Thanks to all who responded so generously to our request for increased giving. We anticipated a deficit of $10,000 at this point in the calendar year and find ourselves, instead, with a small surplus. The hard work is far from over, with another 10 months to go, but this is great news – THANK YOU!
Balance YTD: $9,803.11
My Spiritual Autobiography
Ron Hilton, 12/04/2013; edited 03/06/2017
I was six years old, or thereabouts, when my mother and I charged out, just the two of us, toward Trinity Church in Geneva from our home on Colt Street on the windiest, and some would say coldest, day of the year. We would have held hands, but our hands were buried in oversized gloves for her, mittens for me. I don’t remember much about the service, but I know it was at 8:00, that my mother received Holy Communion but I did not, and that the return trip was just as cold as the trek to church 45 minutes before. But there was a difference. Just two blocks from our house, and short blocks at that, my mom said, “How would you like to stop at Eisenman’s for a hot chocolate?” I almost trembled at the thought. We were as poor as any Depression family, and we almost never went to restaurants. But we went, and I still can remember, now 75 years later, the decorative whipped cream on top and the package of crackers on the side. And no hot chocolate has tasted quite so good ever since. And no time with my mother was ever closer.
About the church, I was almost certain as I stood with my nose on the back of the pew in front of us, that I could smell the wood. (More about this later.)
In my early teens I nearly died from pneumonia, the result in part of being a civilian when antibiotics were reserved for the military in WWII. A year later I was diagnosed with a potentially fatal kidney infection, so serious that it required the removal of that kidney.
The specialist’s office was almost across the street from Trinity Church (no longer my church, since we had moved a few years before to Penn Yan, and St. Mark’s Church, where I had been an acolyte and a communion recipient for four years) Mom and I went into the church and prayed, both fervently, and again I thought I smelled the wood. I felt more closely connected to God and this particular church than I ever had before. When three months later, in Rochester rather than Geneva, with another surgeon, I found my surgery delayed for five days because of a cold, I was immensely relieved to see my doctor enter the room—a four-bed room with three other children, all of whom seemed much sicker than I---to explain the surgery, and that for the first time. Tom Talley knew that surgeon (Tom a nephrologist and Dr. Kobilak a urologist), and thought very highly of him.
For some reason I was quite convinced that I would not survive the surgery. That evening and early the next day I prayed with great earnestness—and with a greater sense of peace than I had ever before experienced—that God might spare me or take me, whichever made more sense to him. The sense of great peace continued until the next morning when I discovered my mom would not be there to say goodbye to me as I was wheeled out. I found out later that she had run into unusual traffic and the route (without 490 or a thruway) which normally took two hours, took at least a half hour more. When I woke up from surgery, I thought my first job was to cheer her up. That was very hard to do since I was violently sick to my stomach twice an hour for 24 hours. She stayed overnight with some friends in Rochester, and by the next afternoon I had begun to heal. The aura of peace did not leave for several days, and I’ve often thought how comforting, how deeply peaceful, it was to relax in arms of the Lord, and really believe it. It has been my reference point for spiritual centeredness ever since.
Yet another six years forward and I made a terrible discovery, as my first year at Geneseo drew to a close. A smell associated with an illness I had had nearly all my life, was causing my housemates to ask, in my absence as they thought, “What could possibly cause such a terrible odor?” “If he could have done something about it, don’t you think he would have?” I sat half way up the stairs to my room, listening, slowly sobbing, trying to be absolutely quiet. I went for a walk before reentering my room, which was where that conversation had been taking place, my roommate a participant.
Only three months and two miracles later, I sat among some fellow camp counselors on Silver Lake, NY, when the camp doctor (with whom I learned that night, the first night of a six-week camp experience, we all would gather almost every night to talk about anything anybody wanted to), said, “It’s time to break up. But you, young man, I wish you’d stay a minute,” and of course I did. After all my new associates had left, he said he thought I wanted to talk to him privately about something. In another hour, he knew my awful story, and convinced me that he could write the AMA in Chicago that very night, and we would learn within the six weeks we would be there, whether there was anywhere in the world that was successfully treating atrophic rhinitis. Seven weeks later another counselor and I hitchhiked to Philadelphia, PA, he for the jaunt and I to meet Dr. Matthew Ersner.
