The Rector’s Chronicle Lent 2019
My dear friends,
The past months have been marked by a great deal of activity in our church family; we have bid farewell to staff and parishioners who have moved away and have welcomed the arrival of new staff and new members. Our strategic planning exercise is over half-way through and has engaged a huge number of people; the data-collection period being over, we now turn to examining our life, our finances, and our future growth.
It has been a joy for us to have Bishop Andrew St. John with us, and we are grateful for his wisdom and sense of humor. I am delighted to tell you that Bishop Andrew has decided to make Saint Thomas Church his parish church, and has accepted my invitation to become an honorary member of staff. As Bishop in Residence he will assist with the liturgical, pastoral, and spiritual life of the parish.
We have welcomed Father Ryan Bennett, a priest from the Diocese of Ballarat in Australia. Father Bennett is a member of the Society of the Sacred Mission and is doing post-graduate work in Spiritual Direction at the General Theological Seminary for the next two years. Father Bennett’s softly spoken voice and pastoral sensitivity is already making an impact with parishioners, and his particular studies in spirituality at the General Theological Seminary means that he will be thinking how we meet the needs of our many visitors during the week as well as parishioners, and offer new experiences of prayer as we move forward.
As part of our strategic plan, our clergy and lay members will be thinking of ways to deepen our spirituality to ensure that Saint Thomas Church continues to be known as a ‘Center for Spirituality’ in the heart of New York City.
The Wardens and Vestry paid tribute to two of our parishioners who have retired from their roles in the Church guilds – Jean Grainger and Charlotte Wiggers. Jean has moved back to North Carolina to be near her family after serving an impressive 30 years as an Usher, as a member of the Annual Appeal Committee, and in recent years as Head of the Altar Guild.
Jean has been a loyal supporter of our Planned Giving program (the Duffie-Noble Guilds) and of our many hospitality events. We are grateful for the warmth and infectious joy that she brings to everything she does. (Who will ever forget her leading the limbo-dancing contest at our Caribbean evening!). Jean, we wish you all the best in your retirement.
Charlotte Wiggers has stepped down after 25 years leading the ‘Welcome Committee’ and as a High Altar lector. Charlotte’s commitment to welcoming visitors and new members is legendary and she has organized the guild quietly and carefully for a very long time, including personally welcoming in the Narthex and, importantly, at the Coffee Hour after services. Although Charlotte is taking a break from this leadership role, we are delighted that she continues to be fully involved in the life of the parish, including her devotion to our seniors and to those who are housebound or shut in through frailty. Thank you, Charlotte, for your pastoral care and concern.
With these retirements, we have new leaders; Marilyn Finklea is the new Head of our Altar Guild and Chris Hayley is Assistant Head. The work of the Welcome Committee is now being merged with the Usher Corps under the leadership of Timothy Hidgon, and we are studying ways of expanding their work so that the ushers and the welcomers have a complimentary ministry. If you are interested in becoming a welcomer or usher, please let us know
– we are planning a meeting to share ideas moving forward.
It is always a joy to celebrate anniversaries with staff and we were all delighted to celebrate with Sharlene Shah, her 25 years of work with Saint Thomas Church. Sharlene is our payroll and benefits manager and deals with a whole host of personnel related matters; she began her work at Saint Thomas Church under Father John Andrew. As her third Rector, I know I am ably supported by her knowledge and expertise. Thank you Sharlene!
Choir School Centennial
Our ‘Founders’ Day’ celebrations on March 3rd were enjoyed by a great many people, including alumni of our Choir School and its supporters. Since the Saint Thomas Choir School opened its doors in 1919, so many boys have been nurtured, and their lives transformed, by this incredible institution; this is a wonderful milestone and one that we should be justly proud of. The school is also a form of outreach, with a story worth telling to so many people.
