Wreathing Day, Candlelight, and Our Advent Season

In preparation for Candlelight 2017, we wreathed and greened our church with cedar garlands, pine trees, and fir wreaths to set the scene for this wonderful service. We ordered two types of poinsettias--sunset-colored and red--ahead of time so that they'd be delivered fresh the day before. Prepping for the season, there's nothing like editing our liturgy, greening our spaces, and setting out our Advent candles to remind us of the glorious celebration to come.

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Each year, our historic St. George’s Church on Stuyvesant Square is the magnificent setting for Candlelight--a service that we love to put on as a gift to our city. St. George’s is a New York City landmark and is also on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and has, for years, stood as a witness to both mission and service in our city. Each year for over 125 years at Candlelight---after weeks of musicians' rehearsals, decorating, organizing our acolyte procession, determining readers, training ushers, and refining the liturgy---we throw open our doors to the city of New York to invite the outside, in. It's a lovely occasion for our parishioners to invite friends who have never heard the gospel, nor wondered about the juxtaposed themes of darkness and light in Advent. 

How do we do this?

At the heart of everything we do at Calvary-St. George's, the focus never turns away from Christ on the cross and the reality of God's work. Candlelight is a service of lessons and carols. Many linguists believe the word “carol” derives from the Greek “Kyrie Eleison” (Lord have mercy upon us). Candlelight through lessons & carols gives us a chance to recall the merciful acts of God and reorient our lives to that mercy working through us, loving others as he has loved all of us.

Wreaths for greening ; A line forming outside of the historic St. George's Church on Stuyvesant Square, waiting to enter Candlelight.

Wreaths for greening ; A line forming outside of the historic St. George's Church on Stuyvesant Square, waiting to enter Candlelight.

This year, under the direction of our music director Kamel Boutros and his associate, Alex Nguyen, the parish choirs and orchestras performed musical settings by Antonín Dvořák, Harry Burleigh, Daniel Taylor, John Rutter,  Benjamin Britten,  and others, with plenty of congregational caroling binding the service together. Our young musicians of the Calvary-St. George Music Academy performed “Mary! Did you know” with soloist Fela James-Jackson.

Additional highlights included: a new choral work sung in Coptic (one of the historic languages of Christians in the Middle East), works by the highly acclaimed Norwegian choral composer Ola Gjeilo, and as always, everyone's favorite Christmas carols.

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Candlelight took place early in the month, on the first Sunday of Advent, but our Advent offerings extend past Candlelight. See below:

  • At the Forum this upcoming Sunday (December 10), we have invited the well-known author and speaker, The Reverend Fleming Rutledge, whose books include The CrucifixionGod Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament, and The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings. She graced us with her presence last year at The Forum and most recently at the annual Mockingbird Conference this past April. See you in Anderson Hall at 61 Gramercy Park North at 12:30pm.
  • The Children's Tableau & All-Parish Party takes place on December 12 at 6:00pm.
  • Click here to view our Christmas Eve & Day services

Stay tuned for news on our renovated Clock Towers at St. George's!

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Announcement for Calvary-St. George's New Chief Operating Officer

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Since August we have been without a director of operations for the parish. Working closely with a small committee we prayed and interviewed several candidates for the position. I am pleased to announce that the committee was unanimous agreement on one, and I have called Mr. Scott Pavao to join the staff of Calvary-St. George's as our new Chief Operating Officer. Scott has a BS in Accounting from Franklin Pierce University. For over 20 years, Scott has served in the non-profit sector, most recently at The Stony Brook School, a Christian boarding school in Stony Brook, NY.

Scott is married to Martha Pavao who teaches at the Stony Brook School and they have three children. While not a cradle Episcopalian, most of the milestones in his life have occurred in the Episcopal Church, including his marriage and the baptisms of his children. Scott has also served on the vestry of an Episcopal Church in Long Island and is familiar with our polity. In his free time, he and his family enjoy sushi and ramen, model rockets, and all things tech-related, from gaming to building computers.

