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The Rector’s Pastoral Letter to the Parish in the Face of the Current Economic Crisis

The Feast of Philip, Deacon and Evangelist, 11 October 2008

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

For many in New York and around the world this has been a difficult six weeks or more. The financial markets have been rocked by great turbulence. Indeed, as someone put it to me yesterday, if someone had told him a year ago that come October 2008 Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch would be no more, that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and A.I.G. would all but collapse, and that stock markets around the world would be down 40%, he would have thought that person was crazy. But it seems that we now live in crazy times. A number of us worked for and with these firms and others that have not survived, most of us know someone whose life and livelihood has been directly affected, and all of us in this City are feeling the effects in one way or another. Indeed, this financial crisis, as many have called it, is really also a pastoral crisis. It is a time of uncertainty and of fear and of real need and in these times we need the love and support of our family and friends, and of our community, more than ever.

Over the past few weeks I have chosen to use the votive mass for Vocation in Daily Work for many of our weekday Eucharists. In this office we pray, “Deliver us, we beseech thee, in our several occupations from the service of self alone, that we may do the work which thou givest us to do, in truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of him who came among us as one that serveth, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (B.C.P., p. 210). It has been my prayer and hope that as we face economic uncertainty and the pressures that it brings, that we remember that God calls us where we are—not where we think we ought to be—“in our several occupations” to lives of service and of love. God calls us, whether we are bankers or teachers, physicians or office workers, academics or labourers to do our best to live out our Baptismal promises to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbours as our self” and “respect the dignity of every human being.”

Through all our fear, through all our stress and anxiety, God loves us steadfastly. Through all our fear, through all our stress and anxiety, our parish church stands on the corner of 87th Street and West End Avenue as a beacon of hope and light. Through all our fear, through all our stress and anxiety, each of us has a community of people in that place that shows us the love of God, that loves and cares for us, and that can support us in an amazing variety of ways.

Please do not hesitate to be in touch with me or with another member of the clergy. Please let us know how we can be of help and support to you. We are here to listen and to respond. We are here to help as we are able and can help you find the help you need, whether that comes from within our community or from without. Please remember that in coming to Church you are entering into a community of love and support and of a beauty that itself reflect the beauty and love of God.

With all my warmest wishes and prayers, I am,

Faithfully yours,

The Rev'd Dr Andrew C. Blume
Rector, Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church