Today the Church celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our patron. Her mother, St. Anne couldn't have imagined the things that God had in store for her tiny baby girl. Pious legend has it that she brought Mary up in faithfulness and taught her to love God with all her heart. This influence can be clearly seen when, without hesitation, Mary says "yes" to God's plan for her, and when she proclaims in her song, the Magnificat, a perfect understanding of God's will for mankind and the vision of his kingdom of true justice, love, and reconciliation.
As Christians, our vocation is--like Mary--to be Godbearers to the world in our time. In our baptisms and confirmations, we too say "yes" to God's call to us. May Mary's example, and her intercessions encourage and inspire us to go forth into the world in the power of the Spirit.
It has been an interesting month, weather-wise, but the earth is yielding its increase, and at least in my kitchen, the canning of all that bounty is in full swing. The children are all set to return to school, to the relief of moms and dads everywhere. This means that we are also all set to start another busy program year at St. Mary's.
Tomorrow night we conclude our summer movies on the great lawn series with the Disney classic, "Sleeping Beauty." Sunday School resumes on September 10, and the event of the season, our benefit dinner at the Tuxedo Club, will take place on September 23. Get your tickets now, as this will sell out! This month will include several baptisms, all of which adds up to a lively start to the autumn season. Workmen are also continuing to repair and replace mortar joints on two sides of the church, which is a very fulfilling sight for all of us who have worked hard (despite some setbacks) to get this project off the ground.
Indeed, there are many ways to get involved in the life of our church outside of regular Sunday attendance--which is also greatly appreciated. Ministries ranging from outreach to altar guild and everything in between need you! I am very grateful to all of the dedicated lay leaders who help to make our life and ministry possible, and encourage you to join in the fun.
St. Mary's Seeks Administrative Assistant (Posted 8/28/23)
St. Mary’s is seeking an Administrative Assistant to be a welcoming and responsive presence in the church office on a regular basis (Mondays-Thursdays, 9am to 1pm). This is a part-time role that provides general office support to the staff, committees, and congregation, in order to support the ministries and mission of St. Mary’s.
Another summer is at an end, with many wonderful memories in its wake. I am sure that many of you have fond childhood memories of your summer breaks, including various types of camps. As you know, it is a tradition at St. Mary's to raise funds for "camperships" so that all of the children in our community of Tuxedo and Sloatsburg can attend the town-run camp. This year, thanks to your generosity, we sent 21 children from local, low-income families to summer camp! This includes field trips as well as the normal activities. The cost for all this was just over $15,000, so you can see how important your gifts were to the children. And remember, it is never too late (or too early) to donate, as the need is ever-present.
This ministry to our community is one of my personal favorites, simply because of the smiles that it puts on the faces of so many children who would otherwise be left on their own during the summer months. Just think of the wonderful lifelong memories that you have made possible. Thank you!
Every parish church has some sort of dedication and corresponding feast day. For churches like us, which are dedicated to particular Saints, the day is obvious. For others, which are dedicated to moments in the life of Christ, (Nativity, Epiphany, Transfiguration, Resurrection, Ascension), we can also easily identify the holy day. Then there are the many churches dedicated to the doctrine of the Trinity, also easy. When it comes to places with names like Grace, it becomes a little more difficult. I've often said that I can accurately date the founding of any given Episcopal church by its name. For example, Christ is usually the oldest church in town, followed by Trinity, then the "safely Anglican" Saints like Andrew, George, Peter, and Paul. Mary is generally associated with parishes founded in the 19th century at the time of the Oxford Movement. It was decided at a meeting of the Vestry on September 22, 1888, that "the Tuxedo Church," (as it had been called) would bear the name "St. Mary's-in-Tuxedo."
Our feast of title occurred yesterday, August 15. Pete and I were in the city at the shrine church of St. Mary the Virgin in Times Square for the annual observance. We were treated to magnificent music by Palestrina, copious incense, and an amazing organ improvisation by Dr. David Hurd, my seminary music professor.
Here at home, we will be observing our feast day by welcoming members of the Society of Mary (an Episcopal devotional society) and, I hope, many of you to a special service in honor of the day. There will be special music by composers such as Vaughn Williams and Charpentier, and the singing of the classic hymn, "Hail, Holy Queen!" (Aileen promises to hit the high C at the end!) A festive reception will follow in Bentley Hall. I hope to see you there!
What: Feast of St. Mary the Virgin
When: Saturday, August 19 @ 12:30pm
Where: St. Mary's-in-Tuxedo
Last week I announced the resignation of our office administrator, Aoife Geoghegan. Her last full week has come and gone, and Lili and I were able to take her out to lunch last week as a very small way of saying thank you for her fantastic work over the last two years.
Aoife came to us at the beginning of a new chapter in our history, as we emerged from the pandemic. She quickly learned the ropes and had our office humming. I will personally miss her daily friendliness, her can-do attitude, and her Irish wit. The dogs will certainly wonder where she went. Even shy Emmy got to where she loved coming to the office and would run straight down each morning. But more than all that, her welcoming spirit was an important part of our ministry to the community and beyond. The good news is that she and her wonderful family will remain a part of our parish family.
I am grateful to a number of volunteers who will be helping to fill in the gaps while we look for a new administrator. The position description is on our website, and you can see it here. Please share it with anyone who you think may be interested.
I was at the gym on Monday when I learned from my trainer that Paul Reubens (better known to my generation as Pee-wee Herman) had died of cancer at age 70. It took a while for the news to sink in, but I began to notice that a number of my friends and I were experiencing a deep sense of loss. I met Mr. Reubens once at a DVD signing event in New York while in seminary, but I never had any kind of personal relationship with him. Nevertheless, his death seemed like that of a childhood companion, and it created a great sadness in me and my friends.
I should note that these friends were kids like me--a little odd, other, outsiders. What we saw in Pee-wee in all his garish glory was our weird little selves. He was wacky, eccentric, and whimsical, but also kind and self-aware with a great sense of curiosity and wonder about things. On Saturday mornings, I relished being whisked to the magical playhouse, where I felt right at home with Pee-wee and his fascinating and diverse group of friends such as the Cowntess (a talking cow in a tiara), Cowboy Curtis, and the groovy Mrs. Renee to name a few.
He showed us that being ourselves is way cooler than pretending to be something else in order to fit in. There is a gospel message in that: We are wonderfully made in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. We all have unique gifts and talents, and none of us should hide our light under a bushel basket. God wants us to shine! So, for helping me (and many others) to learn that lesson in the most fun and fabulous way, thank you, Pee-wee. You are sorely missed, but your over the top example of living life with eccentric joie-de-vivre is something that I will carry with me always..
After a wonderful vacation in Italy, it is great to be back home. It is amazing to see the effect of all the rain on the vegetable garden--it has become quite the jungle!
I am very grateful to Bishop Cate Waynick, Fr. Nate Lee, and of course Fr. Ed for taking the services while I was away. Thanks also to Lili for managing the whirlwind of activity and to the Clarkes for looking after our girls.
Speaking of activity, you may have noticed the scaffolding along the southern facade of the church. Good things are happening! After a long and rocky road, work has begun on repointing and repairing the stonework, which has suffered from the ravages of time. Workers are skillfully cheselling away loose joints and artfully filling in the cracks with new mortar which matches the original in color and composition. We are very pleased with our new contractor, and look forward to a continuing relationship with them, because, as we know, with historic buildings the work never ends.
