There is a sad inevitability about this. Many changes in demographics and in life styles have led to the decline of what had once been a lively blue-collar/working class congregation.
I salute and affirm the decision of the leadership at CGS to fold their tent in West Fitchburg, and move a few miles to be part of a larger congregation. Earlier today I had a lovely ‘phone conversation with the Priest at CGS – the Revd. Karen Campbell. I told her that I rejoiced in her leadership, and that I was grateful for the faith and courage which has led to this new chapter in the life of a small congregation.
I was Deacon-in-Charge, then Priest-in-Charge, and then Rector at CGS between 1976 and 1980.
Here are my memories of three liturgies there.
11th July 1976
This was my first Sunday as CGS as a newly minted Deacon. (I had been made Deacon in Bristol Cathedral, England on 27th June in that year). On that first Sunday at CGS I made some kind of mistake in the Liturgy. I grinned, and said to the congregation “well, I have goofed up on my first Sunday here”.
They laughed out loud, and from that very moment we knew that “all would be well”.
17th December 1976
On that day I was ordained as Priest (by Bishop Alexander D. Stewart) at CGS, using the English 1662 rite. A friend, the Revd. Paul W. Goranson, was the preacher.
Many of the good people at CGS had (secretly) contributed to a fund so that my mother, Evelyn Povey could be present. It was joy upon joy to have her there.
When we got back to my apartment Mum said “I wish that your Dad could have been there”. (Dad died in 1974). I replied with genuine conviction - “his spirit was here”.
Mum made 7 subsequent visits to see me in the USA.
April 6th 1980 (Easter Day)
This was my last day as Rector at CGS.
Bishop Alexander D. Stewart had invited me to be one of his Diocesan staff members with responsibility for evangelism, and to be Priest-in-charge at St. Christopher’s in Chicopee, MA
. He had made me an offer which I could not refuse!
I went “over the top” as I planned this final Eucharist, including asking a friend, Sarah Moran Smith, to sing Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate (which she did!).
There was the inevitable and welcome “reception” after that Eucharist. One by one the parishioners left, until there were just about ten of us in the parish hall. Then I “lost it”. I began to sob my heart out. I cried and cried at the thought of leaving these good people. (It was so stupid of me to choose Easter Day as my final CGS Sunday!)
These are holy memories and through them I express my gratitude, and my high hopes for the live of CGS folks as they continue their journeys at Christ Church.