The Lower Lights
FRESH OUT OF SEMINARY IN 1965 I was called to serve as Pastor of S. Paul Deutsche Evangelische Kirke, founded in 1833 by German immigrants who settled along the Erie Canal six miles east of North Tonawanda, New York, in Niagara County. I followed a wonderful pastor whose first language was German, but having been born and growing up in the United States he spoke fluent English. His parents were first-generation German immigrants.
I can’t say that humor was familiar to him, but he was a very fair man, if stern, and was very kindly disposed towards me throughout the five years I served as his pastor. He remained with the church, present almost every Sunday. He sang in the choir.
When he gave his final word to his people, having served them faithfully for thirty-three years, he announced, “Between you and me it is divorce.” Stern, but his people knew he meant this not only for his sake, but for the pastor who was to follow him. He told them he was not to be contacted for baptisms, weddings, funerals, and any other pastoral tasks. They were not to come to him with complaints about his successor. He was divorced from his labor in that harvest; the responsibilities must be passed on to the one whom they would call in his stead.
He was a gracious, caring pastor for me. Never once did a word come back to me of any criticism of my sermons, vision for the congregation, pastoral labors - nothing. The only competition we knew was when we sat down with our wives to play Pinochle! He had no mercy for me then!
“It is divorce.” Can you imagine how hard it must have been for him to say that?
Farewell, my friends. Candy and I thank you for the more than 15 wonderful years that we have shared with you in ministry here at St. Peter’s-at-the-Light! DLT+
IMPORTANT FEBRUARY DATES: BIRTHDAYS/ANNIVERSARIES Booker Deakyne (1); Joan Malara (8); June Smith (10); Tom Robinson (11); Valerie Kent (14), Kirt Bass (21); Mary Stead (22); and Reg AND Barbara Smith, Anniversary (25).
THE SUBSTANTIAL FUND WAS TITLED by the name of the donor. A little over three hundred thousand dollars. It had sat in an account at the local savings bank. Little attention was given to it. The parish had several large funds, the biggest fund in equities and bonds, the value of which was multi-millions of dollars. Finally the donor-named fund caught the attention of the Evangelism Committee. Could it be used to provide for a program of “side door evangelism” that might attract people in the community who would never enter the double doors at the main entrance?
The Vestry agreed, figuring the fund would sustain the work of an Associate Rector, whose primary mission would be evangelism, for two years. Perhaps after two years the program would be self-sustaining. The Great Hall became a beehive of activity and celebration on Sunday afternoons at five o’clock. Soon the enthusiastic crowd that grew to over 100 persons thought of themselves as “Alive at 5!” (Some wise cracker among the 8 a.m. Sunday regulars dubbed them “Sedate at 8.”) The worshippers at 5 Sunday afternoon had an In-house band, overhead projector and screen - the works. Evangelistic preaching. You might have thought you were with an Assembly of God congregation rather than in an Episcopal church!
The “side door focus” - get them into a worship service with which they could identify, and then they will want to become Episcopalians with a ritualistic, Prayer Book liturgy - this focus didn’t work. By some members of the Vestry these five o’clockers were considered as nothing more than a drain on the parish’s resources. One member of the Vestry referred to them as “cancerous.” The money ran out. The Rector informed the bishop of his embarrassment with the Vestry’s plan to consult with him to ask for Diocesan funds, with them sitting on multi-millions of dollars.
The bishop listened intently to their proposal and asking. Throughout the presentation he said not one word. The presentation finished, the bishop said nothing for what seemed an eternity. Mind you, he said nothing throughout the presentation. Finally, he stood up and said to the Vestry, “Friends, when you let money dictate your mission, you have made money your god.” With that he left the conference room without another word. This is a true story.
PLEASE REMEMBER Althea Martie, longtime faithful member of St. Peter’s, who is at home. Also, Frank Zurlo who is in St. Mary’s Hospital, Langhorne, Pennsylvania as of this writing. Dorothy Reynolds continues to do well following her fall at home. Please keep these persons and others of our community of faith who have special needs in your prayers. If you are accustomed to observing at least one of the Daily Offices (Morning or Evening Prayer, according to The Book of Common Prayer) it would be helpful to keep a current copy of our Sunday Mass bulletin at hand to remember all who are currently on the Prayer List.
AFTER FEBRUARY 23 if there are pastoral services needed please contact our Senior Warden, Tom MacArthur at (732) 930-4659. Tom was elected to fill the unexpired term of Walter Whimpenny, who has served St. Peter’s faithfully in this capacity for almost 7 years. Walter and his wife, Marie, along with Linda Pugliese will be our Deputies to Diocesan Convention March 7.
YOU WILL WANT TO KEEP IN TOUCH with any member of the Mission Committee to learn about the direction of pastoral leadership and their vision for St. Peter’s in the months ahead.
OUR NEXT LADIES’ LUNCHEON will be hosted on Wednesday, February 12, at noon at the Parish House. We are planning a Valentine’s Day “Love Feast Celebration” in honor of the Hearts of Mercy (HOM) mothers and guardian of the children for whom St. Peter’s provided gifts from our Angel Tree project. These special ladies will be accompanied by Kristin Santorelli, Founder and President of HOM, who will give a brief presentation of the focus and thrust of the organization. We look forward to talking with the moms as well to attain a better picture of the struggles they’ve endured, their goals and successes.