FROM THE RECTOR: MONEY
A couple of weeks ago the New York Times ran a story headlined, “No Smoke, No Mirrors: The Dutch Pension Plan.” It caught my attention. After reading it I hoped there would be some letters to the editor about the pension situation in our own country. I haven’t seen any yet. I can’t help but think that this is a subject the Times’s editorial board chose to ignore. This short paragraph gets to the heart of the matter:
The Dutch system rests on the idea that each generation should pay its own costs—and that the costs must be measured accurately if that is to happen. After the financial collapse of 2008, workers and retirees in the Netherlands took the bitter medicine needed to rebuild their collective nest eggs quickly, with higher contributions from workers and benefit cuts for pensioners.
Father Matthew Mead, rector, Church of the Good Shepherd, Granite Springs, who served here as curate from 2004 to 2009, reminded me this week that Saint Mary’s faced the financial crisis squarely in a clear but measured way. He recalled a newsletter with the headline, “Retrenchment.” The budget was cut; positions were eliminated. It was very bitter, but necessary medicine.
There’s been a learning curve since then. One challenge has been learning how to maintain and grow our core mission—being the Episcopal parish in Times Square with doors of welcome open daily every day of the year—and doing this within our means. It has not been easy. The annual operating deficit for 2013 was $33,698.31. You can trace the work on our budget through the Annual Reports on the parish web page. The 2013 treasurer’s report provides a good summary of the progress we have made. I am confident that this year we will end up in the black. I dream of us being a parish where every year we have a surplus in the operating budget to give away as outreach.
As many readers know, I grew up Southern Baptist. Tithing, giving ten percent of one’s income away to the church, is part of that heritage that I practice. Some people like to pretend it’s scriptural, but it’s really not. As a rector I have come to know there’s no rhyme or reason why some people give generously to the work of the church and others who could do not. That said, I’ve never forgotten the words that our former bishop Richard Grein once remarked to me when the subject of stewardship came up. He said, “I’ve never known a generous person to be an unhappy.” My uncle, the Reverend Dr. Lawrence Matthews, retired senior pastor, Vienna Baptist Church, Vienna, Virginia, had little hesitation in asking someone, “What do you think God is calling you to do next for his kingdom?”
People love and are drawn to Saint Mary’s for many reasons. I continue to be astounded by the grace of the beauty of holiness of our church home and our traditions of worship. I continue to be humbled by the very wide range of people who are led to visit and worship here.
Right now, the 2015 Stewardship Campaign is underway. As I write, we have pledges at just about fifty percent of our 2015 goal of $425,000. I invite you to join in making a commitment to the parish budget for the coming year. Channeling my inner Uncle Lawrence, “What do you think God is calling you to do for Saint Mary’s?”—Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Barbara, Celia, Jake, George, Virginia, Francesca, Pat, Rebecca, Peggy, Theodore, Patsy, Lisa, Mazdak, Babak, Claude, Pauline, Craig, McNeil, Takeem, Rick, Jack, Linda, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for all the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matt; and for the repose of the souls of Brigid Collins and John Knight . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 9: 1900 Jesse Russell Zwick; 1933 José Bornn; 1935 Mary Stone Nugent; 1955 William Isaac Hay.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Parishioner John Knight died early in the morning of All Saints’ Day, November 1, 2014, at the Brooklyn Hospital Center. He had been struggling with serious pulmonary and cardiac problems for some months now. John lived in Brooklyn and taught mathematics at Long Island University. He joined the parish in 2010. He is survived by his wife Virginia Knight. On Saturday, November 8, the church will open at 8:30 AM. The Burial of the Dead will be celebrated at the high altar at 9:30 AM. Immediately following the service, John will be buried at Resurrection Cemetery, Staten Island, New York. May John rest in peace and rise in glory.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR . . . are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Wednesday, November 12, Bible Study Class: Saint Joseph’s Hall, 6:30 PM . . . Friday, November 14 & Saturday, November 15, Diocesan Convention, Westchester Marriott, Tarrytown, NY . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, November 8, and on Saturday, November 15 by Father Jim Pace.
ADVENT QUIET DAY . . . Saturday, December 6, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM: Seeing Clarely: A Quiet Day based on Clare of Assisi, led by Father John Beddingfield. Clare of Assisi (1194-1253), friend and follower of Saint Francis, sometimes used the image of a mirror to express aspects of faithful living. Through prayer, words, and silence, our Quiet Day will gaze with Clare into various spiritual “mirrors” so that we might come to a deeper understanding of how to live as reflections of Christ. The day will include a simple lunch following the Noon Mass. We will conclude with a simple Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at around 3:00 PM. Lunch and beverages are provided. A freewill donation to cover the costs of the day may be offered. Please RSVP if you would like to attend so that we can make plans for lunch.
STEWARDSHIP 2015 . . . The 2015 Stewardship Campaign is well underway. Pledge packets were mailed on October 15. As of Wednesday, November 5, we have received pledges from 42 households. $219,328.00, 52% of our $425,000.00 goal has been pledged to date. A few other statistics are encouraging: 13 households are pledging for the first time, or are pledging after some time away; 25 households have increased their pledge this year; 21 households have been able to maintain their pledges at the same level as in 2014; and only 6 households have had to reduce their pledge thus far this year. The month of November is a crucial time for the pledge campaign. We need to maintain the momentum of the campaign’s first two weeks. Commitment Sunday is November 23, and we hope to receive the majority of pledges by that date.
