Dear Grace and St Peter’s,
Somehow this week seems quieter than the last few. Or maybe I’m just getting used to new rhythms of life. Perhaps I am comforted by the Supreme Court’s recent decisions on LGBTQ rights, DACA policies and gun regulation. Though something tells me not to get too comfortable with SCOTUS. There are important decisions yet to come that will shape the nature of representative government in our country for decades to come. Keep our Supreme Court justices in your prayers!
Tomorrow, Juneteenth as it has come to be known, there will be a “Liberation Day March and Teach-In” beginning at 3:00 pm on the New Haven Green and heading towards East Rock Park for food and music. I plan to be there. Please join me if you are able.
Closer to home, as I said in a note late last week, Richard Beck, longtime parishioner, friend and active participant in Grace and St Peter’s ministries, died a couple of weeks ago. A memorial service will be held in Victoria Carpenter’s backyard at 3:00 pm on June 28. I invite you to attend if you are able and feel comfortable doing so. Social distancing protocols will be observed. Unfortunately, June 28 is the one day in the next six weeks when I had previously made an important family commitment of my own, so I will not be able to join you. I am pleased to report, though, that the Rev. Julie Kelsey will preside in my stead.
At 9:00 am on the 28th, we will have the opportunity to gather for outdoor worship with each other and with our friends at St John’s, North Haven. St John’s has a large side yard that can accommodate 100 or more people following social distancing protocols. Father Joseph and I will preside together and the service will be broadcast on Zoom and Facebook for those who prefer to remain at home. It will be great to see you there!
Now, I am guessing that this joint service will kindle speculation—not always enthusiastic—about Grace and St Peter’s plans for the future. I want to assure you that parish officers, the vestry and I are faithfully exploring a number of possible ways to ensure Grace and St Peter’s future as a vibrant community of faith in Hamden and a provider of, and partner in, ministry and service to our town. If we do nothing, our situation is unsustainable. The question is which changes will most enhance our role as part of God’s family in Hamden for another 200 years. Collaboration with St John’s is only one of a number of avenues to investigate. We will keep you informed as possibilities develop.
In closing, let me tell you a cautionary tale. When Pam and I lived in Montreal, the first Anglican parish we joined—the parish from which I went to seminary—had two sister Anglican parishes, none more than a mile and half from the others. Two of the parishes, ours and another, shared the same priest. Over the course of several years, we held occasional joint services, discussed more intense collaboration, and even contemplated merger. Talks continued, but nothing changed. None of the parishes, each of which had once been quite robust on its own but was now dwindling rapidly, was willing to give up one thing in order to gain another even in the face of impending doom. Guess how many of those three parishes are still in existence ... ? Right! Not one of them!
As I said to our vestry on Tuesday, ultimately decisions about Grace and St Peter’s future need to be made by you. You will choose a path you are comfortable with, a path that excites you, that feels like the way God is leading. I will only be with you for a time; you will be Grace and St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Hamden for generations.