A Note from the Rector – 10/13/19

This is a special Sunday.  I know I’ve written that before, but really: this is a special Sunday.  Today we are honored to welcome our Mother parish, Holy Apostles and the Mediator for a special shared Eucharist AND we are honored to welcome Madeleine Diana Fleckser into Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church through the Sacrament of baptism.  Each of these two events are exciting and wonderful in their own right, but they are also integrally connected.  Our history reveals part of this connection.

In 1868, the vestry and rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square decided to establish a mission church to serve the growing post-Civil War population of southwest Philadelphia.  They partnered with Church of the Mediator in Philadelphia. The church that grew from that partnership was Church of the Holy Apostles, first located on 21st & Christian streets.  By the early 20th century, Church of the Holy Apostles became the largest parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.  In the early years of the 1900s there were 5,000 children enrolled in the weekly Sunday School. Around this time, Church of the Mediator and Holy Apostles decided to partner, and a new building, Chapel of the Mediator, was built on 51st and Spruce streets in West Philadelphia in 1919.  The establishment of this chapel reflected the congregation’s movement from south to west Philadelphia.  As this migration increased after the First World War, the Chapel of the Mediator flourished, while the congregation which met at the original Holy Apostles diminished. 

In 1944, the original Holy Apostles building was sold and the parish was consolidated in West Philadelphia.  The church was renamed Holy Apostles and the Mediator. In 1950, Holy Apostles and Mediator established the Chapel of the Holy Apostles in Penn Wynne.  This reflects the fact that many members of the congregation were moving farther and farther west into the suburbs, a movement that has been dubbed “white flight.” 

The funds from the sale of the original building on 21st and Christian streets were used to buy this property and build the parish hall.  Throughout the 50s, Holy Apostles and the Mediator raised money to build our church building, while financially sustaining this new congregation and ensuring that its first priests, Robert Bauer and John Kolb were paid.  When the church was built in 1959, the furniture from the original Holy Apostles in South Philadelphia was installed here: the altar and reredos (the wood panel behind the altar), the pulpit, the lectern, and the baptismal font.  Thus, Holy Apostles and the Mediator is responsible for the holy physical objects that shape our worship of God here in Penn Wynne every week.  

The font that baby Maddie will be baptized in this morning was originally given to the church in 1896 by George C. Thomas, who was, along with his wife, the primary benefactor to Holy Apostles in all of its incarnations.  Over more than a century, hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been baptized in this very font. That means something. Baptism is a spiritual and mystical tie which binds every Christian in every time and every place to each other and to Christ.  This baptismal font is a tangible, physical link between what has ultimately become Church of the Holy Apostles, Penn Wynne and Holy Apostles and the Mediator. It is a physical reminder that our histories and destinies in Christ are bound up with each other.  We are because they are, and this font reminds us of the debt of gratitude that we owe our Mother congregation, whose generosity benefits us every Sunday and especially on Sundays like this.  Hopefully this baptismal font will serve today as a symbol of our friendship, our mutual love for each other, and the joy we share in worshipping our God together as sisters and brothers.

In Christ,

A Note from the Rector – 3/31/19

I am getting excited for Holy Week and Easter!  Holy Week (the week before Easter Sunday) is April 14-20.  As it approaches, I want to highlight some of the deeply meaningful practices that make it the culmination of the Lenten season, and—If you include Easter itself—the culmination of the entire Christian year.  The week is a huge marathon of church (trust me, I know), but I cannot stress how valuable, transformative, and excited it can be when you throw yourself into it wholeheartedly.  My heart is racing just thinking about it (seriously). 

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil (Saturday Night) are all uniquely tied together.  They even have a special name as a group: The Tridiuum (tri-dee-um).  In some senses they are each different movements of the same service.  Maundy Thursday (6:30PM, April 18), doesn’t have a dismissal at the end.  A normal service ends with “Go forth in the name of Christ” or something like that, but Maundy Thursday just cuts off.  Likewise, the Good Friday liturgy (6:30PM, April 19) does not have the normal beginning to a service—there is no Procession, song, or even opening acclamation (normally services begin with: “Blessed be God…”).  The Good Friday liturgy just jumps right in.  And then there’s the Easter Vigil (8PM, April 20).  Don’t even get me started right now on the Easter Vigil.  Next week I am going to gush over the Easter Vigil, but suffice to say that the hair stands up on the back of my neck and my eyes get watery every time I even think about it.  

I want to circle back to Maundy Thursday, the night we celebrate Jesus’ last night before his death.  He sits down to one last meal (the Passover Seder) with his disciples.  He washes his disciples’ feet.  He institutes Holy Communion, the Eucharist.  He adjourns to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with his disciples, who can’t stay awake, and he is betrayed and arrested.  These events are re-membered and made alive in our own lives in a number of ways:

 1.  We will have an Agape meal with each other.  Agape means “love” and it is about the love that Jesus has for his disciples (us).  Various elements of that meal will have symbolic value and will remind of us of the story in various ways. 