I am also personally very happy with the work of local Tuxedo craftsman Chris Potouridis, who restored seven windows and frames both beautifully and functionally on the eastern facade of the rectory, thanks to a generous gift from Jane Garofano.
We talk a lot about stewardship in light of annual fundraising (which is vitally important!) but it also extends to care of our built environment (the church and rectory). We received these gifts from previous generations, who gave generously by bringing on architects and artists such as Richard Howland Hunt, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and John LaFarge to name a few. Now it is our turn to see that we hand them on to succeeding generations, I hope in even better condition than we found them. Thank you to all of you who, in our time, help to build God's Temple in this place.
Greetings from lovely Garrison, New York, just across the Bear Mountain Bridge. JoAnn Hanson and I are at the Greymore Spirituality Center for our first of two years of week-long study in the College for Congregational Development. So far, it has been an intense week of study. We begin our work at 9:00 and end with evening prayer at 7:00 with only an hour break for lunch. However, we are learning SO MUCH about models, systems, change, conflict & trust, facilitation, transition, life cycle, and much more. We alternate between being in the large group for plenary sessions and small group work. It's pretty intense, but we will bring a lot of very useful tools back with us to St. Mary's.
On the first day, our small group leader tested positive for covid and was put in quarantine. Because of that, we had the honor of Bishop Melissa Skelton (founder of the College) as our facilitator. It has been a real treat to spend the week with her and benefit from her gracefulness and wisdom. Since then, two more of our number have tested positive, so it's back to masks, unfortunately.
I will be home tomorrow afternoon, and look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
As we approach our newest federal holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day, some historical context may be helpful for those who aren't familiar with the celebration. Growing up, I was taught that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation--well, sort of. The real story is, as usual, much more complex. Lincoln's "Proclamation 95" was an executive order issued on January 1, 1863 in the midst of the American Civil War. It decreed that all people being held in slavery in states that were in rebellion to the US government were henceforth free. As you can imagine, enforcement was spotty at best.
It wasn't until two and a half years later (June 19, 1865) that Major General Gordon Granger issued an order freeing the slaves in Texas--two months after the end of the war! Commemorative celebrations began the following year, and have continued ever since. Texas recognized the holiday in 1938, and it was not until 2021 that President Joe Biden signed the federal holiday into law. Juneteenth is even celebrated in parts of Mexico where escaped slaves settled in the 1850s, making it an international observance.
Local celebrations vary widely, and include everything from poetry readings to beauty pageants. Here at St. Mary's, we will pray a special collect this Sunday that I have written at the conclusion of the prayers of the people, and on Monday, special music will be set to ring out on our carillon, including the hymn, "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing!"
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP 823
The term "biblical" has been used a lot in the last few days. Eerie images of an orange New York City conjure up memories of the days before air quality regulations gave us the bright blue Manhattan skies that we have come to love. Indeed, yesterday New York's air quality was ranked the worst in the world.
One of the things I enjoy about living in Tuxedo is the pristine nature which surrounds us. When I check my weather app each morning, I always look at the air quality index, which is usually in the deep green range, around 12. The forecast is almost always "Good, which is similar to yesterday at this time." What a shock it was to see our air quality yesterday evening in the deep maroon range at 333, according to airnow.gov, which is considered "Hazardous."
Today at least we can see the sun, but the air still smells of smoke. Many outdoor activities are cancelled, and we urge everyone to stay indoors if possible. The smoke will clear, eventually, but I hope that we remember this for a long time and bear the lesson in mind that environmental catastrophes in one remote area can have damaging effects on millions of people hundreds of miles away. It is incumbent upon all of us to be good stewards of this planet, which seems to be more and more fragile. The earth and the life it sustains are gifts from God which must not be squandered.
O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP 828
In our Baptismal Covenant, we are asked this question: "Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?" How can we do this individually, and as a Church? One thing is for sure, we have failed on both counts. However, with God's help, we strive to live into this challenging promise. Sometimes we do so with great fanfare, and sometimes quietly and personally with one baby step. The important thing is to keep trying.
June is, of course, LGBTQ Pride month, and one way to respect human dignity is to show that we believe everyone to be created in God's loving image. I have been involved with the Pride planning committee at our cathedral, and was there volunteering for "Pride Eve," May 31, for a festive opening reception and the turning on of the "Pride lights."
Many of the people in attendance had never set foot in our magnificent cathedral. As I was scanning tickets at the door, I got to see what is called the "Oh, my God!" moment when first-timers enter the sacred space. (There is even a t-shirt in the giftshop with those words on it.) Before the lights were turned on, the Dean said a few words. To paraphrase, he said that he first looked at the lights as pretty, but something of a gimmick. Then he noticed that people were coming from all over New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere to see them. They were making a pilgrimage to this great and holy place because it sent the message that God sees you and loves you--we see you and love you, too. Indeed, when I posted pictures of the illuminated cathedral, people asked if they could share it and said how proud they are to be--Episcopalian!
I will be back at the cathedral next Monday, June 5 for the Faith Perspectives Panel, which will feature some brilliant panelists. I hope that you can join me. You can learn more and register for the free event here. Happy Pride!
What an exciting week for the Episcopal Church and especially for the Diocese of New York! Back in December, St. Mary's delegates and I travelled to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for our bishop electing convention. It was an exciting day at which we as a diocese chose the Rev'd Matthew Heyd as our Bishop-elect. After much planning and preparation (hats off to the transition committee!), we are once again returning to the cathedral this Saturday to witness Matt's ordination to the Sacred Order of Bishops. There is already much excitement in the air as preliminary consecration events have already begun.
Just yesterday, Fr. Ed and I met Bishop George and Fr. John of the Church of South India (which is one of our communion partners.) I gave them a tour of our church, and Fr Ed hosted us for lunch. It was great to get to know these two faithful men, who will be attending the consecration ceremony as well.
Tomorrow, Fr Ed and I will be travelling to St. Thomas' Church in Mamaroneck for pre-consecration clergy time with the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev'd Michael Curry. This will be followed by a festive lunch.
All are welcome to attend the ceremony on Saturday in-person. It will, of course, also be live streamed from the cathedral. All the pertinent information can be found at this link: https://dioceseny.org/
May God bless our new Bishop, and all the clergy and people of this great diocese.
I hope that you will join us in church this Sunday as we celebrate the good works of St. Mary's with our "Outreach Sunday." You will find below a flyer showing just some of the wonderful ways in which we as a church have a positive impact on the lives of so many people right here in our community and beyond.
I am very pleased that we will be joined by a very special guest, Mr. Robert Radtke, the President of Episcopal Relief and Development, who will deliver the address. ERD is the crisis response arm of the Episcopal Church, and serves globally in times of natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Turkey and Sudan, hurricanes and tornadoes in the US, and in conflict zones like Ukraine. Special offering envelopes will be in the bulletins. Please make checks out to St. Mary's with "Outreach" in the memo line. If you can't make it to church, you can always contribute online at stmtux.org/giving. Thank you for your continued generosity which directly improves the lives of our brothers and sisters in Tuxedo, Sloatsburg, and beyond.
Through Christ let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his Name. But to do good and to distribute, forget not; for with such
sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:15,16
The Lord is risen, indeed, and the Spring season has begun! After a really wonderful Easter Sunday with great attendance, music, and liturgy, we move into the month of May, which is traditionally chock-a-block as Tuxedoites are anxious to get back out into the beauty of creation.
