My Experience Worshipping at Calvary — St. George’s
Earlier this afternoon, while walking from Murray Hill to Union Square, I passed by the Parish of Calvary — St. George’s in Gramercy Park. I had walked this church multiple times without ever going in, so I decided to step in for a few minutes of meditation. It was 5:50 p.m. and since their evening service starts at 6 p.m., I decided to stay for the service. And I’m glad I did because the service was quite unusual for an Episcopal church (or at least, the Episcopal churches I’ve been to).
The interior looked like most Episcopal churches I’ve been to — stained glasses, pews with cushions to kneel on, a high pulpit, the works. But I also noticed a big white screen projecting the liturgy, the reading for the service, lyrics of the songs, etc. There was no choir will richly-robed men and women holding hymnals and singing their hearts out to God. Instead, there was a band that sang devotionals closer to Christian rock than traditional hymns. The sermon was about predestination, with a strong apologetic tone where the pastor made a poor comparison between Islam and Christianity, saying that Allah, or the God of Islam, is one who sits up there waiting for people to come to him, whereas the God of Christianity is in our midst waiting for us to meet him. Regardless, I am glad I stayed for the service, though I was slightly disappointed to see that there were less than 25 people there. My first reaction after leaving the church — wow, that’s an interesting Episcopal Evangelical church.
Later, when I read up the history of the church — I found out that three churches that comprise Calvary - St. George’s: St. George’s Church, Calvary Church and Church of the Holy Communion (which was sold to a drug rehabilitation program because of dwindling finances, and is now an upscale marketplace). The Church of Holy Communion has a fascinating evangelical Catholic history, and St. George’s Church has an equally interesting evangelical Episcopal history. I’d be interesting in learning about other churches with distinct theologies that have merged, what prompted them to do so, and what challenges they might face (theological, and otherwise) as a result of merging.