Pastoral Care

While reflecting on my Checking In Article and tying it in to Pastoral Care, I stopped to read the Prayer that the Vestry wrote last March during our retreat for inspiration.

(I know you have seen this prayer and have read it, so bear with me as I type it out. I will bring this all together)

Gracious God, we thank you for our Faith, for our Parishioners, for the bonds and feeling of family when we walk through the doors. We thank you for the opportunity to welcome diversity and be inclusive, to welcome those who feel broken and help them feel whole. We thank you for the opportunity to worship, to reflect God’s Grace, to care for and share with one another. We thank you for the abundance of blessings. Creator God, let us show in our lives what we truly believe in our hearts. In order to make Christ visible we need to know Christ’s path. Help us to be open to your word and then share it with others, and my the Holy Spirit move in and through and around this Congregation to make Christ visible, so that together we may make a difference in each other’s lives and in the World around us. Amen.

On May 4th Church of the Advent held it’s annual Spring Rummage Sale.

Thursday and Friday we started accepting donations and began the process of setting up. This reflects, “ to reflect God’s Grace to care and share with one another. “We thank you for an abundance of blessing” that we donate items to share with others and give our time. This process takes committed volunteers to sort thru items and set them out. Most who are parishioners, but we have a few volunteers that come to both the fall and Spring Sales to help out. This reflects “ thanking God for our Parishioners for the bonds and feeling of family when we walk through the doors”. On Friday we have some special people and organizations that are near and dear to our hearts that come to shop presale, because it is easier for them. Saturday morning there was a line forming at 6:45 am

waiting for the doors to open at 7:00 am. Many of our shoppers come to both the fall and spring sales and look forward to them.

This part reflects “We thank you for the opportunity to welcome diversity and be inclusive” “to reflect God’s Grace”.

Saturday, after the sale, we had a tremendous turn out to pack up items that did not sell to be donated to other charities, and to get the fellowship hall ready for Sunday.

“Let us show in our lives what we truly believe in our hearts”. “to make Christ visible, so that together we make a difference in each other’s lives and in the World around us”. Amen

Thanks to everyone who helped make the Spring Rummage Sale a big success! Have a great summer, and look for the Fall Sale that will be here soon!

More of Advent's Story

If you enjoyed learning about the founding of Advent in last week’s Advent Weekly, click here for more information on the history of our church excerpted from  A History of the Church of the Advent, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania written by Alice and Bill Steltzer: 







The name Church of the Advent was chosen for the following reason. A member of the congregation had lived in Philadelphia where he had attended that city’s Church of the Advent. Phillips Brooks, as a new priest, had been given this church as his first assignment. In 1885, when our cornerstone was being laid, Dr. Brooks had become the most famous preacher in the United States, Rector of Trinity Church in Boston, and on his way to serving as the Bishop of Massachusetts. The suggestion to honor Dr. Brooks by naming our building after his former church in Philadelphia was accepted. Time passes and many of us now forget the name of Phillips Brooks, except when singing Christmas Carols and seeing his name listed as the author of O Little Town of Bethlehem! 


The story of the installation of the church’s stained glass windows is interesting. Kennett Square’s most famous citizen, Bayard Taylor (author, poet, traveler, and diplomat), had just died in 1878. Those who knew him sought a suitable memorial. Since our church was just being constructed, it was a perfect site to honor Bayard Taylor by installing stained glass windows in his memory. His friends collected the donations that came from many persons, including the American poets James Russell Lowell and John Greenleaf Whittier, the author Samuel [Mark Twain] Clemens, the later Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the Episcopal Bishop, Dr. Phillips Brooks, at that time Rector of Trinity Church. The Bayard Taylor windows depict the Good Samaritan parable. 


A second set of stained glass windows later installed is known as the Hadley windows. These were given by Charles Hadley in memory of his parents, Theodore and Elizabeth Hadley. 


And another memorial to Theodore and Elizabeth was the Bishop’s Chair, still utilized today by the Church. 


A Rector was appointed to lead the new church: G. Livingston Bishop who served for three years, 1885 – 1888.  


Following him, these men served as Rector for the church’s first decade: Thomas Burrows (1889 – 1893), Thomas Dickinson (1894 – 1895), Guy L. Wallis (1895 – 1896), William Wirt Mills (1896), and Stanley F. Symonds (1897 – 1898).  


