Peter’s Blog

Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes

Peter Holmes, BA, MDiv, DMin is the Minister of the Congregation at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church.

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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Sointula Blessings

In the midst of a west coast heatwave we visited Malcolm Island off the north-east shore of Vancouver Island and stayed in a seaside cabin outside the village of Sointula – a world away from all things overheated. In fact the island almost has its own little micro-climate.

The season of foggy mornings which the locals have long referred to as the month of Frogust arrived a few weeks early this year. The fog burns off by noon most days, but while hiking the 4 km Beautiful Bay Trail the forest canopy offered a continuous refreshing drizzle. The forest was coloured in a thousand shades of green as it weaved along the shoreline. The sound of the waves was in the air though glimpses of the Queen Charlotte Straight were few and far between. The pebbled beach below the trail is particularly popular with orcas often seen surfacing to rub their bellies on the smooth stones. The beauty, wonder and mystery that marked the way made the long journey seem less so.

Malcolm Island was settled more than a century ago by Finns pursuing a utopian dream. The very name Sointula means place of harmony. We all need Sointulas in our lives. The family, the church, the nearby park, and the company of friends should all be places of harmony offering an emotionally and spiritually refreshing micro-climate along life’s way. How blessed we are by the sointulas of life.

Tzouhalem Morning

Tzouhalem Morning

There’s a sweetness to the forest
underfoot and in the air,
when the wind creates a chorus,
and the birdsong sounds a prayer.

How the fragrance of the backwood
makes one suddenly aware
of all that yet is still so good
though one’s life may seem unfair

And if you reach that distant ledge,
remove shoes and look around,
you’re right above the ocean’s edge,
Mount Tzouhalem’s holy ground.

JPH 25/07/18

(Janet and I have hiked to the cross on Mt. Tzouhalem once or twice on every summer visit to Vancouver Islamd going back to when the children were very young.)

A Prayer For Toronto

A Prayer for Toronto 

Earlier this evening we were sitting in a diner in LA when we caught the newsflash of a mass shooting back home in Toronto. Fourteen people had been shot on the Danforth.  How could it be? Our first thought was of those we know and love – Was everyone okay? We thought too of the victims and their families and first responders as well as hospital staff by then in high gear caring for the victims. When I think of the police, firefighters, paramedics and medical personal in our city, I realize how blessed we are in Toronto.

But one can’t help think too of the escalation of violent crime in our city streets in recent months. This is not the city we know and love. I am certainly all for saving the lives of each and every victim, but imagine the important work put on hold by all of those involved in solving the crime and caring for the victims and of course the incredible suffering of victims and their families. And it is a pity that the hospitals have to surrender beds that would be reserved for people fighting diseases in order to mop up from warfare in the streets.

My mind also went back to a sermon I heard in church earlier in the day. The preacher reminded us that the early church’s conviction that the love of Jesus poured out on the cross was so great that no one in this world was or is beyond its transforming power. It was this conviction that turned their world upside down. I am sure there are many things we can all do to make our city a better place, but perhaps it all begins by returning to that conviction and offering our burdens for the city to God in prayer.

A prayer for our city

Gracious God you are the source of all that is good and right in this world. So shine your light into our city and chase the powers of darkness away. Confront one and all afresh with your love that all fear might be forgotten. We pray for those cradling weapons of hatred and violnce. Surround them with the better angels and guide their hearts in new directions. Strengthen all who care for the wounded and bind up the hearts of the bereaved with love. Guide the hands and minds of the attending medical staff and grant wisdom and strength to the police. Guide our elected politicians as they lead us through this time.

Make safe again our city streets. Remove the guns and erase the anger and fear. Grant that Toronto might be a place where peoples from all nations find hope and meaning in life and live together in peace with a growing appreciation of the blessings of our diversity and the strength of community. O God may peace prosper in Toronto.

With the hymn writer of old, Frank Mason North, we pray…
O Master, from the mountain side,
make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
among these restless throngs abide,
O tread the city’s streets again;

Till all the world shall learn thy love,
and follow where thy feet have trod;
till glorious from thy heaven above,
shall come the city of our God.
Amen.

