September 24 , 2020
St. Paul's Episcopal Church

This Week's News Highlights

Service time has changed

Please Note That Our Sunday Service time has changed to 8:30 a.m. for the foreseeable future. In addition to live services for a limited number of participants, Facebook Live broadcasts of the service will continue.
Hopes High for the Search Process

Our Search Committee has received word that our Bishop and the new Canon to the Ordinary will be meeting with Search Committee leaders soon to discuss our parish profile.

We are so grateful to retiring Canon John Tidy and new Canon to the Ordinary, Licia Affer, for their work on our behalf. And of course, to our bishop, The Right Reverend Peter Eaton, for his continued support of St. Paul's.

Keys Deanery - "We are family"

Delegates Donald Curry and Susanne Woods, along with Senior Warden, Ray Warren, attended (via Zoom) the "convocation of the Keys Deanery this past Tuesday night. The convocation is an annual meeting where delegates and clergy (and the senior warden in parishes currently without clergy) from the Keys meet with the bishop and his staff, to share updates and prepare for the upcoming diocesan convention.

Being part of something larger than our own parish is an important part of our identity as Episcopalians. For several years, Fr. Larry Hooper of St. Paul's was the dean of the Deanery. The Keys Deanery is now led by the Rev. Debra Andrew Maconaughey from St. Columba's in Marathon. St. Columba's is a shining example of a growing and vibrant parish. We have much to learn and to share with our sisters and brothers there and in the other churches of the Keys.

Zoom Coffee Hour Is No More

Part of finding our way in pandemic times is trying new things. Some work and some don't pan out. The Zoom "coffee hour" after church was launched in hopes that parishioners would enjoy getting together "virtually" when we could not meet in person.

Unfortunately, it was an idea that did not seem to capture the imagination of many. There has been a faithful few and often delightful times with them. But given the low participation, we are going to retire that idea and look for other ways to build person to person communication. Stay tuned!

Procedures to reserve your space at services

Currently, up to 24 people are allowed to attend services. If you would like to attend, you will be asked to sign up in advance. Contact information will be required.

To attend a Sunday please send an email to indicating the following information:

  • Your name and the names of any family or household members who will attend with you.
  • Your email address
  • Your cell phone number

Email is greatly preferred, but reservations can also be made by calling the church office at 305-296-5142. If nobody answers please leave a message with the information.

To allow for a proper count, and to allow volunteers to prepare for your attendance, please complete your reservation by 2 p.m. on the Thursday before the Sunday you wish to attend. Please remember that you must wear a mask for the entire service and please arrive 10 minutes before the service begins.

Please note that you need to notify us EVERY week you want to attend. We do not currently have a system to automatically roll over regular attendees. So please notify the office each week you can attend.

(Note: We do have some space this week if you want to send your reservation on Friday.)

On the other hand, you do not need to wait until the same week to reserve a seat for an upcoming service. Feel free to go ahead and email your information as soon as you are confident you wish to attend. The sooner we have a good count the better.
Sunday's Service

Join us Sunday for Holy Eucharist at 8:30 AM. Sign up in advance to attend in person (see above) or join us on Facebook.

To join via Facebook, go to the church Facebook page at the appropriate time and look for the window showing that "St. Paul's Key West is now live." Click on the window.

Did you know you DO NOT need to have a Facebook account to view the service or visit our Facebook page? Simply use the Facebook page link to go directly to our Facebook page.

You can open or download the bulletin for the Sunday service here.

Junior Warden's Report
By Greta Philips-Ford
The volunteer group will NOT meet this Saturday due to some scheduling conflicts. Please join us in the future on Saturday mornings at 8:30 am when this activity resumes.
This past week we completed a temporary repair of the shed roof that houses quite a bit of our valuable equipment. (This is between the Parish Hall and Holy Innocents Hall near the kitchen entrance to the Parish Hall.) This will buy us valuable time until a more permanent repair can be accomplished.

I also met with a roofing contractor who believes he can greatly mitigate our water intrusion problem on the sacristy (Eaton Street) side of the church by repairing eves. We are very grateful to Betty Toppino and others who have donated to make this project possible. I'll report when we know more about the results of the work.