We begin with Outreach Sunday, May 7. This year, we are fortunate to welcome Mr. Rob Radtke, the head of Episcopal Relief and Development, as our guest. Mr. Radtke will deliver the address and remind us of the vital work that we all do as Episcopalians to alleviate suffering wherever it exists in this world. You are, no doubt, familiar with the robust outreach that St. Mary's undertakes in our local community, regionally, and globally. This will be a great opportunity to meet and hear a fellow worker in the vineyard about how your generosity touches the lives of so many.
The following Sunday is Mother's Day and Rogation Sunday. Weather permitting, we will bless the gardens surrounding the church after the service.
On Saturday, May 20, we will participate in the ordination and consecration of our Bishop-elect, the Rev. Matthew Heyd at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. All are welcome to attend in-person, as we are truly blessed to have a cathedral building that can hold us all. I will walk in procession with my brother and sister clergy, and we also seek a banner bearer for St. Mary's, as well as singers for the diocesan choir. Please do let me know if you are interested. All pertinent information about the day can be found online here.
Finally, the last Sunday of May is the Day of Pentecost. Come, Holy Ghost!
It is hard to believe that the five weeks of Lent have come and (almost) gone already. Of course this brings us to the most sacred time in the Church's year, Holy Week. We begin with Palm Sunday, which has two distinct facets. One is the joyous and triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. Palms are blessed in a manner that closely resembles that of the consecration of the Holy Eucharist. They are then distributed to the people and the joyous hymn, "All Glory, Laud, and Honor" is sung. The other facet is much darker, as the passion according to St. Matthew is read, with the entire congregation participating. We hear the story of Jesus' betrayal, trial, and execution, concluding with time for personal meditation and prayer. At the end of the service, we will depart from the church in somber silence.
Palm Sunday is just the beginning of a week-long journey of participation in Christ's death, but also in his joyful resurrection. I hope that you will join us on Sunday and throughout Holy Week for these moving and spiritually edifying services. The full schedule is published elsewhere in this newsletter.
I would like to remind you that a very important feast day is coming up: the Feast of the Annunciation. It falls on March 25 (nine months to Christmas), but is transferred to the nearest available date after Easter if that date falls within Holy Week. This year it does not, so we will celebrate it at our normally scheduled Saturday evening service this week at 5:00 p.m.
Unlike the usual service, we will celebrate the Annunciation from the high altar, and will have some really delightful French music by composer Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897), as well as hymns, including the famous Basque carol: "The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came.
I hope that many of you will be able to attend, and for those who cannot, the service will be live streamed via the usual channels. Remember, it was through Mary's "yes" to God that his plan for the salvation of mankind was literally conceived and born and freely given to all. O come, let us worship!
Mid-March can really be a mixed bag. Looking back at photos from recent years, I noticed that we had a very early spring in 2020, though I will happily take a later start this year over what we were going through then. Something that doesn't change are the fixed dates of two popular holy days: the feast of St. Patrick, and the feast of St. Joseph.
Patrick was born into a Christian family about 390. His grandfather was a priest, and his father was a deacon, so you could say that he followed in the family business. He was kidnapped at age 16 and taken to Ireland, where he was forced to work as a shepherd. He escaped and returned to Britain, where he was educated and ordained a priest and later a bishop. A vision called him to return to Ireland, where he performed the remarkable missionary work of Christianizing and church building until his death in 461.
Despite distressing circumstances, Joseph obediently accepted the vocation of protecting Mary and being an earthly father to Jesus. He led them into exile in Egypt to escape the plot of King Herod to kill the child Jesus, and later raised him as a devout Jew at Nazareth. Like Mary, Joseph accepted his God-given responsibility with gentleness and humility.
In this country, both of these popular saints are celebrated widely, but especially by particular immigrant groups. Naturally, the Irish venerate St. Patrick, and the Italians venerate St. Joseph. In New Orleans, where they love all the Saints, both get rolled into one big celebration, and dispensation is granted from Lenten discipline. Elaborate altars made of baked goods are constructed to honor St. Joseph, and at the St. Patrick's parade (for some reason completely unrelated to the life of the saint), one can catch enough cabbage and potatoes tossed from floats to feed a small army.
May their examples of openness to God's will and faithfulness in doing it be guideposts for all of us ants. See you Sunday!
Greetings from Jacksonville, Florida, where Pete and I (along with JoAnn and Allen) are attending the annual conference of the Episcopal Parish Network. We started out with a brief personal getaway at beautiful Jekyll Island, Georgia. It’s history is fascinating and has many parallels with Tuxedo Park.
Here at the conference, I am registered in the “Rectors and Deans” category, and have already participated in some very thoughtful panel discussions. One of our speakers is the Rev. Samuel Wells, who is the Vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London. He spoke on church renewal, in the face of our many shared challenges, in a way that was quite inspiring. I purchased one of his books, and I’m looking forward to reading it and sharing it with you.
Later today, we will be treated to a keynote by historian John Meacham which should be quite good. It is also great to reconnect with friends from around the church, but we are both anxious to get back to our pups. Please pray for safe travels for all of the conference participants. See you Sunday!
After church this coming Sunday, Pete and I will be whisked to the airport to catch our flight to Jacksonville, Florida, which is the host city for this year's Episcopal Parish Network conference. We are arriving a few days ahead of the conference to take our belated "post-Christmas" break at the Jekyll Island Club, which is about an hour north of Jacksonville. In the early 20th century, north Florida and the South Georgia Islands were the gold coast for many gilded age heliotropes. When reading about the early days of Jekyll Island, we were amused, but not surprised, to note that many of the 100 founding members were also residents of Tuxedo Park and parishioners of St. Mary's--we simply had to check it out!
I am also very much looking forward to attending the conference, which I thoroughly enjoyed last year in Atlanta. There are always compelling keynotes, as well as representatives from many different church-related organizations. Our own JoAnn Hanson will be presenting on behalf of Church Investment Group. Of course we exist as a Church in community, both locally and on a broader level, and it is always a joy to reconnect with colleagues from around the country. To put it into the words of the Wizard of Oz, " I go to confer, converse, and otherwise hob-nob with the other wizards." Please pray for travelling mercies for all who will attend, and for the Holy Spirit to be at work among us.
Remember that thou art dust, and unto dust shalt thou return.
With these familiar words, we begin our Lenten journey of faith. In this season of preparation, we contemplate our mortality, our sinfulness, and our need for the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus fasted and was tempted by Satan for forty days and forty nights in the desert. Moses spent forty days and nights atop the mountain with God. We will spend the forty days of Lent in repentance and self-denial, peeling away the comforts and balms of this earthly life in order to more fully expose our hearts and souls to God. We will pray and work to bring our lives more and more into harmony with God's will for us, thereby enabling us to experience the true joy of the Resurrection.
We will begin our observance of Lent on Ash Wednesday with two services, 10:00 a.m. (spoken), and 7:00 p.m. (with music).
I invite you to take advantage of all that this season has to offer you. Put away the old man, and open your heart to experiencing God in powerful ways. He is calling you, his children into his loving arms.
It is said that the only constant is change. Sometimes it comes at a glacial pace, sometimes we must fight for it, and sometimes it just happens to us in an instant. However it comes, it is an immutable part of life.
