Reading with the Rector

The Rector is a voracious reader and an extrovert who loves to discuss books in community. These are short courses of about four sessions usually on Wednesday nights after SUPPER at St. Martin’s. Books discussed have included a variety of short stories by Flannery O’Connor, Invitation to Love by Thomas Keating, Humanity Before God by William Schweiker, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and Blessed are the Organized by Jeff Stout. 

Reading with the Rector: Being Disciples

by Rowan Williams

Wednesdays, October 4, 11, & 18, 2017 7:30 p.m. in the Houston Room

The Rector loves to read and loves to share meaningful books that inspire faith with you. In Reading with the Rector we will enjoy a close reading that mines the riches from Rowan Williams’ short and accessible Being Disciples. How do we live a life where we constantly open ourselves to the intimacy and guidance of the Risen Jesus? This is the life of discipleship according to Williams. My goal is to explore discipleship with the group, and to encourage discipleship as a relationship that will nurture and support the life that is fully alive to God.

Will You Join Us?

Prior Events

One Book, One St. Martin’s

During Lent, the Rector is encouraging the entire parish to read the following book by one of his favorite writers;

Being Disciples: Essentials of the Christian Life
by Rowan Williams

In his typically gentle, inviting, pastoral writing style, Williams offers biblically grounded wisdom for Christians at all stages of their journeys as disciples of Jesus. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, and one of the world’s greatest living theologians, provides basic instruction in Christian discipleship.

“Discipleship,” says Rowan Williams in this companion to his best-selling Being Christian (also highly recommended by the Rector), “is a state of being. Discipleship is about how we live; not just the decisions we make, not just the things we believe, but a state of being.”

Having covered baptism, Bible, Eucharist, and prayer in Being Christian, Williams turns his attention in this book to what is required for us to continue following Jesus and growing in faith. The book has six succinct chapters: Being Disciples, Faith, Hope, and Love; Forgiveness; Holiness; Faith in Society; and Life in the Spirit.

30 books will be available for purchase at $10 each from the church before Lent begins. The book is also readily available online. We will cap off One Book, One St. Martin’s with a discussion of Discipleship during the last forum of Lent, on April 2!

Another Recommended Book for Lent

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
by Michael Eric Dyson

In support of our aspirational value to become a fully anti-racist community of faith, the staff recommends Tears We Cannot Stop.

Short, emotional, literary, powerful―Tears We Cannot Stop is the book that all Americans who care about the current and long-burning crisis in race relations will want to read.

As the country grapples with racial division at a level not seen since the 1960s, one man’s voice soars above the rest with conviction and compassion. In his 2016 New York Times op-ed piece “Death in Black and White,” Michael Eric Dyson moved a nation. Now he continues to speak out in Tears We Cannot Stop―a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.

“The time is at hand for reckoning with the past, recognizing the truth of the present, and moving together to redeem the nation for our future. If we don’t act now, if you don’t address race immediately, there very well may be no future.”

“After Ten Years: A Reckoning made at New Year 1943” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Start the New Year exploring the wisdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his reflection on the ten years leading up to 1943 and their meaning for him and for the church. Originally a Christmas letter shared between Bonhoeffer and friends in the German resistance movement, these 15 pages serve as the prologue to Letters and Papers From Prison, a collection of the German pastor’s writings. In “After 10 Years,” Bonhoeffer examines his own conscience and writes:

“Only the one for whom the final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all these, when in faith and sole allegiance to God he is called to obedient and responsible action: the responsible person, whose life will be nothing but an answer to God’s question and call.”

Challenging reflection ahead for all who wish to follow God.  You can either take a free photocopy of the chapter from the folder in the Parish House foyer or you can buy the book Letters and Papers from Prison.

The class will be at 7:30 p.m. on January 18 and 25 in the Houston Room at St. Martin’s.

Register Now!

Christ Actually

Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age by James Carroll

Wednesdays, January 20 and 27

7:30 p.m. in the Houston Room
How can we retrieve transcendent faith in modern times? This is the question asked by James Carroll and explored with the personal urgency of one who has faith and wants a reasonable faith in a skeptical time. Putting Jesus squarely in the center of our faith life we will use this book to explore how God is particularly revealed in the life, teaching, and person of Jesus. This book was recommended by a member of the congregation and I am grateful! No previous experience with Reading with the Rector required. All Are Welcome. Sign up here or on the sheet in the Parish House lobby.


Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Wednesdays, April 29 and May 6, 2015 at 7:15 p.m.

Houston Room

The Rector is in love with Marilynne Robinson and the theologically rich fiction she crafts. After a wonderful romp through Gilead we now address her third book in the trilogy, Lila which tells the story of the late-in-life wife of Rev. John Ames. Lila’s story illustrates the oddly indirect but irresistible work of grace we encounter as God weaves in and out of our lives. 
No previous experience with Marilynne Robinson or Reading with the Rector required. All Are Welcome.

Additional Book Recommendation:
Sadhana: A Way to God by Anthony De Mello. “A Masterpiece on the art of learning how to Pray and Meditate. Truly a one-of-a-kind, how-to-do-it book, this small volume responds to a very real hunger for self-awareness and holistic living. It consists of a series of spiritual exercises for entering the contemplative state…”

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

January 21 & 28, 2015 at 7:15 p.m.

Houston Room

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*Folks are encouraged to read this book whether you can attend or not.  Sample chapters will be available in the Parish House Lobby*

Reading with the Rector in Epiphany will be Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. The author of Home, Homecoming, and Lila is a regular church attender in her home state of Iowa and a thoughtful theologian in her own right. Her books serve as parables of God’s mysterious will woven through our all too turbulent lives. Join the Rector on January 21 and 28 to discuss this wonderful novel.

Books are available on or your local bookstore.

On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman

On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman
Dedicated to Cheryl Irving

November 5, 12 and 19, 2014 at 7:15 p.m.

Houston Room

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*Folks are encouraged to read this book whether you can attend or not.  Sample chapters will be available in the Parish House Lobby*

Cheryl Irving was a mentor for me on matters of race and racism, not to mention literature and writing.  So, I am dedicating our Fall 2014 Reading with the Rector series to Cheryl by choosing On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman. Professor Goffman is an Urban Ethnographer who studied the everyday life of families in the 6th Street neighborhood of Philadelphia to produce this book. Her research gives us an inside look at the effects of the War on Drugs, Mass Incarceration and intensified policing on the African American residents of a Philadelphia neighborhood. The book is an excellent follow up to the more macro view of Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow. Alice Goffman is a professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

This book will advance our Aspirational Value to be a Racism Free Community and will continue to prepare us to do meaningful Community Engagement in Philadelphia.

Regular Sunday Service Schedule

8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist with music
10:00 a.m. Parish Forum & Kairos
10:15 a.m. worship.together
Holy Eucharist for families with young children
11:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist

Other Days

Morning prayer is offered at 7:30 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Silent morning meditation is offered at 8:15 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Mid-week Eucharist is offered at 12:15 p.m. Wednesdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Compline is offered at 7:00 p.m. on 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, in the Church.

Choral Evensong is offered at 5:00 p.m. on 1st Sundays, in the Church.

We would love to have you join us.


This Episcopal church is located in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, five blocks west of Germantown Avenue at the corner of St. Martin’s Lane and West Willow Grove Avenue.

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