Chapter 22, Page 175 – Forward in Faith, October 2017

posted in: Clergy Corner | 0

Chapter 22, Page 175 – Forward in Faith

“The place God calls you to be is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”


“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning…
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”                                                                                                                T.S. Eliot “Little Gidding V”

I was 13 years old, launching into my teen years and all the joys and heartbreaks these years can bring. It was a warm September Sunday morning as we gathered for worship at Chews Landing United Methodist Church. There were thousands of people – at least to my teenaged eyes – staring at me as I stood on the chancel steps with Pastor Bridges.  Typical for teens of this age, I was still physically morphing toward maturity, so acne was very much the vogue on my face, and my hair was then full and blazing red as was my face I am sure.

You see, on this warm September Sunday, I made my profession before everyone that I felt God was calling me to ministry! This is how it was done in the Methodist Church in those days. After worship, I was grateful that more people than not offered their prayers and support for the journey ahead. And then at my sixteenth year Pastor Bridges was transferred to another pastorate, and Pastor Long came to our church. Pastor Long was older, longer serving in ministry, and had seen it all in life. His commendation to me was to “go to college, grow up some more, then come back to see if this call is REALLY God’s work.” How stupid I thought Pastor Long was that day … how angry I was that day … yet how wise and discerning he truly was that day. I never had the chance to thank Pastor Long in person for this wisdom, so I do so now.

Graduation from high school led to college years in Western Pennsylvania. A “Christian” college by formation and foundation required chapel weekdays and Sunday evening. By the way, it was the late 1960’s, so if you watched the recent Ken Burn’s documentary The Vietnam War you will know what that time was like! While Steven Nash wailed “Love the one you are with” we studied, partied, partied, studied some, partied more … well, I did graduate I suspect because they wanted me out of there! The blessing was meeting Marilyn in my third year, her first, and 46 years later, she still considers renewing my one year contracts.

Moving into the working world with my wife, my Dad’s venerable wisdom was heard – “Have a family, you take care of them. Be responsible!” This wisdom was formed in his life of responsibility for my mother and me, and I could not ask for a better model of this way of living. To my father’s credit, there were many other wisdom offerings, such as be compassionate … be fair … be generous … be humble … be helpful to those who need it. Paul W. Gennett, Sr. left my life much too early for my liking, but his wisdom has never left me. I began a career in business, first in sales, then management locally to management corporately, 20 years surrounded by “people” in human resource management and consulting. It seemed working with people in sharing my gifts, guidance, and encouragement that I encountered in those teenage years never left me. I just simply followed another path. And then …

Moving to Pittsburgh in 1985, we quickly became actively immersed in worship, service, and parish life of Christ Church. Then one cold and damp February evening in 1987, our priest, the Reverend Rodger Wood, asked to meet with me after work. We met in his office, and after a somewhat rambling prayer, Rodger stared at me in silence. And then he pointed his finger toward me saying, “Well, let’s get on with this. Everybody sees it – you should become a priest.” Suddenly I was a 13 year old teenager standing on the chancel steps all over again … but this time, it felt right round again. So another two years through the Episcopal aspirant process, then on to Virginia Seminary at the tender age of 40 — wait, when was the last course paper I wrote, and how did I do that again?? Returning to Pittsburgh for ordination as deacon to priest in 1992, and then …

Twenty-five years of seeking to serve God and the people who called me to care for them and share in ministry echoes the words of T. S. Eliot for me — “What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning …”
On November 1, the journey to Chapter 22 begins for you, the people of St. Thomas’s, and Volume 3 of my life journey opens to a new, blank page for us both. Yet not so blank when we think of it as we bring the richness of lives and faith lived fully from our nine years together into this next ventures. As result of our life and time together, I pray those I have hurt or offended, please forgive me. To those I have blessed, bless others. Those whom I have helped, help others. To all who have invited into your homes, your lives, your joys and sorrows, your hopes and dreams, I am humbled and thankful for our time together.

The words of blessing from John Donohue echo joyfully for us both I pray, with a little awe and wonder mixed in as well. Yet I pray you embrace this blessing as my prayer for you all in the days to come, and ask you embrace them for the journey ahead for Marilyn and me …

“Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.”
John Donohue. “To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

With gratitude, love, and hope for you all, my thanks for inviting me to share  these nine years of mutual ministry together. May God, our loving and lover God in Christ, bless you, bless you, bless you!

With gratefulness always, your servant in Christ

Fr. Paul+


Poets’ Corner Reading Series – Saturday, October 21, 2017

posted in: News | 0

Poets’ Corner Reading Series presents Phillip Bannowsky reading poetry by his favorite poets.

Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 4:00 p.m.
St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church, 276 S. College Ave., Newark, DE

Free-will offering.