There is a difference, though, between changing and adapting. There is an anecdote in which a palace spokesman is asked how the late Queen had changed over the years. His response was quick: Her Majesty doesn't change; she adapts. I think that the same is true of the Church. What we are all about and whom we serve never change. However, we do adapt to circumstances, cultures, times. Sometimes it is difficult to accept a new reality, but we must bloom where we are planted.
At St. Mary's, we've done a fantastic job of weathering the storm of pandemic, and it feels as though we are now enjoying fairer winds and calmer seas. But, we were not just floating all that time, we were moving to a new place--indeed, we are always moving. Where we are today is not where we were three years ago at this time. Things have changed, people have changed, and we adapt to that as best we can.
Last spring, anxieties were higher than they are now, and a powerful desire to be "normal" again was at the forefront of our collectively exhausted minds. We decided then to bring back the 8am Sunday service which, before the pandemic consisted of a solid and faithful community of members. It has become clear that in the intervening three years, that community has ceased to exist and that the 8am service, with consistently low to no turnout just doesn't make sense any longer. Therefore, beginning this coming Sunday, February 5 and going forward, there will be one Sunday service at 10am.
However, as of this Saturday, February 4, we will reinstate our winter evening service at 5pm. We will meet at St. Mark's Altar from then through the end of March. Also on Tuesdays in March we will inaugurate a Bible study, which I am personally excited about. It will be interesting to see what comes of that, and where this kind of study outside of worship can lead us. More details on that to come.
The term "discernment" is used most often in the Church to refer to the calling of a new rector, but it is much more than that. For Christian disciples, it is a way of life. It is my privilege to serve with you on our pilgrimage of discernment and discovery. May God continue to bless us as we seek and serve him.
8am - Holy Eucharist (spoken, at the St. Mark's altar)
10am - Holy Eucharist (with music and hymns)
11am to 1pm - The Emporium is open
11:30am - Stewardship Meeting in French House
Wednesday, January 25
10am - Holy Eucharist
From the Rector
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
With the Christmas decorations put away and the annual meeting behind us, it feels like a new year has truly begun. At the rectory, everything has been cleaned and stored away, the dog has had a bath, and all that remains is a fresh haircut for me and a vehicle inspection. Who am I kidding? It never ends!
It was good to come together at the annual meeting -- everyone from our youngest to our eldest -- to celebrate all that we have accomplished for God's glory in 2022, and to look forward to a spirit-filled 2023. We are doing God's work! Just this morning, a friend from Philadelphia who is on her Lutheran church's council (their equivalent of our vestry), rang to talk about outreach and evangelism and how we do such a good job of it at St. Mary's. She is hoping to do some of the same things, along with her new pastor.
I am very proud to be the rector of St. Mary's and look forward to many more years of ministry together with you. If you missed the annual meeting and would like to see more, please click here.
8am - Holy Eucharist (spoken, at the St. Mark's altar)
10am - Holy Eucharist (with music and hymns)
11am to 1pm - The Emporium is open
11:30am - Annual Meeting in Bentley Hall
Wednesday, January 18
10am - Holy Eucharist
From the Rector
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
The life of a parish is so complex and multi-layered. A great deal happens in a year, from worship, to outreach, to the day to day running of things. Many things are afoot as we enter 2023, and I cordially invite you to attend our 135th annual meeting this Sunday after the 10am service. You will hear from me and our committee chairs about the progress we’ve made over the last year and our plans for the coming year. And we will together elect a warden and vestry members to help lead out parish into the future. Along with a sumptuous brunchy spread, it should be a joyous occasion!
8am - Holy Eucharist (spoken, at the St. Mark's altar)
10am - Holy Eucharist (with music and hymns)
11am to 1pm - The Emporium is open
Wednesday, January 11
10am - Holy Eucharist
From the Rector
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
As we approach the feast of the Epiphany and the close of the Christmas season, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped to make our celebration of the season so beautiful and memorable. As always, the church looked glorious—this year with the addition of lights and a beautiful handmade green velvet bow in the hanging greens over the chancel. Our music ministry once again gave a superlative offering at the late service with the addition of the Northwoods String Quartet and Mr. John Burkhalter on recorder. The Oldroyd communion setting was particularly moving. Hospitality was ample, and everyone who served at the altar and greeting the Christmas faithful contributed to the feeling of “welcome home” that we love at this time of year. And lest I forget, the “angel wranglers” at the 4:00 service did exceptional work. Those who contributed toward the memorial flowers and music also have my sincere gratitude.
With the decorations soon to be boxed up until next year, the next big moment in our common life is the Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 15. We will once again be meeting in-person in Bentley Hall after the 10:00 service with the vestry providing some hearty and delicious fare. Please plan to be present to take your part in the governance of our parish, as well as to look back at where we’ve been in the last year, and ahead to our next year in ministry.
Thank you to everyone who donated to provide this year’s beautiful
Christmas Flowers & Music
Stephen Heater in memory of Marilyn and Joseph Heater
Elizabeth Ochieng in memory of Anthony & Lizz Ochieng
Inger Grüterich in memory of John Rein MD and Rolf Grüterich
JoAnn Hanson & Allen Barnett in memory of Ann & Joseph Hanson and William & Gladys Barnett
Robert (Ribby) Goodfellow in memory of Marie McGregor McCarroll
John Bowman & Cesar Venegas in memory of his Mother and Grandparents
Fr. Edwin Cromey in memory of Pamela Bock Cromey, Edward Warren Cromey,
Helen Louise Cromey, Howard Bock, and Marguerite Bock
Dr. Jane & Neil Garafano in thanksgiving for family and friends
Roy & Barbara McKechnie in gratitude for St. Mary’s
Dennis Trotter & Peter Bush in memory of Hedy Albert
Peter Bush in memory of Elizabeth Bush
Frank & Wendy Favia in memory of Janet Churchill & Anthony Favia
Lois Annand in memory of John Annand
Kimberly Breiland in memory of Odd Breiland
Adam Charles Patrick in memory of Andrew Robjohn Patrick
Judith K. Novacek in memory of Mitzi and Lawrence Kane
Bert Schweigaard-Olsen in memory of Bertrand Schweigaard-Olsen, Sr.
Nancy E. Hays in memory Richard and Rebecca Evans
Jim Hays in memory of Helen Douglas and Alexander Hays
Marie-Paule Mahoney in memory of James and Christopher Mahoney
The Bush Family in memory of Gretel, Elizabeth, William, Gertrude & Mary
The Clarke family in memory of Charles and Anne Clarke,
Aunt Nook (Dorothy) and George Menkins
The Love Family in memory of Talbot Love, Cornelius Love and
Pete Datos in memory of Steven and Mary Datos, and Paul Sullivan
Fr. Richard J. Robÿn & Amy Robÿn in memory of Richard J. Rice, Sr.
Linda Robÿn in memory of Francis and Beatrice Bicking
St. Mary's is Looking for a Part Time Assistant (posted 11/18/21)
St. Mary’s-in-Tuxedo Part-Time Administrative Assistant Position Description
St. Mary’s-in-Tuxedo is a historic Episcopal church located within the gates of the charming village of Tuxedo Park, New York. The church is the spiritual heart of the community, primarily serving Tuxedo and Sloatsburg, though drawing members from the greater area.
Under the supervision of the Rector, the Administrative Assistant is a part-time role that provides general office support to the staff, committees, and congregation, in order to support the ministries and mission of St. Mary’s. This work includes, but is not limited to: data and records management, phone and email support, supplies and vendor management, communications work, managing use of church space by parish and outside groups, supporting church ministries and committees, and collaborating with volunteers. The Administrative Assistant will be a resource person for both members and non-members, and a welcoming and responsive presence in our church’s office.
