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Cow Hollow Church News  

The Episcopal Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

Fall 2015

In Gratitude and Expectation The Rev. Scott E. Richardson, Rector What a blessed summer we have enjoyed together! I’m so thankful for Claire Dietrich Ranna and Kathleen Bean for the excellent work they did in putting together our summer forum series. And, more specifically, I’m grateful for the roster of great teachers who helped us move more deeply into our goal of personal and social transformation through the amazing offerings they made every week. If you weren’t able to attend all of the sessions then please know that recordings of the talks can be accessed through our website, thanks to the good work of Sandra Gary and Nancy Clothier. We also had the chance to test some different liturgies over the past three months. This has become the common summer practice at Saint Mary’s – our goal is to use the entire prayer book during the program year and then detour into some other rites in the summer so that we get an expanded sense of how others are praying to God and blessing their neighbors. This year we used rites developed by the Lutherans (with whom we are in full communion) and by Anglicans in New Zealand. We are curious to know what you thought of these offerings and encourage you to take the time to fill out the worship survey that Claire will be sending out. We also used the summer season to do repairs around the campus. This year the Vestry allocated $75,000 to paint the interior of the building, repair wood rot, do roofing work, and seal the windows above the Great Room (the site of a major leak last winter). We are also thrilled to announce that we have installed a new solar panel array above the administration offices and on the south side of the church. This was a major task, a multi-year effort led by Stephen Koch, that will result in lower utility costs and better environmental stewardship. Now, in gratitude and expectation, we turn our attention toward the fall program and look forward to welcoming back our huge group of Sunday School students and teachers, our incredible Confirmation Class, and our renowned choir. We will be saying hello to a new seminary-intern, Christie Fleming, and stand with Tim Smith as he takes up his ministry as a deacon in the church and the world. Helen Prejean, the nun dedicated to the abolition of the death penalty, will be preaching on Sunday, October 11 – you might recall her story being compellingly told in the movie entitled “Dead Man Walking.” And we will continue to lift up creation care as a core value of this congregation. But, first and foremost, we will strive to heed the voice of Jesus as he asks us to love God entirely and our neighbor mutually. None of us will ever be perfect in this regard, but we do believe that progress is possible for all. We grow in our ability to love through worship, prayer, learning, service, and generosity. Thank you for understanding that this is our highest calling and that everything we attempt to accomplish as a congregation will finally be measured by our adherence to this central commandment. We look forward to sharing this season with you in that spirit and under the purview of God.

Solar Power Comes to St. Mary’s

The solar panels are up. The project, two years in the planning and a month-and-a-half in construction, is complete. From any angle the panels look satisfying to anyone concerned with the good of the earth and good economy. We await only the approval of building inspectors to flip the switch on, powering our $80,000 project that is expected to bring utility savings of $9,500 in the first year alone and is anticipated to generate approximately 95 percent of our annual electricity consumption. The system will actually cause our PG&E meter to run backwards during the day and transform us into better stewards of our environment around the clock. An official dedication of the solar installation is planned for October 4 during the 11:00 a.m. service.

Photos by John Addeo, Manny Gabiana, and Carla Ocfemia Page 2

Fall 2015

The Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin

News of Note from the Sr. Warden Jim Griffith The Philanthropist Among Us It’s fall. Time for back to school, back to church, back to the routine. It is also the beginning of the Asking Season. School alumni organizations send out requests, local arts groups begin their season of subscription, and many nonprofit organizations prepare their budgets for 2016. We, too, at St. Mary’s will soon begin our Stewardship Campaign for 2016. Before you make your next charitable contribution or pledge, it would be worthwhile to spend some time reflecting on your underlying motivation for giving. Taking a moment to reflect upon what truly drives you to give can lead to more effective and focused philanthropy. Indeed, the decision of how much to give, to which cause, and when to give, will naturally follow from your evaluation of why you want to give. Understanding the factors that influence your giving, as well as the goals that are significant to you and your family, is crucial not only to ensure that your philanthropic activities are effective, but also to ensure that your charitable giving is aligned with your overall wealth planning. The decision regarding how much to give, when to give, and to which causes are all closely intertwined. Determining why you are motivated to give is the key starting point. You may believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to give to those less fortunate and that giving is a moral imperative. You may be driven by a strong sense of duty or obligation to fellow human beings and a deep concern for society to function fairly. Many are aware that they are the recipients of significant material benefits and they would like to acknowledge their good fortune by “giving back.” Or, your life has been enriched by the arts, theatre, opera, or classical music and you may be inspired to support museums, orchestras, and similar institutions. Another common motivation for giving is the desire to transfer positive values to younger family members. For many, charitable giving is a tradition that they have “inherited.” Giving to religious organizations evokes many reasons and can include many of the above Cow Hollow Church News

motivations. But perhaps the most overlooked reason for supporting the church: it brings joy! There are several basic questions regarding charitable giving that you may wish to explore:      

Why do you wish to give to charitable causes? Which charitable causes are you giving your money and time to now? How involved are you in the causes that you wish to support? Why are you involved? Do these activities or charitable organizations reflect your values and goals? How will family members be involved in making gifts?

Another way to frame the question “why give?” is to think about it in this way: every dollar you spend, no matter what it is on, is a vote for the way you want the world to be. Every dollar you spend is a vote. Next, develop a plan for giving. Spend as much effort on the plan as you do with tax planning, estate planning, and budgets. For some, a possible outcome of developing a plan may be that you conclude that making substantial gifts to charity at present may not be appropriate given your current personal and financial goals, such as funding your retirement and providing for your family. Perhaps, as you become more financially secure, charitable giving may become a more important part of your financial plan. The Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin is very fortunate to have had many philanthropists who have sustained the parish for nearly 125 years. Many parishioners have included the church in their charitable plan: participating in annual giving, providing ad hoc gifts during the year, and remembering the church in a will or trust (see the story on Transformative Gifts, on page 15). However your charitable plan develops, giving ultimately rests on your values and those of your family. Once your values are clearly articulated, you can create a charitable giving strategy that is engaging, effective, and focused on what really matters to you. Text liberally taken from: The Diversity of Philanthropic Motivations, by Marguerite Griffin Fall 2015

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As it happens, Sunday School is likely to be the only place children will hear those stories or learn the Nancy Clark, Sunday School Co-Director meaning of Christian holidays and celebrations. In our multicultural community and with the firm and On the liturgical calendar, Advent is the first season good commitment of schools and teachers to of the church year. For families, however, celebrate diversity in its many forms, a side effect has September’s been to pass over Back to School Christian stories Season is an and holidays advent unto itself (historically the and with it dominant culture) entreaties to buy and instead focus new supplies, on the stories and join new teams, celebrations of new clubs, new other traditions. after-school Diwali, Norooz, programs. The Ramadan, phrase “Mark Hanukkah are Your Calendar” recognized, but abounds. Good Christmas and news, parents: Easter are sidehaving your stepped. So children take Sunday School part in St. Mary’s takes on the Sunday School added role of program is just a equipping In June, our confirmands celebrated together in the library of Grace Cathedral matter of children with an following their confirmation by Bishop Marc Andrus. Caroline McDermott showing up. awareness of their joined 21 of the 23 graduates of St. Mary’s confirmation class for the occasion. Registration and own heritage and Under the experienced tutelage of Phil Woodworth, confirmation class the first day of traditions. members were: Eleanor Baenen, Taylor Berwick, Piper Brooks, Colby Case, classes for this Dillon Case, Sally Cobb, Ryan Darwin, Maggie Doyle, Alexandra Ellwein, Sean coming Sunday Parents, as this Ferguson, Phoebe Froeb, Elizabeth Hayashi, Colette Hom, Annabel Kocks, School year will Carson Levit, Claire Madsen, Emily Nutting, Stella Smith, Daisy Tuller, Will new school year be September 13, Veatch, Bayard Walsh, Jay Henry Wells, and young Philip Woodworth. begins and as but if you miss noted above, you that day, no problem. We welcome children all are faced with the challenges of another school year, through the year. marking your calendar, and lining up extracurricular activities of every description, we hope you will put Our aim from Sunday to Sunday, throughout the year participation in life at St. Mary’s as special family time, and in varying ways as children move through the down time, a calming time. As one child noted, “I grades is to bring our Sunday School children to full like church because it’s the only time grown-ups and participation in the community life of St. Mary’s. kids kneel and say the same words and sing together.” Feeling at ease in the Sunday School classrooms, At St. Mary’s, in our worship services, our Sunday meeting children from other schools, learning a new School activities, and our community life, we strive to prayer or two, learning about saints and heroes, nurture spirituality and put in practice the words of a figuring out what we do in church and why we do baptism prayer: “O Lord, give us an inquiring and those things, and hearing Old and New Testament discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, Bible stories are components of our Sunday program. a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.”

