Change is Good.
Dear People of Saint Timothy’s Church:
Having now been with you as your Interim Rector for six months—which is half way through the one year stipulated in my letter of agreement—I could not possibly be more pleased than I am with this parish and with all of you, this parish’s parishioners. Your desire for increased lay ministry and responsibility, coupled with your faithful enthusiasm, make for a very healthy parish life. Both your Vestry’s commitment to a vision of this parish that will increasingly make it an active participant in the life of our diocese, and the participation of so many of our people in the recent Episcopal Habitat for Humanity build, are evidence that outreach, not insularity, will be the future of Saint Timothy’s Church. And when we consider that it is the Gospel of Jesus that we proclaim and the love of God that we share, it is never a matter of doubting our purpose or goal in life, but rather of determining how to express that Gospel and its message of love within the proper framework of the traditions that give it meaning, both in our personal and in our corporate lives. Here in Saint Timothy’s Church, a growing sense of our identity as Christians who belong to a Church that is larger than our own parish will give us the opportunity to share with others what we value, as well as learn from others what they value. That kind of holy sharing is always a good and godly work.
And what we value here in Saint Timothy’s, I have come to learn, is a degree of traditionalism and formality, especially in our worship, that sets us apart from most other parishes in our diocese—but wonderfully so! We had a deacon from another parish worship with us last month, and, as I spoke with her following the service, I asked her when she had last experienced a service as traditional as ours. She admitted that it had been a while—but then almost blurted out that it was our kind of traditional worship that had first brought her to the Episcopal Church and she was thrilled to encounter it here in Saint Timothy’s. There is nothing wrong with good tradition, solidly grounded, and faithfully honored.
But honoring tradition does not mean that there will never be reason for change. I was very pleasantly surprised the other evening when, during a dinner I was sharing with one of our parish families, the teenage son (one of our very best acolytes!) said, in a very matter of fact way, “Change is good.” Not all change, of course, is good, and certainly not change just for the sake of change, but positive change, intelligently thought through and faithfully carried through. That is when “change is good.”
We are experiencing that kind of change here in Saint Timothy’s, and we will experience even more of it in the months to come. The presence on our staff of the Reverend Vince Kopp as Assistant to the Rector and Chaplain to the School is the fulfillment of a dream oft dreamt by both the parish and the school. Your Wardens, the Headmaster, and I attended Vince’s ordination to the diaconate in Chapel Hill back in June, and we look forward to his ordination to the priesthood, hopefully sometime before the end of this year. You can learn more about his work here by reading his own article in this edition of “Tidings.”
On another front, your Pastoral Care Committee has agreed to undertake a new ministry of making permanent plastic nametags (with magnetic attachment) available to everyone. The nametags will be purchased by parishioners and will be taken home with them when not being worn at church functions. That they will be plastic and permanent will eliminate the need for the constant replacement of them, and that they will be taken home when not being worn will eliminate our need to store them. Nametags may at first seem unneeded by some people, but my experience has taught me that they are an invaluable means for people to get to know each other’s names: and, once a name is known, a person can be known, too. Parishioners who cannot afford the cost of purchasing them may speak privately with me, and their need will be met. Expect to see them available in early September.
Also, beginning September 1, we will initiate a new schedule of worship which will emphasize that the Book of Common Prayer 1979 is the only official Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church, while at the same time, and with the specific permission of our Bishop, allowing for the continued use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer at the 8:30 Sunday morning Eucharist. Aside from that service, all other services held in Saint Timothy’s Church will be from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, using the traditional language rites when they are an option. Our copies of the 1928 Book will be removed from the pew racks and placed on a cart in the narthex of the church, from which they will be taken, and to which they will be returned, when used on Sunday mornings. This procedure will reduce the number of books in our pew racks (often confusing to non-Episcopalians who occasionally join us for worship) and also underscore that the use of the 1928 Book is an exception, not the norm, in our public worship. On a pastoral note, I can also say that any parishioner who wishes to be buried using the 1928 Book should speak privately with me prior to December 31 of this year, after which time that option will no longer be available. I am asking for a conversation, not just a written request, because it is important for people considering that option to be fully informed about what the 1928 Book does and does not allow at the time of burial. The 1928 Burial Office is very short, does not anticipate the inclusion of the Eucharist, and does not mention the name of the person being buried at any point in the service.
Finally, realizing another change that is especially important to our organist and some of our choristers, we will retire the Hymnal 1940, now in our pew racks, and replace it with the Hymnal 1982, effective on the First Sunday of Advent, December 2. The purchase of the 200 new hymnals is funded jointly and personally by Deacon and Mrs. Kopp and by me and Mrs. Remer, and is intended as a gift to the parish in thanksgiving for our ministries here in Saint Timothy’s Church and School. All of you are a blessing in our lives, and this is one very practical way for us to express our love for you and our appreciation for your presence in our lives. And that godly expression of love, it now seems to me, is as good a way as any to conclude this article.