Free & Fit NYC - Visit to St Marys the Virgin Episcopal - Reflection by Tim Cheux
Free & Fit NYC - Visit to St Mary's the Virgin Episcopal - Reflection by Tim Cheux
On Sunday the 1st March Linda Brandt, Colin Williams and I, Tim Cheux, visited the Episcopalian Church St Mary's the Virgin located in midtown Manhattan right next to Times Square. The Church is based on an Anglo-Catholic tradition and featured sung Anglican chant, high worship, sung mass and full choral arrangement. The Church has extremely high rooftops, extends from 46th to 47th street, with wonderful interior, beautiful high blue ceilings, amazing iconography, beautiful altar, vast space with various Prayers and Saints Chapels, several pictures and depictions of Mother Mary (hence the name) and rose and stained glass windows. The Church has historically, and by some today, been viewed as a home for former Catholics and divorcees according to clergy we spoke to whilst during coffee hour. This was neither apparent or obvious according to the Church when among the clergy and congregation. The Choir sang beautifully, in tune and in time with each other. Due to it being lent the organ was not in use and we did not experience the full worship in lieu of practicing Lenten worship covenant and liturgical tradition. The sermon was short, a five minute homily, that was clear, well spoken and memorable. The Priest spoke about the absence of Christ and recited an old prayer from the Book of Common Prayer about observing and believing in Jesus whilst in the absences of his presence and obstacles or challenges to our faith. The message was appreciated by Linda, Colin and myself except that Colin complained he could not hear the message during the sermon. We all commented on the coffee hour being accessible and the congregation being open to conversation with the Board members, Brothers and clergy all giving us time to speak at the end of the service and the Ushers at the start of the service. We did note, however, that the food, coffee and drinks were not accessible to all. I was personally without access to any snacks or food after the service. As I am fasting during Lent this was perhaps more difficult than usual for me to accept. The service itself was very high, with sit, kneel and usual Episcopalian promptings throughout. The Anglican creed and Lords prayer were all sung and we worshiped without music. This was usual for Lent, but we felt perhaps their could have been more traditional themed Lenten music during the service. In conclusion, we all enjoyed the experience of attending the St Marys Virgin Church and its beautiful worship sanctuary. We all commented we wish their were more children, families and impact on the local Community, but that the homeless shelter, Brothers, clergy and financial state of the Church appeared to be in good health. We would recommend attempting to roll out new programs, working with local musicians to host concerts, collaborating with non-profits and offering rental space to entrepreneurs where these is space and opportunity.
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