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The Reverend George Read Stevens is Installed as St. Mary’s 22nd Rector

In a rousing, trumpet-punctuated celebration attended by more than 200, George was formally installed as our new Rector and welcomed as our spiritual leader and friend. Nearly one-third of the attendees at the rite, which was held this past Sunday at 4:00 PM, were wonderfully warm and gracious guests from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Beverley Farms (MA), where George last served as Associate Rector—a tangible testament to the deep affection and esteem he earned during his tenure there. Most traveled by a chartered bus and among the throng were some infirm or aged who nevertheless made the trip to celebrate firsthand George’s success.

Bishop Bud Cederholm was the Celebrant; The Reverend Miriam Gelfer, Rector of Grace Church in Newton Center, who also serves as Dean of the Charles River Deanery, was the Concelebrant. Other guest clergy included our former Interim Rector, The Reverend Margaret Schwarzer, who served as Master of Ceremonies; The Reverend Suzanne Coburn, Interim Rector at St. John’s, who served as Deacon; The Reverend Tad Meyer, retired Rector of St. John’s, The Reverend Ed Pease, who served as the search consultant; and The Reverend Richard Downes, retired Rector of The Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill.

In his sermon, Bishop Cederholm defined the three traits of a good leader: fierceness, humility and playfulness and observed that George amply possesses all three. He spoke of the inevitability of the change that will attend George’s endeavors and why change, while sometimes difficult, is necessary in this time when mainstream churches face so many challenges. And the impression the Bishop left us with was of his genuine, heartfelt and enthusiastic conviction that George’s call to St. Mary’s represents a superb marriage of George’s talents with all that our parish is about and seeks to become. Bishop Cederholm ended his sermon by recognizing our extraordinary search committee and presenting the wardens and George with Diocesan baseball caps.

The sermon was followed by the Induction during which Isabel Phillips, interim director of the church school presented to George a Bible and a children’s Bible; Bishop Cederholm presented a vessel of water; Vivian Brocard, chair of the search committee, presented a stole; Mary Green and Stewart Tucker, wardens, presented keys to the church; and Gail Jessup, on behalf of the altar guild, presented bread and wine—all as signs of George’s ministry.

The generosity of spirit and goodwill that defined the day was manifest in perhaps the largest plate collection in St. Mary’s recent history. Those monies will benefit the rector’s discretionary fund, which is used for the special needs of our parishioners and others.

A particularly robust service of Holy Eucharist set the stage for a magnificent recessional hymn and profusion of choir and clergy. In a gesture typical of Bishop Cederholm, who is known for injecting a touch of levity into a rite, he brought up the rear of the procession wearing a Diocesan baseball cap after placing his mitre on the head of Henry Stevens, 4, who exited the church in the arms of his very proud father.

The Installation was followed by a sumptuous reception in the parish hall. We owe a special thank you to Elisabeth Comer for coordinating the reception and to The Reverend Bradley Barnes and members of the Christ the King congregation, who graciously rescheduled their Sunday afternoon service and volunteered to serve our food and clean up afterwards so that our parish family might celebrate together. Priscilla Bartzak, Phyllis Campbell, Jean Dalton and Dede Ulbrich beautifully arranged the flowers which graced every table.

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