Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 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 160 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

Sunday, May 25, 2008

St. John's Choir sings the National Anthem today

With the exception of the Tigers losing, it was a wonderful day at St. John's. Morning services, BBQ, parish to the Tiger Game, and then back to the Church for a 5:30pm wedding!



Saturday, May 24, 2008

Catching up on...baseball

Just some catch up.

As far as Grosse Pointe Park Little League - both Sam and Andrew's team, and William's team have gotten off to a slow start.

William's team is 1 and 4, the first win coming last Saturday. It was a BIG win (in Single A this happens).

Sam and Andrew's team also struggled for the first 5 games, and got some bad breaks. In one game then the go-ahead run for the Giants crossed the plate, the Red Soxed challenged it and the ump said he didn't touch home plate, thereby ending the inning and the game!

In another game the ump called a player out for sliding head first into home (against the rules in LL baseball). But he had actually tripped, not slid. But the ump wouldn't reverse this 3 out, ending a rally. 2 innings later a kid on the other team hit a walk off over the fence home run in the bottom of the sixth.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, playing two of the better teams in Triple A, they got convincing wins in both games.

Sam and Andrew are both doing a great job of pitching and catching, as well as other fielding positions. Sam will probably be out one more game next week as his ankle heals (the doctor thinks it is a minor injury).

This weekend only Andrew is playing, with his 10 year old tournament team. They are playing a tournament in Warren/Sterling Heights. In the first game this morning it was a see-saw battle. In the fifth Andrew hit a two RBI double to bring the team within a run, but were unable to go any further, and lost 9-8. Andrew also made a GREAT catch and tag on a runner while he was playing third, getting him out!

In the second game, it was a mercy rule ending at the end of 3 innings. The other team was a team from Florida, sponsored by Nike. Before this weekend they had already played 40 games together! (this team has played 3). By the end of the 3rd the score was 22-0! Only three Titans got on base - one boy hit by a pitch, one walked, and Andrew got on for catcher interference (Andrew swung and hit the catcher's mitt, meaning he interfered so Andrew got to go to first). They have one more game tomorrow at 11:30am (Andrew and Jennifer will be at 8am Mass to go).

And of course tomorrow is the parish Tiger Outing. We have sold 312 tickets for the game. After the 10am Service we eat hot dogs, etc. and then go over to the game. The Choir sings the National Anthem, and we watch the game. Right this minute the Tigers just beat the Twins 19-3. They have won 4 of the last 5 games (Seattle and Minnesota), but have a long way to dig themselves out of their losing ways between that Yankee's sweep, and this recent home stand.

PS - I also have a wedding at 5:30!!!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Slideshow of Fr. Jaggs' funeral

Several priests will be familiar among the photos.



Fr. Kenneth Jaggs, SSC - May he rest in peace

I spoke this evening at the Corpus Christi Service about a good and holy priest friend who was buried yesterday in Windsor. Here is an article on him in the Windsor Star