At the Founders’ Day Solemn Eucharist, we welcomed The Reverend Dr. David Cobb, Father of two alumni. Father Cobb gave the first of a series of sermons from alumni, parents of alumni, and educators in honor of the schools Centenary. In the afternoon, we welcomed the Bishop of New York to a celebratory evensong, followed by an extraordinary organ recital performed by four of our recent Choir School graduates. They played amazingly well and we were all deeply moved. Bishop Dietsche paid tribute to the place of Saint Thomas Church and its Choir School in the life of the Diocese and masterfully wove the experience of music-making around the Diocese into his sermon. During the Centennial period, we will welcome a number of other visiting preachers who understand the significance of Choir Schools, including the Director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools, the Dean of Exeter, the Bishop of Salisbury, and our own Rector Emeritus, Father Andrew Mead.
Although there are many choir schools and specialist music schools in the world, and a number closely connected with the 42 English Cathedrals, there are now only three left in the world where the choristers alone make up the student body. There are many boarding schools in England and a number where Cathedral choristers may board, as well as boarding schools here in the USA, but there is something very special about a community formed by the choristers, with the faculty and staff living together in one place. Westminster Abbey and the Abbey at Montserrat in Southern Spain, join Saint Thomas Choir School in being such communities.
There are a number of celebratory events planned for the school’s centenary year, including the Lenten sermon series and the centennial organ recitals. In case you missed some of the sermons, you can listen to them again online:
March 3 Founders’ Day
11 am: Theme: The Transfiguration.
Preacher: The Rev. Dr. David Cobb, University of the South, Sewanee, and parent to two former choristers.
4 pm: Theme: Worship God with every gift you have. Preacher: The Bishop of New York
Lenten Sermons Series:
“The one who sings prays twice”(attributed to St. Augustine)
10 Lent 1 – Theme: Prayer as Rhythm. Preacher: The Rev. Geoff Simpson,
Rector-Chaplain of the School, St. Thomas Episcopal Church and School, Houston, TX, and former chorister.
17 Lent 2 – Theme: Prayer as Melody.
The Rev. Alison Turner,
Director of Children and Family Ministry here at Saint Thomas and former Headmistress of Exeter Junior School and Priest Vicar of Exeter Cathedral.
24 Lent 3 – Theme: Prayer as Harmony.
The Rev. Sean Mullen,
Rector of St Mark’s Church, Philadelphia, and former chorister.
31 Lent 4 – Theme: Prayer as Syncopation.
The Rt. Rev. William H. (Chip) Stokes,
Bishop of New Jersey and former chorister.
April 7 Lent 5 – Theme: Prayer as Cadence.
The Rev. R-J Heijmen,
for Stewardship and Young Adult Ministries, St. Martin’s Church, Houston, TX, and former chorister.
June 9 Pentecost Sunday
11 am: Theme: I will sing with the Spirit.
September 8 Patronal Festival
4 pm: Theme: Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
The Rev. Fleming Rutledge
November 3 All Saints’ Sunday
11am: Theme: Who are these like stars appearing?
The Rev. Andrew Mead, Rector Emeritus
November 10 Remembrance Sunday & Alumni Weekend
11am: Theme: God’s love has been poured into our hearts. The Rev. Dr. Daniel R. Heischman, Executive Director, National Association of Episcopal Schools
Commemorating the Centennial
‘Honoring our past – funding our future.’
Endowing a Choristership to Mark our Centennial
Whatisa choristership? A Saint Thomas Choir School endowed choristership is a gift of $500,000 that serves as a living testimony to honor or memorialize a friend or loved one. The investment produces income that is used to underwrite a portion of the cost of a chorister each year during his tenure at the school. Donors from every corner of our community—parents, parishioners, musicians, and friends—have chosen to support the Choir School by endowing a choristership. How does it work? Each choristership is awarded in recognition of a boy’s achievement and supports his continued study at the school by covering tuition and offering a small stipend. Recipients are chosen for their outstanding leadership in the choir, the classroom, and the community. Choristerships assist the school by offsetting a portion of the ever-increasing cost of housing, nurturing, and educating the choristers.