Phillip Bannowsky is a retired autoworker, international educator, and human rights activist. His most recent work, now seeking a publisher, is Jacobo the Turko: a Novel in Verse, which earned him the 2017 Delaware Division of the Arts Established Artist Fellowship in Literature: Poetry. Published works include The Milk of Human Kindness (poetry), Autoplant: a Poetic Monologue, and The Mother Earth Inn (novel). Recent poems have appeared in Dreamstreets Magazine, Broadkill Review, Currents, The Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies News, and the anthology Bad Hombres and Nasty Women. Having spent thirty-one years on Chrysler’s assembly line, Bannowsky retired to teach high school English in Ecuador and Lebanon and now teaches The Poetry of Empowerment at the University of Delaware.

Co-sponsored by St. Thomas’s Parish and the University of Delaware Department of English.

Newark Post: St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church celebrates 175 years

posted in: News | 0

“St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church has served the Newark community and University of Delaware students for 175 years — first in a Gothic-style church on South Main Street and later in a more modern building on South College Avenue.

On Sunday, congregants gathered for a special service celebrating that milestone anniversary. They also dedicated a new roadside sign intended to improve the church’s visibility to those passing by.

“The feeling is wonderful,” the Rev. Paul W. Gennett Jr. said.”

See the Newark Post article at St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church celebrates 175 years.

Blessing of the Animals on St. Francis Day – Sunday, October 8

posted in: News | 0

“All Creatures Great and Small” – Blessings of the Animals on St. Francis Day — On Sunday, October 8 at 4:00 p.m. we remember and honor the life and ministry of Francis of Assisi, and  will celebrate this feast day with our annual Blessing of the Animals. We will offer a brief liturgy with prayers and blessings for your special furry, or slimy, family members OUTSIDE in the The Grove, weather permitting! If weather is NOT permitting, we’ll move into the Great Hall. On this day at our morning worship services we will bless all those special critters in our life of the stuffed animal variety. So bring your favorite friends to church with you for this special blessing!

A Message from the Vestry – September 19, 2017

posted in: News | 0

We welcome everyone to St. Thomas’s as we begin a new program year that will offer many opportunities for worship and service.

The first major event will be our 175th anniversary service on Sunday, September 24, at 9:30 am, followed by a celebratory coffee hour. We will give thanks for 175 years of worship and service in Newark, and commit ourselves to continuing to worship and serve God at St. Thomas’s. The event offers an opportunity to support the Newark Empowerment Center by providing go-bags of meals or financial donations.

On the first four Sundays of October, we will highlight our ministries at the coffee hours—a “Rolling Rally Day” format. Please visit the displays and consider how you might deepen your involvement at St. Thomas’s. Maybe it’s time to try something new this year!

We are now in the last two months of Father Paul’s service with us and are preparing for what will come next.

  • We are beginning to prepare for his final Sunday on October 29. His preferences are modest—the services that Sunday will be as they usually are, at his request. We will give thanks to him and Marilyn for their service, and send them off to their new life, at a gala coffee hour/reception after the 10:30 service. We will be accepting contributions for a gift for Father Paul and Marilyn. We will give Marilyn a nice gift, and the balance will be given to Father Paul and Marilyn to donate to charities of their choice, at their request. If you would like to write a letter or note to them, that would be welcome. The Transition Committee is coordinating the event, but participation and assistance from everyone will be welcomed. More information will be coming.
  • The Rev. Elizabeth Masterson, who heard the call to ordained ministry at St. Thomas’s, will be our supply priest in November and December. She will also do some pastoral care. Her first Sunday will be November 5. We look forward to having her with us for those two months.
  • The vestry is working towards hiring an interim rector, who will begin in early 2018. The vestry is also very close to engaging our consultant for the search process.
  • The Transition Committee has been appointed. The current members are Barbara Eldred, Debbie Grabowski, Cana Hartman, Donna Rotandi, and Justin Sausville. If anyone is interested in joining this committee, please contact me.
  • The Search Committee will be recruited this fall and begin their work early in 2018.

Worship and service—that’s what St. Thomas’s is all about as we seek to live into our mission statement: Nourished at Christ’s table and stepping forward in faith, we are instruments of God’s love, serving our parish family, the University of Delaware, our community, and God’s creation.

Thank you for your support of St. Thomas’s. Please keep the church in your prayers.

Connie Cooper

Senior Warden

Chapter 22, Page 175 – Forward in Faith, September 2017

posted in: Clergy Corner, News | 0

“The place God calls you to be is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner

“Then Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you … You are witnesses of these things. “ Luke 24:44, 48

We return to those routines of life after our summer rest. Vacation memories collected and stored for another season. School supplies purchased and children back to early-to-bed-to-early-to-rise school days [children say “aww” to parents … parents say “yay” to everyone]. Our 20,000+ neighbors of the University of Delaware return as does the rhythm of our campus ministry gatherings. We also return to those rhythms of worship in this place. Yet this time will be different in a few ways.

