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, August 01, 2023

The past is prologue - Rector's Rambling for July 30, 2023

In October of 2000 I read the history of St. John’s Church.  The 50th Anniversary Book an the 100th Anniversary Book were published on our original website, and I had been contacted by the search committee to consider applying to be the rector here.

Since then I have read both several  more times, and have also perused my way through old Chronicles and vestry minutes of the parish.  I am a history fan, and love reading about the history of places and organizations that I am in involved with.  And St. John’s certainly has a very rich history!

I remember seeing a statement “The Past is Prologue”, and it confirmed for me why I find history of places and people so interesting. That which has gone before us, and those who have gone before us, are the introduction to and foundation of who we are here and now.

We do live in a time where whatever is new is considered better, and where the past is looked down on with distain.  Yet we need to know the past to understand why we  believe what we believe and why we do what we do.

The two published history books certain give a wonderful overview of those early years.  Copies of the Centennial Books are available in the glass cabinet near the undercroft door.  And I find interesting the old copies of this weekly Chronicle, most of which we have bound and on the shelves in the parish library.  The Vestry Minutes are also bound and stored in a fireproof safe.

While looking through an old Chronical I discovered that the idea of a Christmas Eve Service was first tried in 1920s and although there were only a few hundred people in attendance compared to the 2000+ people on Christmas Day at 5 Services, it was worth trying it again the next year.  And recently Office Manager Elizabeth Savage was looking through some Chronicles from the 1960s and discovered a comment thanking David Boulton for sending a donation for the mitten tree from when he was in the air force!

We are blessed with a great foundation, and now we move forward in the same faith as those who have prayed in these pews these since 1859 (chapel) and 1861 (church).