The changing seasons at St. Paul's
This is a joyful place, full of love and energy; it is abounding with gratitude for God's goodness.
I felt it when I was looking for a diocese and a church in 2004; I read St. Paul's profile.
There was a priest search that year; happily, it was incomplete.
But I saw the profile and I got a sense of the people; I also got a sense of the building.
The picture of its 5-layer asphalt roof; looking like a lava flow, roof upon roof.
After two years in Germany I was looking for a US parish with outreach; the government does outreach in Germany.
St. Paul's stood out; its diversity, its food pantry and thrift shop and their volunteers, its alternative to incarceration for young offenders.
Molly lit on it like iron shavings on a magnet; like a bee on a flower.
We knew a little about the diocese and about Poughkeepsie; we wanted an exurban city with a little grit.
Before my interview here I had two in Maine; both went nowhere, happily.
Before the interview here Alice Leigh met me at the train station; her welcome warm.
Then I knew what it felt like to be called; to feel needed and, later, wanted.
When I saw her grinning her amazing grin; that was when I knew what a call feels like.
In the interview there was a squabble about acolyte decorum; about boys and girls being boys and girls.
If they act like this in front of me, I thought; there probably won't be so much going on behind my back.
When the selection committee heard me preach they laughed at my joke; I liked that.
Philip Carr Harris, the interim, as he left, told me he knew no more loving group of people; I concur.
Canon Pastor Andy Dietsche called me in Germany; he affirmed what I'd heard from the interim.
He encouraged me about Poughkeepsie; he updated me on parish goings on.
He told me about the fire in 2002 and the roof grant; the leadership rising to the challenge of restoring the church.
Settling in I learned about the seasons that preceded me; the ups and downs, the victories, the struggles.
The land given by a man with the name Paraclete in 1835; a man whose name means Holy Spirit in Greek?
The first church, its architecture uber protestant; looking like a Greek temple.
The decline, the revival; the growth in the late 19th Century.
The construction of this building with windows we're told are Tiffanys, but unsigned; keeping us humble
Our 576 seat nave; in eleven and a half years only half filled three times for funerals.
Our income deficit and deferred maintenance surplus; blessings which averted more architectural misfortunes.
The lava flow roof replaced with slate; help from a $350,000 matching grant and a capital campaign.
Our diocese eager to respond to St. Paul's plans; generous with counsel, encouragement, funds granted and loaned.
Prisoner painters painted the nave; another matching grant helped re-carpet.
With energetic volunteers we grew our food pantry; we serve the neighborhood three days a week.
We increased our pantry clientele eleven fold; in 2016 we provided 76,041 meals.
Insurance after a flood provided seed money; we renovated the parish hall both for us and for rentals.
A recent act of vandalism damaged the Martha and Mary stained glass window; we asked the restorer to restore the faces of the sisters as well.
The effect on St. Paul's was delight; from victimhood to celebration.
Then the time came for diocesan aid to cease; we could then imagine being self supporting.
This is the year it happened; it was happening all along.
A response to the first reading (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) at the Celebration of a New Beginning Nov. 26, 2017 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Poughkeepsie NY by The Rev. Tyler Jones, Rector.