By Christmastime I had the miraculous operation that only he could perform (the other two doctors treating this condition were in Norway and Brazil). By that time too, I had formed a close friendship with the rector of St. Michael’s parish in Geneseo and the Episcopal chaplain to the College at Geneseo, Fr. Walter Muir. Before I graduated two and one half years later, he asked me whether I’d ever thought I might be called to the ministry. I replied that I hadn’t, and that I was pretty committed to trying my hand at teaching, but that I would think about it hard and long.
Nearly thirty years later I thought I had received that call, but despite the support of my parish priest and the vestry of St. Luke’s Brockport, and even with my psychotherapist on the Commission on Ministry, that group thought otherwise. Then as now, I believe, there is no recourse to those denied by the commission (except diocese jumping, more common than I would have imagined at the time). By that time as well I had been hospitalized six times for mental illness, placed on and weaned off more than a dozen psychotropic drugs, been an active member of four Episcopal churches—as Sunday School teacher, lay reader, lay preacher, and what was then called Eucharistic minister—married and divorced twice, completed a Ph.D. at Syracuse University, and just named full professor at RIT, where I had been working for nearly twenty years. I was also a department chair of a rather large department in the College of Continuing Education. Unlike many institutions, the chairs at RIT, however selected, serve for long periods of time, I for 25 of my 30 years there.
In those days Bill Cosby had a great routine about getting Novocain in a dentist’s office. The punch line, after the dentist had sent smoke spiraling from his mouth, was “nebby mind, nebby mind.” Well, although I did not think that the Lord spoke in Cosbyesque language, then or now, I did have the sense of his hand on my shoulder, subduing my smoldering anger and convincing me that I would find my ministry some other way, in a way that would not require ordination; neither would it require my leaving the Episcopal Church.
So, never mind, thou good and faithful fifty-one-year old servant, I said to myself, in 1983. I trusted that the Lord would guide me. Shortly thereafter, I felt guided to Christ Church, not really because a recent former student of mine, Sharon Scott, was a member there, but that didn’t hurt. I worshiped here before she and I began to date, and we dated then for two years before we married. Most folks think we have been married for at least one lifetime, and I guess I do too. In my 35 years at Christ Church, I have been a vestry member at least three times, a Sunday school teacher for only a day, and a senior warden for something like eight months. I’ve cooked for A Meal and More, provided food and shoes and coats and sweaters for its guests, served on the Finance Committee for nearly fifteen years, and gotten at least not to feel like an interloper here.
In the last three years I spent training as a pastoral visitor, a fairly rigorous program of instruction and life examination for those who feel called to visit the sick and the dying. It has been a peculiarly satisfying late-life vocation, sitting by David Sisson and recalling his late wife Janet before he was called—he firmly believed—to visit her and to meet Jesus
I cannot say I have no regret that the Commission on Ministry did not find me a suitable candidate for priesthood, but neither am I dissatisfied with my role as an active lay
Christian. It is curious that a person who grew up in St. Mark’s Church Penn Yan, as our diocese refers to it, would or could become so fully at home amidst the bells and smells and relatively high church ways of our parish.
I firmly believe a little sentence learned in Marriage Encounter many years ago: “God’s not finished with me yet.” I also believe an expanded version of this that I have learned largely at Ruth’s tutelage: “God’s absolutely delighted with you just the way you are, but God’s not finished with you yet.” Now, at nearly 85, I look forward in no great haste to my continuing education and formation as a Christian and as an Episcopalian.
HOMILY FOR MORNING PRAYER ON MARCH 22, 2016 - Mary Anne Wickett
For one whole glorious year, my husband Tom and I had a church in Florida. We had a beautiful parsonage that sat on the banks for the Alafia River. Tom and I used to take long walks every morning, and as soon as we had finished, Tom would go and start breakfast, and I would go to my favorite tree and pray. This tree hung over the river and I found a nice spot where I could sit and be as far away from the fire ants as I could possibly be. Now I have to tell you, that it was not until later, that I found out there were alligators in the river. A bit scary when I think about it. But as I sat there, I would look at the Palm trees that surrounded our home, and I couldn’t help thinking of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
I was afraid to pick up the Palm fronds that had fallen onto the ground for fear of the fire ants, but I imagined the crowds, as they picked the palms and used them to welcome Jesus. It must have been an exciting time – Word about his coming had spread throughout the countryside. He was a healer, a teacher and a leader. He had become a celebrity and now he was coming to Jerusalem – but there were some who were not so happy about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. These were the Sadducees who were an aristocratic society in Israel that dominated the higher ranks of the priesthood. They had no desire to have Jesus take their status away from them, and so, even as the crowd waves its palm branches and shouts its hosannas, the shadow of the cross looms in the background.
