Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 50 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and impending hockey arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ash Wednesday

At St. John's we will have two opportunities for worship on Ash Wednesday: 12:15pm and 7pm. Both services will be in the Chapel. Enter on the Freeway Service Drive side of the building.

Collect for Ash Wednesday (to be said daily in Lent)
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou has made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Being Shriven...Shrove Tuesday

Today's 'Feast' goes by many names: Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Here in Detroit it is Paczki Day for the sickly-sweet lard-laden jelly donut being consumed before Lent. In the Anglican Tradition it is called Shrove Tuesday. Below is an email I sent to the parish list about being Shriven.

The word "shrove" in Shrove Tuesday comes from the idea of being "shriven" - to get rid of something. Not only are we getting rid of the fats, butters and sweets before Lent (getting rid of them by eating them!), but we should be encouraged to be Shriven of our sins!

One powerful way of doing this is through the sacrament of auricular confession. Auricular comes from the word for hearing in the ear. It is where you tell a list of your sins to God through the person of the priest. He hears them, offers counsel, assigns a penance, and dispenses God's absolution. (photo staged for demonstration purposes only, it is not a real confession - that would be anonymous!)

Is it required to do it this way in Anglicanism? No, but there is the wonderful old maxim - None Must, All May, More Should! No one is required to do it, but it is available to all and more should take advantage of it!

It takes real humility (a virtue) to confess out-loud to a another person the exact list of your sins. But frequently, until we do, the impact and gravity of them are often justified away and then repeated. The priest, sitting in as alter-christus, listens with the loving welcome of the father of the prodigal, rushing out to greet his wayward son. He may suggest some ways to remedy a sinful behaviour (ie...for being judgemental towards other one might be encouraged to say "God bless them" to stop the train-wreck of trying to kill them in your heart). The priest may also assign a penance. Penance doesn't pay the price of sin - Jesus did that on the cross! Rather, a penance is like giving a little 'offering' in thanking God for the free gift of having been forgiven. It is sort of like giving a loved one flowers - the flowers do not represent all of your love - but is a token gift. Finally, once the sin is confessed and forgiven, it is gone forever! The priest will tell no one what you have done! (torture and death would not get the context of a confession from this priest) and quite frankly they are forgotten even by the priest soon after! You will not be judged or thought of any differently for going to the priest to make your confession. Believe it or not - I am never surprised that people sin! I expect we all do! And there is a wonderful relief in finally making a confession and then being done with it. It is an incredible aid to the spiritual life!

I have some excellent Anglican/Episcopal Materials on the "why and how to make a confession", as well as a great list in the parish office to use from the St. Augustine's prayer book to prepare for confession. Here are some list of sins to examine your conscience on-line ....take a moment to honestly evaluate your spiritual and corporal life compared to these lists....

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/selfexam.aspx
http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/features/thesevendeadlysins/thesevendeadlysins.asp
click on the sins on the left to get a list to examine yourself.

If your list of sins is long (honesty will do that to you) do not despair - God can still forgive you. All you need is contrition (sorrow for having offended God by sin) and intend amendment of life (by God's help desiring not to do these things again)!

I will be available all afternoon in the office to hear confessions (most take 5 to 15 minutes) on Shrove Tuesday. Just pop in and say "Father, can you help me for a minute" and we can head over to the Chapel to hear it. If you want to make your confession anonymously tomorrow (ie...I am sitting in the acolyte vesting room with my back to the door and you come in, shut the door and whisper the sins into my ear without my knowing who you are), I will be sitting in the acolyte sacristy from 4:30pm to 5pm, before Evening Prayer.For Lent I will be sitting 'anonymously' to hear confessions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11:30 to 12:05pm in the Acolyte Sacristy, or you can grab me any time after Evening Prayer Tuesday through Friday. Finally, you can always call and make an appointment with me. Also, Fr. Bedford would be happy to hear your confession, as would Fr. Duford in Clarkston, Fr. Kerr at St. Martin's in Detroit, and Fr. Fraser at Redeemer, Southfield. All have extensive experience in hearing confessions as priests of the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC). Their phone numbers are available in the parish office, and all would be available by appointment to hear your confession and help you to be shriven.

This Lent, take the opportunity to be shriven in preparation for the coming Paschal (Easter) Feast!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Five Year Anniversary at St. John's

It was with great joy that I commemorated my 5th Anniversary as the priest at St. John's. 5 years ago I stepped to the altar, and the pulpit for the first time; the last weekend in February and the last Sunday of the Epiphany (just like yesterday's service). In many ways it seems as if I just came here only a few months ago (tempus fugit) - but it also feels like I have been here a very long time, because coming back to the Detroit area was coming home.

Anniversaries makes one wax nostolgic. This past weekend made me think about all the changes and challenges, and people who have come and gone in the last five years.

