A Note from Jim: March 17th, 2023
In her note this week, Barbara Thomson writes about her relationship with the late and much beloved Frank Griswold, whose funeral we will stream here in the Sanctuary that Frank transformed during his time as Rector with this parish. Click here for the livestream link for Bishop Griswold's Funeral
Having spent some time, now, back at St. Martin’s as your Interim Rector, I have begun to appreciate how powerfully transformational was Frank’s ministry with St. Martin’s. Almost every aspect of parish life today is, in part, the way it is because of the deep and profound vision Frank brought with him into his ten years with the parish. More profound than that, though, is the spirit in which that transformational ministry was carried out, for I believe that Frank Griswold was above all, a priest deeply rooted in the Spirit of the Holy One.
It also must be said that he was able so gracefully and joyfully to lead the people of St. Martin’s in that journey of faith because he, like our ancestor Abraham, was accompanied and supported by the prayer and work and vision and faith of a magnificent spouse. Phoebe is, in these sad days, very much in our prayers here, as she is so deeply in so many of your hearts.
I hope that many of you will join us in the Sanctuary this Saturday at 11 a.m. to witness Frank’s funeral, which will be streamed from St. Luke’s, Germantown, where he and Phoebe have been members since their return to Philadelphia after Frank’s tenure as our Presiding Bishop. Everyone is, of course, invited to St. Luke’s if you would like to be there in person; but for the St. Martin’s family, many thought and I agree that it would be good to be together in the sanctuary he transformed and that he so loved as we together commend his soul to the eternal light and love of God. Before and after the funeral, our change ringers will peal the bells that Frank and Phoebe were so instrumental in bringing into St. Martin’s liturgical life; and after the service, we’ll gather either in the Houston Room or the sanctuary, depending on numbers, to share memories and stories, of which there are so many. Those who attend the St. Luke’s service are more than welcome to return to St. Martin’s for the story-telling and fellowship. And one last thought–if you have a story, please either write it down or record it and send a copy to Laura Palmer who is compiling a book of stories and remembrances which will, when completed, make its way to Phoebe and the family, with another copy staying here in the library.
Wednesday night, about 80 people gathered for food and conversation in the Parish Hall, continuing our Lenten Series, “Lent + Joy.” Each Lenten week, one of the ministries of St. Martin’s has shared their own story, with a particular emphasis on responding to the question: How does your engagement with this ministry bring you closer to the deep joy which is God’s glory? There have been many moving answers to that question. Last night, the music ministries of St. Martin’s assembled to tell their own stories of the joys to be found and the joy to be deployed into the world by making music. We heard from two children’s choir families, as well as from several members of the choir–veterans from as far back as Frank’s time here and from more recent members–, as well as from Tyrone Whiting, whose presence at St. Martin’s is such a gift of grace.
When my time came, I talked about when I was a boy soprano in a wonderful children’s choir in a large Presbyterian church in the Shenandoah Valley town where I grew up. Apparently, I had a very good voice back then. I know I loved to sing, and I know I was nurtured and taught by a wonderful and skilled music director named Mary Monroe Penick. We called her, reverentially, Miss Penick. One day when I was getting perhaps a little carried away with my little self, Miss Pennick turned to me and said, “Jimmy, you do know that when you sing, it is not about you. Your singing is about glorifying God. Sing to do that and you will always sing right.” “Yes,ma’am,” I replied, slightly chastened.
I have never forgotten that instruction.. I believe that all of us are called to be instruments of God’s grace and peace, to be channels of God’s love. Frank Griswold was so much that person and that priest I hope we can all, always, emulate Frank and Miss Penick, so that God’s love flows into us in the Eucharistic feast, in our daily prayer and in our life lived in grace, and then flows through us into the world, telling the story of Jesus everywhere we go.
Tags: Clergy & Staff