Honoring our past. Currently, there are four named Choristerships; to mark the Choir School’s centennial, we wish to establish a fifth choristership, in memory of our founder, T. Tertius Noble—but we need your help to make this goal a reality. Dr. Noble came to Saint Thomas with a vision of building a lasting program dedicated to the development of boys’ musicianship, scholarship, and character. He had previously been the organist and choirmaster at
York Minster in England, where all of his boy singers were students at a choir school. When the rector of Saint Thomas, the Reverend Ernest M. Stires, and the vestry called him to New York in 1913, Dr. Noble accepted the position with the understanding that a similar school would be necessary to achieve the high musical standard desired for the parish. Six years later, on 3 March 1919, the Choir School opened. Located at 123 West 55th Street, it housed 14 boys, two staff, a housemother, and Dr. and Mrs. Noble. The school had moved from vision to reality—and with it an American tradition was born.
The opportunityof a lifetime
Today, the school boasts a custom-designed building on the edge of Central Park with cutting-edge classrooms, light- filled living spaces, a library, and more, serving 26 boys and the school’s faculty and staff, and the choristers have earned their place as members of the world-renowned Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys. Dr. Noble’s vision has become the opportunity of a lifetime for generations of choristers and their families—and for all who hear and are moved by the choir’s heavenly sounds. But as with any enduring legacy, it requires a financial commitment to maintain the standards of excellence achieved through the Choir School. That’s where you come in.
Funding our future. We invite you to help us honor Dr. Noble by contributing toward an endowed choristership in his name. A gift in any amount will help us ensure that his legacy endures for the next 100 years and beyond. To contribute to the Noble Choristership, or to learn more about endowing a choristership in honor of memory of a loved one, please contact the Headmaster: [email protected] or the Director of Development, Ann Kaplan: [email protected]. You can download a brochure from the Church Website.
Commemorating the Centennial liturgically
There is one further project that we will be embarking on to celebrate the centennial in the parish by providing something musical to enrich the liturgy.
‘Come, labor on.’ – A supplement to the 1982 Hymnal
We are planning to produce our very own Saint Thomas supplement to the 1982 hymnal. Although the 1982 hymnal is tried and tested, nevertheless, it was not entirely designed with a church like Saint Thomas in mind. We are one of the very few Episcopal Churches (with the possible exception of the national Cathedral in Washington) to have, on average, five choral services a week. This means we need office hymns for feast days, and processional hymns that are long enough for our choir and ministers to process through our great Nave (the late John Scott used to lament the shortening of many hymns in the 1982 revision to the 1940 hymnal). Additionally, there is little plainsong in the 1980 hymnal – something very much part of our tradition here – and there is an omission of some of the more traditional devotional hymns for the Eucharist and for the celebration of the saints.
Later this year we will be inviting parishioners to suggest hymns from a variety of sources and in keeping with our choral tradition. Dr. Jeremy Filsell, Benjamin Sheen, and the clergy will also be compiling lists and sources. It is important to note that not everyone’s favorite hymn can be included, but we will be interested to hear your ideas. Once complied, we will seek appropriate permissions and authorizations, and have the supplement printed for the pews; it may be that other churches affiliated to the Association of Anglican Musicians orthe Royal School of Church Music may be interested in our project.
The choir have recently returned from a one-week domestic tour to Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas as part of Saint Thomas Choir School’s Centennial. They sang at the Eucharist at the Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, and then gave three concerts – at First Presbyterian Church, Tyler, TX; St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Shreveport, LA; and Christ Episcopal Church, Little Rock, AR.
Those of you who follow the Choir on Face Book will have enjoyed some of the photographs shared there. Touring is not only important for raising awareness of a great choral tradition and as a tool for recruitment, it also builds up the esprit de Coeur of the choir – a bonding that helps the choir sing even better on its return home.
Holy Week – APRIL 14-21
Continuing the tradition of inviting guests to become part of our community during Holy Week and bringing their wisdom and spirituality to bear, I am delighted that we will have two internationally
renowned preachers with us; The Rt. Rev. & Rt. Hon. Lord Richard Chartres, 132nd Bishop of London in the Church of England, who retired in 2017, and The Rev. Elaine Farmer, priest, author, and retreat conductor from the Anglican Church of Australia.
