Rector’s Chronicle: May 2010

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

Just as May is the time when the new growth of spring pushes its way up into the light, so this Eastertide 2010 at Saint Thomas is a time of change and growth in the Church’s ministry; and I have good news to publish.

FATHER ERDMAN PURSE

I have already announced “with pride, pleasure and sadness,” that Fr. Jonathan Erdman has been called to become Rector of Calvary Church, Louisville, beginning in July. His last Sunday with us is June 20, when we will have a special reception in Andrew Hall for the Erdmans. I want to give us all the opportunity to contribute to a thank-you purse to present to him at that reception. You may write a check to Saint Thomas Church, earmarking it “Father Erdman thank-you.” We have much to be thankful for in Father Jonathan, his wife Andrea, their daughter Sarah, and now a child expected late this month.

Jonathan’s call to Calvary Church is an exciting prospect in which we can all rejoice with him. As I write this, we are conferring on how to carry on the good ministries he has initiated for young people. Fr. Erdman is helpful in suggesting ways forward. I am very grateful for his time and work here and shall watch his career as Rector with great interest.

NEW PRIESTS ON THE SCENE, AND OLDER ONES TOO

Fr. Michael Spurlock and his family – Aimee his wife, and their son Atticus, 10, and daughter Hadley, 3 – move to New York late in May and begin with us here in June. I am sure you join me in looking forward to Father Spurlock’s full time pastoral ministry as Curate. I devoted much of my March Rector’s Chronicle to his biography and background, which you may reference on the website.

Fr. Joel C. Daniels, a well known and loved young priest whom Saint Thomas sponsored and I presented to Bishop Sisk for Holy Orders in 2007, will join us this summer as an Assisting Priest. Father Daniels and his wife Lystra will live in a clergy apartment in the Choir School in exchange for Joel’s presence and work in a part-time, non-stipendiary agreement while he continues his work as a graduate student in theology at Boston University.

Father Spurlock, 41, and Father Daniels, 31, (as well as Headmaster Father Wallace, ??) bring connections to the growing constituency of parishioners of similar age at Saint Thomas. As for those who, like Father Austin, 54, and yours truly, 63, are WW II Baby Boomers and older, we are glad to have the presence and support of my “Junior Curate” the Rector Emeritus. We also have active honorary and recently retired clergy such as Fr. Tom Pike and Fr. Bill Greenlaw joining Fr. Jack Smith, Canon Professor Robert Wright, and Fr. Bill Norgren on the Sunday and weekday scene. And then there is the long-distance help of Fr. Anthony Fletcher from Sandwich, Kent, in the UK, and Fr. Ivan Weiser from Santa Fe, NM.

Speaking of Father John Andrew, I am pleased to report that he is gaining strength, improving every day, from his accident just before Holy Week. He hopes to be back at church soon, and sends his love and thanks for all your prayers and gestures of kindness and good will. And Father Fletcher will return for another tour of service at Saint Thomas this fall. I am so grateful for his help this past winter and spring, especially in Holy Week, in the wake of Father Stafford’s retirement and departure. As for beloved Robert, he recently reported he had received his first Social Security check and first Church Pension Fund check, which deepened his sense of well-being out west on the San Andreas Fault.

LAY STAFF MINISTERS

We are making a change in the Verger’s position. Anthony (Tony) Jones will succeed David Daniel as Verger as of June 1. Presently David is “transitioning in” Tony, who began this process officially the last week of April. I am very pleased with this development. Tony has been Acquisitions and Cataloguing Associate for Gifts and Deposits at The Frick Collection since 2000 and Artistic Director/Head Ballet Teacher at the Ridgefield (CT) Civic Ballet and Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance since 2007. I have hoped Tony would one day be available to be our Verger; now it has come to pass.

I am grateful beyond measure to David Daniel for his outstanding work the past two years as Verger. He stayed on for a year beyond what he and I had originally envisioned for him. But David is not leaving us. In August he will begin a new initiative, a job deliberately without a title, in mission and ministry in the Saint Thomas nave. He will make our first response of this sort to the 300,000 souls (that is a conservative calculation well-based on long observation) who climb the Fifth Avenue steps to enter our nave each year over and above services. David will report directly to me in a task that I believe will have many beneficial ramifications. We have done a lengthy, detailed study of what happens in the nave and how we can respond to it; this includes a considerable job description. You will not see David “up front” on Sundays but very likely in the pews instead. His work will be unseen by the congregation at worship, because his mission is to the thousands of people who visit us between services. He also operates much of our website. A special presentation was made in April to the Vestry about this initiative. Much of what the Church does is “maintenance.” This is pure “mission.” Since we have no title, we choose to call it “Dave in the Nave.”

This year 2010 is the 25th anniversary of Douglas Robbe’s and my working together. It all started in 1985 when I became Rector of The Church of the Advent, Boston, where Douglas was Administrative Assistant. When Saint Thomas called me as Rector in 1996, I brought Douglas with me. [Douglas had let slip to Nancy and me, “We’re going to New York!” After he went home, I said to Nan, “Did you hear that?” She replied, “You can’t leave Douglas behind.”] He is my beloved Secretary to the Rector: “Father Mead’s Office, Douglas Robbe speaking,” goes the voice, ending on an upbeat note that no doubt has to do with Douglas’ love of New York. He was a Yankee fan up in Boston all those years, even though he is a true New Englander with roots in New Hampshire and Maine. I want to record here how grateful I am for Douglas’ work and friendship, his courage and honesty, his passion for the Church and for the arts, especially music. I know he has many fans at Saint Thomas; rightly so.

There will likely be another Chronicle this June, to mark the coming of summer. In the meantime, make full use of the website for news at Saint Thomas.

Faithfully your Priest and Rector,

Andrew C. Mead