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Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin

Acolytes Debbie Veatch, Acolyte Coordinator, with Sandy Briggs St. Mary’s is blessed by the participation of many young people during the 9:00 a.m. Sunday service. Children and youth sing in the Children’s and Youth Choirs, serve as lectors and acolytes, and teach Sunday School. Each week eight youth from fourth through twelfth grades don their white albs and blue cinctures, and begin the service by leading the processional.

All fourth through twelfth grade students are welcome to become acolytes. In the fall, we train new acolytes and current acolytes who are ready to advance to Server or Crucifer, as appropriate. If you or your child is interested, or you have any questions, please contact Sandy Briggs at or 415-346-6457, or Debbie Veatch at or 415-752-1676.

Advancing at RSCM Chip Grant, Director of Music

New acolytes are trained as Torch Bearers, who A year ago, when chorister Edwin Burnam graduated accompany the Crucifers during the processional and from eighth grade and Youth Choir, he had three recessional, and the Gospeler during the Gospel goals: singing in the Parish Choir, singing at the Royal reading. In sixth grade, many acolytes elect to be School of Church Music in Washington DC, and trained as Servers. Servers collect the oblations from singing at the Pope’s the oblations bearers, New Year’s Mass in collect the alms basins Rome in 2016 with the from the ushers, and Golden Gate Boys assist the priests at the Choir. So far, he has altar. Servers often achieved two out of the worry about accidentally three. pouring wine rather than water over the Choristers at Royal celebrant’s hands in School of Church Music preparation for the need to be Eucharist. You probably recommended for have no idea that this participation, and happens, because when Edwin represented St. it does, the Celebrant Mary’s for the second and Server gracefully year this summer. The recover while masking silver medal that he their surprise. Once in wears over a purple high school, acolytes may Acolytes ready to serve: left to right, Charlotte Wyman,  ribbon, earned by become Crucifers and carry Frannie Sutton, George Sutton, James Sutton, Mack  passing a proficiency the crosses. Several acolytes Woodworth, Ellie Boyden, and Ben Boyden. test, is the second are specially trained as highest award one can achieve at RSCM. The gold Thurifers. Thurifers prepare the incense, put it into level is achieved by very few, usually college students the thurible, and swing the thurible for special or adults. Since his voice services, such as Christmas Eve and Easter. changed this year from alto to tenor, I thought it best to let his Fifty-three acolytes served during the 2014-2015 voice have a year to settle while academic year. Our Associate Acolyte Coordinators, he also gets some more Emma McBride, Frannie Sutton, and Ginny musicianship and sight-singing Woodworth helped train new acolytes. Our youth under his belt. We are proud to leaders were especially adept at keeping their eyes have him represent not only St. open and thinking quickly to gracefully adjust to Mary’s, but also the West Coast service changes. at the prestigious RSCM. Edwin at RSCM

Cow Hollow Church News

Fall 2015

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A Mini-Ministries Fair In the spirit of our annual ministries fair in the courtyard that launches our fall programs, and to acquaint you with the work of our liturgical ministries, here is a mini-introduction to the activities that make our worship flow smoothly. Here, too, are names of people to contact if you are inspired to join in. Also see more stories in this issue of the Cow Hollow Church News on: Lectors and Prayer Leaders (opposite page), Acolytes (page 5), and Children’s Homilies (page 11). Altar Guild The Altar Guild is a ministry of anticipation and celebration. Each week, we ready the sanctuary with flowers and greens, fresh candles, and clean linens to welcome God’s people into a sacred time and place. We’re eager to share the fun, and are looking for new members – men and women of all ages. We've even added a few committees that could use your help if you have only a little time to spare each week or month, or are interested in one-time projects. Please contact the clergy, any Altar Guild member, or Deborah Franklin at to learn more about how you might contribute to this ministry. The Flower Committee The Flower Committee is part of the Altar Guild; our charge is to arrange flowers for the altar for the Sunday services, in accordance with the church calendar. Our ministry is generously supported by the congregation, for which we are very grateful. Steven Currier and Joanne Squire co-chair our group, which now comprises eight flower arrangers. Everyone’s experience is varied, but it is a great committee to be part of, a group that works quietly behind the scenes to ensure the readiness for Sunday services. We work in pairs once a month to arrange the flowers for Page 6

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Sunday and as a group, at Christmas and Easter. The flower committee is regularly brought in to arrange for weddings, memorials, and funerals at St Mary's. We are always looking for new members with flower arranging experience to join us. It is a time commitment, but when else can you play with flowers in the peace and quiet of our sacred space, occasionally accompanied by Steve Repasky practicing on the organ. It's truly a spiritual experience and a privilege to serve. Contact: Joanne Squire at Chalice Bearers Chalice Bearers assist the clergy at the altar, and during Communion they administer the chalice. At the 11:00 a.m. service, they carry the cross and torches at the processional, at the reading of the Gospel, and at the recessional. As well as serving on Sundays, the Chalice Bearers serve during Holy Week and the Easter and the Christmas services. Chalice Bearer scheduling is done by Pam Bledsoe and the training sessions, which are held two to three times a year, are conducted by Bob Bledsoe. Reach them at Lay Eucharisitc Visitors A Lay Eucharistic Visitor (or LEV) is a person who is trained to distribute the blessed elements of Holy Communion to persons unable to attend Sunday worship. As Christ makes himself known through the Church, St. Mary’s Lay Eucharistic Visitors represent our faith community gathered together in prayer and thanksgiving. Licensed by the Diocese, Lay Eucharistic Visitors bring the word of God, news of parish activities, and the opportunity to receive the Holy Eucharist to those who are homebound and/or those temporarily unable to attend services, such as those recovering from surgery, or families with a newborn. Fellow parishioners and family members may also participate in these visits. Training at a Diocesan workshop and individual instruction at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin

prepares those who respond to a call to this ministry. If you feel called, contact Natalie Hala, by phone at 408-316-3845 or email at Ushers Ushers present the first face of the parish to newcomers and regular worshippers entering the courtyard at St. Mary the Virgin, as welcoming hosts. They guide worshippers to seats and throughout the service. Ushering is an enjoyable way to contribute your time and talent to the SMV community and is a minimal commitment of once per month at the service of your choice. We also ask for volunteers to assist at special services such as Christmas Eve and Easter. Ushering is also a great way to meet people as you welcome them in the courtyard and assist in helping to make the services run smoothly and help to create a worshipful atmosphere. If you have an interest in joining the usher team, please contact David Sullivan at or 415-928-4989, or let any of the ushers know of your interest. We hope that you will consider joining this vital and enjoyable ministry at St. Mary’s. Pastoral Care Team This team of people provides compassionate, spiritual support for parishioners. We offer various services such as meals, transportation, personal calls, and notes, all provided with respect and confidentiality. Contact: Rev. Nancy Bryan, Deacon, at