Richard Chartres first visited New York in the early 1980’s as Chaplain to Archbishop Robert Runcie. At that time Canon John Andrew (who was himself a former Archbishop’s Chaplain) was Rector of Saint Thomas.
Subsequently, Richard became the parish priest of St. Stephen’s, Rochester Row in the Diocese of London. At the same time he served as Gresham Professor of Divinity, and co-authored a history of Gresham College.
In 1992, he was appointed Bishop of Stepney, one of the areas of the Diocese of London, and was later translated to the Bishopric of London itself in 1995. He served the Diocese during a period of substantial growth for 22 years until his retirement in 2017. He remains Dean of the Chapels Royal.
During his tenure as Diocesan Bishop, he fulfilled various national roles. He chaired the Church Commissioners who administer the assets of the Church of England. He was also Chair of the National Church Buildings Division, and the founding Chair of “Shrink the Footprint,” the Church’s environmental campaign. Bishop Chartres has also been the Archbishop’s envoy to the Orthodox Churches.
Most significantly, twelve years ago he participated in the founding of St. Mellitus College, which has made a large contribution to the increase of the numbers of seminarians in training. The number entering training this year in the Church of England exceeds the total for any year since 1963.
After retiring from Parliament as a member of the Lords Spiritual, he was, unusually, re-appointed as a Life Peer, and is currently active in the legislative work of the House of Lords. He is now an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese in Europe, and in his home Diocese of Salisbury. Richard and his wife Caroline have four children.
Bishop Richard will preach sermons at 4pm Evensong on Palm Sunday, at each of the 5:30pm services on Monday, Tuesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, and at the 11am mass on Easter Day.
The Three Hours’ Devotion this year will be led by the Rev. Elaine Farmer:
Mother Elaine Farmer was ordained in 1993, among the earliest women ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Church of Australia. She has served in several parishes, taught homiletics and ministry formation, and been Associate Editor of St Mark’s Review, Australia’s oldest theological journal.
She has preached in Anglican dioceses around Australia, New Zealand and other countries, including on numerous occasions in the United States, and most recently in 2018 at Westminster Abbey. She has been keynote speaker at various Australian and international conferences.
A book of her sermons, “…And the Angels Held their Breath. Sixteen Reasons for Exploring the God-Option” (Australasian Theological Forum) was translated into Bahasa Indonesia by the Jesuits and given episcopal imprimatur. She was also a contributor to “Don’t Put Out the Burning Bush”, a book on preaching and worship also published by the Australasian Theological Forum.
Elaine lives in Canberra with her husband, Bill, who served as Australian Ambassador to Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Indonesia. They have two children and six grandchildren.
The Saint Thomas Book of the Gospels
Which services should I attend in Holy Week?
To fully immerse oneself in the Holy Week of the Christian Year can be a life-changing experience. To journey from Palm Sunday to Easter Day is to enter into the Passion Gospels in a powerful way; words and symbolic actions bringing the gospels alive. At Saint Thomas, the service times for the week are easy to remember: From Monday to Saturday, the principal liturgy will be at 5:30pm.
There are a number of other services, including services sung by the choir, and you can find the complete list on the website or on the postcards located in the narthex.
If you cannot attend every day during Holy week, then we encourage attendance on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in addition to Easter.
Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, proposed March 16-27
The Living Church Foundation, which produces the weekly magazine by the same name, has suggested a partnership with Saint Thomas Church in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land during Lent, 2020. The dates are tentative but would include, appropriately, the Feasts of St. Joseph and of the Annunciation, which will add to the sense of devotion as we visit Nazareth and Bethlehem. With Laetare Sunday in the middle, our Lenten disciplines could be relaxed a little and allow us to celebrate our faith with joy as well as walk the Via Dolorosa. The pilgrimage will include spiritual exercises, liturgies, and devotions, and we will be accompanied by a theologian who will enliven the scriptures for us. It is likely that the pilgrimage will cost in the region of $4,500 to include flights, accommodation, transport, and meals. At this stage we are asking for expressions of interest only. Please email us at [email protected].