Specific responsibilities include:
Provide a welcoming and helpful presence in the parish office; organize and keep a tidy office.
Respond to requests for information and resources via email, telephone, and in-person visits.
Provide administrative support to the Rector, Vestry or other committees, which includes scheduling meetings, preparing documents, making copies, etc.
Produce and distribute the weekly newsletter by email, which includes soliciting stories/photos/flyers about parish and community news/events, as well as proofreading and editing the content.
Prepare, proof, and print bulletins and materials for Sunday and other services.
Produce volunteer rosters; assist in recruiting, coordinating and scheduling volunteers as needed, under direction of the Rector or committee leadership.
Place orders for supplies and equipment as authorized; ensure computers, telephones, and copier are always in good working order.
Pick up and sort incoming mail; send parish mailings and other outgoing mail.
Maintain parish records (in electronic and paper formats), including financial, membership, attendance, diocesan, and other data, keeping them up-to-date, accurate, and secure.
Produce reports, directories, and other documents from parish records under the direction of the Rector, vestry, and committee leadership, on a timely basis.
Coordinate with the bookkeeper and signers to record donations and pay invoices.
Maintain the parish calendar to facilitate building use by internal and authorized external groups; includes the coordination of baptisms, weddings, funerals, and other special events.
Assist with preparing and distributing marketing materials, as directed.
Maintain the church’s online presence (basic updates to the website and Facebook page, online advertising, etc.).
Coordinate with vendors as delegated by Rector, Wardens, and Building & Grounds Cmte.
Coordinate the work of custodians and handyman to address facilities-related needs as identified, including set-up and clean-up for special events.
Specific requirements include:
Effective communication skills, both verbal and written.
Proficiency in word processing, spreadsheet, and database applications; must be willing to learn and use our productivity and collaboration tools, which include Realm Church Management System, Google Workspace (Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, etc.), Constant Contact, and Squarespace; working knowledge of any is a plus
Demonstrated organizational skills, including calendaring, project coordination, and prioritization of work with multiple competing deadlines.
Strong writing and grammar skills, including proofreading.
Ability to maintain confidentiality, sensitivity, compassion, and discretion.
Basic knowledge of invoice and purchase order transactions, as well as procurement, researching vendor prices, and negotiating costs.
Compliance with diocesan safe church requirements
Must be willing to learn the basics of Episcopal liturgy (Book of Common Prayer, lectionary, hymnals) in order to produce worship materials.
Compensation and Benefits
Salary: $22 to $27 per hour, commensurate with experience
16 hours per week, 9am to 1pm, Monday through Thursday
Paid Holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr Day, Presidents Day, Easter Monday, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day
Paid Vacation: 2 weeks
To learn more about St. Mary’s-in-Tuxedo, please visit www.stmtux.org. The position will remain open until a candidate has been retained for this important post. We pray this exciting position interests you, or someone you know, and that you’ll be in touch.
Donations Needed for St. Mary's Thanksgiving Baskets (Posted 11/16/21)
Traditionally St Mary’s puts together Thanksgiving Baskets to give to families on a low income in our community and families who, because of sickness or any other adversity, would benefit and enjoy some extra help in creating their Thanksgiving meal.
The Sloatsburg Food Pantry, at its new location in All Souls Community Church in Suffern [ corner of Oliver Street and Washington avenue] will be giving out around 400 special boxes of non-perishables and fresh vegetables and fruit on Wednesday November 17th. As the new refrigeration/ freezers will not be in place until the second week of December the turkey/ meat section of this will be replaced by ShopRite Gift Cards. St Mary’s is contributing 125 SR gift cards each valued at $25.
In Tuxedo we have been asked to provide 36 baskets which will be distributed on the morning of Tuesday 23rd November using a school bus and driver. This year, because of the refrigeration problem, a SR gift card will replace the meat, and according to the size of the family the value of the gift card will be $25 or $50.
We will be accepting donations of non-perishables at any time and fresh vegetables and fruit the weekend of 20th and 21st November. These should be dropped off in the Chapel (up the steps to the right of the church building). We will pack the baskets on Monday 22nd.Cash donations by check [made out to St Mary’s, with memo Thanksgiving Baskets] or online at www.stmtux.org will also be very gratefully accepted.
Items for Hispanic basket Long grain rice, Cans of red, black and pink beans, Corn tortillas, Garlic, green, sweet and red peppers, green olives, Yucca, potatoes, sweet potatoes Canned pumpkins and yams Apples, bananas, pineapples, oranges Items for American basket Potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots Cranberry Sauce Cornbread Cans or jars of green beans, yams, gravy Packets of stuffing Apples, bananas, oranges Cookies and sweet treats Pumpkin pies
St. Mary's Emporium - GRAND OPENING July 24, 2021 10am-2pm
The Emporium at St. Mary’s
A whole new way to shop sustainably while supporting a worthy cause. It’s much more than a thrift shop. The Emporium is a carefully curated selection of beautiful items, donated by local residents. It is run entirely by volunteers, with all proceeds benefitting the good works of St. Mary’s-in-Tuxedo. Questions? Give us a call at (845) 351-2389 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Emporium is located in the undercroft of St. Mary’s-in-Tuxedo (formerly the office) and is already fully stocked with lovely items ranging from art and small furnishings, to designer clothing and kitchen gadgets. We also have glasses for any cocktail you can think of!
We will be open Saturdays from 10am to 2pm and Sundays from 11am to 1pm
We accept cash, checks, and all major credit cards.
Masks are optional if you are fully vaccinated.
The church is located at 10 Fox Hill Rd, Tuxedo Park, NY 10987.
We are within the historic gates of Tuxedo Park, but serve the entire community and all are welcome! Please don't be intimidated by the gates -- just tell the gatehouse you're going to St. Mary's, proceed thru the gates and we're immediately on the right. Plenty of free parking is available.
Our mascot, Woodrow the Woodchuck, has a very keen eye and would like to remind you of his rules for donating items to The Emporium:
We accept donations only during opening hours and must be selective given our limited space. Please do not leave any donated items anywhere on church property, as they will be discarded. Please contact us at email@example.com or (845) 351-2389 with any questions.
We gladly accept…
donations of clothing, jewelry, kitchenware, linens, lamps/shades, vases, shoes, and bric-a-brac. Objects d’art, wall décor, figurines and collectibles are big sellers. We will consider larger items with photos.
Before donating, ask yourself the following:
Would I give this to a friend or relative?
Would I buy this in a thrift store if I needed it?
Is it sparkling clean?
If not, we most likely will not be able to sell it. Stained and dirty items will be discarded.
We do not accept…
books, CD’s/DVD’s, sporting equipment, electronics, toys, or any kind of baby item (strollers, carriages, playpens).
Summer Camp in Tuxedo....Sponsors Needed (Posted 6/30/2021)
St Mary’s has a long history of assisting families to pay for Summer camp experience for their children. This year some of the camps are free, but the families we are helping are either not eligible for the free camps due to where they live, or the hours and dates being offered are such that the parent would not be able to continue working and earning a living. All these families are known by us and have been adversely affected by the effects of Covid and recommended for financial assistance by guidance counsellors and teachers.