Attendance the 5 weeks before I arrived was about 55 people (12 of whom were the paid choir!). That first Easter (2001) we had 142 people at Easter Sunday Services.
The last 5 weeks this year of 2006 we have had an average of about 200 people in Church, and Easter 2005 was 367 people.
Christmas 2001 was 184 people, 2005 was 451 people.
It is a good start (how often have the people at St. John's heard me say that!). FYI - in 1925 we had over 2600 people at the 7 English speaking (including American Sign Language) services at St. John's, not including the 1500 Armenians at their services held in St. John's as well!

We have seen other big church challenges. In the first year here we had to do $380,000 worth of urgent stone and roof repairs to the building (precipitated by a 400 lbs stone falling off the entryway). What a sight to see them taking the ridge cap off the top of the roof to restore it, pumping out 'thigh high' pigeon droppings from the bell tower, and removing all the coping stones at the top of the walls to re-waterproof it, and rebuilding all the chimneys (9 of them), several of which were leaning at a 35% angle and restoring and remounting the original bell over the Chapel entranceway! It was a real undertaking of faith, since we only had about 80 people in Church on an average Sunday at that time. We got one HUGE gift from the Altar Guild, several other large gifts, and the parishioners made pledges over the next 3 years to help pay if off, expecting that more people would join the parish and enter into our labors of paying it off! The loan ($180,000) has now been paid down to below $50,000.

We have had a great number of baptisms in these first 5 years - 46 of them. 8 have been adults, and 5 of the children were old enough to answer for themselves (one was baptised in Polish, since she had just been adopted from there - my two years of polish at Orchard Lake St. Mary's came in handy here!). 42 people have been confirmed or received, and 27 couples married. 31 people have been buried from St. John's Church, 5 of whom were not parishioners.

Liturgically, St. John's had adapted well to 'coming up higher' . 2nd and 5th Sunday's Morning Prayer was complemented by the addition of Holy Communion (from the "Lift up your hearts" onwards) to make it a complete service of worship and reception of the sacrament. Weekday Masses have gone from 1 to 3, and the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer are now prayed during the week in the Chapel. Stations of the Cross are prayed on Fridays in Lent, and Adoration and Benediction are prayed on the first Thursdays, and weekly in Lent. Corpus Christi is celebrated with grand solemnity, and a monthly proper requiem Mass is said. A daily chantry list was found in the sacristy safe (from 1859 to 1931) and updated to have the parish dead remembered daily, and at the monthly mass. Proper Eucharistic Vestments are now worn weekly, incense used, the minor propers chanted at Sunday 10am Mass. All these additions add to the beauty of holiness in worship at St. John's.

Socially, we have hosted the Diocesan Convention here at St. John's, instituted a Shrove Tuesday Talent Show with the Pancake Supper, Yearly outing to the Tigers Game with the Choir singing the National Anthem (one year I threw out a pitch and led the singing of "take me out to the ball game"), held a multitude of concerts ranging from the Jean Langlais Conference, Detroit Concert Choir, Mariner's Inn Christmas Concert, Detroit Police Gospel Concert, and a multitude of individual artists and organists. Other social events have included to see the Rockette Christmas Show (tickets complimentary of the Fox for blessing the camels and sheep in the show), hosting groups for the Super Bowl and Baseball All-State Game, the film crew of the movie The Island (a box office flop), Pancake and Donut sales for the Thanksgiving Day parades (and opening the Church for that as well as the Red Wing Stanley Cup victory parade).

Spiritually, in addition to the worship, we have added Sunday Adult Education and Bible Study, even had a Summer mixed session with the kids on the Narnia books. Sunday School is picking up steam. The Alpha Course was a rousing success and we hope to have another soon. We had a great healing seminar with the Order of St. Luke, and have started/re-started growing chapters of the Daughters of the King and Brotherhood of St. Andrew & Jr. Brotherhood. The Acolyte Order of St. Vincent is in the planning stages. The ECW continues its good works, and the Armitage Club has also recently hosted some big events such as the Cornerstone Schools fundraising dinner. We now have 2 Third Order Franciscans and 2 aspirants, and a Sister in habit with the Sisters of the Sacred Cross.

Locally, I have gotten a chance to be involved with The Hopeful Clergy (some local traditionally minded Episcopal priests), The Cathedral Chapter, Historic Elmwood Foundation Board, and the Detroit Police Department Chaplain Corps. This last one has been especially gratifying - working with the officers and even getting to ride with the mounted unit before they were disbanded. I hope we can see them re-formed again soon.

As I look at this long list of things the parish has accomplished and participated in so far, I am greatly humbled to be a part of what God is doing at St. John's! I look forward (Deo Volente) to all that he has in store for this place in the near and far future!