(Contact me at I hope to see you on Saturday morning! 
Senior Warden Notes
Ray Warren
I have very little to add this week to the news contained above and below. Slowly but surely we are re-connecting and finding new ways to communicate. I am grateful for our members, our volunteers and our amazingly dedicated staff (Lisa and Tim). Everyone is working overtime to move us forward and I feel more confident every day that St. Paul's will emerge stronger than ever.
I was closing up the church grounds the other day and I paused in the memorial garden. I noticed that the brass cross we had brought out from the choir room to the outdoor altar at the beginning of the pandemic has weathered quite a bit.

It once graced the choir room, but when all we had was outdoor space, we wanted our outdoor altar have it as a focal point. Greta brings it in before major storms (like Tropical storms Laura and Sally), but otherwise, day after day it stands in testament to our faith and perseverance regardless of the weather.

Our altar guild (under the guidance of Phyllis Pita while Wendy is away for the summer) has been steadily (and responsibly, with social distancing) restoring the brass inside the church which was not polished during the months of closure. I'm sure they'll restore the shine to our outside cross as well.

But right now I think it is a good metaphor for Key West. A bit weathered, but definitely still here and still bearing witness.
We are going to start printing a weekly prayer list in the Epistle, as well as reading the names on Sunday. The old list of names had not been updated (much) since March, so we are starting fresh (see below). If you want to add somebody to the prayer list (both for the Epistle and to be read on Sunday) please send a note to our music director, Tim Peterson at

Please give not only the name of the person for whom we may pray, but also give us some idea of the situation (without details or breaking privacy.) For example, should it be in the prayers for healing? Or has the family suffered a loss? Is there a cause for celebration? The weekly prayers of the people contain sections for praying for healing, praying for the departed (and their families) and acknowledging reasons to be thankful. Let us know what to include.
Thank you for your continued financial support of St. Paul's.

Church mailing address: 401 Duval Street, Key West FL 33040. Pledges and offerings can be mailed here or made electronically at the church giving page.


Sr. Warden Ray Warren:

Jr. Warden Greta Philips-Ford:

Epistle Editor:

Church office (and administrator Lisa McCarthy):

Church office phone: 305-296-5142

Tim Peterson's "From the Organ"
Is Now History But There is One More Amazing Story

After a full 26 weeks of hard work and beautiful music Tim Peterson has finished his "From the Organ" series. Stay tuned for news of future programs from our amazing music director.

As a parting message Tim shared the following (true) story with us about the last day of the current series.
(As told by Tim):

A little bird flew in the nave sometime on Monday and couldn’t find his way out. (Let’s just say that it was a male bird). I discovered him flying around when I got to church early Tuesday morning. We have had birds in the church before. I opened several of the windows, we already had all of the doors opened, with the wrought iron gates closed and locked, keeping people out, for the time being.

The craziest thing happened. The bird did NOT fly out. In fact, another bird joined him inside! They were the same species, identical cousins. I don’t know which one found its way out, but, by late afternoon, we were back down to just one bird. We would talk to each other, he would sing, I would whistle, but he wouldn’t fly LOW enough to see that the doors and windows were open for it to leave.

Wednesday morning, the bird was still here, probably a little hungry, but flying all around the nave. I couldn’t find a way to get him toward an opening. I knew well enough that the Key West Wildlife Center would not be able to help. So, I hoped that this little bird would find his way. The doors and windows were opened for him again.

I got to church early on Thursday, certain that the bird was still there, even more hungry, I was sure. The windows and doors were all closed up, the air conditioning was turned on, since I do a live streaming organ concert on Facebook on Thursdays. This Thursday was to be my last. I checked out the sanctuary, whistled a little while, and heard nothing. I cranked up the organ, and started playing, quite loudly, when the little bird started telling me I was WAY too loud. I could see that he was flying lower. In fact, he bounced up the side aisle, on the floor, from the rear of the nave, up towards the Mary Chapel. I went to help, but off he went.