Grace and Peace,
Peter

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces 2018 – Detroit – An Introduction

The Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces 2018 – Detroit

Twelve years ago, William Maddox, Yorkminster Park’s Director of Music and organist, and I organized a Lenten pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces aimed at encountering spiritual truth through the eyes of another tradition as embodied in a consecrated place of worship along with the story and activity of its peoples. In those early years we went to a different space each Wednesday evening. While the evening hours brought a certain hush and calm to the various spaces, in the months of February, March and April we were not able to see the effect of natural light, which often speaks volumes in a space, particularly through stained glass.


Our focus was primarily to appreciate the architecture, listen to the organ and look at the primary symbols, artistry or icons in the space. Someone from the host church would welcome us and tell us a bit of their story. Pilgrims were always given a sacred reading and prayer from the tradition of the visited space and the opportunity to quietly explore and reflect in silence. We always came together and ended with a prayer for the community and when we were visiting a church, the singing of a hymn.

Eight years ago Corey Keeble, Curator Emeritus of the Royal Ontario Museum, joined William and me as a co-leader. Corey’s incredible knowledge and expertise opened our eyes and soon he had us reading the architecture and artistry as if it were a book. We continued to include the readings and prayers and music, but Corey’s enthusiasm and deep spirituality also opened our eyes to many new and profound insights.

Having already explored many of Toronto’s sacred spaces we soon took our pilgrimage on the road travelling by bus to other towns and cities. While we continued to offer day trips to sacred spaces in and around Toronto, we soon discovered the amazing spiritual splendour of nearby cities including, Hamilton, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Rochester, up and down both sides of the Niagara River, Newmarket to Uxbridge, Montreal, Cleveland, and even Israel and Palestine. Finally this year we took in Detroit.

The most challenging aspect of planning the Detroit pilgrimage was limiting our pilgrimage to eleven spaces because the city has so many magnificent sacred spaces from which to choose. We limit it to eleven spaces to allow for time to travel from space to space, but also so that pilgrims will have opportunity to explore other aspects of the cities life in free time. It is a recipe that works as we always have a bus full of pilgrims ready to sign up for four days of adventure.

Apart from the magnificent sacred spaces we visited, perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the trip was to simply bear witness to the remarkable rejuvenation of Detroit’s city core where historic buildings once boarded up have been restored to their former glory and where formerly abandoned streets are now bustling with pedestrian life. The museums and concert halls too are extraordinary. I can’t wait to go back and explore other aspects of this remarkable city that has risen up from the ashes.  (The pictures in this post are of structures in the downtown core and were taken on evening walks).

The pilgrimages always flow smoothly and so much of that has to do with the incredible logistical work done in advance by our sacred spaces organizing committee led by Judy MacDonald and Don Deathe along with Don MacDonald, Randall Speller, Ed Welker, Euan and Joan Ferguson, Ron Wakelin, Mary Stevens, and Rob Mee – a truly great team.  This small group organizes the bus, hotel, meals and so much more.  This year we were especially blessed by the assistance of Janice Ivory Smith who grew up in Detroit, our dear friend Milton Fletcher of Detroit, and Jim Westphal, a friend of Don and Randall’s who also lives in Detroit and shares a great interest in the sacred spaces as well as the rejuvenation of the city itself.

I also can’t say enough about the wonderful people from each of the sacred spaces who welcomed us with warmth and kindness into their spiritual home. In each place we encountered grace through these wonderful people. What’s more the punctuality, co-operation and friendliness of all who join us makes all the difference in the world. For me, these pilgrimages are filled with joy. Thanks to one and all. I invite you to read on through the eleven entries that follow and enter into the pilgrimage with us.

Three of our pilgrims, Peter Alberti, Ewan Ferguson and Rob Mee are also remarkable photographers and combined their efforts on a CD which can be purchased. Rob Mee has also posted his own photos online and I invite you to look at these amazing photos of each of these glorious spaces.

