winter 2015 vol. 62 | no. 2
TrinityNews THE MAGAZINE OF TRINITY WALL STREET
WHO IS MY
TrinityNews VOL. 62 | NO. 2
THE MAGAZINE OF TRINITY WALL STREET
DEPARTMENTS FEATURE STORIES 1
2 Our Neighbors, Ourselves Winnie Varghese
For the Record
Letter from the Rector
Archivist’s Mailbag The Visitor File
What Have You Learned?
Pew and Partner Notes
4 10 Practices of the Good Samaritan Jim Melchiorre 5 The Parable of the Black Police Chief and the White
Supremacist Susan Sparks 6 Same Parish, New Neighbors Jeremy Sierra 8 Hope Lives for Lifers Interview with Larry White
10 Learning War and Reconciliation David Peters 12 The Gift of Neighbors Wendy Claire Barrie 13 Brown Bag Lunch at Trinity
All photos by Leah Reddy unless otherwise noted. Cover photos from Thinkstock TRINITY WALL STREET 120 Broadway | New York, NY 10271 | Tel: 212.602.0800 Rector | The Rev. Dr. William Lupfer Executive Editor | Nathan Brockman Editor | Jim Melchiorre Art Director | Rea Ackerman Managing Editor | Jeremy Sierra Copy Editors | Robyn Eldridge, Lynn Goswick Multimedia Producer | Leah Reddy
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LETTER FROM THE RECTOR
pending time in Lower Manhattan, where Trinity Church Wall Street is located, teaches a great deal about diverse neighbors. Business people, homeless men and women, residents, and tourists all gather near Wall Street and share the same parks and coffee shops. In this issue, we examine what it means to be a neighbor. How can we, as disciples of Jesus and as worshipping communities, be neighbors to those around us? I hope the features included in this issue of Trinity News will assist all of us in that challenging task. The question “Who is my neighbor?” is particularly important as we prepare to host the annual Trinity Institute theological conference in January (TI2016). Racism in the United States, both personal and structural, is one of the major barriers keeping neighbors apart. TI2016, titled “Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice,” will offer an opportunity to discuss some of the pressing issues of our time: mass incarceration, educational inequity, and our national history of racial inequality. A year ago, I raised the question from the pulpit: Is it possible for non-racist people to create a racist society? I believe it is; I also believe that in order to disrupt a racist society, we must be very intentional in our discipleship. Like every church, the Trinity community struggles daily to live out Jesus’s commands. Yet we are not discouraged because we can see God’s hand in that struggle. I hope that you will join us in this endeavor to expand the definition of neighbor, and then to follow the invitation to love our neighbors as ourselves. Faithfully,
The Rev. Dr. William Lupfer
By Winnie Varghese
Our Neighbors, Ourselves 2
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR? If you had asked me this in 2008, I would have said something like “the least of these; the invisible; the neglected; those victimized by policies of the government.” I was a college chaplain then, as I had been since 1999. The college campuses I had experienced were places of enormous privilege often disconnected from their surrounding neighborhoods. They tended to create invisible neighbors like students who were the first in their families to go to college; students who did not have enough money to eat; students who had been homeless; students who were not sure if they should freely express their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Who is my neighbor? The lawyer who asks Jesus this question in Luke is said to have asked in order to justify himself. I like to think he was eager to clarify an ambiguous teaching, but perhaps he was attempting to justify inaction, or even sin. The question Jesus asks after telling the story of the Good Samaritan, however, is, “Who was a neighbor to the man?” It’s a slightly different question than “who is my neighbor?” “Who has been a neighbor to me?” would have been a very different question to ask myself. Was it the chaplain who thought it wasn’t the strangest idea ever that I could be ordained? The same one who thought I should find a way to directly engage people living in poverty? In my life, the people who had enough compassion to call me out of my comfort zone and expectations of myself into a place that was wholly unfamiliar are the people who have been neighbors to me. On college campuses it was important to be careful with language and to intentionally include those invisible realities, to try not to make assumptions about comfort or
privilege of the people around us in our words and actions. The proof of our effectiveness was whether those who sought us out for community included the diversity of the college, visible and invisible. To whom had we made it clear that we were neighbors? Beyond being part of a gathering of like-minded people, it can be difficult to discern what it means to be a Christian on a college campus Our simple proclamation of faith could be misheard or understood as irrelevant or marginalizing to those who did not share our beliefs. In this context, being a neighbor meant proclaiming the Good News of Jesus the Christ in a way that drew a community together to learn to see and hear one another across our different experiences: ultimately, to be formed as people who would, in the future, look out for their neighbors. At St. Mark’s in the Bowery in the East Village, we had a similar task of drawing a community together organized
around this same Good News. We were able to do it with an almost wild lack of inhibition in our invitation to be a part of our worshipping community, but sometimes we found that some had a very clear idea of what they needed from us: access to our buildings for meetings or rehearsals; access to our bathrooms to clean up or to use or distribute illegal substances; access to the safety of our grounds to do things not allowed in the park. We were forced to define what sanctuary was for and what it meant to love someone whose behaviors had become destructive. It was difficult to discern what love looked like in this context. Were we justifying our fears or doing the hard work of loving a neighbor? I am the kind of priest who likes to sit on the park bench with the woman who feeds the pigeons a little too much and the guy who talks to himself all day, and I tend to know all the regular panhandlers in my neighborhood. There is some quaint village priest ideal in knowing those who are so literally on the edge and seem to
need some protection. Personally, it interrupts my assumptions about the order of things. But what is our role when our neighbor is not simply charming and a little off, but actually deeply troubled? When the lack of mental health services and basic social support means that our neighbors are desperate, and we are just another person or institution from which a resource can be taken? This is the reality of most urban churches. As Christians living and working within the institution of the church, I think it means we have to believe our neighbors have the right to live with dignity. Creating the structures needed to make that possible is our collective responsibility. This kind of love of our neighbor requires social change: willingness to fund, organize, and sustain policies and institutions that make it possible for everyone to live with dignity and autonomy, as they choose and are able.
Who is my neighbor? At Trinity, as at St. Markâ€™s, those in need are all around, and they come find us for help. A family of four slept in the back pew most of one day last August. The security staff let them in, warmed up food for them, and kept an eye on them all morning as tourists came and went. They were invited to the Parish Center and eventually linked to a resource for families without shelter. They told us they were from out of state and hoping to restart their lives. We hear stories like that every
day because we offer brown-bag lunches, and here on Wall Street, there is plenty of need, every day. For a place like this, in this city in this time, what a small thing to do: who knows to what effect, except that I think Jesus might be saying something fundamental about our humanity when he asks, â€œWho was a neighbor to this man?â€? I think it is our own humanity we recognize in one another in need, whether we are down on our luck, desperate, sick, or simply sad. Maybe we see a side of ourselves that is difficult to look at for very long and hard to help. When we try, however, it is nothing less than our justification that we seek, the work of our salvation that we encounter. The Rev. Winnie Varghese is Priest and Director of Community Outreach for Trinity Wall Street.
AND WHO IS MY
By Jim Melchiorre
1 He saw him. Let’s not underestimate the significance of this. People can be simultaneously
quite visible and rarely seen, especially folks living on the margins of society. Sometimes we have to make an intentional decision to see, to notice what we have customarily ignored.
of the Good Samaritan
2 He was moved by pity. This is the most emotional act of the Good Samaritan—everything
Suppose you had to tell the
3 He went to him. Now this is risky because the path between Jerusalem and Jericho is steep;
story of the Good Samaritan on Twitter. Perhaps it’s possible to relate the parable within a 140-character limit, but it wouldn’t be easy, because the power of the story is found in the details. By my calculations, the Good Samaritan performs 10 actions to respond to the man who “fell into the hands of robbers.”
afterwards is really about logistics—but it may be the most critical of the 10 actions, because nothing else is likely to happen until the Samaritan begins to feel the pain of his fellow traveler.
they’re traveling downhill, and there are ample hiding places for thieves and bandits. The Samaritan could be the next person to be stripped and beaten and left half-dead. Or suppose the man is faking, setting a trap for the Samaritan to be attacked. Maybe the Samaritan needs to get to Jericho by nightfall for a family engagement. The Samaritan has plenty of legitimate excuses—the priest and the Levite who crossed over to the other side of the road most likely used their own—all based on the question, if I get too close to this man lying on the road, what might happen to me? As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out in the final sermon of his life, on April 3, 1968, the Samaritan flipped the question: if I don’t approach this man, what might happen to him?
