Continuing Home

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

Monday, August 28, 2006

Vestry & Leadership Retreat II

Finally got some photos of our Vestry & Leadership Retreat (only 2 weeks ago?) posted online. Thank you, Dee, for your pictures!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Happy Birthday To Us

As noted in today's bulletin, Thursday marked 28 years since the formation and first service of St. Bartholomew's. I wish I had had a tape recorder running when Mary Ellen talked about the early days of our parish; it would be nice to have a written record of it with all sorts of interesting details, such as how we came to acquire the property.

(From memory of Thursday evening: The parish had been looking at the property and talking with the owner, but the talks kept going nowhere because although he'd sell the land cheap the deal would include his doing the construction -- and the numbers were never forthcoming. Then he ran into some legal problem and was $20k short of what he needed to settle it. St. Bartholomew's had accumulated $20k by then and extended an outright purchase offer. The report was that when they made the offer, in person, he just sat there dumbfounded, saying, "I need $20,000, and here you are with an offer in just that amount...")

The School supplies for native American students project went very well. Rhonda was reportedly very delighted with the contributions. This was almost a last-minute deal and she (nor the rest of us) had any idea what the response would be. Next year there will be more planning and advance notice.

It's coming... While preparing this post, I noted that at the very tail of the bulletin is this curious little note. I wonder what's up?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Our Patronal Festival

Today is the Feast of St. Bartholomew. Fr. Daniel's e-mail to the parish said simply, "At 6:30 PM there will be a solemn Evensong, followed by a Potluck Supper and a short musical program in the Parish Hall." I should have known better than to take that at face value!

acolyte in training My first hint that my guess as to the conduct of the service might be falling a bit short of reality came when I entered the Narthex and saw Cameron learning how to carry the cross for the procession. Fr. Daniel had recently mentioned the upcoming acolyte training program; it seems it has already begun! (Cameron did a great job, I should add, and it won't be long before that cross is, well, not such a heavy cross for him to bear.)

But that was only the first hint. The second came when some members of the Girls' Choir "escaped" from the Fr. Leen Learning Center in their choir robes. "Well, this is going to be a treat," I thought, "we'll hear the Girls' Choir too."

Then I open the bulletin. Oh my, it's full of Plainsong, and Fr. Daniel has "typeset" it right in the bulletin with the font/software he recently received for that purpose. Better and better -- this is going to be an Evensong to remember.

Then Fr. Daniel asks me if I'll serve as Thurifer, apologizing that he hadn't asked earlier. (It's not a problem; I am long used to serving at the drop of a hat and Fr. Daniel knows that -- I only ask for a few minutes to preview anything I may have to read so I can get some sense of what is to be conveyed and read it aloud that way.) So I vested, fetched the thurible, already lit, and boat and joined the procession waiting to begin.

Evensong has never been so beautiful as this evening's.

Afterwards we all went downstairs to the Parish Hall for a potluck supper and the "short musical program." Short rather implied "short and little" -- which it wasn't. While people got their supper Kathy played her harp, as she's done so many times for us over the years.

Then Les arrived and "sang for his supper." Les is a professional entertainer (is that the right word?); you could hear it the instant his fingers reached the keyboard. He led off with "As Time Goes By" (Casablanca), playing AND singing, and entertained us with much more. Kathy couldn't resist and was up and dancing in no time -- particularly notable because it was just in May she was beginning to walk again with the aid of a walker.

(By the way, the piano is a new resident in the Parish Hall. Apparently it has been largely idle at Adrian and Anne's, and through some arrangement it was moved and re-tuned. If tonight is an indication, this piano is going to be a boost to our musical programs.)

But the serious music hadn't even begun. Ruby and Josephine were next with "The Swan" on cello and piano. Even the children were rapt with this.

Josephine continued solo with a Schubert piece, completely from memory. That just left me stunned.

For a conclusion, Mary Ellen talked about the early days of St. Bartholomew's, passing on a bit of our history from before our founding 28 years ago (today) through to the first service in our building (20 years ago this coming Christmas Eve at 3 PM). Even those of us who've been around for a while learned from this.

