Continuing Home

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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Broken altars

I heard the good news today: the altar will begin its journey to us on Thursday! No wonder the catalogs were all opened to the altar linen pages. But Fr. Davis also told me about the history, with pictures, of the altar and the church from where it will be coming. It is very sad to see the history of that parish (in photos), formed in the late 1800s, with a huge (by St. Bartholomew's standards) church built around 1920 but now apparently without enough parishioners to maintain the building.

So the altar (a side altar, not the main) comes to us as a sort of legacy, which someone (probably me) needs to capture because it will become a part of our history.

But the really sad stories were still to come.

Fr. Davis was talking with someone recently about the altar purchase and this person said "Wait a minute," said his (Seattle-area) church had just been remodeled and the altar had been replaces, and he called somebody on his cellphone. After a couple of minutes he said, "They did WHAT!?!" and Fr. Davis thought it best to move out of earshot. When the conversation ended, Fr. Davis said, "They destroyed it, didn't they?" Yes. It had been put in a machine that just crushed it. Crushed this man too -- a lifelong member of that church, that altar had always been present to him. Destroyed with no opportunity to continue to be used elsewhere.

And he had another story of a remodeled (local?) church where the altar was simply broken up and the pieces piled in a room (for eventual disposal).

Yes, it's "just" furniture and if one is changing the altar setup from ad orientem (sp?) to facing the congregation, the old altar is likely in the way and has to go. And yet there are traditional churches (like St. Bartholomew's) that would love to acquire and use these altars. (Our old altar, the plywood folding-altar from our days of church-in-a-box, is giving out, as noted earlier.)

But as Fr. Davis notes, we will soon have an altar with a history of well over a century of worship before it, and that history will continue here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Another missed Stations of the Cross

Right now they're conducting the Stations of the Cross at church. Fr. Davis announced this last Sunday, "for those who didn't make it [last] Friday." (Why do I think he was talking about me?) Anyway, I was more or less ready to go... until this morning, when I woke up almost as tired as when I went to bed last night. I thought domestic jet-lag was a thing of the past, it's only a 3 hour shift, not like international travel with 9+ hours, after all. But I had to come straight home from work; I'm not long for the world tonight.

Maybe there will another opportunity -- I think he had mentioned such.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday evenings missed

During Lent on Wednesdays we are having Holy Communion at 6PM, followed by a Lenten Supper and the Rector's Forum. During the service Sunday I realized I was going to miss a number of these due to travel. Tonight I'm in Laconia NH, having spoken this afternoon at a conference here and flying home tomorrow (weather permitting). Next week I should be there, but the following week I'll be on my way home from Phoenix and the week after that on my way home from D.C.&Baltimore.

But that's my last planned trip until after Easter.

Just tried to call home, but looked at the time and realized the household is probably at church.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pray for Linda

Fr. Davis noted yesterday that Linda was in the hospital, and asked our prayers for her. It's not clear to me what exactly the issue is, but like me she had a racking cough that went on for months. I recovered -- but last week Gordon took her to the hospital, where she went straight into intensive care with blood oxygen levels way down. She's off the respirator now but still on oxygen, and tonight I heard the word "pneumonia." (I'm not sure, but family experience says once you've had it you're more susceptible after.)

I ask your prayers tonight for Linda, and Gordon, and their family.

A great layreader

Yesterday was Neal's first time out (here) as Lay Reader, and I have to say it was a delight to listen to him. He has been very well trained. Loud enough to be heard in the back of the Nave (one of my failings), slow and deliberate, and with the sentences pointed to make them much clearer than, say, a simple monotone reading. He had clearly studied this Epistle (2 Cor vi. I.) carefully in preparation. He even prefaced it properly: "The Epistle is written in the 6th chapter of the Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians [beginning at the first verse]." That's quite a mouthful, and it didn't look like he had it written down!

I'm going to enjoy this -- except that it's going to be a hard act to follow, but follow I will, next Sunday.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Another take on Lent

It's been a while (years, actually) since I last took a tour around the Anglican blogs, but this evening I am not sorry I checked up on St. Peter's, London Docks -- there is life in Mother Church still. Check it out.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Out of order

For a couple of days I have been prepared to post about Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, with photos and more, but the computer I usually post from has been dying and long about Wednesday became unusable. So the pictures remain on the camera with nothing posted.

We bought a "new" (refurbished, inexpensive) computer and after a day's jockeying with it I find it wants its own monitor and keyboard (no switch sharing the monitor and keyboard with another machine is acceptable to this princess!), and just an hour ago got the basic machine up & running. CD-RW, DVD-RW... these and other things will come later; the Linux Xubuntu OS just came up and ran a few minutes ago.