4 He bandaged his wounds. 5 He poured oil and wine on them. The Samaritan is utilizing a kind of first-century first-aid kit, while applying something timeless: human touch. He is willing to be vulnerable.
6 He put him on his own animal, a significant physical challenge depending on the scale of the man’s injuries, which also meant the Samaritan would be walking the rest of the way.
7 He brought him to an inn so that the wounded man could have proper rest and recuperation. 8 He took care of him, which almost surely involved providing a meal. 9 He took out two denarii. 10 He gave them to the innkeeper with instructions to provide whatever care was necessary. Let’s think of it as giving the innkeeper a credit card number, complete with expiration date and security code, as a commitment to ensure payment—again, showing a willingness to be vulnerable.
Scripture scholars tell us there’s societal prejudice at play here—Jews like Jesus and the lawyers questioning him were not supposed to associate with Samaritans. It’s uncomfortable for Jesus’s listeners to hear a story in which the Samaritan is portrayed as a good guy. Toward the end, when Jesus asks who behaved most like a neighbor in the parable, the lawyer answers: “the one who showed him mercy,” as though even speaking the word “Samaritan” in a positive context is more than he can say. Obviously, one lesson here is about tearing down fences that divide us. And there’s a
second lesson: check yourself, and the depth of your commitment. The parable of the Good Samaritan is not a case of drive-by compassion. The Samaritan follows through, covering all the messy, inconvenient, and expensive details often required of a neighbor. In those details is the power of the parable and also the challenge, especially in that solitary instruction: go and do likewise. Jim Melchiorre is Director of Content for Trinity Wall Street and Editor of Trinity News.
THE OF THE BLACK POLICE CHIEF AND THE WHITE SUPREMACIST
this photo of Officer Leroy Smith, I immediately thought
When I first saw
of the Good Samaritan. This image infuses such a modern power to Jesus’s two-thousand-year-old parable. In these painful times of continuing racism and violence in our country, let us remember this story and “go and do likewise.” The Rev. Susan Sparks, Senior Pastor, Madison Avenue Baptist Church, New York City A lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” And Jesus told this story: “A white supremacist was going down to Columbia for a demonstration in support of the Confederate flag, wearing a shirt featuring a Nazi swastika, and fell to the ground overwhelmed with the heat of the day. Now by chance a white clergyman was also present, and when he saw him, he passed by, thinking to himself, ‘This man stands for a philosophy I hate, and I don’t want to get involved.’ So likewise a local white city official, when he saw the man lying by the road, passed by on the other side. But it so happened that a black police chief, while patrolling the area, came near him; and when he saw the white supremacist sick from the heat, he was moved with pity. He went to him, lifted him up and took care of him.” Then Jesus said, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell sick from the heat?”
Same Parish, New
It might come as a surprise to find a statue of the the past decade, many families have moved into Virgin Mary in the garden of a church founded the financial district near the southern tip of to serve Japanese-Americans after World War Manhattan. They work in law firms or in finance II, but that’s what you’ll find at St. Mary’s in Los or in one of the many other industries that have Angeles. The Rev. Anna Olson, Rector of moved into Lower Manhattan as it has St. Mary’s, had found it difficult to been revitalized since the attacks on make the immigrants moving in the nearby World Trade Center. “I wanted to the neighborhood, many from They are diverse, but whiter than Mexico, feel welcome at the New York as a whole. to make sure that church. Eventually, the church Trinity itself is very we were the kind put a statue of the Virgin of diverse. Many long-term of church that could Guadalupe, an important members are African American figure for many immigrants, in or from the Caribbean. There’s accommodate its garden as a sign of welcome, a large Asian population. all people.” and the neighborhood Last year, Trinity started a residents made it their own. new 9:15am service at St. Paul’s – The Rev. Mark “That’s been an interesting Chapel, deliberately designed to Walrond adventure, watching the neighbe family-friendly. It grew quickly, bors take over and care for it and attracting families from the neighmodify it,” she said, speaking of the borhood. church as well as the statue. “I think there were a lot of anxieties The church originally planted droughtahead of time,” said the Rev. Emily Wachner, resistant bushes, but one day a parishioner formerly a priest at Trinity who now works at came in and replaced them with roses, a sign General Seminary. “That seems to have largely of devotion to the Virgin. dissipated. It’s the job of the church to meet As the church has opened its doors to the the needs of the community,” she said. community, often literally, she’s had to give up Joint Ministry a lot of control. “We’re open to people bringing In Chicago, the Rev. Liz Muñoz’s church, who they are and their own spiritual leadership.” Nuestra Señora de las Americas, joined with St. Mary’s, like every church, is called not other churches to minister to Latino/as. The only to minister to its congregants, but to the immediate neighborhood is gentrifying. When entire parish and the neighborhood. reaching out to those who tend to be poorer Trinity Wall Street’s charter states specifically and less able to support a self-sustaining that the “Rector shall have the care of the souls congregation, working with other churches of the inhabitants within the said parish.” This makes sense. requires Trinity, and ideally every church, to Nuestra Señora hopes to build a church and answer the question “who is my neighbor?” in community center with three other churches the most literal way: Who lives near the church? with which it has collaborated on previous And how can we minister to them? events, such as a Palm Sunday procession and a As neighborhoods change, this is often a march for a living wage. challenge. Many churches were founded to It won’t be easy, said Muñoz. Two of the minister to a specific group—maybe white churches are more conservative, and two are middle-class families, maybe immigrants from mostly white, and while the Lutheran church Latin America, maybe African Americans— and Nuestra Señora share a similar sacramental and then the neighborhood changes as people theology, the other two don’t. move to or out of the suburbs, or as new waves But they know they work well together of immigrants arrive. and can do more—and do it better—through Welcoming Newcomers joint ministry. The neighborhood around Trinity Wall Street “It’s made us all reflect on what it really is experiencing such a demographic change. In means to be Anglicans,” said Muñoz. “What is 6
part of our identity and what might be cultural and what might be part of our spirituality.” When You’re a Gentrifier The Rev. Bob Leopold, an Episcopal priest in Chattanooga, Tennessee, shies away from the word gentrification. The root word, “gente,” means people, and so to him the term implies that people are coming into a neighborhood where the residents already there aren’t really people. So he calls it re-gentrification. Leopold is the priest at Southside Abbey, in the southern part of the city. The congregants are people who live along the southern railway line in illegal encampments, as well as young hipsters or yuppies moving into the neighborhood. It’s only three years old, but the congregation has already gone through one transformation. “In some ways we did it wrong,” he said. “We had all these young families showing up. It was picturesque. Toward the end of that first year we were called into living into the change.” Homeless people started to come to the Friday evening dinner and liturgy, and some of the young families began to worry about safety. Some left; but recently, young people and families have begun to return, looking for diversity and a chance to connect with others unlike themselves. “My wife and I are well-intentioned white people who moved into this neighborhood,” he said. “There are going be missteps. We all have cultural biases whether we’re aware of them or not. But when they happen what’s important is how we handle them.” St. Lydia’s (the church I attend) is a small Lutheran church that also combines liturgy and dinner. It’s located in Gowanus, Brooklyn, a quickly gentrifying neighborhood. “Our desire is to serve the neighborhood in a way that looks at the whole neighborhood,” said the Rev. Emily Scott, the founder and pastor of St. Lydia’s. While some congregants are homeless or longtime New York residents, most are college graduates who have recently moved to Brooklyn. Scott recognizes that some people might feel some discomfort, or even guilt, about being gentrifiers.
