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A year that brings the Curate’s egg to mind

State of the Parish 2016/2017—Part I

Our Parish Meeting takes place between the 9:15 AM and 11:00 AM services on Sunday, October 29th. Here is the first part of the Rector’s State of the Parish Report that will be offered at the meeting. The second part will be published in next week’s newsletter.

Best part of 150 years ago the English satirical magazine published a cartoon that depicted a lowly curate breakfasting with his bishop and other senior clergy. “How is your egg, young man?” the bishop asks. “Very good … in parts, my lord,” replies the curate timidly.

The curate’s egg aptly describes the state of the parish in 2016/17. It was a very good year … in parts.

One important part—the financial part—was far from good, as Treasurer William Hawkins pointed out in his report to the annual meeting. But, then, “you can’t win ’em all,” as grandfather was apt to say, when a horse he favored was pipped at the post: Money matters aside, it was a year to remember.

Not least, it saw the reconstitution of our Choir of Men and Boys with a small, but remarkably capable, treble section. It was the result of some very hard work by Adric, our choirmaster and organist.

Recruiting youngsters for the choir is a difficult enough task considering the vast range of competing weekend activities—Little League, soccer, etc. But training them to sing to the standard on display at St Stephen’s is no less of a challenge.

Adric and the choir’s splendid—and well-attended—Services of Choral Evensong program are generally sung on the first Sunday of the month. The best-kept secret in Baltimore is the choir’s Sunday schedule of Choral Mattins—the morning equivalent of Choral Evensong.
Choral Mattins, together with Choral Evensong, is one of the great glories of the Anglican Church. Sadly, it fell into disuse in a vast majority of parishes during the 1960s. Indeed, it seems that St Stephen’s is the last parish in the region to maintain this wonderful service.

Aficionados of Choral Evensong who find night driving difficult might note the fact that they can get their “fix” at 11:00 AM at St Stephen’s every Sunday morning but the first of the month. A regular Officiant at Mattins and Evensong is Peter Threadgill, our head lay reader and resident composer.

The choir continues its charitable work for the greater community. The offertory taken at Choral Evensong is in aid of the the Christ Child Society of Baltimore. The society’s membership is drawn from women of all faiths, and its mission is to serve children and families in the Baltimore area.

Our Choir of Men and Boys’ triumphant return is a tribute not just to Adric’s extraordinary talent for teaching but also to his perseverance, patience, and dedication to the choral arts. We owe him a sincere vote of thanks.

The year has also seen the long overdue recognition of the vital leadership role the ladies have played in the life of the parish. An award has been instituted in the name of Charlotte, my wife, in appreciation for her years of unflagging work for the parish—especially with the Parish Life Committee and, in earlier years, the Sunday Schools.

Institution of the award in my wife’s name was especially touching as the considerable contributions made by clergy wives—women like Diane Novicki, Caroline Kerouac, and Charlotte—to the success of the parishes they self-effacingly serve frequently goes unrecognized.

Four parish stalwarts were well-deserved first recipients of the Charlotte Hawtin Ladies’ Award. They are: Mavis Turner, Cindie Baker, Oreta Richardson, and Anne Hawkins.

Moving on to matters liturgical, Associate Rector Fr Michael Belt joined Fr Michael Kerouac and myself in the Sunday preaching rotation. The congregation has warmly received his arrival in the pulpit. Variety, it seems, is not merely the spice of secular life but it can stimulate the spiritual life as well.

Meanwhile our lay readers, led by Mr Threadgill, are always looking for recruits to join Gordon Turner, Paul Douglas, Holland Wilmer, Brock Johnson, Bob Reynolds, and Chris Browne. Deacon Dan Bursi and Mr Wilmer conduct a service of Evening Prayer in the Parish Church every Wednesday at 6:00 PM.

The Altar GuildEllen Reather, Linda Mulvaney, Colby Hawks, Priscilla and Dick Huffman, Fr John and Diane Novicki, and William Spicer—has had another busy year. Membership is open to both men and women. If you are interested in this vital work, please contact the parish office or an Altar Guild member. We are also looking for more ushers—particularly for the 11:15 AM Sunday service.

Our talented Flower Guild continues to deck the sanctuary with spectacular floral arrangements. It was hard to imagine the church appearing more beautiful than it did at Christmastide until we saw the Easter flowers.

Brock Johnson, Director of Adult Education, leads the Christian Education Department. Mr Johnson leads the popular Friday morning Bible Study. Furthermore, during course of the year he has instituted two new theological studies that meet on Monday and Wednesday evenings.

In addition to Adult Education, Mr Johnson (a.k.a. Sparkles) not only does sterling service as a lay reader, Sunday School teacher and catechist, he also volunteers to keep the church clean.

However, some of the most important work of the parish probably passes virtually unnoticed by a majority of parishioners. It is the work that we undertake in the community outside the boundaries of the parish church.

Our Pastoral Care Team led by Mrs Happy Riley, Director of Pastoral Care, and Fr Wiley Hawks, Pastoral Care Chaplain–assisted by Deacon Bursi—have done sterling work expanding the parish’s ministry in our local health care facilities and retirement communities.

Under the leadership of Fr Hawks and Mrs Riley, the team conducts regular church services at retirement communities and nursing homes, including: Glen Meadows, Mays Chapel Ridge, Powerback at Brightwood, Genesis at Mays Chapel, Lorien at Mays Chapel, Broadmead, College Manor, and Roland Park Place, as well as occasional services at other communities including Heart Homes, Blakehurst, Edenwald, and Keswick. It also offers pastoral care and support at The Joseph Richey Hospice, Union Memorial Hospital and The Greater Baltimore Medical Center. GPH✠

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