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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rector's Rambling - February 6, 2011

Ten years ago this month I arrived as the Rector of St. John’s Church here in Detroit. It was the last Sunday (that year, also the last Sunday in Epiphany). Over the course of the next few weeks please allow me the indulgence of some backward looking and reminiscence.
As I mentioned in my Rector’s Report to the Annual Parish Meeting last week, it has been my great privilege and a great grace to baptize 97 adults and children, present 79 people for confirmation or reception, solemnize 51 marriages (52 as of yesterday), and officiate at the burial rites for 52 people.
These sacramental actions become important benchmarks for the parish. Ninety-seven seems like a large number, but that is only 97 of 7294 baptisms in the 152 years this parish has been in existence! The 52 marriages are out of a total of 3407, and the 52 burials of 5428.
Once a sacramental act such as baptism or confirmation occurs, it is recorded in the parish register, which over the years has come to span multiple volumes. The baptism book currently in use only goes back to 1981 (first entry – Kevin Thomas, grandson of then Rector Fr. Thomas Frisby). The current marriage register goes back to March 17, 1956 (Robert and Marie Herd). And the current burial register goes back to July 21, 1886 (John Johnson) and even records the burial of our founder, Henry Porter Baldwin (died 12/31/1892, buried 1/3/1893).
When an occasion arises that we have to open the books to record an event, I inevitably spend some time glancing backwards. Occasionally we do a wedding and the bride’s or groom’s parents’ wedding is recorded in there as well. Or, for a baptism, I will recognize the name of someone I see listed as a godparent, or a current parishioner. And when going through the burial register I not only recognize current names, but the names of those memorialized on plaques, pews, or altarware.
Thanks be to God for what he is doing here in our time, and for those who have gone before.