The St George’s Society At the end of January, we hosted the St George’s Society for their Annual General Meeting and it was a very enjoyable evening.
The society is a charity dedicated to enriching the quality of life for people in need through an established support system within the British and Commonwealth community of New York. They have a very active membership, including many St. Thomas parishioners. Next year the Society celebrates its 250th anniversary and there will be special celebrations held at Saint Thomas Church to include a concert and a choral evensong. You will occasionally see members, wearing red t-shirts, participating in our Saturday soup kitchen.
Another splendid Burns Night was held in the beautiful Bonnell Hall, made available to us by our friends at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. We had a wide diversity of parishioners of all ages and cultures – it was truly a wonderful expression of our common life. Many folk rose to the occasion and dressed in traditional Scottish attire or black tie. Betsy Ashton read the ‘Address to the Haggis’ and wielded the knife expertly after the Haggis had been ceremoniously processed around the hall by Dennis Collier, Jr. led by David Palladino expertly playing his bagpipes. Father Moretz gave a lively and humorous toast in honor ‘of the Bard’. The toast ‘to the lassies’ was given by Dan Fowler, one of our Young Adult Group, and the reply with a toast ‘to the laddies’ was given by a member of our Usher Corps, Anne Kelley.
The Scottish-themed meal was a treat, and this year the assembled gathering was so large and so keen to dance that some dances had to be repeated because we had to ration the dance floor space! The band Madraigh
con fach accompanied us and our two regular callers kept us ‘on our toes’. Madraigh con fach is Gaelic for Mad
Dogs and, certainly, some of the more spirited and fast-paced dances meant that the band name was quite appropriate! Save the date for next year – Friday, January 24, 2020.
As many of you know, Alison and I came to New York from Exeter where I had been working at the Cathedral and Choir School. Next year, we will welcome the Choir of Exeter who will be on tour in the US. Preliminary plans will have the choir here on the Sunday after Easter 2020 and giving a concert in New York. It will be a special visit because it will coincide with the 440th anniversary of the Mayflower leaving Plymouth, in the Diocese of Exeter, and the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers to New England. The Dean of Exeter, the Very Rev. Jonathan Greener, will be preaching on Sunday, May 5. In anticipation of the Choir’s visit in 2020, Dean Greener asks if any parishioners or their friends and colleagues have connections with Devon, Plymouth, or Exeter such as through the Universities or the Cathedral; you can send an email to Saint Thomas Church and we will forward it on.
We have enjoyed some lovely Senior Lunches over the past few months and been entertained by our new priests, Father Moretz and Father Spencer. Betsy Ashton gave a fascinating talk on her portraits of Immigrants project, and Adam MacDonald, who manages the Friends of Music, stole the show with his singing of old classics. A number of significant birthdays were celebrated, notably those of Betty Burr and Barbara Como. If you know of a senior parishioner who would enjoy such a celebration, please let Linda Morfi know. The clergy continue to reach out to house-bound parishioners and we have a number who receive Holy Communion in their home or facility each month.
Adam MacDonald (Friends of Music) entertaining the Seniors
The 18-30s ministry continues to be led ably by Eric Blair-Joannou, Dan Fowler, Adam Martinek, and Louise Coleman, who are now joined by Father Spencer. Our Young Adult group hosted the New York Young Adult Network Christmas Party and we are told that it was one of the most successful ever with 120 people present.
The group has had other social events including brunches and bible studies. They watched the movie ‘The Mission’ and discussed it afterwards, and enjoyed a lively Candlemas Party.
There will be an Easter party on Sunday, April 28, and on Sunday, May 5, the group will have a private tour of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.
The group’s summer party will be held on June 15. If you are in the 18-30s age bracket, and wish to attend any of these events, or to join their email group and closed Face Book page, send an email to the leadership committee at: [email protected].