By Jeremy Sierra
the Episcopal Church has to reach out to new populations and grapple with both the increasing diversity of the U.S. population and its continued segregation.
The Importance of Intentionality A mix of intentionality and flexibility is essential for evolving communities. When I spoke with the Rev. Ada Nagata, an Episcopal priest in San Gabriel, California, she told me her first couple of years were not so easy. The Church of Our Saviour was mostly white, but many Chinese immigrants were moving into the area. When the congregation started a service in Cantonese, there was some tension, but eventually folks began to get to know each other as they shared coffee between services or attended potluck dinners. You have to bring the congregation along so that the new demographic groups feel accepted, she said. “Otherwise you make them secondclass citizens instead of offering a spiritual home.” The Rev. Mark Walrond said that what makes it all possible is the desire to follow the example set by Jesus. First Corinthian Baptist Church, a large African-American church in Harlem where Walrond is the pastor, noticed a few years ago that the white people who attended weren’t just tourists anymore. Harlem is rapidly changing as Manhattan prices rise and people move north. Although First Corinthian is still primarily an AfricanAmerican congregation, members had to slightly broaden their understanding of who they were. “When I came here 10 years ago, and I saw the shifting demographics,” he said, “I wanted to make sure that we were the kind of church that could accommodate all people.” Acknowledging prejudice, fear, and anxiety while also being open to the work of God isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s necessary if you are going to love your neighbor. “We have to be conscious about having those honest conversations in church,” said Walrond. “You’ll know you’re having those genuine conversations if they create discomfort and pain.” As the United States changes demographically and economic inequality continues unabated,
Handing Over the Keys For some churches, this has meant handing the keys over to other congregations. I spoke to pastors in Brooklyn and Chicago, both of whom had shepherded congregations as they changed. The Rev. Deborah Seles n so helped a church in Ol na Chicago, which was mostly white, transfer its building to a Spanishspeaking congregation as more Hispanics moved into the neighborhood. “Make connections to God and make connections with each other,” was her advice to other pastors. Don’t ignore the differences, but also make sure to look for commonalities between the newcomers and the longtime members. Her church, for example, was very proud of its organ. The new Spanish-speaking pastor, fortunately, also loved the organ and put it to good use. The former congregants simply want to know that the things they have built and loved, and the work they have done, will be appreciated. In Brooklyn, the Rev. Harriet Wieber was the pastor of Salem Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge, which wanted An
“The first step is to have an awareness that people have been there longer and learn,” she said. Another step is having conversations about the larger systems that lead to gentrification.
to reach out to the growing Arabic community in its neighborhood. One day in 1998, Salem Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church ended its ministry in the morning, and Salam Arabic Lutheran Church was organized in the afternoon. “It was a happy day and also a bittersweet day,” said Wieber. “There is real joy and peace in knowing that we were doing God’s will.” The Pain and Joy of Change We all know that change often brings pain and joy in one confusing package. There’s sadness as something beloved becomes something new and unfamiliar. In asking around about this process, I found no rulebook for dealing with shifting neighborhoods and new neighbors, except that it requires faithfulness and flexibility, openness to death and resurrection, patience, and a willingness to set fear aside. For Olson and St. Mary’s, it also required empathy. “It can be hard for them to see all the new people as exciting,” Olson said of the longtime members of her church. “They are still seeing all the faces of the people over the years who they loved who aren’t here anymore.” St. Mary’s long history of welcoming the immigrant and the marginalized is the thread that has helped members welcome a new group living on the edges of American culture. It took a long time: a few years of opening the doors for events and putting out signs—a statue of the Virgin Mary, for example, surrounded now by roses—that say, you are welcome in this church. Jeremy Sierra is Managing Editor for Trinity Wall Street.
An Interview with Larry White Larry White runs a program inside New York prisons called Hope Lives for Lifers–and he’s well-qualified for that task because he once served a 25-years-to-life sentence. Still vigorous at the age of 80, Larry White offers recommendations, born of experience, on how society should deal with crime and punishment and why reforming our prisons should matter to the community.
You said you were transformed in prison. I was doing a lot of writing. I didn’t realize what the writing was doing to my thinking. And so I used to write rehabilitative programs for prisons. And I used to hold classes. Long-terms [people given long sentences] were coming in with 25 years, 30-to-life, to learn how to do the time. I wrote a manual for long-termers. I read a book and this book changed my life, a book by Paulo Freire called Pedagogy of the Oppressed. [I saw that] the world that I lived in is not just the things around me, it’s how they’re organized, the institutions, the agencies, and political, social, economic, environmental stuff—these things shaped my actions and my thoughts. I began to realize that a lot of the things I was doing was because of the situations I found myself in. And so it shaped how I saw my own imprisonment. I began to develop the programs. We started a movement in all of the prisons. I started having classes specifically for people who would never get out of prison. I said, they’re never going to let me out. So I’m here with you. And I would teach programs, we’d do studies and develop different programs, things for them to do to build worth into their sentence. Something to strive for. We had to change conditions, make things better for ourselves inside the prison system, and also try to change the system.
There are two million people in prison in the United States, more than in any other country in the world. You’ve been on the inside of it. Is our system a total wreck? In this country we deal with the wrong by punishment. And the highest academics in this country have [said] over and over, punishment is the least effective way to change behavior. It doesn’t work. But we constantly do it. We tell people to stay in jail for a hundred years. What are we solving by doing that kind of stuff? The other thing that you’re very qualified to talk about is the issue of re-entry. Well, returning to the community is not easy because people remember this guy as the guy who committed a crime against them. So he’s ostracized in a way. Re-entry [should have educated] the community to prepare them for people who were coming back, who were supposed to have been rehabilitated inside the prison system. But that’s not happening, either, because they cut that avenue off. You can no longer earn your way back to society. Everything you apply for, every social service, every quality of life advancement you want to make, you apply for, you’ve got to check that box that you’ve got a felony. This city is incarcerating too many people. We have to reduce that and stop that. How do we do that? There are only two ways: decrease
That’s the job of faith communities. Their calling is to deal with those people who are condemned and abandoned.
the amount of people you’re putting in, and increase the amount of people coming out. Instead of sentencing the person to prison, we find better ways of dealing with him in the community while he’s still in the community, so it doesn’t reflect on his family or his future generations and gives him an opportunity while he’s out to do things. Here’s the society that I would love to live in: where citizens have this understanding of their neighbors–I don’t know who this guy is, where he comes from, what country and color and all that, but he has the potential. This guy could be a famous artist, or surgeon, no telling what the person has a potential to be. If we understand a person has potential, we have to put him into a position to increase his potential. Most people commit crime because their futures are not attainable. That was it with me. We all think about what we want to do in the future, and if society doesn’t give you the capability of doing that, they will have a problem with you. You have devoted your life to this work, haven’t you? Well, I honestly believe that the prisons can change, but it would have to be a [major] transformation. Prisons serve the community. When a person is sent to prison, the prison has the obligation of making sure that he gets all
the [opportunities to make the] social changes and mental cognitive changes that he needs, [so] that when he returns to the community, he brings goodwill to the community and becomes a regular functioning person of the community. We haven’t got to that point yet. We have to start looking at our social conditions. We have nursing homes in our prisons. The average prisoner now is over 50 years old because we give them too much time. Sentence a guy 25-to-life when he’s 20? He’s going to be
The new institutions that will take the place of prisons should have this mission–that we should build attainable futures for people. When you come into [a] prison system, [we should be] interested in identifying your potential, helping you to develop it, [and] sending you back to the basics [so that you] go back into the community, and start on developing that future. Business has a role to play in this. Education does. All of them have a role to play in this. The prison is supposed
Maybe you don’t think of the two million people currently in U.S. prisons as your neighbors. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, however, almost 95 percent of inmates will eventually be released, and all of us will be living together. We’ll all be neighbors. in his 50s when he’s released, and his view of the future is very dim when he’s 50 years old. So the question now is, how do we change that? We need to change the sentencing system, number one, and number two, we have to find another model. We’ve got to start from a position where we have institutions that address the wrongs from a holistic point of view, from the individual’s point of view and from the societal point of view.
to address the wrongs of people and send them back to the community in a good way, so we need people from the community to go inside. That’s the job of faith communities. Their calling is to deal with those people who are condemned and abandoned. And so that’s how I see my job. Get the community involved, and the community will come up with solutions that will transform the system.