2.    Next, we will wash each other’s feet.  This is awkward and weird, and it’s supposed to be.  That’s the point.  Jesus demonstrated that in his Kingdom the King himself is a servant to all, and that we, as disciples, must learn to serve each other.  Gross feet?  Don’t care.  Jesus—in the visage of one another, his body—is going to wash them anyway, if you let Him.   

3.   Next, we will have a Communion service that re-members (yes, I’m putting the dash there on purpose) and celebrates the first Lord’s Supper in a special way.  This will be the last time we say the Eucharistic prayer together before Easter, although extra elements will be consecrated (see below).  This will be followed by the Stripping of the Altar, a devastating ritual, where just about everything ceremonially removed that can be removed from the chancel (the area around the altar).  This symbolizes the movement of Jesus to the garden of his betrayal, and sets the stage for the starkness of Good Friday.

4.    New to us this year is a practice called the Altar of Repose.  At the Stripping of the Altar the extra bread and wine, including that which we always keep in the Ambry (that special wooden cabinet to the left of the altar) will be carried to a special altar outside our normal worship space.  Since we believe Christ is truly present in the bread and wine of Eucharist, this movement symbolizes Christ’s removal to the Garden.  Here, Christ prays in agony and asks his disciples to keep watch with and pray.  In the story (Mark 13:32-42), the disciples can’t do it.  They fall asleep.  Jesus returns and wakes them and says, “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?”

      At the Altar of Repose, we are listening to Jesus’ call to us to keep watch and pray with him.  You are invited to sign up (alone or in pairs) for an hour-long time slot Thursday night and the early hours of Friday morning for which you can return to the church, to the Altar of Repose, and pray with Jesus. There will prayers, readings and devotions available for you if you wish.  This is can be an especially meaningful time to take your own agony, or the agony of those you love to the presence of Christ and offer it there to him to be taken up into his passion & death and be transformed by his Resurrection.  On Good Friday, we will consume this reserved Sacrament with which we’ve prayed all night.  Even on the darkest day, the day when God dies on the cross, Jesus is still present to us in our own lives.   

Announcements for 3/3/2019


† Today is World Mission Sunday in the Episcopal Church.

† March 6th is Ash Wednesday.  The following services are offered:

7:30AM—Imposition of Ashes; no Eucharist

9:15AM—Imposition of Ashes; no Eucharist

12:15PM—Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes

6:30PM—Holy Eucharist with music and the Imposition of Ashes

† There are many opportunities to participate in a holy Lent this year.  Please pick up a Lenten booklet this morning, or look for the online version on our website soon.  Feel free to take a booklet for a friend or neighbor, it would be an easy way to invite them to church!

† Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30AM on Sunday mornings and at 9:15AM Tuesdays through Fridays.  Anyone can pray the service privately using the Book of Common Prayer or one of a number of smart phone apps!  See the last section of the digital edition of the “Acts of the Apostles” for details.


† We will be hosting our next Darby Mission meal on Tuesday, March 19th.  We will be cooking chili and need food preparers (main dish, cornbread, mac & cheese, salad, dessert) and people to join in and serve the meal.  We will meet at the church at 5PM to driver together, or 5:30 at the Darby Community Center (1021 Ridge Ave., Darby PA).  A sign-up sheet is posted in the parish hall, find the online sign-up sheet here.

Children and Youth

† Nursery Childcare is available during the 10:00AM Sunday service for children ages 3 and younger in the Godly Play Room.

† Sunday School: Children Preschool – 2nd grade and 3rd – 8th grade attend Sunday classes at 10:00AM, the same time as the church service starts; children join their parents in the church in time for communion. Classes are held on the 1st, 3rd, & 4th Sundays of the month. On 2nd Sundays children attend church with their parents, either the 10:00PM Holy Eucharist service or the 5:30PM Family Worship Service. When there is a 5th Sunday, children attend church with their parents, with some of the children taking part in leading the service.

† The Holy Apostles Choir School begins its pilot program in late February.  If you have a potential student, apply today.  Applications are available on-line or on the “connect” table. The Choir School will accept only 20 students for the pilot semester. Placement preference will be given to members of the Church of the Holy Apostles. More information is available at holyapostlespa.org/choir-school/. Please forward this information to friends and neighbors who may be interested. Contact Deb Stambaugh if you have any questions.

Parish Life

† March 5 we will celebrate Shrove Tuesday with a pancake dinner at 6:30PM in the parish hall.  Children in the parish are encouraged to come help James lock up the “Alleluias” until Easter morning.  Todd Delevan is providing some of his legendary homebrewed beer for the adults.

† If you enter the church building when the Little Friends Day Care is in session (7:00AM – 6:00PM Mon-Fri), and are anywhere other than in the church itself, please obtain a “Church Member” name tag from the Parish Office and wear it while you are here. This will show the teachers and children at the day care that you are a person who belongs here. Any workers/maintenance people or visitors who come into the buildings are required to wear a “Visitor” name tag to identify themselves to our own staff as well as to the day care staff and children.

