All posts by Steve Clay

REMARKS ON THE FIRST LIGHTING OF THE SAINT MICHAEL’S STEEPLE

By Robert L. Howie, Jr., Historian Emeritus and Chair, Tercentenary Committee
All Saints Day
November 1, 2015
6:00pm

More than 50 years ago the idea was proposed of erecting a steeple to replace the one that graced St. Michael’s from 1714-1793, when it was taken down, bring rotten. A decade ago the idea of a new steeple fired our imaginations as we began planning our 300th anniversary and our fourth century.

With the erection of the steeple, a cherished wish for many has come true, and what is old is new again. It is and will remain the most visible of our 300th anniversary gifts to ourselves, and a landmark in the Marblehead skyline. On a practical level, it will make it easier for people to find us, which has not always been easy.

While the new steeple more accurately reflects the exterior appearance of the original church, the motivation was not to look back to the 18th century, but forward into the 21st and beyond. The steeple is less historical than aspirational, an outward and visible symbol of our mission to proclaim the Gospel and to seek transformation in God’s grace.

A steeple is often the first thing you see of a church from a distance, which is intentional. A steeple reminds the faithful not only of where they should go to worship, but also that they should worship. It is part of its function. If you can see the church, then the church—and God—can see you; the steeple implies that you are safe within the protection of the church. It draws our attention upward, towards Heaven, and to God. While the weathervane has a civic function—telling us the wind direction, it also has a religious one—reminding us of God’s presence in every direction, and the extent of his creation. It also reminds us that whichever way the wind blows, we will not be blown off course, as the church is our anchor to windward.

And so it is fitting that on All Saints Day we conclude our 300th anniversary celebrations with the lighting of our steeple, a bookend, if you will, the last act of our Tercentenary. We would like to thank Steven Rosen, lighting designer; Andy Robinson, electrician; Ed Nilsson, project architect; and Jean Howe, whose generous gift enabled the installation of the lighting.

The steeple helps us communicate and proclaim to the wider community and beyond why we exist, what we believe, who we are, and to welcome one and all to this House of God. We celebrate our past as a source of continuity and strength, our present as we live out the Gospel in this place, and with the church as our foundation, joyfully set our course for the future.

May 24-26: St. Michael’s Exhibition Opens at Town House

The history of one of New England’s most historic churches will be told in a new exhibition on view over Memorial Day weekend in Marblehead’s recently restored 1727 Old Town House. Among the topics discussed are the early history of Marblehead, the founding of the church in 1714, its struggles for survival in the 19th century, architectural changes and enhancements through the 20th century, and St. Michael’s role as a vital community partner serving generations of Marblehead residents for three centuries.

Exhibition hours: Saturday, May 24, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, May 25 and Monday, May 26, 12 noon to 4:00 p.m.

The exhibition is fully accessible.

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Date/Time
Sat 05/24/2014 -
Mon 05/26/2014
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Location
Old Town House

Categories


Included in the exhibition is a selection of manuscripts from St. Michael’s extensive archival collection as well as ecclesiastical and decorative art objects owned and used in the church from the 18th to the 21st centuries.

May 18: 1928 Book Of Common Prayer Service

Up until the 1978 Book of Common Prayer, it was customary to have Morning Prayer most Sundays at the mid-morning service and Holy Communion only once or twice a month. On Sunday, May 18, we will hold our third “historical” service celebrating our 300th
anniversary. The 8:00 and 10:00 services on May 18 will be
services of Morning Prayer following the liturgy of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. The 8:00 service is a said service; the 10:00 service will include music. Please mark your calendars!

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Date/Time
Sun 05/18/2014
8:00 am - 11:30 am

Location
St. Michael's Episcopal Church

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May 18: Bill Crane Organ Recital featuring cello and violin

The virtuosity of C. B. Fisk’s Opus 69 organ will be on full display in “Organ Plus” a program of twentieth century music by, among other composers, Faure, Beach, Pinkham and Alain with Baroque organ works by Buxtehude and J.S. Bach.

The 2014 St. Michael’s Church Tercentenary Series will conclude Sunday, May 18 with a 5:00 p.m. concert by Portland, Oregon organist, Bill Crane. “Organ Plus” will also feature cellist Justin Kagan and violinist Neal Kass in a program of Baroque organ works and twentieth century music for organ and string instruments. A suggested donation of $10 to benefit the Marblehead, Massachusetts’ church’s concert series fund will be taken at the door. All are welcome and a reception will follow the concert in the Parish Hall at 26 Pleasant Street.

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Date/Time
Sun 05/18/2014
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Location
St. Michael's Episcopal Church

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Notes On The Program

Among the ten pieces being performed at the May 18 concert will be the J.S. Bach Fantasy and Fugue in g Minor, BWV 542; Andante (Romance) for cello and organ, Opus 69 by Gabriel Faure; Olivier Messiaen’s The Heavenly Banquet; Passacaglia in d Minor, Bux WV 161 by Dietrich Buxtehude; and Toccatas for the Vault of Heaven by Daniel Pinkham.