Why I Read and Lead Mari Coates, Lector Coordinator I am a words and a story person, so volunteering as a lector seemed an obvious way to contribute to our worship. What I didn’t expect was the sudden wave of nervousness that hit the first time I stood at the lectern. Of course, there was nothing to do but hold onto the big Bible, take a tentative breath, and begin. To my great relief, the words—bigger than my self-consciousness—began to draw me in. I calmed down and found the rhythm of the text, and discovered as well a surprise benefit of reading aloud: What can be easy to skim over silently—the formality of Biblical language, the strangeness of some of the names, the occasional violence of the stories—cannot be ignored when read aloud. I am compelled to listen Cow Hollow Church News

as I read, and very quickly the text opens itself in a generous and illuminating way. I am not a Biblical scholar, nor do I know anything about the way the Bible was selected and arranged. But as a lay reader, I enjoy reflecting on what’s in front of me. For example, that the value of paper in the ancient times of writing likely affected the authors’ stylistic choices. I can safely conclude that if a word is in the text, it’s there on purpose. Likewise if it’s repeated! So I begin to experience the Bible as both spare and lavish. Look at the Creation story in Genesis. It all happens very quickly even as it’s carefully measured in allotments of evenings and mornings and days—a masterpiece of poetic design. There is a “formless void” and “a wind from God [that] swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Well, you know the rest. When I read this aloud, in my imagination I am zooming across the waters, discovering the dry land, and am suddenly bathed in the brand new light. I marvel at the whole astonishing bringing forth of living things that follows and find myself emerging onto a new and different shore. The prophet Ezekiel certainly found himself in an unfamiliar place when God showed him the Valley of the Dry Bones, and when I read the ringing challenge—“Mortal! Can these bones live?”—I feel I am there, awestruck as the dusty bones are covered with sinews and flesh and animated with the breath of life. Will that happen for you should you decide to become a lector? I can’t say, but it surely might. Still, there are caveats: while reading aloud in church can be deeply personal, it is first and foremost a dialogue with the congregation. As readers we are there to convey the living Word to those listening in the pews; thus we are careful to speak out clearly and directly and at a good pace. If you find yourself drawn to this powerful ministry, I hope you will let us know. We offer written guidelines and person-to-person coaching. We would love to include you in an experience that can alter your relationship with the Bible and with God. For more information, contact

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Stewardship and Furniture Roulhac Austin, Stewardship Co-Chair, with Jory Sandusky What do stewardship and outdoor furniture have to do with one another? For me, stewardship and outdoor furniture are beautifully entwined. Restore and Recycle We have porch furniture at our summer spot in northern Michigan which we’ve restored and refurbished. In fact, a sermon at St. Mary’s on stewardship in 2000 prompted us to search out artisans to restore rather than discard it and buy something new. The cottage has a long history of restoration and recycling. Built in 1896, the cottage was modernized with a steel shower in the ’30s, and electrical stuff over the years, but it remains largely cared for with original claw foot tubs and “cottage board” tan woodpaneled walls. There is no insulation because it snows too much to visit in the winter.

tables over the summers. We see their work all around town, too. Nothing new needed. Supporting the Local Community We’ve been thrilled to support real artisans in their communities. In Michigan, the summer season is only six weeks long, so every dollar helps these people remain self-supporting during the off-season, when the county’s poverty rate is 45 per cent. New Acquaintances Through our repeated interactions with Don and Max, we’ve become friendly and trusting with both men and their families. Don had a serious health issue a couple of years ago, and found a sympathetic ear in us, coaxing him on via email throughout the winter. It made Tom’s heart sing when we first saw Don and he said, “Hey, Tom, so glad you’re back!” From the start of a project, we talk with them about what we want. They set the price, we pay, they work their magic, and we get photos to whet our appetite for coming to visit them both.

Enduring Friendships When Tom’s Our porch is the parents bought the Tom Austen in Michigan, enjoying the wicker furniture that supports  heart and hub of our cottage in 1962, they the local community, and anticipating the arrival of friends. summer. On our acquired all the rockers in the morning contents: indoor and outdoor furniture, books, with coffee and a paper, we wave at the kids on bikes silverware, dishes, pots and pans, the works; most of or tricycles whizzing by or the folks heading off to it had been in the cottage at least 30 years or more. tennis. Afternoons bring waves from the kids After Tom and I spent several summers at the returning from their organized play-dates or from cottage, we found a local artisan named Don Kelly adults just strolling around. We’ve met all of our who stripped, repaired, and repainted the indoor friends in these interactions, and that’s about 60 furniture. Another fellow, Max, reupholstered or people who’ve been coming around for 20 summers. recovered the cushions. Each porch gathering becomes a party: there’s no better way to get to know someone than over a cool The wicker porch furniture, also acquired, has glass of something and a little snack, right? likewise been re-caned, a dying art. We love “Don’s barn,” where all the old wicker furniture in town is This summer the annual porch party yielded a special taken, much of it 100 years old or more. We’ve had gift. I was invited to an ecumenical women’s bible Don and Max restore beautiful old wicker rockers and study in the neighborhood. Sharing the bible with the Page 8

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Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin

women in the group casts us all in a whole new, loving light in each others’ eyes. One fourthgeneration attendee said the bible group really uplifts the tone of the whole place.

You Don’t Have to Struggle Alone

One of our early porch pals introduced us to Don, who introduced us to Max, which led to the porch becoming the heart of our visits -- including bible study. We’ve come full circle. I am filled with wonder for this grace and adventure with all this old stuff made new through friends and friends of friends all the while.

Are you having trouble adjusting to life without someone you continue to love deeply? Have you just lost your job, or are you facing a crisis in your career? Do you still have pain to share and no one to listen? Does that new baby take more time and energy than you ever imagined possible? Are you still trying to find meaning in retirement? Are you suffering a severe health problem or caring for someone who is? Have you struggled with conflicting feelings about placing a loved one in a care facility?

By simply choosing to restore the furniture rather than replace it, we were able to create relationships, support local businesses, be more ecologically friendly, and enhance the community. Much like a domino effect, one simple action rooted in the idea of being good stewards created a number of positive changes all around us. It also enhanced our own sense of belonging and spiritual well being -- just as participating in stewardship at St. Mary’s does.

Celebrating Our Patron Saint

David Crosson

Sooner or later, we all will face times of confusion and crisis. Each of us will some day walk in the wilderness. But we don’t have to walk alone. Stephen Ministers are here to walk with you. September marks the first anniversary of the Stephen Ministry program at St. Mary’s Church. Stephen Ministers are lay members of the parish who have completed 50 hours of training to provide confidential, Christ-based pastoral care to people in crisis. Over the past twelve months, St. Mary’s-trained Stephen Ministers have met with 11 care receivers with a wide variety of needs, from career decisions to medical crises, to death of a loved one. Some care relationships have lasted just a few weeks, and others for many months. Stephen Ministers are there as long as they are needed.

Following a worship service on August 16, marking both the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin, our patron Saint, and the third anniversary of the beginning of the Rev. Scott Richardson’s ministry as rector to our congregation, we celebrated by eating cake in the courtyard. Above, Parish Administrator Carla Ocfemia serves up the first piece to webmaster Nancy Clothier.

Cow Hollow Church News

Stephen Ministers are people you know in the parish: Lee Walsh, Megan Topping, Nan Slavin, Linda Sharp, Sheila Santangelo, Arthur Perkins, Josie McGann, and David Crosson. They certainly do not replace or replicate the pastoral care provided by our priests and deacons, but they are able to walk with you over a more extended period of time. And all caring relationships are absolutely confidential. If you want to explore the Christ-centered pastoral care that a Stephen Minister can provide, talk to the clergy, email, or contact David Crosson at 408-316-0478 or

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Our New Seminarian Sandra Gary, Editor of the Cow Hollow Church News Christie Fleming was born in Hawaii (in the same hospital as President Obama) and has hopped from coast to coast. She once did marketing for a stained glass studio in Vermont, took a job with a Hispanic trade association in Washington DC, and served as wedding coordinator for St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego. “I've done all kinds of wild and crazy things,” she says. “I do feel fortunate to have had the experiences.” A breadth of life experiences has allowed her to develop a talent for empathy and listening that led her to work as a counselor, a spiritual director, and a hospice chaplain. Expanding and refocusing her gifts for pastoral care, she is now enrolled at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, one of the ten seminaries of the Episcopal Church in the US. She will be doing required field work with us, joining St. Mary’s community as our seminarian, beginning September 13. Christie has completed the first of three years of study. “I'm not quite wet behind the ears,” she says. “I'm 57 years old. It's quite a challenge to go back to school at my age.”

