John Parker on Empty Chapels & Symbols of Faith
The first time I visited the sacristy of the Wren Chapel at the College of William and Mary, where the chapel’s brass cross now resides out of sight of the visitor, I waited there, dressed in black, sweaty palmed, being reminded to breathe, sequestered till the arrival of my bride at the west end of the chapel. On cue, I departed the colonial room and followed the priest, along with my three groomsmen, to the small but unmistakably English altar, which still faces ad orientem, one reminder of the age of the chapel.
For the second visit, a few years later, I was also dressed in black, though this time under my festal white vestments. I was the celebrant of someone else’s wedding—my brother’s. On this occasion, I was the breathing coach. I remember moving the chalice and paten from the sacristy to the altar before the service. I remember celebrating the wedding and giving thanks where Anglican and Episcopal priests have served since the late 1700s.
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John Parker is priest-in-charge of Holy Ascension Orthodox Church, a mission parish of the Orthodox Church in America, in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. He earned his MDiv (2001) at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, and his MTh (2004) at St. Vladimir?s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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