Forum News - Fall 2001

Ron Lawson, Chaplain

Dear Member
Major Changes -- Please Note!

After meeting regularly in St Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University for 32 years, starting on September 8 we will be dividing our services between two locations starting at different times.  Yes, we will all need to pay close attention.  Here is a summary of the new pattern:

We will meet on the first three weeks of each month in St Mary’s Episcopal Church, 126 St. one block East of Broadway—10 blocks north of St Paul’s Chapel.  These meetings will begin at 11:00 AM, which will make it easier for all of you to come on time! And our afternoon meetings on the second Sabbath of each month will also begin an hour later – at 2:30 – making it easier for those who have obligations at other churches in the morning to join us in for the afternoon.

On the 4th week of the month, and most 5th weeks when they occur (except September), we return to St Paul’s, where we will begin at 10:00 AM.  Many of these services will feature special music.

Does this sound confusing? Realizing that this may be so at first, we have laid plans to make it easy for you find out when and where we are meeting.  First, we will be sending out monthly newsletters for a while so that you will have fresh reminders, and each entry will include time and place.  Second, we have set up a telephone message line that you can call to get topic, speaker, time and place for the next Sabbath’s meeting – call (212) 560-2446. Finally, you can check our website for late braking news and meeting schedules.

Why these changes? In April, I received word from University Chaplain, Rev. Davis of the need to “discuss our future in the chapel.” She is under pressure to balance the budget and wedding pay much more than we do. Our inability to find and attract Adventist Columbia student reduces our bargaining power.  She offered one meeting per month with others in Earl Hall.  Our members, after discussions, preferred to look for more “worshipful space” for the other meetings.  After a search in the area we settled on St Mary’s as the best.


The FIRST WEEK SERIES (planned by Lester Wright) focuses on ministry, both our ministry to others and ministry to our own spiritual needs.  Services will feature discussions.  Some will be lead by a guest.

The SECOND WEEK SERIES (planned by Ron Lawson) will present a “famous” speaker, usually but not always, an Adventist, with morning and afternoon services exploring an interesting topic.  We do not allow recordings of these meetings in order to maximize the freedom of the speaker to speak honestly.  Lots of time for discussion.

The THIRD WEEK SERIES (by Terry Anderson) will continue our long running series on Early Church History and our more recent series on Practical Ethics.

The FOURTH/FIFTH WEEK SERIES (planned by Ron Lawson) will be spiritual rather than issue-oriented, with special music, plans for four worship recitals and continue the “My Pilgrimage” series.

Weeks 1, 2 & 3, start at 11:00 at St Mary’s Church, 521 W 126th St.  by subway, take 1 or 9 train to 125th St (one stop north of Columbia U stop), walk north one block and east one block.  Or take Broadway Bus to 125th St.  By car, Broadway 10 blocks north of University; park under elevated tracks near 126th St and walk one block east (see directions and map).

Weeks 4 & 5 start at 10:00 at St Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University.  Enter campus at 116th St & Broadway next to the subway stop. Ask guard at gate for directions to the chapel (see directions and map).

We feel God has lead us to St Mary’s Church, which is not only a pleasant place to worship but also a real presence in its community in a way that puts most Adventist churches to shame: e.g., its huge basement is open every day as a drop-in center for homeless people; it operates a hospice with 40 beds for AIDS patients and serves about 100 outpatients per day. They would welcome our involvement.  The church was eager to help us by setting our rent no higher than we paid at St Paul’s. We will have one foot in a real NYC neighborhood and the other on a university campus where we can reach out to students.

Will these changes be for good or ill? That depends on us–you!  Will we seize the opportunity to be a light in two locations? Or will we let the different locations and time confuse us and drop out? Will we use the later starting time at St Mary’s to be prompt?  The answer is up to you.  Let’s make it work and grow stronger as a community.