(D.v) I look forward to the 10 baptism are scheduling for after Easter! I look forward to the continuing success of the 150 new person initiative to accomplish before our 150 anniversary of the founding in December of 2008. I look forward to this Downtown Development Authority Grant even though it means raising $50,000 more in the coming months (and add a new furnace to that too, it looks like). I look forward to whatever it is the God deems necessary and helpful to us as we grow in grace and size! May we be ready, and willing as He makes us able!

More prayer requests for the city of Detroit

Yesterday and today two sorrowful events happened here in Detroit.
First, there was a shooting at a Church. Apparently a young ex-boyfriend (18 or 19 year old) went looking for his ex, mother of his child, from whom he had a restraining order. Not finding her, he opened fire in the Church, killing the ex's mother and wounding a 9 year old sitting next to her. He also shot someone outside who interfered with his carjacking a vehicle, and when tracked down by the police shot himself to death. The Detroit News Article can be found at
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060227/METRO/602270343

Particularly interesting to me is this quote from Edgar Van, a popular baptist preacher here in Detroit, in the paper.

He called the shooting a tragic situation and a sign of the times.
Zion Hope had guards inside and outside the church, but the shooter still slipped in.
"All churches need security," said Vann, the former president of the Detroit Council of Baptist Ministers.


Guards at the Church? A sign of the times? Yes, we need security, and in fact several of our Ushers are current and former police officers. But 'Security Guards'? Except for the occasional interruption by a transient person, we haven't had any need for such a thing, particularly since the redevelopment of the neighborhood and the Olympia Parking employees who monitor the parking lot. But I suppose if you know of impending trouble (the shooter had been by the Church a few weeks earlier and physically attacked the ex-girlfriend), then I guess you re-double your vigilance.

This morning two Detroit Police Officers were shot during a traffic stop on the Northwest side. One was hit in the vest and is okay, the other took a bullet right under the vest in the abdomen (the vest doesn't come all the way down since the officers have to be able to sit down in the scout car.). He is expected to recover. The shooters are still at large as of 2pm today. I will post names of the officers when they are available.

Pray, Pray, Pray for the City of Detroit, its churches and police officers, and its people!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Super Bowl Euphoria bubble officially bursts.....

Much well-deserved praise was heaped on the Metro Detroit Region for its hosting of Super Bowl XL. Real cooperation between the city and suburbs helped in coordinating the big event and the other smaller events leading up to it, as well as the sprucing up of the area. Many people hoped that this was a beginning of a new way of doing politics and business between the city and suburbs. Unfortunately, racial tensions have once again reared their ugly head over the issue of Detroit City Council's and mayor's office ability to govern effectively. Anyone who questions this, based on facts or track record are accused of racism by some in city government. For those who do not know, Detroit is an overwhelmingly African-American city, with the majority of city council and the mayor and most city government being African American as well. The suburbs are a majority white.

The blue cloud euphoria concerning regional cooperation died this weekend over discussions about, of all things, the Detroit Zoo. The City of Detroit owns it, which means it falls under the control of City Council and the Mayor's Office. His office negotiated a deal to have the 78 year old Zoological Society run the zoo, with specially authorized state appropriations for the transition, which would take a major chunk of deficit speading away from the City's growing-deficit budget. The city would continue to own the zoo (which is located Royal Oak, a different city and county).

After the vote of 7-2 to prevent the turn over of operations, effectively slating the zoo for closure (but we are told now there is hope something can still be worked out), The Detroit News reported this statement by City Councilwoman Barbara Rose-Collins, also captured by television cameras.
Collins said the state deadline amounted to unfair pressure by small-town legislators on the city to relinquish control of the zoo. She and other council members were angered by numerous calls and e-mails made to their offices by suburbanites critical of the council's vote. Some of the council members took the e-mails as veiled racism.
"This is not a plantation," Collins said. "We are not owned by everyone else. Black folks are not owned by white folks anymore. I made the point Saturday that the state Legislature was pimping the City of Detroit, and that we should not play the role of prostitute. That upset a lot of people, but I stand by my words. The symbolism is that Detroit is a black city, and we're not able to govern ourselves. It's a racist attitude and I resent it."


Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, executive of the very affluent neighboring county has become a political punching bag, usually during election cycles, as the race card is played by city politicians. But he has been know to be inflamitory and insensitive in his off the cuff remarks in response to such situations. Concerning the zoo vote he said on Paul W. Smith's show on WJR that "...it may come as a surprise to her, but no one wants to own Barbara Rose Collins" (refering to her planation remark) and as I heard him on the Frank Beckmann show on WJR, Patterson refused to apologize for his comparing city council members as people who should be in the zoo, not running it. Some Detroiters have taken that as a racial remark.

