A Note from the Rector for 12/16/2018

The December edition of Connect-by-night at Holy Apostles begins tonight.  I cannot think of a more beautiful expression of the Christmas spirit than welcoming those without a home into this building that represents for us our spiritual home during this time.  One thinks of Mary and Joseph, far from home and without a place to stay.  It is very true that when we welcome our sisters and brothers in the Connect-by-night program we are welcoming none other than Jesus Christ himself.

Our parish family is very generous.  Recently we have participated in two great programs: Treats for Troops in October/November, which collected items that were sent to overseas military service personnel.  And our current ongoing collection for Philabundance.  Both projects were led—and in the latter case initiated—by the children of our community.  This is the work of the Gospel, plain and simple

I am reminded of the great 4th century preacher and bishop of Constantinople, St. John of Chrysostom, who preached in one of the largest and most beautiful churches ever built, the Hagia Sophia.  Though his church building was beautifully painted and adorned with a wealth of beautiful and valuable objects, John Chrysostom was relentless in reminding his listeners of what was really important.  He preached eloquently about the need to take care of the poor.  He warns people about giving lavish gifts to beautify their place of worship without also giving lavishly to care for those in need. He recognizes the importance of beauty in worship.  He recognizes the importance of having a space that is dignified and gracious, and that lifts people out of their normal routines and turns their hearts in worship to God, but St. Chrysostom warns us never to lose sight of the fact that Christ himself comes to us in the form of those who are poor.  Christ comes to us as a pilgrim in search of shelter.  Will we not welcome him?

In this season, when we rightly adorn and decorate our homes and our church, when we rightly celebrate and enjoy the gifts of life together with our friends and family, we are very blessed indeed to have the opportunity to also partake in Connect-by-Night to remind us what is really important about this season.  In the words of St. Chrysostom, “Do not adorn the church and ignore the poor for they are the most precious temple of all.”



A Note from the Rector for 12/9/2018

I am very happy on this day that our chief pastor, Bishop Daniel, is here with us to confirm eight very bright young people, and to receive one adult into the Episcopal Church.  Confirmation is the sacramental moment when a baptized person expresses “a mature commitment to Christ,” and receives “strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop” (BCP, p. 860).

Older children, youth or adults (as appropriate) who were baptized as infants or children are expected to be confirmed after a period of preparation.  This represents the choice of the person to take up for themselves the promises made for them by their parents and godparents at baptism.   Those who were baptized as adults, but who did not receive the laying on of hands by a bishop are expected to be confirmed.

Preparation for confirmation includes giving the candidate the information and tools necessary to discover the meaning of Christian commitment in their own lives.  This preparation includes instruction and reflection on Christian worship, faith, history, and practice with special attention given to the content of the baptismal covenant.

Confirmation or similar rites undertaken in other Christian traditions may be recognized as confirmation in the Episcopal Church.  If an adult has made a public affirmation of faith in another sacramental denomination (such as Roman Catholicism), they may be received by a bishop in the Episcopal church (see BCP pages 309-310).

If a confirmed member of the church has undergone a renewal of their faith, or if they have come back to the church after a time away, they are invited to reaffirm their faith (see BCP pages 309-310).

Baptism (not Confirmation) is the rite of full admission into the Church, the body of Christ.  If you are baptized, you are a Christian, and are invited by Christ to fully participate in the Church, the Church’s other sacraments, and into the Way of being a disciple of Jesus.  Confirmation, reception, and reaffirmation all occur in continuity with baptism, and with reference to the Baptismal Covenant (BCP, pp. 304-305).  In a very real sense, when you are confirmed, received, or make a reaffirmation, you are publicly expressing the fact that you understand, receive and sign-on to the Baptismal Covenant.

Please join me in congratulating those who are received and confirmed this day.  It is a special day for our parish.  Thanks be to God!



A Note from the Rector for 12/2/2018

Advent is here.  Many of us prepare advent wreaths for our homes during this time.  An advent wreath can be as simple as 4 candles.  For the first week of Advent, from now until next Saturday, one candle is lit, and then another candle is lit for each of the remaining weeks.  In my family, we light the appropriate number of candles on the wreath during our evening meals together.  Below is a short service to pray when you light the wreath (adapted from the BCP pp. 109-111)

Leader Light and peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord

Everyone Thanks be to God.

A reading from Scripture

If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, and the light around me turn to night,” darkness is not dark to you, O Lord; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike.

Leader                 Let us pray

Lighten our darkness, we beseech you, O Lord; and by your great mercy defund from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of your only Son, Our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Add the appropriate prayer for the week of Advent

First week of Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the

dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Second week of Advent

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy

Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Third week of Advent

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Fourth week of Advent

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Light the candle(s).


