Continuing Home

The ongoing saga of a Continuing Anglican church home, as seen by a member of the laity.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Familiar hymns, Unfamiliar tongue

Takeji and Kyoko left a gift during their visit: a Japanese CD whose cover we could not read because the writing was all in Japanese. But when inserted into a CD player, I recognized instantly what they'd left us.

Many years ago as a boy I assembled a short-wave radio kit and for years I listened to the local AM radio station on it. One of the Sunday programs the station ran was called "The Great Hour of Music" (and from time to time there was the ever-present question: should it be called "The Great Hour of Music" or "The Hour of Great Music"? though they never changed the program name while I lived there). And though the hymn was not then in our Hymnal the program's anthem, the hymn "How Great Thou Art" has stuck in my mind ever since I first heard it on the radio.

Zoom forward many years and imagine: I insert a CD into a player, press the "play" key and hear... "How Great Thou Art" in (I reasonably assume) Japanese!


What an incredible gift!

And what a message to those of us in this land who (likely wrongfully today) take Christianity as something that can be assumed (and ignored and deprecated), from one where it is still mostly alien.

What an incredible (and energizing) gift!

Parish Sale, Part Deaux (the finale)

Fr. Daniel announced yesterday that this coming Saturday would be the second part of the Parish Sale held recently. Apparently there had been items brought that hadn't been put out for the sale, plus several people had items for the sale but for one reason or another hadn't brought them. Fr. Daniel expressed the hope that this would be the finale for the sale and that the unsold items could then be taken away.

Hmmm. Come to think of it, we have some items also. Now if I can just remember to take them over before Saturday...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Visitors and Hymns

St. Bartholomew's welcomed anticipated visitors Takeji and Kyoko today, come all the way from Yokohama for several days' stay in Seattle, returning home tomorrow. It was a pleasant surprise to hear them singing right along with the rest of the congregation, as if they'd been singing these same hymns all their lives.

Maybe they have been -- but a small issue came up with one of the hymns: #780. Some of our old hymnals have little to nothing of "supplemental hymns" beyond 600, others ended at various numbers higher than that, I think up to 730 or 750, but only the new hymnals had #780. Perhaps we need a little push to completely fill out the service books.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bad Habit

I don't know if all churches experience this, or if it's just a result of our being so widespread.

I've noticed that people know just how long it takes to get to church Sunday morning (for me, 22 minutes plus or minus one). At 12 minutes before the service there will be a few people already there, but the big influx starts about 5 minutes before the service.

This is a shame, because there is then no time for reflection before the service begins. Also there is the inevitable result that one will be late, arriving during the procession -- or after.

When I was growing up we would try to be at church at least 10 minutes before the service, about the time the candles were lit. I don't recall whether that was just our family's practice, though.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Rogation Sunday

For the Rogation Sunday service Fr. McGrath introduced us to a new (to us) custom. He noted that in England it's been a very old practice to conduct a procession, asking for God's blessings on the fields, gardens, and orchards as the procession passes through. We don't have fields or orchards but we do have gardens, so we processed by them. (Maybe we'll be blessed with fewer weeds...?)

Led by the Thurifer and Crucifer, and with Fr. McGrath in his cope at the rear, we processed out the side door, down the driveway to the entry from Avondale Road, up the dirt path to the walkway, past the Fr. Leen Education Building and into the church. During the procession we read the Litany. I was surprised that it continued all the way through the procession.

Then the altar, Fr. Daniel and the congregation were censed and the thurible taken out. At that point there wasn't quite the mad rush to open the windows I had expected; I know a few of our members don't like incense very much.

We had visitors today. It was with some surprise we heard that one couple, who have moved here from Georgia, said that they'd been directed to us by Fr. McAughey (I hope I have the spelling right). One of our members said, "Our Father McAughey?!?" The very same -- he was our vicar from late 1979 until 1982. Somebody suggested that word be passed on to Fr. McAughey that we need a picture of him for our "rogues gallery." (We also noted that although we have one of Archbishop Morse, we don't have one of Bishop Provence either.)

