Calvary St. Augustine Episcopal Church is a small West Philadelphia congregation making a very positive impact in the community and beyond.
During last Sunday morning’s worship service, congregants of Calvary St. Augustine witnessed two milestones: the installation of the Daughters of the King and the sudden and official resignation of the Rev. Renee McKenzie-Hayward as rector (senior pastor).
As of Nov. 1, McKenzie-Hayward will be the vicar at the Church of the Advocate at 16th and Diamond streets. She was appointed by a bishop within the diocese to shepherd this congregation.
Calvary St. Augustine installed 14 women into the Fannie E. Wilson Chapter of the Daughters of the King order. This is a momentous occasion in that since 1885, there have only been 24,000 women installed as Daughters of the King throughout America.
Nationally, Daughters of the King operate as chapters within the Episcopal Church. Its headquarters are in Woodstock, Ga. The mission of the Daughters of the King is “the extension of Christ’s Kingdom through prayer, service and evangelism.”
Although the Daughters of the King is an order for congregants of the Episcopal Church, bylaws of the order include women from the Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) and Roman Catholic denominations. The 14 women recently installed at Calvary St. Augustine are: Inga Aikman; Judith Brewer; Alice Briscoe Brown; Sandra McFadden-Brown; LaVerne E. Gonzalez; Janet Harris; the Rev. Renee McKenzie-Hayward; Edith Johnson, who was absent due to illness; Halise McKinney; Jane McKinney; Barbara Robinson; Frances Upshaw; Juanita Usury and Kathleen Williams.
Asked how she was chosen for installation into the Daughters of the King, Deborah Rogers, an eight-year member, said, “It was a nomination.”
Rogers attended the installation ceremony as corresponding secretary for Pennsylvania and newsletter editor for the Pennsylvania Diocese. Her major responsibilities are sending correspondence to all Daughters in the Pennsylvania Episcopal Diocese, and doing the newsletter for the Pennsylvania Diocese, gathering information from the 12 Pennsylvania chapters for compiling the newsletter.
Rogers isn’t currently affiliated with a church, but she frequently visits Calvary St. Augustine, and Trinity in Ambler.
“Service, love, and worship,” are the watchwords of the order, she said.
“The Daughters of the King for Calvary St. Augustine Church became an order back in June of this year. During that time, we had 14 ladies who were under instruction, who were being instructed in the way of the order,” Sharon Congleton said.
Congleton, rector’s warden at Calvary St. Augustine, said the Daughters of the King order was started in New York. The founder was Margaret J. Franklin, a member of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in New York City, known today as the Church of the Resurrection. Congleton saidchu, “Over the years, the order has reached just about every part of the globe.”
Congleton underscored that women of the order are “called by God” to serve, saying it’s not a sorority or a club membership. “You have to feel it in your heart that you’re being called to serve God through his people.”
Each Daughter must pledge a lifetime vow to be spiritually disciplined in daily prayer, service and evangelism.
Lillian Randolph, clerk of the vestry at Calvary St. Augustine and first vice president of Province 3 of the Daughters of the King, said she was installed as a Daughter in 1995.
“Whenever (we) go out into the streets, by being a child of God, people recognize you, they might recognize you by the (spiritual) glow of your face,” said Randolph.
After church service, the newly installed Daughters of the King were toasted during a brunch. A few Daughters offered feedback about their installation:
Alice Briscoe Brown, 58, said, “It was very exciting. I’m glad to be a Daughter of the King … it filled my heart with joy to be a Daughter.”
Jane McKinney said, “I am overwhelmed (and) I am filled with the Spirit, although it’s a little bittersweet … we celebrated something wonderful and we lost our priest.”
McKinney was emotional about the resignation of McKenzie-Hayward, “But all in all, God is still good.”
“I really just want to thank God for giving me a clean heart, to help me do right to carry out my job to serve, to love my brothers and sisters,” said Sandra McFadden Brown.
On the news of McKenzie-Hayward’s resignation, McFadden Brown said, “Hurts my heart. God has a mission for her, she has to go on to do God’s will, and we must go forward also, to deliver the Word of God to the world.”
After the installation service, when McKenzie-Hayward announced her resignation it jolted the congregation, which reacted with a collective gasp. Some began to cry.
One of her main goals as vicar will be to increase the number of members at the Church of the Advocate, which currently has fewer than 100 congregants.
Concurrently, McKenzie-Hayward will also become the diocese chaplain at Temple University.
“Having the Church of the Advocate as a place where campus ministry is going to happen will allow us to do, I think, some interesting programming,” McKenzie-Hayward said. “I envision this as a place where the academic world can meet the laity, can meet the streets, can meet clergy and the congregation, as they actually get to go about doing the work of the church.”
McKenzie-Hayward has served as the senior pastor at Calvary St. Augustine for eight years. Her last day in this role will be Oct. 23. Her legacy at Calvary St. Augustine has included the activation of Sunday school, implementation of an after-school program, the creation of a community development corporation and the co-founding of POWER (Philadelphia Organized to Witness Empower & Rebuild).
“We’ve done some really incredible work,” she said.
Besides the work she’ll be doing at Temple University and Church of the Advocate, McKenzie-Hayward eagerly looks forward to her serve with POWER. The organization consists of congregations from all across the city coming together to address justice issues.
McKenzie-Hayward said POWER will hold its founding convention, bringing together its 2,000 members, on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church, Broad and Fitzwater streets.
The public is welcome to attend.
Calvary St. Augustine Episcopal Church
814 N. 41st St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: (215) 222-2070
Sunday Worship Service: 10 a.m.
Pastor: Rev. Renee McKenzie-Hayward