O gracious light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

The service may end with the “Our Father” and/or a grace for the meal.




A Note from the Rector for 11/25/2018

Christ the King Sunday, also known as the Feast of Christ the King, is a really new thing in terms of liturgy.  It was instituted in the Roman Catholic Church in 1925. It became part of the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Based on the Roman Catholic Cycle of Readings for each Sunday, the RCL was created in the 1970s and 80s. It was adopted by many mainline protestant denominations, but not officially adopted by the Episcopal Church until 2006. (Before that we followed our own lectionary.)

Christ the King Sunday is the last Sunday of Ordinary Time (Green), and the last Sunday of the church year. Next Sunday, December 2, is the First Sunday of Advent which marks the beginning of a new liturgical year, and a new year in the three year cycle of the lectionary. This new year is Year C, which focuses on the Gospel of Luke. So today we finish Year B, which as you know has been focused on the Gospel of Mark. Since there’s only 3 years in the cycle, and Year A is assigned to Matthew, the Gospel of John doesn’t have a year of its own, so it is interspersed into all three years of the cycle.

We are very happy to have one of our own parishioners, Jeremiah Mustered, preaching today to close out the liturgical year. Jeremiah recently completed a process of discernment for the priesthood in our parish. He has been accepted into the diocesan discernment process (the next step) and will be continuing on the long path toward ordination. Keep him in prayer!





A Note from the Rector for 11/11/2018

This weekend is the 235th annual diocesan convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.  Though many of you will read this Sunday, I write this Friday morning, so the convention has not yet begun.  The major thing that will be discussed and decided at this convention, besides the budget, is the proposal to legally incorporate the diocese as a non-profit entity and establish, according to state law, a board of trustees to manage it.

By American standards, we are a very old diocese. Led by Bishop William White, we were organized in 1784 before there existed any of the current laws governing corporations, or non-profit entities (before there existed the Federal government of the United States, in fact).

If the resolution before diocesan convention is adopted, the board of trustees that will govern the incorporation of the diocese will consist of 13 members.  The bishop shall be the chairperson, and there will be three lay people appointed by the bishop, three clergy and six lay people elected by diocesan convention.  Everyone besides the bishop will serve three-year terms.  The extensive responsibility and power to manage and maintain the property and assets of the diocese will be consolidated in the board of trustees.  Currently, this power is vague and dispersed between the standing committee, diocesan council, and the bishop.  Those who argue for incorporation point out that the current system is confusing, ineffective, and has lent itself to lack of transparency in the past.  On the whole, for these reasons, I think that incorporation is a good thing.  However, I am concerned that we, the universal Church, as well as particular local embodiments of the church always remember that we are not simply a non-profit organization, nor are we primarily a business whose only concern is efficiency.  In theological terms, we are the Body of Christ, and that must be our first and foremost consideration when thinking about how we structure ourselves, even as we recognize that deliberate, transparent, and effective management of the Church’s temporal resources is absolutely necessary.

Beth Johnson, Marilyn Freeman and I are Church of the Holy Apostles’ delegates to diocesan convention.  Together, we will listen carefully and represent our beloved congregation to the best of our ability.

James +



A Note from the Rector for 11/4/2018

O Lord, you are my portion and my cup;

it is you who uphold my lot.

My boundaries enclose a pleasant land;

indeed, I have a goodly heritage.

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel;

my heart teaches me, night after night.


Psalm 16:5-7


Today begins our annual season of prayer and discernment about the ways God might be calling each of us to support what God is doing at Holy Apostles. This year’s theme is Heritage and Hope. I have written a letter to each household of Holy Apostles and have enclosed a pledge card in that letter with more information. Please look for your letter on the table outside the parish hall. Letters that haven’t been picked up this morning will be mailed this week.

Our ingathering of pledges will be Sunday, November 14. Our 10 a.m. service that day will be followed by a festive all-parish luncheon.

James +


A Note from the Rector 10/28/2018

Adapted from Our First Forty Years by Mildred Howard

The vestry of Holy Apostles and the Mediator decided to sell the original Holy Apostles property at 21st and Christian Streets to Shiloh Baptist Church in 1944.  One of the conditions of that decision was that money would be set aside from the proceeds of the sale for the construction of a new chapel in the growing western suburbs of the city.

Carroll B Maris, a parishioner of Holy Apostles and the Mediator who had recently moved to Penn Wynne, was instrumental in convincing the vestry to look here for the site of the fourth chapel.  The site on Remington and Dover roads was approved for purchase on July 1949.