Star staff
The Windsor Star
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Rev. Ken Jaggs died Saturday.
Rev. Ken Jaggs, a well-known Anglican priest in Windsor and founding director of the Teen Health Centre, died Saturday night after a long battle with leukemia.
He was 79.
"He'll leave a hole in a lot of people's hearts," Canon John McIllmurray said Sunday.
McIllmurray, a retired Anglican priest in Windsor, knew Jaggs for 23 years. He said Jaggs was an inspiration, a good man and a faithful believer.
"He had such an effective outreach with people, particularly people who were lost and lonely," McIllmurray said. "And he was faithful to the end."
Jaggs, who continued to lead masses at St. George's Anglican Church in Walkerville despite his progressing illness, told his parishioners that his days were numbered at an emotional Christmas Eve mass last December.
Jaggs was diagnosed in 2000 with a bone marrow disorder, which progressed into acute leukemia in recent years. Doctors had told him he was too old to receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
Jaggs recently celebrated his 50th year in the priesthood and had been a pastor at St. George's for 20 years.
Vicki Mikhail, a dietitian with the Teen Health Centre, said centre staff had their chance to say goodbye to Jaggs when he stopped by the clinic about two months ago.
"He came specifically to say goodbye," she said Monday.
Although it was an emotional visit, "he had us in tears, laughing," she said. "He had such a good sense of humour ... and a great way of telling stories. He was always so energetic."
Mikhail said she was very saddened by the news of Jaggs' death. She said people in the community can "learn a lot" from Jaggs' life and the way he gave back to the community.
In the 1960s, Jaggs was dispatched into the community to work with troubled young people and to help them turn their lives around. The Teen Health Centre, as it's known today, was established in 1985. Jaggs was also involved with numerous other community organizations, dealing with cancer, autism and other disorders.
Josh Canty, owner of the Border City Boxing Club and a St. George's parishioner, said of Jaggs: "He was a good man and he was always there for us and supported us in every way that he could."
Canty said Jaggs was the chaplain to the boxing club and attended most of the events the club held.
"Father Jaggs did a lot for the community at large and he will be missed by so many people," Canty said.
Jaggs is survived by his wife, Leda and three children Leda (Sasha), Andrew and Elizabeth. In 1989, Jaggs' son David was killed by a drunk driver on a California highway.
Visitation is continuing today at St. George's Anglican Church from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m.
The funeral will be held at the church at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
McIllmurray expects the funeral to be very large. He said the church will be bursting at the seams with mourners. He said Jaggs was a humble man who probably didn't have any idea of the impact he had on people's lives in the area.
- With files from Marty Gervais


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pitching one day, crutches the next

On Tuesday Sam pitched 2 1/3 great innings to close the team's first victory of the season. And he had some hits too.

Today - he is on crutches.

Not sure when or exactly how he did it, but he broke his ankle!

Off to the orthopedist tomorrow for an exam and decision as to whether he need a cast and how long he has to stay off it.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Pray for the Church in Zimbabwe

A priest friend of mine served for many years in Harare, and was pushed to leave by the bishop in this article. It is heartbreaking to see what is happening in this lust for political power by Mugabe. Pray for the Church!!!

