Conversations about 'where was ECUSA' September 11 etc

By The Rev. Steve Giovangelo

Well at least I now realize that I am not imagining 'things.' I kept asking myself during this whole tragedy,

a.. What/how/what's going on at Trinity Wall Street and St. Paul's? What was going on with the church and staff during the crisis? I saw nothing in the secular press. Granted I could have missed something but as usual, Roman coverage, Cardinal, St. Pat's, etc etc. ad nauseum. If Trinity is so important to Wall Street WHY did I see/hear NADA? At the memorial service yesterday in the stadium, ONLY Bishop Mark Sisk's appropriate title [The Right Reverend] was incorrectly flashed on the screen...all he got was "Rev. Mark Sisk." It really angered me.

Everyone else, from Armenian Orthodox to Greeks, to Roman prelates, to Baptist preachers, to Rabbis, Sikh clergy...all of them with their complicated titles and names were appropriately named, pronounced and flashed on the screen..only ECUSA's bishop of New York had the title incorrect.

Truth is, nobody knows who and what we are, and yet we have these glorious historic sanctuaries in Manhattan???!!! Hello? Well, something's not working vis a vis evangelism....

I have a new large sign out in front of the Church behind the iron fence, which I post notices on. We have lots of folks waiting for the bus that goes through the Lincoln Tunnel ; the bus stop is just outside the Church doors. Folks waiting for the bus, if they don't have the papers, are always looking for something to read. Hence my notice/sign board. And they are reading it!

Among various and sundry other things/events, I have been posting info about Trinity as I have received it from Louie's web site. I am well known in the community but still people ask the same thing, 'what IS the Episcopal Church?'

To me ministering in this 90% Roman neighborhood, THIS should serve as a real wake-up call for ECUSA. We are in danger of becoming a quaint relic.

Sometimes this makes me want to cry, other times I laugh. Here we are, we think we can rest on all our historical 'laurels' about the American Revolution, earliest non-Roman church in the colonies, etc, and at this point in history nobody knows who or what in the name of the Holy One we are!

We're the only Church in this neighborhood in Union City which has been OPEN from 6:30 AM to 10 PM seven days a week since September 11. I am committing myself to keeping it open...we have received a lot of thanks and appreciation from all our RC friends, bus commuters and neighbors--whose churches remain locked up tight. BUT...they can remain locked up...EVERYONE knows WHO and WHAT the Roman Catholic Church is...but...ECUSA?

As a result of my keeping the church open every day, and the emotional vulnerability of so many since that tragedy on September 11, persons who might usually ignore 'church' are, between my sign board outside and the Church open every day AND seeing me who purposely hangs out at the bus stop during the rush hour, otherwise intelligent people are asking questions, some of which I have been jotting down on my are a sampling from folks at the bus stop:

"What is the Episcopal Church? I'm not sure I know what it is."

"Your church looks very Catholic, but you are a Protestant RELIGION, right? "

"Do people have to renounce the pope when the join your church?" [ !!!!!!!! I kid you not ]

"Is this like a Lutheran Church? My cousins are Lutheran, but I'm Catholic, but I don't think I know what the Episcopal RELIGION is all about. Do you believe in Mary? Is your Mass 'like a Catholic Mass' ? 'You have votive candles I can see, but is it a sin for a Catholic to light a candle in your church?'

"Are you the Church that is from the Queen's religion in England, the one Henry the 8th started because he wanted a divorce? Why do you have a religion from a divorce? '

[* * * no one may know anything about the Episcopal Church BUT...can someone explain to me WHY even the most unchurched person can recite the fact that Henry 'put away' his wife Catherine of Aragon, and they know nothing else but THAT fact! I am stunned and THAT is when I laugh when I hear that question put to me!* * * ]

"I've heard of Anglican, that's the religion in England, right? Where Princess Diana was buried from ? But what's Episcopal mean?'

"Oh, is THAT what Trinity Church downtown is? YOUR religion? I thought it was Catholic."

"What's all this coverage about a Church in Maryland that is going to court against a bishop? The pastor can't get in there or something? Boy that sure is a strange thing to read about a Church."

And that is the publicity about ECUSA........

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Steve Giovangelo
Rector of St. John's, Union City, NJ


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