The Episcopal Church is “hierarchical,” meaning that it has a top-down leadership structure. However, it is very strongly democratic in nature, because the people of the church (the “laity” or lay persons) have an equal say in major decisions such as electing bishops and choosing clergy.
Bishops are overseers; several have visited over the years. Our patron saint, Nicholas, was a bishop too, which is why he wears the distinctive clothing and headgear of a bishop in the early Christian church.
We were very proud and excited to welcome former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori to St Nicholas some years ago. Here, she greets one of our parishioners, Erlene Lee-Ford.
The Rev. Canon Paula E. Clark was elected on December 12, 2020 to be the thirteenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. She is the first Black person and the first woman to hold the position.
Clark was baptized into the Episcopal Church at age 10 by Bishop John Walker, the first Black dean of Washington National Cathedral and first Black bishop of the Diocese of Washington. She received her undergraduate education at Brown University and earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Clark, who served as canon to the ordinary and chief of staff in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, was chosen unanimously on the fourth ballot in an election conducted on Zoom from a slate originally composed of four candidates. She received 229 clergy votes and 284 lay votes.
Our Vicar retired at the end of 2023 and thus we are in transition as we work with the Diocese of Chicago to embark on a search for our next priest. Stay tuned for updates as the process progresses.
The late Fr. Paul Broullette – assisting priest
When ill health forced Father Paul to cut back on his scheduled preaching Sundays (and occasional banjo-playing gigs in church) we prayed for him (and sang). It was always a good Sunday when he brought his Pete Seeger model banjo with him to church to preach AND play. The last few Christmas Eve services were graced with Father Paul on guitar, accompanying choir and congregation during the singing of “Silent Night.” Sadly, he lost his battle in 2012. He taught us lessons about living gracefully that we will remember always.
We are lucky to have Mary Fletcher-Gomez as organist and choir director. Mary is well known in Chicago choral and operatic circles as a singer, teacher, and voice coach. She was instrumental (pun not intended) in ensuring that St Nicholas got the best quality electronic organ that we could, so that we could offer a full music program. With Mary’s guidance, St Nicholas is building a reputation for excellence in choral and instrumental music during worship services.
St Nicholas Parish Choir (whose members sing at Sunday services and rehearse each Wednesday at 6:45pm) has a deep repertoire of pieces to draw on for worship and for special services. For choir members, Christmas begins in August, and Easter begins right after New Year’s Day. Choirmistress Mary plans choral and solo pieces as much as a year in advance, and is always eager to introduce the choir to new and more challenging music. All for the greater glory of God, it’s said that singing is praying twice.
Contact Mary Fletcher-Gomez