The Rev. Edward E. Godden, Interim Rector beginning January 1, 2018

The Wardens and Vestry of St. Thomas’s Parish are pleased and honored to announce that the Rev. Edward E. Godden has accepted our call to serve as Interim Rector beginning January 1, 2018. Father Ed has been in the area for many years, serving parishes in Delaware and Cecil County, Maryland. He is also well acquainted with St. Thomas’s, most recently as supply priest twice this past summer. Father Ed is trained and experienced in interim ministry.

Father Ed will serve the parish on a half-time basis. His focus will be on worship, pastoral care, and guiding us through the transition process. In order to make the best use of his time, and to expose the parish to a broad variety of experiences in worship and preaching, supply priests and guest preachers will supplement his liturgical ministry.

Father Ed is looking forward to being with us, helping us to grow into a stronger parish during the interim period as we seek our next full-time rector. Please keep him and the parish in your prayers. We also encourage you to maintain–and perhaps increase and deepen–your commitment to the ministry of St. Thomas’s during the very interesting time that lies ahead for all of us.

Connie Cooper
Senior Warden

2017 – 2018 Advent and Christmas Worship

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The angel came to Mary and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 

Luke 1: 28-31

 

To the people of St. Thomas’s Parish,

Greetings to you and your family as once again the year has come round to Advent and Christmas. Just as Mary was perplexed by what it might mean when the angel Gabriel visited her, we wonder, too. We wonder at God’s love in sending us His only son, who entered the world just as all of us do, as a baby. It’s beyond human understanding—so we wonder, and we celebrate and give thanks. We know that God has shown favor to us.

At St. Thomas’s, 2017 has given us much to reflect upon and be thankful for. We celebrated 175 years of mission and ministry to Newark and the University of Delaware with worship, fellowship, and service, thanks to the leadership of the 175th Anniversary Committee. Our Episcopal Campus Ministry has continued, with strong support and commitment from the University of Delaware, to develop its Blue Hen Bounty program, which provides food to students in need. We also said farewell, with love and gratitude, to the Rev. Paul W. Gennett, Jr., who concluded nine years of mutual ministry with us at the end of October. God has indeed been with us for 175 years, and we trust that God’s presence will continue.

In our diocese, we have just elected the Rt. Rev. Kevin Brown to be our next bishop. We’re wondering what his ministry might mean for St. Thomas’s, for all Episcopalians in Delaware, and for our church’s role in the community. Again, we believe that God’s favor will be with our new bishop and our diocese.

But as we wonder about all of these things, just as Mary wondered at the visit from the angel, we aren’t always sure what they mean for us, for our church, for our world. And we’re not always sure about God’s favor—how can we experience it or know it? One way to find God’s love is by participating in the regular and special services that will be offered at St. Thomas’s during the Advent and Christmas seasons—a listing of those services is enclosed with this letter. Your presence, in wonder, celebration, and thanksgiving, will enrich our parish family’s observance of this holy season.

We also give thanks for the wonderful generosity of the people of St. Thomas’s, who unsparingly give their time, talents, and treasure to fulfill our mission and vision of a community “nourished at Christ’s table and stepping forward in faith” as “instruments of God’s love, serving our parish family, the University of Delaware, our community, and God’s creation.”  Every contribution, whatever it may be, is a reflection of God’s grace to us. We invite you to prayerfully consider making a special offering this season to support our continuing mission and ministry, using the envelope enclosed with this letter.

May god bless you and your family at Christmas and in the New Year. We look forward to your presence and participation at St. Thomas’s in 2018.

In the peace and love of Christ,

Connie Cooper, Senior Warden
The Rev. Deacon Cecily Sawyer Harmon, Episcopal Campus Minister

Pilgrimage Windows Booklet online

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Life is a journey for every human being, but for believers of all stripes it is also a pilgrimage with a Purpose and a destination. Christians are called to a life of love and service here on earth, with the Hope of salvation in the next life.

On the north wall or left side of the nave of St. Thomas’s Church is a continuous glass bank of unique stained-glass windows at eye level, vividly reminding us not only that we are all sojourners, but also that we are not at all alone. Indeed, among this great “crowd of witnesses” are traditional saints whom we can venerate but often prefer to think we cannot possibly emulate, but also less heroic women and men who can inspire and guide us along our own path.