Christie Fleming gets to know our inner courtyard

Declaring herself to be, “very hands on” she is also very game. She is just back from a three-week adventure in Panama, spending some of that time in a town that she describes as “so small Google doesn't even know where it is.” She helped school children with their English homework, refined her Spanish, and experienced total cultural immersion living with a family in their home with dirt floors with no running water. “I showered with toads,” she says, “And met the chicken I ate for dinner.”

She already understands about ministering to people in a hurting world. She served as a chaplain to the mentally ill, homeless community in San Diego for a year and a half; counseled patients at a women’s clinic in Washington DC both in the delivery room and in the abortion clinic for nearly two years; and acted as a hospice chaplain in San Diego for almost seven years.

At St. Mary’s, Christie will immerse herself in our urban environment. She will join us two days a week, attending liturgy and staff meetings as feasible given her commute from Berkeley and juggling classes, homework, and duties as a CDSP’s sacristan. She will preach at least one sermon a semester, attend vestry meetings, learn about budgets, and learn about our approach to outreach from our new deacon, Tim Smith. “I always look forward to learning about how Page 10

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communities feel called to serve in a world that's hurting,” she says. “I'm looking forward to learning how that works at St. Mary's.”

Then she found herself in the hospital. As she tells it, “I was profoundly ill and almost died. It taught me how to be a lot more sensitive to what pastoral care looks like -- what's helpful and what's not helpful.” Right after she was admitted, she received a visit from the hospital chaplain. “The chaplain came in and cheerily said to me, 'Hi. I see you are a hospice chaplain, what's your favorite scripture?' I just felt very, very sick. And then she said, ‘You'll be glad to know that we are all born again Christians here.'” Weak and stunned, Christie replied, “‘Just go away.’” She adds, “I do have a favorite scripture, but golly gee, I was so sick, that's not what was on my mind at Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin

that moment. And -- she made an assumption that I would be glad to know she was born again.” In 2005, Christie completed a two-year program at the University of San Diego, a Catholic university, to become a certified Spiritual Director, and has practiced ever since. Her own spiritual growth now brings her to be a postulant for Holy Orders. St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego is sponsoring Christie to discern her call to be ordained a priest. St. Paul’s is also where she first became acquainted with the Rev. Scott Richardson, who served as Dean of the Cathedral. Scott is a strong supporter of Christie’s. He says, “Christie is deep and fun -- you don't always get those two traits in the same person. I have known her for 12 years, endorsed her bid for ordained ministry, and am delighted that fate (read God) brought her to be among us at St. Mary's. People are going to love her because she will first love them.” “You are a vibrant community,” Christie says, declaring enthusiasm for her new position. We at St. Mary’s look forward to welcoming our new seminarian with equal enthusiasm.

On Giving a Children’s Homily Sandy Stadtfeld The Children’s Homily When those words appear in the bulletin, they cast a spell of taut anticipation across the congregation, foretell entertainment and wisdom for those in the single-digit age bracket, and instill dread in someone about to face a tough crowd. For our readers who attend other services, the Children’s Homily is a brief lesson for pre-school children at the 9:00 a.m. Sunday service. After the Gospel reading, a designated Children’s Homilist comes forward, convenes all the little children at the front of the church, and relates to them a brief interpretation of scripture. After an offering and hymn, the children depart to attend their Sunday School classes. Sounds simple? Bear in mind, then, that these kids are sharp and articulate; the address includes a roomful of attentive adults (some of whom are priests), and the Children’s Homilist is typically a lay (theologically un-credentialed) volunteer. For all its pitfalls, though, this ministry is both gratifying and humbling and is sure to expand Cow Hollow Church News

your own understanding of scripture, not to mention your comfort zone. So congratulations if you’ve volunteered to be a Children’s Homilist! Here are some things to consider before your big debut: Study the readings On some Sundays, the appointed lessons, Psalm and Gospel may have a common theme, from which you may be able to derive a message that may have meaning for young children. There will be Sundays, however, when it isn’t easy to discern or articulate that meaning. You might contact one of the clergy for help -- they are professionals, trained to solve this problem every week. You can certainly consider other material related to the readings, including the date in history, current events, the weather, or milestones in the life of a pre-schooler. It isn’t necessary to have brilliant insight, just to share an essential idea with a thoughtful community. Short and simple While your audience is typically enthusiastic and engaged, their attention is limited, can wander, and even be entirely lost. Discussing one (1) idea for three (3) minutes (1:3) is therefore a reliable formula. Brevity and simplicity needn’t limit you to the most obvious themes, but more complex ideas require critical thinking and editing if you hope to get them across. These children can be surprisingly sophisticated and subtle in their thinking. If they go home with questions for their folks, then you’ve done a heck of a job! Active participation The children’s homily needn’t be quiet, static, or a lecture. Whether you bring some object to share, lead the children in a cheer, or get the entire room to do the Hokey Pokey, active engagement helps the children comprehend and retain your message. The easiest way to involve the children is to solicit their own understanding, experience, or examples. This works best if you ask questions that don’t have “correct” answers, and if you sincerely listen to and acknowledge what they say. You’re the catalyst What could be more rewarding and fun? Remember they are still little kids, and their parents are sitting close enough to retrieve them if things get out of hand. But that probably won’t happen. Good luck and Happy Homilies! Fall 2015

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Youth Mission Trip to Wind River, Wyoming Diana Silvestri, Youth Group Missioner We began our Mission Trip journey with a short plane ride to Salt Lake City, and then a five-hour car ride just west of the Grand Tetons through Idaho. For many of us this was our first time in this area of the country, but the scenic views and wide open spaces exceeded all of our expectations. For some, including myself, the green mountains and valleys were jarring because I constantly compared them to California’s drought stricken “golden” landscape. We arrived at our cozy - but spacious - cabin for two amazing days in and around Yellowstone National Park, filled with hiking, exploring, and swimming - along with some interesting car entertainment which included Ryan Lally’s descriptive retelling of The Shining. After two fun days bonding, we traveled to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The Wind River Reservation is an American Indian reservation shared by the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes of Native Americans in central Wyoming; this is where we would complete the service component of the mission trip. The first night, we met the staff of

YouthWorks and the other groups from Arkansas, Maryland, and La Jolla, and slept in our sleeping bags on thin foam pads on a hard floor. On the reservation, we painted, scraped, and worked on reservation residents’ Shoshone pow-wow demonstration homes. We also helped at the Kids Club which is an afternoon camp/Vacation Bible School for kids on the reservation. Both were meaningful, but different types of service. Each evening there were different activities, including a hike with huge mosquitoes and beautiful rapids, a pow-wow demonstration, two

Mission Trip youth and leaders ready to take on service in Wind River, Wyoming: left to right, Charlotte Cobb, leader Riley Haggin, Sadie Ray Smith, Maddie Vestal, Catherine Silvestri, Director of Youth Programs Michael Stafford, Ryan Lally, Diana Silvestri, Duncan Walsh, Elsa Dierkhising, and Jack McBride. Page 12

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delightful Shoshone speakers, and a community cookout. We made strong connections with the people we were serving, as well as with the other groups with whom we were serving. Over the years I have become very comfortable with the idea of service; I have defined it through my experiences, have written about it for college essays, and use it quite easily in conversation. Yet this week in Wyoming brought my understanding of service to new heights. These are some of the people and interactions that made it happen: Ms. Polly showed me how to express sincere and heartwarming gratitude. Ms. Polly is an elderly American Indian whose yard we tended. Throughout the day she brought us popsicles and beautiful bracelets to show her gratitude. The kids at Kids Club reminded me of my love of soccer, playing with kids, performing, arts and crafts, and just how privileged and blessed my life really is. Steve, a parent from Arkansas, showed me how to be the most steadfast, loving, and willing server - and how I can serve far beyond the initial call. Each sunset, lake, mountain, waterfall, forest, and buffalo reminded me of the world’s natural beauty and how vital it is that we protect it. The St. Mary's group inspired me to stay focused and continued to remind me how fun service can be when alongside friends. ...and much, much more.