Rev. David W. Peters
“And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” War is not easy to learn. It does not come naturally to any of us, least of all to me, a bookish teenager whose only sport was soccer and who was afraid to go canoeing. At the age of 15, when I felt a calling to the ministry, I knew I needed to toughen up. So, the day after I graduated from high school, I was up at zero dark thirty to take a bus to Parris Island, South Carolina, to go to Marine Corps Boot Camp. I learned war that summer. The men I entered boot camp with were mostly teenagers, like me. We learned how to march, how to salute and polish brass and boots. It seemed we were always polishing something. Mars, the god of war, is vain, flashy, showy to a fault. But this wasn’t war. War is killing, and killing is a skill you have to learn. Signs on the side of our barracks read, “More sweat in peace, less blood in war” and “Your endurance is limited by your consciousness and your willingness to go on.” These were our scriptures. We motivated each other, and the drill instructors motivated us. They would get in our faces and shout, “You can quit when I quit!” I fixed a bayonet to my M16 rifle and practiced the almost liturgical movements in step with the drill instructor’s command. Pointy end towards the enemy, “Thrust!” We executed as one, imagining, and not imagining, the bones of our enemies breaking, a sound you never forget. My DI was always grabbing us by the helmet, giving it a shake, and looking right into our eyes screaming, “Let me see your war face!” 10
You can teach killing, you can teach war, and I was an avid student, there in the hot sands of Parris Island. They put us in pits with boxing gloves, and when the whistle blew, we started in on each other. We pummeled each other in 60 seconds of combat. For those 60 seconds, we had to channel every ounce of rage, bitterness, hate—we had to survive any way we could. When the whistle blew to stop us, we continued to throw punches. They always had to shove us away from each other. The DI said to us, “Use everything you have in a fight, a helmet, a shovel, your hands, never back down, and never surrender.” We learned hand-to-hand combat for war. We learned how to kill a man, a person, with our hands. “Use everything you have in a fight, never back down, never surrender.” Even if we, like the prophet, had longed for the day when we beat our swords into plowshares, that activity was not authorized by the United States Marine Corps. War is hard to learn, but it sticks with you. Being a warrior is like being a priest, with its own vestments, rituals, and beliefs. You never lose it, no matter how old, or kind, or gentle you grow with time. And when I think about it, we really didn’t learn to do war, we learned to be war. But that was a long time ago. You and I know what happened on that day, the end of days—many of you were at St. Paul’s or somewhere near. You smelled it. Nothing smells like it. You know what I mean. I had been out of the Marine Corps for a couple years when 9/11 happened. I had just finished seminary and was working as a youth minister at a church in Pennsylvania. Pretty peaceful activities, mostly, except for the occasional paintball trip with the youth group. After that day. After the world changed for us. After we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq—yes, it was us. We did this. Only a few
people, usually young men, did it. Only a few young men and women are ever on the “tip of the spear.” But the whole nation, all of us, push the shaft of that spear into the enemy. Maybe we’re way in the back of the shaft or up towards the front, but we’re all pushing, one way or another. Shortly after the invasion, I realized thousands of young women and men, just a little older than the kids in my youth group, were heading into a long war. I knew they would need chaplains, someone to bring God’s grace in a place that didn’t have much of either. So, I signed up as an Army chaplain, just a few weeks after the invasion. I was 27, just married, a new parent with another one on the way. I was the second youngest chaplain in the Army. I was also way older than almost all my soldiers. On every September 11th, in Iraq, and on every Army base I’ve served on, there would be a 9/11 memorial ceremony. A general or a colonel would always say to us, “We’re here in Iraq today fighting the same people who attacked us on that Tuesday morning.” It was a simple connection for the military; we Army folks, at least, are simple people. You have to keep things simple in a war. You have to know the rules. In war, we call these rules, the Rules of Engagement, the ROE. These are the rules that govern when you can use deadly force. In Iraq, when I was there, you could kill anyone who you felt was a threat to you or someone else. We all had the ultimate power, the power to take a life. You never forget what it’s like to have the power and be the one who kills another human. “Use everything you have in a fight, never back down, never surrender.” Rules of Engagement, the ROE, that’s what Peter wants to know in our Gospel reading. “What are the rules?” He asks, “Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me, and I have to forgive him?”
This sermon, by the Rev. David Peters, was the winner of Trinity’s 2015 Reconciliation Preaching Prize. Peters, an army chaplain and curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown, Texas, preached the sermon in St. Paul’s Chapel on September 11, 2015.
But Jesus doesn’t give him a rule. Jesus refuses to make reconciliation simple, formulaic, easily reproducible in a PowerPoint slide or in a sermon delivered in a beautiful church on 9/11. I’m an Iraq veteran and one thing I’ve found is that most combat veterans I know have very little anger or hatred towards the “insurgents,” the men who tried to kill us in Iraq or Afghanistan. Those men were just doing their job, we were just doing ours. But, no, our anger is more personal. Anger usually is. My brother and sister veterans have been used in beer commercials, at country music concerts, and on carefully built stages in the shadow of our capitol or the buildings of this city. Sometimes this makes us angry. We also have some anger at the selfobsessed nation we came home to; anger at the God who was on our side; anger at ourselves for not doing a better job; anger at our husband or wife, for finding someone else while we were gone; anger for losing a war; for letting people in our team die; for not bringing everyone home; and for being powerless after we had the power of the gods. The hardest person to forgive is a brother or sister or a friend. The most difficult person to reconcile with is someone close who betrayed you, sold you out, or hurt you. Peter knows this, that’s why he asks it this way. Peter doesn’t ask how many times he has to forgive the Romans, or the Greeks, or Herod, he asks how many times he has to forgive a member of the church—in the Greek it’s literally his “brother.“ It’s astounding how difficult reconciliation can be. We are smart people here today. We may have been challenged in life. We may have been successful. We know how to do things. But we are often just as childish as Peter who asks this question, “What is the bare minimum that I must do? What is the smallest number of times
I’m required to forgive?” But Jesus makes it clear. You don’t do forgiveness. You have to be forgiveness. You don’t do reconciliation. You must be reconciliation. Just like the Marine Corps didn’t just teach me to do war, they taught me to be war, we have to learn to be reconciliation. Jesus taught it to Peter with this story of the unforgiving servant. The unforgiving servant in Jesus’s story is reconciled to the king and forgiven his debt, not because he made amends, not because he cleaned up his act, and not because he changed his ways. He is reconciled to the king and forgiven because the king gives him grace. Freely, without any strings attached. The king is not stingy with his forgiveness to the servant, just as God is not miserly with us. Jesus tells us, in this story, that the heart of God beats with mercy, mercy, mercy, mercy. The God revealed to us in Jesus Christ does not dole out small portions of reconciliation to the worthy. Our God of abundance overflows with forgiveness, love, mercy, and reconciliation above what is deserved or merited. And that is where reconciliation starts. With this recognition of our own reconciliation. But it ends there for this unforgiving servant. He goes out into the street after he’s been forgiven and chokes a man who owes him $100. He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand that if we put a cloud of revenge and unforgiveness over the head of some other person, that same cloud is big and hangs over our head too. He grabs his enemy with a death grip, and revenge whispers in his ear, “Use everything you
have in a fight, never back down, never surrender.” When I came home from Iraq, it took me a long time to find reconciliation. I was so angry at myself, at my ex-wife, at the Army and the God I went to war with. I remember kneeling in a church in Philadelphia with a girlfriend next to me. When the General Confession started, our opportunity for reconciliation, I refused to say the words, “We confess that we have sinned against you.” I muttered under my breath, “God, I’ll confess my sins against you when you confess your sins against me.” It took me a long time to be reconciled. Reconciliation, for me, came in little movements and big moments. It came when I realized my chokehold on my enemies was a chokehold on myself too. Reconciliation came when I abandoned the mantra I learned in war, “Use everything you have in a fight, never back down, never surrender,” and I surrendered to a God who loved me and a Savior who was with me in my darkest hour. It came when I was honest about my anger with God, and I confessed that out loud to a priest as we read the words from page 449 in the Prayer Book, The Reconciliation of a Penitent: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving kindness.” Today, Jesus may be calling us to give up “trying harder to do reconciliation.” We have to be it. Jesus was. He was reconciliation. As our prayer says, “He stretched out his arms on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of his saving embrace.” AMEN
Reconciliation came when I realized my chokehold on my enemies was a chokehold on myself too.