Detroit, Michigan

Grace and Peace,
Peter

To visit the entries for each of the sacred spaces we visited, please clock on the following links:

The Islamic Centre of America

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Islamic Centre of America

St. Joseph’s Oratory

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – St. Joseph’s Oratory


Historic Trinity Lutheran Church

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Historic Trinity Lutheran Church

Sts. Peter & Paul Jesuit Church

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Sts Peter & Paul Jesuit Church

Mariner’s Church

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Mariner’s Church

St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral

First Congregational Church

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – First Congregational Church

Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church

Congregation Shaarey-Zedek

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Congregation Shaarey Zedek

Temple Beth El

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Temple Beth El

John Freeman Walls Historic Site

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – John Freeman Walls Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum, Emeryville, ON

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – John Freeman Walls Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum, Emeryville, ON

John Freeman Walls Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum, Emeryville ON

With the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Colonies in 1807 followed by the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833, Canada became a safe haven for runaway slaves in the United States. The Underground Railroad was a secret network of safe houses that eventually led to border crossings into Canada. However, with the border crossing through Lake Ontario and Lake Erie there were few points for runaway slaves to cross into what was then Upper Canada. Detroit and Buffalo became the last stop for many of the former slaves before crossing into Canada during the thirty plus years prior to the American emancipation.


The John Freeman Walls Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum is located on a twenty acre tract of land twenty-five miles safely over the border in a region where many of the former slaves settled. The Walls family log cabin preserved on the site also served as the first meeting place of the congregation of First Baptist Church, Puce.

The number of refugees fleeing to Canada from south of the border reached almost 30,000 by 1852 and the church leaders became very active in offering assistance with settlement opportunities to this influx of settlers.

John Freeman Walls had been emancipated by his owner in the south upon the owner’s death, but matters grew complicated when Walls and the owner’s widow also fell in love as interracial relationships were punishable in many southern states. With no choice but to flee for safety the young couple settled the land and offered a living example long before their time of interracial harmony and love. Today’s site is owned and maintained by their great-great Grandson, Bryan Walls OC, OOnt. Bryan is an author and retired dentist from Windsor who welcomed us most warmly to the site and opened our eyes to some of the horrors facing slaves who fled for their freedom. A horse drawn wagon on display at the museum was complete with a narrow compartment which runaway slaves would be slipped into for travel between safe stations on the Underground Railroad. Above the hidden slaves the wagon would often be filled with manure in order to throw off the scent for the dogs. Here we came face to face with the incredible inhumanity of humankind throughout the ages and continuing into our own world, but Bryan’s smile would always bring us back to the triumphant power of love that his own forebears had known.

The museum was a sacred space like few others we have ever seen. There was no stained glass or cared wood. There were no frescos or murals nor vaulted ceilings or marble columns with gilded mouldings. But all of these paled in comparison with the ring of freedom and the joy of human love made all the more sacred in the preservation of tears and the telling of tales.   I will never forget the day the late Gardner Taylor preached at Yorkminster Park and told of the elders in his childhood church who had been slaves as children and spoke of Canada as Canaan’s Land. This little corner of our country is a reminder of all that is good about who we are as a people and the power of faith and love.

One of our pilgrims, Rob Mee, a gifted musician and photographer has posted some absolutely remarkable photos of this sacred space along with the others we visited and can be viewed on his website at: https://focusonmee.com/detroit-michigan/

Grace and Peace,
Peter

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Temple Beth El

Temple Beth El


Founded in 1850, Temple Beth El is the oldest Jewish congregation in Michigan. It’s two previous buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but in time the congregation had moved out of the city necessitating the opening of a new Temple in 1973 in nearby Bloomfield Hills.

Temple Beth El was designed by the great modern architect, Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the original twin towers of the World Trade Centre. The Temple and the WTC were designed at approximately the same time and it is said their models were constructed side by side. As a result there are those who look for signs of the former twin towers of the WTC in Temple Sinai and indeed the Ark containing the scrolls bears some similarity.

However the inspiration for the building is clearly drawn from the Hebrew scriptures. The wonderfully bright airy feel of the space is achieved with the two side walls which appear to be made of 100 canvas like panels on each side covering the exterior glass as it rises to enormous heights. But rather than meet at the top the two sides are separated by forty panels of glass forming a skylight the length of the sanctuary that brings additional light into the space. At ground level the first 8 feet of the sides is clear glass giving a panoramic view of the beautiful park like setting. It is a wonderful inviting and inspiring space.