Scraping and painting homes on the reservation

Service is integral to my identity, and for this I partly credit these mission trips. While I often miss the laziness of summer, friends, and comforts of home (this week I especially ached for my mattress!) these mission trips continue to be highlights of my summers, and the past mission trip weeks accumulate to be some of the most meaningful times of my life. Mission trips have offered me opportunities to travel, to meet new people, to learn new cultures, and to activate and feed my faith in God. Wyoming was my fifth and final mission trip, and as I boarded the flight home to San Francisco I could firmly say it had left me no less refreshed, revived, and renewed as in years past. Thank you all for affording me -- and us --these experiences by praying for us and by contributing financially. These trips have affected me so deeply.

Buffalo: reminders of the world’s natural beauty Cow Hollow Church News

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Newcomers’ Corner: The Perry Family Maureen Perry After several years of “wandering,” our family has finally found a spiritual home at St. Mary the Virgin. The warm and welcoming community, vibrant and intellectual clergy, thought-provoking sermons, and wonderful children’s programs offer everything we have been looking for. My husband, Michael, comes from a rich Anglican background, with Episcopal priests appearing in the family every other generation, while I was raised Roman Catholic. We were married in the Episcopal Church and our daughter, Seda, was baptized by her grandfather in a moving ceremony when we lived in Sonoma County and were members of the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. When we found ourselves returning to live in San Francisco, we were also in search of a new church.

Growing up as a “priest’s kid” in the Episcopal Church, Michael found that his family’s social circles Fall 2015

During our search for a new church, we visited the Episcopal church closest to our home on numerous occasions. Michael and I both realized that based on our past experiences, our expectations were rather high and, unfortunately, that church just didn’t feel like the right fit for us. I then suggested that we might investigate a nearby Jesuit church, thinking it might have what we were looking for since I had gotten so much out of the last Jesuit church I attended. Though we liked it, it wasn’t possible for Michael and Seda to participate as full members of the parish due to their having been baptized into the Episcopal faith. We realized that this was unacceptable, and I certainly didn't expect them to convert. We tried out yet another

Maureen, Michael and Seda Perry getting acquainted with fellow parishioners at the rectory

As a child, I went through the motions of attending mass with my family, but lost my connection to the church after leaving the nest to go to college. It wasn’t until I was in a postgraduate program at a Jesuit university that I began to weave my interest in social justice issues together with my Christian beliefs in a meaningful way. Out of curiosity, I began to attend the noon-hour mass just to listen to the visiting Jesuit scholars and was hooked. The stories of Christ’s teachings came alive and took on a completely different meaning from those I listened to week after week in my youth. After this eye-opening experience, I knew that returning to the uninspired Catholic church of my childhood would be impossible.

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were centered primarily on the church community. His father served as the ecumenical officer for the Presiding Bishop at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City, and the family attended a parish in Poughkeepsie filled with families. The rector was Michael’s godfather, who offered dynamic and compelling sermons that really spoke to him.

Episcopal church, but, again, we were not in the right place.

Michael’s godfather told us that St. Mary’s was “the best Episcopal parish in the city” and suggested we give it a try. We attended our first service on Epiphany and it felt “just right,” so we got our coffee mug and decided to come back. After the following week, Seda attended Sunday school and loved it. As the weeks passed, many long-term members welcomed us in the courtyard and shared their stories with us. They spoke so highly of the church community and how it has enriched their lives. Our search was over. We are grateful to be a part of the St. Mary’s family, to give our daughter the opportunity to learn how to see examples of Christ’s teachings in our daily life, to deepen our relationship with God, and to experience His unconditional love. Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin

Transformative Gifts Ellen McLean, Legacy Society Committee Member Over the years St. Mary’s has been the recipient of many gifts and bequests that just seemed to come at exactly the right time. Everyone was astonished when St Mary’s received a bequest of $500,000 from Phyllis Wattis in 2003. Mrs. Wattis was probably the most generous philanthropist in the west, but her only previously known connection to St. Mary’s was that her husband Paul Wattis’ funeral was held at St. Mary’s in 1971 -- a ceremony she likely arranged.

Long-time parishioner Joyce Whitman passed away in 1996 and left one half of her estate to the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, with the restriction that it be used to support parish outreach projects. At the time, the Diocese of California was expanding its commitment to tackling the homeless problem in San Francisco, so St. Mary’s was able to really step up its leadership in outreach by designating these grants: 

Philanthropist Phyllis Wattis

“The Holy Spirit is watching out for us,” was what more than one parishioner said when the gift arrived. The timing of this gift allowed St. Mary’s to pay off the mortgage on the rectory when that payment was a significant financial burden to the parish. At the same time, the vestry also wisely set aside $100,000 from this bequest to be used to buy the equity that the Parkin family had in the rectory. As a result of Mrs. Wattis’ gift, St. Mary’s is proudly debt free and better able to expand our ministries without the financial burden of a mortgage. In another example of the right gift at the right time, Mary E. (Betty) Wilkins passed away in 2011 and left a significant percentage of her estate to St. Mary’s. At the time, the country, and indeed our parish, was recovering from the effects of the recession. Our investment balances had been hit hard and we needed the income from those accounts more than ever, as we were struggling to balance our income and expenses during the “interim time” before Rev. Scott Richardson was called as our rector. Although Betty’s gift was not restricted in any way, the vestry and Legacy and Endowment Board chose to invest the entire gift in our investment accounts to allow the principle to provide much needed income for our operating expenses every year. Betty’s Cow Hollow Church News

generosity will support St. Mary’s and our many ministries long into the future.

$100,000 to Episcopal Community Services to serve as seed money for the 48-unit supportive housing complex now known as Canon Barcus House. $100,000 to Episcopal Charities for their general operating fund to serve as a catalyst for securing matching funds, and $127,000 to create an endowment for our church for outreach, with principle and income restricted to outreach.

Her generous bequest helped our greater community and those in need when the need was greatest, and has continued to support our outreach projects with the income from the remaining outreach endowment. All three of these generous people envisioned helping to sustain and grow the mission and ministries of St. Mary’s when they made their estate plans. If you are ready to have a conversation about making a legacy gift to St. Mary’s, please contact Scott Richardson at or 415 921-3665 x 306. Gifts of any size are welcome. On behalf of St. Mary's Legacy Society, members of our Planned & Major Gifts Committee hosted the Summer in the City Adult Forum entitled Leaving Your Legacy, on Sunday, July 26, 2015. During this gathering, all forms of legacy gifts - time, talent and treasure - were discussed. A number of people shared inspirational stories which lifted up and celebrated the transformational power of legacy giving - for ourselves, for our parish, and in the world. You can listen to an audio recording of the discussion posted on our website,; look on the home page under Spiritual Formation.

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A Growing Partnership Ruth Tatum, Volunteer Since October 2014, volunteers from St. Mary’s have been busy growing our relationship with Larkin Street Youth Services, a San Francisco nonprofit that is committed to helping homeless youth move beyond street life. More specifically, we are working with young people living at Edward II, a permanent supportive housing residence located in our neighborhood at the corner of Lombard and Scott Streets. The residents at Edward II are between 18 and 24 years old, work or go to school (some do both), and are required to pay 30 per cent of their income in rent, which is different from most of Larkin Street’s residential facilities. We have met a fantastic group of young people.

And in mid-August we delivered a small stash of school supplies to each young person. All of this has been made possible by the generous time, effort, and culinary talents of about 60 St. Mary’s volunteers, plus a dozen “core” volunteers who are now leading the charge each time we cook, including Marta Johnson, Georgene Keeler, Anne Kieve, Jeanne Lacy, Elaine Larkin, Pat McGuire, Ellen McLean, Jessica Metoyer, Beth Silvestri, and Ruth Tatum. Most Sundays we’ve had a resident or two join in the cooking efforts which is always fun. You don’t even have to be an expert cook to join us if you can boil water or tear up lettuce, or engage in good conversation, please sign up to help.