OF NEIGHBORS By Wendy Claire Barrie
Wendy Claire Barrie
When my son Peter was eight The first neighbors Peter remembers lived a few months old, we moved across the country from New York City to Newport Beach, California. By the time he was nine the two of us had moved five more times. The question “Who is my neighbor?” has been a constant in our family.
doors down from us in South Pasadena. We met James, then 10, at the pool the first week we moved in. James, his Japanese grandmother Teiko, and his mother Lisa all but adopted Peter, then 18 months old, who basked in the love and attention they gave him, not to mention the constant supply of Goldfish crackers and Hot Wheels cars. Their home was an extension of our own. Our church was also an extension of our home, as it was where I worked, where Peter went to daycare, and where we worshipped. And because I was the children’s minister, inviting other families to share our Christmas and Easter celebrations was an easy way for us to widen the circle, to include our friends who were far from their own extended families, to share the joy and ease the stress associated with the holidays. We moved from California to Connecticut when Peter was five. Our upstairs neighbors, whom we had never met, not only had dinner waiting for us, they had filled our refrigerator with groceries so that I wouldn’t have to shop. We also quickly met 90-year-old Bob, a veteran of World War II, and his Yorkshire terrier Levi, and made a habit of stopping to chat with them each day on the way to or from school. Bob came to see Peter march in his school’s United Nations parade each year and to the ceremony when Peter was made school ambassador. Whenever we made cookies, we brought some to Bob, and he gave us tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer from his container garden; one winter, he gave Peter the Greek fisherman’s cap from his coat rack that Peter still wears. It was while we were living in Greenwich that our neighbors included three children from diverse backgrounds whose mothers needed occasional childcare coverage after school; choir members visiting from Cambridge
University who would come in twos to spend a night or in tens for dinner while on tour; and Phors, a Cambodian boy just Peter’s age whom we sponsor through World Vision. Since returning to New York City, our neighbors are also those who gather around the tables at our dinner church, St. Lydia’s in Brooklyn, where strangers quickly become friends, and the women who are shelter guests at Crossroads Community Services with whom we sometimes share a meal or spend the night. Once our neighbor turned out to be an Israeli engineer who was our seatmate on a flight to North Carolina, and Peter sang him the Shema in Hebrew: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” At every baptism, Peter has heard this vow and last May at his confirmation made it for himself: “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? I will, with God’s help.” We are, each of us, made in the image of God and when we look for God in everyone we meet, we are reminded of what and who makes us one. Expanding our children’s circles of concern from family and close friends to others whose lives and experiences may be very different from their own is a key element of developing empathy, according to Harvard researchers, whose recent study involving 20,000 youth ages 12–18 found that 80 percent of respondents valued personal happiness and success over caring for others. The particular gift of knowing people of all ages and colors and religions and walks of life was easy to give Peter and one that becomes a gift he can give to others. Giving our children the opportunity to listen to and actively help others is essential, not only to our Christian identity and formation but to changing the society in which we live, drawing the circle wider, making the world a little bit smaller, turning strangers into neighbors, bringing heaven closer to earth. Wendy Claire Barrie is Program Manager for Children and Youth for Trinity Wall Street.
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have.” - Hebrews 13:16 Trinity Wall Street provides Brown Bag Lunches for people who need a meal in Lower Manhattan seven days a week. Volunteers hand out lunches and hot cups of coffee at Trinity Church on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and in front of St. Paul’s Chapel on Friday and Saturday. Twelve percent of people in Battery Park City, Greenwich Village, and SoHo experience food insecurity, meaning they do not have access to sufficient affordable food. Many people come to Trinity’s Brown Bag Lunches from Chinatown and the Lower East Side, where the rate of food insecurity is 20 percent. Some volunteers are members of the staff and congregation. Others work in offices nearby. A few volunteers are homeless. Tourists sometimes stop in to help pack lunches, too. It’s an opportunity to serve and meet people from the community.
The Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC), a longtime Trinity partner and one of New York City’s largest homeless housing and services providers, broke ground recently for Landing Road Residence, a new building in the Bronx that will include a 200-bed shelter and 135 units of low-income housing. Trinity Wall Street provided a $1 million loan in support of the project. “In deepening our partnership with BRC,” said the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer, Trinity’s Rector, “Trinity continues to strengthen our commitment to supporting low-income housing solutions across the New York area. We’re hopeful that this innovative program will have a long-term impact by serving as a model for productively addressing the problems of homelessness and lack of affordable housing in the city.” Dr. Lupfer offered the invocation at the groundbreaking, which was attended by Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and other city officials. The building site is located at 233 Landing Road and is expected to be completed by December 2017. The development will be the first project created under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s HomeStretch program to finance construction of permanent housing and homeless shelters in the same location. The Landing Road
shelter will provide case management, meals, psychiatric evaluation, housing placement, and employment counseling. BRC will run the shelter with funds from The New York City Department of Homeless Services. The permanent housing portion of this development will be well within the financial reach of those exiting the shelter system, with affordable rent levels that will allow individuals earning as little as $10 an hour to pay only one-third of their monthly income towards rent. The housing will include 111 studios for very low-income single adults and 24 one- and two-bedroom units for low-income residents. The project is financed by a combination of loans and bonds from nonprofit and government sources. “Today we gather together to break ground on that which none of us alone could accomplish: a place for homeless men and women to find employment and pay rents they can afford,” said Muzzy Rosenblatt, BRC’s Executive Director. “Together, we are creating an innovative solution to the crisis of homelessness and the need for truly affordable housing, giving a hand up, not a handout, to homeless New Yorkers.” Trinity has partnered with BRC since 2009 to help provide outreach services to the homeless in the downtown area.
Breaking Ground for Homeless Shelter and Affordable Housing
10 Years after Katrina: Remembering and Giving Thanks August 29 marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in Louisiana. Maggy Charles, Program Manager for Mission & Service Engagement, went to New Orleans to commemorate the suffering caused by the storm and celebrate the many volunteers who have helped the city as it continues to recover. During the weekend she met a variety of community leaders, including Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Mitch Landrieu, the Mayor of New Orleans, and volunteered with Trinity partner All Souls Church and Community Center in the Lower Ninth Ward. “While post-Katrina New Orleans is celebrating its many progresses,” said Charles, “let’s not forget that many communities, especially those in the Lower Ninth, are still struggling and are counting on all of us to help make their voices heard.”
