Last Sunday I introduced to the congregations at the 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Sunday Masses our new building superintendent, Mervin Garraway. This coming Sunday I will have the privilege of introducing our new organist and music director, Robert McCormick. Resumes for the position of curate continue to arrive, and the trustees and I have already begun meeting with candidates. The Reverend James Ross Smith, a doctoral candidate in patristics at Yale University, returns to Saint Mary’s again as an assisting priest beginning this week.
Daily those of us in the parish and finance offices hear and see the work on Saint Joseph’s Hall. A few test colors are up. It is exciting to see the work progress and the creative process unfold. Mervin Garraway is redoing a laundry room in the parish house that was in desperate need of attention. There is a lot of energy inside our buildings every day.
I grew up in two areas of Virginia where people move a lot. I was born in Norfolk and we lived in that area until I was twelve. Then we moved to Fairfax County, a suburb of Washington, D.C. In both places people were always moving in and out. I know that when I entered the seventh grade there were less than 120 people in my grade. When I graduated from high school my class had grown to almost six hundred, and no, there were no feeder schools. The area just grew. People were coming and going all of the time. As much as I think I long for stability, I have always lived with transition and in transition. Change, like death, is also a sign of life and of the future.
Robert McCormick and Mervin Garraway have been around all week. Hearing Robert practice, answering questions, talking about the liturgy and laughing about things have given us a great deal of joy. It is easy to see that Robert has fallen in love with our organ; you can see the sparkle in his eyes. Mervin also has that look, perhaps of amazement at the enormity of the tasks before him, and he too already appreciates what a rare and precious place Saint Mary’s is.
Our parish is growing and the work of growth comes just not from our spiritual efforts in worship and in pastoral care but also in building a community of relationships built on Christian fellowship and love. Christianity, of course, is never a personal private religion when it is true to its divine commission.
The parish clergy, staff and trustees are working on our second supper of this year for new and prospective members. Invitations are going out. Three times a year now the board meets at 6:00 PM and hosts a dinner in the rectory parlors for new and prospective members at 7:00 PM. This next dinner will be on Monday, July 16. Name tags are prepared (and worn). As many of the church staff who are able attend too.
On Friday before we held the first new and prospective member dinner, a year ago on July 17, we learned that the refinishing of the rectory floors would begin the morning of the dinner. The parish staff and I were not discouraged. The refinishing began on the fourth floor and of course the dust descended to the parlors on the second floor. We got some help in to dust and clean. It didn’t matter that the parlor floors were covered with paper (from painters). The rooms were anything but beautiful. But there was a special excitement to that dinner. It is the kind of excitement I sense all of the time at Saint Mary’s these days. It’s the excitement that comes from sharing in new life.
Needless to say, things have always been changing at Saint Mary’s and things always will. Every day is new, and the particular joys, hardships and challenges of each day are unique. It is not always easy to face the problems of being human. Pain is real. Sin is real. Sickness is real. But I do prefer not to waste time worrying about things that I cannot do anything about. It seems to me to be profoundly Christian to expect and to embrace change. Life itself is the great sign of God. Tabernacles, Sacraments, churches, and liturgies are places and rituals where the divinity of God opens up to humankind. But it is humankind itself that is the great sign of God’s presence, God’s love and God’s life in this world.
It’s going to be crazy around Saint Mary’s for ever. Yes, for ever. There’s always going to be change. This is true because Saint Mary’s is alive.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Henry, Harold, Olga, Carl, Eleanor, John, Peter, John, Jonathan, Joseph, Elwyn, Shirlah, Jack, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Jessica, Russell, Evelyn, Susan, Esme, Tessie, Rodney, priest, and Arthur, priest.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21, Psalm 16:5-11, Galatians 5:1, 13-25, Luke 9:51-62 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, June 30 and on Saturday, July 7 by Father Garrison.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday will be Adagio from Symphonie VI by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937). The postlude will be Improvisation sur le ‘Te Deum’ by Charles Tournemire (1870-1939), reconstructed by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The parish office will be closed on Wednesday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day. The church will be open on the Fourth only for the 12:15 PM Mass . . . Thanks to Sean Cassidy and Patrick Higgins who marched in the Gay Pride Parade on Sunday and carried the Saint Mary’s banner . . . Thanks to Father Shin, Father Figueroa, Winston Deane, Ryan Lesh, Ric Miranda, John Beddingfield and Tammy Figueroa who represented Saint Mary’s and processed with the Lady Banner at the Diocesan Celebration for Bishop Grien’s retirement last Saturday at the Cathedral . . . Father Shin returns from the Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry 2001 National Consultation in San Jose, California, on Tuesday, July 3 . . . The Rector leaves for a week of vacation on Independence Day. He will return on Wednesday, July 11 . . . Mother Sullivan leaves us for July and early August to attend a number of meetings away from New York and for vacation. Her travels begin with a trip to England as a representative of the Episcopal Church at the meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England. Godspeed! . . . Attendance last Sunday: 201.
A VACATION FOR SPIRITUAL FORMATION CLASSES . . . Spiritual formation classes at Saint Mary’s have ended for the year, with the conclusion of the Dialogue with Islam class last week. Over the next few weeks Father Shin will be coordinating the 2001-2002 schedule. If you have ideas or requests for topics, please let him know.
SUMMARY OF JUNE 18, 2001, BOARD MEETING . . . At its June 18, 2001, meeting, the Board of Trustees: 1. Heard an update from the Rector on the search for a new Curate. 2. Learned that renovations in St. Joseph’s Hall will cost between $38,000 and $40,000 for painting, with an extra $10,000 for decorating, the latter to be supervised by Mr. Thomas Jayne, a parishioner. We have in hand $21,000 to do this work, and more funds need to be raised for this project. 3. Heard that the living accommodations on the fourth and fifth floors of the Parish House need some renovation work. It is anticipated that the new Curate will live in the fifth floor apartment. 4. Learned that the new Music Director, Mr. Robert McCormick, begins his duties on Sunday July 1, 2001. 5. Learned that a Building Superintendent has been hired, Mr. Mervin Garraway, who will start on Sunday June 24, 2001. The Building Superintendent will be on the premises from Sundays through Thursdays, and he will be in charge of the sextons, among other duties. 6. Heard that there will be a reception for new members in the Rectory on Monday July 16, 2001. 7. Learned that a fabric merchant and designer is donating fabric for new vestments. 8. Learned that Mr. Timothy Higdon will be assisting Mr. Howard Christian with flower arrangements for the High Altar in the Church. Leroy Sharer, secretary
A MOMENT WITH THE PASTOR . . . One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. It was covered with names and small American flags were mounted on either side of it. The seven year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, “Good morning. Alex.” “Good morning, Pastor,” replied the young man, still focused on the plaque. “Pastor, what is this?” “Well, son, it’s a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.” Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Little Alex’s voice was barely audible when he asked, “Which service, the 9:45 or the 11:00?”
A Collect for Independence Day
Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country own liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Wednesday Independence Day
Federal holiday; one Mass only, at 12:15 PM
Friday Weekday Abstinence
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, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.