< Episcopal News and Current Events -- News About ECUSA: July 2006 Episcopal News and Current Events -- News About ECUSA: July 2006
Today's Quote

A Prayer For This Web Site
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices; Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"For those who Influence Public Opinion,"
Book of Common Prayer, page 827

In our church, neither a person's gender nor their sexual orientation matter; what does matter is how they serve Jesus Christ as Lord.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Obituary: An Episcopal Parish Reaches a 'Time to Die'

Church peacefully reaches a 'time to die'
Friday, July 28, 2006
By Charles Honey
Press Religion Editor

WALKER -- The sanctuary of St. Paul's Episcopal Church is eerily empty, save for a few sacred objects: brass candlesticks atop a granite altar, banners hanging from cinder-block walls, an organ fallen silent.

A carving of Christ that once hung above the altar is gone, leaving a cross-shaped outline on a powder-blue wall.

Karen Bryant sits in a back pew and says, "This was home. My grandchildren were baptized here."

So were many others. But after 137 years, St. Paul's has doused its last fussing infant. One of the area's oldest Episcopal churches will be de-consecrated in services Saturday at 10 a.m., officially marking the end of its life as a church.

The Rt. Rev. Robert Gepert, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan, will transform the church, 3412 Leonard St. NW, from a house of worship to a secular building. He will thank God "for the blessings, help and comfort which you bestowed upon your people in this place."

The ceremony follows the congregation's decision this spring to close because of a steady decline in members. Only about 20 weekly worshippers were attending by the time St. Paul's held its final service May 28.

Bryant, a lifelong Episcopalian, worshipped faithfully for the past six years and headed the church council. She loved playing in a music ensemble and reading from the Book of Common Prayer. But in the end, there were just too few people and not enough money, she says sadly.

"It's like a hospice," says Bryant, who manages a Holland medical practice. "We've been struggling, we've been dying, and now we've given up the ghost -- and have been told, 'It's OK to die.' "

Saturday's service ends a proud but troubled history for the church. Originally located on Turner Avenue NW, St. Paul's was founded after the rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church felt the West Side needed a chapel.

The cornerstone was laid in September 1869. St. Paul's reached out to Armenian immigrants in the 1890s and survived two fires. But it did not survive progress, moving to Leonard Street in 1961 after the state bought the church to make way for U.S. 131.

It barely survived a court battle beginning in 1979 when a majority of members broke from the Episcopal Church over its liberal policies. Renaming it St. Paul's Anglican Church, the dissidents occupied the church until courts returned the building to the diocese in 1983.

Though the loyal remnant got their church back, they never fully recovered, said the Rev. John Crean Jr., St. Paul's pastor for the last nine years.

"Ever since then it's been on the weak side," says Crean, who retired last fall. "It just didn't have the will to live."

The building will be sold by the Episcopal Diocese but is not yet on the market, said the Rev. Canon William Spaid, chief pastoral assistant to the bishop. Statues and other objects have been given to other churches.

Bryant misses the church and its people, but accepts the end.

"To everything there is a season," she said. "This is our time to die."

Send e-mail to the author: choney@grpress.com

©2006 Grand Rapids Press
© 2006 Michigan Live. All Rights Reserved.

But not all churches are dying ... some are doing quite well, alive and healthy, such as our own Epiphany Church.

Friday, July 21, 2006

More About Your Worship Here With Us

Why are some people bowing and some are kneeling before entering the pews yet others don't do anything at all?

What you are noticing is called 'reverencing' and people have different ways of doing that. Some bow in the direction of the altar, some 'genuflect' (touch their knee to the floor, others reverence silently or without gesture. You shuld do whatever helps YOU worship God. Do not do whatever hinders your worship of God or makes you uncomfortable.

Why do people touch themselves on the forehead and shoulders?

