Recent Events, 2011-2013
The Church Club of New York began its 125th year with Evensong and a demonstration of the new Manton Memorial Organ at Church of the Ascension. The organ was made possible by a grant from the Manton Foundation to honor the memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, who were parishioners at Ascension. Edwin Manton was also a member of the Church Club, having been elected in 1955.
The Church Club Board undertook a strategic visioning process, facilitated by the Episcopal Church Foundation, with an evening retreat and follow-up meetings. The results were a new identity statement, inputs for programming, and ideas for improving communications.
Club members toured five historic churches in the Bronx, many on the National Register, and learned of the challenges facing these parishes as they minister to their local communities.
At the Bishop’s Forum, held at St. Thomas Church, Bishop Sisk introduced Andrew Dietsche as the newly elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of New York. The bishops spoke of their plans for the diocese as Bishop Sisk retires and Bishop Dietsche takes over in February 2013.
Guests at the 125th black-tie Annual Dinner, held at the Union Club, heard Jon Meacham ask the question, “Can Religion Be Saved from the Religious?” Meacham is an Episcopalian, member of the Church Club, former editor of Newsweek, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. Guests included the rectors of the major parishes of the Diocese of New York.
In a program at the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, two theologians, the Rev. Christopher L. Webber and the Rev. Tobias Haller, spoke about “Marriage and the Episcopal Church.” Both gave an historical perspective on how marriage has been viewed and governed by the Church and how canon law and liturgy have responded to societal changes.
Author of Elizabeth The Queen, a biography of Elizabeth II, Sally Bedell Smith spoke to the Club at an event in the Rare Book Room at the Grolier Club, in observance of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Club member Dana Cole and her husband, the Rev. Deacon Robert Zito of Trinity Wall Street, held a reception in their home for the Diocese of New York’s Young Adult Network. Some fifty members of the 20s/30s groups of the local parishes gathered for a reception with the Church Club and a strategy session, facilitated by the Rev. Mary Catherine Young, about service and mission opportunities in the diocese.
The Rev. Canon J. Robert Wright welcomed the Church Club to his home at General Seminary for a reception and discussion of ways to engage members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Fr. Wright is an author of the Episcopal – Lutheran Concordat, which brought the two churches into communion.
At the Club’s Annual Meeting, held at Grace Church, the Ven. William C. Parnell, Archdeacon for Mission in the Diocese of New York, spoke about youth ministry. Members of the Diocese’s Young Adult group joined the Club for a barbecue dinner.
Club member and rare book scholar Jackie Rider made a presentation about the Church Club’s library, which she has catalogued. The 1,500-volume library documents the religious roots and theological framework of New York’s financial elite, the birth of the Episcopal Church, and mainline American Protestantism’s reaction to the Social Gospel movement in the early 20th century. It holds some rare and unique items, such as a 1686 volume of hand-drawn and -colored arms of the archbishops & bishops of England and Wales and several prayer books, including seven 1844 facsimile editions given to the library by Club member J.P. Morgan, one of which retains his personal bookplate.
At the annual Bishop’s Forum, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Dietsche spoke about last summer’s General Convention, his plans for the diocese after his installation on February 2, and his interest in young adult ministry.
The Church Club joined the Laymen’s Club at the Cathedral for a St. Nicholas Day celebration. which included a private tour of the Baptistry with docent John Simko and a talk by Robert Ellsberg, editor of All the Way to Heaven, a collection of the selected letters of Dorothy Day, cofounder of the Catholic Worker, American journalist, social activist, and devout Catholic convert.
The Club joined the Cathedral’s lecture series “Visions of Jerusalem” for a presentation by scholar James Harper about the Barberini tapestries, depicting the life of Christ, which were once displayed in St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel,. A thirty-year restoration of the tapestries, interrupted by the 2001 fire at the Cathedral, is nearly complete. The event included a slide presentation by Prof. Harper in the tapestry lab, a tour of the crossing (where several of the tapestries reside), and a reception.