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

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rector's Rambling - July 15, 2012 - Yes, but....

I am writing (out of necessity) this column 10 days before you read it because I will have spent the past 7 days at the St. Michael’s Conference for Youth in Bloomfield Hills. If the past is a reliable predictor of the future, I am exhausted, sleep deprived, sore-throated, and overwhelmed with joy at the experience of having spent a week in a wonderful community of young people and faithful adults who have spent time worshipping, learning, and having fun being together in Christ. I have also been a part of this intentional Christian Community while the General Convention of the Episcopal Church has met in Indianapolis. Since I am writing this so far in advance, I cannot predict the outcome of the many resolutions being discussed and voted upon at Convention. I am pretty sure there will be some I have liked, and many that will leave me disappointed. And, my guess is the mainstream media has mostly covered those items with which I am disappointed! On Sunday, July 1st, I spoke a bit about the upcoming General Convention. I read a portion of the letter deposited in our cornerstone in 1860 by our first Rector, William Armitage (a portion of which is reproduced in today’s Teaching Notes). Let me reiterate what I said on July 1st, and have said since I have become your rector nearly 11 1/2 years ago. The Faith has not, and will not change! Jesus is still Lord, the Bible is still the Word of God and contains all things necessary for salvation, and we strive to be changed into His likeness through conversion of the person by Grace. We probably will spend much time for a few weeks explaining to our friends, “yes, my Church is Episcopalian, BUT we are not like what you heard on TV or read in the newspaper…” and I am sorry that you have to do this. But God is still in charge, and we are still His. And as Yolanda Adams says in her smash single, “The Battle is not yours, it is the Lord’s”.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

True in 1860 and true today - Teaching Notes July 8, 2012

The following was written by our first Rector, Fr. William Armitage, and deposited in the cornerstone of the Church. We are conscious and confident that we are building that we are building that which will outlast ourselves; and we rejoice in the hope that, within the walls we are permitted to raise, thousands, in successive generations, will worship GOD, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and confess or Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST, in the Sacraments and ordinances of His Gospel; and partake of all the blessings of membership in His Church, which are precious to our souls today. As Christians and Churchman, we thank GOD for our strong assurance and conviction, drawn from past history, that the Protestant Episcopal Church, for whose communin this building will be reared, is so grounded on the one foundation, JESUS CHRIST, so true to Him, in the ministry, the doctrine, the Liturgy, the sacred year, the entire system which she has inherited; so careful of His complete Gospel, holding each and every part thereof, in its own due proportion and harmony; that however we and those who shall follow us may prove unworthy of her and of her LORD, among all the changes and chances of this world, she will remain, in all essential things unchanged. We thank God that we shall be permitted to leave to our successors, not this building only, wherein the truth of GOD may be proclaimed, but the stronger and more enduring building of the Church, made at the first “the Pillar and Ground of the Truth,” and now its best preservation and defense. And although we are not worthy to offer unto Him anything of ours, we humbly pray Him, in the Name of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, to accept this building for His own from this day forth, to preserve it to be the home of many souls of His servants while here in the body, through generations to come. And we pray Him, of his Infinite Mercy to guide and govern His ministers and His people, who shall serve Him in this house from year to year; and by His indwelling presence and Spirit; to keep them ever firm, steadfast and true, in heart and life to the everlasting Gospel—the confession of “one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one GOD and Father of all” - St. John’s Centennial Book (1958), p.96-97

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Rector's Rambling - July 8, 2012 - St. Michael's Conference

This afternoon (Sunday, July 8), fourteen youngsters and I will head over to the Manresa Retreat Center in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, for the beginning of the St. Michael’s Conference for Youth, Midwest. My first experience with “St. Mike’s” was while I was in seminary during the summer of 1993. I had been roped by a mentor into serving as visiting clergy on staff at the original conference in Massachusetts and was not particularly looking forward to “Church Camp” (which is what I thought it was). What I experienced instead was a dynamic gathering of clergy, laity, and teens, worshipping, learning, and playing, all to the greater glory of God! After my initial reluctance to go, I had two great things happen that week: 1) One staff member got to know me and later offered me the position as his curate; and, more importantly, 2) on the last evening I met my wife when she came to visit her younger sister who was attending that week! I served one more year as visiting clergy at the Massachusetts conference, and after a few years’ hiatus was volunteered once again (this time by Bishop Ackerman) to serve at the newer extension of the conference in Michigan. I was the Rector of a parish near Pittsburgh at the time, and I used to drive a group of teens from that parish to Michigan for the retreat. I have been on staff ever since. At the beginning of the conference, the director goes over the rules. The only way the event can run smoothly is for everyone to know the boundaries of proper behavior. Every year he begins the speech by saying, “You are not here to have fun and make friends. You are here to learn about Jesus Christ and His Church, and to become a better churchman to go into the world as a witness of His Love. BUT, if you keep this in focus as the primary thing, you will find that you will ALSO have fun and make friends as well!” This has proven true year after year. This is now my 16th year on staff at the St. Michael’s Conferences. All three of my sons are now attending the conference, and I look forward, God willing, to Meg joining us in 6 years. Now is the time to start thinking about your children/grandchildren going next year with us!