Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Scouting Across The River

Heart Of My Heart and I ventured across the river yesterday into the big city to begin scouting out possible field work parishes.  Two clergy friends and HOMH's spiritual director had suggested I consider churches in the district to gain an urban experience in ministry since I have spent lots of time in and among suburban congregations and even a few rural parishes.  Granted, this will not actually come into play until the second & third year of seminary, but there is no time like the present to start exploring exciting possibilities of worshiping with, ministering to, and working among the people of a different parish community, perhaps in our Nation's Capital. 

Our first visit was to St. John's, Lafayette Square, right across from The White House in Washington, D.C.

HOMH's office is not far from the White House, so we parked at her building and walked the four blocks to St. John's. Walking through Lafayette Square, some tourists stopped us, asking for directions to the White House.  At first, we figured they were lost and just hadn't bothered to look up.  But later we realized the most common view of The White House the media provides America via TV comes from the vantage point of the Washington Monument and Ellipse - they just hadn't realized how close they were.

To keep this shorter, I'll offer my observations in brief form:

o   Complimentary Valet Parking - space is limited for obvious reasons; accommodations are made.  Nice.

o   The Sunday service bulletin - a large booklet with all hymns (entrance, offertory, during communion and recessional)
     and service music printed out, the full text of each scripture reading with notations of the different lectors who were
     reading, the Prayers of the People had specific intercessions inserted in the various sections of the litany,.... 24
     pages in all.  (I can only imagine how our parish office staff will cringe when I bring them of copy.)

o   The sanctuary has two side aisles, but no center aisle.  The procession came in from the front, down the Gospel side
     to the back of the church, and up to the front via the Epistle side.  The recessional let the choir bail out at the front
     and I'm unsure if the clergy processed back or high-tailed it around outside to meet & greet at the back.  (I was too
     busy singing).   

o   The wonderful choir - mostly paid singers, but allowing for 'other voices' in the summer choir, if they rehearse
     beforehand.  The choir lead the Gloria and Psalm, with the congregation joining in on the refrains, and also sang a
     selection during the Offertory and Communion.  (I heard my friend J in my ear, proclaiming his dislike when the 
     liturgy is 'sang at him').

o   The Rector - a friend of our Rector, He spoke of his struggle to find a connection between King David's adulterous
     turn with Bathsheba and the Feeding of the Five Thousand, so he focused on the Epistle from Ephesians 3: 14-21
     ("know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God").  So he 
     preached about praying for the 'presence of God to dwell in our hearts', and shared his story about being a 12-year
     old boy among many in the 'Peter Pan' flights of 1961 out of Cuba, when someone had assured him "God is with
     you".  A very moving testimony.

o   Midway through the service, we realized the late-arriving woman who sat next to us works at the Big Old Seminary;
     she's been a member at St. John's for 16 years.  She was excited to see us and for our reason being there; we were
     excited to find her to make a more personal connection to the parish.

o   Both clergy assistants are graduates of the Big Old Seminary.  The newest, still a deacon, read the Gospel.  With
     'Oral Interpretation of Scripture' looming on my horizon, I paid close attention to how he read.  Now I'm even more
     curious about what this class will teach me.  

o   I looked for, but never found their aumbry (a curious thing I do with my "Altar Guild eyes on".  HOMH reminds me not
     all churches have one.  I bet they do, but I didn't see it.

o   After church, yes, we did ask about "Pew 54".  Beginning with James Madison, every person who has served as
     President of the United States has attended regular or occasional services, with several having been communicants.
     Hence the moniker for St. John's as the "Church of the Presidents."  Pew 54 is the President's Pew.  It's not up front.

o   Finally, a lovely time of fellowship outside where BOS friend introduced us around.

St. John's Church, Lafayette Square is a lovely parish and I'd be fortunate to be placed there but I do want to explore other parishes.  Next week, I think we'll check out The Church of the Epiphany on G Street in NW Washington. 

Before heading home, we stopped to enjoy a lovely lunch at the Old Ebbitt Grill.  It was a thoroughly fun day, and a wonderful way to begin this next chapter in our lives.  The possibilities intrigue us, and we are very excited to see when, how and where God will call us to do His work.