FAITH IN ACTION FOR 250 YEARS

THE STAFF OF ST. PETER'S TODAY

Ledlie I. Laughlin III (1959-) was installed as 20th rector in 1999. After graduating from Oberlin College, he attended Berkley/Yale where he received his MDiv in 1987; he has served in urban parishes up and down the East Coast. Ledlie is an energetic, enthusiastic, and creative pastor. His preaching is insightful, personal, and stimulating; he is a true evangelist. St. Peter’s Children’s Ministry has blossomed under his leadership, and he is active in seeking avenues for spiritual growth for all ages, and in welcoming newcomers to our parish. In addition to his ministry here, Ledlie is currently the president of the Standing Committee of the Diocese and is Co-Chair of the Diocesan Antiracism Team charged with dismantling institutional racism within the diocese. His wife, Sarah, is a social worker with the Wissahickon Hospice; their daughter India has recently graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont, where their son Nick is also a student.

Claire Nevin-Field is originally from the northeast of England, but spent most of her childhood in northern Delaware. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Delaware and her Master of Science in Nursing with a certificate in Nurse-Midwifery from the University of Pennsylvania. While working as a midwife at a clinic for migrant women in Chester County, Claire felt called to ordained ministry. She attended Lutheran Theological Seminary for two years and The General Seminary of the Episcopal Church for one year, receiving a Master of Divinity degree from General Seminary. She was ordained to the priesthood on December 16, 2006. Claire lives in West Chester with her husband. Her eldest daughter Rachel recently graduated from George Washington College where her younger dauther, Ellie, also attends.

Kate Randall has been a member of the St. Peter’s community since 1990, when her son, Clint, then a third grader at St. Peter’s School, joined the church choir. Kate became parish administrator in 1997 and has served under rectors Tad Meyer, interim Paulette Schiff and, since 1999, Ledlie Laughlin. She has a master's degree in medieval history, most of which she has willfully forgotten in order to devote any remaining memory to church business. Her husband, Mark, is a jazz pianist.

 

Wayne Simms has been parish sexton since 1979, when F. Lee Richard was rector, and has served every rector and interim -- seven total -- since. Philadelphia-born and bred, he, and weekend sexton Gary Rodriguez, keep the church, St. Peter's House and grounds in top-notch condition.

 

To meet the church music staff, click

 


THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE that William White might not recognize St. Peter’s immediately if he came face to face with it today. When the saintly bishop died on July 17, 1836, what he called his “other church,” in contrast to Christ Church, had no tower, nor a spire crowned with a gilt cross. The tower, spire and cross came in 1842. While the first two appear to be part of a successful effort to save the Georgian building from being razed and replaced by a Gothic structure, placing a cross on the steeple of an Episcopal church was a seminal event that began the process, forever contentious and often painful, that created the church of 2011.

INSIDE, THE PULPIT, THE BOX PEWS and the Chippendale altar table on which White would bang his wet umbrella would be very familiar. The service would make him very uncomfortable, however— the emphasis on the Eucharist; the participation of the laity as readers, chalice bearers and intercessors, or as preachers; the presence of children, who were relegated to Sunday School at another time and place; people standing at prayer instead of kneeling; the vestments of the priests; their blessings with the sign of the cross; and, especially, female clergy.

WILLIAM WHITE MIGHT FIND it difficult to come to terms with the modern St. Peter’s, although he was known for his willingness to compromise when it was expedient to do so. Yet, in many ways, the modern church is a more accommodating church to outsiders, to women, to African Americans, to the needy, the disenfranchised, and the city and the world around it.

THE PEOPLE, TOO, are different. Most, if not all, have or are achieving great success in their fields, but except for a historically familiar name here and there, they are no longer Philadelphia’s social elite. The story told in the 1918 Book of Philadelphia of the wealthy communicant who would wait until Heaven to introduce herself to a newcomer is part of history, if not apocryphal. St. Peter’s is a community that lives its faith, which has grown to more than 400 members and increases each week as people searching for a home, or for meaning in their lives, enter its doors.

LEDLIE I. LAUGHLIN has served as the 20th rector since 1999, in a time as exciting and as challenging as any over the last 250 years. While acknowledging that future generations would be the best judge of his years at St. Peter’s, he outlines some of the ways he’s tried to meet those challenges and create an environment in which the church, and its members, can thrive and grow. One way is nurturing a congregation that is open to and embracing of one and all, summarized succinctly by the signs at our open gates: “These Doors are Open to You” and “All are Welcome at God's Table.”

ANOTHER IS THE PRESENCE and participation of children in every aspect of life at St. Peter’s. When Laughlin arrived, “just a handful of children occupied our church school,” which, as in the time of Bishop White down through history, was held elsewhere during the service so they wouldn't disturb the adults. “Now they are at every service. Our Children’s Service averages 40 per Sunday. We have paid nursery care, and a thriving Youth Group,” he said.

IN ADDITION, Laughlin has taken a personal commitment to and leadership of financial stewardship, so that during his tenure, pledge income has doubled.

HIS EFFORTS HAVE been directed to, as he calls it, “nurturing the church to be a healthy body; notably, developing an independent, mutually supportive relationship with St. Peter's School; ensuring that the superb choral music in our worship is integral to our ministry and mission; raising up lay leadership, encouraging the congregation to experiment with new forms of ministry

AS HAVE HIS predecessors, he doesn’t limit his efforts inside the walls of the churchyard. He has served in numerous leadership roles in the diocese, including chairman of Abundant Life: the Stewardship and Evangelism Commission; as co-chair of the Anti-Racism Team; as dean of Southwark Deanery; and as president of the Standing Committee.

HIS EXTRAORDINARY STAFF has included assistant rectors Judith L. T. Beck (2000-05) and Claire Nevin-Field (2005-present), music director/organists Tom Whittemore (1980- 2004) and Peter Hopkins with Paula Romanaux (2005-present), and parish administrator Kate Randall, as well as rector’s wardens: Connie Moore, Cordelia Biddle, David Leatherbarrow, Peggy Hatch, Kathleen Stephenson, and Claudia Stowers.

ALTHOUGH HE MIGHT NOT EAGERLY embrace some of the changes that history has made, Bishop White would recognize in his “other church” what those of his time said of him, as the United States Gazette reported July 18, 1836:

“The Bishop was one who seemed to connect the present generation with the great and good that had passed away, and our citizens felt a degree of justifiable pride in the consciousness that a man so loved and so revered, was of their number.”

In the beginning 

The 18th Century

The 19th Century

The 20th Century

The People of St. Peter's

The Choir

Mission and Outreach

Did You Know?

The Next 250

The Hero of Tripoli

The Book