"At 6:30 PM there will be a solemn Evensong, followed by a Potluck Supper and a short musical program in the Parish Hall." If there is ever a prime example of understatement, here it is.

Thank you, Fr. Daniel, for a wonderful church family evening!!!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A former member returns!

I would be remiss if I didn't report that the surprise return of one of our members was noted with joy on Sunday.

It's always feels like a loss when somebody leaves for whatever reason: whether it's a move elsewhere, in anger, a slipping away that becomes final, or even that it's a poor fit. But sometimes they return, and that's always a happy occasion.

In this case a couple moved away almost a couple years ago in a job-related move.

Yesterday she returned, having moved back to the area. What happened between then and now I do not know. In our chat Sunday I didn't ask; it's not my business. I got the impression there may be ongoing issues; if so, I hope she comes back actively.

Sometimes it seems we attract people struggling with issues (and sometimes our members have issues come upon them); but I have seen how the parish often reaches out to hold, comfort, pray for and support them in various ways. Sometimes things are restored and get better; sometimes not.

We're still human, we still fail (in big ways and little: I still haven't gotten around to fixing that gutter, for example), but to me our church feels like family that's trying.

So to our returnee I say: Welcome back -- we are so happy to see you again!!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A long way through Ephesians -- finale

We got there. Not that getting there was the goal, but in nine months of study beginning with Ephesians 1:1 last Advent, the Bible Study Class today reached Ephesians 6:24, assisted along the way by some word studies in Greek and with readings from the Fathers.

The class will now take a break until the week before Advent when it will start up again, but this time on Wednesday evenings (possibly following potluck supper) instead of Sunday mornings. Fr. Daniel plans to take us through the Psalms, aided by C.S. Lewis' Reflections on the Psalms.

The order for Sunday mornings will now change. With a number of our girls having been through the summer Choir Day Camp, Fr. Daniel and Josephine will be working more with the Girls' Choir, practicing prior to services. We'll be hearing more from them this coming year.

We will also be doing more acolyte training, to engage the boys in the service. From my own experience, starting out as an acolyte and continuing on through a laundry list of lay positions, this will be an important part of their education.

In the meantime it seems we have other talents and service developing too. During Communion I heard an unfamiliar hand at the organ. Looking to the back of the Nave I couldn't identify who was playing and was left mystified. After the service I asked and it turned out to be -- none other than our own Ruby, making her debut. Very well done!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Natural Restoration

Did I mention it's been a busy week? I see I completely forgot to even mention the topic of our grounds!!

Last Saturday Jan, a friend of Joanne's, talked to the Vestry about an alternative to the massive (and years-long) landscaping project that has been under consideration. Her suggestion was to restore the grounds to a more natural state, using native vegetation. She'd looked at our property and said it would be good for this.

Some areas would still be some work, especially getting rid of the blackberries (the state weed, very invasive!), and it would take three years before things would really get going on their own, but the end result would look nice and require far less ongoing effort than, say, putting in large expanses of lawn.

The following day after church several of us went to Jan's house to see for ourselves how her restoration project was going. It was quite a tour, seeing and hearing about all these different native plants. I'm sure this will be a big topic in the next regular Vestry meeting.

One more item off the to-do list

A while back Fr. Daniel had suggested a change to the banner on the church's website. I agree it was a bit uninteresting, a panoramic photo of the property taken from the parking lot, but he'd suggested a montage along the lines of the province's web site, with images merging into each other.

It sounded like a good idea. I knew my tools were able to do such, but it was a matter of finding a stretch of time to just sit down and pick out the photos to be used, learn just how to merge them, and put it all together.

I'm not unhappy with the result.

School supplies for native American students

I know it's been a busy week when I'm three days behind in my e-mail. I just read an e-mail from Fr. Daniel with a number of reminders and announcements. Among those was an item I don't clearly remember discussion, so it was a little bit of a surprise. That announcement was as follows:
Donations of School Supplies Sought for Native American Students.

We are collecting school supplies for Native American students in the Edmonds School District. Anyone who wants to contribute should bring the school supplies to Church by August 27.