Again, this is a personal worship style. This is called making the sign of the cross. Some people do it out of habit; others because it reminds them of the price Jesus paid to enable us to respond to God's love; For still others, it commemorates their own baptism or perhaps it is their own way of 'taking up their own cross' and following Him. And some people, you will notice, do not do it at all. It is really a personal religious decision for each person. Do not do it just because you see others doing it. Both reverencing and making the sign of the cross are personal decisions of each Christian to do or not do as they wish.

This all looks very Roman Catholic to me. Is Epiphany Church a Roman Catholic place?

No ... and yes ... Although the ancient Church from which the Episcopal Church sprang was Roman Catholic, the present, modern-day Episcopal Church has practices and beliefs which are distinctly different from those of the Roman Catholic Church.
The important thing is our worship of God, not the specifics of how we do it.

Is anyone going to make me stand up and give my name or anything like that?

No. Not because we do not care; in fact you will find we care very much. We just do not want to embarass you or cause you to feel uncomfortable. But we do hope you will sign our guest book in the lobby as you enter or leave, and that you will linger after services for coffee and refreshments in the parish hall.

Starting Your Worship Here With the Basics

What are these books in the rack in front of me?

The red book is the Book of Common Prayer. Our entire service and a lot of other stuff is contained in it.

The blue book is our hymnal. The songs we will sing are indicated in the bulletin the Usher gave you and on the hymn boards on the wall in front. The music is played on an organ and on many Sundays we have a choir, although during the summer months the choir takes a vacation. Please feel free to join in the singing.

Why is everyone so quiet?

It is an Episcopal custom to take time before the service to 'say hello' to God, perhaps with a prayer, go over the Scripture readings of the day, the other announcements printed in the bulletin, and prepare in our own way for communion. And by the way, everyone is invited to come to the altar rail for communion, including yourself, if you have been baptized and consider yourself a Christian.

Speaking of which, what is all this stuff I was given when I came in?

The major parts of the service are in the bulletin. The bulletin directs you to the page numbers in the Book of Common Prayer(the red book). The insert in the bulletin has the scripture lessons for the day printed in it. The back of the bulletin has a calendar of events in the week ahead and the schedule of services, etc.

The insert with the day's lessons has a colored top and the title of the particular day in the church calendar. The first prayer, known as the Collect is shown in two versions, the Traditional and the Contemporary. We use the Contemporary version, except during the Advent and Lenten seasons.

The INTERCESSIONS page in the bulletin is a page for prayers. Those listed in the intercessions are persons for whom we offer special prayers. If you would like to add someone to the list, please place their name on a slip of paper in the offering plate.

If You Wish to Come Visit Us For a Service

First Things First

1. We'd be delighted to have you come to a service, and hope you will return.

2. We suspect you might have questions. Everyone was a newcomer at one time or another, and we've all had questions -- probably the same ones. So -- do not hesitate to ask questions.

3. We want you to be comfortable so you can worship God and enjoy your visit. You can't do that very well if you're wondering what book to pick up next or trying to 'do everything right,' which generally means doing the same thing as everyone else is doing. ... SO ... relax ...

The first rule is: When you are worshipping God, you can't get it wrong!
The second rule is: If you need help, ask the person next to you, or one of the ushers. We like people at Epiphany Church.
The last rule is: Do not do anything which makes you feel uncomfortable, regardless of what anyone else is doing.

You can do whatever makes you feel comfortable and you should not do anything which makes you feel uncomfortable.

If you are wondering "Am I allowed to take communion here?" the answer is YES, if you are baptized and consider yourself a Christian, then WE HOPE YOU WILL SHARE IN COMMUNION (The Lord's Supper or Eucharist) WITH US!