In the meantime Fr. Davis called to say that the Mens' Breakfast tomorrow is canceled. It seems Linda is ill and in the hospital; I bid your prayers for her recovery.

So Linda's husband, our usual lead chef who was in fine fettle on Shrove Tuesday, is not available tomorrow, and reports on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday will have to wait for a day or so, to follow this posting.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Server training

Yesterday Larry conducted a training session for the St. Bartholomew's servers (acolytes, lay readers, torch bearers, etc.). In part this was to introduce some small changes from previous practice, but mostly to get everyone onto the same page because our servers now have varied backgrounds, from long-time St. Bartholomew's parishioners to recent members from other churches, and we had no consistency in practice. Larry and Fr. Davis consulted on what our new practices should be and developed a two-page handout to cover the main points, in part as follows (I added a lot of notes of my own during the hour and a half session).

It began with the introduction of more "offices" than I had known. Thurifer, Crucifer, Torchbearer (I guess "Lucifer" is disfavored), Lay reader, Deacon and Celebrant were not surprise, but the distinction of Acolyte (Gospel) and Acolyte (Epistle) was new. (I surprised them by mentioning afterwards an office I had served once, a long time ago: Verger.)

Significant changes in practice included the Gospel processions wherein the Deacon carries the Missal and not a server -- along with this came changes in how the processions form at the altar rail for the Gospel and the recession. Other changes came with candle lighting and extinguishing procedures (one area in which we were all over the map, in terms on where one stood for these operations), exactly when the servers are to stand or kneel, the timing of the ringing of the Sanctus bells (particularly during the elevations) and much, much more. I am impressed.

There were also comments about other elements not on the sheet, such as the rule of thumb of lighting the candles 10 minutes before the service, the towel and lavabo bowl after use, and how rotations should be toward/through the Epistle side (this is really into the adiaphora, no?), the proper announcement of the Epistle reading ("The Epistle is written in...", "The Reading for the Epistle is written in...", etc.).

Even for an old hand as myself there's a lot to remember but as I watched today's servers in action I was impressed: their actions were steady, coordinated, consistent and worshipful. Thank you, Larry and Fr. Davis! (And I look forward to hearing Neal's first reading next Sunday.)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New altar coming

As noted in the Annual Parish Meeting, we will be getting a new altar to replace our 30+ year old folding altar, made during the time we were "church in a box," setting up in some rented space Sunday mornings for service, then packing and carrying it all away after.

An altar has been located back East and in the past couple of weeks somebody has donated the funds to purchase it. Now "all" we have to do is to get it shipped, which could cost as much as the altar itself.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A visit to St George's, Paris

Despite having arrived in Paris Saturday so exhausted from travel, this Wandering Anglican had the bright idea of getting up early, attending the 8:30 said Mass at St. George's Anglican (which we had found online prior to our trip) and the heading out for a day's tour of Paris before my meetings began on Monday.

It didn't quite work out that way.

We had looked at the Metro (subway) maps to figure out which trains to take to get there, and I estimated 20 to 25 minutes travel time. We left the hotel right about 8 -- and then discovered it was a bit longer walk to the Metro than just "a few minutes." Purchasing our tickets took longer than expected because Kathy ended up helping a Japanese couple purchase theirs: the wife spoke some English but the agent had neither English nor Japanese. Changing trains from Line 12 to Line 6 at Montparnasse-Bienvenue was an obvious but wrong move. M-B is a huge underground station that took a lot of time to navigate -- we would would have done better at the small Pasteur station. (Lesson learned.) We did figure that the small Kleber station was closest to the church, but got turned around and walked a few extra blocks,

When we finally got to St. George's the building looked like any other, but the signs outside told us we had arrived. Sometime well after 9 AM. Very, very late.

The door was open but the place was quiet and nobody was present. Walking down the stairs (the only open direction) was a bit like descending into catacombs: dark, warm, but beautiful. The first thing we saw was a beautiful little chapel straight ahead and down.

A little further and we could see the Nave, all in brick, with a round wall in front, and a beautiful statue of Mary off to the right.

But all was behind closed gates so we headed back up the stairs and rencountered Jane, who advised that the next service was the full Mass (choir and incense, the website said) at 10:30. We left and returned about 10:15, realizing this was a major change in our plans.