Walmart to Stop Selling High-Capacity Firearms
Walmart announced that it will stop selling assault rifles, semi-automatic shotguns, and other highcapacity weapons. Trinity Wall Street was one of several organizations putting pressure on the retail chain to stop selling these guns after the shootings in Newtown, Aurora, and elsewhere. Trinity, as a Walmart shareholder, sued Walmart in federal court in an effort to introduce a proposal asking Walmart’s Board of Directors to oversee the development of a policy for the sale of products that are 1) especially dangerous to the public, 2) pose a substantial risk to Walmart’s reputation, and 3) would reasonably be considered offensive to the community and family values that Walmart seeks to associate with its brand, such as guns equipped with high-capacity magazines. “Trinity Church is very pleased to hear that Walmart will no longer sell the kinds of weapons that have caused such devastation and loss in communities across our country,” said the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer, Rector, in a statement.
Trinity in the Middle Ages At Trinityâ€™s Cathedral Community Summer Camp in July, neighborhood children were plunged into the Middle Ages during a week full of storytelling, art classes, and even sword fighting.Â A professional storyteller introduced them to life in the Middle Ages, and a falconer brought falcons and owls into the church for a demonstration. The children also sang Gregorian chants, made gargoyles, stainedglass windows, and illuminated letters, and learned a little stage combat. At the end of the week, the campers were all officially knighted before showing their artwork to their parents. Â
Hour Children at Trinity Trinity staff and volunteers participated in the fifth Mission and Service Trip with Hour Children this summer. Once again, members of the Hour Children Working Women Program, all formerly incarcerated, came to Trinity for workshops to help them develop job skills. During the last week of August, their children participated in a music camp where they sang, composed music, and learned to play instruments. The week concluded with a concert in Trinity Church.
Photos on page 16 by Jeremy Sierra 16
Our Children, Our Prisons
On September 12, attorney, writer, and speaker Bryan Stevenson told a crowd gathered in Trinity Church to get close. “We have got to get close to the communities where there’s suffering,” he said, “where there’s despair.” Stevenson was the keynote speaker at Trinity’s first Pre-TI Dialogue, “Our Children, Our Prisons: Moving Young People from Incarceration to Education.” The dialogues are a series of discussions leading up to Trinity Institute 2016 (TI2016), Trinity’s annual theological conference, entitled “Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice.”
Stevenson outlined three additional things we need to do to combat over-incarceration in this country: change the narrative, protect our hope, and do uncomfortable things. One in three black male babies born today is expected to be incarcerated one day in part because of the narrative we’ve created. “We have to change the narrative about race,” he said. “There’s a presumption of dangerousness that we assign to black and brown people.” Stevenson has spent many years seeking justice for people of color, especially those who are impoverished, but despite all the injustice he’s seen, his speech was still filled with hope. “Injustice prevails where hopelessness persists,” he said.
“I think the most powerful thing we can do to end over-incarceration is just say, I’m here in places where hope has been lost.” The speech was followed by a panel discussion on mass incarnation featuring Divine Pryor, Executive Director of the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions; Judith Kaye, former Chief Judge of New York; the Rev. Vivian Nixon, Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship; and Diana Ortiz, Associate Director of Exodus Transitional Community. Find out more about Trinity Institute and the Pre-TI Dialogues at TI2016.org.
Trinity Participates in Civil Rights Pilgrimage Trinity parishioners and staff were a few of the more than 1,500 people who participated in a Civil Rights Pilgrimage in August. The pilgrimage marked the 50th anniversary of the murder of Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Daniels in Hayneville, Alabama, in August 1965. A delegation from the Episcopal Diocese of New York, led by Bishop Andrew Dietsche, made stops in Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and finally Hayneville. Daniels had gone to Alabama to help African Americans register to vote.
Bishop Michael Curry preached twice, on Saturday, August 15, inside the courtroom where Daniels’ killer was acquitted, and on Sunday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Selma, a congregation Daniels, in partnership with local black citizens, worked to integrate in the months before his death. Curry encouraged those gathered to keep going. “God will not sit still,” he said, “and we must not sit still until our nightmare ends and God’s dream is realized.”
Soccer Parade The World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team was the first all-female sports team to be honored with a ticker-tape parade through New York’s Canyon of Heroes. Fittingly, the Rev. Kristin Miles
Sharing Sacred Dance The Movement Choir, an ensemble of Trinity parishioners that performs sacred dance, participated in the Sacred Dance Guild’s international festival at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. During the festival the choir was joined by other members of the Sacred Dance Guild in the performance of a dance choreographed by Marilyn Green called “The Doors.” On July 26, they performed a dance called “Reconciliation,” which was created for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, at the Chautauqua Institution for an audience of 4,000. The group performed “Reconciliation” again for the anniversary of 9/11 on September 12 at St. Paul’s Chapel and on September 23 at the opening of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York’s Sheen Center. 18
and the Rev. Emily Wachner were there to bless the crowd and the players, and parish youth were on hand to celebrate and take in the sights and sounds of the parade.
A Supper for Everyone in St. Paul’s Chapel
St. Paul’s Chapel was filled with the sounds of music, conversation, and the clinking of silverware at Sunday Supper, an event intended to bring parishioners together with other downtown neighbors for fellowship and a communal meal. Some of the guests were members of the Trinity staff and congregation, and many others were the men and women who regularly receive free meals through Trinity’s Brown Bag Lunch ministry. “What made it possible, and what was truly awesome to witness, was the tireless service and efforts that so many people gave to make this idea a reality,” said Keith Klein, chair of the Congregational Council’s Community Standing Committee and an organizer of the event. More than 150 people ate tilapia and broccoli casserole at the familystyle meal, which was catered by Camellia Creative Caterers. Youth group members provided table service, and community member and musician Ray Bailey played piano and led attendees in a sing-along. Although many of the people there were homeless or struggling to feed themselves and their families, the feeling in the room was not one of charity or service, but rather a shared need to connect. “It was an affirmation for me” said Bailey, who led the room in
Art Exhibit in Trinity Church: Blood Mirror Trinity Wall Street’s Congregational Arts Committee presented the New York City premiere of Blood Mirror: organized by Jordan Eagles, an exhibition in which the central artwork was a 7-foot-tall, interactive, monolithic sculpture created in response to the FDA’s ban on blood donations from non-celibate gay and bisexual men.
renditions of “Lean on Me,” “New York, New York” and more. He enjoyed hearing the voices and stories of the people in the room as they stopped by the piano. “It was a lovely and wonderful thing to experience,” said Klein. “Congregation and staff and Brown Bag guests all seated together, eating wonderful food in a dignified, hopeful, and fun setting.”