Update: We will have special visitors next Sunday, Takeji and Kyoko from Japan. Takeji and I have been colleagues on a couple of committees for almost 10 years.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Of Matins, Men's Group, and Muscular Exhaustion

We got a little rain late Friday, but not much. And despite it looking rather threatening (or promising, depending on your like or dislike of rain), I went ahead and put the weed-whacker, the gas-powered one of course, in the car before heading off to church.

When I got there, at 8:24 AM, there were only three in the church: Fr. Daniel, Deacon Ed, and Gordon. Fr. Daniel must have known exactly who was coming because we started Matins as soon as I sat down, instead of waiting until 8:30.

After the service we headed down to the kitchen and Parish Hall, where I had to figure out how to turn the lower oven on. The secret is to turn both dials! But as Gordon pointed out the controls are somewhat confusingly labeled (and while previewing this post my wife noted that the controls have been confusing to the ladies too, which will again be a concern when they start baking cookies for the next Kairos prison ministry).

Then Gordon served up a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs (with some other things added, a little onion and cheese?), French toast, hash browns, sausages and bacon. Yum!

Somebody (Fr. Daniel?) had made coffee already, so I indulged in a half cup. I never intended to quit, but somehow over the past few years I've wound up drinking a cup Sunday after service and that's it for the week. (I'm not bragging, though I'm sure some readers might be jealous...)

Over breakfast we discussed the low turnout. Some people were away but also several of the men in our parish work for an unnamed company that apparently demands long hours from its employees, though it also rewards them well. (I am not critical of them; I even submitted my resume to said company not long ago, though in my case it was for a particular opening for which I thought I was quite uniquely positioned, but... oh, well... it appears I wasn't.)

After breakfast we cleaned up and discussed whether or not to continue with the work party, given the likelihood of rain. We decided to give it a go, so for the next two and a half hours I wielded the weed-whacker hither & thither & yon, until I ran out of string -- just before I'd also have run out of gas and a bit more before I'd have run out of strength, given a job awaiting me at home.

Managed to complete phase one of the home project too, but my arms are tired. Hope they'll be up to my duties as thurifer for the Rogation Sunday procession tomorrow.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

For Rain

I'm sure those in New England (where there has been much flooding) would not appreciate this posting these days, but I concurred with Fr. McGrath today when he expressed a hope that some rain might be coming. Like him I am a former U.C. Santa Barbarian -- in my case during an extended drought in which, the local paper reported, a secretary arrived at work one morning and exclaimed, "If we have one more day of clear blue sky and bright sun, I am going to scream!!!" (The paper did not report whether or not she actually carried through, it having been yet another day of clear blue sky and bright sun.)

We've been having more than our share of blue sky and warm sun -- temperatures zooming into the 80s, it's high summer already! This isn't exactly the climate that attracted this mossback to the Great Pacific Northwet.

And though the forecast says "rain," the weathermen have been spectacularly poor (i.e. optimistic) at predicting rain for Seattle. I suspect there is a bug in their computer weather models because we've been receiving rather less of our accustomed liquid sunshine than predicted.

On the other hand, our family has a bit of a busy weekend ahead with church events. Friday night is the Ladies' Arts & Crafts Social, Saturday morning the Mens' Group Breakfast, Fellowship and Work Party (featuring weed-whackers -- note to self, leave the electric at home but bring the gas-powered), Sunday Bible Study, Holy Communion and Vestry meeting.

Although we have a saying here, "If you're not willing to do it in the rain, you're not going to do it at all," experience says that whacking weeds with power tools is one thing rather a bit less pleasurable in the rain than otherwise. So maybe if the rain holds off the first part of Saturday it will be okay -- if it's not too hot.

O GOD, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised to all those who seek thy kingdom, and the righteousness thereof, all things necessary to their bodily sustenance; Send us, we beseech thee, in this our necessity, such moderate rain and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth to our comfort, and to thy honour; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday Update: The promised rain didn't arrive.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Lion In Winter

Last weekend Fr. Robert Hart at The Continuum reported on finding a link to an interview with Archbishop Morse a few years ago.