Fourteen children from ten families will attend the five week Town of Tuxedo Recreation Department Day Camp based on Murphy field and the Ringwood swimming pool. The cost to St Mary’s is $9,540.
The children are all very excited and parents relieved that they can continue to work while their children can enjoy the fun of Summer activities.
We would be grateful for sponsorship donations of any amount. The cost for the first child in a family is $660 and siblings $560.
Donations can be received online at https://onrealm.org/stmtux/give/outreach or checks made out to St Mary’s Outreach, memo Summer camp sponsorship and mailed to St Mary’s at POB 637, Tuxedo NY 10987.
Thank you for your support in any amount. It will all make a difference to children who need a happy time this Summer, especially.
St Mary’s Outreach Chair
Annual EpiscoBuild Twelfth Night Concert to Be Held Virtually on January 10
In spite of the pandemic, snow, and cold, EpiscoBuild will host, via the magic of the internet, the 14th Annual Twelfth Night Celebration for a Habitat Newburgh Home at 3 PM on Sunday, January 10, 2021 at the web link: https://bit.ly/Episcobuild12thNight
Twelfth Night is a festive revelry marking the end of the holiday season. For 13 years, EpiscoBuild has celebrated Twelfth Night with a gala concert by local area Episcopal choirs and soloists of their best seasonal music, presented online for the first time this year for your viewing and listening pleasure!
As part of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, EpiscoBuild has helped to build homes for seven deserving Newburgh families. Your free-will donations to this Twelfth Night Celebration will help raise funds to sponsor our 8th house.
Please donate online during the concert, or mail a check made out to "Habitat for Humanity" (noting “EpiscoBuild” in the memo) to: Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, 125 Washington Street, Newburgh NY 12550.
Does anyone have a car [preferably an SUV] that they no longer use or need? If your answer is 'yes' then would you be prepared to donate it to St Mary's- in -Tuxedo? You will qualify for a tax deduction while supporting a great cause!
Billy Saul, long time garbage collector for Tuxedo Park working for Sterling Carting, was severely injured in September 2019. He has been unable to work since. He and the family, Teresa, his wife, and four children, are having some financial hardship. Currently, he has no transport as his Ford Explorer , 2002 vintage with 215,000 miles on the clock, is no longer working and he couldn't afford to get it repaired. St Mary's and friends offered to pay for the repair if a garage would pick it up, assess the problems and send an estimate. However, the garage has stated categorically that the frame has safety issues and it is beyond repair!
The Saul family live in a relatively rural area of NY State where public transport is sparse. Please can someone help? Contact me, Sue Heywood 201 248 0742 or the Rector, Father Rick 917 658 6314 if you have questions or can offer a vehicle. If the donated car needs some work on it, St Mary's Outreach would seek donations from friends and organize its repair.
Thank you! Sue Heywood St Mary's Outreach Chair
St. Mary's & Tuxedo Park Garden Club to Dedicate Pam Cromey Memorial Rose Garden on November 7
Please join us in-person or online at 1pm on Saturday, November 7th, as the Tuxedo Park Garden Club and St. Mary's dedicate the Pam Cromey Memorial Rose Garden. The garden is given in loving memory of Pam and all those in our community who lost their lives to Covid.
The garden surrounds the church sign and dogwood tree which were previously given in memory of Phil Swirbul. A memorial allée of dogwood trees is being established along the approach to St. Mary's, and a second tree has been planted in Pam's memory.
Many thanks to Charlotte Worthy and warden Billy Mincey for sourcing and planting the roses, and to the Tuxedo Park Garden Club for preparing the bed for planting.
Join us for a run (or walk) around the beautiful lakes of Tuxedo Park to support the ministries of St. Mary’s.
Saturday, July 11th
Check in anytime between 9:30am and 11am; rain date is Saturday, July 18th.
Runners can choose how far they want to run/jog/walk (2.5 miles around the small lakes, 4.2 miles around Tuxedo Lake, 7 miles around all the lakes)
Runners will check-in at the starting point (communicated on sign up) and can begin running anytime from 9:30am to 11am.
For safety reasons, everyone will wear a mask at the starting point; starting times will be staggered so runners can remove their masks when they're running alone or with just their immediate family; 12 feet social distance rules apply; runners agree to have masks handy in case they come close to others.
Spectators or non-runners are not encouraged anywhere near the event.
Runners will report their results (honor code) via email / text (there is no “runners stand”) and will receive virtual recognition via St. Mary’s Facebook page.
St. Mary's and Tuxedo Outreach Family Clothing Store - Posted 6/4/2020
Just as in families when outgrown clothing and shoes get handed down to younger and smaller siblings, so we have created a Tuxedo- wide family and made the hand downs available to everyone who lives in Tuxedo or Sloatsburg. Our shop is in Tuxedo Train Station. There is no charge for any items. Everything is free. We will be open next on Friday, June 12 from 10am until 4pm.The video shows what we have and how it is arranged.
At this difficult time, when shopping, and having the money to shop with, are both a real challenge, St Mary's, in conjunction with TUFSD and the Sloatsburg Community Food Pantry,is looking to assist families in clothing their children and teens for Summer and Fall.
We are collecting clothing and shoes for boys and girls from babies to high school grads. These will eventually be donated to those who need them when state regulations allow.
Donations can only be received on Friday May 22nd from 1 pm to 4 pm and Saturday May 23rd from 10 am to 1 pm. All items must be clean and in good condition and packed, preferably into boxes,but acceptable in large plastic bags. Do not leave them at St Mary's or at the Train Station at any other times than these scheduled.
For the safety of everyone concerned please drive into the north entrance of the Train Station Parking Lot and move slowly in single file to the front porch of the Train Station Building. Stop in the marked space, place your donations in the space indicated and then drive on. Someone will pick up your donation and take it inside. This will avoid any direct social contact.
The donations will be stored in the Train Station for several days before being sorted by volunteers.
The coronavirus outbreak is evolving on a daily basis, and we at St Mary’s are staying abreast of the latest information in order to respond in Christian love and reason.
All Orange County schools have closed for two weeks. This includes St Mary’s Community Preschool and Sunday School.
The Bishop of New York has been in communication with his clergy, and he will not impose a blanket suspension of church services due to the vast differences in ministry contexts across our large diocese.
What does this mean for St Mary’s? For now, we will continue with services (Saturday Evensong at 5pm, Sunday Eucharist at 8am and 10am). However, I want to stress that we must observe the following precautions:
If you feel ill, or even ill-at-ease over coming to church, don’t. Stay home. It’s ok. We will be streaming the 10:00 Sunday service live via our Facebook page. Here is the bulletin so you can follow along. When it comes time for communion, there's a beautiful act of spiritual communion you may pray:
?"My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen."
If you do come to church, greet one another with a smile or nod. Please DO NOT shake hands or hug.
Please leave your offering in the alms basin before you sit down. The plate will not be passed. If you stay home, please make your offering via our website or by mailing it in.
Spread out. Allow three feet on either side of you. Now is the time to try that side aisle seat you’ve always had your eye on.
The peace will move to its ancient place immediately after the agnus dei. There will be no opportunity for physical contact.
Communion will be offered in one kind (bread) only. Receive the host in your hand from the priest and consume it immediately. The priest will sanitize his hands before distribution. To avoid crowding, communion will be distributed at a station in the nave, not at the rail.
Coffee hour has been suspended indefinitely. Starting with our vestry meeting tomorrow, all church committee meetings with be held virtually via Google Hangouts.
