A Place for Growth

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I do not know the exact dimensions of the sacristy, but I do know that it is smaller than my kitchen, and I have a small kitchen. The sacristy, as the name implies, is where sacred things are prepared and stored. The altar guild faithfully tends to the sacred vessels (chalices, patens, etc.), linens, candles, bread, wine, incense, liturgical books, and so on. Imagine preparing a banquet for 300 people and imagine doing it in your own kitchen! By pushing out the existing stairwell and adding another, the architects from Cram and Ferguson were able to expand the sacristy on a grand, and needed, scale. One small and oddly shaped room now becomes two sacristies, each 400 square feet. One sacristy will be a “working sacristy,” that is, the place where the altar guild prepares for Divine Service. This is where the vessels, linens, books, and even flowers will be stored and prepared, all with custom cabinetry to fit our needs. The other room will be the “priests’ sacristy.” This is where the vestments and other items will be stored and where the clergy and ministers can vest and pray for worship, essentially moving the room where this currently happens, upstairs. There are two wonderful consequences from this move. The first is that the large room downstairs is now available for other purposes. The second is that the design also calls for two identical rooms below the sacristy, thereby opening up three rooms, all around 400 square feet in size, downstairs for additional purposes. 

What could be done with these rooms? The possibilities are exciting and manifold. One possibility for a downstairs room is to create a crypt. We are fast running out of space for our memorial garden and we must start thinking strategically about future burials. There is only so much green space available and free-standing columbariums are not without significant cost. A possible solution is to take a downstairs room and create a holy space for burial and prayer. The walls could be lined with niches for cremains and an altar could be placed in the center for requiems on the anniversary of death or even very small funerals. This possibility would place the crypt near an outside entrance and near the bell tower, creating a very practical and holy place for repose and prayer.
 

A Place for Christ

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In the Second Book of Samuel, King David surveyed his own dwelling with that of the Lord. He said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” King David is bothered by the injustice of honor as he dwells in a place of dignity and the Ark of the Covenant is in a temporary dwelling. David was not permitted by the Lord to build a Temple, that was reserved for his son, Solomon. God would establish for David “a house,” that is, a ruling lineage, and David’s son will “build a house for my name” (2 Samuel 7). The house that Solomon built was the first of the two famous Temples in Jerusalem.
The Israelites knew that God was not like the other gods of the people around them, contained in stone, wood, and gold. But they also knew that the Ark of the Covenant revealed God’s presence. Chapters 25-27 from Exodus detail God’s instructions on the construction of the Tent of Meeting, the temporary Tabernacle. The “meeting” was not between human beings, but between God and his people. Pure olive oil was to burn regularly as a sign of God’s presence (Exodus 27.20).


For the Israelites, there could only be one Temple. For Christians, Christ’s Real Presence is on every altar through the Holy Spirit. If Christ is present, really present, how does our space reflect this? The conceptual design for the altar is to establish to a place of honor and dignity for Christ’s Sacramental Presence. The altar represents Christ, the Holy Sacrament is Christ. The altar is the focal point of our space as it should be, after all, this is our “tent of meeting.” On the altar is a tabernacle, a place for the Reserved Sacrament. Currently, the Sacrament is reserved in an aumbry (wall niche) behind the altar that cannot be secured and is separated from the Sanctuary Lamp. Behind the tabernacle is a triptych, or three-paneled altarpiece. The subject matter for the altarpiece would be decided later in the process, but would be a custom work of art. The panels of the triptych are closed during Lent, emphasising the austerity of the season. Decorative accents in wood frame the triptych from above. Curtains, a very English custom, are on either side to frame the altar from the sides. A distinctive, and again very English, feature is the tester high above. From the earliest days, altars have been covered as a sign of dignity and visual focus. It lets someone know that underneath that tester, there is something holy. There is something holy, indeed. This is the Temple, the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, where Jesus Christ comes and abides with us.

Welcome to Our Campaign

When we begin the Great Vigil of Easter after a long Holy Week of liturgies, we kindle a fire in the darkness and light the Pascal Candle at the rear of the nave, near the baptismal font. That light of Christ is then carried forward to the sanctuary and placed near the altar. This is our journey—at St. Timothy’s and in life. At regular Sunday worship and in our life’s spiritual journey we move from the rear of the church forward, from the font to the altar, from Baptism to Communion, from entry into the Church of Christ to full participation in the Life of Christ.

