Why Remember Saint Thomas?

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Dear Fellow Parishioners,

Many of you have seen me on WNET and other public broadcasting stations saying why I have been a longtime supporter of PBS – what I like to call intelligent television – urging you to provide for them in your wills. What you don’t know, is that I have also made provisions for Saint Thomas Church in my will, and that’s very important to me. It’s not a huge bequest because I don’t have a huge estate, and one never knows what the future will bring, but it’s enough to make me feel as if I’m giving back to an institution that means so much to me.

Saint Thomas Church was very welcoming to me when I was going through a very challenging time in my life. I had been one of those people, like a lot of career-oriented New Yorkers, a type-A personality, who had thought that I was in control of my life. Then some things happened, and they were very painful, that convinced me otherwise. Ten years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Father Mead and then others at Saint Thomas Church, who reintroduced me, a lapsed Presbyterian, sometimes Methodist, to the life of Christ and the worship of our Lord and Savior in a style that was vastly different from the churches I had attended as a child and young adult. I was overwhelmed by the peace and beauty of the sanctuary and the liturgy, especially the extraordinary music that filled the nave. I felt as close to Heaven as I had ever been or deserved to be, and I still feel that way at every Sunday, Evensong, and chantry chapel service. It is a privilege to be in our sacred space, and to help sustain it. That is why I do my small part to support it, whether as the Every Member Canvas, the Friends of Music, or the Organ Fund. It’s why I am happy to use my broadcast voice (formerly CBS News) as an occasional lector, or to carry a torch as an acolyte.

I see the church as a force for good in a world plagued with evil and an aid to those mired in pockets of poverty. Buying gifts for our Angel Tree is one of the best things that we do at Christmas, as is all the help we provide to the women and children in that shelter, the people who need support in other parishes, and the homeless, who depend on meals from our Soup Kitchen. It’s important to me that we share our time, our talents and our great treasure with those who have greater needs. It’s important to me that all the work of this institution continue: of finding lost souls, like me, and bringing them back to the fold, of reaching out to others with spiritual or financial needs, of teaching the Word and praising the Lord with the utmost passion and beauty that the traditional music and liturgy provide. I thank the Lord for those who were clergy and parishioners in earlier decades, who created and sustained this wonderful place for me. I hope to help do the same for those in future generations.

And I hope you will join me in doing so.

Betsy Ashton
January, 2016