Trinity 6, Steadfast Service

In today’s Epistle Saint Paul beautifully addressed today’s intent of Steadfast Service. Although I can’t improve on his exhortations, I would simply like to reiterate some of them:

Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another in brotherly love; be not slothful in business; be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoice in hope; be patient in tribulation; be given to hospitality. Bless them who persecute you; bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with them that weep. Recompense to no one evil for evil; live peaceably with all. Owe no one anything, but to love one another.

What I am going to do today is to pay tribute to many of those whose Steadfast Service here at Saint Francis brought us to this moment of time. Come November, I will have been attending Saint Francis for 40 years, but that is not even half of the time that this church has existed. So first I want to acknowledge those early church members who had the vision to first, see the need and then second, to make the church physically manifest. I also thank the previous Lutheran congregation for selling the building well over 80 years ago to this new denomination’s initial congregation.

I don’t know the names of all of the early church members, but when Rev. Richard Curney and I first came here in 1970, Bishop Newton Dahl was rector. Before that he was of course priest, and you can see an old sign of his hanging in the church parlors offering baptisms, sick calls, marriages, and so on. Bishop Newton was helped in his endeavors by his devoted sister, Agnes Dahl. Neither of them ever married; Agnes kept house for Newt, as we affectionately called him, until her death.

The Neumans were pillars of the church, Bishop Victor Neuman serving as priest and eventually consecrated as bishop and taking over as rector after Bishop Newton’s passing. His brother Richard Neuman served as deacon and their sister Evelyn Neuman played organ here, if I recall correctly, as for many years did Doris Neuman, Victor’s wife.

At times Katherine Blanchard would sit and play the organ before the service began. She did not use music and told me that she let the gandharvas, the angels of music, guide her fingers as she improvised. Her music was always beautifully ethereal.

Walter Krusch was a deacon, and both he and Richard Neuman gave inspiring and enlightening sermons. Walter, an accomplished artist, painted the three panels that grace our altar. Fritz Drost-Esmund as he liked to be called-was a deacon too. He studied numerology, and it was he who convinced me, with very little effort, to spell my name Judie, with a perfect vibration of 22, so that I “could do anything that I willed to do.” And this inspired Rev. Curney and me to name our daughter Kashia, a name we made up to fit that perfect 22 vibration.

Walter’s wife Mary brought flowers weekly from their home in Wyoming, Minnesota, and skillfully arranged them in beautiful arrays. She also provided many handcrafted items for the Christmas bazaars that used to be held here.

Rev. Craig Shurr grew up in the church. His father Percy Shurr was a true handyman and probably our first sound engineer in that he made taped recordings of Bishop Newton’s sermons. Rev. Craig became rector following Bishop Victor’s passing. Craig was a steady, almost behind-the-scenes worker, but this steadiness served us well when, in 1984, the church sustained a major fire, and he shepherded its rebuilding nearly on his own. His wife, Mary Dee Shurr, was the main force behind the church vegetarian cookbook that we published in the early 1970s.

Rev. Jim Lippert, now bishop, served many years on the altar and became our unofficial historian. He still graces us occasionally with anthems during communion with his magnificent voice.

Edna Hartman’s parents, George and Delia Coose, and Katharine Swanson were stalwart members who attended and helped out as long as they were physically able, as were Monica Molander and her sister Peggy. When I mention Monica, finally some of our newer members will be able to put a face to one of these many names I’ve just mentioned. Her picture still graces our church parlors. Edna carries on the tradition of Steadfast Service as well, year after year bringing flowers from her garden and delivering our food shelf offerings for us. All of these people gave so much of their time and effort to keeping Saint Francis alive and vital.

As I said, Rev. Richard Curney and I came here in November 1970, neither of us knowing that it would become a place where we would both end up serving as priests, especially not I. Rev. Richard entered Holy Orders early on and has served faithfully ever since, eventually being ordained priest and taking over as rector after Rev. Shurr died unexpectedly at a relatively young age. Rev. Richard has traveled thousands of miles over all these years to come early nearly every Sunday from Zimmerman, Minnesota, to minister unto us.

Rev. Wallace Zick and his wife Pat Carlson were looking for a place for former Catholics to marry when they discovered us and found us a perfect fit. Wally went on to Holy Orders through the priesthood and ended up starting his own successful Church of Saint Sophia in Stockholm, Wisconsin, where he and Pat had a summer home.

