News from Saint Thomas: week ending in February 2

on Dear Friends,

With another week of exceptionally cold weather, our thoughts turn naturally to the homeless and the vulnerable on our streets. Last week, I met a veteran who had served our country in the Gulf War and who was in need. Each week we pray for the members of our parish who serve in our armed forces and it is sobering when I meet someone who, subsequently, has fallen on hard times and whose service is almost forgotten. Please pray for all who work for peace, justice, and the pursuit of liberty.

The cold weather also means that we should look out for our vulnerable parishioners who are elderly, who have chronic illnesses, or who find it difficult to leave their homes. Not all of our home-bound seniors have access to care, and this is an area of pastoral ministry that we can all take up in our concern for one another. Please let Fr. Spencer or Linda Morfi know of anyone we should contact. If you notice someone not in church for a while, again, let us know or even better, reach out to them; a friendly voice from their church community goes a long way, especially for those who are lonely.

Below you can read some of the things that are about to happen at Saint Thomas Church. This Sunday, we will observe the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, known by the beautiful term, Candlemas. At 11am, in addition to the traditional Candlemas procession, the children of the Sunday School will make Christingles and join the procession. Also, we will baptize Samuel James Moretz – first born child of our Associate Rector, Matthew Moretz, and Megan, his wife. I can’t remember when we last had a baptism of a priest’s child on a Sunday, so this will be very special and appropriate on this feast day. The baptism liturgy means that some elements of the mass are omitted, and the service will finish around the usual time.

Alison and I send you all our warmest best wishes and assure you of our prayers and love.

Carl Your priest and pastor

Strategic Planning Parish Gatherings

We are at the midpoint of our strategic planning process. Thank you to the 1,122 people who took our online survey and the 200+ parishioners and friends who have interacted directly with Wellspring Consulting. As their engagement has progressed, Wellspring has uncovered some emerging themes that the Strategic Planning Working Group agrees can lead to a fruitful and pragmatic long-term plan for our Church and Choir School.

On Sunday, February 10, Wellspring will, once again, host several parish gatherings. Please come and hear a brief presentation by Wellspring, followed by discussion. Refreshments will be provided.

The times and places for these gatherings are as follows:

For those who usually attend the 8am Mass: 8:45-9:30am in the Living Room of the Parish House.

For those who usually attend the 9am Mass: 9:45-10:30am in the Living Room of the Parish House.

For those who usually attend the 11am Mass: 12:30-1:15pm in Andrew Hall.

For those who usually attend Evensong at 4pm: 5:15-6pm on the Fifth Floor of the Parish House

Also, for those who attend weekday services only, a special meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 13, at 6:30-7:15pm in Andrew Hall.

A third, and final, set of gatherings will be held in May.

Your Strategic Plan Co-Chairs,

Murray Hood and Greg Zaffiro

Welcome Fr. Ryan Bennett

We welcome Father Ryan Bennett who starts this week as our new Assisting Priest. He will be serving us part-time for two years, and, during that time, he will be pursuing a Master’s degree in Spiritual Direction at the General Theological Seminary.

Fr. Bennett tells us: “I was born in the gold mining City of Bendigo in Australia. My parents, Robert and Rosalie are still there. Attending school in Bendigo, I enjoyed reading and athletics. After completing a BA in Melbourne and living in the U.K, I trained for the priesthood at Trinity College, Melbourne. Ordained in 2008, I have served in the dioceses of Ballarat and Melbourne. I come to you from serving as parish priest of Springmount, with four-centres on the outskirts of Ballarat. I look forward to the opportunity to get to know you and serve as part of your parish community. i hope to meet as many of you as possible soon.” Expect to see Fr. Bennett among the clergy at our church services. He will also be exploring ways to enrich the spiritual depth of our parish programs. We look forward to Fr. Bennett’s joining in the common life and ministry of Saint Thomas Church.

East Speaker Event: Dr. Roja Singh

Join us this February 16, 4:30pm in the Parish House for the EAST (Episcopal Asian Supper Table) Speaker Event. “Untouchable”, with Dr. Roja Singh, President of the Dalit Solidarity Forum. Dr. Singh will share the inspiring story of the Dalit “untouchable women” in India who are breaking caste and gender boundaries and making a difference in their communities. This event is co-sponsored by EAST and The Global Mission Commission, both ministries of the Diocese of New York.