We ask all members and friends to return their pledge cards as soon as possible, either by mail or by placing your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass on Sunday morning. You may also call the finance office to discuss your pledge. The staff will be happy to fill out a pledge card for you. If you have already returned your pledge card, we thank you. If you have not done so yet, we ask you seriously and prayerfully to consider how you can support the mission of the parish. Our needs are many; many of you have expressed a desire to maintain and even expand our presence and ministry in Times Square. That can only happen if all of our members and friends support that ministry. If you have questions about stewardship, please ask to speak to a member of the Stewardship Committee.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Barbara Klett had surgery this week and is undergoing a few days of rehabilitation therapy at Mount Sinai Hospital. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Flowers are needed for November 16 and 23 . . . Father Gerth will be away from Saint Mary’s from Saturday, November 8, until Thursday, November 13. He will be traveling on a mission trip to Haiti. He will return to New York in time to attend the diocesan convention in Tarrytown on November 15 . . . Attendance: All Saints’ 163; Last Sunday 214; All Souls’ 123.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Sunday, November 9, 10:00 AM, Mission House, Second Floor: “The Gospel of John,” led by Father Pete Powell . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class continues on November 12 at 6:30 PM. The class, which is led by Father Jay Smith, is normally held in Saint Joseph’s Hall, 145 West Forty-sixth Street. This week we will begin our reading at chapter 5.—Jay Smith
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) was surely one of the most amazing child prodigies the world has ever known. In addition to being a surprisingly mature performer, Mozart began composing before most children of his time could read. As early as 1766, when only ten years old, Mozart had completed a Kyrie. At the instigation of Empress Maria Theresa, he wrote his first complete Mass at age twelve for the Orphanage Church in Vienna, and by 1776 he had completed ten Mass settings. Mozart understood the time constraints of the liturgy and foregoes the polyphonic development that marks so much of his other work. His Masses have a melodic character that is almost popular in style while being warm and highly expressive. The formal conciseness does not exclude an abundance of invention, however, and his Mass settings show an admirable balance of ceremonial splendor and lyrical meditation. The Missa brevis No. 9 in B-flat Major, (K. 275/272b) that we hear at Solemn Mass today was probably written in 1777 while Mozart was in Salzburg. At the ministration of Holy Communion, we will hear a motet by Hans Leo Hassler (1564–1612), who was the first notable German composer to study in Venice with Andrea Gabrieli, organist and choir master of the great basilica, San Marco. Though his actual stay in Venice was short, he quickly and fully assimilated the Venetian influence, as the warmth and suavity of harmony in his motet, Laetentur caeli, from a set of fifty-two motets composed in 1602, clearly shows. On Tuesday, our nation celebrates Veterans’ Day, a day on which we give thanks for all those, living and dead, who have committed themselves to the defense of our nation, its freedoms and its highest principles. To mark the celebration, we will sing “O beautiful for spacious skies” at the end of Mass. The words of the hymn were written by Katherine Lee Bates (1859–1929). Bates taught English at Wellesley College; she also wrote poetry, books for children, and travel books. Her poem “America the Beautiful” was written in 1893 during a summer spent in the mountains of Colorado. The poem is clearly a response to the natural beauty of the landscapes she saw that summer. It also expresses what the United States is and what, at its best, it hopes to be . . . On Sunday afternoon, November 9, at 4:40 PM, the organ recital will be played by Larry Long, choirmaster and organist at the Church of the Epiphany, New York City. Larry’s program includes works by Calvin Hampton (1938–1984), Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), George Shearing (1919–2011), and Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992).—Mark Peterson
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, November 15, 8:00 PM, New York Polyphony: Celebrations from the Mediterranean, music by Guerrero, Victoria, Morales, and Palestrina. This concert is part of the Miller Theater at Columbia University’s Early Music Series. Tickets may be purchased online . . . Monday, November 17, 8:00 PM, Saint Joseph’s Hall, Saint Cecilia Chamber Music Series, Lucia Stavros, harp. Along with colleagues, Ms. Stavros will play a program of works for solo harp and ensemble pieces with flute and viola. Admission is free. A donation to support the parish’s music program may be made . . . Saturday, December 13, 8:00 PM, The Tallis Scholars: Sacred Muses, music by William Byrd, Edmund Turges, and Josquin des Prez. This concert is part of the Miller Theater at Columbia University’s Early Music Series. Tickets may be purchased online.
OUTREACH . . . We continue to collect non-perishable items for our friends and partners at the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Cash donations are also most welcome.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . November 23, The Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King and Commitment Sunday, Sermon by the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf . . . Thursday, November 27, Thanksgiving Day . . . November 30, First Sunday of Advent . . . Sunday, December 7, 6:00 PM, Legacy Society Reception, following Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM . . . Monday, December 8, The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM.
FLOWER DONATION NEWS . . . Saint Mary’s is blessed by a group of dedicated volunteers who take turns going to the flower market to buy flowers and then arrange them. They do a wonderful, spectacular job. For many years we have asked a donation of $200 for the flowers we use on ordinary Sundays. You will not be surprised to learn that inflation, however, has hit flower prices. We want our flowers to be right for our very large altar. Beginning January 1, 2015, we ask that $225 be given for flowers for the altar. It may be true that, as our government tells us, there is little or no inflation overall, yet you and I pay more for many things than we did just a few years ago. Add flowers to the list. S.G.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Metropolitan Museum (Gallery 608) and the Frick Collection, November 4, 2014–February 1, 2015, El Greco in New York: “To commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of the death of El Greco, the Metropolitan Museum and the Hispanic Society of America are pooling their collections of the work of this great painter to provide a panorama of his art unrivaled outside the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The Frick Collection is displaying its paintings contemporaneously.” (The Met is at 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The Frick at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue.) . . . At the Bay Street Theater, corner of Bay and Main Streets, Sag Harbor, NY, November 5–29, To Kill A Mockingbird, based on the novel by Harper Lee, and newly adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel. Saint Mary’s parishioner Cooki Winborn plays the role of Calpurnia. Tickets may be purchased online.