I am so thrilled. Scott is clearly called to this position and I believe that he will help us develop and strengthen the parish's infrastructure. Scott will oversee and manage the operations of the parish including the finances and building management. Scott will officially begin on January 3rd and I want to encourage you to come and meet him at church on January 7th.

Pax,

The Reverend Jacob A. Smith

Rector

 

Weekly Newsletter

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone.  The staff of Calvary-St. George's is so thankful for all the hard work that has gone into making this year's Candlelight another huge success.  On behalf of the staff and vestry of Calvary-St. George's, I want to thank you for attending Candlelight, our New York City Tradition.  
 

Candlelight is a momentous service, and you sharing the experience with us year after year always makes it incredibly special.  In this day and age, many are asking two questions:

One, is religion the cause of many of today's divisions?

And Two, is religion still relevant at all?  

At Calvary-St. George's you will find a community of people who have been humbled by life, and are therefore clinging to the message of a good and gracious God--a God who is with us and has saved us by the work of his son in our darkest hour. Far from causing division, this truth becomes a unifier because it places us on the universal playing field of need.  When this becomes the main theme (God graciously meeting our need), the Christian religion is always relevant because all of us have a wound or heart-felt desire that only God can meet.  

Calvary-St. George's is the oldest Protestant church in our community. If you do not have a regular church home, I would like to personally invite you to explore one of our many services this Christmas season. Experience for yourself whether religion, specifically the Christian religion when it is properly understood and articulated, is divisive and/or irrelevant.  Thank you again for coming and we'll see you at Candlelight.     

Pax,

The Reverend Jacob A. Smith

Rector    

Giving Tuesday

Dear Calvary-St. George's,

Tomorrow is often referred to as "Giving Tuesday", a movement in response to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  As the rector, I am jumping on this bandwagon and want to encourage you to give to Calvary-St. George's today in one of three ways:

  • First, if you have not done so already, if you complete your pledge for 2017, that would be fantastic.
  • Second--this is extremely important--if you have not done so already, please submit your pledge announcement for 2018.  Knowing these amounts really helps us shape our budget for the upcoming year, and with some significant shifts in long term rentals of our building spaces, every pledge really matters.  
  • Finally, would you consider giving a gift to Candlelight. Our annual CandlelightService is less than one week away, and every donation helps keep this spectacular evangelistic outreach to our community free.  

Every gift is tax-deductible & every dollar you give goes directly to the parish's ministry and enables us to get the message of salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ out to this city and consequently to the very ends of the earth.  Thank you again for your tremendous generosity.  We are grateful for your financial partnership in this important Gospel work. 

Pax,

The Reverend Jacob A. Smith

Rector   

Weekly Newsletter

Dear Friends,

We have entered that unique time of year when it becomes apparent how different the message of the world is compared to that of the church. In culture, we are hearing a loud message of sales and shopping, pre-holiday to-do lists, decorations, and festivities; all while Jesus' parables of judgment in the Gospels on Sundays are ramping up before Advent. We are definitely hearing two different messages!  

But in the midst of all the holiday noise, this week in morning prayer (every weekday morning at Calvary Church at 8:30 a.m.) we heard a reading from Habakkuk chapter 2.  The prophet's message at the end of the chapter is how humanity puts so much trust in the idols we construct. But these idols made from human hands are speechless; they have nothing to say for us. While much of the culture puts so much hope in the "holiday season", these merely secular festivities -- as fun as they may be -- have nothing to say to us. Instead, the prophet tells us not to pay attention to the silent idols around us, but for us to keep silence before the Lord, for he is the one who speaks to us and for us. 

This word really struck me. 

Everything in me wanted to stop the service of morning prayer and simply keep silence there in the chapel, but that may have been just a little too Quaker for us Episcopalians! 