For two years, (1899 – 1900) Advent underwent a period of problems. We do not know the extent of these but for those two years there were no reports submitted to the Diocese and there is no name of a Rector in the archives. In addition, the records say that there were “almost two years of no services.” Whatever the problem was, in 1901, Thomas J. Taylor became Rector and went on to serve the next sixteen years, setting a record until tied by W. Oliver Bellis (1928 – 1944) and then surpassed by Elbert St. Claire (1952 – 1979) and Richard Kirk (1979 – 1996). 


During Rev. Thomas Taylor’s leadership, the church undertook a major expansion project. The year 1910 saw a new entrance vestibule constructed, a church steeple built, and a Parish House erected. The Church of the Advent owned an especially attractive building. 


Following Thomas Taylor’s rectorship came: Walter C. Pugh (1917 – 1921), William E. Warren (1922 – 1923), Charles E. Spaulding (1923 – 1926), John C. Runkle (1927 – 1928, the record for briefest tenure at Advent), W. Oliver Bellis (1928 – 1944), J. Wesley Rennie (1944 – 1952), and Elbert K. St. Claire (1952 – 1979). 


Under the leadership of Charles E. Spaulding, a Rectory was purchased adjacent to the church building. 


By the mid-1950s the congregation had increased to 211 families that, the record states, “placed a strain on the church facilities.” Under the leadership of Elbert St. Claire who came to Advent in 1952 and was commonly called “Saint,” plans were drawn up for a larger church building and new land was purchased at the upper end of town where North Union (Route 82) and Fairthorne meet and there was built a new and much larger building. The cornerstone was laid in 1956 and services were held in the new building in 1957. The new church, in addition to the sanctuary, held a sacristy, offices, Sunday School Rooms, and, downstairs, a large Parish Hall and kitchen. Adjacent to the sacristy was constructed a small Chapel and in it were installed furnishings from the old church: several choir pews, the Communion Rail, the altar table, the Cross, the Candlesticks, the Bishop’s Chair, the clergy chair, the font, and the Hadley and Bayard Taylor stained glass windows. Even the 1885 cornerstone was brought and placed in the exterior wall of the Chapel. Advent’s Chapel is a small replication of Advent’s First Church.  


Advent purchased the home next to the church, 201 Crestline Drive, to have it serve as a Rectory. Here Elbert St. Claire lived with his wife, as did the following Rector, Richard Kirk and his family. 


Six stained glass windows were also brought from the first church. They were kept in storage for some forty-five years until David Thomas had them taken out, refurbished, set in illuminated frames and hung as follows: two mounted above the landing in the stairwell leading downstairs from the lobby, two placed on the front wall of the church flanking the altar, and two placed in the rear of the nave.  


The church received a very welcomed gift at this time – an organ and console donated by Pierre Samuel du Pont of Longwood. 


In addition to that gift of an organ, many other donations were made at this time and in subsequent years. These gifts are listed in the Archives. Among many gifts were: a Sanctuary Lamp (from Jackie Givens in memory of her son, David) and crucifix (donated by Sheila and Richard Sanford) – both in the Chapel, brass altar candlesticks, missal stand, and altar service book (given by Knowles Bowen and his wife) in memory of their daughter, the silver cross that hangs above the center aisle’s exit to the narthex (made by Harold Prout and given to the church by him and his wife, Olive, who, after her husband’s death, remarried and became Olive Montaigne), and a Baptismal Font (donated by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Johnson and Dr. and Mrs. Spake) that is now located in the Memorial Garden outside of the Chapel. The church spire was given in memory of George W. Fassett by his family and friends. 


The kneeling cushions surrounding the altar were a result of a project of the churchwomen in the 1980’s. In the mid-1970’s a project headed up by Marshall Newton and Bill Steltzer replaced the kneeling cushions of the congregation with attached kneelers. The money for this project came from the proceeds of the 1978 May Fair, an annual project of Advent. 


A walnut table for the Visitors Book and located in the Narthex was designed by Ted Lawrence and given in memory of Joyce Kirk, the wife of the Rev. Richard Kirk. 


Elbert St. Claire ordered an original, four-foot tall mosaic cross from the studio of Gian Andrea in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The cross was designed to show both the Risen as well as the Crucified Christ. It hung above the fireplace in the library. After renovations took place in the 1990’s, this cross was moved to a smaller library. 


Under Elbert St. Claire’s leadership, all bills for the construction of the new church were paid off within the following four years. Also, the church had grown enough in size that an Assistant Rector was being employed. The Vestry purchased a house at 251 N. Broad Street in 1964 as a home for the Assistant. The house was sold in 1974. 