I must have read the interview (there were pieces of it that sounded familiar), but if I had I have somehow completely forgotten about it since. Or perhaps it is just that my own awareness of current issues outside St. Bartholomew's has increased significantly from the state of "near zero" I had at the time of the interview.

I wonder how many of us at St. Bartholomew's are in that "near zero" state? I remember many, many years ago when talk about what was happening "back there" faded away and, frankly, it was a relief; the talk was not uplifting. (Interestingly, it was roughly about the time that that talk faded that I began to perceive St. Bartholomew's operating a bit more as a "church family" and a bit less as a "church", though admittedly there were other elements involved.)

It worries me a bit that I learned so much from reading this interview. Of a few small points of the knowledge gained, I am delighted to learn that I have come to much the same conclusions. The rest I read and learn. While trying really, really hard not to jump up and down in this chair shouting, "YES! AND YES!" occasionally interspersed with "Huh?" (Remember, this is a layman's blog...)

...but I digress.

As regards Archbishop Morse, I think interviewer David Virtue has described him to a tee.

I highly recommend reading first Fr. Hart's report and then the interview: A Lion In Winter.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sunday Summary

So much to report on it's hard to say where to start, so I guess I'll just start at the beginning.

Other than the McGraths, we were first to arrive this morning (to allow extra time because of Kathy's still limited mobility, though the wheelchair stayed home this week). Kathy noted with some sadness that nobody had come for Matins.

The Bible Study class was quite lively this morning, so we got only about halfway through the material (Ephesians 4:7-16) for today. Our numbers were down -- those who'd missed class today missed a lot. (I saw from my notes that in fact we had not missed a class last week; the previous class had covered Ephesians 4:1-6.) Next week's class is certain to be an interesting one!

After class we headed up to the church for the service. There was a faint, nice hint of incense in the air. (We do not use incense very often because it really bothers a few of our parishioners -- although I am given to understand that it's the charcoal, not the incense itself, that produces the annoying elements.)

That reminded me... a thurible. We'd talked about getting the church a new thurible due to the sad state of our current one. We'd even looked up thuribles on eBay -- there were certainly some, well, "interesting" thuribles for sale. A Greek Orthodox friend had suggested getting one with bells (12, to be exact); I'd never heard of such a thing, I wonder if this is specific to Orthodox churches?

The service opened with hymn 783 (ah, ha! another one above 600), Cwm Rhondda. Perfect for Kathy, who used to sing in the Seattle Welsh Choir. This time she had to sing it in English, though.

Father Daniel preached another excellent homily this morning, on testing the spirits who speak to us. In class we'd discussed the gifts we've been given; I think we're seeing one develop here.

Josephine's corsageAnd in a beautiful touch for Mother's Day, Josephine made beautiful corsages (pictured) for all the mothers. Fr. Daniel blessed them and all the mothers present received one.

The announcements included the Ladies' Craft Night on Friday the 19th (7:30 PM), and the second Mens' Group Saturday morning, beginning with Matins at 8:30 and followed by breakfast and fellowship. (It was suggested, though, that Gordon might not serve those who missed Matins.) This will be a work party too, with a burgeoning crop of weeds that need to be whacked.

Fr. Daniel, our expert on the 1940 Hymnal, noted that today's communion hymn, #195, is the oldest in the hymnal. Not the music but the words, which are a paraphrase from the Didache, the teaching of the 12 Apostles, somewhere around the year 110. Looking this up online I see there some uncertainty as to its exact date, but it would certainly be difficult to find anything much earlier!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I was a bit surprised when I arrived in the Parish Hall Sunday to find it set up for Bible Study class and with new material on the whiteboard. I had thought the class would resume next Sunday, the 14th, and apologized to Fr. McGrath. But apparently others had thought the same, because there was only one person there who might have been there for the class; the other regular members arrived later.

Apparently there was some confusion. Even the website wasn't consistent on when the class would resume; it gave different days on the main page and on the Announcements page.

I assume class will resume this coming Sunday, starting off with Ephesians 4:1.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Courtesy of the GadgetVicar blog in Glasgow Scotland, here is a global map (if it works!) that should indicate where this blog's readers are located, though it really only shows where your connection to the Internet is located -- if I were to access this blog from work it would show me as being in Arizona instead of Washington state.

