Monday, November 28, 2011

Conversation with Transition Committee Chair Tonight

The chair of the Transition Committee for our next bishop, the Rev. Nancy Chalfant-Walker, will be hosted by Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh in a program tonight. Nano is well-known by St. Paul’s parishioners, as she recently served as the parish’s interim rector. She now heads the committee that manages the selection and consecration of the next Bishop of Pittsburgh once the slate of nominees is fixed.

Chalfant-Walker will discuss the work of her committee at a program that begins at 7:30 PM at St. James, Penn Hills, 11524 Frankstown Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15235-3199.

PEP describes the program this way:
Our program will be a conversation with the chair of the bishop’s transition committee, the Rev. Nan Chalfant-Walker. The transition committee picks up responsibility as soon as the final list of candidates is determined. This committee shapes the way the walk-abouts will be structured and how the electing convention will be run as well as planning the consecration, farewell to Bishop Price and the support of our new bishop as he/she begins to really connect with the diocese. This is YOUR CHANCE to give input on how you would like to see the walk-about sessions go. This will be the main interaction any of us will have with the candidates before our new bishop is elected. Come on Monday and get your 2 cents in!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Review

I attended the Thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s yesterday, drawn largely by the promise that we would be singing all the familiar Thanksgiving hymns. The service certainly delivered on that promise. Here is a list of the hymns we sang:

“Come ye thankful people, come (H 290)
“We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land” (H 291)
“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing (H 433)
“Praise to God, immortal praise” (H 288)
“My country, ’tis of thee” (H 717)
“Now thank we all our God” (H 397)

Additionally, Bryan Sable not only played the organ for the hymns but also sang a lovely solo (Sally DeFord’s “My grateful Spirit sings”), accompanied by the Clavinova. (Bryan even got second billing just under Lou on the service bulletin!)

I didn’t count the number of people in the congregation, but attendance was respectable for what is not a traditionally well-attended service. If my memory serves me correctly, Mt. Lebanon used to offer an ecumenical Thanksgiving service that was held at a different church each year. Since I never attended one of those services nor attended a Thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s, I don’t really know what passes for normal. In any case, yesterday’s attendance was not embarrassing.

Also, I was pleased to see our youth participating, both as acolytes and ushers.

Seated as I was in the nave, I got a different view of the service than I usually do as a choir member sitting in the chancel. This, however, was the negative part of the experience. Here are things I noticed:
  1. No one had turned on the lights on the high altar. This made the front of the church look darker than usual.
  2. The darkness in the chancel was enhanced by a burned out bulb in one of the chancel lanterns. From my vantage point, I could clearly see the outline of the non-working light bulb.
  3. No one turned on the light above the pulpit. The pulpit spots were on, however, so readers could be seen reasonably well.
  4. The flower stands were well-lit but conspicuously free of flowers. This seemed particularly unfortunate on a day when we were counting our blessings. No traditional Thanksgiving symbols were in evidence anywhere in the church.
  5. The speakers used for our non-traditional services obscured both the Episcopal and U.S. flags, as well as our 175th anniversary banner. It’s too bad we could not see Old Glory when singing “My country, ’tis of thee.”
When I began attending St. Paul’s, it was hardly the perfect parish. When it came to worship, however, St. Paul’s was obsessively attentive to details. If ever anything went wrong, everyone knew there would be hell to pay. That attitude is but a distant memory. That’s too bad. I really dislike leaving church with a mental list of all the environmental factors and actions, intentional or not, that detracted from the spiritual value of the service.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


No doubt, many view this blog as rather negative in its outlook, even when it addresses issues that need to be discussed. Today is Thanksgiving, however, and a more positive message is in order. And so I offer my poem “Thanksgiving,” which you can find on my Web site here. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

As I write this, it is not too late to plan to attend the Thanksgiving service at the church. It begins at 10 o’clock.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Newsletter Still Missing in Action

May 2011 newsletter
Most recent newsletter on the Web
Back in September, I observed ruefully that the latest issue of St. Paul’s’ newsletter, The Messenger, on the church’s Web site was the May issue. Today, not being able to put my hands on the latest issue quickly, I went to the St. Paul’s Web site in hopes of finding the November edition. Guess, what—the latest issue on the Web is still the May issue. The Messenger page is now half a year out-of-date.

This discovery was irritating, but it is more than that. If I were church shopping, I naturally would check out the Web sites of any churches I was considering joining. One of the best ways of getting a feel for the character of a parish is to read its newsletters. Not only does the lack of current newsletters on the Web fail to give the visitor a sense of what’s currently going on at a church, but it also suggests that the church is not particularly concerned about communications, a function that many church theorists consider to be of very high importance.

St. Paul’s seems to be pretty good about communicating the need to pledge to the annual stewardship campaign and to the capital campaign. Too bad it isn’t equally obsessive about its Web site.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Diocesan Convention

The 146th annual convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh was held at Christ Church, North Hills, this past weekend. The convention ran smoothly and was largely unremarkable. (My report on the convention can be read on my blog, Lionel Deimel’s Web Log. If you are interested in what was being voted on, you may want to read the Pre-Convention Journal as well.)

For the benefit of St. Paul’s parishioners, I should mention the St. Paul’s people who were elected to various positions. Lou, who has already served one term on the Committee on Constitution and Canons, was re-elected to a clergy position. He was unopposed, an indication that most of the urgent governing issues that needed attention following the October 2008 schism have been taken care of.

St. Paul’s used to be in District 5. It is now in District 3, reflecting the realignment required after the diocese became suddenly smaller. It is to be hoped that districts will again become important mechanism for consultation and fellowship in the diocese, but District 3 has a long way to go in that department. The district continues to be dominated by its largest parish—ours. Jon Delano was re-elected district chair, and Kris McInnes was re-elected vice-chair. Our representative to Diocesan Council, a position of some importance, has been held by Bob Johnston. His term ends this year, however, and Bob was quick to nominate someone else, Jeff Dunbar, to take his place. Jeff was elected without opposition.