December 21, 2018: A Christmas miracle at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

From Fr. Steven

Several months ago, I was invited to a working dinner "to help shape the future of the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes (CEEP)." After dinner, the participants were treated to a provocative talk by Andrew McGowan, the Dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.

Dean McGowan began by highlighting the most recent statistics from the national Episcopal church office, which once again show a decline. He warned that this decline would likely accelerate in the near future, given the average age of our congregations and the increasing secularism of contemporary life. 

However, Dean McGowan also emphasized that, at the same time, there were pockets of real strength and vitality in some local churches.

I think it's fair to count the Congregation of Saint Saviour in this second category. By the standard metrics, we are showing renewed vigor: 

  • Our pledges for 2019 are at the highest level in 7 years (and we still have a few weeks left in the stewardship campaign)

  • 20 new members have joined our congregation since April

  • Our children's ministries continue to grow, with 8 candidates for confirmation being prepared and two Sunday morning classes now running

  • There is increased involvement in outreach ministries, through partnership with Cathedral programs like ACT and CCC, and outside groups like SAGE, Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation, GMHC, and the NAMES Project Foundation

Set against the general decline of the churches, our renewed health and vitality should be seen for what it is: a miracle.

Church growth is so hard that what has happened this year almost shouldn't be possible.

Yet, as Auden once wrote, "Nothing can save us that is possible: / We who must die demand a miracle."

The Rev. Steven Lee

From Marsha and Tim

Sharing at Christmas time

Thanks to all of you who brought in piles of new toys for children over the past few weeks.   They will help make Christmas special for children in the community.  One more opportunity to give before Christmas:  On Sunday, December 23, the Soup Kitchen will be serving a special Christmas dinner to our guests.  The Congregation is asked to bring cooked chickens, turkeys, desserts, etc. as they come to church in the morning.  Enter the kitchen through the steps opposite the guard booth.

It’s not too late to consider ushering at one of the Christmas services.  Contact Tim at

Merry Christmas from the wardens

Off you go, so many of you, to visit family in California, Texas, Florida, Panama, and places farther afield. We wish you safe travel.  Many of us are staying right here in the Big Apple to celebrate at the Cathedral.  Wherever you are going to observe God’s amazing act of becoming flesh and pitching his tent among us, may your Christmas be joyful and filled with love. 

Tim and Marsha

Please note that the newsletter will take next week off and will return on Friday, January 4.