Locations of visitors to this page

Update, 5/09: Checked it from work and I think that dot in Arizona is me.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Return from Synod

It was a dark and stormy night... delightfully gloomy Pacific Northwest morning in which we received Fr. Daniel, Josephine and little Danny back after their (what seems like) long absence. Josephine's recital at UC Santa Barbara went well: one more step toward her doctorate. Following the recital they went up to Chico for Synod, and returned home yesterday.

Nancy also returned yesterday from Synod, which ended yesterday at noon, arriving back even before the McGraths. The other members of our delegation were still in transit and so we did not see them this morning.

Fr. Daniel gave us a report on Synod (our diocese's annual conference, which he noted as being the diocesan equivalent of our Annual Parish Meeting). He observed that the early days of our province were a rough time, with so much of what is required to run a province and its diocese to be learned by doing, but he also noted that Bishop Provence is an able administrator who now has our diocese running in good order.

(I should add a note here that our bishops, while we expect them to be administrators, are also not allowed to become distant from pastoral care. Our canons, I am told, require our bishops to be the Rector or Vicar of a parish, and so Bishop Provence is the Rector of St. Thomas' in San Francisco.)

Fr. Daniel also reported that a number of excellent candidates were interviewed by the Standing Committee during Synod. As it is the availability of qualified clergy that is the limiting factor on the province's growth, this is good news indeed.

And speaking of growth... there was a sign in the Narthex (later transferred to the Parish Hall) this morning announcing a baby shower to be held in the Parish Hall June 10th. The church family of St. Bartholomew's is soon to welcome an addition.

Saturday Sale

The ACW's Saturday's plant and garage sale was a success, it was reported this morning, bringing in some $300. There must have been a communication problem somewhere because the website's Announcements page listed it only as a plant sale.

I don't recall it ever being held this time of year, though I could be wrong. But then again, last December the ACW decided to hold their "Really Bizarre Bazaar (or No Bazaar) instead of the usual sale.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Synod and St. Augustine's

Things are very quiet at St. Bartholomew's this week, what with Fr. Daniel and Deacon Ed among those converging on St. Augustine's, Chico CA, for our annual diocesan Synod. I wish I could be going (I had planned to, I was a delegate) but am needed here. I finally remembered to call and give my regrets to Bishop Provence this morning.

Synod was held at St. Augustine's just a couple of years ago and there I heard their story, as follows (maybe somebody can add in the parts I have forgotten):

The church was formed by a group that left the Episcopal church back in the late 80s or early 90s (I am very fuzzy on the timeframe). This reduced the size of the Episcopal congregation to where the historic old building could not be sustained, so it was put up for sale. St. Augustine's parish tried to buy it, but was refused.

The building was finally sold, deconsecrated, and turned into an upscale Chinese restaurant. As it was designated a historic building, the exterior had to be preserved; only the cross atop the steeple came down. The nave became a restaurant, the sanctuary a bar, and a large room downstairs a nightclub. The Chico police soon got to know the latter quite well as it was the source of much trouble.

Perhaps the good people of Chico were uncomfortable eating in a former church; the restaurant did not do well. After a few years it went out of business and the building was put up for sale again. The nearby university wanted the building for a student center, but the it did not meet the university's earthquake codes so they had to pass.

Through a significant part of the story I have forgotten, St. Augustine's parish was able to buy the building, and they set about restoring it. The expensive kitchen equipment was sold to help pay for the effort.

When they started removing the Chinese restaurant facades they started to discover little crosses hidden here and there behind the facades, apparently secreted by the unknown workmen who'd installed the facades years earlier. (I saw pictures of some of the discovered crosses in the church's "reconstruction" photo album.)

Soon they had restored the beautiful old (by West Coast standards!) church, now named St. Augustine's, to its historic form and use -- with a cross atop the steeple again, and some of those who'd left the building and its church many years before had come home again to their old church building.

Click through and take a look at St. Augustine's.