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.




A Note from the Rector – 9/23/2018

The year of our Lord 2018 is the 68th year of this congregation’s ministry in Penn Wynne.  It is the 50th anniversary of our becoming an independent, self-sustaining parish. Inspired by this and leading up to our celebration in October, I am going to use the “Note from the Rector” to highlight some of our history and the history of some of the furniture and sacred articles that fill our beloved worship space.

Church of the Holy Apostles was founded in 1950 as the Chapel of the Holy Apostles.  The parish that established this chapel and sustained it for 18 years was Church of the Holy Apostles and Mediator in West Philadelphia.  So I will start with the founding of our mother church.

In 1867, neighborhoods in southwest Philadelphia were growing as soldiers were returning from fighting in the Civil War.  The Rev. Samuel Appleton, the rector of Church of the Mediator, and the Rev. Phillips Brooks, the rector of Trinity Church, Rittenhouse Square met with several others to explore the possibility of founding a new church to meet the needs of this growing part of the city.  Phillips Brooks was one of the Episcopal church’s greatest pastors and preachers (and an alumni of Virginia Theological Seminary, my own alma mater).  Earlier in 1867 he had written the hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” for his congregation.  Now he turned his considerable energy to founding a new parish.  He enlisted the help of the investment banker, Mr. George C. Thomas, who was a vestry member and deeply involved in the Sunday School at Trinity, Rittenhouse.  His name will appear prominently in the intertwined stories of Holy Apostles and her chapels, including what has become our beloved parish.

In early 1868, the fledgling congregation began meeting at a Presbyterian church, while work began on a church building of their own at the corner of 21st and Christian Streets. Reticent and first to leave Trinity, George C. Thomas quickly became the driving force of the new church.  He began work on a Sunday School.  On the first Sunday, the Sunday School was attended by 37 children.  Under Thomas’s leadership, Church of the Holy Apostles Sunday School grew to be the largest in the diocese, and one of the largest in the entire country.  At its peak before World War I, the Holy Apostles Sunday School averaged 1,500 students a Sunday.  Shortly after the Sunday School began, the vestry called the Rev. Dr. Charles D. Cooper to be their rector.  Cooper was Phillips Brooks’s best friend (more on him and his significance to our congregation next week).  The original frame building was completed in October of 1868.  Within two years, a new stone building was built, with a large contribution from George Thomas, and the Sunday School used the frame building, which they quickly outgrew.  A new Sunday School building was finished in 1873.  The neighborhood was struck with financial difficulty beginning around 1876, and the church suffered financially as well.  The building projects had incurred some debt which the congregation did not pay off until 1882, when the Church of the Holy Apostles was consecrated.

More to come next week!

James +

A Note from the Rector – 9/16/2018

Last Thursday at 11AM was the inaugural meeting of our weekly Bible Study.  It was fantastic.  Five of us sat around the table in the Memorial Room.  We each brought our different interests and life experience, and with a prayer we opened up our Bibles together and discussed what we read there.  It was not a class.  It was discussion, and a time of mutual learning and discovery.  For me, it is a great honor and joy to be part of such a holy time.  We began reading the Acts of Apostles.  The 5th book of the New Testament, right after the 4 Gospels, Acts was written toward the end the 1st century (A.D. 80-90).  It is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke and describes the actions that founded the early church, starting with Christ’s Ascension.  It is a theological narrative: a story that tells us something about God, and about ourselves.  It is an extraordinary book, and full of many little surprises.  Whether you’re new to Bible study, or whether you’ve read and studied Acts many times, you are guaranteed to learn something new and life-giving.

I know many folks work during this time.  For you there will be many other opportunities this Fall and Winter to gather and learn about our faith together.  You are also welcome to read the book of Acts along with us.  For those who can join us, even once in a while, please do. I am convinced you will find it a positive and faith-building experience.  Here is our tentative reading schedule for the next several months.  We may have to adjust as we go along because we’re taking our time, but this will give you an idea of where we’ll be if you’d like to jump in sometime!

Thursdays – 11AM

Sept. 13 – Introduction 1:1-11

Sept. 20 – 1:12-26

Sept. 27 – 2:1-12

Oct. 4 – 2:14-36

Oct. 11 – 2:37-47

Oct. 18 – 3:1-10

Oct. 25 – 3:11-26

Nov. 1 – 4:1-37

Nov. 8 – 5:1-16

Nov. 15 – 5:17-42

Nov. 22 – Thanksgiving; No Bible Study



A Note from the Rector – 9/9/2018

I am very pleased to welcome back the Sunday School and the Choir this morning!

I read an article recently that explored the philosophical and scientific mystery of why listening to music gives humans pleasure.  The long and the short of it is: it’s a mystery.  Music can be open-ended, unexpected, and difficult to interpret.  It is capable of speaking to us in multiple ways, including directly to our emotions through non-verbal means.  It may be this quality of mystery itself that gives us pleasure.  I think the mystery of music is tied up with the mystery of God.  Human observation (science) cannot prove the existence of God, and if it could, the God it showed us wouldn’t be worth worshipping.  However, within the world of the natural senses there are many pointers to God, things that make us wonder, in both senses of that phrase.  Music is one of these pointers.  It can be so transcendent, and move us to such a deep level that we cannot help but wonder if music itself speaks of the mystery of the divine life.  For many people, music is one of the ways they sense God’s presence.  That is why music is so important for the worship of the Church, and that is why I am excited for a new year of exciting and beautiful music led by our intrepid choir under the skilled and learned direction of our organist and choir director, Paul Emmons.  St. Augustine was right when he said, “When you sing, you pray twice.”

The Sunday School is one of the ways we welcome children in our midst and ensure they and their parents know that children truly belong at Holy Apostles.  More than that, I am pretty sure God likes kids best.  Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like a little child, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).  God delights in the rambunctious joy of children in our midst.  Children are a treasure for God’s Church, not only as its future, but also as its present.  Children enhance our life together, and show us what it means to approach God and life with innocence, vitality, and wonder.  Or is it innocence, vitality, and wiggles?  Probably both, and we are better people for providing a safe and fun environment for our children.  Today after service, we celebrate these manifold blessings—Choir and Sunday School, children and music—with ice cream!