This season leading up to Advent and into Advent is a fantastic opportunity for us to keep silence and hear what God is saying in his word. I can think of no better opportunity for this than our annual Candlelight service on Sunday December 3rd. Come and listen as the word of God and his grace for us sinners is proclaimed in scripture, song, and sermon. It may just stop you in your tracks in the midst of this noisy holiday season so that you can keep silence and hear the Good News of Jesus for you and your loved ones.

Much love and peace to you in Christ,

The Reverend Jay Gardner

Weekly Newsletter

Dear Friends,

We're approaching the conclusion of the season of Pentecost; the end of the Church year. As you've probably noticed, most of the readings in recent weeks have been apocalyptic, dark, and uncomfortably judgement-filled. Last week we read about the five women who were locked out of the wedding feast for failing to keep their lanterns lit. This week we'll hear about a man cast into outer darkness for burying what was given him in the ground. The message of these texts is troubling, but it is a preview of the message of Advent: "Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour." (Or, in other words: No really, watch for the Lord!)
 

In just three Sundays, the Reverend Fleming Rutledge will unpack the meaning of the season in her two-week Forum class "The Season that Begins in the Dark." In this class, all of the apocalyptic elements of the season will be fleshed out. We'll take a good, long look at the darkness -- the places we'd rather not look in our world and in ourselves -- before we catch a glimpse of that seemingly infinitely far-off and unlikely light of the Incarnation.


Now you and I have been well-acquainted with darkness these past few months. From natural disasters to human-made terror; national discontent to sexual harassment, we've experienced Advent, or living in the dark, for some time now. So on December 3rd, on the first Sunday of Advent, we're going to catch an early in-breaking of this Incarnation light when we celebrate the service of Candlelight at St. George's Church. This preemptive rupture of the darkness is oddly appropriate because churches have been celebrating Lessons and Carols services during Advent for hundreds of years. Some Christians must have thought we need a Laetare Sunday (a respite) not just in Lent but also in Advent. It's as if they realized there's only so much self-reflection you can do, and darkness you can take, before you need a foretaste of that wondrous Easter light. So, please, mark your calendars for Candlelight now, for it, along with Christmas, will bookend the Advent season with light and life. (Not only that, it's also one of the best services of the year, so you won't want to miss it.)

Blessings,

The Reverend Ben DeHart

The Ordination of The Reverend James Wynn Gardner III

This Saturday, 

On Saturday, November 18th at 11:00 a.m. The Parish of Calvary-St. George's is proud to host the Ordination of The Reverend James Wynn Gardner III to the sacred order of priests. Join us at St. George's church (7 Rutherford Place) for this festive service of Holy Communion as we look back on all that Rev. Gardner has accomplished and look forward to all the plans God has for him.

All are welcome to attend; reception to follow.

The Calvary-St. George's Team

P.S. There will be ONE SERVICE ONLY this Sunday, November 19 at 11:00 a.m. at St. George's Church located on Stuyvesant Square at 7 Rutherford Place

The boiler at Calvary Church is still in the process of being fixed and therefore there will be no heat at Calvary this Sunday. We apologize for this inconvenience. Thankfully, St. George's heat is working just fine. We'll see you this Sunday.

Weekly Newsletter

Dear Friends,

This week we wrap up our sermon series on the Five Solas of the Reformation.  Sunday I will be preaching on God's Glory Alone. A key component to understanding God's glory is to understand our purpose in life (also known as vocation).  As Christians, we believe that everything we do, including our jobs, is for the sake of God's glory and not ourselves.  Because we have been saved by God's grace, we believe this manifests itself in serving our neighbor through our vocations, not in doing things for God.  It is my hope that after this Sunday, at Calvary-St. George's, we will no longer ask the question: What am I doing for God? But instead ask What is God doing through me?  

See you this Sunday.