Can you imagine the emotions that surging through Jesus’ mind as he rode the humble donkey into Jerusalem that day? He was not fooled by the crowd’s adoration. He knew that public opinion could turn on him at any moment. He knew what lay ahead of him and he did not welcome it. Rejection, pain, death – it was not the cup he would have chosen for himself. He had no martyr complex. He did not willingly seek to die. He merely sought to be obedient to God. Can you imagine the disappointment Jesus felt as he looked into the faces of the people around him on that first Holy Week?
• Disappointment with the crowds who would shout “hosanna” one moment and “crucify him” the next.
• Disappointment with Judas who would betray him
• Disappointment with his most trusted disciple, Peter, who would deny him
• Disappointment with his three closes disciples, who couldn’t even stay awake on the job while he agonized over the cup the Father had set before him.
After all Jesus had been to them, can you imagine the hurt he must have felt? We are never quite prepared, are we, when someone close to us sticks a knife into our hearts. You expect your enemies to betray you, but someone you love and trust. Unfortunately, it happens – Friends betray friends, family members betray family members. Even members of the Body of Christ have been known to betray other members – just as Judas betrayed Jesus. But what happened to Judas? Why did he betray Jesus? Christians have been asking that question for two thousand years. Was it jealousy? Every leader has to deal with the envy of people who resent his or her position and authority. Was it the thirty pieces of silver? Maybe! Money certainly has a way of corrupting some people. In the Gospel according to St. John, it tells us that Jesus was eating a meal in the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Mary used expensive oil to anoint Jesus’ feet and Judas was very upset about it. “The money could be given to the poor,” says Judas.
Maybe the scholars are right when they speculate that Judas was trying to force Jesus’ hand – was Judas a radical? Maybe Judas was tired of hearing about a kingdom that was YET TO COME. Maybe he wanted Jesus to right the wrongs of the world HERE AND NOW. There are a lot of maybes’ and I don’t think that we will ever really know the answers. The only thing we do know is that Judas regretted what he did to Jesus – For it tells us in the Book of Matthew that “Judas repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders”. And he said to them, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” We all know what happened next – after betraying Jesus for just thirty pieces of silver, Judas couldn’t live with his regrets and so he hung himself. Have you ever been filled with regret for something you did? There is probably not one of us that hasn’t done something that they have regretted.
Famous writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of such works as The Little Prince, was called back into active duty with the French Air Force. While flying an unarmed observation mission, his plane was shot down by a young German flyer, and the great French writer was killed. Now, it just so happened that the young pilot who shot Saint-Exupery down, had been in the process of writing his doctoral dissertation on the life and works of this very same author. The pilot was an avid admirer of the Frenchman and worshiped the ground he walked on. When he learned who it was that he had shot down, he suffered a nervous breakdown. All he could do was repeat over and over again, “I have killed my master! I have killed my master!”
There are few emotions that can tear the fabric of the human soul more profoundly than guilt and regret. The question is, do our actions, our words, and our misdeeds stand as a barrier between ourselves and God? I believe they do. I believe that it is possible to live in a world of brokenness and betrayal for so long that you think that it’s the real world – even the right world. Look at what is happening in our world today – especially as we think of Brussels this morning – it seems it’s OK to rant and rage about who is the best politician. It’s OK to do the thing you know are not right. So, YES, our misdeeds, our transgressions, our sin can be a barrier between ourselves and God. But thank goodness we know that we have a God that never gives up on us. The tragedy of Judas’ life is NOT that he betrayed Christ, because “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” No, the tragedy was that Judas did NOT discover Christ’s grace. He thought that his situation was so hopeless that his only way out was death. But his situation did NOT constitute death as the only way out – that is was the cross is all about. God loves each one of us with a deep and abiding love, and I don’t have the slightest doubt in the world, that God loved Judas – If only Judas hadn’t given up! Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane knowing that there was no way to avoid the pain of the cross, and so Jesus let go of his own will and surrendered to God’s will. Judas realized his mistake and repented, but he didn’t surrender to God’s will – he didn’t have enough faith. Do you or I have enough faith to let go and let God – It’s a hard thing to do, isn’t it? But Holy Week is a time to remember Jesus’ submission to the will of God. It is a time when we remember that because of Jesus’ suffering, because he went to the cross on our behalf, we can have, not only an abundant life on this earth, but eternal life in heaven. It is a time when we acknowledge that our God is a gracious God, who will never give up on you or me.