Following an acclaimed showing at the American University Museum in Washington, D.C., the exhibition moved to Trinity Church. The exhibition included a documentary work, created in collaboration by Eagles and activist and filmmaker Leo Herrera. The Rev. John Moody, who has served at Trinity for more than four decades, first in 1968 as an associate for community and cultural affairs and now as a parishioner, is one of nine men who participated in the creation of Blood Mirror by donating their blood. The exhibition was on view from November 2 (All Souls’ Day) through December 1 (World AIDS Day) in the south vestibule of Trinity Church. In 1983, as an early response to the AIDS crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented a lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. More than 30 years later, on May 13, 2015, the FDA proposed an updated policy that would allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but only if they are celibate for a full year, and regardless of marital status. There is no celibacy requirement for heterosexuals, regardless of their risk for contracting HIV. A UCLA Williams Institute study found that lifting the ban completely could save up to a million lives annually. In 2014-2015, artist Jordan Eagles enlisted a group of nine gay, bisexual, and transgender men, all with compelling and unique life stories, to each donate a standard pint of blood for the Blood Mirror sculpture in protest of the
FDA’s ban. This blood has been encased in resin and is fully preserved, ensuring that the organic material will not change over time. A totem of science and equality, Blood Mirror is an archive of the donors’ blood that confronts the 32-year history of the FDA’s ban. Through the work in this exhibition, Eagles, his creative collaborators, and blood donors aim to inspire dialogue about the FDA’s policy and its proposed revision. “I wanted to create a sculpture that would become a time capsule,” Eagles said “documenting this moment in time, while showing that this blood could have been used to save lives. For me, the sculpture is a work in progress; it will never be finished until the FDA’s blood donation policy is fair for all people.” Presented in the sacred context of Trinity Church, Blood Mirror invited a spiritual reflection and personal confrontation with one’s ability to see the individual as part of the collective lifeblood of the body of humanity. “Bringing this work to Trinity enables us to expand the conversation beyond policy and science to address the intrinsic spirituality in blood and the connection that we all have with one another,” said Eagles.
St. Paul Finally Flies by Leah Reddy
Catherine Elizabeth Havens was ten years old in 1849. She lived on Ninth Street at Fifth Avenue and, like many of her peers, believed an old New York legend about the statue of St. Paul that stands above the east portico in St. Paul’s Chapel. In her diary, published in 1919, she wrote, “Maggy says whenever the statue on St. Paul’s Church hears the City Hall Clock strike twelve, it comes down. I am crazy to see it come down, but we never get there at the right time.” Other variations assert that St. Paul flies down and takes a drink from the city’s “tea-water pump,” located near present-day Chatham Square, which dispensed particularly good water; or that when the statue hears the clock strike one in the morning, he flies to the water pump at the corner of Church and Vesey streets and takes a drink with his right hand. Yet another version claims that “if one should pass
St. Paul’s Chapel on the stroke of twelve midnight, that St. Paul’s figure would descend from his niche and greet the passerby with a low bow.” Despite the legends, there were no confirmed sightings of St. Paul in midflight until the evening of August 18, 2015, when, with a little help, he flew down from his perch. After his flight, he took a more conventional journey by truck to the offices of a conservation company, where he’ll be cleaned, repaired, and restored. The statue of St. Paul is thought to be original, or nearly original, to the 1766 church building. The east portico wasn’t finished until 1767, so it’s possible the statue was installed at that time. No records about the construction of St. Paul’s Chapel survive, so there is no way to confirm who carved the statue, when it was carved, or how much was paid for it. But St. Paul (the statue) himself is full of intriguing clues about his origins—if you know where to look.
Reports have attributed the statue to two different Early American sculptors: John Skillin and William Rush. Skillin was born in 1746, and he and his brother Simon primarily carved figureheads for ships, working out of a studio in Boston.
St. Paul typically sports a pointy beard and receding hairline, making this luxuriantly-locked statue unusual.
Rush was born in Philadelphia in 1756 and is considered the first significant American sculptor. In 1794 he was commissioned by the U.S. government to create figureheads for the first six ships in the U.S. Navy. He designed the figurehead for the U.S.S. Constitution—but he hired John Skillin to carve it.
St. Paul is traditionally depicted carrying a book or scroll, a nod to his writings in the New Testament, and a sword, a symbol of his martyrdom by beheading.
The statue is 7 feet 7 inches tall, and x-rays reveal vertical wood grain, indicating that the longitudinal axis of a log was used for sculpting the statue.
The statue bears similarities to Rush’s work: the stepping foot and closeness of the limbs to the body (which lessens wind resistance and weather damage, an important consideration for figureheads) are both hallmarks of his work.
CLUE 3 This photograph was taken in 1930, after the last major restoration of the statue. Archival records reveal that Arthur Smith of the Metropolitan Museum of Art performed the restoration. The statue was cleaned of paint, cement, and grime down to the wood. Decaying portions of the interior of the statue were removed and dowels were removed from the arm, which was “placed back in proper position”—indicating that the statue had been previously repaired. The statue was “placed in a room of very high temperature and thoroughly dried,” before being placed in a room “filled with potassium cyanide fumes to kill all vegetable and animal life.” St. Paul was then given 12 coats of liquid poison to prevent future infestation and 50 coats of “China-wood oil.” Lastly, four coats of “liquid marble” were applied, and the statue was painted.
The statue was x-rayed before being moved to determine the location of splits in the wood, anchorage points, and prior repairs. Overall, the wood was found to be in surprisingly good condition. Conservators took a small sample of the wood, coated it in resin, and then cut and polished the sample so that cross-sections could be examined under a microscope and with UV light. They confirmed that the statue’s original paint had been removed, possibly in the 1930 restoration, and analyzed the layer of paint applied in 1930. They determined that the statue was painted a fairly drab shade of tan at that time. Black-andwhite photos from before 1930 show the statue with lighter-colored paint. No decision has been made on what color St. Paul will find himself sporting after this restoration.
Photos courtesy of Trinity Archives
MELANIE DEMORE A musician, composer, and educator, she came to Trinity in 2011 for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and in 2015 to lead attendees in song and prayer at the Trinity Institute Conference. She performed in Trinity’s Concert at One series earlier this year.
Can you tell me a little about what you do? I call myself a vocal activist. I get contracted to work with a lot of choirs. I’m a little bit of an unorthodox conductor and I have an unusual voice—so I get to sing with a lot of different people. My whole purpose, whenever I do a concert or anything, is to really get people involved. I like to think of the audience as the fifth section—you’ve got the soprano, alto, tenor, bass, and the audience. They need to be a part of creating the music. That to me is really important. We don’t have enough occasions where we can come together as a community and raise our voices together with no judgment and no fear. For me, no matter what it is, whether I’m working with a professional choir or a bunch of folks just getting together for street rallies, the whole idea is about tightening that weave of community and connection. You don’t have to know anything. You just have to be willing to be present. You often lead group singing or ask the audience at your concerts to sing along. Is it difficult to get people to sing? Part of it is just giving people permission. We think we have to know everything. If we don’t, we think we have to try to anticipate and guess what’s coming. So we don’t have that many opportunities to just really be in the moment. There was a moment [at the Trinity Institute Conference], I was holding hands [and] sort of dancing with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and I thought, “Well, this is different.” But he had just a beautiful smile on his face. There is a little spark of joy that happens. Once that happens anything could happen. Song is one of the purest ways of prayer. It’s a way to bring people from all different places together. I was talking about the spirituals [at the Concert at One performance]—it’s not religious music, it’s about the desire to be seen for who you really are, that deep longing to be free. Everybody has that. I’ll ask people questions: have you ever felt disconnected or disjointed, disrespected? Everybody’s felt that. You’re a human being. You can lay claim to those songs because you lay claim to those feelings, and what that does is bring us all into the same room. What I’m able to do is to help people focus their energy and be ready to receive whatever they need to receive. “It ain’t easy being greasy” on this planet we call Earth, so we have to find ways to keep our hearts open and our minds open if we’re going to have solutions.
The Rev. Henry Weston Smith AT YOUR SERVICE BY NATHAN BROCKMAN
Deadwood, HBO’s serial western, just turned 10. Although the show has been off the air since 2006, critics have used the anniversary to hail it anew. “The series reached the flash point of creativity, talent, and audacity needed for truly great television,” wrote Alessandra Stanley in The New York Times. Deadwood tells the story of a Dakota Territory camp in the 1870s. In a time of gold-rush fever and smallpox, the camp is full of vengeance, violence, and ambition, a community at once nascent and self-destructive. Against this backdrop, the delicate eulogies of an enraptured preacher bloom in the show’s first episodes. In reading the recent anniversary reviews, I was reminded by how taken I was with these scenes initially—and now we have the vast video universe of the Internet to aid anyone else who wishes to relive them.