The Young Adults’ Christmas Party
Portraits of Immigrants – Unknown Faces, Untold Stories
In January and February, for the first time, we had an art installation in Andrew Hall. The special exhibition featured the work of artist and parishioner, Betsy Ashton, who set out to discover who today’s immigrants really are.
Betsy writes, “[the portraits are] about seeing character in faces and reading details of lives to understand and feel the immigrant experience. Yes, I’ve included some challenging cases: one is a Guatemalan woman who crossed the Rio Grande at night without papers to find work in this country. I had to find out for myself why someone — a lone woman especially — would risk rape and even murder to travel 2,000 miles through Mexico to sneak across a river at night, then walk for two days and nights through parched desert on our side of the border.”
Her portraits feature people from all walks of life. Most of the people in the paintings, like the vast majority of today’s immigrants, came with little money, scrambling to work small jobs and to find a place in our society. These are American stories of surviving and thriving.
The opening of the exhibition was incredibly moving as we met some of those immigrants who are now naturalized and whose hard work has brought employment to others. They are stories of success, and it was a privilege to know that Saint Thomas Church, itself a community of many nationalities, and including three Rectors who were immigrants themselves, premiered this project.
The exhibition, continues at the Riverside Church until Easter.
the co-chairs, Murray Hood and Greg Zaffiro
We had over 1,100 respondents to our online survey. We all can be pleased and encouraged with that level of participation. Wellspring Consulting held four parish gatherings and discussed survey results with parishioners.
Over the course of their engagement with members and friends of the parish, Wellspring has uncovered several themes, such as increasing our focus on children and young adults, improving and expanding communications, ensuring adequate provision for elderly parishioners, and securing the financial future of the Parish, including its Choir School. These broad themes, while perhaps self-evident, will nonetheless help guide the Strategic Planning Working Group as it refines our major goals and determines how best to accomplish them.
The Strategic Planning Working Group consists of members of the Vestry and a number of parishioners with expertise in finance, fund-raising, development, and communications. Together with staff and members of the Development Committee, they are drawing together themes and plans for the Vestry to discuss, hone, and promote over the coming years. By April 3rd, when the Development Committee next meets, the Working Group will have completed five of its seven sessions. In late June, the completed plan document is expected to be presented to the Development Committee and then to the Vestry for their approvals. After it is approved, the strategic plan will be published and shared with the entire parish.
Please note: There will be another round of parish gatherings in May. Many of you have said that you have enjoyed these meetings and the Rector and Vestry are grateful for the ideas expressed.
We are delighted that the number of trained Tour Guides has almost doubled over the past year. Following an appeal for new volunteers, several people came forward and have been trained over many months.
They are now taking their place in welcoming visitors and showing the beauty of our beloved church building. Tour guides share with others the story of our parish, and we are so pleased to know that the group is flourishing.
More than 25 people signed up for the Rector’s Christian Doctrine Class (now known as the Pilgrim’s Course) this year and we have had several engaging session so far. A number have asked to be baptized, confirmed, or received from other traditions. It is a very diverse group and, this year, we have started each session with a simple hot meal, and this sharing has helped to create a sense of community and belonging among the group.
Please come and support them and witness their commitment when they make their commitment to Christ and to his Church on Sunday, May 12, at 11am. On that day, bring a friend to Church – that is the simplest way that a Church grows – by people bringing their friends and their families. In England there is an annual ‘back to Church’ Sunday to encourage folk who have lapsed. May 12 is an opportunity to support our newest members,
including young people from our Sunday School as well as Senior Choristers.
Children & Family Ministry
the Rev. Alison J. Turner
GROWING IN FAITH @ SAINT THOMAS CHURCH
We began the year exploring the theme of The Way of Love as exemplified at General Convention by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. This affects how we build relationships and grow in faith across the church community, as well as extend hospitality and welcome to new families.
Last term a pilot
Children’s Quiet Area was introduced in the Chantry Chapel for families to attend worship with young children. This will continue, with soft toys, bible stories and activities in addition to Nursery and Sunday School provided during the 9am and 11am Liturgies.