“What does it mean?” I asked Rabbi Mark Miller as we engaged in a conversation about the space. The forty panels in the ceiling are one clue as they correspond with the number of years Israel spent in the wilderness between slavery in Egypt and entry in the promised land. During the wilderness years, Israel lived in a tabernacle or temporary shelter in the wilderness. The great sides of the Temple are meant to invoke a tent like feel in the sanctuary to remind the worshippers they are pilgrims on a faith journey with God. The floor level clear glass exposing the park like setting is to represent the manner in which the canvas would be rolled up in the wilderness and to remind the people that the faith journey is not simply a vertical relationship with the Creator above, but also with the world around.

The park like setting so visible through the floor level glass is undoubtedly also a reminder that when God finished the work of creation, God saw that it was good. In a world where there is so much bad news, the sanctuary of Beth El invites the pilgrim to look out and rediscover the goodness of God’s world and to lets its beauty speak into our faith.

One of our pilgrims asked Rabbi Miller the meaning of Beth-El. In the Genesis chapter twenty-eight, Bethel was the place of encampment for Jacob as he fled his family having deceived his father to obtain his brother’s blessing. The only pillow he could find was a rock, but in the night he dreamt of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven and saw angels ascending and descending upon it and then suddenly the Lord was with him and renewed his covenant. Jacob anointed the rock on which he slept, made a vow to God and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. How awesome is this place. This is none other than the House of God and the gate of Heaven.” Beth-el, means the House of God and by naming the Temple Beth-El the worshipper is called to be ever open to the presence of God, even when God seems distant and silent.

“Okay,” I said to Rabbi Miller, “But what about the one hundred panels on each side of the tent?” He then took us back to Deuteronomy 10:12 which is the root of a Jewish tradition that every day we should number or offer at least 100 blessings. In other words we should stop 100 times a day to give thanks to God. In a world where instant gratification is the norm and impatience leads to constant complaining it is wisdom that will say, “Stop every ten minutes and reflect on what you are thankful for and offer a blessing.” On a bad night with nothing but a rock for a pillow, Jacob had been awakened by a dream to the reality of God’s presence and the wonder of his blessings.

It seemed only fitting to complete our visit with the words of the hymn, O God of Bethel,
O spread your covering wings around
Till all our wanderings cease,
And at our Father’s loved abode
Our souls arrive in peace.

It was only later when looking back at some of my photos, I realized that from the back the Sanctuary of Beth El might also be interpreted as two warm and inviting outstretched wings poised to welcome the pilgrim to the safety of the nest. I thought too of the Mariner’s Church which through the years had been referred to as the Sailer’s Bethel. A sailer entering Temple Beth-El might well have a sense that the two high walls with their canvas panels are the sails upon the ship of faith’s voyage.

Temple Beth El is a sacred space made alive by one’s response to the invitation to journey in faith with the tent flaps raised, the sails set and the windows, hearts and minds fully open to the beauty and mystery of God’s abiding presence and amazing grace.

One of our pilgrims, Rob Mee, a gifted musician and photographer has posted some absolutely remarkable photos of this sacred space along with the others we visited and can be viewed on his website at: https://focusonmee.com/detroit-michigan/

Grace and Peace,
Peter

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Congregation Shaarey Zedek

Congregation Shaarey Zedek


Shaarey Zedek is the second oldest Jewish synagogue in the Detroit area dating back to the withdrawal of many of the more traditional Jews from the Temple Beth El in 1861 for the purpose of forming a more conservative worshiping community. In 1913 Shaarey Zedek became a founding movement of the Conservative United Synagogues of America. Over its first century of existence the congregation moved five times from the heart of the city further into the suburbs until the present building was erected in Southfield in 1962.

Prior to arriving at Shaarey Zedek we had spent a day and a half visiting historic churches of a variety of architectural styles, but until we arrived at the synagogue we had not seen a modern architectural expression of faith. Shaarey Zedek was the right place to go. Designed by Percival Goodman, often called the most prolific architect in Jewish history, Shaarey Zedek, is a breathtaking shrine. The San Francisco Examiner ranked it as one of the top ten most breathtaking places of worship in North America and Philip Nobel, of the New York Times described it as a “roadside attraction that parlays a skyscraping Ark and an erupting eternal flame into a concrete Sinai on the shoulder of Interstate 696.”