The Pastoral Care and Outreach Committees are aware of many needs and challenges across our community and are working in concert with local groups such as the school and food pantry to address the situation. If you know of anyone in need of food, help, or even just a phone call, please let me know.
As we navigate these uncharted waters together, let us hold one another in prayer and take these words to heart: The Almighty Lord, who is a strong tower to all who put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth bow and obey: Be now and evermore your defense, and make you know and feel that the only Name under heaven given for health and salvation is the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Saturday June 1 – Musicale a Chastellux by Julliard Musicians to Benefit St. Mary’s Outreach Programs
This delightful concert, followed by a wine and hors d'oevres reception will benefit St Mary's Outreach programs.
Kevin Zhu: Violin. 18 years old. Recently won the 2018 Paganini International Violin 1st Prize, in Italy. The most prestigious violin competition in the world. He studies at Juilliard and with Itzhak Perlman. He also won the 2012 Menuhin Junior competition as the youngest violinist ever. Kevin is already touring the world performing. You can watch him on YouTube to get a preview of what you will enjoy live.
Qiang Tu: Cello. New York Philharmonic . Qiang was the first Chinese musician to join the Philharmonic. He has been followed by many others. He has numerous recordings and a long list of professional accomplishments. Both musicians play exceptional instruments from the early 1700s that they will tell you about.
It has been our tradition for many years now to reach out to the families in our neighborhood whose incomes make it difficult for them to provide the Christmas extras that brighten this season of love and giving. Our recipient families are those in the Tuxedo Schools whose children are in the free lunch program plus our neighbors down the road who attend the twice weekly English as a Second Language classes that were started several years ago by the Sloatsburg Food Pantry.
This year we are partnering with TPS. St Mary’s will provide a $50 Shoprite gift card for each family and a $50 Kohl’s gift card for each child. The TPS students are making a collection of Winter hats, scarves and gloves before coming to St Mary’s to assemble the decorated gift bags ready for distribution on December 19th.
Our list has 34 families with 80 children! St Mary’s needs your help! Please give generously! Every donation of any amount will add an angel to the St Mary’s Giving Tree with the name of the donor attached. Donations so far total $1,400. We hope to raise $5,000!
Donations can be made online on St Mary’s website www.stmtux.org/giving. Select ‘ Angel Tree’ in the fund designation of the dropdown menu in the middle of the page. Checks can also be sent to St Mary’s, with Angel Tree in the memo.
On behalf of St Mary’s and our local families, thank you for ensuring that everyone indeed has a Very Merry Christmas!
Jake's Rockin Country Band, the tri-state area's award winning five member country band will be playing on the Great Lawn at St. Mary's on Saturday July 7 from 3-6pm! There will be line dancing, activities for the kids and drinks and snacks available (or you can bring your own) Tickets are $10 per person and will be available at the door! Bring a lawn chair and/or a blanket and CHECK IT OUT!!
Rector’s Annual Report to the Parish - St. Mary’s-in-Tuxedo - January 28, 2018
A New Beginning
On June 10 of last year, at 1:04 pm, I missed a call. I shortly noticed that I had a message, and when I saw who it was from, my stomach sank and my heart began to race. It was from the Senior Warden of St. Mary’s. I gathered my strength and composure and returned the call. He picked up, and after a courteous greeting, he informed me that the vestry had unanimously elected me as 12th rector of St. Mary’s. He then asked if I would accept. Yes! Thus began a transition process that was bittersweet and beautiful. I said goodbye to people whose priest I had been, and hello to those whose priest I would soon become. On our first night in the rectory, we arrived frazzled and stressed after the long drive, only to find a poster welcoming our cats (and us) to St. Mary’s. We were also grateful to one parish family who had the rectory floors refinished. These were just two of the many touching acts of kindness and hospitality that have defined this transition. The first weeks and months were spent mostly in just figuring out mundane things such as where the light switches are located, and where to get groceries. We met new friends, and were welcomed with grace and open hearts. Soon the time came for my official institution as rector, and with two bishops, a canon, numerous priests, deacons, friends, family, and community members present, we did it with sincerity and style. I will never forget kneeling before the altar and saying the rector’s prayer, and seeing the smiles on people’s faces as we processed out singing “Hail, Holy Queen.” The luncheon afterward at the Tuxedo Club is something I will never forget, and something for which I will always be grateful.
Last March, Pete and I planned to come up here together, ostensibly to see where he was working in Sloatsburg, but really to snoop around Tuxedo. We drove up and down Route 17, and daringly drove up to the gates, which were open, so we figured it was ok to drive through. As we pulled ahead, a stern voice on the speaker barked, “Where are you going?” “To the church???” we replied. “Ok. Go ahead.” Whew! We felt like we had just gotten away with something. We drove into the church parking lot, then up Fox Hill Road trying to get a look at the rectory, and really only made the loop to Tuxedo Road and back out. What a surprise when we returned a few months later! On my first tour of the Park, I was stunned by the beauty of the lakes and historic architecture. It was all rather Brigadoon-ish, and I was not sure what to make of the place. Since moving here however, I have had the opportunity to get to know the town, as well as the surrounding areas, such as Harriman State Park and the idyllic St. John’s in Arden. Even though remote, the area is much bigger and more diverse than I had imagined. Overall, I think the transition has been as smooth for everyone as it could be. We are enjoying settling into the rectory with all its quirks, and have even welcomed a new little puppy into our lives, whom we named in honor of Emily Post. The biggest challenge remains the sale of our house in Pennsylvania, and we ask for your continued prayers for that.
This transition is a new beginning for all of us and a chance to reimagine what it means to be Church in this place. Before making any major changes, however, I want to spend the first year getting to know everyone, deliberately listening and learning the rhythms of this place. While this process will continue until the summer and I am eager to hear everyone’s perspective, I am starting to form a vision of what we could accomplish together and it roughly falls into three priority areas for the future.
Rediscover our Faith and Traditions
People come to church to celebrate the most profound moments of their lives. Even on a regular Sunday, we believe that Christ is truly, sacramentally present with us in the bread and the wine of the Holy Eucharist, and in his holy word. Therefore, it should be a sacred experience. It’s not a performance, it’s not a show -- and it’s not about adopting the latest fad -- you will not find gimmicks here. Worship is about giving back to God that which he has so freely and perfectly given us, in a way that is of the most excellent quality, and authentic to our particular faith tradition. Anglicanism is abundantly blessed with a strong tradition of beautiful liturgy and music, handed down over many centuries.
An article I recently read entitled, “Why Millenials Long for Liturgy,” by Gracy Olmstead, touches on the rediscovery of the great deposit of faith by younger people--people on whom many had given up as being merely “spiritual, but not religious.” In it one of the interviewees suggests, “If you ask me why kids are going high church [by which he means liturgical church], I’d say it’s because the single greatest threat to our generation and to young people nowadays is the deprivation of meaning in our lives,” he says. “In the liturgical space, everything becomes meaningful. In the offering up of the bread and wine, we see the offering up of the wheat and grain and fruits of the earth, and God gives them back in a sanctified form. …We’re so thirsty for meaning that goes deeper, that can speak to our entire lives, hearts, and wallets, that we’re really thirsty to be attached to the earth and to each other and to God. The liturgy is a historical way in which that happens.”
