Edit ModuleShow Tags

Majesty & Faith

Christ Church, one of the oldest and most historic churches in the United States, embarks on a journey of restorative grandeur



(page 2 of 2)

Cornerstone of Community

Christ Church’s mission has nothing of the insularity of a country church. The campus hosts around 50,000 meetings a year, church-related and not. “The third oldest Alcoholics Anonymous group in America is here, for example,” says Rev. Lemler. Neighbor to Neighbor, which provides food and clothing to residents in need, is quartered at Christ Church, as is the Greenwich Suzuki Academy, whose cello music wafts down to Rev. Lemler’s office on weekday afternoons. Christ Church paved the way for Temple Shalom to build on former church property next door in 1955, and today hosts the nondenominational Trinity Church during summer. The church’s outward gaze travels far beyond the community. Priscilla Meek, wife of advertising giant Sam Meek and head of the church’s refugee committee, won international praise in the fifties for aiding displaced Hungarians. Her mission was carried on in the seventies and after by Marnie Dawson Carr, who, working with the national church, resettled refugees from other troubled lands.

“We believe strongly that our call is hospitality,” Rev. Lemler says. “Hospitality in every sense of the word.”

In Christ Church’s long and colorful history, hospitality was not always an option. In colonial New England, Congregationalism was the state religion, and it viewed the minority Episcopalians (called Anglicans then) with distrust. “We actually have documentation that when the first priest came to celebrate the Eucharist at the Knapp Tavern across the street—the Knapps were loyal Anglicans—he had to be accompanied by the sheriff of the county, because there were threats against his person,” Rev. Lemler says, chuckling. “That was in 1705.”

The Anglicans built Horseneck Chapel on the brow of Put’s Hill in 1749, and laid the stone steps, down which General Israel Putnam later escaped inrushing British troops. During the war, Connecticut Anglicans were fierce loyalists, unlike southern Anglicans such as George Washington; and with the British defeat their church lay in tatters. But under the leadership of Samuel Seabury (1729–1796), the first American Episcopal bishop, who once preached at Horseneck Chapel, the church quickly regained its footing, untethered to the Church of England, though Episcopalians are still a “province” of the worldwide Anglican communion.

In America, Episcopalianism has always been associated with the well educated and the socially active; fourteen Presidents of the United States have been Episcopalian, far more than any other denomination. “At one point, half of the United States was Episcopalian,” says Marnie Dawson Carr of the mid-twentieth-century years, when people used to grumble that “rich white Episcopalian men run the world.” (Carr’s father, former Time Inc. president James A. Linen, was one of them.)

Christ Church itself came to be viewed as a seat of American power brokers. Example: Parishioner Sam Pryor, executive vice president of Pan Am, secretly engineered the 1940 Presidential nomination of Wendell Willkie, a little-known internationalist who favored aiding Britain against Germany, ensuring that neither of the far more popular isolationist candidates, Thomas E. Dewey or Robert Taft, would emerge to divide the country bitterly over the war. Another parishioner, Frank Pace, served as Secretary of the Army in the fifties and was a confidante of President Eisenhower. And Prescott Bush, elected to the United States Senate in 1952, spawned a line of presidents.

Christ Church’s “outwardness” is a manifestation of its hospitality. But if hospitality begins at home, then “home” too must occasionally get loving care, for the church is more than a pile of stone and glass. Rather, as John Cheever wrote in a slightly different context, it expresses “the unequalled poetry of our faith.”    

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleEdit Module Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Greenwich Agenda

  • 6th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival & Santa’s Workshop

    2014.11.28

    Santa and his LIVE reindeer - Dancer, Dasher, Prancer and Blitzen, are coming back to town for the 6th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival &...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • The Best of 2014: Cecile Chong, David, Ruth Hiller, David Licata, Loanne Mattera, Jill Parisi, Kristen Thiele

    2014.11.08
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY I Dates: November 8 – December 22, 2014     Opening Reception: November 8, 6:30 – 8:00 PM Public Invited THE BEST OF 2014:  Cecile...

  • Antarctica: Photographs by Diane Tuft

    2014.10.28
     @ Bruce Museum

    October 28, 2014 - February 1, 2015 Selections from Gondwana, Images of an Ancient Land Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT...

  • Exhibition: Native American Pottery from the Bruce Museum Collection

    2014.11.22
     @ Bruce Museum

      Generously underwritten by Gabelli Funds and The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund Over the years, the Bruce Museum has...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Ellela La Beaute Loft One Year Annual Holiday Bash

    2014.12.20

    ELLELA Cosmetics owned by one of the most sought after, and critically acclaimed award winning makeup artists Elle Murphy today announced the one...

  • Christmas Tree and Wreath Sale for Charity

    2014.11.29
     @ First Congregational Church of Greenwich

    O, Christmas Tree; O Christmas Tree Buy your tree and help those in need this Christmas! It’s time for the annual Christmas Tree and...

  • Interactive Live Nativity at First Congregational Church

    2014.12.21
     @ First Congregational Church of Greenwich

    The Sheep are Back! Interactive Live Nativity at The First Congregational Church of Greenwich 108 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich (across from...

  • Family Gallery Tours

    2014.10.26
     @ Bruce Museum

    Designed for children ages 6-10 and their families, these tours will provide an interactive, discussion-based tour of the museum’s current...

  • Shakespeare's 450th Birthday Celebration

    2014.12.31
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    New Year’s Eve - Shakespeare’s Big Birthday Bash: A UNIQUE ELIZABETHAN FEAST CELEBRATING the 450th Birthday of William Shakespeare...

  • Whitby School Open House

    2015.01.11
     @ Whitby School

    When you visit Whitby, you'll see how children take the lead in their own learning, under the guidance of expertly trained and caring...

  • Greenwich Ballet Academy Open Auditions

    2015.01.12
     @ Greenwich Ballet Academy

    Greenwich Ballet Academy will be holding Open Auditions for their Spring Semester and Summer Intensive the week of January 12th, with a designated...

  • Positively Me

    2015.01.30
     @ Junior League of Greenwich

  • TuB’shevat-Shanahnah With Sandi

    2015.02.03
     @ Temple Sinai

    For children ages 6 months - 2 years and their parents or caregivers Celebrate a whole year of holidays with the JCC Sara Walker Nursery School...

  • Fairfield County's Giving Day

    2015.03.05

    Fairfield County's Giving Day - bigger and better than ever! On March 5, 2015, join thousands as we celebrate local giving! Fairfield...

  • Spring Gala to benefit Kids in Crisis

    2015.03.06
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The Kids in Crisis do-not-miss event, The Spring Fling, will be held on Friday, March 6, 2015, at the Greenwich Country Club in Greenwich, CT. It...

  • 2015 United Sole Sisters Luncheon

    2015.04.23
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    Sole Sisters Annual Spring Luncheon and Fashion Accessories Boutique Guest speaker to be announced. Luncheon chairs: Diane Viton and Jill...

  • Greening our Children's Annual Benefit

    2015.05.01
     @ Hyatt Regency

    Greening our Children's Annual Benefit May 1, 2015 Start Time: 6:30pm Hyatt Regency Greenwich With honored guest and Champion...


Show More...
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular Articles

  1. Olivine Gabbro Opening Party
    Olivine Gabbro
  2. Sugarplums and Snowflakes: A Nutcracker Holiday Gala
    Eastern Greenwich Civic Center
  3. Holiday House Tour
    Greenwich
  4. Tree Conservancy Celebration
    Sam Bridge Nursery & Greenhouses
  5. Festivals and Charity Runs This Holiday Season
    Holiday 2014 in Greenwich