From the International Herald-Tribune
Zimbabwe's rulers unleash police on Anglicans
By Celia W. Dugger
Friday, May 16, 2008
JOHANNESBURG: The parishioners were lined up for Holy Communion on Sunday when the riot police stormed the stately St. Francis Anglican Church in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. Helmeted, black-booted officers banged on the pews with their batons as terrified members of the congregation stampeded for the doors, witnesses said.
A policeman swung his stick in vicious arcs, striking matrons, a girl and a grandmother who had bent over to pick up a Bible dropped in the melee. A lone housewife began singing from a hymn in Shona, "We will keep worshiping no matter the trials!" Hundreds of women, many dressed in the Anglican Mothers' Union uniform of black skirt, white shirt and blue headdress, lifted their voices to join hers.
Beneath their defiance, though, lay raw fear as the country's ruling party stepped up its campaign of intimidation ahead of a presidential runoff. In a conflict that has penetrated ever deeper into Zimbabwe's social fabric, the party has focused on a growing roster of groups that elude its direct control — a list that includes the Anglican diocese of Harare, as well as charitable and civic organizations, trade unions, teachers, independent election monitors and the political opposition.
Anglican leaders and parishioners said in interviews that the church was not concerned with politics and that it counted people from both the ruling party and the opposition in its congregations. Yet the ruling party appears to have decided that only Anglicans who follow Nolbert Kunonga — a renegade bishop in Harare who is a staunch ally of President Robert Mugabe — are allowed to hold services.
Over the past three Sundays, the police have interrogated Anglican priests and lay leaders, arrested and beaten parishioners and locked thousands of worshipers out of dozens of churches.
"As a theologian who has read a lot about the persecution of the early Christians, I'm really feeling connected to that history," said Bishop Sebastian Bakare, 66, who came out of retirement to replace Kunonga. "We are being persecuted."
Church leaders say the struggle in the Anglican diocese of Harare is not only over its extensive, valuable properties, but also over who controls the church itself in a society riven by political divisions, especially since the disputed elections of March 29.
Kunonga, who broke with the church hierarchy late last year and recently called Mugabe "a prophet of God," is known in Zimbabwe as an avid supporter of the ruling party and a proponent of its seizures of white-owned commercial farms, often accomplished violently. In fact, he appears to have benefited richly from the policy himself.
While such strong allegiances have clearly played a role in the attacks on parishioners, Anglicans beyond Zimbabwe have also taken steps likely to have enraged Mugabe and the ruling party, known as ZANU-PF.
The worldwide Anglican Communion issued a statement in January expressing "deep concern" about Kunonga's close ties to Mugabe. Then on April 21, amid the postelection intimidation of opposition supporters, the communion called on all Christians to pray for Zimbabwe's rescue "from violence, the concealing and juggling of election results, deceit, oppression and corruption."
And three weeks ago, an Anglican bishop in South Africa persuaded a judge there to halt the delivery of Chinese-made ammunition to Zimbabwe's military — bullets the bishop warned could be used to repress Zimbabweans.
This is not the first time that a church has felt the ruling party's fury. Last year, state-controlled television showed photos of one of Mugabe's most ferocious critics, Archbishop Pius Ncube, a Roman Catholic, in bed with a married woman, effectively neutralizing him as the leader of the clerical opposition to Mugabe's rule. This month, the state-run newspaper, The Herald, reported that the woman had died "lonely and miserable after being abandoned by Ncube."
Now Bishop Bakare's followers, who include most of the city's Anglicans, say that Kunonga has falsely told the government that they are politically aligned with the opposition — an accusation the ruling party seems to be taking seriously.
Despite a High Court order requiring that Anglican churches be shared among the worshipers, church officials say that only people who attend services led by priests allied with Kunonga have been allowed to pray in peace.
This week, the Supreme Court dismissed Kunonga's appeal of the sharing order, but church leaders say they are far from sure that the law will be enforced.
A widowed mother of five who sings with the choir at St. Francis Church in Waterfalls — and who was too frightened to be quoted by name — asked despairingly this week where she could seek solace now that her church was no longer sacrosanct.
"I go to church to talk to the Lord and feel better," the woman said. "Now, I don't know where to go."
Neither Kunonga nor his spokesman, the Rev. Morris Brown Gwedegwe, has returned repeated calls seeking comment.
When Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka, a police spokesman, was asked about police assaults on Anglican parishioners, he said he was unaware of such episodes and asked for the names of those complaining. "Give me names, because without those I will not comment," he said. "Thank you and bye." Then he hung up.
At the heart of the conflict with Kunonga is more than property and power, but also some of the church's core values. Kunonga told Anglican officials last year that he was withdrawing from the mother church because of its sympathy toward homosexuals, they said. By October, the Anglican Province of Central Africa said Kunonga had "severed" his relationship with the church.
Bishop Bakare said Kunonga had preached hatred of gays and lesbians, contrary to the Harare diocese's stand. "We believe in a church that is inclusive, a church that accepts all people," Bishop Bakare said.
But even a spokesman for an alliance of conservative bishops who oppose "the ordination of practicing homosexuals as priests," distanced them from Kunonga. Arne Fjeldstad, head of communications for the alliance, the Global Anglican Future Conference, said in an e-mail message that Kunonga was not part of the conference, but "rather that he's one of Mugabe's henchmen."
Kunonga appears to have gained much from that loyalty. In 2003, the government gave Kunonga a 1,630-acre farm outside Harare and a seven-bedroom house that sits on it, according to Marcus Hale, who said the farm, bought by his family in 1990 for $2 million, was confiscated without payment.
Kunonga's influence has been felt in church after church in recent weeks as well. Anglican parishioners said they found themselves shut out or driven out by police officers who claimed to be acting on orders from their superiors to allow only Kunonga's priests to preside.
At St. Paul's Church in the Highfield suburb of Harare, the congregation refused to budge and kept singing "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" when a dozen policemen entered the church on May 4. But the commander radioed for backup, and soon more than 50 riot police officers arrived, the church's wardens said.
Hundreds of parishioners were then drummed out of the church to the deafening beat of baton sticks banging on pews. People began taking out their cellphones to photograph the policemen who had forced them out.
The officers then charged into the scattering crowd, batons swinging. "Even myself, they hit my hand," said a stunned seamstress. "They said, 'Go back to your homes. You are not supposed to be here.' "

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Latest St. John's Video Upload


Here is another portion of the Easter Service - the Doxology and Our Father's God at the offertory.