Walter H. Poole of Davis and Poole, Architects, was commissioned to submit plans for a chapel and parish house.  Plans were approved in February 1950 with the parish house to be built first and the Chapel to come later.  Construction costs were to be kept at $126,000!

The Rt. Rev. William P. Remington, Bishop of South Dakota and former vicar of the Chapel of the Holy Communion at 27th and Wharton Streets, presided at groundbreaking ceremonies on April 15, 1950.  The Rt. Rev. Oliver J. Hart, S.T.D., Bishop of Pennsylvania, presided at the cornerstone laying on October 1, 1950.

The Rev. Robert Matthew Baur, assistant to the Rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia, was called to be the first vicar of the Chapel of the Holy Apostles, Penn Wynne; his tenure to begin October 1, 1950.

Although the building was still under construction, it was decided to hold a Christmas Eve service.  Without heat or light, wearing heavy coats and hats to ward off the cold and carrying flickering candles for light, an enthusiastic group of Christians prayed and sang Christmas carols.  The Overbrook Hills-Penn Wynne fire trucks played their searchlights on the building to further illuminate the gathering.

Not willing to wait for the Parish House to be completed, church services were held at the Penn Wynne Library from February until Easter Sunday, March 24, 1951.

Our church service record book shows attendance that first Easter to be: 35 at the 9 a.m. service, 75 children at 10 o’clock Church School, and 170 at the 11 o’clock service.  The altar and other furnishings were placed in what we now call the Godly Play room.  The parish hall and temporary worship space of the Chapel of the Holy Apostles, Penn Wynne were formally dedicated at 5 p.m. on June 24, 1951.  Bishop Oliver J. Hart officiated.



A Note from the Rector 10/14/2018

I am so delighted to welcome guests and family members of Felicity Louise Buschenfeldt to Church of the Holy Apostles for the occasion of her baptism!  What a joy it is to welcome her into the body of Christ.

I left the history of Holy Apostles right after the stone church building at 21st and Christian Streets had been consecrated in 1882 (that building is now Shiloh Baptist Church).  George C. Thomas, an investment banker and a deeply committed and energetic lay leader and benefactor of Holy Apostles paid for much of the furnishings of the original building, and probably purchased the altar and reredos (carved wooden thing behind the altar) that now grace our worship space.

By 1885, Philadelphia had grown further south and west of 21st and Christian Streets, and it was decided that Church of the Holy Apostles, in the missionary spirit in which it was founded, would found a chapel to serve the growing neighborhoods.  Beginning with a Sunday School, the Chapel of the Holy Communion grew quickly, and a new building was dedicated in January 1888.  It grew rapidly, and the Rev. William F. Ayer was appointed the vicar.  As a child Ayer grew up in the Holy Apostles Sunday School.  He attended Philadelphia Theological Seminary and helped to found Holy Communion.

Around this time the neighborhood around the Church of the Mediator (19th and Lombard), one of the two parishes that founded Holy Apostles began changing demographically.  Mediator’s membership had moved farther west and south.  Around the turn of the century, the parish attempted to build a new parish in south Philadelphia but this did not work out, and at length they asked to merge with Church of the Holy Apostles, and thus became its third mission.  George C. Thomas died in 1909.  Thomas’ widow provided the money from their estate to erect the building of Holy Apostles and the Mediator at 51st and Spruce streets in his honor.  The building was completed in 1919.

James +

A Note from the Rector 10/7/18

Today we celebrate St. Faith’s day, the feast of the patron saint of St. Faith’s Episcopal Church in Havertown. Over the past several weeks, I have been writing in this space about our history. As an integral part of this, I write today about the history of St. Faith Episcopal Church. I will begin with St. Faith herself. Sometimes known as St. Foy, she was a young girl who lived in the Aquitaine region of France and was martyred for her faith in Jesus at the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th century (approx. AD 297-304). She was probably one of thousands of Christians martyred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. According to St. Jerome, she was martyred by being made to lie down on a red hot brazier (notice the brazier depicted on the St. Faith’s Banner).

What follows is some of St. Faith’s parish history mostly from A History of the Diocese of Pennsylvania by Rev. J. Wesley Twelves.

St. Faith’s in Havertown began as a small community worshipping in private homes in 1930. The Rev. William Powell conducted services in the Brookline School House during 1932. In October 1932, the Convocation of Chester (now the Delaware Deanery)* decided to officially start a mission.

Ground was purchased on Brookline Boulevard and Allston Rd. With the help of the diocese a chapel building was erected in 1933. The Rev. William Powell was in charge of the mission until 1943. A parish house was added in 1934 and a rectory in 1937. The Rev. Aaron Manderbach served from 1945 to 1950. The mission assumed parish status in 1946. The Rev. Christopher J Atkins became rector in 1951, and the current church building was built in 1957.

