Some keep the sabbath going to church (part 2)

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Worth.

Built of gray dolemite, a hard limestone from Carthage, Missouri, St. Andrew’s is in  a cruciform plan, a nave with single side aisles and a single transept (the cross arm of a cruciform church) crossing.  There are two corner towers on the west or front facade with entry porticos parallel to the transept.  The rose window over the altar was crafted in England; all of the other stained glass windows were made by the Jacoby Art Glass Company of St. Louis.  The interior features extensive wood wainscot and paneling, wood rood screen, and exposed wood roof beams and ceiling coffers.  The pulpit is from the 1877 wooden church building [on 5th and Rusk Street].

-Carol Roark, Fort Worth’s Legendary Landmarks (1995)

In 1992, when I was in 7th grade, my family moved from the semi-rural outskirts of Charleston to Fort Worth—a real, honest-to-god city—and my mom and I started attending St. Andrew’s Episcopal, right downtown on Lamar Street.  

Where my church in South Carolina had been modest, St. Andrew’s was fearfully and wonderfully made, from blocks of stone and terrific stained glass windows. Like the city, it intimidated me.  But in five years, Fort Worth became my town and St. Andrew’s became my church: I knew its passageways, I knew what each of its drawers and cabinets held; I knew it at night and I knew it in the day; I knew it dressed up for the holiest days and I knew it bare on ordinary Thursday afternoons.  There was a cross engraved with my name, strung from a green ribbon, that hung from a hook in the acolytes’ dressing room below the chancel.  

Confession time: my first real kiss happened at a church lock-in.  The amazing secret of church youth groups is that, as much as they deal in the language of chastity, they run on the excitement of sexual possibility.  Lord knows I went to church, and to youth group, and to church retreats, for the girls.  And I would never have become an acolyte if not for the fact that, the year I was old enough to serve, St. Andrew’s decided for the first time in its history to allow female acolytes.

This isn’t as contradictory as it seems, is it?  After all, in any halfway decent theology sex points to grace.  And so my confused, sometimes stupid adolescent desire wasn’t all bad: I owe to it my familiarity with the Book of Common Prayer, with the instruction of the Anglican Communion, and with St. Andrew’s architecture.

More on St. Andrew’s next week soon…

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