Our Community Free Supper Each Thursday Evening

Since this is one of my own (your webmaster) ministries, I will tell you just a little about it. Every Thursday evening, 50 or 51 weeks of the year (the exceptions being mostly for Neewollah week each year in October and Maundy Thursday of Holy Week), in cooperation with other churches in Independence offer a free supper meal to the community. It is always held in our parish hall, but the other churches provide the food: United Methodists one week, Presbyterians another week, the Southern Baptists, Lutherans, St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church and the AME churches on still other weeks, and there is a week for us as well. We personally serve the food about once every six to eight weeks, but we provide the space each week. Typically, there are between eighty and one hundred people from the community come for these suppers; some of them are members of the various churches involved but many others have no church affiliation at all but wish to come for the meal.

Most weeks my duty there is as a greeter; I greet the people as they come in (we unlock the parish hall door starting at 5:30 pm) and keep count of the number of visitors for statistical reasons so the cooks know the amount of food which will be needed. The food serving begins at 6:00 PM and the people are generally out and on their way back home or wherever about 6:45 - 7:00 PM. There are many 'regulars' there each week; people whom I suspect depend on us to provide them with a good, wholesome meal. Its really an exciting ministry which I am involved with.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Palm Sunday, April 2006

Here are just a few of the marvelous pictures Sorrells Dewoody took of the beautiful Palm Sunday processional into the church in April, 2006. Thank you very much, Sorrells!

Monday, July 10, 2006

About that Ivy Which is Missing

According to Marty Eidson, our Parish secretary, the decision to remove the beautiful ivy from our buildings in the 1960's was made by Father Rutland, the priest here from 1960-1968 (just prior to Father Brisbane). Marty says Father Rutland claimed it would protect the mortar on the walls ... oh well ...


Thursday, July 06, 2006

The History of Women's Organizations in the Episcopal Church

1871 ~ General Convention authorized the Board of Missions to organize the Women’s Auxiliary to the Board of Missions.

1874 ~ First Triennial Meeting held in New York

We here at Epiphany had started about this same time, and Fr. Beatty's wife and daughter had started early on with a Women's Auxiliary raising money to construct our first church, plus which three women were named to the Building Committee by Father Beatty, and they were quite sucessful in raising money.

Beginning in 1904, women founded and built our Sunday School program. See the 'Good things happened in 1904' messsage for more details on this. In 1914 our Saint Mary's Guild was started; again, a very important and influential service in our church. A group of Epiphany women met with Father Randall to form this guild, one of whose purposes was to take over the United Thank Offering and affiliate themselves with the Independence-based social service Associated Charities.

We had a Girl's Friendly Society which was founded in 1917. In 1912 the women formed our Alter Guild, and in March, 1915 St. Mary's Guild was responsible for the purchase and installation of our new musical instrument, an Estey organ.

1919 ~ Along with the Presiding Bishop and National Council, the First National Council Executive Board of Women’s Auxiliary established.

1920 ~ National Council adopted resolution recognizing in all of its departments the Executive Board of the Women’s Auxiliary.

In 1949 another women's guild was started, called Saint Martha's Guild, here at Epiphany. Eventually, Saint Mary's Guild was merged into St. Martha's.

1958 ~ By action of the National Council, the Executive Board of the Women’s Auxiliary became the General Division of Women’s Work.

1964 ~ National Council became Executive Council. General Division of Women’s Work has liaison member with voice and vote in every department.

1967 ~ General Division of Women’s Work and Executive Council vote to suspend bylaws in order to "enter into such new structure with other departments and units as seems appropriate to discharging responsibilities and functions …"

1970 ~ Resolutions from 1969 Committee for Women meeting approved for trial use.

1973 ~ Triennial Meeting voted overwhelmingly to continue.

1976 ~ Triennial Meeting adopted Structure Document, formed Triennial Program and Planning Committee.

1979 ~ Name shortened to Triennial Committee.

1985 ~ Triennial Meeting adopted bylaws, forming Episcopal Church Women, Episcopal Church, U.S.A.

1988 ~ Regular publication of the ECW Communiqué commenced.

1994 ~ Episcopal Church Women/United Thank Offering Joint Committee Formed.

2000 ~ Triennial Today is centerfold in Convention Daily.

