From the Interim Rector - May Manifest 2022
Dear Parish Family,
Below is a reprint of the sermon I offered two Sundays ago. It is reprinted here so that you may have a better understanding of what will be happening over the next weeks as the Parish and Day School moves into it’s new facility. Please do not hesitate to contact myself of Mo. Elise if you have any questions, and, as I say in the sermon below, all dates are subject to change based on permitting and construction schedules.
Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter
The time has come to bring this chapter of our parish life to a close. For 83 years this building has been our home. When Epiphany held its first service here on October 15, 1939, Charles Russell writes in his history of the parish that Hitler had already invaded and crushed Poland. And that the future was obscure. Here we are, 83 years later and in a few weeks we will have our first service in our new home. War has again broken out in Europe as Putin has invaded, but has failed to crush, Ukraine. However, unlike Epiphany in 1939, our future is not obscure. As we faithfully step into the future God has prepared for us our core membership has remained strong and committed throughout not only three years of construction, but through two years of pandemic. The Day School remains a valued resource for the neighborhood and enrollment for the 2022-2023 school year is gaining momentum. The Wednesday Night Dinner Program continues to provide a hot meal to nearly 100 people each week and will soon have the cooking and dining facilities necessary to respond even more effectively to the growing needs of those who are unhoused and/or food insecure. The Carter Burden Network will also be able to more fully respond to the needs of our senior neighbors as we will now have seating capacity for over 150 people in the parish hall. The Rector Search Committee will soon be publishing the Parish Profile and inviting applications and will offer a slate of candidates to the Bishop and Vestry this fall. And, last but certainly not least, the Epiphany volunteer choir in partnership with our section leaders will lift their voices once more and lead us in praise, thanksgiving and worship. As I said, Epiphany’s future is not obscure, but already unfolding with not only the promise of all that God will yet do, but with the daily manifestation that the life, mission, and ministry Epiphany has known since its founding 189 years ago continues to grow to meet the needs of our community with the resources God has entrusted to our stewardship.
Over the next four weeks as we make this final transition to our new facility, we continue to recognize that we must remain flexible and adjust our plans accordingly in light of construction timelines, the Department of Building permitting process, as well as the Department of Health’s permitting process. While Epiphany will most certainly be moving into our new home over the weeks ahead, work will still be continuing throughout the summer months as Shawmut and Acheson Doyle complete the massive renovation project we began in 2019. Because there will still be on-going work at the site throughout the summer, the Executive Committee of the Vestry agreed to my recommendation that it would be best to wait to consecrate the new church until the work is fully completed. My original hope was to hold the Service of Consecration on Pentecost, June 5th. That celebration has been rescheduled to October 8th. By postponing the consecration, we will be assured of having a facility that is fully furnished and fully functioning as we gather with our community and neighbors to celebrate all that God is accomplished through our obedience to his leading.
As we wait for the Service of Consecration, it is important to know that our sacramental life will not be affected in any way. In fact, looking back in our history, we discover that this present building was not consecrated until 1944, a full five years after the first service was held. Yet throughout those intervening years, the parish continued to grow and prosper. Quoting once more from Russell he writes, “the parish was now a newcomer in an untried neighborhood and the United States would soon be at war. Within these limitations and with the new opportunities created by this situation … in a few years there were 100 children in the Sunday School. The liaison with the hospitals close by – a cardinal reason for selecting the present site – was developed and foundations laid for extension in the future. Parish organizations were reactivated or new ones created. There were both activity and an esprit de corps within our ranks. And it may be said at this point that the church, and all that it implies, was now in a position to render service in a larger and expanding field, and in so doing, confirm the wisdom of the Bishop’s challenge [to found a new church further north on the eastside].”
So much of what was true when Epiphany first moved to York Avenue 83 years ago is still true today. Epiphany is once again “in a position to render service in a larger and expanding field.” As God has brought Epiphany yet again to a new beginning, may we prove yet again our faithfulness to God’s call to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ and to seek and to serve Christ in all persons.
Later this week you’ll be receiving the May Manifest in your inboxes. There you will find a schedule of our move and first services at 351. I won’t overload you with the entire schedule, but I do want to give you an outline of what these next weeks will bring.
On Thursday, May 12th at 6:00 pm, Bishop Dietsche will preside at the Service of Secularization of the Building, also known as Deconsecration. The liturgy for that service will include Holy Communion which will be consecrated at the historic marble altar rather than the free-standing altar we normally use. On Sunday, May 15th we will gather one last time for our final Eucharist in this building. After some light refreshments those who wish may remain as we gather informally to share with one another some of the memories that we will carry with us from this place as Epiphany begins its new chapter.
On Tuesday, May 17th the movers will arrive to begin moving us to our new home. And, on Sunday, May 22nd we will meet for our first Eucharist at 351 East 74th Street.
I am sure you have many questions as we make this move. And, I confess, that at this moment there are questions I do not have answers to. However, together we will discover those answers as the days and weeks ahead unfold. To help us navigate this transition and so that Mo. Elise, the Wardens and I can hear any questions or concerns you may have, we will have a Parish Forum next Sunday during Coffee Hour. More information about the forum and the move will be in the May Manifest that will go out this week, so be sure to open it as soon as you see it in your inbox.
A little over three years ago you took a courageous step and sold this building so that the life, mission and ministry of this parish could continue to grow and expand in ways it could not if you remained here. You took this step in obedience to God’s call on your life and the life of this parish. May God continue to open the eyes of our faith so that we might behold him in all his redeeming work as he works through us to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.