Some day I will figure out how to keep it from loading two screens on blogger!


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Media coverage of the house fire

From the Grosse Pointe News - and of course we know that the baby is okay.

Fire guts part of Park house

May 08, 2008

Medics responding to a house fire on Beaconsfield late Tuesday afternoon rushed an infant to the hospital for precautionary treatment of smoke inhalation.

There were no other injuries reported in the two-alarm fire that gutted a front, first-floor living room. The child's condition wasn't known at deadline Tuesday evening, May 6.

The fire alert virtually emptied Grosse Pointe Park public safety headquarters. About 15 officers, including chief David Hiller and deputy chief John Schulte, rolled to the scene.

"When we arrived, flames and smoke were coming from the front windows," Schulte said.

The infant and mother were outside.

Lt. James Armbruster, incident commander, called a second alarm while officers unrolled preconnects — hoses already connected to the fire truck's onboard water tanks — and began the attack."Heavier flames came out as furniture in the room combusted," Armbruster said.

"We pulled our preconnects and knocked it down pretty quickly," Schulte said.

Officers wearing heavy coats prevented flames from igniting the porch, then, wearing air masks and tanks, went inside.

"We made an interior attack through the front door and knocked down the flames," Armbruster said."Quick attack was key," Schulte said.

Farms medics and a City pumper truck responded to the second alarm.

Investigators hadn't determined why the fire started, but Armbruster said, "Our initial information from the tenant was there was perhaps a candle she was burning. That has not been verified.

"The house's battery-powered fire alarm beeped as officers checked throughout the dwelling. No fire spread to adjacent rooms or upstairs. Water leaked into the basement.

Despite venting from large fans, radiant heat and smoke residue produced an oily stench in the burned room that made the air heavy and clung to clothes. A crucifix hanging from a blackened plaster wall in the ruined room appeared undamaged.

"We can only stress safety with candles — no combustibles under them, near them or around them," Armbruster said. "One little bump and you have a fire."— By Brad Lindberg


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

St. John's appears in an Emmy nominated video (local)

St. John's appears, about 1.5 minutes into this video, which has been nominated for a local emmy award. Ernie Harwell is speaking and they show the church with the old banner, which was destroyed this past winter by the wind.

To see the video go here
and click on the picture for the Tigers Opening Day video


Fire at the Curate's House

Please keep my curate and his family in your prayers. The curate's house caught fire Tuesday afternoon. Father, Katie and baby James (2 weeks old) are fine. Katie and baby were in the house when it started and were able to get out quickly. The house burned for less than 5 minutes, but the living and dining room are badly damaged, and there is smoke and water damage in the basement, and smoke damage throughout the house.

They are staying with me at the Rectory and arrangements are in motion to get them in some other housing in a day or two. The house should be fixed, D.v., in 4 to 6 weeks I was told by a contractor who is a neighbor and inspected the damage (my family lived in this house for 7 years and we know the neighborhood and neighbors well).

In the past year Father Curate and his wife have 1) gotten married 2) finished seminary 3) moved to Michigan 4) started a new job, 5) and had a baby. Now the fire. Any one or two of those things are a heavy adjustment. All six changes/transitions in one year can be a real trial!

Monday, May 05, 2008


It is hard to believe - my oldest is 12 today!

Happy Birthday to SAM!

(In the photo he is 3 or so, with Grandpa Cook)


Thursday, May 01, 2008


Tigers sweep the Yankees AT Yankee Stadium....for the first time since the year I was born (1966).

Which means after their AWEFUL 0-7 start, one month later they are 14-15, tied for second in the Central and only 1.5 games behind the White Sox!