2001 ~ Website re-launched and expanded.

So Epiphany -- and the Episcopal Church in general, has always had a place for women. In fact, history would seem to indicate we had a strong women's organization here at Epiphany about the same time it was becoming commonplace in the Episcopal Church at large.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Whatever Happened to Our Ivy?

Our church building, considered one of the nicest buildings in Independence, has always had a nice looking lawn, with trees and shrubs all over. But, we used to have ivy growing all over our buildings as well. But for some reason, in the 1960's a decision was made to remove all the ivy, ostensibly in the best interest of the maintainence of the building ... that seems to me to be a dreadful shame; just my opinion of course, but what was the thinking behind the removal of all the ivy?


The First Priest to Occupy Our Rectory

Following the departure of Father Shaner for Trinity Church in Lawrence, we were without a full time regular priest for a few months and had an interim priest serving here by the name of Father Kenneth Ives Rice for a few months. He was here a few months until the new and full time pastor, Reverend Carleton Clark arrived. Father Clark arrived in December, 1927 and remained through October 14, 1934. Father and Mrs. Clark were the first residents of the rectory, which was finished in 1928.

Our first Ordination Ceremony took place under Father Clark's tenure on May 16, 1930. Charles R. Davies was ordained to the priesthood. He had spent a couple years working here at Epiphany so he was well-known by the congregation. On February 8, 1931 our church hosted the Diocesan Convention. There were three services held that day of which the morning and afternoon services were held at the church, but the evening service was held in Memorial Hall and there were 850 persons present for that one service; the most persons ever in our church, or affiliated with our church.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

New Church Opens in 1926-27

In the message just before this one, we discussed the parish house, which opened on September 7, 1924.
Another year passed by as the new church building was under construction. (This was NOT the easternmost
area where the office of Father Gerry and the church office is located -- that would not come until 1956.)
I am talking now about the main sanctuary area. On Monday, November 23, 1925 at 4:30 PM, the Right
Reverend James Wise, then the Bishop of Kansas, laid the cornerstone for our church building. The
cornerstone contains the architect's drawing of the building, the program for the afternoon's events, a list of
the vestrymen at the time, a list of the building committee and other church organizations, a picture of the
original 1874 church, a list of the 128 communicants, a copy of the Canons of the Diocese of Kansas, a copy of
the 1925 edition of the Journal of the Diocese of Kansas, a copy of the Book of Common Prayer and a
copy of the Bible used at some time in the past.

During this slightly more than one year while the sanctuary was under construction, services were held in the
parish hall. The completed church was dedicated October 23, 1927. There was considerable controversy within
the congregation with regards to the plans of construction. The basement area of the parish hall -- an area which
few have ever seen -- is lower than the sewer line, which has resulted at one time or another in flooding in the
basement. The building contractor was A.E. Todd and Son.

Following the construction of the church, the Guild Room was added to the parish hall. Then, the final things to be
built were the kitchen and the rectory. The kitchen was completely remodeled in 1993. Father Shaner, who had first
come to us in 1922 at the old church, oversaw the building of the new church but resigned as our rector to serve
Trinity Church in Lawrence, Kansas. He did return however for the formal dedication on October 23, 1927. Reverend
Kenneth Rice, the priest in charge of our church and Bishop Wise were participants in the ceremony that day along
with Fr. Shaner.

The vestry in 1927 included Judge J. W. Holdren, Senior Warden, Charles E. Leppleman, Junior Warden, C. H.
Bates, Clerk; G.T. Guernsey, Jr, treasurer; also Guy Berry, John Denman, Jr., Austin Farnswoth, A.E. Lawson,
W.A. Spencer, Frank Hainline, Dana Kelsey and E.T. Patterson. The Building Committee was Mr. Guernsey who
was the chairman and treasurer, E.T. Patterson, W.A. Spencer, and Mrs. Charles Miller.

A question: Do YOU know where the cornerstone is located? Have you ever seen it?