About the Annual Meeting
In the Episcopal Church an annual meeting of the congregation is held every year. It is the occasion for the members of the congregation to receive reports from the rector and vestry on the temporal affairs of the community and to hold parish elections. It is also a time when the parish leadership reports to the community about its work in the past year and plans for the new year.
Some newer members of our community may not know the circumstances of Saint Mary's formal legal organization. Saint Mary's was incorporated in 1868 under a "Free Church" act of the New York State legislature. At that time, the vast majority of Episcopal congregations supported themselves by charging "pew" rents. Saint Mary's founders committed themselves to being "free" to any who would come. This also meant that structurally Saint Mary's would have a "Board of Trustees" instead of a vestry.
In the nineteenth century, vestries weren't elected necessarily by the congregation. In my former parish the vestry elected itself from the time of its incorporation in 1837 until 1942. Today at Trinity Church, New York City, the congregation votes simply "yes" or "no" on a slate of nominees
proposed by the current vestry and their vestry members do not have to be members of the parish. There is even a parish in Savannah, Georgia, where the rector is not a member of the vestry. The variety is remarkable.
At Saint Mary's the trustees elect themselves. Under Father Wells a system evolved where trustees who were elected with the understanding that they would serve for life (the original Saint Mary's system) would continue to serve under that understanding and that those who were elected in the present would rotate through three-year terms. The rector by our bylaws is a trustee and president of the trustees; when he or she becomes rector this includes these offices. Officers, other than the rector are elected for one-year terms. This is the system that continues. The congregation at Saint Mary's does elect the congregation's representative to the diocesan convention.
An annual meeting is really a time for information and for celebration of our ministries. This sometimes surprises those who join the Episcopal Church from more Protestant traditions where congregational meetings, for example, debate the budget or elect their minister. (In the Episcopal Church vestries or trustees always make these kinds of decisions.) Those who were formerly Roman Catholic are usually pleased that there is any meeting or exchange of information at all!
The Church has rules about who is a voting member of the congregation. At Saint Mary's a voter must be a confirmed communicant in good standing, sixteen years of age, and a giver of record for the last sixth months of the preceding year. ("Confirmed" by definition in canon law includes those persons who have been formally "received" by a bishop of this Church with the laying on of hands and those who have formally made a "reaffirmation" of their faith before a bishop of this Church and received the laying on of hands in addition to those who were formally "confirmed.")
At Saint Mary's we also have the custom of having a parish brunch this day. Please make a reservation, 869-5830, if you have not already done so. Newcomers to the parish are absolutely welcome. The meeting really isn't about "elections" and who is a formal "member." It's for communication and for the building up of our common ministry. It's a chance to meet and speak with the leadership of the church. I hope very much you will be able to be here.
PRAYER LIST…Your prayers are asked for Harold who is gravely ill and for Beatrice, Charles, priest, and Rodney, priest, who are hospitalized and for Joseph, Jack, Olga, Helen, Mary, Lucille, Frances, Carl, Frank, Eleanor, Jane, John, Kersten, Nolan, Barbara, Rick, Judy, Roy, Peter, Phillip, Angela, Jennifer, Rose, Marie, Katherine, Harold, Charles, John and Jonathon . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 28: 1987 Wan Tang Jou, February 2: 1985 Walter Phelps Warren and John Doy Woods, February 3: 1983 Van Buren Chaney.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17, First Corinthians 14:12b-20, Luke 4:21-32 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 27 by Father Gerth and on February 3 by Father Shin.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, Beatrice Norling is at Hackensack Medical Center, Hackensack, New Jersey. Father Charles Whipple is at Saint Vincent Medical Center for treatment. We expect him to go home shortly. And, Father Rodney Kirk is at Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, for treatment. Please keep them in your prayers . . . Sunday, January 28, is the forty-first anniversary of ordination to the deaconate of our Rector Emeritus, the Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells. Congratulations, Father! . . . Altar flowers are needed for February 11, 18 and 25 until the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. If you are interested, please telephone the parish office at 212-869-5830 . . . Saint Mary's Guild will meet on Saturday, January 27 from 10:30 AM until 3:00 PM to continue vestment care projects . . . The Wednesday evening series, "Life Together," concludes on January 31 in Saint Benedict's Study. The series is lead by Father Breidenthal and meets from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. . . . Trupiano and Mann Organ Builders have begun necessary maintenance repairs to the organ. We are thankful to those whose financial leadership is making this possible . . . Please note a schedule change for February: The midweek Christian Formation series, "Vocation and Spirituality" will be on Thursday evenings, February 8 through February 22 . . . For those who would like to have church contribution envelopes and have not done so, please see the ushers at the back of the church and they will assist you in finding your envelopes . . . . .Attendance last Sunday: 146.
THE ORDINATION OF A PRIEST . . . Your prayers and presence are requested for Mary Elizabeth Haddad who will be ordained priest on Sunday, January 28, at 4:00 PM at Saint Bartholomew's Church, New York City. Mother Haddad served here as seminarian and assisted as a deacon before assuming her position at Saint Bartholomew's. We look forward to welcoming her back to Saint Mary's on a special occasion.
THE CHURCH CLUB OF NEW YORK is presenting a series of lectures on "The Anglican Tradition Down Through History," January 25 to April 3, led by Professor J. Robert Wright of General Theological Seminary. The lectures will be on Thursday evenings, the first five to be held at Saint Thomas Church and the final lecture to be held at General. The cost for the six-session series is $50.00. For more information, please see the brochure on the bulletin board in Saint Joseph's Hall or call the Church Club at 212-828-7418.
2001 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . As we go to press, 97 pledges have been received to support for the 2001 Operating Budget. These pledges total $195,618.00.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
Annual Meeting of the Congregation 12:30 PM
Thursday Brigid, abbess
Eve of the Presentation 6:00 PM
Friday The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ
in the Temple
Organ Recital 5:30 PM
Blessing of Candles, Procession & Solemn Mass 6:00 PM
Saturday Blase, bishop
The Blessing of Throats is offered at the end of the Mass.
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.