Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Progress on the Steps

When I passed by St. Paul’s Monday, I noticed that work was actually being done on the steps to the narthex. Here is a picture I took of the work late Monday afternoon (click for a larger image):

Reconstructing the steps
Lou was in his office, and he explained what no one thought to explain to parishioners. Two contractors bid on the work, but the low bidder kept giving excuses for not beginning the project. As it turns out, the contractor did not do the demolition work; Vladimir did. We finally gave up on that contractor and managed to convince the other bidder to do the job at the lower price. (That was a good outcome!)

I passed by again this afternoon and saw that forms for the steps were in place. Men were working on the site. We should be able to use the narthex door to Mayfair Drive soon.

I still question the wisdom of what we are doing. Various proposals have been made to create handicapped access to the narthex, but the current work is pretty much replacing what we used to have. I also argued that the new steps should be limestone, rather than concrete. The new steps will be concrete, however.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Personal Note

This may not seem like especially pertinent information just now, but it may be seen as important later. At some point, I expect that we will be talking about the proposed Anglican Covenant at St. Paul’s and whether The Episcopal Church should adopt it.

My answer is unequivocally that we should not. I am the American convenor for the new No Anglican Covenant Coalition, which has a new Web site and an even newer blog. (The Coalition is also on Facebook and Twitter.) If you want to know more about the Covenant and why many think its adoption would be a mistake, you should spend some time at the No Anglican Covenant Web site. The About page explains what the Coalition is trying to do and lists who we are. The Background page offers an introduction to the covenant, a timeline, and a table showing what Anglican churches have done with the Covenant so far. The Resources page contains links to commentary on the Covenant, as well as links to official church documents, including the Covenant itself.

Great Music Day

John Walker, the former organist at Shadyside Presbyterian Church who now works in Baltimore, spent yesterday at St. Paul’s. He participated in the choir’s presentation of Bach’s Cantata 29. This was a wonderful performance that seemed much better than it had a right to be. I suspect that choir members worked hard between the dress rehearsal last Thursday and Sunday’s performance at the 10:30 service. (I know I did.) Tommy Starr initiated our newly acquired tympani in the cantata’s chorale.

John also performed a recital in the afternoon that included mostly 20th- and 21st-century compositions. The concert drew a larger than average crowd. I saw only a few parishioners, but many members of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) attended. A fellow parishioner asked me why, at a church that appears to value music, so few people turn out for events such as the John Walker recital. I had to say that I had no idea.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Celebrating Our Building

November 7, 2010, bulletinCount it misfortune if you missed Lou’s sermon Sunday. St. Paul’s was celebrating the 80th anniversary of the dedication of the church building in 1930. (Remember that the original building ended at what is now the front of the nave.) Lou began by reading a letter from the bishop. I was sitting in the choir thinking that I didn’t know about a letter from the bishop. The bishop, however, turned out to be Bishop Mann congratulating the congregation on its new church building. The sermon offered other interesting facts about our history and ended with the question of how our descendants will view our stewardship of St. Paul’s.

In celebration of the occasion, we sang several hymns that were sung 80 years ago, “The Church’s one foundation,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and “Jesus shall reign.” We did not sing “We love the place, O God,” which is no longer in our hymnal, but Lou read two verses of it to the congregation. (You can listen to the hymn and sing along at Oremus Hymnal.)

The historical material was unearthed by our archivist, Nancy Fink, who also created a nice display of historical material on one of the bulletin boards in the undercroft.

I am pleased that Lou has worked at connecting us to our past as a congregation. It is rather surprising that we never even used to celebrate our patronal feast before Lou came. It was particularly meaningful to contemplate our past on All Saints’ Sunday, when we remember those who have gone before us.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ultreya Today

Last week, I was in Myrtle Beach representing Pittsburgh at the 2010 National Episcopal Chursillo Conference. When the diocese split in 2008, the Cursillo movement in Pittsburgh was led largely by supporters of the recently deposed Bishop Bob Duncan. The split left the Episcopal diocese without a Web site, without leaders, without material, and with a Cursillo community that had been disheartened by the ideological turn the Pittsburgh Episcopal Cursillo had taken in the years prior to the vote to join the Southern Cone.

Thanks largely to the organizing efforts of former Standing Committee member Celinda Scott, Pittsburgh Cursillistas are organizing to bring a healthy movement back to the Pittsburgh diocese. Celinda is a parishioner of Christ Church, Indiana.

Today, October 7, our fledgling Cursillo group is offering an Ultreya, beginning at 4 PM at Church of the Nativity in Crafton. Details are available on the diocesan Web site. I will be talking about what I learned in Myrtle Beach and what it means to us as we go forward. I urge all Cursillistas from St. Paul’s to come. Bring your friends, even if they have never attended a Cursillo weekend. See you there!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Truth from the Other Side

The Rev. David Wilson and I have had more than our share of differences. He was very much involved in shaping the diocesan resolutions that eventual saw much of the diocese depart for the Southern Cone. David, on his new blog, describes himself as “Senior pastor of St David’s Anglican Church (ACNA) Peters Township PA.” I don’t think “senior pastor” is a particularly Anglican title, but no matter.

Anyway, David has a letter in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

About congregation

I read with interest and affection Ann Rodgers’ article “Episcopalians Calm in Rough Sea” (Oct. 15) on the gathering of the Episcopalians in convention on October 15-16. I was heartened to read Bishop Ken Price’s encouraging words concerning his relationship with Archbishop Robert Duncan and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. I would contend that the facts about the composition of the new gathering in South Fayette, All Saints, are a bit inaccurate.

The article states the congregation “was formed in 2009, largely from people who wanted to remain Episcopalians after their former parishes left the denomination.” I would contend the congregation was formed largely from members of St. Paul’s Church in Mt. Lebanon for various and sundry reasons, none of which had to do with leaving the denomination.

The majority of the congregation continues to be composed of former members of St. Paul’s. Note also, the pastor of All Saints, the Rev. Richard Pollard, is a former staff member of St. Paul’s. Nonetheless, best wishes for success are extended to the clergy and people of All Saints.

St. David’s Anglican Church

I have to say that, when I read Ann Rodgers’ article, I had the same surprised reaction as David. The characterization of Dick Pollard’s church was flattering to the Episcopal diocese, but not really true, at least based on what I knew. What may be true is that Dick gathered some parishioners who might otherwise have jumped ship and joined the ACNA diocese. In any case, my understanding is that a majority of members of the new vestry are former members of St. Paul’s. One cannot verify this from the church’s Web site, however, as it is—as I am writing this, at any rate—woefully out of date.