Pray for the city of Detroit. The continuing deficit means the state could put the city into receivership, effectively taking over the running of the city (as was done recently in Pontiac and Hamtramck, as well as with the Detroit School Board). That will be sure to bring further cat-calls of racism as the mostly white state legislature would effectively take away the democratically elected (even if inefficient) city representives and replace them with appointed financial managers.

My solution (in addition to prayer)? Re-tool City Council to be represented by neighborhoods (right now it is an at-large ballot with incumbents almost assured of re-election, all of whom live in one of two or three neighborhoods), giving all the people a real voice on council. That would be a start. If the state has to come in for receivership, find a way to work it in cooperation with the Mayor's office and council if at all possible, rather than just running roughshod over it.

The City has made great strides in improvements in the 5 years I have been back in Detroit. It could be better. Pray it is not all derailed by power-grabs or power-preserving from any side. Instead may we work for the common good of the citizens of the city and the region.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Our hard working Vestry

The Vestry is the corporate board for the parish entity, as well as the leadership team in discerning ministry opportunities for the future.

Wednesday night the Vestry met, and we spend a LONG time working on our upcoming projects. We have been given matching grant possibilities for 5 projects as a part of two programs: Surface Parking Lot beautification, and Facade Improvements. Our five projects are 1) removing old trees and re-landscaping the garden edges along the parking lot, 2) new safety protective glass for our stained glass windows at St. John's, 3) awnings over three entryways to the Church, 4) restoration of the Woodward Avenue retaining wall, and 5) a new sign.

The sign project is the one that is going to take the most work, since it will be a very visible representation of the parish for years to come. The committee has been working hard at developing specs and has worked with two sign companies to begin some drawings. The Vestry tonight approved some basic design ideas, but much still needs to be hashed out before final approval can be given by the Vestry (and it must also be approved by the DDA).

The real catch is that a portion of the work must begin by March 11th, and all of it must be completed and billed by May 31st! Churches and Vestries don't usually work that fast, and when you combine the City of Detroit's permit and licensing requirements....you are talking about a lot of work to be done in a short period of time! But I think we are up to the challenge.

A special thank you to John Les Callett for writing the grant proposal for us and seeing it through to its awarding, and to Jr. Warden Andy Baetz for coordinating the sign committee and overseeing (with Sr. Warden Ralph Babcock) the entire project.

And of course...we could use some help with the additional funding.......

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Baseball - Spring Training starts later today!

The Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training for the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Florida later today (Thursday). That means only 45 days, 19 plus hours to Opening Day on April 10th! The "PRAY HERE FOR THE TIGERS" service will be on April 9th at 1pm at St. John's Church. New manager, new attitude...Go Tigers!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A good priest in my former parish

Below is an article on the newest Rector at St. Mary's Church in Charleroi, PA, my former parish. I am grateful to have such a wonderful successor to care for the flock there in Charleroi. This is an article from on-line edition of the Pittsburgh Diocesan Newspaper. http://www.pgh.anglican.org/news/local/ilgenfritzbio/document_view