As one enters the sanctuary their eyes are drawn to the tone towers rising from the Ark and representing the stone tablets of Sinai. They are surround by two stained glass windows that rise from the floor on an angle and meet high above the Ark and the tablets. The lower portions of the mirror image windows is in blues which might well represent the divided waters of the Red Sea in the Exodus account, but the red glass at the pinnacle clearly depicts the burning bush through which Moses encountered God and heard his calling. It is stunning and one can only imagine on high holy days with upwards of four or five thousand people how mesmerizing those windows must be.

Rabbi Yonatan Dahlen welcomed us warmly and opened the Ark and brought a scroll to the Bimah around which we gathered as he read to the group. He was kind and patient with many questions and when he might well have dismissed us he turned to me and said, “Did you say you wanted to read a psalm.” Yes I replied it is in our pilgrimage guide and is Psalm 126.” “Psalm 126?” replied the Rabbi. “Yes, is that okay?” I asked. “Okay? It is my favourite Psalm!”

After we read it I asked why it was his favourite Psalm and he gave us an insightful reflection on verse one, “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.” Imagine, out of 150 Psalms I chose his favourite for our visit that day and yet I had never met him or ever spoken to him in my life! There was obviously another at work in choosing that Psalm. We are but the instruments. I went from that place feeling younger and more alive – like a dreamer.

One of our pilgrims, Rob Mee, a gifted musician and photographer has posted some absolutely remarkable photos of this sacred space along with the others we visited and can be viewed on his website at: https://focusonmee.com/detroit-michigan/

Grace and Peace,
Peter

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church

Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church


Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church was the third Presbyterian congregation established in Detroit, tracing its roots to 1854. The present day church building is also the third in the congregations history and was built in 1926 with significant funding provided by the Dodge family. The Neo-Gothic structure’s most notable feature may be it’s height at 90 feet in comparison with its 54 foot width and 125 foot length. The walls and the pews are very Yorkminster Park like, but the extended height of the clerestory windows and the balcony window are much larger.

The stained glass features the rich blues and reds commonly found in windows made in the Willet studio. The church’s carillon was the first in the city, but its Skinner organ is thought by many to be among the finest in the country. As he did in almost every church, William Maddox, introduced us to the organ and played a piece featuring some of its particular strengths. William could well have played something triumphant, but instead chose a much quieter piece as if in reverence he were letting the organ speak for itself.

The park like setting adjacent to the Detroit River also adds to the charm and beauty of the church, but it is the incredible commitment of the congregation to serve the social needs of the community around, through tutorial programs for children as well as the offering of food and clothing to those in transition that made the greatest impression. Jefferson Avenue is also a centre for music and culture. We were grateful to their young minister, the Rev. Matt Nickel, who has himself moved back into the city in which he was raised. With both the beautiful space and the wonderful offerings of Christian service, it was no wonder so many of our pilgrims were drawn to this place. It felt like the way the church should be. It felt like home.

One of our pilgrims, Rob Mee, a gifted musician and photographer has posted some absolutely remarkable photos of this sacred space along with the others we visited and can be viewed on his website at: https://focusonmee.com/detroit-michigan/

Grace and Peace,
Peter

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – First Congregational Church

First Congregational Church


The 1880’s Richardson Romanesque First Congregational Church presented a wonderful contrast following the visit to the Gothic Revival style of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. The sandstone exterior of the church with its rounded arches is set apart by its beautiful porch and a 120’ tower modelled after early Christian and Romanesque bell towers. At the peak of the tower is an ‘8 high bronze stature of the Archangel Uriel. Perhaps the most striking feature in the Sanctuary is undoubtedly with the ribbed vault ceiling feature large canvas murals of the four evangelists painted in the Beaux Arts style by the artist, Lyle Durgin who had studied in Paris. The low half domed chancel decorated with Greek crosses also catches the eye.