Elbert St. Claire retired as Rector in 1979, after twenty-seven years leading Advent. In 1986 a patio and garden dedicated to his memory were designed and placed to the right of the church’s entrance. Added later were two urns, given by the two church secretaries, Joan Bolton and Kathy Gebhart, in memory of Joyce Kirk who died in 1992, the wife of Rector Richard Kirk. 


Richard Kirk succeeded Elbert St. Claire in 1979. He was to remain at Advent until 1996, a period of seventeen years. His tenure as Rector saw Advent celebrate its 100th Anniversary and in 1990 undergo another major renovation. 


1982 marked the celebration of the Church’s Centennial. As part of the celebration, the congregation gathered on a Sunday in May at the entrance to the old church on South Broad Street. It then walked through town to its present site where it held its celebratory service. The parade was led by Bishop Lyman Ogilby, Rector Richard Kirk, Assistant Rector Barbara Kelley, and Parade-Master Bill Steltzer. There is an interesting anecdote about the parade. We walked along State Street from Broad to Union and passed three teenaged boys standing in front of a store entrance. They stared at us and the tallest said, in a voice loud and clear, “Oh, my God.” Without missing a step, the Bishop swept up his arm and pointed his staff at the boy and boomed out, “You got it right, son.” 


In connection with the Centennial celebrations, the church renovated its steeple. It planted a Centennial Oak on the lawn directly opposite the main entrance to the church. Twenty-five years later that small tree is now a mature oak. The bronze Centennial plaque placed at the base of the tree has vanished. 


To help celebrate, a model of the old church was built by Nathaniel Wyeth, a former Vestry member. It was painted by Andrew Wyeth, his brother. The model is still housed in the church. 


The 1990 renovations, thirty-plus years after the building was constructed, involved erecting a large Sunday School wing that paralleled the original office/Sunday School wing and created a U-shaped courtyard. 


Advent also replaced its organ at that time. A new Möller organ was presented to the church by an anonymous donor. Its installation brought the organ pipes out into full view and they now form a wonderful focal point for the sanctuary.  


The Rev. Richard Kirk retired in 1996. We were then led by an Interim Rector, the Rev. Dean Evans until, in 1997, the Rev. Canon David P. Thomas was named Rector. He began his service in 1998.  


David Thomas was the first Rector at Advent not to live in the Rectory. Because of an ever-increasing value in the housing market, it was felt that it was better for a Rector to buy a home and then later reap the benefits of its increased value. In 2003 the Rectory was converted into a Pastoral Care & Office Center and the staff moved its offices into it.  


The year 2005 saw another major renovation. The original need for this was a water problem on the west side of the church; rainwater was reaching the inside of the downstairs Parish Hall. While the immediate project was to rebuild and waterproof the walls, it was decided to redo the entire Parish Hall and add on a few additional projects:  air condition the sanctuary, install an elevator, again redo the steeple, and lower the main altar so that there was a better sight line to the Choir behind the altar.  


On the grounds, outside the Chapel, a Memorial Garden was created, a personal project of David Thomas. He imagined it as a place for meditation and eternal rest. Trees and shrubs were planted and a circular pool added. The growth and maintenance of the Garden came under the leadership of Phyllis Wenner and her volunteer “Lay Weeders.” 


On the grounds between the church and the parish office, a labyrinth was built in 2010, later removed in 2018.   And in 2011, two “new” hymn panels were obtained by Deacon Nancy Hauser from the storehouse of the Diocese. The panels had belonged to St. Augustine of the Covenant, an historic black church in North Philadelphia that had been closed. The panels went mounted on the walls of the church behind the altar facing the congregation. 


The offices of the Church of Advent were relocated into the main Advent Campus in May 2018 and the old Rectory that had housed the offices for many years was refurbished and was rented out as a residential home for the foreseeable future to generate additional income for Church of the Advent.  Also in 2018, two old memorial stained glass windows were refurbished and installed in the back of the sanctuary. 


This history has presented just the major peaks happening in Advent’s story. But this is just one history among so many: long histories of prayer and worship, a history that tells of the support for one another in times of trouble, a history of listening to and answering the needs of our community, a history of joyous good fellowship and a history of a congregation just trying to lead good Christian lives. 





Happy Birthday to Us!

Happy Birthday to Us!

May 1st

For 137 years, our church community has faithfully served God by making his mission visible in Kennett Square. Here’s to many more years of making a difference together!

Do you know how and when Advent started? The following is a brief excerpt from A History of Church of the Advent by Bill Stelzer

On May 1, 1882, a Pennsylvania judge put pen to paper and the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Kennett Square was born. With the signing of that Charter, a small group of Episcopalians became a Church.