This is a reminder to make a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development. The website www.episcopalrelief.org gives this summary of their work: Episcopal Relief & Development reaches over 3 million people annually, through long-term programs and disaster response efforts with local partners in approximately 40 countries. We work directly with Anglican Communion and other partners to carry out our mission of empowering people to find lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and disease.
By working through local church people and connecting with local relief partners in these 40 countries, ERD has access to individuals who know the people and the region, allowing relief to be delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible in times of disaster, before specially trained teams and additional supplies are able to reach the area from outside.
On the ERD website, you can learn about on-going programs in particular countries, and you can direct donations to one of twelve designated areas, including South Sudan, clean water, United States disaster relief, economic empowerment, child survival, and so on.
Click on "Gifts for Life" to see more specific options, such as training and equipment to be a beekeeper (a means of support that requires very little land) or a flock of chickens or a small cooking stove that will not explode. ERD has done the ground work to enable us to change lives---one life, one family, one village at a time.
You can make a donation online or by phone 1-855-312-4325 or by mail to
Episcopal Relief & Development
P.O. Box 7058
Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.
**Next RAIHN volunteer week is scheduled for MARCH 19-25 (there are currently 5 families(14 individuals) in the RAIHN program this month.
**There are still a few volunteer openings for the hospitality and overnight shifts (see description below) Contact Beatrice at 585-880-7029 if you'd like to volunteer
7-9pm Hospitality Volunteer – Provide friendly companionship during the guests’ stay. (Volunteers have brought along fun activities with them to hospitality hour such as books, family friendly videos, crafts, games, instruments etc , but no accessories are necessary, sometime just being there is all a guest may need of you.)
9PM-7AM- Overnight Volunteer- Spend the night at Two Saints (were family are housed for the week). Volunteers have separate rooms. Volunteers are present to help trouble shoot with guest for any concerns. Volunteers are supported by Coordinator John Burr by phone for any matters they cannot address. There are usually two volunteers on this shift.
**2017 Volunteer Trainings
· Thursday, April 6, 2017, 6:30 pm, Mary Magdalene Church, 1008 Main St., East Rochester
· Wednesday, June 7, 2017, 6:30 pm, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 25 Westminster Rd., Rochester
· Second Level Training for experienced volunteers - Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, 6:30 - 8:00 pm, Third Presbyterian Church, 4 Meigs St., Rochester
RAIHN Donation needs:
RAIHN DAY CENTER NEED – Double or queen mattresses – it you have one to donate, please give us a call! Thank you.
The Pittsford Food Cupboard supplies over 4,000 households totaling over 9,400 people. They provide food and other items to 6 different zip codes: E Rochester, Pittsford, Brighton and 3 in Rochester. Some items they are always in need of:
The items are dropped off to the food cupboard once a month. The volunteers are always so appreciative. Thank you Christ Church for helping to fill the basket that is in the back of the church every Sunday.
Ruth reported on the Capital Campaign: "Perhaps the most eventful news of the month is that we will not be working with the Klote firm on a capital campaign. Your wardens, campaign team, and I agree: while it's been a hard learning curve, it is not time to run a professional campaign on the scale we'd planned. I was advised that a campaign as ours (drawing heavily on the support of our neighborhood community) is best undertaken when we know more who our potential leaders are and what kinds of gifts they can lead with. While this feels like a big setback, it is not unusual for consultants and clients to mutually agree that there are reasons they should not go forward together with a campaign. As I wrote to the parish: the campaign team and I will "go back to the drawing board."
