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Church, Georgetown, Washington, DC
Church, Georgetown, Washington, DC.
Episcopal Church, Diocese
The present structure, which is on the National Register of
Historic Places, dates from 1885-86 and replaced an earlier
one from 1818. It is Gothic Revival in red brick, with a large
bell tower on the northeast corner. The interior features German
stained glass memorial windows in the side aisles and clerestory.
The nave is separated from the aisles by pointed arches on low,
stout columns. Beyond a larger arch on the south end is a space
housing the organ to the left and its pipes to the right. Beyond
that, through another, similar arch, is the chancel. The altar
has a handsome carved wooden retable.
The congregation dates from 1817 and numbered Francis Scott
Key, author of The Star-Spangled Banner, among their
original members. They existed as an independent congregation
within the parish of St John's, Georgetown, until 1875. For
many decades, it seems, Christ Church primarily served old Georgetown
families, but its membership is now more diverse and drawn from
across the DC area, if not from across the social-class spectrum.
Many parishioners, not surprisingly, are federal employees.
The church offers an extensive array of Sunday and weekday services
for its 1300 members, and the parish takes special pride in
its choral tradition.
Georgetown, in the northwest quadrant of Washington, was a separate
entity until 1871, when the various municipalities comprising
the District of Columbia were incorporated by Congress into
the city of Washington. Georgetown is known for its high-end
shops, bars, restaurants, and a glamorous nightlife. The neighborhood
around the church is one of posh townhouses, many of them 19th
century. The area is home to Georgetown University, although
few students can afford to live there.
The celebrant was the rector, the Revd Stuart Kenworthy, assisted
by two other priests. The preacher was the Revd Christopher
Garcia, one of three assistants on the church's staff.
The date & time:
Trinity Sunday, May 26, 2013, 11.15am.
What was the name of the service?
Holy Eucharist (Rite One).
How full was the building?
Roughly half full, but scattered so it did not feel half empty. Perhaps 110-130 present.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Not really. I was handed a service leaflet as I entered.
Was your pew comfortable?
The wooden pews had cushioned seats. No complaints.
How would you describe the pre-service
The pre-service atmosphere was quiet for the most part. Although
people greeted friends and there were a number of conversations
taking place, everything was sotto voce, and not distracting
(but see below).
What were the exact opening words of the
"Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
What books did the congregation use during the
No books were needed; the service leaflet had everything in
it. But the Prayer Book 1979 and the Hymnal 1982
were in the pews for backup.
What musical instruments
An organ, well-played (Langlais voluntary, for example). It
is a large electronic instrument by the Allen Organ Company
of Macungie, Pennsylvania, which replaces an older Moller pipe
Did anything distract
Not just one but two mobile phones rang while we were waiting
for the service to begin.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
I'd call the worship main-line traditional Anglican which
suits me just fine. Except for the "We believe" version of the
creed, the conservative alternative that is so characteristic
of Rite One was almost always taken. It was a pleasure to hear
the rich cadences of the traditional wording, including the
prayer for the whole state of Christ's church. The psalm was
sung to a setting by Chris Biemesderfer (b. 1958), a fine example
of Anglican chant that I had not previously encountered.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 The Revd Mr Garcia was obviously reading his text,
which is not necessarily a bad thing. He did it well, but no
one would mistake it for extemporaneous speech.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The sermon was, aptly, about the Trinity. It employed the metaphor
of a three-act play. Act One introduces us to a mighty and awe-inspiring
creator. In Act Two, God appears as vulnerable, like us; Jesus
is killed "in a shocking act of violence and depravity," yet
he triumphantly rises again, victorious. In Act Three "you and
I are starring players," sent into the world to heal it and
proclaim the good news. This drama is "the greatest love story
ever told," and it isn't over yet.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
Since this was Memorial Day weekend, the recessional was the
Navy Hymn ("Eternal Father, Strong to Save"), adapted to include
the Army and Air Force. The John Bacchus Dykes setting I always
find stirring, and the strong choir and fairly robust congregational
singing did it justice. (Incidentally, the processional was
"Holy, Holy, Holy" for Trinity Sunday a big J.B. Dykes
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
I'm always annoyed when a traditional Anglican service is interrupted by a "contemporary language" psalm from the 1979 Prayer Book, and this was no exception. The fine setting of the psalm somewhat allayed my pain.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
As things worked out, I was not able to stand around the back of the church very long without looking as if I was up to no good, so I spoke to the preacher at the door and moved on to the coffee, in the parish house. The people there were very friendly and engaging.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
Coffee in real cups, punch in nice glasses, and what might have
been nice little food bits, or not they were all gone
by the time I got to the table. The lady serving coffee was
very apologetic, even embarrassed. I overheard her say to someone
else that they've never run out before.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 The architecture and liturgy were very much to my taste,
and the church has a fine organist and a good amateur choir.
I could worship here quite happily.
Did the service make you
feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, it did.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The prayer for the whole state of Christ's church (it was good
to hear it again). That, and the setting for the psalm.
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