Organist Bill Crane, making his fifth performance in the concert series, will perform on St. Michael’s C B Fisk, Opus 69 organ built for the church in 1974. A graduate of Florida State University and the Schola Cantorum (diplome superieur) in Paris, Bill is a resident of Portland, Oregon where he is artistic director of Music in the Woods and a member of the management team for the Trasimento Music Festival in Umbria, Italy. In 2009 Crane produced “24/7” – twenty-four classical music concerts in twenty-four hours involving some 250 performers marking the occasion of seven years of American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Among other organizations, cellist Justin Kagan has been a member of the Oregon Symphony, Portland Cello Project and the Astoria Music Festival. He has performed as a soloist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York City and was principal cello in the State Symphony Orchestra of Mexico. He is also the proprietor of Badbeard’s Microroastery in Portland, Oregon.

Violinist Neal Kass was a founding member of the Boston Philharmonic who currently performs as part of chamber music ensembles and offers an annual intensive string quartet workshop with the Manhattan String Quartet. A student of Isidore Cohen of the Beaux Arts Trio and Dorothy Delay of Julliard, Mr. Kass attended Harvard University and the New England Conservatory. A practicing psychiatrist in Concord, Massachusetts, he currently teaches child psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Hospital.

May 4: Covenant Exchange Service At St. Michael’s

On Sunday, May 4th at 5:00 p.m. St. Michael’s Episcopal Church will receive the Marblehead Ministerial Association’s Covenant from Grace Community Church during a special Evensong service at the 26 Pleasant Street church. People of all faiths are invited to attend, joining the congregations of the Ministerial association to observe the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Covenant which originated in response to a widely publicized incident of vandalism and desecration at Temple Emanu-El and at Marblehead’s Jewish Community Center. Since 1989 the Covenant has resided, on a rotating basis, in each of the houses of worship comprising the 13-member Marblehead Ministerial Association.

All are welcome to the May 4th service. Refreshments will be served.

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Date/Time
Sun 05/04/2014
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Location
St. Michael's Episcopal Church

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In 1989, the desecration of Temple Emanu-El and the Marblehead Jewish Community Center was a watershed moment for the entire community, as the stunning expression of hatred could not be ignored. The Marblehead Ministerial Association Covenant was written and signed as a pledge of honor by the houses of worship in the community to uphold the U.S. Constitution and freedom of worship and to stand united as communities of faith in opposition to all forms of bigotry, racism, and intolerance.

The Association’s 13-member organizations include the congregations and leaders of Marblehead’s religious denominations and also the Marblehead Counseling Center. Every year, the framed Covenant documents are passed from one congregation to another, symbolizing and re-affirming the Association’s purpose. As is customary, the Covenant Service takes place within the context of a worship service typically conducted by the hosting congregation.

Receiving the covenant in 2014 is especially important to St. Michael’s. Founded in 1714, the church is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year.

May 10: Parish Historians Society Annual Meeting

The 2014 annual meeting of the Parish Historians Society of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts (PHS) will be held on May 10, 9:30am to 3:00pm in Massachusetts’ oldest Episcopal church building, erected 1714. We will review three centuries of change in architecture, liturgy and music, century by century with an afternoon workshop and “documents roadshow” led by Frances Harrell of the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).

The Rev. Andrew Stoessel, Rector, Architect Edward Nilsson and Mark Edward Nelson, Music Director of St. John’s Gloucester, will present the overview with demonstrations of the C. B. Fisk Organ, Opus 69.

Robert L. Howie, Jr., Parish Historian Emeritus and former diocesan Registrar-Historiographer, will provide us a tour of St. Michael’s Archives Room, built in 1983 with its early 18th century records conserved by the NEDCC using various special techniques.

“Antiques Document Roadshow”—Frances Harrell of the Northeast Document Conservation Center will present an overview of preserving parish records and professional conservation techniques. There will be time for questions, and participants are encouraged to bring items—stable enough for travel—for discussion of care and handling.

All are invited to attend—Parish historians, parish administrators, music directors, choir members, church neighbors and others interested in the history of Massachusetts Episcopal churches and their preservation. The fee of $20 includes lunch. The registration form is in the PHS Spring 2014 Newsletter at the Diocese of Massachusetts website.

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Date/Time
Sat 05/10/2014
All Day

Location
St. Michael's Episcopal Church

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“Massachusetts Shore Leave”

On November 8, 1944, the American Pictorial Service (a branch of the Army Signal Corps) shot this 9 1/2 minute video in Marblehead, entitled “Massachusetts Shore Leave”. It is a treasure trove of scenes of wartime Marblehead, and features an extended scene about — and inside! — St. Michael’s, featuring former rector The Rev. Roy I. Murray. The whole film is highly recommended, but the St. Michael’s scene starts at approximately 2:57.

The movie was discovered about 10 years ago in the National Archives by Sean Casey, a government contractor who grew up in Marblehead, and we are indebted to him for his assistance. More background info is available from this story, which originally appeared in the Salem News on November 13, 2013.

February 26: Judy Anderson on “Marblehead 1714″

Social and cultural historian Judy Anderson will speak about “Marblehead: 1714” – the year St. Michael’s Church was erected. Her illustrated talk will discuss community and social life of the period – including how Marblehead residents dressed and furnished their houses – and describe the many domestic and public buildings being constructed in the seaport town in the early years of the 18th century.

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Date/Time
Wed 02/26/2014
7:30 pm

Location
St. Michael's Episcopal Church

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Judy Anderson
Judy Anderson

Formerly curator of the Jeremiah Lee Mansion and a frequent lecturer on Marblehead topics, Judy Anderson is author of the award-winning Glorious Splendor: The 18th-Century Wallpapers in the Jeremiah Lee Mansion.