But it was worth it! The service was beautiful and worshipful (though the modern language kept tripping me up), their choir --all volunteer!-- sung like angels (setting a very high standard for our Schola Cantorum to reach), and copious incense (which oddly caused me coughing spells, unlike at Smoky Matt's, Dallas). But over and above all that we saw a parish that is alive, very much a parish family like St. Bartholomew's, something I haven't seen very often in the churches I've visited on my travels. If I were somehow to end up moving to Paris, this would become my, um, "continuing" home.

During the Coffee Hour we learned more about St. George's. A few decades ago the old Victorian structure had to be replaced; I was told the story of the architect who designed this church, but in the days of business and exhaustion since I have forgotten too many details to relate it reliably.

Still, among other things I learned about the oddity of the curved wall in the Sanctuary. It was, I was told, because cars do not make sharp right turns. While my jet-lagged brain was trying to interpret this I was told it was due to a car-park entrance/exit ramp on the other side that the architect had had to accomodate. All I can say is that he did a wonderful job. And there were so many other elements he did well, including the unusual and expressive lighting -- a work of art!

It was 1 PM by the time we left, our plans in shambles (we never got to the museums or other sights, all we did was to return to the hotel, nap, have dinner and go to sleep), but it was all worth it. If I ever return to Paris, I will visit again. (Click on the title to visit their website.)

Monday, February 08, 2010


I just realized this morning (6:30 AM in Paris) that with all the things to be considered and done before the trip, I forgot to notify Larry and Fr. Davis that once again I would not be able to serve my usual turn on the lay reader rota (1st Sunday of the month). Not good. We have a training session Saturday for all the lay-readers and servers, to harmonize the relatively wide range of practices here that have grown up recently, for various reasons, and maybe establishing a new rota and means to communicate it will help.

But we had a very nice visit on Sunday morning to St. George's Anglican in Paris! More on that to come shortly, later today or possibly tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Selah again?

Odd. My (Linux) computer's hard drive failed Sunday, after a long and tortuous decline beginning around Christmas. New hard drive, new version of operating system, new utilities -- but the photos on the blog look really dark. I wonder if that's how others see them or if I need to tweak some setting. But I have some work to do before I can update things from this machine.

And the next trip is drawing nigh; Friday morning I'm off to Paris, returning a week later. This time there is pleasure with business: two days' touring after days of meetings (in hotel meeting rooms) followed by dinner on the last evening with my German boss before returning home.

My wife's other native language is Parisian French and she's coming with me - a gift to her and not in defence; I find the French and even Parisians completely hospitable to even to us obvious Americans. I have yet to meet the rude Frenchman of American lore.

She says she's found an Anglican church (somewhat) nearby the hotel for Sunday services. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Annual Parish Meeting

It seems like I had tons of notes and things to write about from the Annual Parish Meeting yesterday, but a computer crash (hard drive failure) intervened to slow me down. But there are a series of cryptic notes scrawled on yesterday's bulletin.

First cryptic note says "87% 'The Bible arranged for worship'": Okay, I can place that one from Fr. Davis' sermon in which he noted that 87% of our Book of Common Prayer comes straight from the Bible. (He even related the joke of the Episcopalian who, when encountering some Biblical verse or another, said, "Oh! They took it from the Book of Commmon Prayer!").

Next cryptic note reads "Provincial Synod Oct 21-23, Bay Area." Yes, the every-decade-or-so Synod of the Province will be this October. And this was a reminder to me to mark this out on my Calendar (including work Outlook) to avoid conflicts with meetings, conferences, etc., since it appears I will be a diocesan delegate to this Synod. I hope I am up to the responsibility.

Third cryptic note says "New altar?" Yes. It seems our old portable altar, used in our "church-in-a-box" days a quarter-century and more ago, is sagging to the point where the candlesticks no longer stand quite upright. Several sheets of heavy-duty (and heavy!) plywood are not standing the test of time any longer. A very nice (and ornate) altar has been located on the other side of the country; the Vestry just has to figure out the best way to transport it. Mary Ellen sayd that when we retire this altar the wood can be returned to its original use as retaining walls for concrete pours. (Funny, I don't recall seeing any concrete on the wood -- but it has been almost 25 years!)

All the rest of the notes had to do with trying to recover the computer's functions ("fdisk", "partitioning", bookmarks", etc.) and nothing to do with St. B's.

But I have to say it was a well-run meeting where we got through the issues without overlong drawn-out discussions.

Congratulations (or is that condolences?) to Cary and Bob for their election to the Vestry. And thanks to the outgoing Vestry for the needed new roof!