FROM THE RECTOR: PRIDE
A year ago, two events occurred very close to each other, united in different ways to “pride.” On June 28, 2018, we celebrated the Burial of the Dead for Richard Joseph “Dick” Leitsch. In the early hours of June 28, 1969, what came to be known as the Stonewall Uprising began. I did not know until I saw the movie Stonewall Uprising with Dick Leitsch and Father Edgar Wells, that Dick was presiding at the meeting at which it was decided to have the first Pride March.
On April 21, 1966, Dick was president of the Mattachine Society in New York City. He and two other gay men, along with Fred McDarrah, a photographer from the Village Voice, ended up at Julius, a bar in Greenwich Village. They ordered drinks. Then, before a single drink could be poured, Dick announced to the bartender, “We are homosexuals.” As the bartender reached out a hand to cover Dick’s glass, McDarrah snapped a picture. The event, which came to be known as the “Sip In,” is remembered as a milestone in the struggle for gay rights in America. McDarrah’s photo became iconic: a copy of the image is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. In December 1967, the New York Court of Appeals would overturn the State Liquor Authority’s regulations which prohibited serving known homosexual persons in a bar or restaurant with a liquor license.
On Sunday, July 1, 2018, I was in New Orleans. I had been invited to give an invocation at the ceremony marking the promotion of Colonel Timothy Adams, USMC, to brigadier general. A senior priest colleague in the parish where I served right out of seminary had been a chaplain at West Point. He had given me a copy of A Prayer Book for the Armed Forces 1967. Its prayers seemed right for the occasion. There was nothing political about the ceremony. The Marine Corps generals, officers, and enlisted men and women that I met left me feeling a certain confidence in the character of the people of our nation. These were men and women who are dedicating their lives to the defense of our country. It was an honor to be among them.
There were a good number of Episcopalians in the room. General Adams and his family are members of Grace-St. Luke’s Church, Memphis. Their former rector, the Very Reverend Richard Lawson, had just become the dean of Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver. Dean Lawson had been a seminarian at Saint Mary’s during his last two years at the General Theological Seminary.
Last week I was honored to be invited to a reception at a large New York law firm that was celebrating the work of its LBGTQ attorneys and staff and the pro bono work of its lawyers for homosexuals seeking asylum in the United States with Legal Services NYC. Many of the city’s leading law firms and corporations are involved in this work. One of the speakers at the reception was a man from Ghana, who had suffered a great deal. He came from a “conservative” Christian family. He had recently been granted asylum. The great majority of people in Ghana are Christians, the next largest group, Muslim. Ghana is one of the many places in the world where it is dangerous to be homosexual, male or female. I spoke to him afterwards about Saint Mary’s. He was very gracious. I hope a welcoming church community may be a part of his future.
I am proud to be an American and to be an Episcopalian. No country is perfect, but ours remains a country to which people want to come and are free to leave. Our denomination has a tremendous heritage of witness, service, and welcome. I know that whenever our doors are open, our building bespeaks not only who we are, but proclaims a Christ who welcomes all.
I close with two quotations from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks that I used in my homily for Dick’s burial: “If people do not like you for what you are, they will not like you more for pretending to be what you are not” and “By being what only we are, we contribute to humanity what only we can give.” Let us give thanks for all who find the grace to accept the call to be brave. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Jessica, David, Bryan, Dianna, Beulah, Cyrisse, Wendell, May, Willard, Alexandra, Karen, Susan, Carolyn, Ivy, Marilouise, Takeem, Carmen, José, James, Michael, Robert, and Barbara; for Horace, James, Gaylord, Louis, and Edgar, priests; for James, bishop; and for all the benefactors and friends of this parish.
GRANT THEM PEACE: June 30: 1913 Stephen Price Simpson; 1926 Beulah Field Wood; 1972 Ruth Moore Tripp.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, June 30, The Third Sunday after Pentecost, Summer Worship Schedule begins: Morning Prayer 8:30 AM; Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass 11:00 AM; Evening Prayer 5:00 PM . . . Wednesday, July 3, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Ministry to the Homeless: Grab and Go, 2:00–3:00 PM, Narthex . . . Thursday, July 4, Independence Day, Federal Holiday Schedule: the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass with Healing Service 12:10 PM. The parish offices are closed . . . Friday, July 5, Centering Prayer Group, 6:30 PM in the Atrium in the Parish House, Second Floor.
