Trinity Cathedral in Trenton has long been a focal point for
the Diocese of New Jersey – the place where all the ‘big’ events take
place-- ordinations, consecrations,
elections, commemorations. ‘Cathedral Sunday’ is an opportunity for the whole
Diocese to celebrate the Cathedral's special place in its life, work and witness.
Trinity’s first ‘Cathedral Sunday’ took place on June 1, 2014. (Please scroll to the bottom of the page to enjoy a slideshow of photos from the event, courtesy of Dot Cellini!) This special opportunity to celebrate the life, work and witness of the Cathedral in the community and the diocese day began on a beautifully sunny morning with the 10.30am Eucharist. The talents of Flower Ministries at the Church of the Holy Spirit Lebanon, St Bartholomew’s Cherry Hill, St James’ Yardville, St Mary’s Haddon Heights, St Matthew’s Pennington, and Trinity Princeton as well as the Cathedral, added special beauty to altars, corners and statues throughout the church. The guest preacher was Revd. Dr. Gordon Graham, Professor at Princeton Seminary and a member of the Major Chapter.
Professor Graham began by painting a gloomy picture of the Cathedral’s context - part of an Episcopal Church far removed from the height of health, wealth and prestige with which the Cathedral opened just sixty years ago, now located in a city that has declined dramatically from its days as a major manufacturing center, serving a Diocese heavily burdened with too many old buildings that are costly to maintain. Yet, taking as his theme, ‘What glorious resources God has given us’, Professor Graham held up the Cathedral and its complex of buildings as a glorious opportunity. With this great inheritance, Episcopalians can offer Trenton and New Jersey something uniquely valuable - a magnificent ‘sacred space’ in which spiritual longings can be awakened, and God can be found anew by those to whom the beauty of its architecture, music and liturgy speak of a world and a faith that can transform the daily round of work and worry. And in almost perfect illustration of his theme, just a few minutes after the sermon had ended, soloists combined the voices of piano and saxophone to fill the architecture of the place with powerfully meditative music.
Following the service, the Dean invited visitors and Friends to join parishioners for lunch in Synod Hall. It was beautifully set with tables, and yet another spectacular floral decoration provided a stunning background. There was a wonderful atmosphere of fellowship as everyone present shared exceptionally good food and listened to a series of presentations about the ministries and partnerships with which the Cathedral is engaged. Two fine instrumentalists from Blue Mountain Music played, and two of Urban Promise’s students danced with delightful grace.
As the presentations were underway, musicians and choristers were arriving to rehearse for the afternoon choral festival. Meantime, expert guides were on hand to take small groups around the complex explaining the history and exploring the beauties of the Cathedrals stonework, statues and stained glass. When the choral ‘Festival of Lessons and Carols for the Easter Season’ began at 3:00pm, it quickly proved the value of all the work that had gone into its rehearsal. Readers from different parishes read the New Testament passages that recount the stories of Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost, and each reading was followed by a choral anthem and a congregational hymn. Under the direction of Canon Deborah Ford of the Cathedral, Mr. Tom Colao, Director of Music at All Saints Princeton, and Mr. Jim Douglas, Director of Music at St. James’ Long Branch, the music had been carefully chosen to reflect the wide variety of styles that are to be found in different parts of the Diocese. Though all the music was uplifting, the ‘high’ point perhaps was ‘There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit’. Certainly, there was heartfelt concurrence when Bishop Stokes specially requested one more verse.
The day concluded with another lovely gathering Synod Hall. Bishop Stokes hosted his first ‘Bishop’s Appreciation Reception’ to thank not just the people who had contributed to the day itself, but all those who faithfully sustain the life, work and witness of the Cathedral throughout the year. He declared the event to be just the first of many annual Cathedral Sundays and confirmed that the next will take place on Sunday, June 14, 2015.
So many thanks to all who participated!
A date for your diary - 'Cathedral Sunday 2015' will be Sunday, June 14th.