people make their living telling congregations how to grow. All things are possible. I believe in God. I believe in the Episcopal Church and I believe in the catholic tradition within the Church. I believe God can use our community to build up his sacred body. I believe you and I can be open to doing things in new ways for the sake of the kingdom. More important than any particular change is the attitude we bring to the possibility of change. We prayerfully ask for God's guidance for us to do what we think and believe is best.
Among the issues raised with me by the Search Committee for the Ninth Rector (me!) and the Trustees when I was called was the question of provision for another type of service with music on Sunday mornings. The Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM would remain the normative service for the community. However for most of Saint Mary's history there was a simpler sung Mass on Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM.
A few members of the parish regularly attend 10:00 AM. I have been able to speak to most of them about the change. I am so thankful for their understanding and their willingness to be open to seeing if this kind of service will help Saint Mary's grow. And most Sundays now the Lady Chapel is full at 10:00 AM.
Last Sunday I met with the ushers. I want to express my appreciation to them too for the work they will need to do to make this liturgy work smoothly. I served in parishes where people were lined up to get into church as another service was concluding. The ministry of ushers and the ministry of altar servers were crucial in order for the worship to take place with the kind of reverence and order we Episcopalians value so much.
The new service will begin on October 1. It surely will not be a finished product as we begin. There will be much to learn. The service will have its own service booklet. One of the organists will play. Initially the congregation will sing the Gloria, Sanctus and one hymn. I ask your prayers for this service and for those for whom this will be their first experience of Saint Mary's.
Growth comes about for many reasons. Saint Mary's is at the crossroads of the world, Times Square. I believe God can use our parish to bring Good News to many more people. New York is full of people who have no community of faith, who do not know the Lord Jesus. I can imagine Saint Mary's full every Sunday of people coming together to worship, to love and to serve in the name of the Lord.
Saint Mary's in not a museum, a concert hall or a social service organization. It is a community of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is always growing and moving forward. It has a future as well as a rich past. But Jesus did not take his community back to Mount Sinai or to Nazareth. He led them to Jerusalem and then sent them to all the ends of the earth. I believe Jesus Christ is still with us and still sending us to do his work in his future which belongs not to us but to him.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Wesley who was born on September 12, for Eleanor and Winston who are hospitalized and for Olga, Helen, Shirley, Dawn, Mary, Lucille, Frances, Eleanor, Carl, Harold, Frank, Deborah, Eleanor, Stephen, Nettie Peter, and Frank, bishop.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 50:4-9, Psalm 116, James 2:1-5, 8-10, 14-18, Mark 8:27-38 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin, 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth . . . Confessions will be heard on September 16 by Father Gerth . . . Confessions will be heard on September 24 by Father Shin.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training course meets Saturday, September 16 . . . Many of our readers will know that Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold was recently hospitalized for surgery. Because a member of the parish ended up in the same elevator at the same hospital last week, we know the Presiding Bishop is home and is doing well and we are thankful, very thankful . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, September 18, at 7:00 PM at the rectory . . . The faithful are reminded that Thursday, September 21, is the Feast of Saint Matthew. Mass for Saint Matthew is said on the Eve, September 20, at 6:20 PM and on the day at 12:15 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Most of you by now have probably received the new Spiritual Formation brochure. Father Shin has done a wonderful job in putting this together. Additional copies are available on the ushers' table in the back of the nave . . . Wednesday evening classes are about to begin again. The first class will be on September 27 and meets in Saint Benedict's Study. Father Breidenthal will begin a series on "Jesus' Bible", a study of the Scriptures Jesus might have known and the Scriptures Jesus quoted . . . Parishioners are reminded that the easiest way to come for Christian formation on Wednesday evenings is to come early for Evening Prayer and Mass. A doorbell which ring in Saint Benedict's Study is being installed this week so that latecomers may buzz at the 145 West 46th Street entryway . . . Our catechumenate program, Journey in Faith, begins on October 8. Look for the brochure at church or speak with Father Shin if you are interested . . . Eileen Sorensen continues on vacation through Friday, September 22. Sheila Williams has been the friendly voice you heard answering the telephone and being very helpful with the many jobs which Eileen does for us . . . Renovation work in the rectory continues. The floors are being refinished and the reception rooms are being painted . . . Attendance last Sunday 163.
VESTMENT RESTORATION . . . On Saturday, October 28, Gina Bianco, fabric restorationist at the Metropolitan Museum, will be here to teach and train volunteers to help restore and care for the old vestments. Those who are interested in this important project, please call the church office or talk to Sean Cassidy or Godfrey Gregg. Thank you.
CLERGY NOTES . . . The Rector will be leaving town Tuesday, September 19. Before attending the Leadership in Ministry workshop on Monday, September 25, through Wednesday morning, September 27, he will take a few days holiday. Father Gerth will return to the rectory Wednesday evening . . . Our new seminarian, Jennifer Reddall, will be with us this beginning this Sunday, September 17. Jenni is from the Diocese of Los Angeles and is in her second year at the General Theological Seminary. A graduate of Yale University, she is also a professional singer and sang last year in the parish choir at the Church of the Holy Apostles. We are delighted that she will be here at Saint Mary's.
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 6:20 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:30 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 for the Fourteenth Week after Pentecost
Monday Edward Bouverie Pusey, priest
Tuesday Theodore of Tarsus, bishop
Wednesday John Patteson, bishop & his companions, martyrs
Eve of Saint Matthew’s Day 6:20 PM
Thursday Saint Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist
Friday Ember Day
Saturday Ember Day
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, The Reverend J. Barrington Bates, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.