For the past three years a pair of committees, in consultation with St. Timothy’s staff, vestry, and parish members has been working to craft a vision for the future of our campus and a roadmap towards achieving that vision. Early on in that process, the Campus Vision Committee recognized this path, from font to altar, as absolutely central to everything we do at St. Timothy’s. Our life of service grows out of our life of worship, and again and again as we spoke to members of the parish we heard the words of Psalm 96: “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” As we discussed what we could do at St. Timothy’s to aspire to these words and to effect real change in our parish that would be felt from generation to generation, the way forward became clear—the completion of a worship space begun by previous generations of St. Timothy’s members.

How, we asked ourselves and others, could we go about completing the nave of St. Timothy’s, addressing not just the question of worshipping in Holy Beauty, but also more practical issues? Our choir loft is too small for our growing music program; our sacristy space is long since outgrown; our narthex is not a true transitional space from the outside world to the world of worship; our baptismal font (removed from the chapel) is unsuitable for many of our adult and other baptisms. Who could help us conceive of ways of addressing all these issues in a manner that reflects St. Timothy’s as an Episcopal parish in the Anglo-Catholic tradition?

The answer came first in a liturgical consultant who helped us see how interconnected all these issues were and then in a series of meetings with two architects from the firm of Cram and Ferguson, the leading architectural firm for Episcopal churches in the United States. These meetings produced a series of conceptual drawings showing how we could turn our nave and narthex into spaces that would inspire worshippers for generations to come. Bold, brave, and beautiful, these drawings—while only a jumping off point for our discussions of how we might bring the Beauty of Holiness to St. Timothy’s—represent a very real possibility for transforming our worship space.

On this Easter Sunday, the Campus Vision and Capital Campaign Committees share these drawings with the parish, inviting comment and discussion as well as support, through both your financial contributions and your prayers. There is much more to these conceptual drawings than can be parsed in this limited space, but we feel they show the way towards creating a space that reflects the true identity of St. Timothy’s.

We are an “Episcopal Church in the Anglo-Catholic tradition.” The “Catholic” part of that description means an emphasis on worship and in particular the sacraments. These drawings show inspiring spaces at the beginning and end of the path from font to altar and clearly define a worship space that draws attention to the sacramental nature of our lives. The “Episcopal” part of that phrase means we are American and the “Anglo” part means we have deep roots in the Anglican tradition, dating back to the English reformation and even to pre-reformation English worship. The space we could create at St. Timothy’s reflects all that. Our current buttressed wooden ceiling, reminiscent of the uniquely American Carpenter Gothic style of many nineteenth century Episcopal Churches, will be supported by stone arches and arcading inspired by the architecture of medieval and Renaissance English churches, chapels, and cathedrals. Our American identity will literally rest atop our English roots.

While plans are still at an early stage and there is plenty of time and opportunity for you to react to these concept drawings before we move forward with any concrete changes, the Capital Campaign Committee is thrilled to share with you news of our success so far in raising the funds needed to undertake this project. The architects estimate a total project cost of $3 million, including a 10% contingency fund. Already, early donors have given more than half of that to the campaign fund. Now we ask for your help. St. Timothy’s is centered on Adoration, Formation, and Transformation. In our completed worship space, with its holy beauty, we and parishioners for generations to come, can adore the triune God, be formed in the teachings of Christ, and transform ourselves for the work of Christ in the world. Please prayerfully consider supporting this work with a pledge of financial support. Pledges can be made over a period of five years and more information is available in the narthex, on the campaign website (www.holinessofbeauty.org) or from any member of the staff, vestry, or Capital Campaign Committee. There can be no better time to prayerfully consider our future as a parish and what we can all do to support that future than the Easter season. If you will make a pledge of support before Pentecost on May 20, we can begin our summer no longer talking about IF we can transform St. Timothy’s, but planning the details of HOW we will, in the years to come, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

~ Charlie Lovett, Campaign Co-Chair