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The Rector's Message for the Week of February 13, 2022

Rector Turner
The Rev. Canon Carl Turner, Rector of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue

Dear Friends,

What a joy it was last Sunday to see children and families gathering in-person and via zoom using the Gabriel 2 camera system in the Sunday School Room. (Gabriel is shorthand around the church for the livestream system, and Gabriel 2 refers to the audio and video upgrades in the Vestry Room and Sunday School Room.) I was very impressed that one of our young people already knows how to operate the camera and administer the Zoom meeting! This Sunday, the Noble Singers return to the 9:00 a.m. mass and will sing an anthem. They, too, use the Gabriel system for their weekly practices. This generous gift of the Merow Family Foundation has enabled so many people to connect during the pandemic. I had a lovely card this week from someone who lives in California and who is chronically ill; she has been joining us each day on-line for Shrine Prayers and mass, and has been sending us her prayers also. The Saint Thomas Family continues to grow.

Now, an important announcement. The Standing Committee of the Vestry has discussed the latest guidance from the Governor’s Office on Vaccine and Mask mandates. Since we are still in a pandemic, and we want to keep people as safe as possible, our current vaccine mandate remains in effect for people over the age of 12. However, we have decided that, from this Sunday, February 13, masks for those attending worship, concerts, or visiting the church will be optional, except for unvaccinated children. The Governor has said that masks must still be worn in certain settings for the time being, such as hospitals, care homes, and schools. For that reason, you will continue to see the choristers wearing masks until that rule is lifted.

Ash Wednesday is March 2. I am pleased to tell you that we are allowed to administer ashes again this year, and that the way they are administered is for us to decide. I have consulted with local clergy including our friends at Saint Patrick’s and we will be administering ashes by sprinkling them on peoples’ heads, rather than making the sign of the cross on their forehead. Of course, this is the way ashes were used in the Old Testament. This will allow the priests to administer ashes without having to sanitize their hands after touching someone’s forehead which, I am sure you can imagine, would become very messy! Receiving ashes has always been optional in our church, but I know that many of you will appreciate their return. There will be a Said Mass at 8:00 a.m., and the Choir of Men and Boys will sing at the Solemn Masses at 12:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. A priest will be available to hear Confessions during the morning and the afternoon. A separate e-news will be sent out next week with all our Lenten activities and devotions, including times.

Parish Bicentennial – Save the Dates!

 At our annual calendar meeting the other day, we planned through the end of 2023 and the beginning of the parish Bicentennial Celebrations. We want to encourage people from all over the world to come to New York for four days of celebration at the beginning of the Bicentennial, when we shall have a Celebratory Mass, a Concert, a Ball, and special Sunday services. The Presiding Bishop plans to attend, and we hope that Alumni of the Choir School and other special guests will gather. The Year of Jubilee will begin on Thursday, October 12, 2023. This date is the 200th anniversary of the first Church Service in a room at Broome St. and Broadway. Please mark October 12-15, 2023 in your calendars.

Here are two other milestones we will be celebrating:

January 9, 2024 – 200th anniversary of the incorporation as “St. Thomas Church in the City and County of New York.”

July 27, 2024 – 200th anniversary of the laying of the Cornerstone of the first church, Broadway and Houston

Finally, I was sent an incredible image from Exeter Cathedral that is hosting an art installation – Museum of the Moon – which is a giant sculpture of the moon, 23ft (7m) in diameter, and uses detailed NASA imagery to replicate the lunar surface. The touring artwork by celebrated artist Luke Jerram has been shown around the world.

Your Priest and Pastor,