News from Saint Thomas Week Beginning September 8


In this week’s news…

  • A message from the Rector
  • Patronal Feast Day this Sunday
  • Guest Preacher: the Reverend Fleming Rutledge
  • Choir School Centennial Project
  • Visiting Lecturer this September
  • Special Meeting: Pilgrimage to the Holy Land 2020
  • Website Upgrades Ahead

Dear friends,

I spent the afternoon of Labor Day on a detective hunt. Alison and I were visiting a parishioner in Memphis who showed us around the city and then took us to its old cemetery. There was a rather poignant sign showing directions to the main entrance: “Elmwood Cemetery – Memphis at rest since 1852.” There, we walked around the graves and their beautiful monuments, with tributes to so many people and a glorious panoply of history, bathed in the late summer sun, while searching for a small square gravestone. It was difficult to find amid the grand Victorian memorials, and our host was very patient as we walked around and around the cemetery. (Being Labor Day, the cemetery office was closed, and an internet search failed to reveal the exact whereabouts of the graves we were looking for.) After quite some time, suddenly we discovered it – very low and nondescript.

Here were the graves of four sisters of the Community of St. Mary, who had responded to a call to Memphis to open a school and an orphanage, and who found themselves caught up in one of the worst yellow-fever epidemics in the history of the United States. In 1878, during a very short period of time, over half of the population of Memphis fled the city, leaving behind the sick, the frail, the poor, and many orphaned children. Memphis lost its charter as a city and became a place to be avoided at all costs. Very few professionals remained, but they included two Episcopal Priests and these four nuns based at the Cathedral, who worked tirelessly and at great personal cost to care for the sick and the dying, succumbing themselves, ultimately, to the disease.

The Episcopal Church commemorates these faithful and exemplary Christians on September 9 as ‘Constance and her Companions’ or, as they are poignantly known all over the Anglican world, as ‘The Martyrs of Memphis’. The names of the sisters are inscribed on the steps of the High Altar of the Cathedral, and we were very moved to find their graves which, just like the lives they lived during those dark times, were extraordinarily simple and humble.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” The example of Constance and her companions is exactly that and puts into practice the words of Jesus when he said “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” (See Matthew 25:31-40).

I was particularly moved to notice that Sister Frances had died on her name day – the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis also exemplified the Christian character of putting others before oneself and serving Jesus Christ in others.

May we grasp every opportunity, no matter how small or how hard, to put into practice the love of Christ that knows no end.


Your Priest and Pastor

Patronal Feast Day is this Sunday!

A depiction of Saint Thomas

This Sunday is our Patronal Feast Day, a “homecoming” day when we will celebrate Saint Thomas, our patron saint, and welcome back the Boys of the Choir for a new school year, and also introduce several new staff to the congregation. The 11:00 am service will include The Celebration of a New Ministry for both Mother Alison Turner (in her new role as Associate Priest for Children and Family Ministry) and Father Patrick Cheng (who joins us as our Theologian in Residence). We will also welcome Sister Promise Atelon, SSM, our Wisdom Year seminarian, and Nicholas Quardokus, our new Assistant Organist.

Guest Preacher: The Reverend Fleming Rutledge

The Reverend Fleming Rutledge

The Reverend Fleming Rutledge, award-winning author and a “teacher of preachers,” will be our special guest preacher for this Sunday’s Solemn Evensong at 4:00 pm on September 8, our Patronal Feast Day. She is the author of nine books, the most recent being “The Three Hours: Sermons for Good Friday” (Eerdmans), which features sermons she preached at St. Thomas for the 2018 Holy Week. She served in parish ministry for 22 years and has been a teacher of homiletics at the University of Toronto. Please join us in welcoming her back to our pulpit!

Choir School Centennial Project

Hymnal Supplement “Come Labor On”

As mentioned in the Rector’s Chronicle of Lent 2019, we are now inviting suggestions of hymns and chants to be included in our hymnal supplement, “Come Labor On.” Over the coming months, Dr. Filsell and the Rector, with others, will be working on the first stage of this project. Please send suggestions (and sources) for possible supplementary hymns to It is always helpful and very interesting to hear why something is important or should be considered. We have already had some beautiful stories shared. Please note that we cannot guarantee the inclusion of every suggestion.

Visiting Lecturer for 2019-20

Dr. Christopher Wells

Saint Thomas Church is pleased to announce an upcoming lecture series featuring our Guest Lecturer, Dr. Christopher Wells. Throughout the coming program year (2019-2020), Dr. Wells will travel from his home in Dallas, Texas to present his lecture series in Andrew Hall on the theme: “An Introduction to Anglicanism.”

Over the course of a total of nine lectures following Evensong, he will paint a broad and engaging picture of our Anglican history and heritage.

Save the dates below for the first portion of this engaging series. The complete information about our guest lecturer and the full series may be found by following this link.

An Introduction to Anglicanism

The Long Shadow of Augustine

A Lecture Series in Andrew Hall

Tuesday, Sept. 24; 6:30-8:00pm
Wednesday, Sept. 25; 6:30-8:00pm
Thursday, Sept. 26; 6:30-8:00pm

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land: Informational Meeting

On Sunday, September 22 at 12:45pm in the Living Room, Fr. Turner and our guest, Dr. Christopher Wells, will be hosting an informational meeting for all those interested in joining the upcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land in Lent 2020 (March 18-28). You may discover more about the pilgrimage by following this link.

Website Upgrades Ahead

We will be adding upgrades to on next week that will improve functionality in the following areas:

Improved search functionality.
A new media player which is compatible with more brands of devices.
Expanded filtering features to the calendar.

We will be adding new features periodically over the course of the next few months and we value your feedback.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please email