Dean’s Letter: Who Are These all Robed in White

Hello St. Paul’s,

From time to time someone makes a comment that makes me realize that they think we have a lot of clergy on staff. When you see all those robed individuals in the procession on Sunday, it’s easy to assume that they are all on staff, and you probably wonder about all the other people in robes up there. How can we possibly afford all those people? The answer is that we can’t and we don’t. The clergy on staff are myself, Richard Hogue, and Brooks Mason. We are blessed to have several clergy, retired from tenured positions, in the cathedral congregation. Some choose to sit in the pews; others are willing to preside, preach, or assist with worship out of the goodness of their hearts, and I am deeply grateful for their ministry. Our retired colleagues also help out with the Friday Eucharist and pastoral care. If you wonder why we don’t hear more sermons from them, consider that a typical sermon of 10-12 minutes can take up to 10 hours to prepare. Being retired ideally means doing only those things you enjoy doing, and after laboring for decades over weekly sermons, many retired clergy are happy to leave that task to those of us still earning a salary. When you have an opportunity, please thank our assisting clergy for the ministry they offer so generously.

There are a lot of other people around the altar on Sunday mornings: all our lay altar servers and vergers are volunteers, and many of the choir members are too. We have about six professional section leaders in the Sunday morning choir, and their gifts are a crucial contribution to the excellence and beauty of our liturgy. Cathedral singers could earn more elsewhere but they choose to sing at St. Paul’s because Canon Martin Green is such an outstanding choir director and liturgical musician.

A music ministry on the scale of St. Paul’s would ideally include administrative assistants and at least two organists in addition to the Canon for Music. We have a couple of devoted and hardworking volunteers who help to keep the music library in order, but otherwise, Martin is on his own. While we seek our next assistant organist, our music ministry will be severely stretched, and professional organists are a rare breed! If you feel moved to help out with some of the administrative tasks in the music department, please let me or Martin know and we will be happy to find work for you. Musical skills are not required. See you on Sunday!

Your sister in Christ,

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