Rev. Lee Dunn also found a natural fit for himself when he found us. He too was moved to pursue Holy Orders and to share his considerable wisdom and energies with us as well as his Chi Gong and Tai Chi students. His efforts were of utmost importance when we remodeled the basement restrooms several years back. He cheerfully leads our adult study classes, to the benefit of all of us. Lee’s wife Marti Stewart helped with decorating and gardening as well as organizing the children’s area.

Rev. Jodi Christenson, when we joined with the “Rebel Alliance” in 2004, was moved to begin Holy Orders. She now serves as our subdeacon, sharing her gentle insights in sermons. She also serves the church inside and out by bringing flowers as well as helping stock the kitchen and sharing an Easter egg hunt for young and old alike.

Barbara Lee was one of our two first deaconesses and shared many gifts with us until she relocated to Florida. Pat Michaelis served as deaconess too until she moved on to other things.

Lil Brenny came to us several years ago now and was the sparkplug that gave us a needed energy boost. As an example, she recommended we start a floor fund, which we did, and we eventually had enough set aside for our beautiful new basement floor. Lil continues to keep us supplied with good ideas and still sometimes plays the organ, as she did for so long before her illness. Her husband Art generously shares items for the kitchen and restrooms.

When Rev. Zick moved to Stockholm permanently, we lost our resident handyman (Wally can fix or create anything!), but we soon found another had been supplied in the person of Jon Robelia, who is willing, it seems, to do whatever needs to be done. Jon’s wife ReAnn adds her special good energy to the church and always brings thoughtfully created items to our potlucks.

Noah Strom appeared at our doors and offered his services as organist, which he does so admirably well. He also painted our bright kitchen! Thomas Rafael has also been helping on the organ, and his wife Erin Rafael has enlightened us with sermons whenever asked to do so, as have Swami Ken and Vivienne Purmort. Sandy Johnsen has for years cleaned the church, mowed the lawn, all behind the scenes. Roland Bijingsi has also helped with maintenance as well as faithfully attending.

Rev. Jim McGill and his wife Fe left us when we switched allegiance to the new Synod, but their good efforts remain. For example, the air conditioning we now enjoy, the bright colors in the church parlors, and the lovely altar frontal were their ideas and creations. Jim also inspired us to start holding our Rosary services. Michael Prata, a former subdeacon, provided our flags; we are especially grateful for the Liberal Catholic one. Sean Thorson designed and produced our calling cards and other stationery items.

Last but not least, David S. Cargo began baking treats for after the service and had taken over as honorary “church basement lady” following Monica Molander’s passing. He started his successful baking classes here as fundraisers for the church. He also maintains the church property by mowing, watering, shoveling, and doing countless things behind the scenes. David has faithfully edited and produced our weekly bulletin and monthly calendar for nearly 22 years now.

I am sure I have omitted many people whose efforts I should also acknowledge—it has been an exercise of memory for me to try to recap their names and their work in a somewhat chronological manner of those I knew personally, especially in my early years here. Many others have served on the Vestry or otherwise helped, such as Bob and Elsie Lubbers, Mary Shoquist, and our dear friend Light Habete.

To all—past and current members and friends—I say a sincere and hearty Thank You for your years of Steadfast Service. We all were and are volunteers, working for Our Lord for perhaps various reasons, but none of which was or is for monetary compensation. The Work is what is important.

Once Bishop Newton told me that he and I were karma yogis. I believe he meant that we were people who, when we see a need, simply do the work that wants doing. I think that all of us here, past and present, were and are karma yogis, working for the good of humanity in any way that we are able. For this and for so many other reasons, I want to say that I love you, that I appreciate more than I can say what you have done and are doing, and that I thank you, one and all, from the bottom of my heart. We are small, but we are dedicated. If we all keep up our efforts of Steadfast Service, serving with open hearts and hands, we will be able to hand over a beautiful place of worship and service to those who come after us.

And now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, three Persons in one God, be ascribed as is most justly due, all honor, power, might, majesty, dominion, now, henceforth, and forevermore. Amen.

Rev. Judie A. C. Cilcain

July 11, 2010

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