Saturday, October 23, 2010

Grieving for sacred spaces destroyed by fires

Today prayers and sympathy go out to many friends on both coasts. Fire destroyed the 19th century chapel at the Virginia Theological Seminary yesterday -- all that is standing are bricks.

I had a chance several years ago to spend a week at the chapel for a preaching conference. My memories are but small compared to the memories of many others. We often say "the church is not a building, it is the people," and that is true. Yet we gather in sacred spaces, and our sacred spaces become the accumulation of our sacred moments and memories. Thousands of faithful servants were formed in this sacred space.

My friend Peter Carey, a VTS graduate, wrote about his memories on his blog (he took the photos from the vigil, see below). Please click HERE to read Peter's blog item about the VTS chapel. To see the report in The Washington Post, click HERE. The photo above of the chapel is from The Post.

On the other side of the country, the River City Food Bank in Sacramento was totally destroyed by fire a day earlier. More than 8,000 pounds of food for the poor also was destroyed. Tens-of-thousands of people were served by this building every year.

The food bank was housed in one of two annex buildings next to Trinity Cathedral, where Lori and I spent 18 years of our life. The food bank has been central to the mission of Trinity, and all of us connected to Trinity grieve heavily at this loss of sacred space.

The other annex building, housing the Office of the Bishop, was also heavily damaged and the bishop has moved to temporary quarters elsewhere. Both of these buildings played a major role in shaping my life; they were more than just bricks. Please read the story in The Sacramento Bee by clicking HERE. To learn how you can help rebuild the Food Bank, please click HERE.

Yes, new life will emerge from the ashes. But today, we grieve.

1 comment:

Janice Dean said...

I was at VTS in February of 2007 for a prospective students weekend, and Danny and I attended an evening Eucharist in Immanuel Chapel that I can still recall vividly. What I remember most is how much time, during that short service, I spent pondering the famous inscription, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel." Sitting in that chapel, participating in that service with seminarians and faculty, their families, and other visitors, and not being able to take my eyes off those words was the first time I really started to struggle with what it means to be an evangelist. Even though I only worshipped once at Immanuel Chapel, the Spirit used my time there to make a large impact on my walk of faith. I am devastated at the loss of the chapel.