Enjoy the Pilgrimage Windows Booklet online. To purchase a printed copy, please call the Parish Office at (302) 368-4644. A copy is $10, which includes postage and handling.

See the windows in person by visiting the north wall or left side of the nave at St. Thomas’s Parish at 276 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19711. Since the procession and the inscription move from left to right (as one faces the windows) and it is suggested that the viewer also proceed this way. Each of the five groups is chronologically ordered, moving from the recent to the ancient. As one moves from one bay to the next, therefore, one will find one self propelled from Apostolic to modern times.

Booklet contributors:
Text by Lawrence G. Duggan, Professor of History, University of Delaware. Member of St. Thomas’s Parish (1982-), Head of the Liturgy Guild (2003-), and Grand High Thurifer.
Photos by Robert Gilley, Member of St. Thomas’s Parish (1996-)
Graphic Design and Layout by Jason J. Malago

Poets’ Corner Reading Series presents Celeste Doaks

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Poets’ Corner Reading Series presents Celeste Doaks reading poetry by her favorite poets.

Saturday, November 18, 4:00 p.m.
St. Thomas’s Episcopal Parish, 276 S. College Ave., Newark, DE

Free-will offering.

Poet and journalist Celeste Doaks is the author of Cornrows and Cornfields (Wrecking Ball Press, UK), and most recently the editor of Not Without Our Laughter (Mason Jar Press). Cornrows was listed as one of the “Ten Best Books of 2015” by Beltway Poetry Quarterly. Her accolades include a Lucille Clifton Scholarship to attend Squaw Valley Writers Workshop, the 2010 AWP WC&C Scholarship. Her journalism has appeared in the Huffington Post, Village Voice, Time Out New York, and QBR (Quarterly Black Book Review). Her poems have been published in multiple on-line and print publications such as Chicago Quarterly Review, the Rumpus.net, and the City Paper. Doaks is currently the Visiting Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at University of Delaware. For more, visit her on Twitter and Instagram @thedoaksgirl or at www.doaksgirl.com

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

St. Thomas’s–the next chapter now begins

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A Message from the Vestry November 2, 2017

Dear Friends,

THANK YOU to everyone who helped to make Father Paul and Marilyn Gennett’s last Sunday at St. Thomas’s a special day. And thanks to everyone who came out on a rainy, dreary day to show your love and appreciation for the Gennetts.

We all have our own thoughts and feelings about the retirement of Father Paul and what it means for us, both individually and as a parish. We’re sad, we’re anxious, we’re wondering. It will take time to sort through all of this, and it will be different for each one of us. This normal, so accept whatever is in your heart.

What comes next for St. Thomas’s? Most importantly, our Sunday celebrations of the Holy Eucharist will continue at 8:00 and 10:30. The Rev. Elizabeth Masterson will lead all of our regular and special services in November and December. She will also be doing pastoral care. Please wear your nametags so that she can get to know you. She looks forward to seeing everyone on November 5—and please remember to FALL BACK on Saturday night so that you get to church on time!

The vestry is committed to keeping St. Thomas’s active and healthy during the interim period. But doing this will require everyone’s participation. We are all of us entrusted with the care of this particular portion of God’s kingdom here in Newark, Delaware. Keep up with the Google groups messages and the Carpenter’s Helper to learn about opportunities for worship, fellowship, and service.

The transition process will be a major focus in the months to come. The process will take time and patience, for we must follow diocesan procedures. Here’s an update on where we are:

  • The vestry is making progress on securing an interim rector to serve the parish beginning in early 2018. Since this is a personnel matter, we can’t say anything until we have something to say. As soon as arrangements with the interim rector are finalized, we will make a public announcement.
  • The vestry and transition committee will be meeting with our transition consultant on November 11 to learn more about the process.
  • The vestry will be selecting the search committee, which will begin work shortly after the interim rector arrives.
  • Once we know more about the process, we will provide a road map of what is involved and keep the parish updated on progress.

We’re on a journey into new territory—there will be some twists and turns along the way–and we hope that everyone will join us. With God’s help, the days ahead will be interesting and rewarding as we move Forward in Faith, one step at a time.

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

Connie Cooper
Senior Warden

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

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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

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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.