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The Rev. William Ilgenfritz’s road back to southwestern Pennsylvania has had a lot of twists and turns since his baptism at St. Stephen’s in McKeesport in 1946. The one-time U.S. Steel employee originally left the area to work with troubled teenagers in Kansas. Before coming back in November of 2004 to serve as the rector of St. Mary’s in Charleroi, Fr. Ilgenfritz had been ordained, ministered in five states, become the national vice president of Forward in Faith North America (A body for Episcopalians known as Anglo-Catholics who put a heavy emphasis on the theology and tradition of Christianity before the protestant reformation) and seen God’s faithfulness to him and to the Christians he served time and time again.Now, Fr. Ilgenfritz is just glad to be back. “I’m really a Pittsburgh boy,” he said. As a national leader of Anglo-Catholic Episcopalians, as well as a parish priest, Fr. Ilgenfritz often finds himself wearing several hats. It’s a situation he’s used to. Ordained a deacon in 1981, he worked as a bi-vocational clergyman for a number of years. On one hand, he supported two rural parishes in northwestern Pennsylvania. On the other, he worked with abandoned, abused and neglected children as the executive director of the Children’s Aid Society.It soon became clear to Fr. Ilgenfritz that the two parishes he was serving needed the full-time support of a priest, so he talked to his bishop about being ordained to the priesthood. According to Ilgenfritz, Bishop Donald Davis of what is now the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania told him “If you believe God has called you to the priesthood, there aren’t any shortcuts. I want you to quit your job and go back to seminary.” After much prayer with his wife, Lois, Fr. Ilgenfritz enrolled at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge in time for the fall 1983 semester. He spent the next three years commuting every week 150 miles each way between his home and his family and parishes in the Clearfield area. According to Fr. Ilgenfritz, his time at Trinity broadened him. While he remained Anglo-Catholic in his theology and worship, “I now had something I didn’t have before, which was an understanding of God’s Word written,” he said.After being ordained a priest in 1986, Fr. Ilgenfritz spent the next two decades serving throughout the United States. That included working as a curate at Fox Chapel Episcopal Church in 1988-89, serving as the chaplain for St. Jude’s Ranch For Children in Nevada, ministry at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Brownwood, Texas, work as an inner city parish priest in Baltimore (where Fr. Ilgenfritz also served as chaplain to the Baltimore City Police Department) and then to north of Philadelphia, where he served as rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Whitehall until taking the position at St. Mary’s.
Things They Don’t (But Should) Teach in SeminaryWhen Fr. Ilgenfritz first felt a call to ordained ministry, he thought he was signing up for something out of the 1940’s Bing Crosby movie Bells of St. Mary’s.“I had the Fr. O’Malley mentality… that as a priest you just walk around in a cassock and pray with people!” laughed Fr. Ilgenfritz.The reality, he said, has caused him to seriously consider offering a supplemental course for new priests. Curriculum on his list of skills that must be taught but don’t make it into seminary classrooms include “restarting a boiler” and “fixing a toilet,” and a host of other less than glamorous but necessary duties that “happen because we’re part of a family. As a priest, you’ve got to take that cassock off , roll up your sleaves and get to work!” said Fr. Ilgenfritz.For almost all of those years, Fr. Ilgenfritz has been active in the organizations and groups that became Forward in Faith North America (FiFNA) in 1999. In his current role as vice-president, Fr. Ilgenfritz helps lead the organization and represents it through writing and speaking. He also serves as the dean of the Anglican Communion Network’s FiFNA convocation of churches. While Fr. Ilgenfritz, with all members of FiFNA, is unable to support the ordination of women as priests or bishops he made clear that the disagreement didn’t mean he wasn’t willing to work with the Anglican Communion Network, which does support the ordination of women. “We have differences regarding the ordination of women, but both organizations find in Christ Jesus what is true and real and what is worth living out,” he explained.As Fr. Ilgenfritz settles into his new work among the people of St. Mary’s, he said it feels good to be back in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. St. Mary’s, he said, has welcomed him with open arms and given him plenty to do. During any given week, he said, the parish holds two Bible studies, feeds about 40-50 poor or homeless Charleroi residents at “Mom’s Place,” a ministry staffed by parish volunteers, and keeps a regular schedule of services. This fall, he’s planning a series of inquirers classes for the church’s expanding congregation. In everything, Fr. Ilgenfritz says he focuses first and foremost on loving the people God has given him charge over. “A parish won’t grow if people don’t believe their rector loves them. And if you don’t love your people, you shouldn’t be doing this anyway,” he said.

Super Bowl - a follow up



Okay - it is old news now here in Detroit, 9 days after the event. But I wanted to share a last few pictures of Super Bowl Weekend with you. Many Pittsburgh Steeler Fans from out of town, including a few from my parish in Charleroi, came to the service, as well as a few Seahawk fans. I even pulled out my Terrible Towel during the sermon! (The Seahawk fans came in later). Even though some parishioners stayed away because of perceived problems of access, things went VERY smoothly, and the number of visitors more than made up for those regulars who missed being with us! But after all the excitement, it is nice to get back to 'normal' with traffic and parking around Detroit.


As for the pictures - yes, I held a pair of Super Bowl Tixs in my hand. A priest from Pittsburgh asked us to pick them up from Will Call for him since he was driving out after Mass. It was a great exercise in "Thou Shalt not Covet". Meg enjoyed the Steelers win, but as you see she was pretty tired from all the cheering! In the Undercroft we fed over 800 police officers, thanks to a contract with the NFL and the Detroit Police Department. And Steeler Fans were in abundance, as you see from the line of people trying to get into Hockeytown Cafe at 9am! Finally, the Sunday School kids got in the spirit by making a banner for the fence to invite guests to come out of the cold and the snow and join us for worship!

Restoring the neighborhood around St. John's

Across I-75 from St. John's is the neighborhood known as Brush Park. Once full of grand Victorian Mansions, many of which were were owned by former St. John's parishioners (our 5pm Sunday Service in the 1880's to 1900's got the nickname the 'servant's service' for those who stayed home to make dinner for the families at the 11am Service and came later!), the neighborhood became really run down. New housing is being built, and some of the Victorians are being restored as well. One is a beautiful Bed and Breakfast. Every house with a usable mailing address in the neighborhood gets invitations from St. John's for Easter, Homecoming, Christmas, Alpha Course or other special events.

An article can be found at http://www.modeldmedia.com/features/brush.aspx
The pictures here are from that article.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Parishioner in my former parish - Isabelle Hurley

A great lady of the newspaper business in the Pittsburgh area, who was a member of my parish when I was rector in Charleroi, PA, passed away. I wanted to share with you an article about her from The Valley Independent (www.valleyindependent.com) for which she wrote for many years. May she rest in peace.