Supplies include, but are not limited to, the following: backpacks for all ages; lined paper (wide and college ruled); highlighters; glue sticks; rulers; pencil pouches; crayon boxes; scissors; spiral notebooks, folders with pockets; crayons; colored pencils; and sharpies.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Fr. McGrath on "The Daily Services for Morning & Evening"

How time flies. It seems like it was just yesterday I was reading Fr. Daniel's article in the Mandate about the 1940 Hymnal and the Holy Communion service, but he advised me today that the next issue, with Part 5 of his series on the 1940 Hymnal has just been posted online, so it's been two whole months.

This time he leads off with the statement, "The jewel in the crown of Anglican Spirituality is the Order for Holy Communion from the Book of Common Prayer, but the golden band of the crown itself consists of the Daily Prayer Offices, known as Matins (Morning Prayer) and Evensong (Evening Prayer)."

In my lifelong experience as an Anglican I agree, we have largely let those offices go. He is doing a yeoman's work in making sure these are being said at St. Bartholomew's every day, but he also needs Time Off. We've discussed my taking it on, as Lay Reader, one evening (Monday would be appropriate); I will have to change my work schedule some in order to accomodate this.

But he goes on to talk about the Choral Service for Matins and Evensong. I grew up in a church that sang Morning Prayer and I loved the Venite, exultemus Domino, the Benedictus es, Domine and the Jubilate Deo, led by our choir. I think we sang all three but don't clearly remember; my recollection is further clouded by having recently encountering different tunes.

But a startling point for me in his article is the bit about how the notation used in the Hymnal for plainsong has led to stilted performances wherein the timing is rigidly held to the notation. I have heard this before in a completely different context: that of piobaireachd (Gaelic, in English 'pibroch', roughly meaning "piping"), the classical music of the Highland bagpipe!!

Not many non-pipers even know of piobaireachd, but to pipers it is considered the highest and most difficult art of the bagpipe. Played strictly from memory, the tunes can run up to three quarter-hours in length (and when played in competition -- the judge has the score before him!).

Without going into all the tantalizing titles ("A Flame of Wrath", "The Desperate Battle," "The Old Woman's Lullabye," etc.), there is a big debate over timing with two pitched camps: "This is how it's written so this is how I play it" vs. "The form of transcription is an approximation, express the tune and forget the timing."

Call me old-school (my teacher was old school). The original form of "transcription" was called canntaireachd (Gaelic, roughly "chanted"), a system where each note or ornamentation (gracenotes or runs of gracenotes) had a different syllable. A piper trained in this would know exactly what to play if he heard "hee horo," for example ([American phonetics] the "hee" would be at a high pitch held, the "horo" very quick at lower pitch). The timing was passed on vocally.

In listening to piobaireachd competitions, I've been struck by how much more expressive were the performances unconstrained by rigid timing.

So from this background, when Fr. Daniel writes "It must be sung fluently, in the rhythm of speech only," I can only enter the fray (if there is such in the Anglican musical world) in complete agreement.

And I look forward to having, hearing and enjoying more Plainsong (where appropriate) in our services.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Vestry & Leadership Retreat

Fr. Daniel did an excellent job organizing yesterday's retreat at a retreat center in nearby Bellevue. It was in some ways short, with the following schedule:
10:00 Tour and Opening
10:15 Matins & First Meditation: What is The Spiritual Life?
10:45 Morning Retreat Session (silent time for reading, prayer or meditation)
12:00 Lunch (silent -- readings by Fr. McGrath & music)
12:45 The Litany & Second Meditation: The Spiritual Life as Communion with God
1:00 Afternoon Retreat Session
2:00 Workshop on Parish Programs and Facilities
3:00 Evensong
3:30 Closing
3:45 August Vestry Meeting
Joanne studying The meditations were centered on the first two of the four sections of the book The Spiritual Life (from four radio broadcasts) by Evelyn Underhill. There was plenty to consider, and from my perspective Fr. Daniel timed it all very well; not too much time, not too little. And each time in chapel we got to practice some "early plainsong"; we were rough at first, but improved a bit through the day.

