As part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew (SsAM), in 2021 members shared some of their memories of our church’s first twenty-five years.
She Said, “Please Come Back”
by Pat Saunders
It was December 30, 2006. I had moved to Wilmington three days before, and because it was Sunday morning, I went to SsAM. I knew one person in Wilmington, the Rev. Fred Guyott, who told me to go to SsAM.
The service, the music, the sermon must have been wonderful — I have no recollection of them being anything different. But what stood out to me was that after the service, Shirley Bynoe, who had sat behind me and introduced herself, wanted to know my name and what brought me to SsAM. I told her, and she answered, “Please come back.” I knew I would. I have often told Shirley she is the reason I am at SsAM — not Fred, not the service — but she.
As a physically challenged person, I am often ignored. But Shirley treated me as she would have anyone. She made a difference in my life. Thank you, Shirley, and thank you SsAM, my beloved spiritual home.
Made to Feel Welcome!
by Peggy Shane
Although we were not using this theme six years ago when I first came to SsAM, we experienced the spirit of “Invite, Welcome and Connect”.
On our first or second visit to SsAM, we were made to feel WELCOME. Ken Francis shared his pew, and we were swept up by the experience of “sharing the peace” at SsAM. This experience continued. Sandy Holt made sure we were included by pointing out the difference between the BCP, LEVAS, and The Hymnal to ensure we were INVITED to share in the service. CONNECT was Cynthia Martin asking for help in the Archives. The rest is history in the making!
Thanks be to God.
10th Anniversary of Shipley Lofts… Thank You, SsAM!
by Geoff Sawyer
Prior to the consolidation, St. Andrew’s bought the property at the other end of our block, 701 N. Shipley St, a former furniture store. The initial purpose: single unit apartments for the homeless partially supported by the city.
Unfortunately, the city withdrew its support. The newly joined church, SsAM, with a full plate of consolidation activities, took on the job of finding a use for the building.
After many years of false starts, through the leadership of Canon Lloyd Casson and Chris White (then SsAM’s senior warden), Shipley Lofts was opened 10 years ago. It contains 23 artists’ lofts (most of which are rented at subsidized rental rates) and an art gallery. Financing was arranged using a complex system of tax credits and support from local foundations, banks, the city, and SsAM. At least two members of the board of directors of the Chris White Community Development Corporation must be SsAM Vestry members.
Just days before the opening of Shipley Lofts, Chris White was killed by a car jumping the curb in front of SsAM. It was a truly tragic loss for his family, as well as for Shipley Lofts, our church, the city, and the state. Chris was head of Delaware Legal Aid at the time. The Shipley Village Community Development Corporation was renamed in his honor as was the gallery within the building.
The lofts have been rented at a 100% occupancy rate for the last ten years, for the most part to artists. As planned, our operating budget continues to break even. The Chris White Gallery has been on hiatus during COVID but is planning a 10-year anniversary celebration later this year.
Shipley Lofts and the Chris White Gallery have become a well-known beacon within the recently formed Creative District of Wilmington, a proud monument to what we can all do together.
So Moving and Joyful!
by Sister Rosie Castelli
I was accepted into the Episcopal Church in 2009 by Bishop Wayne Wright at Grace Episcopal Church on the Concord Pike.
One day in a conversation, Mother Emily (Gibson), who was then interim rector at Grace Church, told me about SsAM and that her husband, David Andrews, was rector there. She told me she thought I would love some of the liturgies and music at SsAM. So, I said I would attend just to see what it was like. My first SsAM encounter was Jazz Vespers. I loved it! I decided to try some additional liturgy and ended up at a celebration of All Saints. I loved that too.
Every time I went, it was just so moving and joyful. What finally got me was that people were so friendly. At the peace, people reached across the aisle, recognized that I was new, and welcomed me to the liturgy. It was genuine fellowship and community. I felt a part of the parish even before I became a member! Finally, I found myself wanting to go to SsAM even though I knew I would miss Mother Emily. Mother Emily smiled and told me how happy she was that I loved SsAM. I decided that it would be my spiritual home.
Can you imagine my delight when Mother Emily joined us at SsAM? I had the best of all worlds.