The eulogies were given by the Rev. Henry Weston Smith, a Civil War battlefield nurse turned preacher. He claims he is “exactly where he needs to be” as he cares for fever victims, keeps watch at night, and buries the dead according to a theology of dignity: be the deceased criminal or hero, Smith gathers a small congregation on a hill and replants the seeds of life in the ground. He is persistent in his gentleness, displaying toughness of a rare sort in the camp. His eulogy for Wild Bill Hickok (killed at poker) is the most lauded by fans of the show. “Mr. Hickok will lie beside two brothers, one he likely killed and the other he killed for certain and now he’s been killed in turn,” Smith orates. “So much blood.” He goes on to speak of the “Brothers’ War,” where he saw more blood than this, and how all that blood made him ask of God the purpose for bloodshed. He does not know the answer, but in his ignorance, he testifies, “Not knowing, I believe.” Then he falls into a remarkable riff on St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians: “St. Paul tells us from one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or Gentile, bond or free, and have all been made to drink into one spirit. For the body is not one member but many. He tells us: ‘The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of thee.’ Nay, much more those members of the body which seem to be more feeble . . . and those members of the body which we think of as less honorable—all are necessary. He says that there should be no schism in the body but that the members should have
the same care one to another. And whether one member suffer all the members suffer with it.” With stubborn hope in human community, the preacher articulates a law of corporate life in an environment that is quite lawless (literally —the camp was located outside the civic grip of Washington). As the series moves forward, the gathering begins to resemble a municipality, assigning civic roles, writing down rules. But it is the preacher’s law of love that was first articulated, and it would be, whether known or unknown, the divine law from which other human agreements and arrangements are reflected and enacted. It’s amazing to see St. Paul inserted nearly whole cloth into such an important position in the show. Its creator, David Milch, suggested human community was Deadwood’s main character. The Hickok funeral scene has been viewed tens of thousands of times on YouTube. In the middle of the first season of a show that many consider the first of the era of really good television dramas (The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Breaking Bad), in comes this exegesis on Paul. The Rev. Henry Weston Smith is at your service, amplifying the words of a fellow traveler as they echo through time. Nathan Brockman is Director of Communications and Marketing.
Please note: the Deadwood television series as a whole is not suitable for all viewers.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
The Gem Theater, c.1878, is featured prominently in the HBO television show, Deadwood.
learned? WHAT HAVE YOU
TRINITY TAUGHT ME the value of good colleagues and how to be a good
colleague. Nothing that I accomplished could have been done without a massive amount of teamwork.
WORKING WITH A DIVERSE COMMUNITY has made me a better priest. It’s a rare thing in the Episcopal Church to have the level of diversity that Trinity does. I’ve learned so much about so many different kinds of lives and how the reality of people’s lives is often different than their appearance might indicate. FAMILIES NEED face-to-face community with other families. New York can be isolating, and there are so many things to distract us. That’s why St. Paul’s Chapel is set up in a circle—so people can see each other. ST. PAUL’S CHAPEL IS a place of joy and light. It’s kind of shocking that it would be that way because a lot of people know it as a place of death after the 9/11 attacks, but there is something about the spirit of the building— you don’t have to do anything to make it beautiful and welcoming. You just have to open the door. PREACHING IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE it is sacramental. Preaching is Eucharistic. I take God’s word, I take it in myself, I break it, and I share it. And people take it, take it in themselves, and ideally they’re breaking and sharing it in the world. It’s another way that we encounter God. ONE THING I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY IS I would wear my collar in
public more often. I think people need to see the church in New York, and its one of those rare symbols that easily identifies the church. I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO having the occasional Sunday off.
THE REV. EMILY WACHNER SERVED AS A PRIEST
GOING BACK TO SEMINARY (IN A DIFFERENT ROLE) gives me a chance to stop and think and apply everything I’ve learned over the last four years to teaching a new generation of priests. As a priest in a parish you pretty much just do, do, do, and you don’t often stop to think and make meaning. LIVING IN LOWER MANHATTAN is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s
ON THE TRINITY STAFF FOR FOUR YEARS. a privilege as a Manhattanite to live among the people that I serve. IN SEPTEMBER, SHE LEFT TRINITY TO BECOME THE DIRECTOR OF INTEGRATIVE PROGRAMS AT THE GENERAL THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY.
A FAVORITE MEMORY OF MINE IS Camp Trinity, a church picnic and
community celebration Trinity held on Governor’s Island. I worked with an amazing committee of parishioners. It was just pure joy, and it was one of those things that brought parishioners face to face. We did tug-o-war. We played with water balloons. It was playful, and it was fun community.
News from Trinity’s partners and friends, near and far
Trinity and the Pope The Rev. Dr. William Lupfer, Rector of Trinity Church Wall Street, joined other local clergy and representatives of various faiths in “A Witness to Peace: A Multi-Religious Gathering With Pope Francis” on September 25 inside Foundation Hall at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The service included meditations from several faith traditions, music, prayers, and a reflection by Pope Francis. Earlier in the week, when the Pope celebrated Mass in Washington, D.C., a setting of “All Creatures of our God and King” by Julian Wachner, Trinity’s Director of Music and the Arts, was included in the liturgy. John McCann Trinity parishioner John McCann was appointed as a legislative aide at the General Convention in Salt Lake City, which took place June 26 through July 3. He served two committees: Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations and Marriage Equality. His responsibilities included attending meetings of the House of Deputies, filing reports, and performing other tasks for the committees. Chester Johnson Chester Johnson, a poet and Trinity parishioner, was interviewed by poet and translator Anne Cefalo for the literary journal, Illuminations. They spoke about Johnson’s work on retranslating the Psalms for use in the 1979 revision of The Book of Common Prayer.
Brown Bag Expands Again Trinity’s Brown Bag Lunch ministry, which offers free lunches to people in need in Lower Manhattan, has expanded to seven days a week. In addition to serving lunches at Trinity Church on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, lunches are served at St. Paul’s Chapel on Friday and Saturday on the east porch. Blessing of the Backpacks The Trinity congregation blessed the backpacks of students in the parish going back to school. They also blessed school supplies that had been collected by the parish for New York City students. Tens of thousands of children enrolled in New York City schools are homeless, and many cannot afford to buy school supplies. Trinity collected enough donations to provide 250 bags of school supplies to homeless school children and another 160 to Trinity’s public school partners.
Healing a Hurting World In celebration of Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th anniversary, Trinity Wall Street hosted the organization’s traveling photo exhibition. Featuring 33 iconic photos of Episcopal Relief & Development’s work around the globe, including a photo of St. Paul’s Chapel during the recovery efforts after September 11, 2001, the exhibition led viewers through a vivid, intimate exploration of the organization’s history and programs. Another Day Lost Art installations by Syrian-born, UK-based artist Issam Kourbaj called Another Day Lost were on display in the Trinity churchyard and the Parish Center for three weeks beginning in December. The installations, inspired by aerial photos of a refugee camp in Jordan, evoke the plight of the hundreds of thousands of Syrians living in tent cities outside their homeland since the civil war that began in 2011 displaced them.
Haiti Fundraiser Trinity Wall Street held a fundraiser in St. Paul’s Chapel to aid students in Haiti. The funds will provide scholarships to 14 students of all ages supported by Trinity. This is part of a program of the Sisters of St. Margaret that provides assistance for 50 students. More than fifty tickets were sold, and DJ Zeke provided music. “Helping those children is giving them hope,” said Sister Promise Atelon. “Not only for themselves but their families. If there is any way you can help and support Haiti, it’s through education.”
Spread the Word Do you have news to share with the rest of the Trinity community? Email your news, milestones, and updates to email@example.com or call 212.602.9686.
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