Week 32: Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 10 August 2008, 8am

Michael was asked to play the ECOR in the Park service this morning at 10, so we went to the 8am Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, which is the Episcopal cathedral for the Diocese of  Eastern Washington, located on Spokane’s south hill.  If you glance up, to the south, as you pass through Spokane on I-90, you can see the cathedral, which looks a little like a place Batman might live. It’s a small service, as many that early often are (about 22 in attendance), and they do Rite I, which many younger Episcopalians dislike (this was especially apparent in this service, where we were, by decades, the youngest folks in attendance), but for which we have a fond place in our hearts.

When we first became Episcopalians, shortly after our marriage, we were part of the Allegany County Episcopal Ministry (ACEM), which was then six churches served by two supply priests.  Ralph and Liz each celebrated a 9am, then drove across the county to an 11am service, and the remaining two churches either had morning prayer, or one of the three retired supply priests.  The church in the town we bought our first house in occasionally had Fr. Robert B. Bromeley, a stooped, fiery priest who was about 102 at the time and lived in the Philip Church Mansion.  He’d have us (in contrast to Ralph, a traditional NYC liberal) down on our knees doing Rite I with a hellfire-and-brimstone sermon to match.  It’s the only time I’ve ever seen that in the Episcopal church.  I’m sure there are others (they’re probably Anglican now), but this is the only time I’ve seen it.  Fr. Bromeley was certainly old enough in the late 1990s to remember all kinds of traveling revivalist preachers coming through western New York/ PA earlier in the century.

Anyway, because of Fr. Bromeley, we have a tender place in our hearts for both hellfire-and-brimstone sermons and Rite I. (Well, maybe not the former so much, but you take my point).

I think the thing about having such a wide variety early on was that it’s given us some perspective on just how broad the tradition is, even as we’re in the middle of the most conservative jumping ship. And some of the most liberal are becoming “Episcopagans.” (Interesting–I was under the impression that Episcopagan was a self-titling, but it seems it’s actually pejorative. I suspect that, like “queer,” it won’t be for long, but I haven’t found a self-titled online article about Episcopaganism, even as I know people in real life who identify as such).

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