The cooking leaders choose the menu (requirements: easy, nutritious, inexpensive, and delicious), do their food shopping, and organize the three to four volunteers who cook that evening; generally We began our two of the journey together last volunteers provide fall by providing the cookies or welcome bags filled brownies for with everything from dessert -- and then a cozy blanket and sit down to have sundries to gift cards dinner with the from the local residents, which is Walgreen’s and the highlight of the Marina Supermarket. evening. The core St. Mary’s volunteers preparing dinner with the young people at Parishioners then volunteers have all Edward II: left to right: John Addeo, Pat McGuire, Barbara Addeo, generously cooked a been trained by and Brittni Tanenbaum, a Larkin Street counselor at Edward II. traditional Thanksgiving Larkin Street in ways Photo by Jessica Metoyer. dinner that a few of our to work with, and volunteers delivered and served to the residents. The respect the privacy of, the youth. amount of food prepared lovingly by St. Mary’s folks must have resembled that first Thanksgiving; it was At a brainstorming meeting in July with the core such a groaning board. At Christmas, volunteers volunteers and some Larkin Street staff, we looked at made holiday cookies and other goodies that were ways to engage more youth in coming to the dinners greatly appreciated by the residents. and to strengthen our commitment to serving the youth at Edward II. To show a more consistent In February we began cooking our monthly dinners at presence we have agreed to expand our cooking to Edward II. Easter weekend, we provided “spring two Sundays a month - the 2nd and 4th Sundays of baskets” (colorful Chinese take-out boxes filled with each month. We are all very excited about this - and candy and a Walgreens gift card to all the residents. will need your help staffing these additional evenings. Page 16

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At Halloween, we will also decorate and provide goodies and a few DVDs along with pumpkin carving. Throughout the year we’ll also provide birthday cards from St. Mary’s, which will be given to the staff to distribute to the youth (to maintain privacy), and we’ll continue with the events that have been successful this past calendar year. Our partnership with Larkin Street at Edward II has been a gratifying experience. Fostering relationships with youth who have lived through incredible hardships has been challenging and extremely rewarding. As one counselor described, in addition to providing a delicious meal, just having “people like us” for the residents to talk to is a growing experience as they strive for a more stable and independent future. As volunteers we are learning to open our hearts and minds to these extraordinary youth as we try to earn their trust and build relationships. In addition, we volunteers have all made new acquaintances among parishioners and had a great time working together on various projects. The most rewarding times have involved conversations and time spent with the youth, and we hope to continue building and strengthening this commitment to one another. Please consider joining us as we continue to grow our relationship with these delightful young people. None of us knows what fun and adventures await! Contact if you would like more information or to become a volunteer for one of the many projects this year.

Halloween Celebration Save the Date Friday, October 30, in the church, at 7:00 p.m. Please join us Friday evening, October 30th, 2015 for the annual Halloween Celebration at St. Mary's. The program will start promptly at the tolling of the bells at 7:00 pm in the church. After a fun service of Pumpkin Carols, Costume Parade, Scary Readings, and of course Spooky Organ Music, we will proceed to the great room for seasonal Halloween treats, drinks, and the ever popular Bobbing for Apples. This year's Halloween celebration theme is “The Three Witches” featuring works by Verdi, Shakespeare, Disney, and I put A Spell on You from the movie, Hocus Pocus. Join us in costume and bring your scary friends for this annual FUN celebration of all things Halloween. To lend help setting up the Great Room with Halloween decorations and snacks, please contact Steve Repasky at

Regular Worship Schedule   

Returns on   

Sunday September 13   

Services at   

8:00 a.m.    9:00 a.m.    11:00 a.m.   

Cow Hollow Church News

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The 27th Presiding Bishop The Rev. Claire Dietrich Ranna, Associate Rector I first met the Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, then Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, during my freshman year at Duke University. It was the fall of 2002, and I found myself spending more and more time with the Duke Episcopal Student Fellowship (ESF) as I settled into life in Durham. As is customary in the Episcopal Church, Bishop Curry visited every parish in his purview once a year, and I happened to be in the pews when he came to the ESF that fall. I was 17 years old and had spent my entire life in Northern Ohio. I had met the Bishop of Ohio all of once, when he confirmed me, and I wouldn’t have been able to pick him out of a line up if I tried. Bishops were, it seemed to me, distant figureheads, imbued with heady authority but rather removed and somewhat unapproachable. The altar at the ESF was smaller than the one that adorns our Chapel, and it sat in the center of a small rectangular space bounded by pews. Also in that space sat a small lectern and two chairs for the clergy. I watched Bishop Curry take his seat. Fully vested, he seemed physically imposing, but his smile was warm and gentle and there was something almost giddy in his demeanor, like he was so excited to be in worship that he could barely contain himself. He sang with

gusto. He listened attentively to the readings. And then he got up to preach. If you have never seen someone steeped in the black Baptist tradition preach, then it will be hard to imagine what I really mean when I say that Bishop Curry is a preacher. Not only was he brilliant -- offering a deeply theological and profoundly relevant message -- but his energy, it turned out, actually couldn’t be contained. He bounded around the altar, knocking over candlesticks, almost knocking over the lectern, raising his voice and his hands while drawing “yeses!” and “amens!” from a usually shy and soft-spoken group of undergraduates. Everything I thought I knew about Bishops, and about the Episcopal Church, was blown out of the water. He made me glad to be a Christian. He made me happy to have stayed in the Church. He helped me open my heart to Jesus a little more that night. And I was honored to get to know him better in the coming years as I took on leadership positions in the fellowship and welcomed him back for visits. On June 27, during our 78th General Convention, Bishop Curry was elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. Bishop Curry, 62, is the first African-American to serve in this capacity. We are truly blessed to have such a faithful disciple of Christ in this role, and I look forward to all that is to come under his leadership.

Bishop Curry, fourth from the left, led about 1,500 General Convention participants in a “Bishops United Against Gun Violence” procession in Salt Lake City on the morning of June 28, 2015. Page 18

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“Ten Historic Days in Salt Lake City” Dr. Rod Dugliss, Lay Deputy to General Convention for the Diocese of California This was the final headline on one of the pop-up daily papers that came to life during the most recent, the 78th, General Convention of The Episcopal Church (TEC) which took place in Salt Lake City for a busy ten days, ending July 3rd. Making Our Own History Every nine years the bishops of the Church elect one of their number to be Presiding Bishop—who also acts as the primate of TEC in the structures of The Anglican Communion. This year the bishops elected and the deputies ecstatically endorsed The Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry of North Carolina to be the next Presiding Bishop, starting on All Saints’ Day. He is the first African-American selected for this office in the 230 years of the General Convention. He is an amazing, energizing preacher and visionary who has also stood foursquare for justice in difficult times. The choice was historic, and a huge blessing for us all. We met immediately following the murder of nine congregants who were in prayer at Emanuel American Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. During our time together two historic decisions were rendered by the Supreme Court—affirming the Affordable Care Act and declaring marriage equality for the entire country. The Church in Convention is always aware that it is working to guide a church that is very much part of the larger national context. It was particularly true in Salt Lake City. The Episcopal Church approved marriage equality with canonical and liturgical changes. We authorized that the language of the Canons (laws) of the church governing marriage will be gender neutral. Then we approved two liturgical rites for the blessing of holy unions. These actions were not taken in haste but followed years of hearings, trial use, official gatherings, and local experience. We faced the ongoing blight of the sin of racism in the Church, in local communities, in the nation. We authorized $2,000,000 to fund education and concrete action to engage and seek to take our part in dismantling the stubborn structures that perpetuate racial division, disregard, and hatred. Cow Hollow Church News