LITURGICAL NOTE . . . During the summer months, we’re not going to put frontals on the altar except for the Feast of the Assumption, Thursday, August 15, 2019. The altar itself is beautiful. The altar and its gradine (the ascending shelves on either side of the tabernacle) were given in 1872 by John Murray, a member of the board of trustees, in memory of his wife. The canopy and spire over the tabernacle were added in 1921. There is a framed photograph of the altar before the canopy and spire were placed opposite the door to the smoke room. —S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Christopher Howatt, parish administrator, will be away from Saint Mary’s Friday, June 28, until Sunday, July 7. While Chris is away, parishioner and parish volunteer, Clint Best, will be in the office most days, during normal business hours, answering the phone, receiving deliveries, forwarding messages, and taking care of business, in addition to performing his usual tasks. We are very grateful to Clint for his generous assistance . . . Dr. David Hurd will be away from the parish from Sunday, June 30, until Friday, July 5. He will be attending the annual conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians in Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Clark Anderson, a member of the parish, will play at the Solemn Mass on Sunday. Mr. Jason Roberts will play at the Sung Mass on Wednesday, July 3, at 12:10 PM. We are very grateful to Clark and Jason for their help and their artistry . . . Attendance: Corpus Christi 211.
FROM BROTHER THOMAS SSF . . . At the convention of the diocese of Northern Michigan in 1987, Thomas K. Ray (1934–2018), IX bishop of the diocese, made the following statement: “It is clear we are in the midst of a revolution, but this is not a revolution of our making. Rather I believe God is dragging us into a revolution.” The revolution that he was referring to was one of structure and sustainability, of empowerment and community.
The Upper Peninsula is made up of approximately twenty-four rural parishes with congregations ranging in size from six to eighty, or more, individuals. With such remote congregations, small numbers, few seminary-trained clergy, and limited resources, the question of how one does church becomes an important question. This was the revolution that Bishop Ray was talking about, the revolution of how six faithful people can gather together at their church, without an ordained priest and still be a part of the Episcopal community. Were they to close their doors due to the fact that they could no longer function within traditional structures, or could there be another way? And so thirty years ago the diocese as a whole took a leap to figure out if another way was possible.
Structurally, the diocese of Northern Michigan is a “Total Ministry” diocese. They realized that the only way they could survive as a diocese was to work together, sharing the responsibilities of ministry and worship, of training, pastoral care, of raising up local congregational leaders, and engagement with the communities around them. The work of the church could not rest on the shoulders of a priest that they didn’t have and couldn’t afford. So the congregations, with the help and support of the bishop’s office, took the tasks on themselves.
The reason for this short history lesson is to give some background as to the task I have been asked to do. Until the end of July, Lydia Bucklin, Canon to the Ordinary for Discipleship and Vitality and I, as an outside ear, will be traveling to all twenty-four parishes and listening to the stories of the individuals who have been living out this model of ministry. After thirty years of doing this work, the diocese wants to see if it has brought about the new life of the church that everyone was hoping for. As we take the pulse of the diocese, we will be listening to see what ways these congregations need to be better supported, to see what has been going well and what has not worked, to listen for the lessons they have learned and the challenges that have arisen.