Love,

The Reverend Jacob Smith

Rounding out Stewardship Season

Dear Calvary-St. George's,

We are four weeks into our stewardship campaign and I want to thank everyone who has gotten their pledge in for the 2018 year.  This past year has been significant for us as we have lost a major tenant on our property while simultaneously taking on some significant capital projects to keep our old buildings running.  Every dollar you give to Calvary-St. George's goes directly to ministry, and as a result of your giving last year we have experienced tremendous growth in our Sunday Services, Children & Adult Education, and important staff roles. Every pledge matters! And we need your partnership to help us continue to herald the good tidings of Jesus' victory over our sin and death to the City of New York.  

If you haven't turned in your pledge, please do so as soon as possible.  We have provided you a handy link below to make your online pledge today or bring in your card and put it in the offering plate this Sunday.

Click here or the red "Stewardship and Online Giving" button below.

Forever grateful,

The Reverend Jacob A. Smith

Rector

Weekly Newsletter

Dear Calvary-St. George's Family,

This fall, we are in the midst of a series of sermons on the great themes of the Protestant Reformation. We began three Sundays ago with the theme of "Scripture Alone". Two Sundays ago, the theme was "Christ Alone". Last Sunday, the theme was "Faith Alone".  

This coming Sunday, the theme is "Grace Alone" - amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me - words that were written by a slave trader whose life was transformed by amazing grace.

Robert Louis Stevenson, of all people, said, "There is nothing but God's grace.  We walk upon it, we breathe it; we live and die by it; it makes the nails and axles of the universe."  And Judy Collins imprinted it, in musical form, on the hearts of an entire generation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "Grace is costly because it costs a [person their] life, and it is grace because it gives a [person their] only true life."

Most of all, St. Paul said, "I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain."

There are glimpses of God's Grace, Amazing Grace, all over Calvary/St. George's Church right now.  And may I just say that if that's not a reason to pledge, to support the ministry in this place for the year ahead, then I don't know what is.

So come to church this Sunday, so that you may join me in giving thanks that by the grace of God alone, we are what we are - forgiven, loved, and made new.

The Reverend Jim Munroe

Weekly Newsletter

Dear Calvary-St. George's Family,

Like all of you, I was horribly disturbed this week by the largest mass shooting in our country's modern history. This last month has been tough to say the least: all of the natural disasters, government scandals, and gun violence (and this is only in the United States, have you heard what is happening in Myanmar?).  

The religious and worldly response has always been a call to exercise more control:  enforce laws, create new boundaries, regulate people. Before the age of reason, we would throw our children into the oceans to appease the sea gods, and offer some sort of corn offering in order to prevent a volcanic eruption or earthquake. We would blindly grope from regulation to regulation, sacrifice to sacrifice, in hope that our efforts would somehow appease the craziness in this world and bring about some sort of peace.  However, 2000 years ago, one man came and made the claim to be God. In his death and resurrection he broke through this fallen world and revealed that God is good and for us.  This man was Jesus Christ.  

This Sunday, we will be continuing our sermon series for stewardship titled "Continuing the Cause" where my topic will be "Our Only Mediator."  I will hope to deliver the heart of the Gospel: that the Good News is not about us and how we are going to change the world, eventually inviting Jesus to join us.  Rather that, the heart of the Gospel is Christ as our only mediator and advocate.  In the midst of a crazy world Christ was crucified, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again.

Peace,

The Reverend Jacob A. Smith

Weekly Newsletter

Dear Calvary-St. George's Family,

Fall has begun (even though it has not really felt like it outside), and October is already nearly upon us! And if you are tuned into how the calendar works at our church, you will remember that stewardship season is nearly upon us as well. But beyond just talking about how we respond to God's grace with our offerings, pledges, and other gifts, the clergy team wants you to understand the roots of why we do all of this in the first place. 

