Article by the Rev. Linda M. Logan, priest of Trinity Episcopal Church in Boonville and Trinity Episcopal Church in Camden.
Editor’s note: For many years, our annual Diocesan Convention has passed resolutions recognizing retiring clergy. Beginning with the 153rd Convention in November 2021, the Diocese will offer our gratitude for these leaders in a new way: retiring clergy and other leaders will be lifted up in prayer at Convention, and an article about each retiring cleric will be published in diocesan communications.
“One man didn’t want us to call a woman,” Mrs. Horton recalls. “He became one of her biggest supporters.”
The Very Rev. Christine J. Day became rector of All Saints’, Johnson City, seventeen years ago. And what those seventeen years brought forth—sermons that related the lessons to “the way we live,” toddlers who’d come up and sit on her lap to hear her read Bible stories to them, visits to parishioners wherever they were, and a Saturday free lunch program that still runs every Saturday throughout the year.
“She preached very interesting sermons,” warden Judith Horton says, and she did “a lot” of Advent and Lenten programs. She’d pick a theme and show videos and lead discussion on them at soup suppers the participants cooked. And she encouraged people to share their views.
She took out two pews at the back of the church to create a “soft space” for children to play, a space padded with rugs and stocked with soft toys. “The parish liked her,” Mrs. Horton says.
The Rev. Deacon Dorothy Pierce agrees. “All Saints’ is a family, and she was very good, very caring, considerate of everyone. She’s a wonderful priest. People knew that she loved them. When they were sick, she was there. She visited them faithfully. Even in Covid, she made phone calls and hospital and home visits. She stayed connected with everybody.”
She did “lots of Bible studies and lots of services,” Deacon Pierce says, “and she continued these on Zoom and Facebook Live.” She did “Dwelling in the Word,” a form of lectio divina, every Sunday morning and Compline every Thursday evening.
Her work in the community included offering services in area nursing homes and, every October, participating in the Child Walk. That event raised money for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse program of the Broome County Council of Churches, the agency that supplies food for the Saturday lunch program at All Saints’. Mother Chris was very active with that Council of Churches which offered a jail ministry, the Faith in Action program of providing rides, and dinners where the pastors served as waiters whose tips went to the Council of Churches. From 2002 Mother Chris served as the “lay” non-scientist member of SUNY Upstate’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). She also served as a chaplain at Syracuse University.
With all of her service on the local level and in the region beyond, Mother Chris also carried out numerous diocesan roles—three three-year terms on the Diocesan Board, including in two of those terms service on its Budget and Finance Committee; two four-year terms on the Standing Committee, including six years as its president; nineteen years on the Resolutions Committee of Convention, including eleven years as co-chair; and, since 2020, service also on the Convention Committee of Diocesan Convention. She has been dean of the Southern Tier East District since 2017 and has also served as the convener of the Southern Tier Canterbury Way clergy group.
Back at All Saints’, Mrs. Horton recalls, when the pandemic made things tighter financially, Mother Chris said she’d do three-fourth’s time “to reduce her pay. She still worked forty to fifty hours a week. She did too much work.”
Deacon Pierce agrees about the extent of Mother Chris’ work. “She was extraordinary,” she says. “Last Christmas, Chris and I made Christmas bags for every parishioner and rang doorbells.” This year, All Saints’ deacon says, she doesn’t know what she’ll do.