I was running out of time, I needed to be ready for my organ concert. I promised to open all of the windows and doors as soon as I was done. It was 11:55 am, I went up to side of the organ console, and readied my cell phone for the live streaming. I’ll be darned, that bird started singing again and would not stop. I saw that he flew over toward the altar of the Mary chapel. I began to speak calmly, I walked down the steps, over to the door, and opened it to the cloisters.

The bird was underneath the altar, waiting for my call. I pointed to the open door, as I walked around to the side of the altar. The bird flew, up to the window above the open door, trying to find a ledge so he could stop flapping his wings. I walked away from the altar, and towards the open door again. He flew back, back under the altar, a second time. I approached him in the same manner as before, telling him not to fly so high. And guess what, he did! He flew right out the open door. Free! “His eye was on the sparrow, and I know he watches me”!

I looked at my watch, it was 12 noon, and time to start my organ recital, even with a few small tears at the corners of my eyes. 
You can find prior weeks recordings of Tim’s concerts on St Paul’s Facebook page, or on YouTube.

We Pray Each Day

Daily Morning and Evening Prayer is being offered on Facebook Live at 730 AM and 5 PM on weekdays.

Thanks to Lisa Laskow, Mary Simmons, Samantha Hall, Sarah Hall and Bruce Hagemann for volunteering to officiate at these sacred moments.

To join in the prayers via Facebook, go to the church Facebook page at the appropriate time and look for the window showing that "St. Paul's Key West is now live." Then click on the window.

"Like" us and turn on live notifications to get a reminder whenever we are offering prayers.

Please pray this week healing for

Freddy Varela
Betty Curry
Sherri Hodies' daughter, Brittanny

We pray for the departed and their loved ones:

Please pray for Tom and Greta Ford and their family as they travel to the funeral for Tom's brother.

Also pray for the soul of Benjamin "Dink" Bruce, a well known, and much loved, Key West local, missed by many in the parish.

"Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servants"

(Send your prayer requests to for future publication and to be included in the Sunday service.)

Altering the Altar

(Resident parish historian Dave Eyer explains that our free standing altar, with the priest behind it, didn't always have that configuration.)

According to my recollection of a discussion with our late Parish Historian and Archivist Ms Winifred Fryzel, the current High Altar is made from Italian Carrara marble and was placed in the current church in 1920 or soon thereafter.

If you go behind the altar and look up from underneath, you will see each piece has its own Roman Numeral to designate its position in the assembly puzzle. If the altar were assembled when it arrived, why number the pieces?

The numbers go to above twenty. Beginning with Vatican II about 1965, most Roman Catholic and many Protestant congregations, Lutheran and Episcopal in particular, separated the communion table from the altar against the wall. The celebrant thus faces the congregation to prepare the Eucharist. I do not know when this change might have been made at St Paul’s but remember that our wonderful restored altar that was saved from the destruction of our third church in 1909 was already what is best described as free standing and not part of a higher altar that might have held candles etc.

About 2004, during the interim pastorate of Fr Tom Shepherd between Fr Rasmus and Fr Wilt, a movement led by late parishioner George Noel gathered a commitment of funds to separate the communion table portion of our high altar from the rear portion. A notice was sent to every parishioner explaining the project and requested their vote of approval or disapproval for the project. Adequate funds were already available for the project, so the letter was just for explanation and requested the parishioner’s approval, or not.

The reply from our parishioners was low. Only a small majority was in favor of the project. Fr Tom decided to proceed with the project and the result is apparent.

Prior to the separation project, there was a communion table- a large glass top table completely covered with a white cloth- that concealed the beautiful 1920 era carving on the front of the beautifully carved marble communion table that was to the celebrant’s back. (Some parishioners even referred to the cloth covered glass top table the “Holy Salad Bar”)

So, an idea born in controversy resulted in what we have today.

The writer thinks our church was made much more beautiful by making the communion table free-standing and visible to everyone. The writer also thinks there might be some long time members who still do not approve of the separation. 
Sunday school is canceled during the virus emergency.
Back issues of The Epistle available here.

These communications are currently edited by Senior Warden Ray Warren. Send questions and comments to the editor here.