Free & Fit NYC - Visit to St Paul’s Chapel - Reflection
Free & Fit NYC - Visit to St Paul’s Chapel - 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 9th February 2020 Linda Brandt, Colin Williams and Tim Chew visited the Chapel at St Paul’s of Trinity Wall Street. The Church is located directly opposite the World Trade Centre and in an idyllic location between local transport links, shops, restaurants, offices and some of the most expensive real estate in New York City. St Paul’s is possibly the oldest Church in New York and is located within very close proximity to ground zero, the infamous site of the Twin Towers from September 911. On arrival at the Church I was greeted by members of the Church, security and given a program, shown to my seats and prompted by my fellow classmates to join them. Having been a member of the midweek services, having worked on Wall Street, for 18 months at Trinity and St Paul’s I recognized several clergies, congregants and familiar families and faces of the community.
The interior of the Church is that fitting of a Lord and Lady’s house with chandeliers, White walls, ceramic floors, gold frames, oil paintings and exquisite finishing’s and furnishings throughout the Church. The alter was elevated, with a coffin like stage, a Eucharistic table, various surrounding symbolic wall decorations, golden detail covered in religious writings and some unexplained meaning and gleaming floors with outstanding finishing’s and touches. It is perhaps too perfect for my own imperfect sports attire. I felt overwhelmingly under dressed, without a hairbrush, hat on backwards and awkwardly coloring children’s sketches and using crayons to justify my excitement at the wonder and joy created in anticipation of the Church’s youth choir, homily and beautifully diverse congregation.
There were enough clergy present in the room to represent a firefighting team. Three Female Priests, three male clergy and two presiding ordained ministers. It was obviously a wonderful community, which I myself continue to love and miss dearly. The Presiding Priest, Father Mark, and the Preaching Minister Father Michael were both vibrant, welcoming and excellent communicators. Loud, to the point, relevant and all pointed to the cross either through sacramental duties (Eucharist), a Blessing (to two youth members travelling to Nepal), the Church announcements and the Homily. All were delivered with precise, informative and clear vocal sounds. Sometimes missing in a Church especially with such a diverse audience as this and in such a beautiful setting where perhaps when one (I mean me of course) could get lost when marveling at all the lavish decoration and furnishings in the sanctuary.
The Young families, children of all ages (K-12) were all welcomed, greeted, included in the service, serving in some capacity and essential members of the Church. The liturgy, with one Old Testament reading and the Gospel, enabled all ages to remain engaged, focused and to still sing, follow the Book of Common Prayer and be included within the service where possible. It was a very well though out service, developed accordingly to the Priests preference on the morning and accessible to all ages. A very difficult thing to achieve, yet a very good model to be adapted, developed and may serve well not just in urban cities, but also in other settings such as suburban areas and small towns and villages.
In conclusion, I felt a very warm sense of piece, like Colin, about the future of the Church, the service and the welcome of the congregation to me, my fellow brothers and sister with me and to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is my hope to visit again at the evening later service for the more reflective and contemplative 8pm service.
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