It was odd, but for all that the facility was not that large during the meditation times I rarely saw anyone else. This picture shows one of the few exceptions.

I hope Fr. Daniel will forgive me but I'm an inveterate shutterbug. I had the camera along to capture some of the mood of the retreat, but in addition there were two or three pictures I just had to take. Including one of a pair of gloves on a bench in a remote part of the grounds; they looked to me like they were folded in prayer.

(BTW, today is Fr. Daniel's birthday. Happy Birthday!)

8/28 Update: Pictures posted.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Seeking a sign

The Vestry & Leadership retreat is tomorrow. Something we've been talking about for a while is a replacement for the sign out front. It's fairly old and infested, and the Vestry has been talking about replacing it.

Seems easy enough, but it isn't. Lots of options -- do we use a "fixed" sign with banners, or one that incorporates a "reader board" (changeable text)?

Right now they favor the latter, and I've been given the task of investigating. This looks like a highly iterative process, given the number of choices out there.

I'd be curious to know how satisfied folks are with their signs, whether fixed oe "changeable", and postive/negative experiences with same.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Formal Service, With Children

Fr. Daniel had a nice service lined up for Transfiguration today. I'd pull out the thurible again, Banning would carry the cross, Rose and Marissa would serve as torch-bearers, Joe as acolyte and thus we would precess: Thurifer, Crucifer, Lucifers, Acolyte and Rector. Ranjit would be Epistolator today (good news, I like hearing him read), but remain in the congregation.

Of course, no battle plan ever survives engagement...

First was a slightly late start, my fault. I had a question about the thurifer but for ten minutes or so I couldn't find Fr. Daniel. Anytime I asked someone where he was, well, when I got there he was very clearly somewhere else.

And the Decalogue, which we usually read the first Sunday of the month and which was in the bulletin, got left out. No problem; we'll read it next Sunday.

The incense became too much for one member during the Gospel and he had to retreat to the rear of the Nave. This is a shame; we have a number of people who really like the incense, including those from our Pro-Cathedral, St. Peter's, Oakland (did somebody called it "Smoky Pete's"?). But we have a few who have difficulties with it. Striking a balance won't be easy; we cannot open the Gospel-side windows for cross-ventilation anymore due to the traffic noise from Avondale.

Finally it was time for Communion. The families with children under 6 or so have been around irregularly this summer, but today it seemed they were all there. In addition we had visitors with children in the same age range. The Sunday School always comes in for a blessing during Communion and it's sometimes amusing to hear their entrance -- but today was, well, a semi-restrained pandemonium beginning when little Danny, age 2, started talking about his truck.

At one point I saw that those at the altar rail were working really hard to constrain their laughter. The quiet of the moment was gone for this service, but I really doubt that anyone would complain.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Surprise ties

It didn't take long for Corean-Anglican to join the webring. Looking through their site, my wife saw that they had observed the passing of Bishop Mote, who was one of those who consecrated Archbishop Morse. Ensconced within the parish it's hard to tell what ties there are to other places, and what kind, but it seems there is some kind of connection here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Continuing Anglican BlogRing is up

The WOW Webring system has its act together; the Continuing Anglican BlogRing was working just a few minutes after I signed up! Wannabe Anglican signed up and I added him with a click of the mouse -- a ring is a lot more interesting with more than one site in it.

Some of it looks a little rough still, but that'll change over time.

In the meantime, am awaiting reports from the booth at the fair.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


At lunch today Fr. Daniel mentioned that the website was a little out of date. In particular it still said that Matins and Evensong were still "temporarily on hold." That really puzzled me because I distinctly recalled updating that item as soon as I knew they would resume.

It was only when I got home that I figured out what had happened. I had in fact updated the web page... but only on my machine.

I had forgotten to upload it, and I had forgotten because at the same time I made the changes I'd been fixing the web icon -- the little shield you might see on the tab when looking at the church's site with FireFox or some other browsers. It had been messed up for a long time; I was so happy when I finally got it the way I wanted it, I forgot all the rest. Oops.

I hope nobody missed Matins or Evensong due to my error.