Continuing Home

The ongoing saga of a Continuing Anglican church home, as seen by a member of the laity.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Broken altars

I heard the good news today: the altar will begin its journey to us on Thursday! No wonder the catalogs were all opened to the altar linen pages. But Fr. Davis also told me about the history, with pictures, of the altar and the church from where it will be coming. It is very sad to see the history of that parish (in photos), formed in the late 1800s, with a huge (by St. Bartholomew's standards) church built around 1920 but now apparently without enough parishioners to maintain the building.

So the altar (a side altar, not the main) comes to us as a sort of legacy, which someone (probably me) needs to capture because it will become a part of our history.

But the really sad stories were still to come.

Fr. Davis was talking with someone recently about the altar purchase and this person said "Wait a minute," said his (Seattle-area) church had just been remodeled and the altar had been replaces, and he called somebody on his cellphone. After a couple of minutes he said, "They did WHAT!?!" and Fr. Davis thought it best to move out of earshot. When the conversation ended, Fr. Davis said, "They destroyed it, didn't they?" Yes. It had been put in a machine that just crushed it. Crushed this man too -- a lifelong member of that church, that altar had always been present to him. Destroyed with no opportunity to continue to be used elsewhere.

And he had another story of a remodeled (local?) church where the altar was simply broken up and the pieces piled in a room (for eventual disposal).

Yes, it's "just" furniture and if one is changing the altar setup from ad orientem (sp?) to facing the congregation, the old altar is likely in the way and has to go. And yet there are traditional churches (like St. Bartholomew's) that would love to acquire and use these altars. (Our old altar, the plywood folding-altar from our days of church-in-a-box, is giving out, as noted earlier.)

But as Fr. Davis notes, we will soon have an altar with a history of well over a century of worship before it, and that history will continue here.


  • At 3:48 PM, Blogger Continuing Home said…

    I thought of the blog title on the way home, but something led me to do a search on the phrase, and what comes up but a poem by George Herbert, Anglican rector and poet!

    The Altar

    A broken ALTAR, Lord, thy servant rears,
    Made of a heart, and cemented with tears:
    Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
    No workman's tool hath touched the same.
    A HEART alone
    Is such a stone,
    As nothing but
    Thy pow'r doth cut.
    Wherefore each part
    Of my hard heart
    Meets in this frame,
    To praise thy name.
    That if I chance to hold my peace,
    These stones to praise thee may not cease.
    O let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
    And sanctify this ALTAR to be thine.


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