As church attendance overall continues to decline, more and more dioceses are beginning to look at ways in which they can interact with the world around them in sustainable and viable ways. Our hope is to take a look at what is being done in the Upper Peninsula and see if in fact Bishop Ray was right and that it was a revolution in the way the Episcopal church functions, or whether it was simply an experiment. —Thomas Steffensen SSF
AN INVITATION TO A CONCERT . . . On Saturday, June 29, 2019, 5:00–7:30 PM, at Saint Paul’s Chapel, 209 Broadway, the Episcopal Asian Supper Table of the Diocese of New York (EAST) presents “Rising Voices: A Celebration of Asian-American Talent.” Tickets are $25.00 and may be purchased online. A large number of talented musicians will be performing at the concert, including Shoji Mizumoto, who has often worshipped with us here at Saint Mary’s, and Bishop Allen Shin, suffragan bishop and former curate here at the parish.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The “guest” organist on Sunday morning is, in fact, a member of Saint Mary’s, Mr. Clark Anderson, whom we welcome to the console this weekend. The cantor is Ms. Heather Meyer, who has sung frequently in the choir and as cantor at Saint Mary’s in recent years. During the ministration of Communion, she will sing an aria from Theodora by George Frederick Handel (1685–1759). Theodora is normally classified as one of Handel’s oratorios. Oratorios are usually multi-movement musical works intended for concert performance which employ various configurations of vocalists and instrumentalists in the service of a biblical narrative. Works classified as operas have been known to engage religious subject matter and have been known to receive concert performances without staging or costumes. Theodora, whose subject matter touches upon Christian religious subject matter, but cannot be said to be biblical, is an example of a work which confounds standard categories. (The oratorio concerns the Christian martyr Theodora and her Christian-converted Roman lover, Didymus.) Perhaps for that reason, it was not well received as an oratorio in Handel’s own time. Nonetheless, the merits of its music have been recognized in more recent times, and Theodora has even received fully staged operatic performances, which further confounds its categorization. The aria sung today is a prayer set in da capo aria form, that is, two contrasting musical sections are followed by a concluding repeat of the first in an ABA shape. —David Hurd
Johannes Brahms (1833–1897) learned to play the organ at the beginning of his career but composed for the instrument only sporadically or as part of larger choral and instrumental works. During the final year of his life, however, he returned to pure organ composition, writing seven chorale preludes that were published posthumously with five earlier works. The most interesting aspect of the pieces for us is that Brahms, a well-known agnostic, chose to set Christian hymns as his final compositions. He almost certainly knew he was dying. So it is impossible not to experience them as the deeply personal creations of a man wrestling with the ultimate questions of faith. In the prelude, Brahms has the chorale melody stride majestically in the pedals under the other voices: “My Jesus calls to me, holds out eternal bliss . . . Hear, Lord, thy servant sings aloud the Bridegroom’s praise and in thee rejoices.” The postlude is more restless, driving to a stirring climax, with the melody alternating between the soprano and tenor voices: “O God, Thou faithful God, thou Fountain ever flowing, without whom nothing is, all perfect gifts bestowing. O give me a pure and healthy frame and within a conscience free from blame, a soul unhurt by sin.” —Clark Anderson
2019 NYC WORLDPRIDE–STONEWALL 50 MARCH, Sunday, June 30, 2019, 11:00 AM–11:00 PM. In order to march with diocesan groups: check in for Episcopalians is at 4:00 PM. Formation Block: 32nd Street between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue. Section Number: 8. Order Number: 29. For fully updated information check the Committee’s Facebook page.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Our next Drop-in Day will take place on Wednesday, July 17, 2:00 to 4:00 PM, in the Mission House basement. On those Wednesdays when a Drop-in Day does not take place, we continue to offer our Grab-and-Go days—from 2:00 to 3:00 PM, not 2:00 to 4:00 PM—in the former Gift Shop off the church Narthex. On those days, basic, even emergency, items can normally be provided—socks, underwear, toiletry articles, and, in the winter months, cold-weather clothing. Please contact Brother Damien if you would like to make a donation of cash, clothing, or toiletry articles, or to volunteer for this important ministry . . . We continue to receive donations of canned goods and other nonperishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Donations may be placed in the basket next to the Ushers’ Table at the Forty-sixth Street entrance to the church.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . On the website of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, located at 2 East Ninety-first Street (between Fifth and Madison Avenues), The Object of the Day Blog: LGBTQ+ Designers and Design. The blog is written by Cooper Hewitt’s curators, graduate fellows, and contributing researchers and scholars. Posts are published five times a week (Monday through Friday) and present research on an object from the museum’s collection. In celebration of World Pride, June Object of the Day posts highlight LGBTQ+ designers and design in the collection. The June blog posts feature the work of such well-known artists and designers as Andy Warhol, Elsie de Wolfe, and Chip Kidd. Other designers are less well known, but their work, and their influence, are still significant. Taken together the objects presented in the blog bear witness to the creative spirit of the LGBTQ+ community in America.