February 1, 2020
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Rector's Message
All parish church buildings are dear to their congregations. For a community gathering together week by week, the place where they pray becomes holy to them, especially when those prayers involve baptizing children, marrying spouses, and burying our dead. Yet many of our Episcpoal houses of worship are hidden and often relatively unknown in their larger communities. As a priest, it is always necessary to remind the people of God, "You are the Church, not your building." That is true for all congregations. The people of God are the Body of Christ, the Church. Relatively few congregations, however, have church buildings that are similarly valued by those outside the congregation in the larger community. St. Paul's, Key West, is among those few congregations. 
St. Paul's Church, does not belong to us. Of course, it belongs to God. We are entrusted with it by God for the good of the Gospel. However, St. Paul's church building also does not belong just to our congregation. It has a treasured part in the history of Key West. It is one of the founding institutions of this island. It is part of the legacy of the founding families and first non-native settlers. Many people beyond our congregation cherish St. Paul's. Furthermore, a church belongs to those who pray in it. And because our doors are open everyday, people from all over the world pray here everyday--prayers of sorrow, joy, mourning, contemplation and wonder. If you sit in St. Paul's any day, you will see it. People will talk to you about it. Last week, when the Tibetan monks were in residence with us, they and the Key West Buddhist Sanga (congregation) all remarked on it. Despite being right on Duval with its own energy and character, St. Paul's is a place of peace and holiness. 
T. S. Eliot in the last of his  Four Quartets  writes of the eponymous Little Gidding, the home of the community and household of prayer founded by Nicholas Ferrar (1592-1637) in Huntingdonshire, England, about 18 miles from Cambridge. Of this community he writes: 
                   ...You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
These words have echoed in my mind as I have reflected on the centennial of St. Paul's church building, and of the generations before who prayed here in the previous buildings on this site. Those prayers said by founders and slaves, by mariners and wreckers, by service men and women, by tourists and service workers, by Conchs, snowbirds and homeless persons in this place have made St. Paul's holy. Those prayers are "tongued with fire beyond the language of the living." We may not know that language but we feel its validity and presence: 
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
St. Paul's is such a place, unlike most parish churches. And we are stewards of this sanctuary. By sanctuary, I do not mean just the area immediately around the altar. No, I mean the entire property. This is a place of peace and where we pray, where countless people find refuge, peace and a place to pour out the soul. As members, as leaders, as priest, we are stewards of it for the time we are here. God meets us here. As leaders, we open and close. We set out the linens, sing the hymns, pass the peace, clean the bathrooms, we break bread, pass the cup. We say our prayers. And we will all give way and pass this place along to the next stewards who come after us. 
We will be talking about giving and our stewardship of this place in February. Yet, never lose sight of why we give here. God has entrusted this holy place to us for a little while. Our neighbors, whether they are members or not, they belong here too. We keep it open for all, so that God can meet us here now and tomorrow. We will celebrate the legacy of this building on Sunday, one hundred years of this house of prayer. Let us never forget the trust we have here: so that all who come here might hear or half hear this language tongued with fire. 

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid.

All quotations from "Little Gidding,"  The Four Quartets  by T. S. Eliot in  Collected Poems, 1909-1962,  Orlando: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1991.
Bishop's Visit
On Sunday, we welcome Bishop Peter Eaton back to St. Paul's. As Diocesan Bishop, he will rededicate and celebrate the centennial of this parish church. The current church building is 100 years old. St. Paul's as a congregation began much earlier in 1832, as a special congregation of the Diocese of New York. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Southeast Florida. The celebration begins at our 9:30 service. A festive meal, a pot luck, follows. Even if you have not signed up, please come. If your last name is in the first third of the alphabet, bring an appetizer; or it's in the middle, a side dish; or if in the final third, bring desert!
Search Committee Update
The search committee has formed a sub-committee to write the parish profile to include information about our history, liturgical and spiritual life, music, Christian education, community outreach, stewardship and finances, property and buildings, and the community of Key West. The profile will conclude with a description of our strengths and challenges, our vision for the future, and what we are looking for in our next rector.

The profile will be published widely to attract and inform rector applicants. Members of the profile committee are Lilla Whiteside, Bruce Hagemann, David Eyer and Donald Curry as well as any members of the search committee who wish to sit in. The committee is meeting every Monday evening. Also, this past Sunday at the 9:30 service, search committee members were formally installed along with new vestry members. After the Sunday potluck, the bishop will meet with members of the search committee.
Memorial Bricks
Sales End February 2nd
We have had an excellent response to the Commemorative Brick Fundraiser.  The first fifty-three bricks have been placed in the Memorial Garden.
If your brick isn't in place and was ordered on or after January 12th it is one of the twelve pending bricks and will be submitted on February 3rd.
If you are contemplating purchasing a memorial brick, please do so on or before February 2nd.  Any orders received on or after February 3rd will not be submitted until we have a complete order of 18 bricks.  

Place your order  here
Thank you for your continued support of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Note: Above photo shows one of several sections installed to date.
Senior Warden Notes xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Ray Warren
At this past Sunday's 9:30 service, the search committee and new vestry members were formally installed. 

New giving envelopes are on the way! If you usually use an envelope, please use a left over one from last year and change the date. If you don't have any old envelopes to use, please write your giving number on the check if you know it. Having the number handy is a great help to the tellers who count contributions. 

The main gate to the Memorial Garden will be open for the Bishop's visit and the pot luck lunch on Sunday. One parking space in front of it will be marked off. Please do not move the marker to park there. Also, if you are able, please leave the onsite parking for those with a physical need for one. The pay parking spaces on adjacent streets are free until noon on Sundays. And, residents with a residential parking sticker can park in non-pay residential spaces on Eaton and Fleming Streets any time.
February Musical Performances
Each season, St. Paul's welcomes musicians who perform in the sanctuary, historic rectory and parish hall as part of our outreach mission to the Keys. Taking advantage of our downtown location, the church has become a much loved center for musical events. This year, between November 2019 and June 2020, we are hosting 24 concerts for 6 organizations. 
Feb 6, 2020 - 7 pm, Guitar recital, with Mateo, Guitar Summit Concert Series (Parish Hall)

Feb 9, 2020 - 4 pm, Canellakis-Brown Duo, Impromptu (Sanctuary)  Tickets

Feb 15, 2020 - 7 pm,  Jefferson Carriage: A Concert for President's Day , Early Music KW (Parish Hall) Tickets

Feb 20, 2020 - 7 pm, Four-Hand Piano Pieces, Southernmost Chamber Music (Parish Hall) Tickets  

Feb 23, 2020 - 4 pm, The Rasher Saxophone Quartet, Impromptu (Sanctuary)  Tickets

See a calendar of all musical events this season here

Know Your History

What is your best guess as to the age of the very large mahogany tree in the St Paul’s Memorial Garden?

Sunday school, 9:30 AM, Holy Innocents Hall, Upstairs
This Sunday's bulletin here
Back issues of  The Epistle  available  here
Send questions and comments to the editor   here