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

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

40 year ordination anniversary of Fr. Bedford - Rector's Rambling for July 24, 2022

     Today, in addition to celebrating the 6th Sunday after Trinity, we are also giving a special “Thanks be to God” for the 40th Anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of our own Fr. Michael Bedford on July 24, 1982.

Before his ordination Fr. Bedford had a secular career in the business equipment industry.  Studying for ministry at the diocesan school, now known as the Whitaker School for Ministry, Fr. Bedford was ordained a deacon in 1977 and began his ministry at St. John’s Church in Plymouth.  He then became deacon in charge of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Redford where he was ordained to the priesthood, serving there until his initial retirement.

Attending and assisting at our St. John’s during the rectorate of Fr. Dick Kim, Fr. Bedford served as the supply priest at the beginning and end of the interim period before my election, and helped the interim, Fr. Leovy, as well.

Shortly after my arrival here, Fr. Bedford asked if I minded if he and his late wife Mary attended on Sundays.  It is customary when  new priest arrives at the parish that the clergy who previously served there absent themselves from the parish for a period of time.  But as you know, there are not many parishes around here like St. John’s!

I not only welcomed Fr. Bedford and Mary’s attendance, but was also  grateful that he was willing to assist at the altar for many years and also celebrate and preach on the Sundays when I went away on holiday.

A few years ago Fr. Mike decided that some of those years were catching up on him and asked to be excused from serving at the altar (retiring once again!)but I am most grateful that he continues to attend Services on Sundays when health, weather, and family obligation permits! Afterall, he drives over 45 minutes to get here!

Not many ‘second vocation’ priests who are ordained in their 50s get a chance to celebrate 40 years of ministry.  We are most grateful to be able to do so today!  And I thank God for his faithfulness to Jesus Christ, to Him in His Church, and to this parish over all these years.  And I am grateful for his friendship, advice and counsel to me as a fellow priest.

Thanks be to God for these 40 years of ministry.


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Back to 'normal' - Rector's Rambling for July 17, 2022


After being away on vacation and then working this past week at the St. Michael’s Conference for Youth, I am looking forward, God willing, to returning back to a ‘normal’ routine.

A major part of the normal routine for me is to offer the Holy Communion Service during the week on Monday through Thursday.  It is one of the great honors (for which I am humbled) of the priesthood to be able to do so.

While away on vacation I prayed Morning and Evening Prayer every day—it s a part of the rule of life of the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) and quite frankly a minimum requirement for clergy I would think.  And then at the St. Michael’s Conference for Youth we had choral Evensong every day—nothing beats singing the Daily Office with 60 people every day!  And we also had a full Solemn High Mass each morning as well, a Holy Communion Service with singing and all the liturgical trappings of the finest of liturgies.  I got to be the celebrant one of the days, and the other priests on staff the other days.  It is a nice change to be ‘in the pews’ for Mass, something I don’t usually get to do. 

But there is a wonderful sublime mystery to offering a simple weekday Low Mass (Holy Communion Service with no music/singing or other finery).  This Service is generally about 30 minutes long, and it is a chance to be quiet and intimate in prayer in a different way than a Sunday 10 AM  Service, which I also love very much!  Attendance varies from 2 to 10.

Fr. David Ousley, a retired priest in the Philadelphia area once wrote that the difference between a Sunday High Mass, and Low Mass on a weekday can be compared to a Grand Banquet with a King, and a simple weekday supper with the family.   Sunday is the grand banquet with lots of guests and the weekday Mass is a daily supper with the family.  Of course in both cases the King (of Kings) is the dad at the meal.

I would encourage you to attend a weekday Holy Communion.  We have parishioners who are regulars at these Services, and because they are usually in the church with the front doors open we have guests there as well. 




















Thursday, July 07, 2022

Another St. Michael's Conference begins! - Rector's Rambling for July 10, 2022


After a time away for a family holiday I am grateful to be back at St. John’s!

       But having said that, this week ahead is perhaps one of my busiest of the year (except for Holy Week/Easter) because this afternoon I head out to Manresa Retreat Center for the week for the St. Michael’s Conference for Youth.

This is now my 24th year on staff of this Conference here in the Midwest (I started while still Rector of St. Mary’s in Charleroi, PA, in addition to the 2 years on staff at the East Coast one.  It is a remarkable week of worship, learning, and fun-fellowship for the youth people as well as the staff, but pretty exhausting as well.  56 year old me has a hard time trying to keep up with the active 12 to 20 year old Confreres and younger staff.  When I started with this conference I was the young priest on staff...I am now the second oldest!

We definitely desire your prayers for the week, that God will bless the staff and young people as they spend the week together.  We have been bless with mostly drama and problem free conferences, but of course that is because we are covered in prayer, and under the patronage of St. Michael.

This year I will be teaching two of the classes.  Survey, which is required for all first year members.  This class is a 5 days of Christianity 101.  We start with “who is Jesus”, and then have classes on “sin, salvation and grace”, the major and minor sacraments, and the Bible.

The other class I am teaching is on the book St. Augustine’s Confessions, a fantastic book for all of us to read!  If you have not done so I encourage you to.

Our new office manager, Elizabeth Savage, will be in the office this week along with Harriett,  and in an emergency I can be reached in the afternoons.  We do stay at the retreat center for the week as a part of the formation of the community together.  As an eastsider, Bloomfield Hills seems like the other side of the world (at least the other side of Metro Detroit), but the grounds of the retreat center are lovely and facilities outstanding.

God willing next week we will get back to normal with our weekday worship schedule.