By Rev. Katie Yahns, St. Peter’s, Verona
On Saturday, September 6, the air outside was cool, humid and still, but inside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Rochester, a slight breeze stirred the long, thin red streamers as they swayed slowly and gracefully on their poles over the heads of the congregation. They reminded the people the Holy Spirit was present as the installation of the Rev. John S. Macholz as bishop of the Upstate New York Synod began.
The Holy Spirit’s presence was clear throughout the service-in the preaching and worship leadership of Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the soaring notes of the choir and brass ensemble, the presence and prayers of ecumenical leaders and guests, and the sense that both Bishop Macholz and the synod as a whole were called to embark on a new journey together. The service began at the back of the nave, as members of Atonement, Rochester bade farewell to their pastor of 24 years. There was a moment of goodbye before the celebration of new beginnings could start.
With the first note of the service, the congregation knew they were listening to world-class music-no wonder, with the Eastman School of Music right down the street. From the Skinner pipe organ to the brass ensemble to the choir, all led by Dr. Jim Jeffris and Mr. Thatcher D. Lyman, the musicians deeply inspired and moved the people, while leading them in compositions both ancient and contemporary. The liturgical setting was a musical sampler, including pieces from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, the Lutheran Book of Worship, The Word Goes Forth, the Anglican Psalter, and various other composers. The final blessing, entitled “Peace I Leave With You” and composed by Jonathan Thomas Madden (son of synod Vice President and assisting minister Thomas Madden), was originally composed for a friend suffering with cancer.)
In her sermon, Eaton spoke conversationally but directly to remind the congregation that instead of celebrating what we are doing, God is always the one doing a new thing through us. She reminded Macholz that while people often treat bishops deferentially, he was called to be a servant at heart. “God’s promises have found a servant,” she declared. “We are called to care for the sometimes fractious, always precious, people of God.” She reminded all that like Moses, we are called to do important things-but also like Moses, we can only do them because God is with us.
The installation portion of the service began with a choral prayer composed by Dr. Paul O. Manz, noted composer, organist, and professor at Christ Seminary-Seminex, where Macholz also earned his master’s of divinity. The traditional address from the Scriptures and questions pertaining to the duties of the office followed. As the choir and congregation sang the ancient chant “Creator Spirit, Heavenly Dove,” bishops from other synods and ecumenical partners, including companion churches in Zimbabwe and Zambia, came forward to lay hands on Macholz and pray for him. The last to offer prayer was former Bishop Marie Jerge.
Macholz was presented with the pectoral cross of the Upstate New York Synod and a crozier, symbols of the office of bishop. The cross serves as a reminder to serve Christ and his people, and the crozier reminds everyone that the bishop also serves as a shepherd, called to keep watch over the whole flock.
￼After the service, the people spilled out onto the St. Paul’s lawn for a reception with plenty of food and the music of a string trio. The most popular attraction of the reception appeared to be the chance to take a “selfie” with Bishop Macholz and Presiding Bishop Eaton (tagged with #selfiewiththebishop on social media).
From beginning to end, the service was fitting for the beginning of a new chapter in the history books of the Upstate New York Synod. It’s not every day you install a bishop-and this worship service was more than worthy to mark such a momentous occasion.
Please view all of our pictures on our photo gallery. If you would, take some time and add comments as you recognize people there.