by Jacob Manier

In our Baptismal Covenant, we pledge to respect the dignity of every person. We make this promise with utmost sincerity even as we wrap it in liturgies that cling nearly exclusively to masculine pronouns and imagery. In our scriptures, hymns, and prayers, we extol the limitless virtues of God The Father, of Activist Bro Jesus and his burly gang of do-gooders, of Grandfatherly Holy Spirit (who we just do not know how do deal with, except to imagine him clutching his gin and tonic and doddering around The Episcopal Church Home), of Indiana Jones-like adventurers Moses and Aaron, and all the rest of the Sunday School Gang fellas.

Sure, we’ve been saddled with a patriarchal tradition… but we’ve promised to do better. To live the faith which we proclaim, we must find ways to expand the language of our prayers and praises to include feminine presence, genius, and virtue.

Such a big undertaking! Where to start?
I propose that we begin with the rosary, and with Mary. Here are her (ecumenically agreed-upon) qualifications:
She is the mother of God.
As the first Christian, she is the matriarch of The Church.
The Bible says that she is blessed among women and full of grace (yes, even before Mr. Angel Gabriel dubbed her so.)
Scripture and Tradition call her clement, loving, sweet, and also brave, strong, and wise.

Patriarchy. Smashed.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Good grief, Jacob… worshipping Mary and the Saints is a Roman Catholic thing!”

Please be assured that 1) The Mother of God was not Roman Catholic and 2) nobody here is advocating the worship of Mary or of the Saints.

The Saints, like the needle on a compass, point us toward God. We do not pray to or through them, but with them – just as we pray with one another. When we invoke the name of Mary or of a Saint in prayer, we honor them as part of The Communion of Saints and we invite them, by their Godly example, to point us toward God.

Praying the rosary is one way in which we can begin to expand (and de-gender) our understanding of what it means to be The Church. When we pray the rosary, we honor she whom God so honored, and we also honor her relationship with Christ – the relationship in which the meditations of the rosary are rooted. In The Sorrowful Mysteries, the rosary challenges our stale vision of Holy Week, and forces us to face a new, raw, and powerful vision of Christ’s Passion – through the eyes of his mother. And as Protestants praying with the Mother of God, we are not alone: through the ages, from reformers Martin Luther and Thomas Cranmer, to poet-Archbishop Rowan Williams, Anglicans have loved and prayed with Mary, and have been inspired and nurtured by her example.

The Epiphany star has brought us to a crossroads in the liturgical year and in the life of Saint Paul’s Church. The journey of Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide lies before us. We are preparing to say goodbye to our beloved Lydia, to embrace Father Halley, and to step into an unknown future together.

That’s kind of a lot. Thankfully, we needn’t hit the road alone.

For here, at the corner of Transfiguration Street and Ash Wednesday Avenue, stands our mother, her hand outstretched in answer to our “Hail, Mary.” In lifting my rosary, I’m placing my hand in mom’s, and embarking on my Lenten journey with her. I hope that you will join us so that together, in the words of the rosary, “we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”

If you’d like to pray the rosary as a group this Lent, please contact me: If you’ve never prayed the rosary before, I’d love to teach you! If you do not own a rosary, you may borrow one of mine. If you’re curious, but not quite sure that you’re ready to dive in, let’s chat.


Letter from Your Wardens (click to view)


August 29, 2019
Dear Saint Paul’s Parish Family,

We are sorry to share so early in our journey with Father Marcus that he has submitted his resignation and will be leaving us October 6, 2019. He has accepted a position at the Diocese of Connecticut. In his new position, he will be the Dean of Formation and will also be working as a Missional Priest-in-Charge of a faith community. This is a wonderful opportunity for him allowing him to continue to strengthen his gifts. The Diocese of Connecticut will benefit as we have from Father Marcus’s passion. Although it is hard to see him go, we have learned and done wonderful things as a parish with his leadership and guidance over the past 2-1/2 years. It will be exciting to watch his continued growth from afar knowing we were blessed to have been part of his early career. Father Marcus’s letter to the parish is included in this email.

So now we begin to look forward. Beth and I will be in contact with ECMN and Bishop Prior to plan for an interim priest and to look at putting together a search committee. We will gather together and consider what we have learned about ourselves during our time with Father Marcus. This is a chance for us to evaluate where we are and to make plans for moving forward: what we want to be sure to carry forward, what things we might want back that have changed, and yes, what might not have been tackled yet that we want to explore? We ask that each of you give prayerful consideration to these questions. They will be foundational to our Rector search.

We know the amazing strength of this parish and are confident we will become even stronger from the challenge that has been put in front of us. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Meredith Johnson, Senior Warden ( Beth Carlson, Junior Warden (

Dear Saint Paul’s,

It is with a mix of sadness and joy that I inform you that I offered my resignation to the Vestry on Monday, August 19. My last day as your priest will be Sunday, October 6, 2019. I have accepted a call to serve as the Dean of Formation for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, a position that will also include serving as a Missional Priest-in- Charge of a faith community there.

Throughout my time as your Rector, I’ve tried to preach, teach, and exemplify a consistent message: each of us is called to grow in Christian maturity to meet the challenges and opportunities of being the Church in this new missional age. Our patron, Saint Paul the Apostle, calls this the “full stature of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). This means taking seriously our individual and collective calls to be leaders, not only within the walls of our parish but also in the wider community. Leading, especially in times of great change, means taking risks, being open to failure that leads to learning, collaborating with others, and standing firmly in our identity and purpose.

People across Saint Paul’s Church have heard this message, stepped up, and stepped forward. Together, we have faced down a major challenge head-on –tackling our budget deficit– and as a result are experiencing a renewal of energy and spirit. We have new ministries popping up all around, a greater capacity for innovation, and deeper commitment to Christ and the mission of God he invites us into. There are others who are still afraid to step forward or unsure where they fit, and that’s okay. Saint Paul’s moves forward together.

My new role will give me the opportunity to help form other ordained leaders in what we’ve done together: translating an age-old faith to a contemporary context. I am excited and honored to be asked by Bishop Ian Douglas to serve the Church in this role.

None of this takes away the anxiety, sadness, or grief that many will feel at this time. Transitions are always hard, especially when it comes when things are going well. I have not served as your Rector for long, but we’ve done a lot together. I will pray for you as you discern what leadership model God might be inviting you to try and who might best step into that role to walk alongside you as you continue engaging God’s mission. Your wardens are two of the most capable people I’ve ever met and together with your vestry and the entire community, as it has for the last 139 years, your journey continues.

There will be time to say goodbye, and I will continue to serve faithfully until my final day. In the meantime, the mission of God calls us onward. There are individuals and communities in need of the Gospel – and it is our job as followers of Jesus Christ to proclaim it, in word and example.

Faithfully, Marcus+


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