One of the petitioners who worked with the Diocese to request the charter was Theodore Hadley whose son, Charles, was to be the owner and publisher of the local newspaper. Later, Charles and his sister, Irene, established the Hadley Fund in memory of their parents, Theodore and Elizabeth. The Hadley Fund today still brings to Kennett highly acclaimed programs for, as stated, the civic betterment, social welfare, and education of our local communities.

The first job of the new church was to erect a church building. This went fast and well. A committee of three members pledged themselves to gather the money necessary to build a church building for the newly chartered parish. These three were: Theodore D. Hadley, S. Ashton Hand, and Henry C. White. The money flowed in and in just a few years’ time, the cornerstone for the new building was laid in 1885 on a site on the west side of South Broad Street, just below Union. In 1886 the first service was held in this new church that held the Kennett Square Episcopalians for the next seventy-plus years. After the congregation moved to our present location from South Broad Street in 1956, this First Church was sold to the Lutherans of Kennett Square and when they moved to a new location, the church building was bought in turn by the Presbyterians, whose church building was located across the street. At some point the Methodists purchased it and currently operate the Church of the Open Door out of the 1886 church building.

A Rector was appointed to lead the new church: G. Livingston Bishop who served as Advent’s first rector for three years, 1885 – 1888.

An Invitation from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry to Practice the Way of Love

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God
— Ephesians 3:17-19  

In the first century Jesus of Nazareth inspired a movement. A community of people whose lives were centered on Jesus Christ and committed to living the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love. Before they were called “church” or “Christian,” this Jesus Movement was simply called “the way.” 


Today I believe our vocation is to live as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. But how can we together grow more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so we can bear witness to his way of love in and for the world? 

The deep roots of our Christian tradition may offer just such a path. For centuries, monastic communities have shaped their lives around rhythms and disciplines for following Jesus together. Such a pattern is known as a “Rule of Life.” The framework you now hold – The Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Life – outlines a Rule for the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. 

It is designed to be spare and spacious, so that individuals, ministry groups, congregations, and networks can flesh it out in unique ways and build a church-wide treasure trove of stories and resources. There is no specific order you need to follow. If you already keep a Rule or spiritual disciplines, you might reflect and discover how that path intersects with this one. By entering into reflection, discernment and commitment around the practices of Turn - Learn - Pray - Worship - Bless - Go - Rest, I pray we will grow as communities following the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus. His way has the power to change each of our lives and to change this world. 

Your brother in the Way of Jesus, 

The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church 


All About the Vestry

In the Episcopal Church, the Vestry is a board of lay people who serve the local church in many ways. Their primary responsibility is to serve as stewards of the resources of the church, that is, the property and finances. They also have a roll in choosing a new rector when that position is vacant. In many churches, as at Advent, the vestry supports the clergy and staff by overseeing or leading program activities. The vestry thus has important roles in the ministry and mission of the church.

Our vestry members are elected to three year terms and can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. Occasionally members find they must resign for a variety of reasons. The vestry can vote to fill the term with another person, or leave the position empty until the next annual meeting. The vestry can also change the number of vestry members with a minimum of nine and a maximum of 15.

The vestry usually meets once a month. The meeting times are published and any member of the church may attend the meeting. Occasionally the meeting will be adjourned to a vestry-only, confidential discussion of personnel issues.

At every meeting the finances of the church are reviewed. The treasurer presents the results of the previous month and the members have a chance to see whether any corrections are needed. This helps us stay on track for budgets and allows us to review and respond to any unexpected expenses. The vestry members also provide reports on the committees they serve when there is something that impacts the church and requires vestry action or if there is an opportunity for different committees to collaborate on an activity. This allows all vestry members to be aware of the activities, successes and issues of the church.

Vestry members serve the church. They are not elected to represent a particular point of view or mission, but to represent the best interests of the church as a whole. But Advent is a church with different viewpoints and diverse enthusiasms for mission, so controversial decisions do have to be made. We ask vestry members to respectfully listen to and reflect on the different opinions offered, and then to vote their consciences for what they believe is best for Advent. Once a decision is made, all members must support the decision, even if they didn’t agree with it.

As I finish my second term on vestry, I have been reflecting on the challenges that the vestry has faced and at what we have achieved. I am grateful for the chance to work with so many fine people to help Advent move forward on its mission and for the opportunity to know so much more about the ministries that are Advent. I am thankful to have been able to serve, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of the new vestry. The slate of candidates will be published on March 31 and the elections will be at the Annual Meeting on April 28. Please join us on Sunday, April 14th when you will be able to meet the candidates.