This letter was written collaboratively by Betty, Lee, Mandi, Margaret, Mary Lou, Sarah, and Susan as we gathered for Godly Conversations this Sunday morning. We started with the phrase “Dear Parish of St. Paul,” and each added a sentence or two at a time with the thoughts and stories we most wanted to share with you now:
Dear Parish of St. Paul,
This place has become an important part of my week. I love to come here and find a calm place away from the craziness of my everyday life.
Thank you for giving me a safe, stable place to go for warm fellowship for over 30 years — and a way into the mystery of faith.
In a life of almost constant change, the stability of my connection at St. Paul’s is central to my path to community.
I feel at peace here in a way that I didn’t think was possible in a church community.
St. Paul’s is my spiritual home. I enjoy community and I enjoy fellowship.
I look forward every week to being with the folks at St. Paul’s. It’s not so much what we do together, it’s the spirit and being together.
St. Paul’s is the kindest and most generous Christian community I’ve ever belonged to. (To which the assembled group quickly added, “Ditto! Ditto!”)
When I think about moving to Kentucky the primary thing [keeping me here] — besides Mitch McConnell — is that I’d miss St. Paul’s.
It’s very important to me that St. Paul’s community is not just welcoming but embracing of differences.
I love to hear the Bible readings in the timeless language of the scriptures.
The eclectic nature of our music program through the years has been a source of enjoyment, amusement, and inspiration. (“Ditto!”)
Can I just tell a little story? We used to have this pianist, James, 21 or 22, from Newfoundland. He was a musical genius. Gretchen would say, “Let’s put on a musical!” and he’d just tackle it, with all of our voices. And on Palm Sunday or whatever day we were performing, our whole congregation would put on a musical! He was fearless. The joie de vivre of that man was unparalleled. And he might never have been hired somewhere else.
He gave his graduating recital at the New England Conservatory. Usually there are about 50 people there, family and friends. We at St. Paul’s all came, and we made a complete feast — Kyrah’s pot roast, deviled eggs. It was an Easter-level coffee hour. And afterwards it was all gone! It was a special St. Paul’s moment. And he asked for it! For Kyrah’s roast, for Kim’s mac n’ cheese…
I always think of coffee hour as “sacramental coffee hour.”
I love that we have outreach to people of different traditions, and that we have shared our longing for social justice and joined in efforts to bring that about with them.
St. Paul’s has been blessed with many gifts. God willing it will continue.
I remember the Christmas pageants that we have had over the years and the many moments of high comedy. The disrobing angel. The groaning-from-birth-pains Mary. The narrator who wanted to shout his lines The effort to herd people down the aisle. And the year we had 2 stars! Because we had 2 kids come dressed as stars, and so Gretchen just said, “Okay!”
So we’re pretty tenacious. We hang on, like a barnacle. A barnacle church! It’s hard to keep a church going. We’ve had these things happen that you can’t plan for but they strengthen our affection. It’s organic and binding.
Can I tell the piano story? The piano we have in the sanctuary was donated to St. Paul’s by one of my clients. I thought it would have a literal spiritual home here. His wife grew up in Georgia, she was an Afro-American woman, and she grew up singing Gospel in the church. She grew up and married a Jewish man and raised her children Jewish. But she kept her Gospel roots. And this was her piano. After church recently (for the postlude) Ken played some more rollicking Gospel and I thought she’d be so pleased that her piano had a home here.
Amen! What a joy. Alleluia!
Betty, Lee, Mandi, Margaret, Mary Lou, Sarah, and Susan