By Stacy Wolford
VALLEY INDEPENDENTMonday, February 13, 2006
Anyone who ever met Isabelle Hurley knew that she loved children, sports and a good party.
And she spent her life as a dedicated volunteer, journalist, mentor, mother, grandmother and friend to many.
When the Belle Vernon woman died Sunday at age 95, she left behind a legacy that will live on in the many lives she has touched over the years.
"If I had to narrow down one thing that I want people to remember about my grandmother is that she never gave up. She was always independent and a fighter," her granddaughter, Debi Anderson, of Monessen, said.
Hurley was well-known and beloved in the Mon Valley through her years as a writer for The Valley Independent.
She was 30 years old during World War II when she starting covering sports for the former Daily Independent. In doing so, she became the area's first female sports writer.
She covered sports for 12 years, teaching herself to type, and then took a full-time job as society editor at The Daily Independent, making $55 a week. She spent 25 years in that position before retiring after 37 years.
Hurley loved writing so much that she submitted columns -...at first, twice a week and later once a week - to The Valley Independent until last spring when her health declined.
Her many colleagues will remember Hurley as a pioneer in the newspaper business, a strong, spirited woman who never turned down an assignment.
"She was a pioneer for women in journalism," said longtime colleague, Ruth Ann Yatsko, who retired from The Valley Independent as a copy editor. "She was a remarkable woman who always reminded me of the Energizer Bunny - she just kept going and going."
Ron Paglia, a longtime city editor at The Valley Independent, said Hurley was well-respected as a journalist and a reliable reporter who knew how to get a good story.
"She had tons of contacts because she knew everyone and everyone knew her - and she loved it," Paglia said. "She was independent, had her own opinions and didn't take any guff from anyone."
She also knew how to get a good interview.
At the former Twin Coaches night club in Rostraver Township, she interviewed such celebrities as Liberace, Bobby Vinton, Johnny Mathis and Shirley Jones.
During a political rally she fought her way through the crowd to interview Ethel and Joan Kennedy.
Hurley helped many cub reporters over the years, including Emma Jene Lelik, a retired society editor at The Valley Independent.
"She taught me everything I needed to know," said Lelik, who worked with Hurley for more than 50 years.
Lelik worked under Hurley as a society reporter for years, eventually taking on the top job after her mentor retired. Lelik admits she had big shoes to fill.
"She was just so easy to get along with and she loved going to events and parties," Lelik said. "She truly loved her job."
After Hurley retired in March 1968, she began another job - taking care of her husband, John Edwin Hurley, who waited until the day after her retirement party to tell her he had colon cancer.
They were married for 55 years.
"She was so dedicated to her family and took care of my grandfather every day of his life when he had colon cancer," Anderson said.
Anderson said her grandmother remained devoted to sports.
In 2003, in honor of her role as a sports writer, Hurley was inducted to the Belle Vernon Area High School Football Hall of Fame.
Paglia said he will never forget going to the 1972 Belle Vernon Area Booster banquet where Hurley was surprised with the organization's annual booster award.
"She was just floored, and I think that was the first time I ever saw Isabelle speechless," Paglia said. "She was so appreciative of that award."
However, Paglia said Hurley never attempted to gain recognition for her efforts.
Hurley was a longtime supporter of the Mon Valley Association for Retarded Citizens and the performing arts.
In her later years, she wrote many colorful columns about the happenings at her residence, the Belle Vernon Apartments.
Anderson said her grandmother also maintained true to her faith, something she feels gave her strength and the will to live a long life.
"Through all of her life, she never gave up, not when she was 21 and lost a baby and couldn't walk for five years; not during The Depression, when she was raising a family; and not through all of the other small adversities in her life," Anderson said. "To the very end, she remained strong and independent."
In a May story about Hurley's decision to end her column-writing career, she told Lelik that her career in the newspaper business gave her "so much to remember."
"That piece of paper was my ticket to happiness," Hurley told Lelik.
And happiness is what Isabelle Hurley spread through the Mon Valley.

Griffin Causey - 99 Years Old - REST IN PEACE

This Obituary was written by daughter Linda A. Causey
Buried from St. John's Today, 13 February 2006

Griffin Causey was born on November 16, 1906 in Birmingham, Alabama. He was the second of two children born to Eugene and Roberta Causey. His family moved to Macon, Georgia when he was five. While in Macon, he accepted Christ at an early age.

In 1923, his family moved to Detroit, Michigan when he was sixteen years old, at which time he began to support himself totally. Griffin was united in marriage to Marguerite Davis on August 6, 1927. From their union four children were born: Blanche, Griffin, Jr., Douglas, and Linda.