We are sitting upon a gold mine here. We have a magnificent historic space, and are heirs of a liturgical and musical tradition that is truly transcendent and transformative, if only we are brave enough to explore it together. I have no illusion of becoming a “mega-church,” and I do not think that is something any of us is interested in. However I do believe that with steadfast faith and fidelity to our tradition, we can and will become a beacon to those who seek a place that offers something more than “Precious Moments” theology, pallid liturgy, and unsatisfactory music that is all too common these days. We can be one of those churches that comes to people’s minds when they think of sound preaching, robust liturgy, inspiring music, and an authentic living out of Christ’s great commission.
It is important that we start with the youngest among us -- our preschool, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Episcopal Youth Fellowship are critical to formation.In this time of transition, we are also at a crossroads in our Sunday school program. We are very much in need of new leadership for this vital ministry, and I ask you to consider whether God is calling you in this way. Formation of children and youth is key, but it doesn’t end there. During Advent, we had a brief series on the scriptures and Handel’s “Messiah,” and I have started educating the congregation at the Saturday evening service about the history and theology of the prayer book in place of a traditional sermon. I would like to expand that effort to include the whole parish by offering learning opportunities during Lent, followed perhaps in May by a trip to the Metropolitan Museum to see their upcoming exhibits on how vestments and liturgy influence art and fashion to this day. Musically, I would like to see us delve deeper into the traditions of our church by exploring things like Anglican chant, sung propers, and perhaps even a choral mass setting or two for special occasions. I also believe that it is imperative that we foster and develop a children’s choir, not only to attract families, but also as a component in forming young disciples.
2. Restore our Historic Buildings and Grounds
Churches, like people, are often better at taking care of others than they are at caring for themselves. We engage in a highly impactful program of outreach to the Tuxedo community, our country, and the world. While I feel passionately that our outreach efforts should be continued, I have nonetheless observed a degree of self-neglect here at St. Mary’s. We occupy an unusual and magnificent church which seems to have grown right out of the living rock upon which it stands. It is filled with treasures from across the centuries and around the world. It is a gift given to God by past generations, and it is our job not only to maintain it, but to make it shine by highlighting the best elements of the past, and making it accessible to present needs. We have done a great job in caring for our outstanding collection of American art glass, but we can’t stop there. For example, the lighting and sound systems in the church are in dire need of attention.
God created the universe in order and beauty; his house on earth should reflect that. In order to have a clear picture and guide in this endeavor, I propose that we have a thorough conditions report compiled by an engineering firm for all of the church buildings, including the rectory, which is sorely in need of repair and updating. Naturally all of these things will take money. We are blessed to have been given financial gifts by previous generations which, in conjunction with regular offerings, help us carry out our day-to-day operations. However, refreshing our buildings and grounds for God’s glory as well as modern comfort and functionality will require additional funds. Therefore I propose embarking on a capital campaign after we assess and prioritize our needs, in order to address them in the best and most fiscally responsible way. I also intend to invite a representative from the Episcopal Church Foundation to come and speak with us regarding planned giving for the future.
3. Re-engage our Community
One concern I have heard is that “under this rector we had we had more park people, but under that rector we had more town people.” While certain personalities and charisms may be more attractive to one group than another, I am reminded of the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians (3:28) “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” We must focus on attracting our entire community to God’s altar in this place. Indeed, it was placed on this spot for that very reason. I look forward to meeting more people who may have once attended and now do not, as well as those who may never have given us a try.
While we must do everything we can to encourage church attendance, we also must be realistic about the fact that Tuxedo is its own special animal. In addition to year-round residents who come to church regularly, we have people who spend much of the year in other locations at different times of year (NYC, Florida, Arizona, Vermont, Colorado, Europe, etc.) but still consider St. Mary’s their home parish. During our recent visit to Palm Beach, we ran into a parishioner at Bethesda-by-the-Sea. She very proudly introduced me to everyone as her rector from Tuxedo Park. There is something about this place that gets under the skin and remains, even if we travel often to other locales.
Because of the “Tuxedo diaspora,” our communications are of vital importance. We are in need of a refreshed web presence, as well as more engagement on social media. In two weeks, the communications committee will meet to discuss this in depth. In the short run, we have made the weekly newsletter more mobile friendly, and update our Facebook page regularly with photos, videos, and notices. We are in the process of migrating our office over to Google for Nonprofits, which has numerous benefits, including the fact that it is completely free and will save us hundreds of dollars monthly over our current web hosting provider.
Unlike in urban settings, where there is a church on practically every corner, we are one of only a few houses of worship in our town. Because of our history, physical location, and engagement of our members, we are by far the most engaged in the community, which is something to celebrate. St. Mary’s is truly the beating heart of Tuxedo. I am proud that many people who are not themselves Christians consider St. Mary’s to be home, even if they do not worship here. They see the value we bring, they see the welcome, they see the good, which transcends all human barriers. Let us work together to open our hearts and doors ever wider.
Moving Forward Together
Thank you to everyone who has faithfully served in the transition process, my dedicated staff, and for those who continue to take volunteer leadership roles in this church in many different ways.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be kind and care for each other, let us also be honest and forthright. In this report, I have shared with you my first impressions and vision for this church. However, I want you to know that while I take my role as a leader seriously, I also welcome your input. I invite you to share your hopes and dreams for St. Mary’s with me. I am available for you. Please feel free to call or text me at (917) 658-6314, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, be joyful. It is good news after all that we have to share. Let us work together to rediscover our faith and traditions, restore our historic buildings and grounds, and re-engage our community. In his sermon at my service of institution, Bishop Clifton Daniel likened the church to a lifeboat. As we navigate this lifeboat of faith in the troubled waters of our world, may our patron, St. Mary, star of the sea, be our guiding light to our ultimate destination, her son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Edwin H. Cromey Induceted as Rector Emeritus at St. Mary's in Tuxedo
On Sunday, January 7th, St Mary’s held a special service which combined the regular Eucharist with a formal induction of The Rev. Dr. Edwin H. Cromey as Rector Emeritus of St Mary’s-in-Tuxedo. This wonderful celebratory service was an opportunity for the Parish and many friends to welcome and congratulate Ed and Pam on this auspicious occasion.
The Rector Emeritus position acknowledges his years of service to St Mary’s, to the Episcopal Church and to the community.
In conferring the honor of Rector Emeritus on Father Cromey, our current Rector, Father Rick Robyn gave a short bio of him:
“Father Edwin Cromey was born in Brooklyn, NY, and received his seminary training at the General Theological Seminary, graduating in 1962. That same year, he was ordained deacon, and then priest by Bishop James Pernette de Wolfe. In 1972, he and Pam were married, and in 1981 they answered the call to come to St. Mary’s. For more than 25 years, Fr. Ed served this community as rector of this church until his retirement in 2006. Since then, he has continued his service to the Church, and he and Pam have remained beloved members of our community. And now, in honor of his years of service, and in celebration of his 55th anniversary of ordination, it is my privilege to confer upon my friend and fellow presbyter the title of Rector Emeritus.
As Father Cromey becomes Rector Emeritus, we acknowledge an ongoing relationship of affection as we pledge to hold him in prayer for his health and happiness. Moreover, we dedicate ourselves as a parish to faithfulness to his legacy in the characteristics of his ministry, joy and zest in following Jesus, faithful preaching of the Gospel, delight in solid liturgy, and a heart for all God’s children.”
Pictured above are Father Cromey with Father Rick both during and after the service as well as Father cromey with his wife, Pam and their family.