The New York Times offers a retrospective on the tenure of the Rev. Bill Tully on the occasion of his retirement as rector of St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City.
The story begins:
HIS work here is done. His reinvention of a dying church with ratty old wooden pews is emblemized by the 900 brand-new chairs — bought by parishioners for $900 apiece, engraved plaques included — arrayed in the exquisite mosaic, marble and stained-glass sanctuary. With a congregation of nearly 3,400, up from a foundering flock of just a few hundred when he took over in 1994, the Rev. William MacDonald Tully, 65, is retiring from active duty at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church on Park Avenue and 50th Street. His final sermon is on Sunday.
and includes this:
Mr. Tully made inclusion, and outreach, his immediate mission, but he was not an instantaneous success. When he underwent the mandatory diocesan review after his first year, he said he was criticized for “not being churchy enough.” His preference for referring to Jesus by name rather than employing the more high church “Our Lord” was questioned. But his positive energy was a tonic. So was his contention that St. Bart’s could survive by expanding its membership and mission.
An active member of St. Bart’s for six decades, Lucy Martin Gianino, served on the search committee that hired Mr. Tully and then proceeded to butt heads with him on several of his innovations. “A number of his programs were fairly radical, including St. Bart’s being a major welcomer of the gay and lesbian community,” Ms. Martin Gianino said. “But he was able to lead people down that path and have us all feel good about worshiping and serving the church together.”
Bishop Mark Sisk, head of the Episcopal Diocese in New York City, said Mr. Tully had brought St. Bart’s back from the precipice not only because of his vision, but also because of “his ability to lead others to share that vision.”