Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 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 new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Weekday Holy Communion Services

One of the features of an active Prayer Book Catholic Parish in the Episcopal Church is the proliferation of weekday services, particularly the Holy Communion. When I arrived here at St. John's there was one weekday service of Holy Communion, on Wednesday at 12:15pm. I added a celebration of the Holy Communion on Tuesdays, and then on Thursdays as well, so it is offered three times a week and on Holy Days. Having communion so often seemed quite the innovation in a parish which before my arrival had been still alternating Morning Prayer and Holy Communion as the primary Sunday Service.

While rummaging through a pile of brochures in the Archives room a while ago, I found the report to the Annual Parish Meeting in 1926. Back then, St. John's had over 2600 people at the Easter Services compared to our 420 this year, and the Sunday School had an enrollment of 190! I was surprised to find that in the 1920's there were 5 weekday Masses (Tuesday and Thursday 10am in the Church, Tuesday, and Thursday at Noon in the Chapel, Wednesday at 8pm), as well as 'intercessions' at Noon on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, and the Litany on Friday at Noon. Daily Mass and Services were the norm, not the exception for the first 70 years! They took a hiatus beginning in the 1930's! Since the finding of the brochure I have talked with longer-time parishioners (here before the 1920's), as well as the Great-grandson of the first Rector of the St. John's and read many old vestry minutes of the parish. In fact St. John's was an early 'Prayer Book Catholic' parish (Higher Church than the average parish, but certainly not as highly ritualized like many East Coast Anglo-Catholic Shrine Parishes). Weekday celebrations of the Holy Communion is one of the clues to that identity, especially in the 19th Century!

Now we have The Holy Communion at 12:15pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and Holy Days at 7pm; Noon Prayer and Litany on Monday and Friday at 12:15am; and the Daily Office at 9am and 5pm Monday through Friday.

So I say all that to say this....I really am grateful for the interesting mix of people we have at our weekday services of Holy Communion. Today we had 9 people at the service, including yours truly. 3 were not parishioners: one works in the neighborhood and drops by for the service, the other two are with the L.A. Angels baseball team, in town for the series tonight against the Tigers (one of them comes nearly every year the team is in town). Of the congregation present today one is a retired county employee. One is a doctor. One is a police officer. 4 are African-American. 4 are women. One is in a wheelchair, another on disability. An anonymous few in 12 step recovery programs. It is not unusual to have such a wonderful mix of people coming to Church to glorify God, lift up their prayers and praises to Him, and to receive the Blessed Sacrament at a weekday Holy Communion Service at St. John's!