Monday, February 27, 2012

Hanging out in Trinity Parish

Wikimedia Commons/Daniel Schwen

I like to hang out at Trinity Wall Street --- virtually of course. It's been 40 years (yikes) since I last set foot in lower Manhattan. But that's OK. Trinity has developed what has to be among the best church-related Web presences out there and that trips several of my triggers --- liturgical, musical, historical and genealogical.

Trinity is an Episcopal parish that includes two points --- the glorious 1846 gothic revival Trinity Church (top) at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway and the 1766 Georgian St. Paul's Chapel at 209 Broadway, the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City. Both house active congregations. Trinity was chartered in 1697 --- not the oldest congregation in New York, but close.

George Washington, of course, as well as various other founding fathers and mothers were among the early communicants of St. Paul's Chapel --- and Washington's pew remains in place.

Wikimedia Commons/Tony

St. Paul's, whose church yard is across Church Street from the World Trade Center site,  survived the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that brought the towers down (in part because church yard trees protected it) without so much as a broken window. It achieved iconic status as volunteers worked 24 hours a day for eight months to make it a spiritual and physical refuge for workers and the families of victims.

Wikimedia Commons/official-ly cool

The "Trinity Root" (below), a sculpture by Steve Tobin installed in the south courtyard of Trinity Church during 2005 and based upon a casting of the roots system of one of the sycamore trees that shielded St. Paul's and was destroyed in the process, is another reminder of the link between the two church buildings, as well as a memorial to those who died.

Wikimedia Commons/Navendu Shirali

Anyhow, here's a link to the main page of the Trinity site, providing well thought out access to all of its principal elements.

Two Sunday services, as well as a variety of special services, are live-streamed, then moved into an on-demand archive where they may be accessed at any time. Although you can watch sermon only in some instances, the complete services --- high church Episcopalians in full cry --- are the most rewarding. Keep in mind that the Eucharist, not a sermon, is the focal point of an Episcopal service. The renowned Trinity Choir is magnificent and the full-screen viewer for Trinity programming, recorded with a good deal of attention to detail, is wonderful.

Interspersed among service videos are concerts and recitals presented as part of the parish musical outreach program, featuring a broad range of professional artists. Access is either from the main page or from "Webcasts" on the index bar.

A link to the St. Paul's Chapel subsection of the Web site is found under "Congregational Life" and "History" offers access to a fascinating mix of historical and genealogical resources.

Wikimedia Commons/Gryffindor

The Trinity Parish owns and administers three cemeteries in Manhattan, the churchyards of Trinity (above) and St. Paul's churches, no longer used for ground burials, and the still-active Trinity Cemetery, linked here.

Genealogists with potential family links (or the merely curious) can access the Trinity Parish registers as well as interactive databases for both Trinity and St. Paul's churchyards by following the "Registers & Churchyards" link under "History."

Alexander Hamilton, who died July 12, 1804, of wounds sustained the day previously in a duel with Aaron Burr,  is probably the most widely known occupant of the Trinity Churchyard and various honoring events continue to be held at his gravesite. He is, after all, Wall Street's patron saint.


Ken said...

Alexander Hamilton may well be Wall Street's patron saint, but he was definitely a "flesh and blood saint" while serving as our nation's first Treasury Secretary. His famous duel actually took place in 1804, rather than 1757 (though July 12 is correct). According to my unimpeachable source (whoever wrote Hamilton's entry on Wikipedia), 1757 may have been the year Hamilton was born (1755 being the other alternative).

Frank D. Myers said...

Right you are! Thanks.