A Message From the Rector
It has become my custom each day, at the close of the day to drive to St. James and gaze with wonder at the progress that is being made on our campus expansion project.
Sometimes I look at it from my car window, sometimes I get out and walk through the site as it begins to take on form and it captures my imagination!
Once upon a time in the history of the Church, particularly in Europe there developed an architectural feature that came to be known as the "cathedral close." A cathedral "close" is the word that has come to describe the area and buildings that surround a cathedral church, in some cases, extending and radiating out from the church over very large areas. Over time, these cathedral closes became areas which were not just concerned with church matters, but they became little lively villages where church festivals and processions were held, where farmers markets were nestled, where commerce and culture thrived. Cathedral Closes became thriving centers of education and innovation. Cathedral schools developed to train up young minds from the surrounding village. Craftsmen, artisans, musicians and composers, theologians and clergy lived within the walls of the close, creating works of great social and theological significance for hundreds of years.
When Shyla and I travelled to York back in 2015, we spent some time in the close surrounding York minster Cathedral which included one of the most amazing cheese shops I have ever experienced, and there we quite literally had a taste of what it must have been like to be in such a lively and thriving community surrounded by the loving arms of Mother Church.
Over the years many of you have shared with me with a twinkle in your eye, that St. James is like a tiny cathedral for you. So many of us travel far distances to attend church at St. James, and after all, we're still the sole Episcopal Church in Fayette county. We provide beautiful classically Anglican worship with beautiful music on Sunday mornings, and we have a lively and lovely community of Christians gathered with a common purpose.
As I walk through the new bones which are being raised up for our new building at St. James, I can imagine and envision what it will be like when flesh comes upon these bones. This time has been a time of deep spiritual struggle for me as I know it has been for all of you. I miss the anchor of our liturgy. I miss seeing you, the gathered Body of Christ, assembling each week and holding out your hands to receive the Body of Christ at the altar rail. I miss the beautiful voices of our choir, the laughter of our children, and the cacophony of our joy-filled Passing of the Peace. Walking through the unfinished new addition has been a spiritual exercise for me as I imagine each of you inhabiting the new spaces that are taking shape.
Though we are struggling through a difficult moment in the history of our church, our nation, and our world, we can also look with great hope to the new era that God is inviting us into as we watch our new addition go up. We can watch, in real time, the Vision that God has given our community as it becomes a reality. Something new is being born even as it feels that the field has been lying fallow, new seeds are now growing: A new era is coming to St. James.
My fondest hope is that our new building might be a center for Christian hospitality, not just to serve the needs of those of us who are lucky enough to have already found St. James, but primarily to serve the needs of those who come seeking Christ and his redeeming love in our midst. As we embark on this new journey together my prayer is that we will invite people into our new space, in the words of Madeline L'engle, "by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it."
I am in awe as I watch the vision that was cast for us way back in 2016 begin to take form. The work of the initial Master Planning Committee spearheaded by Ken Berg, the work done by the capital campaign team Susie Glasscock and Joe Bailey, the beautiful design by Heimsath Architects, the excellent construction by Gaeke Construction, and the capable shepherding and long hours put in by our construction committee chair Mel Glasscock, and the committee James Cauble, Chuck Gibson, Carol Helms, and Joe Jameson--the work of all of these folks has begun to bring this beautiful vision to life.
I look forward to the multiplicity of uses for our new space Multipurpose Room including small group meetings, Sunday morning Godly Play, children and youth activities, perhaps ESL classes, contemplative prayer groups, confirmation classes, and maybe needlepoint or quilting classes. The possibilities are endless and I am thrilled about all of the amazing opportunities that all of this new space will afford our congregation and the wider community!
When this great Time of Trial of this pandemic has ended and we are able to gather again, we will all benefit from having more space to carry out our mission to serve God and our neighbor.
In this vision I hear the return of the laughter of children, the sound of singing, the click of knitting needles and the whir of the sewing machine, the sound of the gospel being studied and proclaimed, the sound of ideas being exchanged, and the work of the Lord being done.
My hope for our newfound space is that we would be able, as a community, to reclaim and resurrect that ancient Christian tradition and practice of the Cathedral Close: a center where we could welcome the stranger and offer them the Good News of God's healing love, a vibrant center for learning and study, a place where disciples of Jesus are formed, young and old, a place where art and music are born in the service of the church and to the Glory of God. A place where fellowship and companionship on the journey of life are experienced. My prayer for us as we move forward in to this new era is that this beautiful new gift God is giving us, would be a place not just for "church business" to be conducted as usual, but rather, that we would begin to grow into a place where a vibrant center of community might be fostered surrounded by the Loving arms of Mother Church, and the infitite Grace of a Loving God.
Finally, assuming all goes according to plan, On November 22nd, Bishop Ryan will join us at 3:30 p.m. for a Building Dedication Service. I plan to share a livestream of the service for those who would like to participate virtually. Given the uncertainty of the pandemic and the possibility of weather delays, this date could certainly change, and we will probably have to do this dedication service in a new and creative way, but I want you to put it on your calendars as something to look forward to as we look with hope to a new era for St. James which will continue to be a vibrant and thriving community of Christians seeking to serve Christ and our neighbor.
Yours in Christ,