Ruth also announced that Marianne Sickels who has worked for Christ Church for more than 30 years plans to retire on June 29, 2017. We are working on an up-to-date job description and will embark on a search for a new parish secretary. We will miss Marianne terribly, and we will work together to celebrate her time with us and give her a send-off in June.
And finally, she talked about past and upcoming events. The Youth Formation Group had a meaningful retreat at the Abbey of the Genesee. In March, Ruth will offer an Adult Formation class for adults seeking confirmation, reaffirmation of vows, reception into the Episcopal Church, or simply forum for prayer, study, and faith sharing.
Sanctuary at Christ Church has evolved into a parish and community network for sharing information about outreach efforts and interfaith work in Rochester. Christ Church co – sponsored “An Inauguration of Hope” at the First Unitarian Church on Winton in January, and we are now supporting the youth hosted “Voices in Exile” at Christ Church on March 18th, an interfaith fundraiser for refugee resettlement in Rochester. We are also co-sponsoring the No one Left Behind Organization’s fundraising event – an Afghan New Year Celebration Dinner March 21 at Asbury Methodist Church. This is an organization that brings Iraqi and Afghan military personnel who fought alongside Americans in the Iraq war to America and helps them start a life here, away from violence and threats to their lives. Finally, there will be a Lenten book study (“Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America” by Michael Eric Dyson) along with an opportunity to do the Stations of the Cross.
Guest: Todd Rubiano, CFO of Diocesan (apportionment & deficit conversation)
We invited Todd to talk about the process of determining apportionment. Diocesan information he discussed with us included the following: Apportionment is set on the basis of the Operating Expenses and does not include a church’s endowment or savings account. Many of our parishes operate at a deficit - the key is "how big" and for "how long"? A prudent rate to draw on savings/endowment is in the range of 4-6%. Churches usually run out of people before they run out of money.
· CC needs to charge the Jazz Festival a fee for use of the church with piano moving and services of the sexton included. The Jazz Festival is now a for-profit organization.
· The piano is tuned every night and this is unusual wear and tear on the instrument. Something between $50-$100 per day would be a reasonable fee for us to consider. This fee should be directed into a CC instrument fund to help secure maintenance.
· Professional movers must be employed to move the piano if it is to be moved into the Chancel. CC should arrange for the piano movers and the bill should be figured into the church rental fee. They have on occasion not used professional movers in the past and our piano has been damaged.
· Deb will ask JF committee to discuss this with the JF organizers when they meet.
Care Team update:
Kevin, Josie, Carolyn and Jim will work on a description of what the Care Team offers. After that description, people who offered help to Care Team on “Call Me” cards will be contacted. And possibly the whole congregation will be offered the opportunity to volunteer with specific services again.
Guest: Paddy Collins-Bohrer
The Vestry welcomed Paddy as he updated us on where he is in his journey toward ordination. He has applied to be ordained to the diaconate. The Vestry enthusiastically supports this step.
Finance Committee Report
Committee will meet every second Sunday, following the 8:00 service, beginning March 12. Please submit any requests for Committee review by the preceding Friday.
January Financials (from Norm Geil, dated 2/8/17)
2017 Annual Meeting Appeal Update: 11 “YES” cards received to-date, totaling $6,340 (annual) increase
Property Committee Report
The Property Committee continues to meet to review potential preventive maintenance projects for the parish as well as address immediate repairs. The Committee met on February 9th to discuss and develop a capital projects list. This list development continues. The Committee is addressing the leak in the Sacristy with the help of CSTM Roofing. Additionally, the flashing on the roof by the apartments. CSTM will be fixing that as well. An employee of Sacred Sites will be on site on March 8th to conduct a walk-through for our grant application. Jennifer Ahrens from Bero Architecture will attend this meeting to assist on questions regarding the Lawn Street façade. Finally, the Property Committee has been meeting with Go Green LED International to look at examples for the Chancel lighting improvements.
Thanks to the loan of books from Christ Church archivist Mary Schultz, The Song will be highlighting some excerpts about Christ Church history in this and future issues. We are fortunate to have two history books that were written about the church, Christ Church: A Story-Chronological, by Jane Marsh Parker, covering the years 1854-1905, andChrist Church Rochester: The First Hundred Years 1855-1955, by James Demcey Hendryx.