Friday, 10 July 2015
Dear People, Neighbors, and Friends of St. John's,
On Sunday we will observe the 140th anniversary
of the first service of this congregation, on July 11, 1875, in the Third Street rooms of Peter and Harriet Quire. We call this observance "Peter Quire Day," though it might just as well be known as Peter & Harriet Quire Day. Mrs. Quire, however, did not live long enough to see the acorn she and her husband planted grow to become a young oak tree. Hers was the first funeral held in what is now our Guild Hall, which served as our first church building. Peter Quire, however, lived on to nurture the young sapling, and worshipped in this oak tree of a church from its consecration in 1894 until his death in 1899.
Imagine what it must have been like for Peter Quire to see a congregation grow over the course of two decades from a house church to this church. It's a great story, and it makes me wonder whether we can be inspired by our history to make history again. Many things have changed since Peter Quire's day, some for the better, some for the worse. Peter Quire had the good fortune to be born free, but in a nation in which most African-Americans were then slaves. He worked with white Quakers in Philadelphia on the Underground Railroad before moving to the Point, which (perhaps not coincidentally) had been settled by Quakers in the colonial era. Somehow or other, Peter Quire and his wife joined Trinity Church, and invited the rector and a group of young men interested in mission work to use lodgings they had on Third Street for worship. Thus began the racially and economically integrated congregation that has continued to this day.
In honor of our founder, we will have special music this Sunday, with guest musicians Rachel Long on trumpet and Johanna Geremia singing soprano. Both were trained by our current organist Peter Berton when he was at All Saints Church, Worcester, MA. Rachel has studied trumpet for seven years and is pursuing a degree in trumpet performance beginning this fall at Rhode Island College. Her extensive performing experience in churches, New England Preparatory School, music festivals and her high school has encompassed a wide variety of ensembles and styles from classical to jazz. Johanna is a rising high school junior who plans a double major in vocal performance and music education. One of twelve high school students in the Vocal Arts Program of Boston's Handel and Haydn Society, she is studying voice this summer at Westminster Choir College and at Oberlin Conservatory, and was recently appointed Head Chorister of the All Saints Choir.
I hope you will join us this Sunday in praising God for the life and witness of Peter Quire and all those who helped him build and sustain the community of St. John's. One never knows what one's impact on a neighborhood will be; simply by opening his doors in hospitality, he changed the character of the Point for the better. May we, too, be inspired to do the same in our own time.
Yours in Christ's service,