Coupled with our season of stewardship we want to also discuss our Reformation heritage this October as we approach the the 500th anniversary of Luther kicking off the reformation with his 95 Theses. Our sermon series during the next five weeks will be looking at the Solas of the Reformation. I begin the series this Sunday by looking at Our Only Foundation: Scripture Alone. Then the four weeks to follow will be on Christ Alone, Faith Alone, Grace Alone, and God's Glory Alone. These five slogans of the Reformation are the heart of everything we believe and do at Calvary-St. George's; and that is why our whole parish will be exploring them, from Sunday School and Youth Corps to Devotion Groups and the Forum. This message is for all of us! And it is not merely a history lesson; this message of God's work in Christ for us is timeless and ever present in our faith and life, and the five Solas encapsulate all of it. So I am inviting you to tune in the next five weeks as we rediscover and celebrate this message together!

Prayerfully yours in Christ,

The Reverend Jay Gardner


Listen to last Sunday's sermon:

Weekly Newsletter

Dear Calvary-St. George's,

Thank you to everyone who helped make Kick-Off Sunday a huge success.  I wanted to let all of you know about our new 5 p.m. Choral Evensong at Calvary Church. This service is especially important this fall as we celebrate 500th anniversary of the Reformation. There have been a number of articles that have articulated the growing resurgence of this service in England, and while Holy Communion is on decline in England, thousands of people are showing up to sit through the service of Evensong. 

Evensong is one of the great legacies of the English Reformation. The service has its origins in the ancient monastic (and before then, Jewish) tradition of marking the day with specific times of prayer. When the Church of England severed its ties with Rome, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer condensed Vespers and Compline to create this powerful service. It is a service of the word and a service, which takes a great deal of faith that God's word will do something in the life of the listener. I would love it if you couldn't make one of our morning services, that you would try and attend Choral Evensong at Calvary Church at 5:00 p.m. Another reminder is that we have Morning Prayer Monday through Friday at Calvary Church at 8:30 a.m.   
This Sunday I will also preach from the Gospel text.

We will see you this Sunday,

The Reverend Jacob A. Smith  

Weekly Newsletter

Dear Calvary-St. George's Family,

This summer (and entire year, for that matter) we've seen a great deal of turmoil in our country. The month of August alone has felt like a roller coaster on its way to hell:  racial tensions in Charlottesville, distress in our government, threats of war on the Korean Peninsula, and now Hurricane Harvey. 

Hurricanes and natural disasters cause tremendous damage and even take lives.  As New Yorkers we are no strangers to the devastation of a hurricane. Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters profoundly remind us that as humans, we are unified by our collective need and helplessness. Hence, oftentimes natural disasters bring out the best in humans as we care for each other in acts of what theologians have called, "common grace."  

Common grace often manifests itself in our conscience and desire to care for our neighbors in need.  It is an expression of the fact that we have been created in the image of God. Our Lord works through common grace, not necessarily unto salvation, but that we as humans might live together in a generally cooperative manner.   

Distraught by the reports from friends and the media, many of you have asked how we at Calvary-St. George's might be an expression of God's common grace to the people of Houston by giving financially.  I want to encourage you to give to two very specific churches whose rectors are friends of Calvary-St. George's.  

The first is St. Thomas' Episcopal Church. This church and their community was hit particularly hard. Harvey flooded their church and destroyed their school.  Their rector David Browder, actually contributed to our discretionary fund during Hurricane Sandy so that we might help with the relief effort.  To donate to their relief effort, click here. The second is Holy Spirit Episcopal Church.  This church suffered quite a bit of damage and the rector, The Reverend Josh Condon, is at the heart of much of the relief effort going on in Houston.   You can give here.  There will also be an option to help this Sunday by giving to Episcopal Relief and Development.  There will by a flier in your bulletin.  

Finally, pray the Prayer for a Person in Trouble or Bereavement found on page 831 of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP):  

O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men: Look with pity upon the sorrows of thy servant for whom our prayers are offered. Remember him, O Lord, in mercy, nourish his soul with patience, comfort him with a sense of thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon him, and give him peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We will see you this Sunday.

Peace,

The Reverend Jacob Smith