We also attended to the declining and shifting membership of The Episcopal Church and authorized $2,000,000 to plant new churches and an additional $1,500,000 to grow and support ministry with and for the fastest growing segment of our population, our Latino/Hispanic sisters and brothers. Also, in light of the tragedy last year in the Diocese of Maryland (involving an Episcopal bishop accused of driving drunk during an accident resulting in the death of a bicyclist), we approved a clear and detailed set of standards regarding the use of alcohol in the life of the church. Resolutions We deliberated and passed a large number of resolutions addressing issues of immigration, human trafficking, gun violence, food security, divestment in fossil fuels (except for the Pension Fund), and a fairly toothless statement wishing for peace in Israel/Palestine but with no action urged. What difference do these resolutions make? They establish the policy for which our official representation in Washington -- yes, our lobbying office -- can advocate. They can only speak on matters for which TEC in Convention has acted. Triennium Facts While many readers may know this, it bears noting that the way The Episcopal Church is governed is by a gathering every three years (triennium in Episcopalspeak) of deputies from every diocese, both lay and ordained, who meet as a legislative House of Deputies, with the bishops of the Church meeting together in a separate House of Bishops. They act on a wide range of resolutions that authorize actions, take policy positions, and urge the wider Church into action. Not incidentally, the Convention also approved a several million dollar budget for the triennium. For the House of Deputies, each diocese elects four lay persons and four ordained persons— deacons or priests. I was honored to be elected as a Lay Deputy for the Diocese of California for the fourth time and served the diocese at the convention. If you are interested in more detail, a number of web sites and Facebook postings list the actions of the Convention, including the Episcopal News Service, th-general-convention. Check it out. This is the work of your Church. An audio recording of Rod talking about the Convention can be found on under “Spiritual Formation.” Fall 2015

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From the Associate Rector The Rev. Claire Dietrich Ranna Practice In recent weeks, I’ve had the joy of meeting regularly with a group of faithful and courageous people from the parish and wider community interested in contemplative prayer. We not only talk about spiritual practice, we practice together. As members of the Church, we are all invited to practice prayer by making a habit or custom of praying. On the other hand, we might practice prayer like we practice piano or soccer: to acquire a new skill or become more proficient in it. As an athlete, practice also implies for me that the activity at hand is a work in progress. I’m not going to the big game; I’m going to practice. Committing to a regular prayer practice is something I commend to everyone. What this looks like for each of you will be different, but I offer here a few thoughts on how to go about imagining this and, more importantly, beginning. A balanced prayer life integrates both formal and informal - even playful – elements, while also including times for individual and corporate prayer. For several years after college, I sat in silence with God each morning for 20 minutes. This was a fruitful and life-giving discipline which had its own subtle joys, but mostly it felt like work. I didn’t like waking up early to pray. It took two years before I felt I’d actually connected with anything deep or meaningful within or beyond myself. I wasn’t “good” at meditation; I just kept doing it. Nevertheless, this gave me a foundation in contemplative practice that has served me well. My practice is much more fluid now. I still pray daily, but also bring an attitude of prayer into my everyday life. It’s often through simple, ordinary acts, undertaken prayerfully, that our relationship with God is deepened and sustained. With a particular approach, baking bread, appreciating nature, or feeding another person all “count” as prayer. The point is simply this: practice matters. For centuries, spiritual teachers have taught that we are shaped by what we regularly do, the way dripping water changes stone. Psychological research provides a scientific foundation for this. Our brains work so efficiently, in part, because neural networks are filled Page 20

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with shortcuts. This is to our advantage much of the time (think of how much energy it took when you were first learning to drive to just get the car out of the driveway). But our brains do the same thing with emotional responses and habitual behavior, which can sometimes get us in trouble. If you have spent years responding to criticism with feelings of shame, or, more positively, waking up each morning to pray, you will find that these acts become conditioned feelings and behaviors. A therapist friend of mine often compares neural networks to a river running downhill: the water (our consciousness) takes the easiest, most established path, the one with the least resistance, unless we invest time and energy in redirecting it. Starting a new practice is like digging a new offshoot, and it does take more work, at first, than doing the same old thing. This is precisely why it is so important to have support in this venture – a community that can cheer you on, hear your frustration, and remind you why you got into this in the first place. My 9-month old daughter is now learning to walk. She pulls herself up on furniture and eagerly takes our hands as she takes sometimes timid, sometimes jubilant steps. She takes incredible risks, falls frequently, and seems never to be discouraged. She is practicing a new skill, learning how to do something she has never done before, and her excitement is contagious. When we, as adults, take on new skills, we are all too often judgmental of our progress. We feel we aren’t doing it right because we aren’t good at it yet, or we may feel embarrassed or discouraged by our pace. As you explore different ways to pray, I encourage you to be compassionate with yourself. Think of a baby learning to walk. Invite “beginner’s mind,” as the Buddhists would say, and approach each new practice with curiosity and wonder. When it comes to prayer, practice does not make perfect - that, we trust, is a matter of grace -- but it does draw us deeper into the heart of the divine, where God’s love and mercy alone can make us whole. Practicing the Presence met for six weeks on Wednesday evenings last summer. Rev. Claire will be offering this program again later this fall. Keep an eye out for more details coming soon!

Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin

welcomed Dr. Kayleen Asbo, a renowned historian and mythologist, as our preacher and Summer in the The Rev. Claire Dietrich Ranna, Associate Rector City presenter. Her creative exploration of the visual presentations of Mary Magdalene throughout the Our annual summer adult form series, Summer in the centuries delighted participants. The Planned and City, was again an overwhelming success thanks to Major Gifts Committee bravely navigated the our gifted presenters and committed participants. The construction in the Great Room and led a lovely series, which focused on the theme of Spiritual reflection on the concept of legacy. With that, the Transformation, got off to a riveting start. Beginning series moved into the Church for a few weeks. Our with Rector Scott Richardson on how to engage the own Todd categories and Reynolds vocabulary of offered an our faith anew, insightful and we savored relevant speakers for 12 presentation on weeks. The California’s Rev. Dr. Alan water shortage Jones, Dean and future. The Emeritus of Rev. Claire Grace Dietrich Ranna Cathedral, led an engaged in interactive dialogue with presentation on Fr. Scott about Pilgrimage, the relevance sharing her own of faith in the experiences as a modern world, pilgrim to offering Santiago de profound Compostela, insight and Jerusalem, and Summer Adult Forum Series speaker and former Bishop of the Diocese of poignant social Canterbury California, William E. Swing, reminisced and worshipped with us and with his wife commentary. Cathedral. Mary. Here the Swings are welcomed by the Revs. Scott Richardson and Claire

Summer in the City

Dietrich Ranna.

The Rt. Rev. William Swing, former Bishop of the Diocese of California, returned to St. Mary’s to discuss the power of inter-religious collaboration and talk about The United Religions Initiative, about which he has recently written a wonderful book, A Bishop’s Quest. Dr. Roderick Dugliss followed on the 5th of July, having just returned from General Convention, and spoke about how The Episcopal Church takes positions on social issues. We then welcomed back the Rev. Dr. William Stafford, former Dean of the Sewanee School of Theology, who brought Martin Luther to life and reflected on the enduring transformations of the Reformation. On July 19, we celebrated the Feast of Mary Magdalene for the first time in worship and Cow Hollow Church News

On our parish feast day, inspired by the Magnificat, the Rev. Tim Smith invited participants to reflect on our collective social ministries and outreach programs. Near the end of August, Jory Sandusky used his significant professional experience to talk about faithful finances, and the series closed with a reflection on the problem of Good Friday, specifically in terms of the antiSemitism historically sparked by the passion narratives, led by the clergy. With something for everyone, this summer’s formation offerings were diverse, inspiring, and, one can only hope, transformational for all. Audio recordings of these talks can be found on our website, under “Spiritual Formation.”

