From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: Presiding bishop joins anniversary celebration at church in Key West, Florida
Wed, 12 Feb 2003 16:39:45 -0500
February 12, 2003
Episcopalians: Presiding bishop joins anniversary celebration at
church in Key West, Florida
by Mary W. Cox
(ENS) Even though it was a Saturday morning rather than Sunday,
there was standing room only at St. Paul's, Key West, on January
25, as Episcopalians from throughout the Diocese of Southeast
Florida joined with St. Paul's parishioners--and Presiding
Bishop Frank T. Griswold--in celebrating the 170th patronal
festival of the oldest congregation in the diocese.
Responding to Bishop Leo Frade's urging to make the event "a
diocesan family gathering," parishioners from churches in Palm
Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties spilled out of buses,
vans and cars and began to fill St. Paul's more than two hours
before the 11 a.m. service. A congregation estimated at more
than 750 filled the pews, as well as chairs set up in every
available space inside the church and on the side porch. Some
worshipers stood in the back of the church, and children sat on
the floor in the center aisle.
In addition to Griswold and Frade, Assistant Bishop James
Ottley, Onell Soto, retired assistant bishop of Alabama, and
about 40 diocesan clergy and six interfaith clergy representing
Key West congregations participated in the service.
Skateboards and all
With the resounding call of a conch shell horn and the skirling
of bagpipes, Verger George Noel led a grand procession,
including acolytes, choir, church and community leaders,
visiting clergy and the four bishops out of the church grounds
and around the block to Mile Marker 0, where the bishops and
archdeacons paused at the spot marking the beginning and the
ending of U.S. Route 1. The procession gathered some of the
city's young people, with a gaggle of skateboarders and inline
skaters falling in line as the procession moved down Duval
Street to St. Paul's.
In his sermon, Bishop Griswold reflected on the conversion of
St. Paul, telling the congregation that, like Paul, "we must
each undergo conversion...that lays claim to everything." Like
"the reluctant apostle Ananias," who ministered to Paul, we are
"instruments of salvation for each other." He told the
congregation that "each one of you, by your baptism, is called
to be a minister of reconciliation."
St. Paul's welcomed the presiding bishop by presenting him with
a conch shell horn, which, according to vestry member Jim
Richardson, "symbolizes our oneness with the land, and with the
sea around us." After a demonstration of conch horn technique by
9-year-old Norman Alexander, who sounded the horn for the
procession, Griswold managed to make a sound with the shell,
much to the delight of the congregation. He thanked the parish
for the unique gift, saying, "I can truly say I don't have one!"
Richardson read a proclamation from the City of Key West,
recounting the history of the parish and naming the day as a
festival to be celebrated by the community in honor of the 170th
anniversary of St. Paul's.
Frade congratulated St. Paul's on its anniversary, saying, "We
talk a lot about missions and evangelism. Well, this is what
happens when a church is planted -- and grows..."
Smiling, he added, "I'm glad the City Council way back then
 had such good taste as to petition the Diocese of New
York to send a priest to start an Episcopal church."
The service was also the occasion of the formal induction of the
Ven. Dr. Bryan Hobbs and the Ven. Paul Rasmus as archdeacons for
the diocese. For both archdeacons, having this service at St.
Paul's had particular significance: Rasmus was rector of St.
Paul's for eight years before taking his new position on the
diocesan staff in December of last year, and Hobbs, who comes to
his new ministry from 24 years as rector of Holy Sacrament in
Pembroke Pines, began his ministry in the diocese in Key West.
After the service, the day's festivities continued with food and
entertainment on the church grounds.
--Mary Cox is director of communications for the Diocese of
Southeast Florida and editor of the diocesan newspaper.
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