The church is stunning, but also warm and inviting as were all the people we met. It’s history too is rich for even before moving into its current building the congregation played a very significant role as a station on the Underground Railroad. This important history is embraced by the congregation who offer a museum featuring interaction with character actors.

However, the exterior stone is suffering terribly from erosion to the point the porch was closed. And sadly it is not just the stone that is suffering. As in so many churches today the membership too has fallen to below 100 people on a typical Sunday. When the numbers fall the buildings often suffer as budgets can’t keep up with both the salaries and the repairs. As I sat at the front alongside my co-leader, Corey Keeble, I felt a sadness. I was noticing some of the water damage on the interior walls and hearing complaints from people that the fans were too loud and they couldn’t hear. What’s more, the organ was apparently not functioning. You could tell the people loved their church, but one couldn’t help but wonder about the future of this magnificent Christian sanctuary.

I was silently ruminating on some of these distractions when I heard Corey mention the prominence of the circle motif in the Sanctuary. I happened to have been looking at the square panes of glass in the rear doors when he said it and so I thought, ‘Circles? I see squares.’ But with Corey’s mention of circles I started to look around and in no time was finding them almost everywhere. There were circles in the stained glass, in fact circles inside circles. There were circles in the ceiling by the hundreds if not more. The quatrefoils carved into the ends of the pews were circles as were the shapes painted into the chancel walls where circles were linked into circles. I started to count and reached at least 4,000, but then the church administrator, Chelsey Rayford returned to the sanctuary and I asked her how many circles there are. “Too many to count,” she replied. I thought of Abraham and Sarah barren in their later years and convinced they had no future until God told them to count the stars in the nighttime sky. When he couldn’t count them all, God said, “So shall your descendants be!”

Circles are signs of the eternal, for a circle never ends. The unbroken circle is also a reminder of the promises and blessings of God which will never end. When I told people there must be between 4,000 and 5,000 circles, they too started to count. I was soon corrected. Others were estimating between 8,000 and 10,000 circles. When we are distracted and give way to discouragement we sometimes lose sight of the blessings of this life all around us. I left the beautiful First Congregational Church and the wonderful people convinced, they do have a future.

One of our pilgrims, Rob Mee, a gifted musician and photographer has posted some absolutely remarkable photos of this sacred space along with the others we visited and can be viewed on his website at: https://focusonmee.com/detroit-michigan/

Grace and Peace,
Peter

Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral

St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral.


The roots of the worshipping community of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral dates back to 1760 and the church received its first charter in 1825 making it the oldest Episcopal church in the north-western United States. The current cathedral opened in 1908 is the third church building in its rich history.

It is a beautiful Gothic Revival church designed by the great American architect, Ralph Adams Cram. We have seen Cram designs in other American cities we have visited and they are always among the highlights of a tour of sacred spaces. His designs take the pilgrim back to the great Gothic edifices of pre-Renaissance Europe. There is a transcendence of time in all of his buildings and with it an unspoken invitation to focus on the eternal and the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Apart from the enormous sense of space one feels with the length and width and height of St. Paul’s the Cram appointed furnishings are consistent and even inspiring in their own right. The decor of St. Paul’s includes treasured works of art such as the carved wooden retable above the altar by John Kirchmayer of Oberammergau and two Raphael tapestries from 1516-1519. While the stained glass features work by some of the finest studios of the 20th century, Mayer of Munich; Willet; Charles Connick and others, the glass to the left and right of the main altar was purchased from a Spanish church and dates back to 1500.

There are so many other artistic gems and architectural features from the floor to the ceiling that the list could soon become a book. However, the clerestory windows will not escape notice as they are one of the few elements in the decor with a clear modern design. They are vivid and undoubtedly enhance the brightness of the otherwise dark space, but more importantly they are a reminder that the church is not simply a remnant of a previous age. They invite the worshipper to bring their modern struggles into prayer and to let the gospel speak into the issues of the day bringing inspiration, light and hope.

One of our pilgrims, Rob Mee, a gifted musician and photographer has posted some absolutely remarkable photos of this sacred space along with the others we visited and can be viewed on his website at: https://focusonmee.com/detroit-michigan/

Grace and Peace,
Peter