St. Paul's Gives Life To Spiritual Teachings

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Stepping into the chapel at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, one can imagine the organ playing in the loft and the bright room filled with voices raised in song.

The Rev. Norman C. Burke is the man in charge of ministry at St. Paul's. Father Burke came to Payson eight years ago after taking early retirement from his Phoenix parish.

"I don't think that (a priest) should take retirement and put the skills and everything they have learned on the shelf," he said. "I don't think Jesus would do that and I don't think it is according to the gospel. As long as I am able and not senile, I will be glad to do whatever I am asked."

St. Paul's currently receives no support from the diocese. The vibrant church is in the process of becoming a parish with a full-time priest (called a rector) due to growth over the past four years. Parishioners plan to become even more active in serving the Payson community.

St. Paul's is an Anglican-Catholic church. Its Mass is liturgical in structure, meaning that they have a set form of worship service. Parishioners believe it is their responsibility as Christians to give life to the spiritual teachings of Jesus Christ through their own spiritual development and, by example, foster and nurture spiritual growth in others.

A quilt ministry was started a year ago. This Sunday, the 70th prayer quilt will be blessed. Before they are blessed the quilts are displayed so parishioners can go by and say prayers for the needy person who will be receiving the gift of love.

Also next Sunday, people will be telling their stories of the quilts.

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Father Norm Burke has been a fireman and a photo journalist among other occupations. His father was a priest and although Burke admits to originally fighting the calling, he has been a priest for 44 years.

At this year's rummage sale the church raised $1,700 for local charities.

Parish nursing is another vital program in the outreach ministries of St. Paul's.

Many of the nursing schools are teaching a course in parish nursing, which was started by Lutheran General Hospital. It has now become a nationwide interdenominational program.

A parish nurse, and the volunteers who work with her, don't do invasive procedures, but provide home visits, pastoral care, answer personal alarms, and deliver meals to homebound parishioners.

Father Burke's wife, Pat, is the retired nurse who organizes the program and its volunteers.

St. Paul's celebrates life in general with an October Festival to which all are invited.

St. Paul's Episcopal trains youth acolytes and has formal Bible study.

The new youth director of the diocese is going to be assisting them in the new year to develop a youth program.

The congregation originally met in the Payson Womans Club building, and the cornerstone was laid in 1972. Dr. David Gilbert, who is still St. Paul's church organist, was one of its founding members.

The front doors of the chapel, wide arched double doors with the cross etched in the glass, were installed by Jon Coates.

A few times a year the church invites musicians to the chapel, a choir from the Valley or a contemporary band.

"This is a loving, caring congregation that knows its mission, and is seeking to fulfill it." Father Burke said.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church is on the northwest corner of Sherwood and Easy Street. Holy Eucharist is celebrated at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Sunday with Christian education at 9 a.m. Holy Eucharist and unction are celebrated on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

This story is a another part of the Roundup's continuing series on churches in Payson and the Rim country and how they add beauty and grace to our community.

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