From time to time, I go out of remission from my rheumatoid arthritis. When that happens, I can’t worship in person. The family at SsAM has never let me down or left me isolated. Fr. David has visited me many times, bringing prayer and the Eucharist. The pastoral care warriors have reached out on many occasions to keep me connected to this wonderful community. Despite my physical challenges, I have been able to lead prayer through Facebook. I consider myself both lucky and blessed to be a member of SsAM. God is with us, I have no doubt.
The Katherine Esterly Organ
by Joshua Martin
The Katherine Esterly Organ at SsAM was dedicated on February 19, 2017. Of interest though are the facts related to the origin of this wonderful instrument.
Prior to the decision to acquire the new organ, the parish surveyed the membership to determine the most pressing capital needs at that time. After a lengthy process, including surveys of the congregation, it was agreed that the renovation of the kitchen and a new organ were the top priorities at the time for the parish.
A capital campaign was initiated, with the understanding that the kitchen renovations would get top priority and the organ project would follow.
Additionally, it was agreed, after consultation with experts, that the organ then in place was beyond repair and needed to be replaced. With the agreement that this was the prudent approach from a financial perspective, it was decided to pursue a radical renovation project and acquire a new pipe organ that would incorporate pipes from the three former parishes, i.e., St. Andrew’s, St. Matthew’s, and the Cathedral Church of St. John.
Consistent with the desire to make this a “community organ”, some new pipes were to be added to allow the instrument to accommodate a range of musical needs, including support of our liturgy and the ability to attract additional musical groups from the community. After receiving bids from a number of organ-restoration firms from around the country, Quimby Pipe Organ Inc. of Warrensburg, Missouri was chosen to build the organ.
The decision was made that both the kitchen renovations and the pipe organ acquisition would be paid for by funds raised during a capital campaign. This campaign targeted members of the parish, friends of SsAM, local foundations and others including borrowed funds from the Diocese. After the campaign reached its goal, including the repayment of all loans, the Katherine Esterly Organ installation was initiated on March 7, 2016.
The 2013 Kitchen Renovation
by Pat Saunders
One facet of our 2013 Sharing Our Blessings Capital Campaign was the renovation of the kitchen, originally built in 1954. By 2013, appliances were unreliable and everything was outdated. When the workers from Friendship House cooked Sunday breakfasts for the homeless and disadvantaged, they never knew what might break down next.
Beginning in May 2013, with the assistance of architect John Dobraniecki and InSite Construction’s Joe Gallo, SsAM’s kitchen was gutted. By August a new commercial kitchen was completed. The only items remaining from the old kitchen were the butcher block tables and the dishwasher — both had been upgraded previously.
Because SsAM truly runs a community kitchen with breakfasts served weekly, and suppers served to the same population when the weather turns so cold during Code Purple nights, we were able to obtain grants from local foundations and the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware to renovate the kitchen. The Diocese also provided a loan of $150,000 for five years, paid back monthly, with interest paid semi-annually. Because of the generosity of foundations, SsAM’s donors and friends, we were able to pay off the loan in full seven months before the scheduled due date. And, we completed the campaign without touching our endowment.
We chose to dedicate the kitchen to the memory of James Thomas, a Vietnam veteran, who spent his final years helping in SsAM’s kitchen. He died shortly before the renovation of the kitchen began. James gave what he could to SsAM. The completed kitchen was dedicated in his memory in September 2013. Thus, from our capital campaign, Sharing Our Blessings, we now have the Katherine Esterly Organ and the James Thomas Kitchen. Click here to see photos and learn more about the kitchen renovation.
Drumming Circle: A Reflection
by Chuck Bean
I have been thinking a lot about drumming and how this, and the rest of music, reaches my spirituality. I have been impressed by how important this time is for SsAM and how we, as a worshiping community, have an important mission to re-imagine not just our community but to sing out SsAM’s accomplishments in blending two congregations.
I so appreciate Lu Soukup’s statements about the growing pains of our early church consolidation 25 years ago. There is something in her words that gives me hope for the world and I hope we at SsAM can continue to be an example of love and acceptance of differences to embrace each other. I also smile at old stories like Kitty Esterly banging pots and pans at the Mardi Gras service.