St. Faith’s was closed in 2015. With prayer and discernment, many members of that congregation chose to move their membership to Holy Apostles. We are so glad they did. They have brought energy, dedication, and joy to our parish, along with their commitment to the Darby mission and other ministries. They have been inspiring, and truly life-giving to Church of the Holy Apostles. Though they are absolutely integral to us, and are part of this church in every way, we still desire to honor the legacy of St. Faith’s as an extraordinary place, and a spiritual home to many extraordinary people.

Besides the people (who are the true treasure of any church), we possess many of the treasured sacred vessels of St. Faith’s church some of which we are using today. These include the parish banner, processional cross, silver bread box, offering plates, and the brass Gospel book cover that we re-dedicate today as the St. Faith Gospel Book. This beautiful piece of artisanship depicts the symbols of the four Evangelists, with Christ Enthroned in Judgement in the center. It was originally given to St. Faith’s for the glory of God in 1982 by Janet Walens in memory of her mother, Veda McClenahan. I am very grateful that we can now cherish it together and use it to beautify our worship.

Finally, the Rev. Doris Rajagopal, missioner to Darby, is with us this morning. She was raised up for the ordained ministry at St. Faith’s. She is beginning to hold regular Eucharist services in Darby and needs some sacred vessels for this purpose. It is right and fitting that we share some of the St. Faith’s treasures (held by us in trust of the diocese) for her beautiful, on-going ministry to the borough of Darby.

*Our diocese is broken up into smaller geographical areas called deaneries, each led by a Dean.  The Delaware deanery covers much of Delaware county. Holy Apostles, right on the county line, is actually part of the Merion deanery.


A Note from the Rector 9/30/2018

At this point in the story of our history, I want to circle back to the founding of the Church of the Holy Apostles, and its first rector, the Rev. Dr. Charles D. Cooper.  Charles Cooper was born in Albany, New York on November 5, 1813.  He was educated as an engineer, but soon felt called to ministry.  After study and formation, he was ordained on March 17, 1841 by Bishop William H. DeLancey, first bishop of the diocese of Western New York.  Incidentally, Bishop DeLancey had deep ties to Philadelphia and had served as the 6th Provost of the University of Pennsylvania.

After ordination, Charles Cooper served as priest-in-charge of a church in Mt. Morris, NY, then Wilkes-Barre, PA, and Rochester, NY before arriving in Philadelphia in 1850 to serve as rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church on Franklin and Vine streets.  He served there for 18 years until his friend, Philipps Brooks, convinced him to become the first rector the new church plant, Holy Apostles in 1868.  Cooper was rector at Holy Apostles for 26 years.  During that time he tried to resign three times.  The vestry wouldn’t let him!  In 1891, three years before he was finally able to retire, the Rev. Cooper and the congregation of Holy Apostles celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.  At a special service, Cooper dusted off the very first sermon he ever preached as a priest way back in upstate New York.  The Scripture text that he based his sermon on was Galatians 6:14.  In the King James Version—the Bible Charles Cooper and his congregations would have known—that verse reads: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”  It must have been a good sermon.  After it was preached at Holy Apostles, money was raised in the Sunday School and from members of the congregation, and a new pulpit was commissioned to honor the Rev. Dr. Cooper.  The pulpit was to be made out wood and brass and would have four relief sculptures, one to represent each of the four Evangelists: Matthew (with an Angel), Mark (with a Lion), Luke (with an Ox) & John (with an Eagle; see Ezekiel chapter 1, and Revelation 4:6-9 to understand where these symbols came from).  Near the top of the pulpit a phrase from Galatians 6:14 would be inscribed: “God Forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The pulpit was installed in the church building at 21st and Christian streets.  When that building was sold in 1944, the pulpit was removed along with the lectern, altar, reredos, and other items.  Those items sat in storage, until they were brought to the Chapel of the Holy Apostles in Penn Wynne, in 1950-1, where they were used in the parish hall until the new church was completed.  We have been using Dr. Cooper’s pulpit ever since.  For me, personally, it is a great honor and serious responsibility to preach in that pulpit.  It gives me a deep sense of connection, not just with our history, but with the vast communion of saints that connects us as brothers and sisters with Dr. Cooper, and all the faithful women and men who have come before us, and have made this church what it is.  My prayer is that we will continue to make that motto ring true in this church and its preaching and teaching, as well as in our own lives.  Let us glory in nothing, save the cross of Jesus Christ.