July 19, 2018
Francisco-fact (info): Last week this feature mentioned restoring the baptistry. What would such a restoration look like?
One of the things that has been true about St. Francis is that we have wonderful traditions, but things have not been entirely static for the past fifty or so years of our existence. We started worshipping in what is now Harris Hall, which was a dog kennel, we built a church, without organ and pews, and we added both over time. The space we have was made to be flexible, so that as we developed, we could expand and grow, as needed.
It has been a while since the baptismal font has had its own space in front of the window of our atrium. On the previous page you will find three renderings of the space as imagined, with the organ in the front of the church, on the left-hand side, and the baptismal font back in front of the window with views to our courtyard.
This rendering has the support of the Choir master, the rector, the executive committee, and the Vestry. To regain a baptistry, a very important part of the interior space of traditional churches since the time before Constantine, we will give-up a half of a pew. Having the baptistry prominently displayed in our worship space sends a strong visible signal to any worshippers of the centrality of baptism to life in the Church.
The gain we make for the Choir, a part of our worship which has evolved and grown in importance during the life of the parish, is its visible leadership in the front of the congregation and a view of the organ which will also be supported by better directed sound. The experience of worship at our primary service is the strength of the liturgy of the word, visually and audibly, the beauty of our voices as led by the choir and the organ, and the focus of our Eucharistic action framed by the beauty of the world outside our central window.
The changes anticipated by these drawings would certainly mark a new moment in the pattern of life at St. Francis. But it is more of a drawing together of the features that already exist or have existed in our community since its founding. The drawing together of these components visually and emphasized audibly, should emphasize the role of community in this place.
And, community is one of the strengths of St. Francis, an important aspect of being a Christian. Certainly, community is experienced outside the Church, in clubs, soccer teams, choirs, and book groups. All of these associations, and more, contribute to the harmony of our common life. But the uniqueness of Christian Community is that we believe that our common life has the God of all creation and his son who has redeemed us at its center. This is fellowship inspired by the Holy Spirit, reinforced by the stories in music and in narrative, in the initiation of new members through baptism, and in the sharing of the Eucharist.