Nursery Care during Evensong was also piloted last term until Christmas. On the basis of this, a number of services have been identified at which nursery care will continue. Please check the weekly leaflet and website calendar for forthcoming dates when Nursery Care will be available.
Since our annual September Picnic in the Park, Family Feasts are a popular edition to our program. Once a month families from both Nursery and Sunday School and the 9am and 11am congregations gather together for food, fellowship and a family faith-based activity that ties in with the Liturgical Year. This takes place in the Living room. Several parishioners have shown their interest and support. The clergy also regularly pop in to meet families informally at this time.
Our next Family Feast will be on Palm Sunday, prior to our annual participation in the Palm Sunday Procession. On April 7 we will make Palm Crosses again this year with Mrs. Frances Mintz. We always enjoy inviting visitors to share their talents with us and look forward to welcoming more in the coming months. We expanded our Sunday offerings with a visit and guided tour to the Metropolitan Museum Neapolitan crèche, and a family friendly interactive animal tour of Saint Thomas Church, led by tour guide Pamela Lewis.
Our next tour will be a “SacredSearch”for children and families led by our older children in preparation for Good Friday.
In our weekly Sunday School lessons we follow the liturgical year and the appointed Gospel readings each Sunday. Our current theme is Sacramentsand Symbols, which leads us each week in worship. Over the year the Sunday School teachers have explored a variety of Children’s programs, including GodlyPlay,which focuses us on the bible in a transformative way of wandering and wondering through scripture.
Communion Classes were held in recent weeks for children age 7+. This culminated in our church Candlemas Celebration, with the children in procession, their participation in Samuel Moretz’s Baptism and their presentation of the Elements at the Offertory. This was a new liturgical experience for the children.
Confirmation Classes for children and young people age 11+ and are planned March-May. Parent sessions with the Rector accompany both programs. In December we combined the traditional Nativity Pageant with the Blessing of the Crèche Service, sung by our choristers. This was well attended and included a number of guests from our Angel Tree Party, received the beautifully chosen gifts given from friends and families of Saint Thomas Church. Some of our older children joined the Young Adults, volunteers and staff in hosting this event. They especially enjoyed being Saint Nicholas’ helpers in the distribution of gifts.
As we begin Lent, the children are supporting the work of Episcopal Relief and Development with other parishioners and also exploring Lent at Home, for families committed to growing in faith together.
Since September, a weekly Constant Contact newsletter has been sent to families and also distributed to parishioners particularly committed to children and families ministry. If you are a family that would like to receive the newsletter you may join the mailing list by placing a request at [email protected].
As part of this year of reflection we have begun to explore how we may develop Children and Family Ministry at Saint Thomas Church. In doing so we seek to continue to find ways that honor and love our Eucharistic and Choral tradition, that give our children the opportunity of learning about the Episcopal Church, and an experience of growing and participation in faith.
Many of you have shown your support and interest in the life of children and families at Saint Thomas Church. Others have bought books, and shared ideas. Some have shared your reminiscences of going to church as a child, and others your aspirations for the future.
Thank you especially to those who have prayed for the children, who are not only the church of the future but are also part of the Body of Christ in this place, right now.
‘Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them’ – Matthew 19:14
Farewell to Daniel Hyde…
Daniel’s last Sunday with us will be Easter Day, after which he will return to the United Kingdom where he will take up the post of Director of Music of King’s College, Cambridge, his alma mater It was, therefore, very poignant that the choir of King’s College joined our choir for a magnificent choral evensong on the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
A special coffee hour in Daniel’s honor was held on Laetare Sunday, and the staff has also had a farewell gathering, at which there were many tributes to his professionalism and skill. Daniel came to us at a very difficult moment in our parish’s history, following the sudden death of John Scott and as one of the Gentlemen of the Choir remarked, he helped all of us to grieve appropriately and to move forward in hope.
