Dear friends throughout the Diocese of Bethlehem and beyond:
Since the 1920s, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church has been host to an annual ecumenical Lenten series of services and organ recitals for downtown Wilkes-Barre and its surrounding communities. The tradition will continue this year on Ash Wednesday, March 5th, with an organ recital at 11:30 am, followed by an ecumenical Lenten Service at 12:00 pm.
The theme of this year’s ecumenical services is “Finding Your Way Home.” As in past years, the 2014 Lenten series will involve clergy, musicians, and laity from congregations throughout Wilkes-Barre and the Wyoming Valley. A soup-and-sandwich lunch will be served each week following the Lenten Service, with a suggested donation of $4.00 per person. Members of the participating congregations will be the hosts for these lunches. Offerings received at this year’s services and lunches will support the Wilkes-Barre Free Medical Clinic.
This year’s organ recitalists include gifted performers from throughout the United States, from as far away as Houston, Texas, Rochester, New York, and Washington, DC. The Ash Wednesday Organ Recital at 11:30 am will be presented by Michael Smith, Chair of Performing Arts at The Shipley School and Organist and Choirmaster at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, both in Bryn Mawr (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania. Before assuming these posts, he served as Director of Music at The Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts, where he was awarded the Pratt Chair of Music. Michael earned his undergraduate degree in organ performance at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. While in Birmingham, Michael was assistant conductor of both the Samford A Cappella Choir and the Birmingham Boys Choir, and was choirmaster at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. He went on to earn graduate degrees in organ and conducting at Yale University, where he served as graduate assistant conductor to the famed Yale Glee Club. He has accompanied and conducted choirs on tours throughout Europe, Africa, Russia, and South America. Mr. Smith’s St. Stephen’s recital will feature works by J. S. Bach, Eugene Bozza, and William Boyce.
The Service at 12 noon will be led by The Reverend Daniel FitzSimmons, Rector of the Episcopal Church of St. Martin in the Fields, Mountaintop. The preacher will be The Reverend William J. Marshall, Jr., Interim Priest Associate of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre. Special music will be presented by The Wilkes University Chorus, directed by Dr. Steven Thomas. Organist and music director for these services will be St. Stephen’s Organist and Choirmaster, Canon Mark Laubach. Hosts for the lunch that follows the March 5th service will be the Women of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral.
A schedule of participants in the remaining Lenten recitals and services follows …
March 12 – Organ recital by Stephen Distad, Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, Houston, TX; The Rev’d Peter Kuritz, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and St. John’s Lutheran Church of Wilkes-Barre (Liturgist); The Rev’d Shawn Walker, The First Baptist Church of Wilkes-Barre (Preacher); special music by Thomas Heinze, oboe; Lunch provided by Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church.
March 19 – Organ recital by John Richardson, The First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, PA; Ms. Caitlin Czeh, Wilkes University Campus Ministry (Liturgist); The Rev’d Msgr. Vincent Grimalia, St. Luke’s Villa, Wilkes-Barre (Preacher); special music by Earl Orcutt, horn; Lunch provided by St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church.
March 26 – Organ recital (starting ten minutes early at 11:20 am) by Robert Poovey, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Rochester, NY; The Rev’d Diane Sickler, Unity of NEPA (Liturgist); Rabbi Larry Kaplan, Temple Israel of Wilkes-Barre (Preacher); special music by The Wyoming Seminary Madrigal Singers, directed by John Vaida; Lunch provided by Unity of NEPA.
April 2 – Organ recital by John Bohl, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, K Street, Washington, DC; The Rev’d William J. Marshall, Jr., St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre (Liturgist); The Rev’d Diane Sickler, Unity of NEPA (Preacher); special music by John Michael Vaida, violin; Lunch provided by St. John’s Lutheran Church, Wilkes-Barre.
April 9 – Organ recital by Thomas Sheehan, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA; The Rev’d Dr. Robert Zanicky, The First Presbyterian Church of Wilkes-Barre (Preacher); special music by Carol A. Tome, mezzo-soprano; Lunch provided by The First Presbyterian Church of Wilkes-Barre.
April 16 – Organ recital by Carl Ruck, Church of Christ Uniting, Kingston, PA; Ms. Caitlin Czeh, Wilkes University Campus Ministry (Preacher); special music by The Marywood University Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Rick Hoffenberg.
I hope many of you can join us for at least one or more of these recitals and services!
Wishing you and yours a blessed and holy Lenten season ...
Canon Mark Laubach, Organist & Choirmaster
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Pro-Cathedral of the Diocese of Bethlehem
35 South Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barre PA 18701
Church Phone: (570)825-6653
Church Fax: (570)825-0430
Mark's Mobile Phone: (570)704-7055