There is hope for the world as the joy of the slap and base on the djembe calls us all to worship, remembering the past with its pain, prejudice, and suffering, but also the resilience and strength that can bring healing and peace.
And now the Drumming Circle has begun again!
The rhythm and beat is now calling out to the community at the 7th and West Street Park. This venue allows for social distancing, an open outdoor space, and a great opportunity to engage young and old alike in a circle of acceptance; to call out to the neighbors and to anyone else who wants to join in the communion of rhythm. There is ample room for children to play and intermittently engage in the sheer joy of percussion that Jonathan Whitney’s leadership encourages. This space at 7th and West provides a time to learn and enjoy from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday evenings. There are extra drums available for folks to join us. When the weather turns cold, we will be back at SsAM indoors, but the present location allows this ministry to the community to be more visible.
I look forward in having the djembe sing out as part of our Sunday worship and to have it join the continuity of humanity who have used drumming to communicate, call to worship, and celebrate life through thousands of years. I hope we can find new ways to engage the drumming circle in the growth and development of our parish and extended community.
Episcopal Church Women
by Ernestine Brock-Walker
I have been an active member of the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) at SsAM since the consolidation of St.Andrew’s and St. Matthew’s. When I became the ECW President, our members agreed that we are a ministry, and not a group of women who meet. Our ministry is doing the work that we are charged to do because we are “His people and the sheep of His pasture.”
We have accomplished much during these years with the support of our Church Family. Examples include bake sales to raise funds for outreach charities, collection of clothing for babies, help for the homeless and food to support the food banks and pantries.
We also give to these charities: St Michael’s Nursery and School, State of Delaware ECW, Food Banks/Pantries, Clothing Bank, Friendship House, Seaman’s Charity, The Home of the Brave, The Way Home, and other charities over the years.
We have had projects that included Annual Pancake Supper, Christmas Luncheon, Jazz Tea, Holiday Bazaar, Recognition of Achievements of Women of SsAM (including all three combined churches), and Mother’s Day Bake Sale.
We have sponsored a “Women’s Conference” for the purpose of being inclusive in our spiritual walk which included reaching out to all the Episcopal churches as well as the churches in the Wilmington community. We had an excellent turnout from other denominations and we hope to continue this work when we are able to open as the state allows.
As we have more work to do in God’s kingdom, we are inviting other female members of SsAM to join us in the very valuable ministry in service to others. I can’t say it enough that new blood brings new ideas which we will greatly embrace and appreciate.
As always, all praises to our God and His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that dwells in all of us that we do His bidding.
Come join us, please.
Love, peace and blessings to all…
SsAM: A Place of Welcome
by D-L Casson
Since joining in 2011, my SsAM memories center on our being a place of welcome.
SsAM is more than a place that houses the Friendship House Empowerment Center. For many, SsAM is “the quiche house” and as I walk to and from our apartment, it isn’t uncommon for someone to yell hello, calling me “the quiche house lady”. We are the place where people can use the restroom and not be turned away. We are the place where all are welcome on Sunday to worship with us. The story of this being a place of welcome was beautifully told by Silas Harrison as he participated on a panel with our Bishop. We treasure having Silas as an acolyte, Eucharistic Minister and friend. Click here to watch Silas’ six-minute video, “From Visitor to Acolyte”.
Another memory comes out of providing an orientation (and tour of SsAM) to all new Downtown Vision (DTV) Ambassadors each year. It was an Ambassador who brought a young adult to us late one day. The young man from Ohio was trying to help his family and had joined a “sell magazines and make money” outfit. Unfortunately, he didn’t make his quota and was dropped off at the Wilmington Bus Station to make his way home. As he walked on Market Street, a DTV Ambassador met him and brought him to SsAM. Over the next few days, we connected him with his family, made sure he had a place to stay and food to eat, and then got him a bus ticket back to Ohio. I will never forget how his family called the office to tell us he had arrived safely.
It is reassuring to know that when we are fully open, we will once again have a pitcher of ice water ready, a prayer for someone who asks for one, and the chance to make more memories.