Daniel’s legacy is found both in the fabulous sound of our choristers and in his oversight of the organ project. The Irene D. and William R. Miller Chancel Organ, in Memory of John Scott is now a reality and, quite literally, has Daniel’s ‘voice.’ We all wish Daniel ‘God-speed’ and every success for his future.
Jeremy Filsell takes up the reins at Saint Thomas at Easter Week. There will be a special coffee hour to greet him on Sunday, April 28 after the 11:00 a.m. service; please come and meet him. He will be installed as Organist and Director of Music on May 5 at 4pm.
Dr. Filsell has combined an international recital and teaching career with being Director of Music at Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, and Artist-in-Residence at Washington National Cathedral, and Professor of Organ at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. He previously served as Principal Organist of the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington DC and as Director of Music at the historic downtown Baltimore church of Old St. Paul’s, where he rejuvenated the boys’ choir. Two choristers he recruited there went on to become choristers here at St. Thomas. For the past six years, he had been Director of Music at the
Church of the Epiphany in downtown Washington DC, before recently moving to St. Alban’s to initiate a chorister program there. He is currently Dean of the DC Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Jeremy has been hailed as a virtuoso performer on both piano and organ. He has appeared as a solo pianist in Russia, Scandinavia, New Zealand and throughout the US and the UK. His concerto repertoire reaches from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven to Shostakovich, John Ireland and Rachmaninov.
Jeremy is on the international roster of Steinway Piano Artists and has recorded for BBC Radio 3, USA, and Scandinavian radio networks.
His discography comprises more than 35 solo recordings. Gramophone magazine commented on the series of 12 CDs comprising the première recordings of Marcel Dupré’s complete organ works for Guild that it was ‘one of the greatest achievements in organ recording’.
Jeremy has taught at universities, summer schools, and conventions in the UK and the US, and has served on international competition juries in England and Switzerland. Recent solo engagements have taken him across the USA and UK and to Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Australia and New Zealand. In North America, he performs under the auspices of Philip Truckenbrod Concert Artists. Brought up as a chorister in Coventry, England, Jeremy Filsell directed a men and boys choir there while still a High School student. He earned a degree as Organ Scholar at Keble College, Oxford University followed by graduate studies in piano at the Royal College of Music in London. He earned a PhD in Musicology at Birmingham Conservatoire – BCU for research on the music of Marcel Dupré.
New Assistant Organist called
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Nicholas Quardokus as Assistant Organist, to work with Jeremy Filsell and Benjamin Sheen.
At present, Nicholas is Organ Scholar at St. Paul’s Parish K Street, Washington D.C., where he assists in the organ playing, conducting, and chorister training for weekly services. In addition to duties at St. Paul’s, he is a part-time organist at Washington National Cathedral. He has held similar posts at Yale Divinity School’s Marquand Chapel, Trinity Church on-the-Green, New Haven, CT, and Trinity Church, Indianapolis. He earned Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. His principal teachers included Janette Fishell and Martin Jean (organ), Elisabeth Wright and Arthur Haas (harpsichord), and Jeffrey Brillhart (improvisation).
Nicholas has garnered top prizes in competitions around the country, winning first prize at the 2014 Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition in Wethersfield, Connecticut. In 2013, he took first prize in the American Guild of Organists Regional Competition for Young Organists. As a solo recitalist, he has performed throughout the Eastern United States, including appearances at conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the Kennedy Center, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC. His solo performances have been broadcast on public radio’s Harmonia
Early Music and Pipedreams. He was the featured organist in the 2018 German documentary The Unanswered Ives, which is to be broadcast on French and German television. He has appeared with the Cathedral Choral Society, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the Washington Master Chorale.
Jeremy Filsell writes, “We are so excited to appoint Nick to our team at Saint Thomas Church. He brings to our music program a wealth of teaching and accompanying experience for someone so early in his career, and I know that his accomplished playing will adorn our musical worship in inspiring ways.”
I look forward to celebrating Holy Week with you all very soon; it is one of the jewels in the crown of the liturgical life of our parish. I urge as many of you as are able to journey with the Lord from Palm Sunday to Easter Day.
Your priest and pastor.