One way is the BIG celebration of our 175 years of ministry and mission to Newark on Sunday, September 24. PLEASE NOTE we will gather for ONE service this day at 9:30 a.m. We will remember our past while looking to our present and future for God’s onward call in this place, in our time, as this people of the Jesus Movement. We will bless and commission ALL ministries and ministers that serve our parish family! We will admit, bless, and pray onward our 2017-2018 Confirmation Class and their leaders, Bob Rys and Teri Quinn Gray. We will worship with a liturgy crafted especially for this day, and we will gather outside to bless our new welcoming signage at the exit of our driveway. We share our deep gratitude for the leadership of the events of our 175th anniversary year – Tom Fairchild, Laura Greene, and Nicole Cebula. We will remember … commit … bless … now and onward, together.

The other way is our coming closer to my taking leave as your companion in ministry and rector these nine years on October 31. As many have heard me say, I believe I have done, with your help and God’s help, the work and ministry I can in this time and chapter of your lives. The S.W.E.E.P.S. ministries are in place for future service. The finances are healthier for the near-term, while the work of a living stewardship is in the hands of the Vestry servant leaders. The property is in better structural condition, and the Grove is YOURS for the future. I have been blessed and am grateful to have completed these things with you and God in this time, in this place.

At the August 19th meeting of the Vestry, I provided a Covenant of Taking Leave from St. Thomas’s. This covenant is simply, in writing, a clear understanding of our life and relationship in the next pages and chapter of St. Thomas’s Parish. Here are the important points for the understanding of all in our parish family:

  • My resignation signifies that all my priestly, pastoral, liturgical, and administrative duties for the parish are completed. As St. Paul writes to his beloved Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
  • This completion is committed to the transition period before the next rector is called. St. Thomas’s needs time and space between rectors to discover who you are now, where God is calling you onward, and what type of leadership gifts are needed onward for mutual ministry.
  • I will not officiate or assist at any liturgical function in the parish [wedding, baptism, burial office] for at least one year. I may wish to attend a function as a member of the congregation only, and then with understanding of the Wardens, Vestry, and current transition minister. I will continue to exercise my priestly ministry at other parishes as invited at some point, but for a season I am looking forward to being a “pew sitter” with Marilyn.
  • The Rector Discretionary Fund will be returned to the Wardens and Treasurer of the parish to be used by appointed lay representatives as needed.
  • The keys to the church facility will be returned, and clearly marked, for use by future priests. I expect I will be the ONLY person in Newark not to have a key to St. Thomas’s!

This covenant simply gives appropriate space for you to move forward to Chapter 23 in this transitioning time, and gives Marilyn and I appropriate space as we take our steps into this next volume of our life and work together. As Frederick Buechner reminds me, the root of our word goodbye emerges from the 13th century Middle English expression when friends take leave from one another – God be with you!

God be with you, dear sisters and brothers of this place, in this time … God be with you!

With gratefulness always, your servant in Christ

Fr. Paul+


Poet’s Corner – JoAnn Balingit

posted in: News | 0

JoAnn Balingit reading poetry by her favorite poets
Saturday, September 16, 4:00 p.m.

Free-will offering.

JoAnn Balingit grew up in Florida and lives in Delaware where she served as poet laureate from 2008 to 2015. She’s the author of Words for House Story (WordTech, 2013) and was a 2017 VONA/Voices resident in prose, working on a memoir. She coordinates Delaware’s Poetry Out Loud program, and teaches poetry and creative writing at libraries and nonprofit organizations.Her latest poems appear at Poemeleon,TheRumpus, Vallum Magazine and or her web site at

Co-sponsored by St. Thomas’s Parish and the University of Delaware Department of English.

Come and See at Bible Study!

posted in: News | 0

St. Thomas’s offers TWO bible study groups to fit most schedules. The Early Risers group meets on Tuesday from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. in the Parlor – a great way to start you day and make it to work or class at the university in plenty of time! This time of study will resume again on Tuesday, September 5. The Not-As-Early-Risers group meets on Wednesday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Great Hall classroom, and will resume on Wednesday, September 6.

No preparation needed nor seminary training required – just bring yourself, your soul, your interest, your wonderings, your hunger for sharing and knowing YOUR story that is the Bible, and sharing this sacred story of you with others in this journey.

Blessing of the Backpacks

posted in: News | 0

On Sunday, September 3, Father Paul will be blessing backpacks for all students who bring them to any of our three services as a way to start and continue your school year on the right path. All who desire are welcome to participate, regardless of age or type of “backpack” you bring — briefcases will get blessed too! “The love of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility goes before honor.” Proverbs 15:3