Thursday, November 4, 2021
Dear Family and Friends of St. Philip’s,
As I look forward to Sunday and my first in-person worship service as your new rector, I must say I have been through a wonderful first week. In only two days, so many things were accomplished. Some of these were practical matters such as using the keys and getting to know the property. I have made hotel arrangements for Wednesday evenings at an inexpensive place that is quiet and clean. Each week I am to have the same room. When May Ruth comes with me on Saturday nights we will stay NAS Jax in either a room with suite, or a cabin. The cost at the Naval Air Station is relatively inexpensive.
In other matters Barbara, Arlene, Cedric, and Alphonse have been most helpful in getting me up to speed with things I need to know regarding the office, the church, and the grounds. Arlene cleared an area in the sacristy for my vestments. Arelia, Cedric, and Barbara were most helpful in getting things ready for Sunday.
Throughout all of my time on site, Tony Morrison has been most gracious in answering my many questions. I am finding Tony to be a very special Senior Warden.
Today I met with Linda Baker. We focused on Christian Education and Daughters of the King. She also asked if I knew someone to nominate to be the next Bishop of Florida. Someone did come to mind. I called him, and he is in serious discernment to consider allowing his name to go forward.
At noon, I attended a meeting of the Technology Committee. Athlene, Arlene, Arelia, and Ed were most helpful to me is adjusting to the lapel microphones and understanding the sound system.
I will have one parish call each week. Barbara will set them up. These are not intended for sick or shut-ins, or newcomers. These people will be seen by me as well. Barbara will set up parish calls for me with the regular members. These calls do not have an agenda other than getting to know each other. I want them in your home, and I am not interested in a meal or high tea. The purpose behind the calls is we connect heart to heart, so on Sundays when we see each other we may talk from head to head, but we are also reliving heart to heart. The calls usually last between an hour and half and two hours. My first call was Wednesday evening with Barbara. I did this so she can explain to you from her own experience what this is about.
As recommended by the Covid Committee and approved by the Vestry, We will return on Sunday to receiving bread as well as wine through intinction. Here is how this will work: If you come to the altar for a blessing from me, cross your arms across your chest. I will place my hands on your head and say a blessing. If you want bread only, hold you hands as a cross with your palms up. I will place the wafer in your hand. If you come to the altar with your hands folded, I will take a wafer, dip it in the wine chalice, and place it on your tongue.
You will notice that as I give you communion or bless you, I will ask your name unless I know it already. This helps me to learn everyone’s name, and it makes the Eucharist personal. These things are nice, but I have a strong reason for doing this. When I am using your name, I want you to remember that you are baptized with all its implications. Through your name your baptism is connected to communion. You could say that baptism is the foundation of our Christian life, just as concrete footings may be hidden but still support a building. Meanwhile, the Holy Eucharist nourishes, renews, and informs why we live life as baptized persons.
This afternoon I got to see Rick for my first call on sick or shut-ins. Rick just got out of the hospital and is doing reasonably well.
I remain in awe of the remote services and activities of Monday prayer, Tuesday Bible study, Friday morning worship, 8:30 Sunday African Bible study and worship, and Children’s Christian Education. In addition last Saturday’s Union of Black Episcopalians health forum organized by Alma was excellent and informative. I also enjoyed a Zoom gathering of the Daughters of the King last week. I especially commend James and Linda B. for their coordination of so many of these remote events.
A strange connection for me is that of St. Philip and St. James for my life. I was baptized in St. James Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Michigan. I was confirmed in the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta. I was ordained priest on May 1 which is the Feast of St. Philip and James. The James on this date is known as James the Lesser. In 2007 I became rector of St. James Church in Leesburg. Now I am your new rector at St. Philip’s in Jacksonville.
Please make a note of three special services in late November, December, and early January: Thanksgiving Service on Wednesday, November 24 at 6:30 pm
Christmas Eve Service on Friday, December 24 at 5:30 pm
Feast of Epiphany Service on Thursday, January 6 at 6:30 pm
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday. We will install officers for Daughters of the King right after the Nicene Creed. Just before the Offertory Hymn we will have a prayer and collection for the United Thank Offering.
Finally, I ask that you send in to the Church office a 2022 pledge card. This Sunday’s Gospel is about the “Widow’s Mite.” While Jesus commends the widow’s faithfulness, he regrets her object of giving—the Temple. He does not see it as worthy of her sacrifice. We must always ask the question, is St. Philip’s worthy of our giving? Emphatically I believe it is, and I pledge as long as I am your rector that I will do my best to help you feel the same way. There is so much more I need to share with you regarding stewardship. In time you will learn my views. I hope you will see them as reasonable and sensible regarding our personal and family life and our relationship with God and St. Philip’s. With my love and best wishes, and in my thankfulness in becoming your new rector, I am,
Your brother in Christ,
Also found on the SPEC Connect eNewsletter, In our Ministry’s Realm Group