Griffin worked as a lather when he first came to Detroit, but later secured full-time employment as a clerk with the U.S. Postal Service. Both he and his wife, Marguerite, placed a high value on education. In order to support his family and offer each of his children a college education, Griffin also worked part-time preparing income taxes, selling real estate, and doing small business bookkeeping. When he retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 1969, he held the position of General Manager of the West Side Post Offices.

After retiring, Griffin volunteered at Crossroads as a counselor for twenty years and as an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau. He played bridge with three friends for years and following retirement also joined a Seniors Bridge Group. Additionally, he bowled on Wednesdays with a Seniors Bowling League at the Garden Bowl up through Spring, 2005.

His favorite activities however, were working in the church and his yard. When Griffin first come to Detroit, he had joined St. John’s CME Church. He moved his family in 1936, to St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church on the west side, where he worked in both the Usher Guild and the Men’s Club for many years, and served on the vestry several times. Because his wife had passed and both his daughters were members of St. John’s Episcopal Church of Detroit, Griffin also decided to join St. John’s. He enjoyed the church family of St. John’s which had so lovingly embraced him.

Griffin was alert, kept abreast of current events, drove himself to church weekly, and led an active life up until being in an automobile accident on October 24, 2005. Following the accident, his health sharply declined. He was hospitalized at Detroit Receiving Hospital for ten days beginning on December 13, 2004. He was subsequently hospitalized twice more for brief stays. He fought a courageous battle to regain his health, but passed away at Detroit Receiving Hospital on February 2, 2006 on the evening of his third readmission.

He is survived by his two daughters, Blanche C. Wisdom and Linda A. Causey, his youngest son Douglas R. Causey, his daughter-in-law Alma Causey, two granddaughters, Knena Causey and Sybil Causey, a great grandson, Andrew Skelton, and hosts of nieces and nephews.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Yes! We are open Super Bowl Sunday!

The Good God expects us to worship Him EVERY Sunday - Super Bowl or not! We have our regular services at 7:30am, 8am and 10am.

St. John's Parking Lot is accessible via the Fisher Freeway Service Drive (exit 50 on I-75) Take the Service Drive North (actually you'd be heading east as you come down towards the Church) and enter the lot behind the Church. If you encounter Police questions remind them you have local access privilege to enter the Church parking lot.

Woodward and most local roads South of St. John's (toward the River) are closed or detoured, and I can't vouch for accessibility on Woodward from the North....you might have to go to the Grand River/Cass bridges to cross over to the Northbound service drive.

See you in Church!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Almost set up for the big game!




Here are some views around the Church and Ford Field.

Preparations are almost in place, as they are moving around the final barracades. But FEAR NOT...we will have access to St. John's for Sunday Worship via the Fisher Freeway Service Drive!

Youngest Steeler Fan....


Meg dons her new Steelers Cap, and is reaching out for her Terrible Towel!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Re-posting my Livonia Email Letter

Since I made mention of it in the February Eagle, I am re-posting this email I sent out to the parish so that it is at the top of the list, rather than having to search through the archives.

Originally posted on Friday, January 13, 2006 as "Stirrings in the Diocese of Michigan"