† The Cash for Causes Program at Giant Supermarket:

-Purchase through JT Wertz

-5% of card value is given to Holy Apostles operating fund.

-Can be used in store or when ordering Giant groceries through     peapod online delivery service.


† You are invited to join our Lenten “soup group” which meet Wednesday nights in lent, beginning on March 13.  Come for the soup and stay for a lively discussion about faith and life (or come for the discussion and stay for the soup!)  This year’s topic is:

“Good News & God’s Mission”

† Bible Study is held on Thursdays at 11AM.

Diocesan Events

† Next Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 2:00 PM: Bowling with the Bishop at Wynnewood Lanes. Youth across the Diocese are invited for a day of pizza and bowling.



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.


Announcements – 11/19/17

Announcements for November 19th, 2017

The 24th Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 28


Welcome to Church of the Holy Apostles! This Sunday’s service is Holy Eucharist, Rite II at 10:00 a.m.  Our Guest Celebrant is the Rev. Canon Kurt Berlenbach. The Rev. James Stambaugh will serve as Deacon and Preacher.

Morning Prayer: This week, Tuesday and Wednesday in the church at 9:00 a.m.

Annual Thanksgiving Eve service, Wednesday, November 22nd: Evensong at 7:00 p.m. followed by fireside fellowship. This year we will celebrate the beautifully renovated Memorial Room.  Bring a dish to share and a delicious drink of your choosing.

Children & Youth

Childcare is available during the 10:00 service for children ages 3 and younger in the Godly Play Room.

Sunday School classes (preschool – 2nd grade and 3rd – 8th grade) are held on the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Sundays of the month, beginning at 10:00 a.m., the same time as the church service starts; children join their parents in the church in time for communion. On 2nd Sundays children attend church with their parents, either the 10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist service or the 5:30 p.m. Family Worship Service. When there is a 5th Sunday, children attend church with their parents, with some of the children taking part in leading the service.


Join us for our next Christian Education Mini-Series: Theological Liner NotesWednesdays at 6:30pm on December 6th, 13th, 20th.  Together we will listen to some great music and then discuss how the music relates to the person and work of God as well as questions of meaning and purpose for humans. Some of the artists we will listen to include Bob Dylan, Beyonce, Dave Matthews, Regina Spektor, and Oliver Mtukudzi.  James is open for other suggestions.

Outreach & Service

Darby Mission Meal: Wyatt Delavan’s Boy Scout troop 300 is planning to serve an Italian-themed dinner for the Darby Mission on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Additional support in providing and making food would be greatly appreciated. Food dropped off in the church kitchen will be picked up by the Delevans this Sunday, Nov. 19. If you can help, many thanks!  Please use the SignUpGenius link at http://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b0b45aca82da57-darby

Annual Dinner with East Parkside Association: December 11.  Stay tuned for more information on that.

Parish Life

This Sunday marks the culmination of our annual Stewardship Season, Celebrating God’s Good Gifts.  As we complete this important time in the life of our parish and gather our pledge cards this morning, the vestry and the deacon-in-charge want to thank those who spoke of their stewardship journeys, David and Suzanne Lees for coordinating this year’s Stewardship season and brunch, and especially to all who are able to contribute time, talent, and treasure, in thanksgiving to God, for the work of the Church of the Holy Apostles.  Our Celebration Brunch will immediately follow this service.

Seeking volunteers to help with our Pancakes with Santa extrava- ganza on December 2nd from 7:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. There is a sign-up sheet posted in the parish hall. Call or email Drew Meiers (610) 446-8340 or dkmeiers@verizon.net for more information.

Turkey Trot: 5K Run or 1 Mile Walk 9:00 a.m. Thanksgiving, Nov. 23rd. (Meet in front of St. Faith Church, Havertown.)

Come join the Smyth Family and express your thankfulness for good health and to raise money for the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.  The fee is $20 or $10 for participants under 12. This event is held each year in memory of Matt Smyth who passed away from testicular cancer at 23 and to remind men to check themselves. Make your donations payable to Abramson Cancer Center and in the memo put “The Matt Smyth Fund”.

Ordination to the Priesthood On December 9 at 4:00 p.m., our deacon-in-charge, James Stambaugh will be ordained to the priesthood by the Rt. Rev. Daniel Gutiérrez. The special service will take place here at Holy Apostles.  A reception will follow.  An important part of the service is for people to formally present James to the bishop. James would like to invite any and all willing members of CHA to be his presenters for the service. See BCP, pp. 526-7 to see what this entails.  Look for a sign-up sheet on the table across from the parish office.

The Parish Office will be open this week on Monday, Nov. 20th,  and Tuesday, Nov. 21st. The parish office will not be open on Friday, Nov. 24th.