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Lisa Cabahug-Gabiana

St. Mary the Virgin of Sagada

The wife of our Sexton, Manny Gabiana, Lisa traveled recently in their native Philippines to Sagada, 170 miles north of Manila, where she met with a surprise. In my mind, there is only one Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, and it is located on Union and Steiner Streets in San Francisco. So it was a big jolt to see a sign for Church of St. Mary the Virgin first thing as I entered Sagada. The church spire looms large over a settlement which literally clings to the sides of the Cordillera mountain range, some 7000 feet above sea level. The church clock chimes the hour, every hour, and establishes the town’s day. Its stained glass window hangs high over the altar. Daily Mass starts at 6:30 a.m., so teenage girls in crisp pink school uniforms, young men on their way to the fields, and mature folks with wizened faces start to file into church at 6:00 a.m. It is a mellow congregation that includes the dogs who saunter in during Mass. I looked for a statue of St. Mary the Virgin, and there she was out front, facing the Famed hanging coffins sunrise, hidden by vines, but keeping watch The entryway to St. Mary’s in Sagada over the wheels of the wagon that brought the Episcopal Bishop Charles Brent to the mountains of Sagada. Anglican Bishop Charles Henry Brent, a missionary bishop from the Episcopal Church of the United States, was sent to the Philippines in 1902 to convert the population of the newly-annexed US colony to the faith. Together with incoming Governor-General William Howard Taft, the Bishop decided to prioritize his missionary work among the pagans, namely, Chinese in the cities and the tribes of northern and southern Philippines who did not convert to Roman Catholicism under Spanish rule. Bishop Brent believed in disciplined but sustained work and opted for service to hospitals and education at schools as strategies for conversion. In 1904, he sent the Rev. John Staunton from New York to establish the mission in Sagada that became the parish of St. Mary the Virgin. Bishop Brent's experience in the Philippines and elsewhere convinced him of the need for Christian unity. After attending the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1910, he began to conceptualize an ecumenical organization and in 1927 became the moving spirit in the establishment of what is now known as the World Council of Churches. Sagada beckons as Dharamsala and Bali Hai do – mystical mountains, spiritual sanctuary, peace centers, cool and refreshing oases for the soul and the body. Sunrise over the Cordillera Mountains does not disappoint, as the mist gently withdraws from the South China Sea. Sagada’s famed hanging coffins are still visible over the limestone cliffs, preserving ancestors’ remains and culture for many more generations. The ancient burial practice endures, but head hunters are no longer a threat, and the locals, short and dark, speak perfect English. They are worthy inheritors of Bishop Brent’s social and educational legacy in this mountain enclave. Page 22

Fall 2015

Mystical mountains in the Philippines yield spiritual sanctuary, and refreshing oases for the soul and body Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin

Music News

Finland’s exuberant and enchanting choir, Vox Aurea, joined St. Mary's choir on Sunday, July 12, 2015, during our worship service and then gave an impromptu concert in our courtyard. Director of Music Chip Grant arranged the visit with Vox Aurea (the golden voice) conductor Sanna Salminen. They went on to give award-winning performances at the Golden Gate International Choral Festival in Oakland.

The Orff instrument collection of the Children’s Choir already included an alto metallophone and a soprano and an alto glockenspiel (shown on the back page, being carried by Maddie Glunt and Emma Dyson). Now, thanks to a generous donation by the Hon. and Mrs. Charles Renfrew and an All Souls’ Day fundraiser last year when choristers and their parents baked and sold “soul cakes,” two new xylophones join the collection. Shown in the photo above, Isabella Landry (left) demonstrates the soprano xylophone and Sebastian Landry (right) demonstrates the alto. Last year, “bass xylophone specialist” Nolan Giovagnoli, accompanied and sang in about a third of the 9:00 a.m. services. This year, choristers will accompany themselves in about half of the 9:00 a.m. services. Now that we are blessed with more instruments to use, each chorister will have a chance to play at each rehearsal. -- Laura Jeanne Ruppert, Children’s Choir Director Cow Hollow Church News

Fall 2015

Page 23


INSIDE… From the Rector ................ Cover Story Solar Power ........................................ 2 Sr. Warden’s Letter............................ 3 Sunday School .................................. 4 Mini-Ministries Fair .......... 5, 6, 7, & 11 Stewardship & Furniture ................... 8 Our New Seminarian........................ 10 Youth Mission Trip .......................... 12 Newcomers’ Corner......................... 14 Transformative Gifts........................ 15 A Growing Partnership.................... 16 27th Presiding Bishop ...................... 18 Historic General Convention .......... 19 From the Associate Rector ............. 20 Summer in the City .......................... 21 St. Mary’s of Sagada........................ 22 Music News ...................................... 23

2325 Union Street   San Francisco, CA 94123-3905 (415) 921-3665 •                                  


Sunday Morning Services – Regular worship times start again September 13 with services at 8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.


First Class Mail

Nursing Home Ministry – every 4th Sunday, Golden Gate Healthcare Center, 2707 Pine Street, at 1:30 p.m. Presidio Gate Ministry –2nd & 4th Mondays, 2770 Lombard Street, at 11 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II – Wednesdays, in the chapel, at 7 a.m.

Also visit OUTREACH  

Raphael House Ministry – First Monday of each month. Contact Alisa Quint Fisher at Larkin Street Dinners at Edward II – 2nd and 4th Sundays each month. Contact Marta Johnson at


Night Ministry’s Open Cathedral – Sunday, September 20 at Civic Center Plaza, at 2 p.m. Night Ministry Annual Gala – Saturday, October 17, at the Urban Life Center of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. For more information, visit

FALL 2015 SPIRITUAL FORMATION Whether you are looking to learn more about a particular topic, deepen or expand your prayer life, or engage contemporary issues from a spiritual perspective, there is something for you here.

September Friday, September 11 at 6:00 p.m. Heroes and Monsters Innovative theater group WePlayers comes to St. Mary’s on 9/11 Sunday, September 20 at 5:00 p.m. Mary McBride Candlelight Concert Our Candlelight Concert Series gets off to a brilliant start Sunday, September 27 at 5:00 p.m. On Being Mortal A forum on caring for loved ones at the end of life, inspired by the book

October Sunday, October 4 at 5:00 p.m. Screening of Dead Man Walking Catch the film before Sr. Helen Prejean preaches here on October 11 Sunday, October 18 at 5:00 p.m. A Balm in Gilead A service of healing and hope for those who have lost an infant or child Saturday, October 31 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. From Life to Life A retreat for those holding grief and promise in tension this year

November Sunday, November 1 at 5:00 p.m. Bach Church Featuring the music of Bach, Hildegard von Bingen, poetry and prayer Sunday, November 8 at 5:00 p.m. Screening of Merchants of Doubt Learn about the massive industry behind the denial of climate change Sunday, November 29 at 5:00 p.m. Advent Dinner and Hymn sing A perennial favorite: come be nourished by seasonal fare and song

December Sunday, December 6 at 5:00 p.m. Mini Advent Retreat A contemplative beginning to advent, featuring prayer and Taizé chant Sunday, December 13 at 5:00 p.m. Recovery Eucharist A service of healing integrating 12-step spirituality and Christianity Sunday, December 20 at 5:00 p.m. The Longest Night Alternative worship for those who find the holidays especially difficult


Welcome to another fantastic year of Spiritual Formation at The Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin! In addition to the programs offered this fall, take a moment to read about these ongoing opportunities. Welcome: We are delighted that you found us, and now we want to get to know you better! Join the clergy for a Saturday morning retreat for new members on October 24, and join leaders of the parish at a New Member Reception in the Fall or the Spring. Prayer: Whether you are interested in practicing contemplative prayer and meditation, joining a prayer group or Bible Study, or looking for inspiration in your prayer life, we’re here to support you. Children and Youth: Between Sunday School, Youth Group, choirs for children and youth, and an annual Youth Mission Trip, there are many ways to get your whole family engaged at St. Mary’s. Service: Join us every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month cooking dinner with youth in need; volunteer with our weekly food pantry; or get involved with Night Ministry. There are countless ways to be of service – let us help you find your place. Community: Small groups offer an intimacy and sense of community that can be hard to find elsewhere, and parish-wide celebrations happen year-round. Baptism and Confirmation: Sign yourself or your child up for baptism on September 27 or November 8, or Confirmation. A member of the clergy will guide you and your family through these important steps. Visit for more details or email

Cow Hollow Church News - Fall 2015  

Quarterly Newsletter

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