Thank you Paul for sending along the article on Fr. Kannapell and the people from St. Andrew's, Livonia. It is a sad situation all the way around. First of all, the author of the article that was forwarded, David Virtue, is an old acquaintance of mine from my days in Philadelphia. He does much good work in reporting things that don't get reported in the 'mainstream' church-run press. But David has a way of reporting one side of the story, and sometimes with exaggerations.First of all, let me assure the people on this list that St. John's is not in trouble, is not being targeted along with other traditionalists by the Bishop's office, and we do not need to devise some extrodinary defensive bunker plan in case any of the above might happen. The situation in Livonia is one which has deteriorated over the last several months, if not years. The Rector and Vestry at St. Andrews actually began to make overtures leave the diocese last spring without informing the full parish. We had a family visit St. John's this summer who left there because these plans were only revealed to the parish after the bishop's office got wind of them, and they did not want to be a part of that.After the original confrontation in the Spring, the Bishop's office became pro-active in keeping St. Andrew's in the diocese. They were offered Designated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight - which means they were offered the opportunity to have another bishop take care of their spiritual needs. However, what St. Andrew's wanted was to be completely assigned to another diocese, perhaps not even in the Episcopal Church USA, something that is not permitted in the Canons of the Diocese or National Church (Canons are the rules governing the Church). Despite the Bishop's attempt to work within the Canons and to offer care for the priest and parish of St. Andrew's, they decided last week to disassociate from the Diocese and the National Episcopal Church.The Canons are clear that those who are clergy serving as Rectors, and members of the Vestry do so in allegiance to the Episcopal Church. Once that allegiance has been broken, the vestry and priest are liable to be removed (vestry) or disciplined (clergy). Fr. Kannapell sent a letter to the parish and the bishop, dated January 5, signed by Fr. Kannapell and members of the vestry, announcing their intention to leave unless the bishop "transfer jurisdiction of this parish to an overseas primate of our choice." Bishop Gibbs cannot do this without violating the canons of the Episcopal Church, and their decision to proceed tied Bishop Gibbs hands in what he had to do, canonically.Yes, lots of things in the past 30 years have been done by others contrary to the Canons: the attempted ordination of women in 1974, ordination of those holding views of human sexuality contrary to scripture, marriage/partnership of those involved in that lifestyle choice and now the latest - open communion of those not baptised. But as I have to remind my children "TWO WRONGS DO NOT MAKE A RIGHT!" I would hope that those of us who hold the the traditional biblical view of the Church would expect to make honesty and charity cornerstones of how we interact with the Diocese and would expect that we, and those who we interact with, will act in accordance with those Canons.Friends, these are trying times in the Episcopal Church and our Worldwide Anglican Communion. Disagreements abound based in scripture, theology, and competing views of reality and human nature. In the coming years there is a possibility of great division in our worldwide Communion. BUT WHAT THE DEVIL REALLY WANTS is to distract us from our primary purpose to Know Christ and Make Him Known! We could spend a lot of energy wringing our hands, shaking our fists at the Diocese/National Church/Bishop(s), and devising plans to build bunkers, hide assets, or make plans to jump ahead of the decisions of the godly bishops around the world, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who are praying and discerning a way forward. But this is a distraction that can envelope us and prevent us from growing in grace!I have shared this with you before, and am not ashamed to say it again. There is one way to make changes in the Diocese and National Church. Rather than politicking, we just have to out-evangelize those whose message is contrary to the traditional apostolic teaching of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church! There is discussion about closing parishes in Detroit. Only a few parishes are growing in this diocese, and nationally the Episcopal Church is shrinking. But St. John's continues to grow; not just as a sanctuary for those fleeing theologically inventive parishes, but in the fact that many new people are coming to Christ: adults being baptised, and entire families too. This is the work of the Church! If we continue to be faithful, God will prevail in growing this parish and other biblically sound parishes that focus on preaching and teaching The Good News as Jesus has revealed Himself in scripture. Other parishes will begin to follow this example as there are changes in leadership in their parishes and they want to emulate the growth at growing parishes (change or die). Remember, in the 1970's the Diocese of Pittsburgh was among the most liberal. It is now among the most conservative. That change came by faithful witness, not jumping ship.Already St. John's is an important part of the structure of the diocese - more now than since the the 1960's. We have parishioners who are on The Diocesan Council, Diocesan Commission on Ministry, the Deanery leadership, and the Cathedral Chapter. One parishioner (Cindy Grimwade) is first alternate to The triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Other traditional clergy and laity are being appointed or elected to leadership, and they are witnessing from leadership positions to the success that comes from submission to the Truth of our 'old time religion and biblical faith'.Additionally, Bishop Gibbs has been exceedingly supportive of St. John's, more that any other bishop in recent history. He speaks about us as an example of growth, and has allowed us to have foreign bishops (Bishop Biggers) visit, and a more traditionally minded bishop (Bishop MacBurney) to celebrate and confirm. He told diocesan council that St. John's should be considered for a scholarship for a curate. We haven't requested Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight, but Bishop Gibbs has made sure that we are cared for and supported. He is an honest, up front man. Despite our theological differences (and believe me, I don't see how he can believe some of the things the modern Church has adopted), we have an honest, up-front relationship and he doesn't hesitate to call me to the carpet when he needs and explanation from me, and vice-versa! This sort of honesty leaves room for Grace to take over and show us the way forward.It is sad that St. Andrews Livonia and Fr. Kannapell felt conscience-driven to leave. It is sad that Bishop Gibbs had to invoke the due canonical consequence for their actions. It is sad that those who do not agree with our traditional position now have a suspicion that is this what all the traditionalists are plotting (and I have spoken on the phone with other rectors this week - no one is make plans to follow their lead). It is sad that there is one fewer priest (and possibly parish - depending on what happens to the remnant) to vote and give voice for biblical norms at our Diocesan Convention. It is sad that we have been distracted, albeit only temporarily I hope, from our primary purpose by worrying about this situation and how it might affect us.So in a nutshell, the Vestry is not making any plans to leave, and neither am I. And I believe the bishop that he doesn't have any scheme to destroy traditional parishes through some sort of pogrom. The National Church will meet in Convention in 2006, and the International Bishops will gather in 2008. Maybe we will have some answers by then. Or maybe not - it took 300 years to settle the controversies that resulted in the Nicene Creed! Until then we are going to be faithful about preaching Jesus Christ - crucified, dead, and risen - becoming saints on His terms by a grace-filled life of prayer, sacraments, and service to others, and by sharing Him with others!