Free & Fit NYC - Visit to Holy Apostles Chelsea - Reflection
Free & Fit NYC - Visit to Holy Apostles Chelsea - Reflection - by Tim Cheux
This semester as part of my theological Education I have to visit twelve different Episcopal Churches, I will blog and share my reflections.
On Sunday 2nd February 2020 I attended the 9am spoken liturgical service at Holy Apostles Church in Chelsea, New York City. The Church is located right next to the beautiful Westside highway, the Chelsea Highline and in between various schools, local businesses and Chelsea landmark estates. The Church is built in a very traditional Church architecture style with red brick, stained glass, a spire and some very classic North, South, East and West Church traditional facing icons and religious decorations of the Church according to Old Testament teaching and scripture.
The Church inside is beautiful with classic white interior, stained glass and striking icons like Jesus Christ of Nazareth hanging from the cross, a beautiful altar and a clearly defined pulpit for the Preacher to reside in when speaking. This service was in the Chapel to the right of the main altar, pulpit and Jesus on the cross.
The Chapel also had significant position in the Church with the communion or Eucharist table located on a risen platform with an open platform from which the presiding Priestess was able to perform sacramental, preaching and teaching responsibilities in both a formal and informal basis where appropriate.
The Church had a diverse population with established members of the community who all knew each other on a first name basis. The Congregation at the 9am was small around 15 to 20 people, but everybody knew each other, was familiar with each other on a first name basis and cared authentically about one another. The service lasted about 45 minutes with a spoken liturgy call and response, scripture readings (from different members of the Church congregation), a ten to fifteen-minute homily, Church notices, communion and benediction.
The service was smooth, without interruption, the homily was very well spoken, dictated from a prepared message, that was printed out, spoken aloud and included prompts when reading from the printed notes, but not entirely with the Priestess looking down on her notes, but instead she kept her eyes engaged on the audience and with the crowd.
The message was clear, precise, focused on the scripture, the Gospel was preached, and all were able to engage, listen and take something from the message home with them. I interpreted the Church to be a true community. The members were engaged in each other’s lives, there was a familiarity amongst the members that is not found unless intentional relationships are built and I was personally welcomed by every person in the congregation, given coffee, biscuits and even connected with one of the members about going for a run in the neighborhood.
This a true Episcopalian community of friends breaking bread together. Following the Church service, we had a fifteen-minute coffee break which was followed by a 45-minute Christian Education teaching from the Priestess in Charge. The fellowship time was great as I spoke to all members of the congregation and met some of those who were also attending the11am. These groups were different, but not unfamiliar with each other. It was evident that the Church must do some all together groups, services or ministry as even those who had not attended the 9am had been familiar with those who were arriving and attending the following service at 11am.
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